Hunting the Wild Turkey in San Diego County

A valid California Hunting License is required to hunt in California for both residents and non-residents. If you do not have one, or have not held one, You need to start with a Hunter Safety Class. You can find information about classes offered by Paul Conner here.

Each Spring the National Wild Turkey Federation San Diego Chapter (NWTFSD) hosts the Turkey Tune Up at the San Vicente Reservoir for the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department’s Recreation Program. This event offers new and seasoned hunters (randomly drawn) with the opportunity to access & hunt the wild turkey on some of San Diego Counties most ideal turkey habitat surrounding Lake Sutherland.

We host a number of events each year for both Adult and Youth Hunters. Be sure to check our Calendar.

You might also consider attending our Monthly Meetings.

With some of the best Turkey habitat in California, there are many places to hunt around San Diego County. Both on public and private land.

If you hope to hunt on private land, the California Dept of Fish and Game form FG 994 is one of those things that you should have a few of in your car or truck when you’re out scouting or just driving about in the off season and spot some birds. It pays to have written permission when you’re hunting on someone’s land.  It can save you a hefty fine and or a court appearance.

Print some up and put them with your maps & GPS. You never know when an owner will give you the OK. If you get one signed, get it copied and laminated.

If you ever get to hunt on someone’s else’s land, please do not forget to pick up your trash (i.e. shell casings) and pack it out. Do not forget the owner can revoke the privilege of hunting on their land as well as getting a preconceived disdain for the rest of us.

The DFG Guide to Wild Turkey Hunting.


Why so many maps? It seems that each agencies maps are specific to their land holdings (Federal vs State vs local City vs local County agencies) and do not delineate other agencies holdings. This simple fact may cause you access issues. So, it behooves you to have the other agencies maps to ensure you’re at the right place and getting to those places the “Right”(of) way.

Cleveland National Forest

The Cleveland National Forest Supervisors Office phone number is 1-858-673-6180This phone number has updated information about road closures that will not be on the maps. It is a good thing to check the day before you go driving out to your favorite spot.

Another quick point to bring up is the “Adventure Pass”. In some areas of the forest it may be require to display an “Adventure Pass“ in your parked car.  It’s no fun to come back to a ticketed (or towed) vehicle. Check out this site to be sure you’re covered. Areas with US Forest Services Recreation Fees.

Cleveland National  Forest  Map

Comment: We like the fold-out and coated one which is easy to pack/carry and you can see larger areas all at one time.

Cleveland National Forest Atlas   Check out the 7 ½’ Quadrangle Topographic Maps

Comment: It is also easy to pack/carry, but the over-all view is lost and turning pages while driving is as dangerous as texting while driving. You can easily buy the maps on line or by phone and in the past employees and volunteers from the Cleveland National Forest have come to our San Diego Chapters Turkey Tune Up’s (San Vicente Reservoir) to sell the maps and to provide information about the forest and it’s access.

United States Department of Agriculture
10845 Rancho Bernardo Road, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92127-2107
858-673-6180 – Follow the phone tree

You can reach a customer service specialist during our business hours by calling them @ 406-329-3024 & or check out their on line sites at; MAPS US Forest Service

Bureau of Land Management

BLM maps another good investment. We suggest you have the Borrego Valley and El Cajon maps which encompass a large portion of lands the Wild Turkey now inhabits. The maps are inexpensive.

Check out their maps and how to order information at: MAPS BLM 

Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way   Suite W-1623
Sacramento, CA 95825-1886

California Department of Fish and Wildlife

You may want to check out the areas with your GPS prior to hunting. The maps are on line so you can print and compare the on line information your other maps. The Ecological Reserves and Wildlife Areas have different regulations that I advise you familiarize yourself with them as well as being sure of the access route you take to get there.

DFG Ecological Reserves – Boden Canyon

DFG Wildlife Area – San Felipe Valley

Just as a note if you’re just getting started, it would be wise of you to get involved with a group like the National Wild Turkey Federation – San Diego Chapter and put in the time. Most hunting outdoors groups and their membership are not going to give up their spots they been working on for months just because you show up to a meeting the week before the season opens.

Our last suggestion is to have a “The Thomas Guide” by RAND McNALLY in your vehicle  as well as your GPS.

Other Map resources

onXmaps – GPS Device, Tablet and Smartphone hunting maps with public land and land owner information (Yearly Subscription)

HUNTCA – The Hunt California app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod gives you quick and easy access to season dates, quotas, draw and harvest statistics, regulations, and zone maps, right on your mobile device.

Benchmark California Atlas – The Benchmark California Atlas combines stunning cartography, with a highly usable, feature-rich app, for online and offline use.