Bagging an Osceola turkey is a big deal for sportsmen
As I See It
Friday, March 05, 2010
Media contact: Chairman Rodney Barreto
Florida is known, near and far, as the "Fishing
Capital of the World" and with good reason. But the Sunshine State
also enjoys some pretty good hunting opportunities, with arguably
the best gator and wild hog hunting around. And Florida is home to
one game animal that has hunters from all over the world planning
trips here for the chance at harvesting one of these fine
I'm talking about the Osceola wild turkey, also
known as the Florida turkey.
What really makes the Osceola special is that it
lives on the Florida peninsula and nowhere else in the world. That
fact alone makes the bird extremely popular with out-of-state
hunters who might be trying to complete a Wild Turkey Grand Slam by
harvesting each of the four subspecies that occur in the United
States - those being the eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam and the
When it comes to appearance, the Osceola looks very
similar to the eastern subspecies, found in the Panhandle, portions
of North Florida and the rest of the eastern United States and
parts of Canada. The Osceola, however, tends to be a bit smaller
and typically a darker shade with less white barring on the flight
feathers of its wings.
The most noticeable difference is the white bars on
the Osceola's primary flight feathers; they're narrower, with an
irregular, broken pattern, and they don't extend all the way to the
feather shaft, as compared to the eastern.
When you observe a turkey in a relaxed posture, the
whitish, triangular patch that is formed when its wings are folded
across its back is less noticeable on the Osceola than it is on the
eastern, because of the reduced white barring on the Osceola.
Another visible difference is the feathers of an Osceola tend to
show more iridescent green and red coloring, while the eastern's
feathers have more of a bronze coloring to them.
Now, it can be argued that the truer Osceola turkey
is found in the southern portion of the state. But to help
clarify for hunters where each subspecies resides, for
record-keeping purposes, the National Wild Turkey Federation and
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
recognize any wild turkey harvested within or south of the counties
of Dixie, Gilchrist, Alachua, Union, Bradford, Clay and Duval to be
the Osceola subspecies. Eastern turkeys occur north and west
of these counties into the Panhandle.
And regarding turkey hunting, I am very pleased to
announce that in February at the FWC meeting in Apalachicola,
Commissioners passed into law a new rule, establishing a special,
two-day youth turkey hunt the weekend prior to the opening of
spring turkey season in each hunting zone. I need to mention,
though, that this youth spring turkey hunt weekend applies only to
private property and does not come into play until the 2011 spring
Only those under 16 years old are allowed to
harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older
during the new youth season. However, any adult supervisor
who has a hunting license and turkey permit will be allowed to
"call in" a turkey and otherwise participate in the hunt, but only
the youths will be permitted to harvest one.
So, this spring, you can expect to see some new
hunters in our turkey woods, and I'd like to personally welcome
them to our great state. After all, these visitors help
stimulate our economy, plus, there's plenty of Osceola longbeards
to go around.
Good luck and happy hunting.