Photo contributed

Jim Bertram with a beautiful mature gobbler he shot last spring in his home Columbia County.

DEC recently announced spring turkey season opens on May 1st in all parts of Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. Youth turkey hunting opens this weekend, April 24-25 for junior hunters aged 12 to 15.

According to DEC, “Last year, turkey hunters took approximately 21,500 birds in New York during the spring season, an increase of about 25 percent from 2019. Much of the increase was likely due to a rise in hunter participation as more people looked for outdoor activities close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

NY’s 2021 Turkey Hunting Forecast

“This spring, hunters can expect good numbers of jakes based on average-to-good productivity in 2020 and a mild winter. However, two-year-old birds may be more difficult to find. During 2019, turkeys in New York experienced one of the worst breeding seasons in the 25 years DEC has been monitoring productivity, and the effects of this poor productivity will be experienced most heavily for hunters targeting adult birds this year.”

Doug Little, Director of Conservation Operations (East) for the National Wild Turkey Foundation, (NWTF) reports he’s seeing a good number of birds locally.

Doug advised, “I expect that in the early part of the season the birds will be ‘henned up’ and the woods may be somewhat quiet, though later morning hours could be productive. Our season is timed perfectly so I recommend patience early as the remaining hens that will be nesting begin their incubation period, which leaves the gobblers even more lonely!”

That’s some free expert advice you might consider heeding. Doug is not just a 16-year veteran of the NWTF with the majority of those years as Regional Wildlife Biologist, he’s an expert avid turkey hunter. You can start putting that good advice to use with the youth turkey season as early as one-half before sunrise this weekend.

About the Spring Youth Hunt:

Hunters 12 to 15 years of age are eligible and must hold a hunting license and a turkey permit;

Youth 12 to 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 to 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;

Accompanying adults must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling, but may not carry a firearm, bow, or crossbow 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 parts of Upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, and in 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;

Crossbows may only be used by hunters 14 or older. In Suffolk and Westchester counties it is illegal to use a crossbow to hunt wild turkeys; and

All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

About the Spring Turkey Season, May 1-31:

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 hunting 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 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;

Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online at DEC’s Game Harvest Reporting website; and

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2020-2021 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the Turkey Hunting pages of DEC’s website.

DEC Says, “Hunt Safe, Hunt Smart!”

Point your gun in a safe direction;

Treat every gun as if it were loaded;

Be sure of your target and beyond;

Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; and

Stalking stinks! Set up with your back against a tree or other object wider than your shoulders and call birds to you.

DEC also encourages all hunters to wear blaze orange or blaze pink when moving between hunting spots to make themselves more visible to other hunters. A blaze orange or blaze pink vest or other material can be hung in a nearby tree when you are set up and calling birds so other hunters are alerted to your presence.

*This is especially important when using a jake or gobbler decoy.

Tips for a Successful and Safe Turkey Hunting Season

Don’t stalk. More than half of turkey hunting injuries happen when one hunter stalks another.

Always assume any call or footsteps you 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 him or her clearly, and don’t move. Never wave or use a turkey call to alert another hunter.

Turkeys are tough. You need to be close (30 yards or less is best). You need to get a clear head and neck shot. Do not try to shoot them in the body or when they are flying.

Smaller shot, no. 4, 5, and 6, work better than larger shot, due to denser shot patterns.

When calling, sit still with your back against a big tree, to hide you from turkeys and stalkers.

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.

News and Notes

Greene County Legislature “Opts-In” to State Youth Deer Hunting: This week the Greene County Legislature passed legislation to “opt-in” to the recent state law paving the way for the county’s inclusion allowing 12-13 year-olds to hunt deer with a firearm next season. More on this issue in next week’s column.

Striper Update: Tom at River Basin Sport Shop in Catskill had four words to report: Lots of big fish! The time is now to get your “gear” together and go fish.

Happy Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping until next time.

Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.

You can share any comments with our sports desk at sports@registerstar.com

*If you have a fishing or hunting report, photo, or event you would like to be considered for publication, send it to: huntfishreport@gmail.com

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