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Count Wild Turkeys This Winter

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Consider recording the number of wild turkeys you see this winter to help DEC monitor trends in New York’s wild turkey populations. Snow and cold temperatures negatively affect wild turkeys, particularly young birds (“jakes” – young males and “jennies” – young females). Your observations will help DEC calculate wild turkey numbers prior to the spring breeding season. The survey runs from January 1 through March 31 and participating is easy. Visit the Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48756.html) webpage where you will find an electronic form with further instructions. Also, take a look at the 2010 winter flock survey results (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/66526.html) to learn what your observations told us about turkey populations last year.

Along with weather conditions during the spring and early summer nesting season, winter conditions (e.g., days below freezing, snow depth, etc.) can significantly impact wild turkey populations, particularly young birds (jakes and jennies). The Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey is conducted from January through March and is used to monitor trends in the relative abundance of turkeys statewide and within major regions of the state. This survey helps us assess the general health of the wild turkey population prior to the breeding season in the spring.

A pilot survey was conducted during winters 2006 through 2008, and the first formal, standardized winter survey was conducted in winter 2009. Our goal is to collect observations from every county in the state. This is an opportunity for people interested in wildlife to partner with DEC to help monitor wild turkey populations.

If you would like to participate in the winter 2011 survey, print or download a Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey form. You can use this form to record the number of wild turkeys you observe from January through March. More detailed instructions can be found at the top of the data-sheet. You can also view, print, or download a map of Wildlife Management Units to assist you in completing your survey

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Turkey Hunting

Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1 in New York

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Bowhunters take to the woods this spring after weary old gobblers in New York.

It’s my favorite time of year after deer season – the spring turkey season (probably because it’s the only other time I’m out hunting with my bow). Following suit of previous seasons, the 2014 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 April 26-27. The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York and Suffolk County.

Not nearly as popular as deer hunting, there only 100,000 turkey hunters expected to head afield this spring. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can’t get excited about calling to a bird and have it respond and watch it work its way in. It’s a very interactive hunt.

According to the DEC, hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license (if purchased before Feb. 1) or hunting license (if purchased after Feb. 1).

  • 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.
  • Crossbows may not be used for the spring 2014 turkey season.
  • 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.

One thing that caught my eye is that the state’s enacted 2014-15 budget includes language authorizing the use of crossbows for hunting under certain circumstances. So while hunters cannot use crossbows to take wild turkey during the 2014 spring season, they might be able to in 2015. It will be interesting to see if the changes go through for next year and what affect that would have on the number of hunters taking to the field for turkey hunting.

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Turkey Hunting

Bowhunting Turkey in New York

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Teresa took this big longbeard on the opening day of the 2012 Spring Turkey Hunting Season in Orange County, New York. This is Teresa’s first turkey kill and she got the job done with a heart-pounding 23-yard shot. Congrats to Teresa on an awesome longbeard!

Did you have success this spring? It was tough with the warm weather we had in April before the opener.

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Turkey Hunting

NY Bowhunter Takes Turkey During Fall Archery Season

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Last Friday morning my cousin Ken had the day off to enjoy a day afield. He was set up in his tree well before first light, but the morning was really slow and Ken only saw one deer. The tall spike came down the hill 50 yards to his right and kept on walking to wherever it was that he was going.

With no rubs or scrapes in the general area, Ken and his father Nick decided to hunt a different area that afternoon. On the drive to their hunting spot that afternoon they spotted a flock of turkeys and ten deer out in a field just a few door down from where they would be hunting.

Ken headed to his stand at the top of the hill and waited in anticipation for the deer and turkey to leave the field and move back into the hardwoods. Around 5:00 pm the woods exploded with noise and movement and the deer and turkey came barreling through the woods. Shortly after, Ken heard a lady yelling at her dog who must have decided it would be fun to chase the deer and turkeys out of the nearby field.

Then Ken heard a single turkey coming towards him from the bottom of the hill. Ken got ready and drew back with the bird at 20 yards. The bird took two more steps and Ken made a chirping sound to stop it and let the arrow fly. The bird only made it a few more yards before going down.

Congrats to Ken on taking a turkey with the bow, that’s never an easy thing!

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