- Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
The 2018 Massachusetts spring turkey hunting season opens on April 30 and runs through May 26. The 2018 Youth Turkey Hunt is April 28. During the spring season, hunting hours begin ½ hour before sunrise and end at noon. Get ready for the start of season by reviewing regulations, purchasing your license and turkey permit, reading safety information, and improving your skills.
Before you go hunting for wild turkey, be sure you know the rules. Click here to review wild turkey hunting regulations. Hunters must have a 2018 hunting or sporting license and a wild turkey hunting permit. Licenses and turkey permits may be purchased online using MassFishHunt or in person at a license vendor. Harvested turkeys must be reported within 48 hours of harvest.
Remember: bearded birds only in spring. The annual bag limit is two turkeys per year either by: (a) two bearded birds in spring season (one per day) with NO fall turkey hunting allowed, or (b) one bearded bird in spring season and one bird of either sex in fall season. No hunter may take two birds in the fall season.
- Be completely sure of your target and what is beyond it before you shoot. Always practice firearm safety.
- Do not stalk birds. Sit or stand and call the turkeys to you.
- Do not wear red, white, blue, or black; these colors are associated with male turkeys.
- Set up against a tree or a rock, but make sure your view isn’t obstructed.
- Do not place decoys too close when you set up. Never carry an exposed decoy or tail fan while hunting; put them in a bag when carrying them into or out of hunting locations.
Improve your turkey hunting skills
Get hands-on practice
- Learn to Hunt Calling Workshop, April 12, Westborough: Join MassWildlife and experts from the National Wild Turkey Federation for a hands-on, one hour turkey calling workshop from 5:30–6:30 p.m. at MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough). New hunters will be able to practice box calls, pot (or slate) calls, and mouth calls. Practice calls will be provided for box and pot calls, or participants can bring their own! Space is limited and registration is required. Click here for more information and to register.
- Young Adult Turkey Hunt Program: Young Hunter Education graduates aged 12–17 are invited to participate in this special two-part program consisting of a pre-hunt workshop and mentored hunt. New participants attend a pre-hunt workshop where they learn different turkey hunting skills including calling, how to properly set up, identifying your target, turkey biology, and regulations. The mentored hunt will be on April 28.
- Hunters with little or no experience can learn skills and techniques at MassWildlife's Learn to Hunt Programs. Taught by volunteers, the courses utilize the experience and knowledge of seasoned hunters. Courses range from half-day condensed classes to three-day, in-depth courses. If you have questions or would like to sign up to be notified of upcoming courses, contact Astrid Huseby at email@example.com.
Tips: Before season
- Spend time identifying active gobblers a week before the season. There is a lot of flock movement weeks before the opening of the season. The birds you saw displaying or heard gobbling in early April may have moved elsewhere by late April.
- If you wish to scout early, focus on identifying new parcels to hunt. You can do this by:
- Checking local bylaws relative to hunting or private property access.
- Identifying parking and access locations.
- Securing permission from the landowner.
- Some locations hold turkeys during the hunting season each year, but others are less predictable. It pays to put your time in close to the beginning of the season to determine which locales are holding turkeys.
- Avoid calling to turkeys during the pre-season to locate gobblers. Rather, look for scat, feathers, scratching in the leaf litter or other signs of turkey activity.
- Once you locate one or more gobblers, it is best to determine their roosting areas. Gobblers are most vocal before sunrise and sunset. These times are your best bet for scouting them in the field.
- Pattern your shotgun before the season to determine which load will work best at various ranges.
Tips: During season
- In the spring hunting season, many hunters try to roost a gobbler the night before they hunt him. The next morning try to get within 100 to 150 yards of the gobbler before it gets light enough that he will be gobbling. Try to get uphill of or on the same level as the gobbler.
- Call the gobbler to you, don't stalk it. Stalking can lead to hunting accidents.
- Select a calling position with your back against a tree or other natural obstacle large enough to cover your human outline.
- Keep good visibility so you can see turkeys and other hunters approaching your position. Some hunters tie bright survey tape to a branch above their position to alert other hunters of their presence.
- Respect the other hunter. Don't cut in on areas where other hunters are working birds. Don't get between another hunter and a bird.
- Be patient, often gobblers will be unresponsive to your calls in the early morning when they are with hens. Those same birds can become very active and callable in the late morning.
- Hunt in the rain. Many turkey hunters don’t like hunting in the rain, but turkeys are active rain or shine. During rainy days, focus your efforts in open hay fields or agricultural areas, as turkeys prefer these openings when it’s wet.
- If a turkey does appear, identify your target and what is beyond it. In the spring season you can only harvest a bearded turkey in Massachusetts. Know how to identify the sex of the turkey by: head color, body color, and make sure it has a beard before you shoot. Make sure other turkey hunters are not in line with your targeted bird and that no other hunters are behind your intended target.
- If another hunter does approach your position, remain still and call out to him in a loud voice. Do not wave or sound your turkey call to get another hunter's attention.
- Know your shooting range and make sure the gobbler is within distance before you shoot.
- Don’t disregard the late season. Although breeding activity is declining, there are still a lot of active gobblers around.