New York Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1, Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend Set for April 21-22

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The 2012 spring turkey season opens May 1 in all of upstate New York lying north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary and the annual Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend is set for April 21-22, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today reminded hunters. The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York and Suffolk County.

"Turkey hunting remains a very popular activity with more than 100,000 turkey hunters taking to the field each spring," Commissioner Martens said. "Since 2004, we have also offered a special opportunity for junior hunters. The Youth Turkey Hunt is an excellent chance for young hunters to spend time afield with experienced adult hunters to learn about conservation first-hand, gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of New York's hunting community."

Important Details for the Youth Turkey Hunt on April 21 and 22:

  • Eligible hunters are 12-15 years of age and must hold a junior hunting license and a turkey permit.
  • Youth 12-13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youth 14-15 years of age 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. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling, but may not carry a firearm or bow, 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 youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, and Suffolk County.
  • 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 in upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, beginning May 1.
  • All other wild turkey hunting regulations are in effect.

Other Important Details for the Spring Turkey Season, May 1-31, 2012:

  • 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 small game hunting or sportsman 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 and arrow.
  • Successful hunters must fill out the tag which 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 game harvest on DEC's website.

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2011-12 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the "Turkey Hunting" pages of the DEC website.

New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters, largely due to the annual efforts of more than 3,000 dedicated volunteer Sportsman Education instructors. Even one incident is too many, so be sure to follow the cardinal rules of hunting safety: (1) assume every gun is loaded; (2) control the muzzle; (3) keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; (4) be absolutely sure of your target and what may be beyond it; and (5) don't stalk! Set-up with your back against a large tree and call birds to you. To find a sportsman education class in your area, go to DEC's website or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).

Results from 2011:

An analysis of the 2011 spring turkey take, including a county-by-county breakdown, can be found on the DEC website. Take figures for the 2011 fall turkey season and county-by-county breakdown can be found on DEC's website.

Participation Opportunities:

DEC Seeks Turkey Hunters for Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey - Turkey hunters in pursuit of that wary gobbler in the spring are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season. The characteristic sound of a drumming male grouse is as much a part of the spring woods as yelping hens and gobbling toms. Turkey hunters can record the number of grouse they hear drumming while afield to help DEC track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey form, go to the DEC website or call (518) 402-8886.

To participate in DEC's Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys visit the "Citizen Science" page of the DEC website.

Do you have photos from a spring turkey hunt you would like to share? DEC has created a Hunting and Trapping Photo Gallery for junior hunters ages 12-15, young trappers under age 16 and hunters who have harvested their first big or small game animal. If you are the parent or legal guardian of a junior hunter, or if you are an adult who would like to share your first successful hunt, visit the photo gallery on the DEC website.