MA Wildlife Seeks Hunter Opinion for Proposed Turkey Hunting Changes

MA Fisheries and Wildlife is interested in feedback for the following proposed changes.

If you would like to provide feedback you can contact Dave Scarpitti directly: (508) 389-6377.

The proposal is being considered as a way to enhance hunter opportunity and experience,  and is supported biologically by our robust
turkey population.

The proposed changes that would go into effect in 2020 are:
 Youth Day
Expand hunting hours to ½ hr before sunrise until 5 P.M. The youth day is only a single calendar
day each year and therefore, limited in terms the total amount of time a youth has to hunt.
Expansion of the hunting hours will greatly increase the total time available for hunting, and
virtually no impact on other constituents or biological issues (e.g., hen disturbance) due to the
relatively low participation on youth day (approximately 250-285 youths statewide).
 Allow all permits issued to youths aged 12-14 to be utilized across the entire spring AND fall
season. Youths aged 12-14 years old who successfully complete the mandatory training program
are issued a free turkey hunting permit with 2 turkey tags. However, currently these tags can
only be utilized on youth day and the remainder of the regular spring season. Initially, when
these permits were created it was deemed reasonable as those youths were specifically
receiving training geared towards spring turkey, and there was limited applicability for the fall
season. However, youths demonstrate significant initiative to earn those permits, and as 12-14
year olds will always be hunting with a mentor (while they are 12-14 years old). Consequently it
is unnecessary to restrict them to the spring season only.
 Spring Season
Increase the daily bag limit to 2 per day. Currently turkey hunter interactions may negatively
affect many hunters across the state. To alleviate the high hunter effort experienced in the early
portion of the spring turkey season without intentionally reducing participation, increasing the
daily bag limit has the potential to reduce hunter effort when some hunters are able to harvest
a season limit in a more efficient manner. This would remove hunters from field and reduce
some hunter interactions. Tagging and reporting would remain similar to deer (2 unsealed in
 Fall Season
Expand fall season (ARCHERY ONLY) to overlap the exclusive archery deer season. In 2012, the
fall turkey season length was originally initiated in WMZ’s 10-12, and season length increased
doubled from 1 week to 2 weeks statewide. Since the changes in 2012, there has been a 300%
increase in the sale of “fall only” turkey permits (i.e., permits purchased after the completion of
the spring season) and a near identical increase in the proportion of turkeys harvested by
archery equipment. The trend in archery harvest during the fall appears to be increasing. Since
2012, the number of turkeys harvested by shotgun each year was not different than before the

season was liberalized. Over half of hunters who indicated they hunt fall turkey do so while
archery deer hunting, thus suggesting that archery deer/turkey hunters are increasingly willing
to harvest turkeys, further expansion of this season would be well received by hunters.
Allow turkey permit buyers/hunters to participate during fall season (remove fall tag
conditionality; i.e. make an additional fall only tag available). Approximately 20% of successful
spring turkey hunters harvest a season limit of 2 bearded birds, and therefore cannot participate
during the fall season under current regulations (2 turkey annual limit). This unnecessarily
constrains the opportunity for avid turkey hunters who could also have interest in fall turkey
hunting. Given the overall high population of turkeys, there is no reason to restrict additional fall