Public Land Turkey Hunting

CA_Wapiti

Member
How’s it going Gents? This will be my first year chasing gobblers here in California and I’m not sure how popular turkey hunting is here in the state but I wanted to see what everyone’s opinion was on the quality of the hunting and possibly some good state land to get out and chase some Toms this Spring!

I’ve done a bit of research and have seen some turkeys while hunting on Fort Hunter Liggett but with the varying availability on Hunt Areas up there and the drive (I’m stationed at Camp Pendleton) I’m interested if there are “better” or I should I say closer areas that won’t require a 6 hour drive to try and bag a bird. Trying to stay in the woods during “Application Season” while I wait for that tag-of-a-lifetime.

I’ve heard there are pretty good numbers near Ramona/Julian area. Any information is welcomed! My public land Indiana archery buck and Fort Hunter Liggett archery pig for your time.
 

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BigJav

Member
They’re out there... but you’re going to find it’s tough to find a lot of public land birds in the spring. I’ve found that most of the good habitat is in lower elevations in the foothills and most of that is private. There’s tracts of public that have birds and aren’t super crowded but it’s far from having the place to yourself, well at least in the southern Sierra where we hunt them.
 

bullskin

Active Member
It sounds like you have hunted turkey before, and so you already know that you don't need a lot of birds, just a few in an out-of-the-way spot where you won't be overrun by others. I killed my first turkeys on the Los Padres National Forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. When I wasn't calling birds I was just listening and watching the whales blow. It's a pretty big piece of real estate and most hunters I have met won't travel far from their trucks. Go check it out.
 

CA_Wapiti

Member
Bullskin,

That sounds like an enjoyable hunt right there. I’ll be sure to look into it. I’m heading North this weekend to hunt pigs on FHL so we will see what turkey sign I come across. If the sign is looking promising I will bite the bullet and make the drive up there to a known area with birds but if nothing turns up, I’m always down for an adventure. The season is long enough to hunt new spots and I am assuming that it really heats up around the middle of April once the hens begin to nest and the Toms lose their hens and start searching again.
 

bullskin

Active Member
The birds will be most active in the early season--especially this year which is shaping up to be earlier than usual. Especially where hunted, they learn to quiet down by mid-season and there are usually enough hens to go around that they can afford to do so. You are right, though, that afternoons during the late season are when I succeed in getting the tough birds that avoided me to that point. They may not call as much, but they are primed to move. In addition to Hunter Liggett, I have read there are birds on the Los Angeles NF. I have never scouted or hunted it, but you might check that as well. Good luck.
 

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