The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds hunters that there are changes this spring turkey season.
Because of safety concerns among Florida’s turkey hunters, the FWC passed a rule that limits the methods of take allowed during spring turkey hunts on wildlife management areas (WMAs). The new rule restricts guns to shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns (using shot no larger than No. 2) and allows bows and crossbows. All rifles, pistols, buckshot and slugs are prohibited during spring turkey hunts on WMAs.
The exceptions are on Joe Budd, Raiford and Santa Fe Swamp, where muzzleloading rifles are still allowed because spring turkey hunting on these areas is restricted to primitive guns only.
This rule does not apply to turkey hunting on private lands.
The second new rule established a special two-day youth turkey hunt on private lands the weekend prior to the opening of spring turkey season in each hunting zone. In Zone A (the southern portion of Florida, south of State Road 70), this youth turkey hunting weekend is Feb. 26-27. In the remainder of the state, this special youth hunt is March 12-13.
Only those under 16 years old may harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older. And as long as the adult supervisor doesn’t actively participate in the hunt, no license or permit is required for either youth or adult.
If the adult wants to help “call in” a turkey, set out decoys or participate otherwise, he or she needs a hunting license ($17 for residents, $46 for a 10-day nonresident license) and turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents). Nevertheless, only the youth can pull the trigger. And any turkey harvested counts toward the youth hunter’s spring season limit of two.
This spring, the youth turkey hunt applies only to private property, the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Area, the Kissimmee River Public Use Area and Lake Monroe WMA.