Spring turkey hunting season starts in New York state May 1

ALBANY — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced that spring turkey season opens May 1 in all of New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. In addition, the annual youth turkey hunting weekend will take place April 25 and 26. The youth turkey hunt for junior hunters aged 12 to 15 is open in all of Upstate New York and Suffolk County.

While the cold, wet start to the 2019 breeding season meant low reproductive success and poor recruitment in many areas, conditions were better in summer 2018. The population gains made in 2018, combined with good overwinter survival because of abundant food in the fall and relatively mild winter conditions this year, may offset 2019’s poor reproductive success.

Youth turkey hunt on April 25 and 26

∫ Hunters ages 12 to 15 are eligible and must hold a hunting license and a turkey permit.

∫ Children ages 12 to 13 must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or adult over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youths aged 14 to 15 must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or adult over 18 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.

∫ The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. Adults may assist youth hunters, including calling, but may not carry a firearm, bow, or crossbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt.

∫ Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.

∫ The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular spring season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken only north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, beginning May 1.

∫ Crossbows may only be used by hunters 14 or older.

∫ All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

Other important details

∫ 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.

∫ 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 [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 or report harvest online at DEC’s Game Harvest Reporting website.

∫ For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2019-20 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the Turkey Hunting pages of DEC’s website.

Hunt safe, hunt smart

While statistics show that hunting in the state is safer than ever, mistakes are made each year. Every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable, and DEC encourages hunters to use common sense this season and remember what they were taught in their Hunter Education Course:

∫ Point the gun in a safe direction.

∫ Treat every gun as if it were loaded.

∫ Be sure of the target and beyond.

∫ Keep fingers off the trigger until ready to shoot.

∫ Set-up with the back against a tree or other object wider than the shoulders and call birds to the location.

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.

A hunter education class is required for all new hunters. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, hunter education courses have been canceled through April 30. To find a hunter education class, visit DEC’s Hunter Education Program website or call 1-888-486-8332.

COVID-19 tips

∫ Purchase licenses and/or turkey permits online to avoid visiting busy stores or because stores may be closed or have limited hours. Licenses and tags purchased online take 10 to 14 days to arrive, so online purchases for the youth turkey hunt should be made ASAP, and for the regular season by Thursday.

∫ Hunt close to home. Opt for day trips instead of staying at a hunting camp to avoid close contact with other hunters.

∫ Avoid crowds at parking areas and other locations where people congregate. Keep a distance of six feet or more from others.

∫ Avoid high-traffic destinations. If a hunting location is crowded, choose a different spot or time to visit. For alternative hunting locations visit DEC’s website.

∫ Hunt alone. If hunting with someone not from the household, whether an adult or youth, practice social distancing, take separate vehicles to the hunting location, and make sure to maintain at least six feet of distance. Only share a hunting blind with someone from inside the household.

∫ Carry hand sanitizer and avoid touching the face and wash mouth calls after handling.

∫ If hunters do not feel well, they should stay home. Anyone 70 and older or with a compromised immune system should postpone their trip.

For more information about getting outdoors and #RecreateLocal go to DEC’s Website.

Buy licenses online

DEC is encouraging hunters, trappers, and anglers to purchase sporting licenses online to help further limit the community spread of COVID-19. Sporting licenses may be purchased online at any time, and anglers may use their privileges immediately by simply carrying their transaction number with them while afield. Anglers, hunters, and trappers may also use the HuntFishNY mobile app to display an electronic copy of their license. The HuntFishNY app is available for download through the Apple App or Google Play stores. Back tags and carcass tags must still be mailed, and customers should allow 10 to 14 days for receipt of their tags. Please visit our website for more information about sporting licenses.

Citizen science opportunity:

Turkey hunters can record the number of ruffed grouse they hear drumming while afield to help DEC track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a survey form, go to DEC’s website or call (518) 402-8883. To participate in DEC’s Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys, visit the Citizen Science page of DEC’s website.

By Kerry Minor

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