It was about one year ago we all started to get the itch to get outdoors after the initial COVID shutdown. The proof is the significant increase in the number of turkey hunters. The DEC reported a 25% increase in the number of birds taken in 2020. And they think it could have an effect on this year's season.

The Youth Turkey Hunt begins this weekend for 12 to 15 year old's and regular Spring Turkey Season starts next Saturday, May 1. The DEC says the increase in the number of birds taken last year coupled with an historically poor breeding season in 2019 may make finding an adult bird difficult this year. The good news is, a good breeding season and mild winter in 2020 should make for a good number of Jakes or one-year old turkeys.

With the increase in the number of hunters and a reduction in the adult population of birds, the DEC offers these tips for a safe and successful hunt.

  • You need to be close, 30 yards or less is best
  • Get a clear head and neck shot. Don't shoot them in the body or when flying
  • Smaller shot, no. 4, 5, and 6, work better than larger shot, due to denser patterns
  • When calling, sit with your back against a big tree, to hide from turkeys & stalkers
  • Don't stalk. More than half of hunting injuries happen when one hunter stalks
  • Always assume any call or footsteps 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 them clearly, and don't move
  • Never wave or use a turkey call to alert another hunter
  • Never wear turkey colors: red, white, or blue
  • 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 near you
  • If you take a turkey or carry a decoy, wrap it in hunter orange

The Spring Turkey season runs from May 1 through May 31. Regulations remain mostly the same as previous seasons:

  • Hunting is permitted in most areas of New York, except the 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 2 bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only 1 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 (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

You have seven days to report the taking of a turkey to the DEC. Notification can be done by phone, 1-866-426-3778 or at the Game Harvest Reporting website, you can also get licenses at the website. More information on state regulations and turkey hunting in general are available at the DEC's website.

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