California Outdoors Q&A

  • November 4, 2021
turkey in natural habitat

Turkey hunting season

With fall turkey season coming up, we’ve had a few questions related to method of take. We here at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) think there is no better Thanksgiving dinner than a freshly harvested California organically grown wild turkey! Fall turkey season opens the second Saturday in November and extends for 30 consecutive days. The bag limit is one either-sex turkey per day, two per season.

Methods of take

Q: I have a 10-gauge shotgun I like to use for goose hunting. Can I use it for turkey hunting too?

A: Yes, California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, section 311(a) authorizes use of a shotgun, 10-gauge or smaller, using shot shells only and incapable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined. If a plug is used to reduce the capacity of a magazine to fulfill the requirements of this section, the plug must be of one piece construction incapable of removal without disassembling the gun. We don’t want to dissuade you from using your 10-gauge, but keep in mind, one of the most enjoyable elements of turkey hunting is coaxing the bird into your decoys, or your otherwise concealed position, to get a very close shot. With some experience, practice and patience, you’ll manage to get the birds in where you can take it with something as simple as a .410.


Q: I’m going archery turkey hunting this fall. I’m interested in trying a guillotine-type broadhead for my arrows. Are they legal to use and is there a limit to how big a broadhead can be?

A: Yes, arrows with guillotine type broadheads, meaning broadheads with extended blades, are legal to use. When they work exactly as designed, by way of action like a guillotine, they are the quickest, most humane way of taking a wild turkey. The authorized size of a broadhead for take of resident small game is found in CCR, Title 14, section 311. It states: It shall be unlawful to take wild turkey by use of hunting arrows and crossbow bolts unless fitted with a broadhead-type blade which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths inch in diameter. Mechanical/retractable broadheads shall be measured in the open position.

Notice the regulation is designed to prohibit use of a broadhead that is too small, not too large. The requirement to use a broadhead with the designated minimum size is to be sure that hunters are using arrows with a broadhead lethal enough to affect a quick and humane kill on the turkey (or other game). Be sure to practice extensively with arrows fitted with similarly weighted target tips because the guillotine broadheads are usually much heavier than traditional hunting broadheads. It’s important to know how they are going to fly once you release the arrow. Good luck on your turkey hunt!

Archery only season?

Q: Is there an archery only season for turkey during the fall?

A: No. Methods of take for fall turkey season includes all methods authorized by the CCR, Title 14, section 311, which include bows and arrows.

Occupied dwelling

Q: How far away from an occupied cabin do I have to be to legally hunt turkey with a bow?

A: If you have written permission from the cabin owner, you can hunt near the cabin, as long as you do so safely. However, hunting is prohibited within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling or outbuilding unless you have written permission, per California Fish and Game Code, section 3004 (a). The purpose of the statute is to create a safety zone around occupied dwellings such as cabins.

If the occupants of the cabin aren’t comfortable with hunting, or don’t know you’re hunting, the 150 yard zone helps ensure their safety. If you don’t have permission from the owner of the cabin, or any building where you’re hunting which you could reasonably expect to be occupied, you must be at least 150 yards away from the building to shoot your bow while hunting. Additionally, if you do have written permission to hunt near a friend’s or neighbor’s dwelling, you should give them a heads up about what day and time you’ll be hunting as an added measure of safety.


Categories: General