Spring turkey season opens May 1

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The spring turkey hunting season will begin May 1 in all of upstate New York. Courtesy of Pexels

Spring turkey season opens Sunday, May 1, in all of upstate New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. Licensed hunters are also required to have a turkey permit, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC officials said in a statement that turkey hunting is a safe activity and will continue getting safer each year as long as you remember to point your gun in a safe direction; treat every gun as if it were loaded; be sure of your target and beyond; and keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

Remember, stalking stinks! Sit with your back against a tree or other object wider than your shoulders and call birds to you. DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze pink when moving between hunting spots to make themselves more visible to other hunters. A blaze orange or blaze pink vest or other material can be hung in a nearby tree when you are set up and calling birds so other hunters are alerted to your presence.

Spring turkey harvest in New York averages about 19,000 birds and varies based on the number of participants and turkey productivity in the previous few springs.

This spring, DEC biologists expect hunters to take more turkeys than last year. Hunters prefer to take toms (2 or more years old) over younger male “jakes,” so typically wildlife managers see a two-year lag between summer productivity and spring take.

Overall, turkey populations are lower now than a few years ago due to below-average reproductive success in two of the last three years; however, the good news is that improved turkey productivity in 2020 will mean a greater proportion of toms available to hunters this spring compared to last year.

The DEC offered these tips for a safe turkey hunting season:

  • Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Long Island;
  • Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their hunting license;
  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day;
  • Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day;
  • The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken in upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) beginning May 1;
  • Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow or crossbow (except crossbows may not be used in Westchester County);
  • Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested;
  • Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online at DEC’s Game Harvest Reporting website.

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2021-22 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the Turkey Hunting pages of DEC’s website.

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