Hunting articles by Tony Young, the media relations coordinator for the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management. You can reach him with questions about hunting at Tony.Young@MyFWC.com.
Tony Young, FWC, 850-488-7867
Better start brushing up on your turkey calling, because spring gobbler season is here. Whether you prefer to use a mouth call, box call, slate or any combination, March means it’s time to start talkin’ turkey.
Youth hunters are sure to benefit from a new rule passed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that established a two-day Youth Spring Turkey Hunt on private property the weekend prior to the opening of spring turkey season in each hunting zone. In Zone A (south of State Road 70), that weekend was Feb. 26-27. In the rest of the state, that weekend falls on March 12-13.
Only those under 16 years old are allowed to harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older. No license or permit is required of the youth or supervising adult, unless the adult plans to help “call-in” the bird or otherwise participate in the hunt. But adults are not allowed to do the shooting – only the kids may harvest a bird.
For safety reasons, the FWC passed another rule that limits the methods of take allowed during spring turkey hunts on wildlife management areas (WMAs), beginning with this spring turkey season. The new rule restricts firearms to shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns only, using shot no larger than No. 2. All legal bows and crossbows can also be used unless a particular WMA doesn’t allow them. But all rifles, pistols, buckshot and slugs are now prohibited during spring turkey hunts on WMAs.
This new rule does not apply to private property, where any legal rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, crossbow, bow or pistol can still be used to take turkeys.
One of the most coveted and sought-after game species in Florida is the Osceola turkey, also known as the Florida turkey. This unique bird is one of five subspecies of wild turkey in North America.
The Osceola lives only on the Florida peninsula and nowhere else in the world, making it extremely popular with out-of-state hunters. They’re similar to the Eastern subspecies (found in the Panhandle) but tend to be a bit smaller and typically are darker with less white barring on the primary flight feathers of their wings.
The National Wild Turkey Federation and the FWC recognize any wild turkey harvested within or south of the counties of Dixie, Gilchrist, Alachua, Union, Bradford, Clay and Duval to be the Osceola subspecies. Eastern turkeys and hybrids are found north and west of these counties and into the Panhandle.
Public Hunting Land (WMA)