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April 25, 2013

Turkey season begins May 1

Staff Report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Youth turkey hunters were able to get an early start to the season thanks to the Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend held April 20-21.  

Most hunters will have to wait until May 1 to call in the big birds. With the spring season nearing (New York has both spring and fall hunting seasons), the DEC offers some safety tips and rules to keep in mind. For example, the DEC website advises hunters to always identify the target before shooting, and be sure that no other person is in harm’s way. The site says some people are tempted to try to stalk a wild turkey. That should not be done.

“First, it is extremely difficult to approach a turkey undetected. You will be much more successful calling the bird to you. Second, stalking turkeys puts both you and other hunters at risk. Let the bird do the walking,” the website said.

Other tips on the website include:

• Always assume any call or footsteps heard are from another hunter. Don’t shoot until the whole turkey is seen and the sex of the bird can be identified. 

• Never wave or use a turkey call to alert another hunter.

• Turkeys are tough. A hunter needs to be close (30 yards or less is best). The hunter needs to get a clear head and neck shot. Do not try to shoot them in the body or when they are flying.

• Smaller shot, no. 4, 5 and 6, work better than larger shot, because of denser shot patterns.

• When calling, the hunter should sit still with his back against a big tree to hide himself from turkeys and stalkers.

• Never wear turkey colors. It is advised to wear hunter orange when going in or out of the woods and when walking around.

• When sitting still waiting for a turkey, put hunter orange on a tree nearby.

• If a hunter takes a turkey or carries a decoy, wrap it in hunter orange.

A small game hunting license and a turkey permit is required to hunt turkey. Hunting with a bow is allowed. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun only when using shot no larger than No. 2 and no smaller than No. 8. A turkey cannot be shot with a rifle or a handgun. Hunters must fill out the tag that comes with the permit and attach it to any turkey immediately after it is shot. 

For more hunting rules and regulations, visit

The DEC has changed the way that seasonal turkey harvest is reported. In the past, it only summarized the number of birds actually reported by hunters. Now, the department reports an estimated total turkey harvest based on surveys of about 12,000 turkey permit holders after the close of the hunting season. This results in a calculated harvest based on estimated reporting rates, and according to the DEC, provides a more accurate harvest estimate and a more realistic assessment of the status of New York’s wild turkey populations. 

Estimated wild turkey harvest during spring 2012 was about 19,000 birds, well below the five-year and 10-year averages (about 29,500 and 30,300 birds, respectively). Almost 7,800 junior hunters harvested about 1,900 birds during the ninth annual Youth Turkey Hunt. This is twice the harvest observed during the 2011 youth-only hunt. 

For more information about past turkey harvests and for a county by county breakdown, visit