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Turkey Hunting

Wild-Turkey-(Meleagris-gallopavo)-493500143_2964x2117.jpeg

Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service

 

Season Dates, Regulations and Hours

The 2023 Fall Turkey Season runs from September through November or January, depending on the zone. All seven turkey management zones will be open for hunting.

2023-24 Seasons
Fall 2023 Zones 6-7 Sept. 16 -Nov. 17
  Zones 1-5 Sept. 16 -Jan. 7, 2024
2024 Spring Turkey Youth Hunt April 13–14
Spring 2024
Period A April 17–23
Period B April 24–30
Period C May 1–7
Period D May 8–14
Period E May 15–21
Period F May 22–28

Hunters are reminded to review the fall turkey hunting regulations and hours. The complete list of rules and hunting hours can be found in the Fall 2023- Spring 2024 Combined Hunting Regulations [PDF].

For answers to frequently asked questions, see the Turkey Hunting FAQ tab. Hunters should also bring their turkey hunting license, wild turkey stamp and unfilled harvest authorization while hunting.

Shooting Hours

Hunting hours differ depending on the time of year and location (northern or southern half of the state). Hunters can look up their appropriate hunting hours below:

Northern Area

Southern Area

2023-2024 Fall Turkey Harvest
Zone Total
1 649
2 1422
3 895
4 677
5 260
6 278
7 144
Total

4325

 Final 2023-24 fall turkey harvest total. Last updated on 1/09/2024.

Purchase A Hunting License

Purchase a Hunting License
       https://gowild.wi.gov/

Wisconsin has made it easy to buy licenses and registrations. Hunters can purchase a turkey authorization through the Go Wild app. 

*Special Reminder: Registration for the Spring Turkey Season is due on Dec. 10 each year.

NOTE: A person authorized to purchase a license for a permit or harvest authorization issued under a cumulative preference drawing may transfer their awarded permit or harvest authorization to another who meets the required qualifications on the Authorization Transfer webpage.

Bonus Harvest Authorizations

After the preference drawing is complete, all remaining turkey harvest authorizations, now called bonus harvest authorizations, will be sold over the counter. Bonus harvest authorizations will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Each zone will have a designated sales date. The first zone went on sale on Mar. 20. Hunters may buy leftover harvest authorizations on a one-per-day basis until they are sold out or the season is over. Visit the Spring Bonus Harvest Authorizations page or Fall Bonus Harvest Authorizations page for more information.

Fort McCoy

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.

Spring Turkey Drawing

Spring turkey harvest authorizations are issued through a preference-based drawing system. Harvest authorizations are issued by evaluating every combination of zones and time periods the applicant would accept. Applicants can choose two-time period-zone combinations and one zone they'd get any time (if the first two choices are unavailable). A harvest authorization can only be issued if that time period and zone are listed on the application. For the greatest chance of receiving a harvest authorization through the preference drawing, applicants should diversify their options by listing all time periods and zones they would be willing to accept.

The drawing issues one harvest authorization to as many applicants as possible. The remaining harvest authorizations will be sold after the drawing as Bonus Authorizations. Under no circumstances can a harvest authorization be exchanged for a different time period or zone. Please refer to the Turkey Hunting Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about the turkey drawing and preference point systems.

Hunting Programs

Mentored Hunting Program

The Mentored Hunting Program allows hunters born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and harvest authorization without first completing Hunter Education. The hunter must be accompanied by a licensed hunter, hunt within arm's reach of their mentor and comply with all of the requirements under the Mentored Hunting Program. This one-on-one mentoring opportunity gives first-time hunters a chance to try hunting. It enables veteran hunters to pass on their passion for the outdoors and help keep Wisconsin's hunting heritage strong. 

Learn To Hunt

The Learn to Hunt Program is an educational opportunity outside of the regular hunting season, designed to help inexperienced hunters of all ages have a high-quality, safe, and rewarding first-time hunting experience under the guidance of qualified Hunter Education instructors and hunting mentors. Participants will receive both classroom and field instruction before hunting. All participants will be paired with a qualified mentor to provide the highest level of education and safety. Many Learn to Hunt events are sponsored by local conservation clubs and organizations under the supervision of the DNR.

Disabled Hunting Opportunities

Wisconsin provides a variety of hunting permits for those with disabilities. This opportunity is intended to help people with disabilities enjoy the state's natural resources. Turkey hunters with a Class A, B, or C disabled hunting permit may apply for the Wild Turkey Hunt for People with Disabilities using Forms 2300-271 and 2300-271A. Applications are only valid on designated private land. Applications must be completed and submitted by Dec. 10. Any hunter applying for a disabled hunt on private land may not apply for a harvest authorization through the regular spring turkey drawing.

Spring Youth Hunt

Wisconsin's annual Youth Hunt is designed to allow young hunters to hunt and gain valuable experience without competing against more veteran hunters. The Youth Hunt is open to resident and nonresident hunters under age 16 with a valid spring turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization. Youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult age 18 or older. All youth hunters must have completed Hunter Education unless participating in the Mentored Hunting Program. Youth Hunters can use a harvest authorization for any time period, but they are limited to the turkey management zone associated with their approval. All other spring turkey hunting regulations apply. 

Where To Hunt

Turkey hunting in Wisconsin is divided into seven management zones. Hunting authorizations have a zone indicated on them, so hunters need to pay attention to where they are authorized to hunt this season.

Find Properties Open To Public Hunting

In addition to private hunting opportunities, Wisconsin turkey hunters have walk-on access to 40,000 acres of private land during the spring turkey season

With support from the USDA, the DNR partners with private landowners to lease public access to hunting habitats across Wisconsin for the Turkey Hunter Access Program (THAP) and the Voluntary Public Access (VPA) Program. Additionally, through the Managed Forest Law (MFL) and Forest Crop Law (FCL) programs, private forest lands are open to the public for recreation, including turkey hunting.

Hunters can search for their next turkey spot through:

  • Public land access
    • Use this resource to find public land for any outdoor activity, including hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and wildlife viewing.
    • Voluntary Public Access Program (VPA)
      • Through this program, hundreds of landowners have opened their land to the public for year-round hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing. Hunters do not need to contact landowners for permission to access these properties.
      • Over 30,000 acres of private land are accessible to the public and can be found using the VPA interactive map.
    • Turkey Hunter Access Program (THAP) *Spring season only
      • THAP is a program where landowners open their properties to the public from Mar. 1 to May 30 for spring turkey scouting and hunting. Hunters do not need to contact landowners for permission to access these properties during this time period.
      • Hunters can find properties enrolled in THAP using the THAP interactive map.

    Turkey Hunting Safety Tips & Guide

    Be extra careful when heading out in the woods for turkey hunting. 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. See the printable Turkey hunting safety tips [PDF].

    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 gun 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 always loaded.
      • 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 approach is 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 sure 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 specific 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; 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 will likely close around the gun's pistol grip and on the trigger, causing an unwanted discharge.

    Turkey Hunter's Guide

    Wisconsin turkey hunter's Guide [PDF]

    Turkey Hunt FAQ

    Turkeys Silhouetted on a field

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Turkey Hunting

    What are the recent changes to the turkey season?
    • As of September 2017, the tagging regulations for harvesting turkeys have changed. See the Turkey Carcass Tag FAQ for more information.
    • Since 2018, the fall turkey drawing has been waived. See "How do I get a fall turkey harvest authorization?" below for more information.
    What do I need to participate in the turkey hunt?

    To hunt wild turkey in Wisconsin, you need a turkey harvest authorization (formerly known as a carcass tag/permit), a turkey license and a wild turkey stamp. An annual turkey stamp, a spring turkey license, a fall turkey license and a fall turkey harvest authorization can be purchased through Go Wild and are included with a Conservation Patron License or a Senior Citizen Recreation Card. A spring turkey harvest authorization can be obtained through the spring turkey drawing or purchased as a bonus harvest authorization. Visit the turkey hunting webpage for more information.

    How do I get a spring turkey harvest authorization?

    Spring turkey harvest authorizations (formerly known as carcass tag/permit) are distributed using a preference-based drawing system. Hunters must submit a $3 application to receive a turkey harvest authorization. Applications are available at any DNR service centerlicensing agent or online through Go Wild. The application deadline is Dec. 10. Application status can be checked through Go Wild. Successful applicants will be notified by mail. After the drawing occurs, bonus turkey harvest authorizations will be sold over the counter on a first-come, first-served basis.

    How is preference determined for the spring harvest authorization drawing?

    Preference status is based on Wisconsin residency, land ownership, and preference points. Below are the preference categories, where #1 has the highest preference:

    1. Resident landowners with 50 or more contiguous acres;
    2. Residents with one or more preference points;
    3. All other residents;
    4. Nonresident landowners;
    5. All other nonresidents.
    How do I know if I successfully drew a harvest authorization in the spring turkey drawing?

    The spring harvest authorization drawing takes place in late January. Successful applicants will be notified by postcard. Application status can also be checked through Go Wild at a DNR service center or by calling 1-888-WDNRINFO (1-888-936-7463).

    What state parks are open to spring turkey hunting?

    Information on hunting in state parks.

    Are the spring zones the same as the fall hunting zones?

    Yes. See Wild Turkey Management Zones.

    How do I get a fall turkey harvest authorization?

    New for 2018, one fall turkey harvest authorization is included with each fall turkey or conservation patron license at no extra cost. Hunters will choose the zone they would like to hunt at the time of purchase. Select zones will have bonus fall turkey harvest authorizations available for sale starting in August.

    What do I need to carry with me while hunting?

    While hunting turkeys, you must have a valid copy of your license, stamp and harvest authorization (formerly a carcass tag/permit). This includes a DNR-issued Conservation Card, a Go Wild validated WI driver's license, a Go Wild digital file or a paper printout.

    How do I register my turkey?

    It is required by law to register your turkey by 5 p.m. the day after harvest. The harvest authorization number (formerly known as a tag number) is required to register your harvest successfully. Register online or over the phone through GameReg. In-person registration stations are no longer available. Visit the turkey hunting webpage for more information.

    How do I get a copy of the wild turkey stamp?

    When you purchase a stamp through Go Wild, you purchase electronic permission. A physical copy of the turkey stamp is no longer necessary to legally harvest a bird, but many people still want the stamp for collection purposes. You can get a physical copy of your turkey stamp at any DNR service center or request it is mailed. Visit the collector stamp webpage for more information on obtaining a copy of your stamp or purchasing additional stamps.

    Game Brood Survey

    The survey period is from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31. You can help by recording and reporting your observations of game bird broods.

    Game Brood Survey [PDF]

    What is the bag limit?

    The bag limit for the spring season is one bearded or male turkey per spring turkey harvest authorization (formerly known as a carcass tag/permit). The fall season bag limit is one turkey of any age or sex per fall turkey harvest authorization.

    What are the preference points?

    Preference points are awarded to applicants who applied for but did not receive a turkey harvest authorization (formerly known as a carcass tag/permit) the previous season. The more points you have, the higher you rank in your preferred category. Preference points are cumulative but expire if you do not apply at least once in a 3-year period. Points are returned to zero upon receiving a turkey harvest authorization or expiration.

    What is landowner preference?

    Landowners may be Wisconsin residents or nonresidents. To qualify, you must personally own 50 or more acres in one tract within the management zone you select as your first choice to be eligible for landowner preference in that zone. The acres may be adjacent to one another to make up the 50-acre tract. You are not required to live on this tract. (Note: This does not mean a different person may apply with landowner preference for every 50 acres within one ownership.) If the land is under joint ownership, only one of the owners may use it for landowner preference. When claiming landowner preference, only your 1st zone and time period choice will receive the preference in the drawing. Group members claiming landowner preference will lose preference if the zone differs from the group leader's.

    How do group applications work?

    A maximum of ten people who wish to hunt together may apply as a group in the spring turkey drawing. Each group must designate a group leader. Each member, including the leader, must write the group leader's DNR customer ID on their application in the selected section. If group members have different preference levels, the lowest preference will be used for the group in the drawing.

    Landowner preference only applies to groups if every group member is eligible for and claims landowner preference. Group members must request identical zones and time periods in the same order. If different, the choices on the group leader's application will be used. Failure to correctly complete the application will disallow you from your group.

    What opportunities are there for disabled turkey hunting?

    Information on spring turkey hunting opportunities for people with disabilities.

    Do I need a license to assist other hunters?

    No license is required to call turkeys if you do not possess a firearm or bow. A guide license is required if you are charging a fee for your assistance.

    Can I shoot a turkey for another hunter?

    No.

    Can I hunt turkey with the aid of dogs or bait?
    • Bait may not be used to hunt wild turkey.
    • Hunters with a fall turkey harvest authorization (formerly known as a carcass tag/permit), stamp and license may use dogs to hunt wild turkey throughout Wisconsin during the fall season. It is not legal to hunt turkey with the aid of dogs during the spring season.
    Should we Feed Wild Turkey?

    Should We Feed Wild Turkeys? [PDF]

    Register A Wild Turkey Harvest

    Remember, registration is mandatory. Hunters are required to register their turkeys by 5 p.m. the day after harvest.

    All registration is electronic and available 24 hours a day. No in-person registration stations are public. 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)
    • Sex (gobbler or hen) 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 must be examined when determining whether your turkey is an adult or a juvenile. 

     

    First Harvest Certificate

    If a turkey hunter wants to apply for a First Turkey Harvest Certificate, they should fill out the form and submit a photo of them in the field. More details can be found on the First Harvest Certificates webpage

     

    2023 Spring Turkey Preliminary Harvest Data

    Last updated on 06/09/2023.
     
    Zone Harvest
    Zone 1 11,737
    Zone 2 10,082
    Zone 3 10,311
    Zone 4 6,629
    Zone 5 1,944
    Zone 6 1,101
    Zone 7 545
    FM 90
    Total 42,439

    What Is HPAI In Wild Turkeys?

    HPAI is a highly pathogenic avian influenza detected in Wisconsin in domestic poultry and some species of waterfowl and raptors. In general, upland birds like 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 ill, contact the DNR's Wildlife Switchboard by emailing DNRWildlifeSwitchboard@wisconsin.gov or 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.