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UPDATED: Turkey hunting changes confirmed for 2017

by December 12th, 2016

turkey hunting changes

Ontario’s wild turkey hunting season will look a little different now that proposed changes have been confirmed for January 1, 2017 implementation.

On Sept. 19, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) posted a proposal on Ontario’s Environmental Registry that would alter the wild turkey hunting regulations. The post was open to public comment until November 3.

The changes standardize April 25 as opening day for the spring wild turkey season. Previously, when this date fell on a weekend the season start was delayed until the following Monday.

The proposal also called for the elimination of the separate wild turkey hunter education course. Instead, the course content will be incorporated into the Ontario Hunter Education Program that all new hunters must pass.

Other changes included allowing hunters to use size 7 shot. Previously, only shot sizes 4, 5, and 6 were legal. A proposed spring season will open in Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 36 and a fall season in WMU 94. As well, a bows-only season is confirmed from October 1 to 31 in all WMUs that have a fall season. Gun seasons in those areas will remain unchanged.

Lastly, the proposal called for a clarification of the minimum bow weight required to hunt wild turkey. The weight will be clarified in the regulations to match the requirements for white-tailed deer (e.g. minimum draw weight and length).

The news of the proposed changes was hailed as positive by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH).

“More than 1,300 turkey hunters responded to an OFAH survey in April, providing great feedback that clearly showed a high level of satisfaction with turkey management in Ontario, while also identifying some opportunities for improvements,” said OFAH Fish and Wildlife Biologist Dawn Sucee.

“The OFAH is happy to see some of the opportunities identified by hunters reflected in the current proposal, but we believe there are many other sustainable enhancements that can be made to wild turkey management beyond the current proposal,” added Sucee. “We will continue to pursue other important topics including youth hunting opportunities, licence fees, sealing requirements, reporting improvements, and habitat.”

To read the full proposal visit https://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/ and search for EBR Registry number 012-8597.

Get our top three pro turkey tips here.

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  • Sue Brock

    i think the wild turkey course is essencial for newly licenced hunters , when i took it , i was absolutely amazed at the safety aspect u actually learn during the dvd visual course ,,, things i never new and would never have thought of had not taken the simple dvd course ,,, for the safety of all who go out every year for turkey i think it should remain the same way it is now

    • Richard Forbes

      Again, they are not scrapping the education, they are simply including it into the hunter education course that you do to hunt every other animal in Ontario.

      • Gordon Kerr

        Richard I did my Turkey course years ago. Was wondering if you could answer a question for me? My son is a hunter now for 4 years can he Hunt turkey without the turkey course? And just with a small games license and a turkey tag? Thanks

        • If your son has already completed the Ontario Hunter Education Program and possesses a valid H1 or H2 Outdoors Card and a valid Small Game Licence he is now eligible to purchase a Turkey Licence.

          • Mark Belisle

            what about out of province hunters? i.e someone from say Manitoba wanting to hunt Wild Turkeys in Ontario, do they need the course? They would have a valid Manitoba Hunting License, though not an Ontario Hunting License? Any Idea?

  • Mike

    I didn’t go turkey hunting this year and am giving it up. I pay $31.98 for a spring licence and the past couple of years a tom just wouldn’t come into range 100’s of hens though. No big deal really because that’s hunting. Then I am forced to buy a fall tag, another $31.98. After I harvest a turkey with an average weight of 20lbs I’m paying $3.30 a lbs. This isn’t right to me. We should be able to use our spring tag for the fall season and until this happens I’m done with turkeys. A deer tag is $50/ average of 100lbs= 0.50 a lbs.
    $19 more for 80lbs of extra meat. Think about that for a minute people.

  • Ron

    I agree completely with Mike’s issue about multiple fees for turkey. Spring 2016 my wife and I hunted for many days before finally succeeding with one tom. The year before we hunted Spring and Fall, and were skunked both times. Several hens around but no jakes or toms.
    I like the addition of bowhunting for a month, it’s long overdue.
    I agree somewhat with Sue’s comment. I think she means the course material is invaluable. My issue is the ridiculous way it gets delivered. I remember having to order and pay for a DVD, then wait for it to be mailed to me, then view it, and only then could I go into town for a day course on turkey hunting. And I had to present a receipt for my DVD, with my name on it. My wife did the course as well, and she had to order a separate DVD, which is just nuts. I do agree the content is very valuable, but the course material should all be put online. Maybe the licensing folks can figure out a way to have applicants for turkey tags complete the education component online, and block the issue of tags to resident hunters who haven’t completed it. I see no reason to be paying fees, fees and more fees for such trivial stuff.

  • Wayne

    I think it’s a mandatory thing that should not change. You want to hunt turkey then you need to do the corse. There are too many people out there that can’t tell the difference between the two birds when they are out there. One season I had a trespasser come in and take aim on my hen decoy I had to yell at them to get out of there that it was a decoy. They turned to me and shrugged their shoulders and said “me no speeka the English”. That’s why I say it should stay the same. None of this online B/S. everyone that has taken the coarse would agree with me I would hope.

    • Richard Forbes

      You aren’t doing so well at “the English” yourself, there, guy! And I don’t agree, the “turkey course” was a complete cash grab. Furthermore, they are not getting rid of it, but amalgamating it into the mandatory hunter safety course. I’m not even sure where your “online B/S” comment comes from…. Have a good day.

      • Tim

        I got the hunting course do i still have to take the turkey course to hunt them

      • Karl Roberts

        I agree. Total tax grab. The only thing I got from the Turkey course was ‘don’t wear red, white or blue’. I guess I shouldn’t wear Carhartt brown when bowhunting deer, too? Next thing you know there’ll be a Deer course/tax grab.

  • peter haines

    turkey tags cost too much compared to deer? We should complain and bond together that we are being ripped off!

  • peter haines

    Why are turkey tags so expensive? Wake up guys we are getting ripped off! Compared to deer and moose for meat its too much$$$ for a tag!

  • John Matthews

    These changes are a great start. It would be good to be able to use unused spring tags for a fall Turkey. This would help to make it more economical and since the tag has already been paid for, it’s only right to allow the hunter to use the tag any time that year.

  • Mike

    31 bucks should be fir 3 turkey tags
    The way things are going in this province people will just stop buying tags.
    Lower the price of deer tags or give out asditional seales in areas with nusance populations. Dont put the mooses and deer hunt back to back. Nobody can tak 2 weeks off to hunt in a row. Anti hunters in this government are killing our right to hunt

  • Tim

    I got hunting course do i need the turkey course to

    • If you have already completed the Ontario Hunter Education Program and
      possess a valid H1 or H2 Outdoors Card and a valid Small Game Licence you
      are now eligible to purchase a Turkey Licence.

      • Tim

        Thank you

      • Rob Stewart

        How does someone learn all the info on the Turkey course now? Will OFAH make the info available on youtube? As someone else said the problem will be education.

        • The OFAH together with the MNRF are working on creating an informational video outlining the key components of the Wild Turkey Hunter Education Course for those individuals seeking wild turkey hunting education. The video should be available for viewing on multiple websites by March 2017.

          • Rob Stewart

            Thanks!

      • Kristyn

        This is great news!!!

  • Mark Belisle

    Question. How does this apply to non resident hunters i.e someone from say Manitoba wanting partake in an Ontario Turkey hunt? They would not have had the Ontario Hunter Education course, but rather the equivalent in Manitoba. Would they require the course?

    • A non-resident does not need to take a separate course all that would be needed is proof of hunting accreditation in their area of residence to be eligible to purchase a non-resident small game licence, wild turkey licence, and tag.

  • Rdh

    I know you’ve got rid of the deer but I have an archery season open forever and now you want to get rid of the turkeys as well no need for one month fall turkey hunt none