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Turkey Hunting

Opening Day of New York’s Spring Turkey Season

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Spring Turkey season is finally here and it’s been an interesting start to say the least! This year I’m hunting exclusively with archery gear as I’m determined to take a spring gobbler with my bow.

My spring turkey season began in Connecticut on April 27th. Opening morning I hiked into the woods to set up on a ridge where I knew the birds sometimes roosted and had seen them roost in the fall.

On a scouting trip in late March, I had confirmed the flock was still using the area and had high hopes of getting it done on opening day. As I set up in the dark I waited for the sun to rise and the birds to gobble – but gobble they did not. In fact, I didn’t hear or see a single deer. The only thing that showed up was a couple of deer.

That same day my father headed to another property in Connecticut and had a similar experience – no birds gobbling. However, mid-morning alone gobble shattered the silence and dad was able to connect with Jake.

I was back at it the next day, this time at the same property my father took his bird from. I had high hopes for this place and thought I had a good chance of getting it done. Unfortunately, the birds were nowhere to be found.

On Saturday, my brother and father were back at the same spot I hunted the day before. This time they had quite different luck. They arrived late to the turkey woods and at 5:30 am it was already light out. It didn’t matter too much though because the birds were roosted not too far from the truck. Quickly they loaded the guns and hid in the brush. After a few calls, the gobblers flew down and came right in. By 5:40 am Derek had his gobbler on the ground.

Sunday was opening day of Spring Turkey season in New York and I was really excited to get to the woods. I was set up by 5:15 am and waiting for the birds to start gobbling at any moment. Around a quarter to six I thought I heard a distant gobble. A few minutes later I caught some movement – a shotgun hunter walking through the woods to the top of the ridge. Ten minutes later I heard two gun shots and a half hour after that I saw the hunter walk out with a gobbler hanging over his shoulder.

I sat in the blind until 8:00 am and then moved to a field edge where I set up the decoys and sat until 10:00 am. At that point I packed up the blind and decoys and went for an hour long walk trying to locate the birds, but came up empty handed. Another unsuccessful hunt.

Monday morning I was at it again. After the sit, call and wait strategy failing on me I decided to walk through the woods until I heard a gobble and try to get as close as I could to set up the blind and decoys. Well not more than 50 yards into the woods I finally heard a gobble!

I moved quick to close the distance and knew the bird was on the other side of the creek. It was already getting light and I couldn’t move any closer to the gobbler so I was forced to set up at the creek crossing and hope the bird would actually cross the creek. The gobbler and I went back and forth calling for a good 40 minutes before I finally saw him fly down at 6:22 am.

He immediately went into full strut as soon as he hit the ground and continued gobbling. I watched as the bird worked his way through the woods towards the logging road that would lead him straight to my set up. I watched as the bird approached the creek and luckily it was low enough that he could easily cross. As he approached my set up I noticed I couldn’t see a beard – it was a young Jake. I called to him once more and he gobbled, but he also noticed my Jake decoy and was hesitant to come in.

I drew back as soon as I had the chance and waited for him to present me with a shot opportunity, but he was skirting the edge of the woods and about to walk right past me. I gave a quick put with my diaphragm call to stop the bird and let an arrow fly at 30 yards, but the arrow missed its target and the bird flew up the hill.

As the bird walked away he gobbled twice more and then I never heard him again. It was turkey decoy setups 101 – if you’re trying to kill any gobbler, Jake or Tom, then don’t put out a gobbler decoy. This bird came right into my calls and was intimidated by the Jake decoy I had out. This bird wasn’t looking for a fight and didn’t want to get his tail kicked by the boss Tom. Needless to say, the Jake decoy is in the back of the truck and the hen decoy is in the decoy bag for my next hunt. Next time, the gobblers won’t be so lucky.

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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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