New York Turkey Season Opens May 1

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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis reminded hunters that the 2009 spring turkey season opens on May 1, with the annual special Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend set for April 25-26.

"Turkey hunting is a challenging and exciting activity that is enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors each spring and fall," Commissioner Grannis said. "Along with trying to provide a quality hunting experience, DEC in recent years has launched several studies on these important game birds, collecting a large amount of useful data that have helped give us a greater understanding of our wild turkey population. We intend to continue this work in 2009 with the continued support of the public."

The spring and fall 2008 turkey seasons saw slight declines in harvest from the previous year, accompanied by a large variation in nest and brood success due to wide dissimilarities in spring rainfall in different regions of the state. In winter 2009, DEC staff implemented the first standardized winter flock survey after a three-year pilot program, and completed a four-year banding study designed to assess turkey survival and harvest rates.

Youth Turkey Hunt Spring 2009

The sixth annual Youth Turkey Hunt will be held on April 25-26, 2009. This is an excellent opportunity for youths ages 12-15 to spend time afield with experienced adult hunters gaining the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting community. Other important details of the youth turkey hunting weekend include:

  • 1. Eligible hunters are youth 12-15 years of age, holding a junior hunting license and a turkey permit.
  • 2. Youth 12-13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or relative 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 an adult over 18 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
  • 3. 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.
  • 4. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.
  • 5. The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth's regular season bag limit of 2 bearded birds. A second bird may be taken beginning May 1.
  • 6. All other wild turkey hunting regulations are in effect.

Spring 2009 Forecast

Based on brood surveys the last two years and harvest data, the spring 2009 season has the potential to be about the same as 2008 and close to the five-year average spring harvest (about 29,500 birds). An above-average 2007 hatch combined with a decent late-season hatch in 2008 should provide hunters with opportunities to harvest two-year-old birds as well as quite a few jakes. There is a lot of variation among regions of the state and even within a region. Northern New York, in particular, received above-average spring rainfall in 2008, so production was worse there than in other parts of the state. Unfortunately, that's two straight seasons with poor production in DEC Region 6, likely driving down spring harvest there. DEC Regions 4 and 7 have had consistently good production the past few years, so harvest should be similar to or slightly better than last year with both young birds and adult birds available. The rest of the state may be similar to, or slightly below last year's harvest.

The regular spring season opens on Tuesday, May 1, and continues through Sunday, May 31. Important details of the 2009 spring turkey hunting season include:

  • 7. Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Long Island.
  • 8. Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license.
  • 9. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.
  • 10. Hunters may take 2 bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only 1 bird per day.
  • 11. Hunters may not use rifles or handguns. Hunters may hunt only with a shotgun and shot sizes no larger than # 2 or smaller than # 8, or with a bow and arrow.
  • 12. Successful hunters must fill out the tag which comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.
  • 13. Successful hunters must report their harvest within 48 hours of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online, http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html.
  • 14. Hunters who take a bird with a leg band, in addition to reporting their harvest via phone or Internet, are encouraged to call the "800" number listed on the band. The information help DEC staff better manage the wild turkey resource.

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the "Turkey Hunting" pages of the DEC website, http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8366.html.