NC Turkey Season 2023-2024 New Dates & Rules

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Turkey hunters in North Carolina are preparing for the upcoming 2023 season as they prepare for the yearly tradition of tracking down gobblers in the wilderness. North Carolina has a wide variety of environments that provide for strong turkey populations, making turkey hunting a popular sport in the state.

In preparation for the next season, North Carolina turkey hunters should familiarize themselves with the laws that govern the sport. This article will provide readers with an overview of the North Carolina turkey hunting season and cover some of the most important key rules and regulations hunters should be aware of. This information will help you have a productive and satisfying turkey hunting experience, whether you’re a seasoned pro or this is your first time.

NC Turkey Season
NC Turkey Season

North Carolina Turkey Season 2023

Turkey populations in North Carolina have seen a slight increase from the previous year. During the state’s five-week hunting last season, residents bagged more turkeys than ever. Both the statewide and juvenile harvests were far above the three-year norm. It was likely because of the epidemic, which has prompted more individuals to spend time outside.

Swamps, coastal lowlands, agricultural regions, rolling hills, and the Appalachian highlands are all home to turkeys in North Carolina. Many publicly accessible Game Lands contribute to the state’s stellar reputation for turkey hunting. Northern Piedmont and the foothills are two of the best places to go turkey hunting in the state, although you can find turkeys in any county. However, the number of poults produced from turkeys has been low in recent years.

Below are the seasons for hunting turkeys in North Carolina:

Wild Turkey Spring Season

NC Turkey SeasonStart DateEnd DateNote
Wild Turkey Spring SeasonSaturday, April 13, 2024Saturday, May 11, 2024(male or bearded turkey only)

Wild Turkey Youth-Only Season

NC Turkey SeasonStart DateEnd DateNote
Saturday, April 06, 2024Friday, April 12, 2024(male or bearded turkey only)

Youth Turkey Hunting Requirements

All hunters in North Carolina must fulfill the following criteria before participating in the youth turkey hunting season.

  • A hunting license is required for participants who are 16 or 17 years old.
  • If they are accompanied by a licensed adult at least 18 years old, hunters under 16 are excused from having a hunting license.
  • Young hunters with a hunting license or hunter education card are permitted to hunt unaccompanied by an adult.

Hunting Note:

  • Shooting a wild turkey in North Carolina, whether it be with a handgun or a rifle, is illegal.
  • Hunting wild turkeys within 300 yards of a bait location are forbidden. In this case, the baited status will last 10 days after the bait has been consumed or removed.
  • The possession of a wild turkey or a bird that cannot be differentiated from a wild turkey is banned.
  • Youth hunters under 18 may hunt turkeys statewide, but they require special authorization to reach select Game Lands (for more information, see the “Game Lands” section). Every teen must record their captures on a Big Game Harvest Report Card and submit it according to these standards. License-exempt hunters should utilize the Big Game Harvest Report Card to record their captures.
  • For the most up-to-date information on hunting seasons, bag limits, and other restrictions, hunters should refer to the 2023-2024 Regulations Digest, which was made available on August

Bag Limits

Each hunter in North Carolina can only take two turkeys throughout the season. During the youth season, reserved for hunters under 18, they may take just one of these turkeys.

This means a hunter may only take one additional turkey during the standard season (April 10 to May 8) if they took one during the youth season. 

NC turkey season Top Highlights & Regulations

  • North Carolina’s turkey season will run from April 8 through May 6 in 2023. There is also a “Youth-only” season from April 1 to April 7 for hunters under 18.
  • Hunting in North Carolina with a valid North Carolina hunting license and a Big Game Harvest Report Card is legal. If a hunter under the age of 16 is accompanied by an adult or has finished an authorized hunter safety course and acquired a “Certificate of Competency,” they do not require a hunting license.
  • There is a season restriction of two turkeys per hunter and a daily limit of one turkey, and hunters may take only male or bearded turkeys. Turkeys may only be captured by hand, bow, or crossbow 30 minutes before dawn and 30 minutes after dusk.
  • Turkeys can’t be hunted using bait, nor can they be hunted within 300 yards of where bait has been set. It is acceptable to use artificial decoys and make manual calls.
  • The Big Game, Harvest Report Card, must be marked with a notch or a cut to indicate the day and month that a turkey was taken as part of the harvest validation process before the bird may be removed from the harvest site. They must also phone the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s toll-free number (800-446-8663) by the next day at noon to report their catch.
  • Individuals who breach North Carolina’s hunting restrictions fear criminal punishment. This person may face jail time. The perpetrator may also face court fines and penalties. The offender may be accountable for the $1617 replacement cost of the illegally removed turkey. The authorities may seize the turkey thief’s firearm and car. The offender risks losing their firearm and other hunting equipment.

NC Turkey Hunting License

Below are the lists of hunting licenses eligible for turkey hunting in North Carolina.

Resident Hunting License

Resident Hunting License (Turkey Hunting)Cost
Annual Sportsman$53
Adult Lifetime Sportsman$530
Youth Lifetime Sportsman$371
Infant Lifetime Sportsman$212
Senior Sportsman$16
Disabled Veteran Lifetime Sportsman$106
Totally Disabled Lifetime Sportsman$106
Big Game$14

Non-Resident Hunting License

Non Resident Hunting License (Turkey Hunting)Cost
Adult Lifetime Sportsman$1,272
Youth Lifetime Sportsman$371
Infant Lifetime Sportsman$212
10-Day Big Game$80
Big Game (season)$100

Unified Hunting License

Unified Hunting License (Turkey Hunting)Cost
Annual Unified Sportsman/CRFL$69
Adult Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL $716
Youth Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL $477
Infant Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL $292
Senior Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL$32
Disabled Veteran Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL$117
Totally Disabled Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL $117
Adult Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL$1,643
Youth Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL$477
Infant Lifetime Unified Sportsman/CRFL$292

In addition to the 2023 North Carolina turkey hunting season, the state also has a deer hunting season. To learn more about these seasons and other hunting opportunities in North Carolina, be sure to check out our full article on NC hunting seasons.

FAQs on NC Turkey Season

Is it legal to use dogs to hunt wild turkeys in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, it is unlawful to use dogs to hunt wild turkeys.

What are the times when turkey hunting is allowed in North Carolina?

Turkey hunting in North Carolina is allowed from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset.

Dates and Regulations source: NC Wildlife

John Lewis

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