New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that spring turkey season opens on Sunday, May 1, in all of upstate New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. In addition, DEC’s annual youth turkey hunting weekend will take place on Saturday, April 23, and Sunday, April 24. The youth turkey hunt for junior hunters ages 12 to 15 is open in all of upstate New York and Suffolk County.
“May is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the fantastic turkey hunting opportunities throughout New York State,” Commissioner Seggos said. “The gobble of a tom turkey keeps hunters going afield year after year to chase these popular game birds.”
The spring turkey harvest in New York averages approximately 19,000 birds and varies based on the number of participants and turkey productivity in the previous few spring seasons. This spring, DEC biologists expect hunters to take more turkeys than last year. Hunters prefer to take toms (birds older than two years) over younger male jakes, so typically wildlife managers see a two-year lag between summer productivity and spring take. Overall, turkey populations are lower than a few years ago due to below-average reproductive success in two of the last three years. However, improved turkey productivity in 2020 will mean a greater proportion of toms available to hunters this spring compared to last year.
Important Information for the May Spring Turkey 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 webpage; and
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 webpage.
Hunt Safe, Hunt Smart!
While statistics show that hunting in New York 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 DEC Hunter Education course:
Point your gun in a safe direction;
Treat every gun as if it were loaded;
Be sure of your target and beyond;
Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; and
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.
A hunter education class is required for all new hunters. To find a hunter education class in your area, visit DEC’s Hunter Education Program webpage or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).
Tips for a Successful and Safe Turkey Hunting Season
Don’t stalk. More than half of turkey hunting injuries happen when a hunter is stalking.
Always assume any call or footsteps you hear are from another hunter. Don’t shoot until you clearly see the whole turkey and know its sex;
If you see another hunter, talk to him or her clearly, and don’t move. Never wave or use a turkey call to alert another hunter;
Turkeys are tough. You need to be close (30 yards or less is best). You need 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, due to denser shot patterns;
When calling, sit still with your back against a big tree, to hide you from turkeys and stalkers;
Never wear turkey colors — red, white, or blue;
Wear hunter orange or pink when going in or out of the woods and when walking around;
When sitting still waiting for a turkey, put hunter orange or pink on a tree near you; and
If you take a turkey or carry a decoy, wrap it in hunter orange or pink.
For more information about getting outdoors and protecting public lands, go to DEC’s Love Our NY Lands webpage and learn how to be prepared, Leave No TraceTM, and other tips to be outdoors safely.
Buy Sporting Licenses Online
Sporting licenses may be purchased online at any time (leaves DEC website), and privileges can be used immediately by simply carrying the transaction number (DEC-LS#) 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 10-14 days for receipt of their tags. Please visit DEC’s website for more information about sporting licenses.
Citizen Science Opportunity: DEC Seeks Turkey Hunters for Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey
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.
Draft Regulations Available for Public Comment
Turkey hunters are reminded that DEC is accepting public comments through June 5, 2022, on proposed regulations that would expand turkey hunting opportunities beginning this fall, changing the minimum shot size from #8 to #9, and establishing a spring turkey season in Suffolk County in 2023. More information about these proposals can be found on DEC’s website.