UPDATED: Turkey hunting changes confirmed for 2017

by Steve Galea | December 12, 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?

    • Massive

      It doesn’t require a course, at most you should have to watch a video, or just be an adult and bone up. Every day there are thousands of things that one could have a safety required course for. The turkey course was 95% padding. Well done presenters, they did their best to provide useful info. But the key parts were a few sentences. There was nothing special about hunting turkeys. It is like any hunting, know what you can shoot, don’t shoot things you are not supposed to shoot. It’s universal.

    • Sean

      You can hunt moose with just a hunting license but you think we need a turkey course to hunt turkey. You must have been an instructor. Cash grab

  • 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

        • bush24

          NO!

      • 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!!!

      • Chris Hamilton

        Hi, I went online to renew my fish/small game and deer license, but did not find any place to apply for a turkey tag. Where can we purchase the turkey tags?
        Thank you.

  • 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.

      • Jay

        How does someone who didn’t get turkey card before but has hunting go about getting the turkey part now

      • Jonathan Vezina

        Would you happen to have any information on how they plan to spend the extra revenue this will no doubt generate. I don’t trust this government to do the right thing.

  • 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

  • Joe

    I wonder if all of us who took the course will be getting a refund? LOL

    • Djeal

      I just took the DVD course and test last year lol. It was stupid to need a special course. You don’t need an extra course to shoot deer or moose with a 300 win mag. Lol

  • Ian

    after paying for the course and giving up a day to attend the previously mentioned waste of time, I think it would be appropriate to offer those if us with a T on our card, a tag at a reduced cost.

  • David

    This bugs me ynot only that I had to pay for the class ect but they say our turkey numbers are not where they need to be to hunt both male n female turkeys in the fall right. Now they Wana give everyone the chance to hunt them without taken the class………? Makes no sense to me at all.

  • James

    I would like to have some reliable information on Native hunting laws. Something I can look up and verify.

  • Rob Stewart

    I’m not concerned about the safety stuff… all that is common sense and I get that. I need to learn the bird identification.

  • Ray

    Why? Safety courses were included in the Turkey classes. Not enough to hunt for both male and female now any one can hunt with no education on the safety or turkey there will be no turkeys left. This is WRONG. Not only for the turkeys but what about all of us who were forced to take the course on our only two days off Saturday and Sunday at the Reassinance in HAMILTON. At a cost for us… All should have to still take the course. Soon you will be just handing out hunting licenses without any courses or education about guns or hunting…this is RIDICULOUS

    • mopar44o

      The content will be included in the hunting course. They’re not dumping the content. It’s not going to lead to a massive turkey cull relax.

    • chainsaw

      Most experienced hunters thought the whole turkey course was a waste of time and a money grab. One can shoot a high powered rifle but need a course to identify a hen from a jake or tom. Stupid.

    • Ashley

      Stop wineing. It was just a cash grab anyways.

    • Steve Keelan

      You’re just butthurt you had to pay, get over it.

  • Andrew

    Change is always good. Instead of hating it, embrace the opportunity you have to share your knowledge, and invite a hunter that otherwise would not of taken the opportunity to enjoy this pass time.

  • David

    Ive been hunting turkey for some years now and have been glad to see changes. Ones like additonal tags extended hours. The elimination of the coures is fine as well. One other change i would like to see is when a spring tag is purchased that it is still usable in the fall if its not used in the spring.

    • steve

      Government will never do that. Theyd lose money.

  • Don Fraser

    I’m disappointed that .22 Long Rifle has not been included as a legal option. I’ve taken more grouse with head shots over the past many years than with my shotgun and think wild turkeys would be well suited for this venerable cartridge. Too bad.

  • Steve Keelan

    Its not “anyone” you dolt. You still are required to be a licensed hunter ffs.

  • tim steen

    DONT like the idea of a bow season in area 94 while the deer season starts. there will be both classes of hunters in the woods at the same time. I’m sure people will be calling the mnr every day on this. make it a one week hunt not a month hunt during the deer season or a couple of weeks before the deer season.

  • tim steen

    don’t understand why you would put all the turkey hunters with a crossbow with broadheads in the woods
    the same time deer hunters are in the woods in area 94 . some hunters may have permission for deer hunting and some turkey hunting. this is going to be a problem. should have made the season two weeks before the deer season.

  • Mac

    When is the turkey gun hunting date for October. .thank you

    • Wild turkey gun season opens in selected wildlife management units today, October 10th. So just check the regulations for your specific WMU.