March 10-11 is Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Weekend in Florida. This Saturday-Sunday hunt, which occurs the weekend prior to the opening of spring turkey season in each hunting zone, was established in 2011 on private property. It was such a huge success that this year the two-day hunt also is included on 78 of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) wildlife management areas (WMAs).
Only youths under 16 years old are allowed to harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older. On private land, no license or permit is required of the youth or supervising adult, unless the adult plans to help “call-in” the bird or otherwise participate in the hunt. In that case, the supervisor will need a hunting license and turkey permit.
To prevent overcrowding, most of the 78 participating WMAs require a youth spring turkey quota permit, and if the adult supervisor is going to attempt to call in a bird on any of these WMAs, he or she also will need a management area permit in addition to the hunting license and turkey permit.
There are still youth spring turkey quota permits available for some areas, and they can be obtained by those hunters under 16 years of age on a first-come, first-served basis at MyFWC.com/License or at a license agent, beginning at 10 a.m. EST on March 8.
There are also 23 WMAs that do not require a quota permit. Those are: Apalachicola, Aucilla, Big Bend – Spring Creek Unit, Big Bend – Tide Swamp Unit, Blackwater, Choctawhatchee River (only the south portion of the area), Escambia River, Herky Huffman/Bull Creek, J.W. Corbett, Joe Budd, Jumper Creek, Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Kissimmee River, Lake Monroe, Lochloosa, Log Landing, Lower Econfina River, Middle Aucilla, Osceola, Richloam, Steinhatchee Springs, Three Lakes and Upper St. Johns River Marsh.
For all of these hunts, it is important to note that adults are not allowed to do the shooting; only the kids may harvest a bird. And on WMAs, the only firearms that are allowed to be used during spring turkey seasons are shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns, using shot no larger than No. 2.