Turkey hunting and management
Wild Turkeys In Wisconsin
The wild turkey is a Wisconsin wildlife management success story. A vital role in the success of the wild turkey management program can be attributed to hunters through their purchase of the Wild Turkey Stamp, which provides critical financial support in providing future opportunities for turkey management and hunting in Wisconsin.
Since wild turkeys were first successfully reintroduced into Wisconsin in 1976, population levels continue to increase and expand statewide. Successful wild turkey restoration resulted from tremendous hunter and landowner support, good survival, and high-quality habitat.
Getting Ready For The Season
Information On Wild Turkeys And HPAI
In the spring of 2022, a strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was detected in numerous domestic and wild birds throughout Wisconsin. It is expected that the virus will continue to circulate in wild bird populations this year. In general, upland birds such as wild turkeys have behaviors and prefer habitats that make them less likely to encounter avian influenza viruses in the wild.
Hunters should never harvest wild birds that appear sick. If you observe a turkey that appears sick, contact the DNR's Wildlife Hotline by emailing DNRWildlifeSwitchboard@wisconsin.gov or by leaving a voicemail for a return phone call at 608-267-0866.
This strain of HPAI does not pose a food safety risk. However, hunters should always ensure the proper handling of game meat. Harvested birds should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
Additional recommendations for hunters are on the USDA website. Visit the DNR's wildlife diseases page for more information on avian influenza and other diseases affecting wildlife health.
Information For Fort McCoy Hunters
Since March 2019, Fort McCoy hunting and fishing permits are no longer available through Go Wild. Instead, hunters should use Fort McCoy’s license system, iSportsman, for on-base hunting and fishing privileges.
Tune in to The Hide hosted by Mark Kakatsch with Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. The episodes dive into topics like setting the game bird hunting seasons, game bird research, cooking wild game, tips for a successful hunt and more. Listen and subscribe to show support for game bird hunting and conservation in Wisconsin.
- Map of turkey management zones [PDF]
- Turkey hunting FAQ
- Transfer your turkey harvest authorization
- FREE First turkey certificate
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): Avian Influenza and Wild Birds [exit DNR]
- Turkey hunting safety tips [PDF]
- Wisconsin turkey hunter's guide [PDF]
- Should We Feed Wild Turkeys? [PDF]
Wild Turkey Harvest Registration Procedures
Register your turkey by 5 p.m. the day after harvest. All registration is electronic and available 24 hours a day. No in-person registration stations are available.
- Register online at GameReg
- Register by calling the Harvest Registration Hotline: 1-844-426-3734
The following information is necessary to register your turkey successfully:
- Harvest authorization number (formerly known as a tag number)
- Harvest date and time
- Harvest location (county and turkey management zone)
- Age (adult or juvenile) and sex (gobbler or hen) of your turkey. Use the graphic below, the Aging and Sexing Eastern Wild Turkeys [PDF], or the Small Game Hunting Regulations to determine the age and sex of your turkey.
A 10-character confirmation number will be issued after successfully registering your turkey. This number is for your records.
NOTE: Only the first two primary wing feathers need to be examined when determining whether your turkey is an adult or a juvenile.
2023 Spring Season
- 2023 Wisconsin Wild Turkey Hunting Update [PDF]
- Bonus Harvest Authorizations - 2023
- 2023 Spring and Fall Update [PDF]
- Spring turkey youth hunt
- Spring turkey hunting opportunities for the disabled
2022 Spring turkey harvest. Last updated 6/2/2022.
2022 Fall Season
One fall turkey harvest authorization is included with each fall turkey or conservation patron license purchased. Customers will need to specify their zone of choice at the time of purchase. Bonus fall turkey harvest authorizations (formerly known as leftover tags) will be sold over the counter starting August 14.
2022 Final fall turkey harvest. Last updated 01/18/2023.
Where To Hunt
Find Properties Open To Public Hunting
- Public land access
- Use this resource to find public land for any outdoor activity, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and wildlife viewing.
- Turkey Hunter Access Program
- THAP is a program where landowners open their properties to the public from March 1 to May 29 for spring turkey hunting. Hunters can find properties enrolled in THAP using the THAP interactive map.
- Voluntary Public Access program
- Through this program, hundreds of landowners have opened their land to the public for hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing year-round. Over 30,000 acres of private land are accessible to the public and can be found using the VPA interactive map.
- Hunt Wild Wisconsin
- Use the new DNR mobile app to explore public lands, brush up on hunting regulations, listen to podcasts and see up-to-the-minute shooting hours.
Wild Turkey Stamp
Turkey stamp funds have been providing opportunities for turkey management in Wisconsin since 1995. The sale of the turkey stamp currently brings in over $750,000 annually for developing, managing, conserving, restoring and maintaining the wild turkey population within the state. A few turkey stamp projects are highlighted below.
Turkey Advisory Committee
The Turkey Advisory Committee, a diverse group representing government agencies, non-governmental organizations, tribal interests and conservation groups, meets to discuss issues relating to turkey management and the Wild Turkey Stamp program. The Committee advises the Wildlife Policy Team on a variety of topics such as hunting regulations, surveys and research priorities.
The goal of Wisconsin's wild turkey management program is to maintain turkey populations in all suitable ranges and optimize quality turkey hunting opportunities in spring and fall.
Committee Meeting Information
Turkey Hunting Safety Tips
If you're heading out in the woods for turkey hunting, be extra careful because you're dressed in camouflage. Most turkey hunting shooting accidents occur because one hunter mistakes another hunter for the game.
It's a good idea to wear a blaze orange cap or gloves while walking. Find a hunting spot that allows you to rest your back against a tree or other object as wide as your shoulders. This helps protect you from not only an errant shot but from the good vision of the turkey.
Follow these simple rules for a safe and successful hunt.
- Use gobble calls only to locate a tom, not to attract one. Some other hunters might think you're a turkey.
- Keep hands and head camouflaged when calling.
- Never stalk a turkey, and don't try to approach closer than 100 yards to a gobbler.
- Select a calling site from which you can see at least 40 yards in all directions.
- Never carry or move an uncovered decoy.
- Follow the four rules of basic firearm safety – TABK.
- T = Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never assume a firearm is unloaded and never treat it that way, even if you watch as it is unloaded. Make it a habit to treat guns like they are loaded all the time.
- A = Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. About one-third of all hunting incidents are self-inflicted injuries. That means the muzzle was pointed at some part of the hunter’s body. A safe direction is a direction where the bullet will travel and harm no one in the event of an unwanted discharge. There are no accidental discharges with firearms, only unwanted discharges.
- B = Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it. Positive target identification is a must. To shoot at something you only think is a legal target is gambling. In the case of human injury, that means gambling on human life. You must be certain and correct in judgment before deciding to shoot. Otherwise, it’s reckless behavior. In addition to identifying the target, a hunter must know that a safe backstop for their bullet is present in every shooting situation. We don’t always hit our target, and, in some cases, the bullet passes through the target. A safe backstop guarantees that no one will get hurt.
- K = Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot. If a hunter stumbles with a firearm in one hand and nothing in the other, whatever that person does with their free hand will automatically happen with the hand holding the gun. If a finger is inside the trigger guard, that hand is likely going to close around the pistol grip of the gun and on the trigger causing an unwanted discharge.