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Turkey Hunting

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General Information

  • You may buy only one turkey permit per year.
  • If you have filled your bag limit, you may call turkeys for another hunter, but you may not carry a bow, crossbow, or firearm.
  • If you have taken a turkey that is unfit for consumption, authorized DEC staff may issue a special permit to take another. You will have to surrender the carcass. Call your wildlife or law enforcement office (see Important Numbers).
  • You may call turkeys to aid another hunter only if you are licensed to hunt wild turkey in New York and have a valid turkey permit.

Manner of Taking

  • You must carry your hunting license and turkey permit while you hunt.
  • You may hunt with a bow or crossbow.
  • You may hunt with a shotgun or handgun only when using shot no larger than #2 and no smaller than #8.
  • You may not take a turkey with a rifle, or with a handgun firing a bullet.
  • You may use a muzzleloading shotgun.
  • You may not hunt with a dog during the spring season. You may hunt with a dog during the fall season.
  • You may not use bait to hunt turkey.
  • You may not use an electronic calling or amplifying device to locate or hunt turkeys during the open season.
  • You may use decoys.
  • A scope of any type is allowed.

Tagging and Possession

  • Immediately after taking a wild turkey, you must fill out the appropriate carcass tag in ink, mark or cut out the date and month of kill, and attach it to the carcass.
  • The carcass tag must stay attached to the turkey carcass until it is prepared for eating.
  • You may give your turkey to another person.
  • You must attach a tag with the following information to the turkey carcass:
    1. Your name
    2. Your address
    3. Your hunting license number
    4. Turkey permit carcass tag number
    5. The recipient’s name
    6. The recipient’s address
  • You must report your harvest within 7 days via phone (1-866-GAMERPT) or online (www.dec.ny.gov).

Turkey Hunters Needed For Grouse Survey

DEC is seeking spring turkey hunters to participate in a survey to help monitor grouse populations.

For more information:

  • E-mail us at wildlife@dec.ny.gov and type “Grouse Drumming Survey” in the subject line, or
  • Call 518-402-8883, or
  • Visit www.dec.ny.gov and search for “drumming survey.”

Reward

Protect Wild Turkeys against illegal hunting. Their future depends on you!

The National Wild Turkey Federation is offering a $200 reward to anyone giving information and testimony leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone illegally hunting or killing a wild turkey in the State of New York.

1-844-DEC-ECOS

New Fall Turkey Season Structure

The season alternative that best balanced a desire for higher turkey populations with hunter satisfaction was the same for all geographic regions — a two-week season with a bag limit of one bird of either sex.

As DEC biologists, hunters, and other wildlife enthusiasts have noted over the past 15 years, wild turkey populations have declined dramatically since their peak around 2001. Reasons for this decline include changes in habitat, a more abundant and diverse predator community, and poor reproductive success in extremely wet springs. Certain parts of the state with a better mix of habitat types (e.g., forest, agriculture, and “early successional” habitats such as old fields, young forests and shrublands) can buffer some of the negative effects of habitat loss, predation and weather, but most regions of New York have fewer turkeys today than in the past.

Since 2012, DEC biologists and partners at SUNY ESF and Cornell University have been working to better understand the biological and social factors associated with turkey management. Efforts have included:

  • A study to understand how weather and landscape-scale habitat interact in different parts of the state and how this influences the number of birds found there
  • Surveys of turkey hunters to identify what they value in terms of turkey populations, a high-quality hunting experience, and the tradeoffs they make between hunting opportunity and turkey abundance
  • Field research, where hens were banded and radio-tagged so biologists can track survival and estimate fall harvest rates

The goal of these projects was to develop a thorough understanding of wild turkeys and the people who enjoy them so fall hunting seasons could be set based on current environmental and social conditions. The data collected enabled evaluation of a range of fall harvest alternatives, from a conservative season (2 weeks, 1 bird bag limit) to a liberal season (7 weeks, 2 bird bag limit), to identify the optimal season framework for different regions in New York that best balances turkey populations and hunter satisfaction. On average, fall turkey hunters spend four to six days afield, regardless of season length. In addition, surveyed hunters indicated that the most important factors in their satisfaction were hearing and seeing birds and having the chance to go afield. They valued having a season that includes two or more weekends and that does not overlap with the regular deer season. The optimal season alternative that best balanced the turkey population with hunter satisfaction was the same among all geographic regions — a two-week season with a bag limit of one bird of either sex.

The new fall hunting season structure (see above) is part of a four-year research program. DEC staff banded over 1,000 hens in 2013 and 2014, affixing satellite radios to a portion of these to assess survival rates and harvest rates under the current fall season structure. Staff will continue to band and track hens in 2015 and 2016 to evaluate the impact of a modification to the fall season on harvest and survival. This information, in addition to the abundance, productivity, and hunter survey data collected annually, can be used to offer sustainable fall harvest opportunities that reflect environmental conditions and current trends in turkey populations.

Fall Turkey Season

  • You may take a bird of either sex.
  • There is one carcass tag for the fall season and it may be used in any fall turkey hunting zone. Immediately after taking a turkey, you must fill out the carcass tag in ink and attach it to the bird.
  • If you take a turkey, save one of its legs. You will receive instructions about what to do with the leg when you report your harvest. The legs are used for age and sex information.

Spring Turkey Season

  • In the spring, you may take two bearded birds. You may only take one bird per day.
  • Fill out the carcass tag and attach it to the bird.
  • You do not need to save and send in turkey legs in the spring. You do need to take careful spur, beard, and weight measurements for harvest reporting.
    1. Spur measurements: Spurs should be measured from the tip of the spur to the base of the spur, where it emerges from the scaly part of the leg. Measure to the nearest ¼ inch. Do not measure to the forward edge of the leg, only to the base of the spur.
    2. Beard measurements: Beards should be measured from the tip of the beard to the base, where it emerges from the skin. Put the end of your ruler against the base of the beard and extend the beard along the body of the ruler. Measure to the nearest ¼ inch.
    3. Record the weight of the turkey to the nearest pound.

Spring Youth Hunt

Eligible hunters are 12–15 years of age and hold a Junior Hunting License and a Turkey Permit.

All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult, as required by law for a Junior Hunting License (see General License Information).

The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and Turkey Permit. He/she may assist the youth hunter (including calling), but may not carry a firearm, crossbow or bow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt. Crossbows may only be used by licensees who are 14 years of age or older.

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 beginning May 1.

All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

Turkey Hunting Tips

  • Successful turkey hunters sit and call.
  • Don’t wear red, white, blue or black.
  • Most turkey hunting injuries happen when one hunter stalks another hunter. DON’T TRY TO STALK TURKEY!
  • Assume anything that sounds like a turkey is a human (calls, footsteps).

If you see another hunter…

  • Don’t move, or wave or nod.
  • Don’t make turkey or animal sounds.
  • Do speak up clearly, saying “STOP.”

If you see a turkey…Be 100% sure of your target and beyond.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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