Edited by Rob Potter
ALBANY April 18, 2006 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan recently announced the dates for New Yorks spring turkey hunting seasons, including the third annual youth turkey hunting weekend.
Sheehan urged all hunters to review safety guidelines prior to the season, to keep themselves and others safe at all times.
The DECs Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend will be Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23. On those two days, youths ages 12 to 15 will have an opportunity to go afield with an adult mentor, prior to the regular spring turkey hunting season.
New York State recognizes that our young people represent the future of environmental conservation, Sheehan said. This special opportunity provides high quality hunting experiences for our young hunters and helps the adults who accompany them pass along their knowledge of safe, responsible hunting.
Spring turkey hunting has become a popular outdoor activity for many New Yorkers and the first two youth turkey hunting weekends in 2004 and 2005 were very successful. Nearly 7,000 young hunters participated in 2005, and the DEC estimates that about 1,000 turkeys were taken during the youth hunt weekend.
I congratulate all the youths and their adult mentors who participated in this special opportunity in previous years and I look forward to the programs continued success this year, Sheehan added.
Other details of the youth turkey hunting weekend are as follows:
Eligible hunters are youths between 12 and 15 years of age who hold a junior hunting license and a turkey permit;
Youths 12 and 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. Youths 14 and 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;
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 one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day;
The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youths regular season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken beginning May 1. All other wild turkey hunting regulations are in effect during the youth turkey hunting weekend.
Spring 2006 Regular Season
Spring turkey hunting is enjoyed by nearly 100,000 New Yorkers each year.
Turkey hunters all across the state look forward to the excitement of spring turkey hunting, which requires an understanding of turkey behavior as well as good field skills, Sheehan said.
As it has for more than a decade, the regular spring turkey season will span the entire month of May. The season opens on Monday, May 1 and continues through Wednesday, May 31.
Other details of the 2006 spring turkey hunting season are as follows:
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 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. Hunters may hunt only with a shotgun and shot sizes no larger than # 2 or smaller than # 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 shot;
Successful hunters must call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) within 48 hours to report any turkey shot. For more information, please refer to the 2005-06 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the official DEC Web site at: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/guide/turkhunt.html.
Turkey Hunting Safety
Turkey hunters should make hunting safety a priority throughout the turkey hunting season, as hunters should during any hunting season.
Youth hunters must complete a hunter safety education course before they obtain a hunting license, and reinforcing that training in the field is an important responsibility of the adult companion. All turkey hunters have an obligation to keep themselves and other hunters safe at all times.
Some important safety tips for turkey hunting include:
Do not stalk turkeys it is too dangerous!
Never wear turkey colors red, white and blue or other colors that may appear similar to colors on a wild turkeys head;
Assume that anything that sounds like a turkey is another turkey hunter;
Call with a large tree at your back. Wrap an orange vest around a tree near your calling location to let other hunters know you are there;
If you see another hunter, dont move! Speak up in a loud, clear voice to identify yourself;
Be especially careful when carrying a decoy or harvested bird in the field keep it covered if possible;
Be sure of your target and beyond. The National Wild Turkey Federation has taken a leadership role in promoting turkey restoration and hunting safety. For more information about hunting tactics and safety tips, please visit the Federations Web site at www.nwtf.org/new_hunting_tactics.html.
I urge all hunters to carefully review the hunting regulations before going afield and to follow these guidelines for a safe, fun turkey hunting experience, Sheehan said.
Prospects for the
Spring 2006 Season
Hunter success is hard to predict, but DEC biologists expect a higher harvest in 2006 than last year, when the total take of birds (24,900) was the lowest since 1994. The declining harvest of recent years has been due in part to poor reproduction, which occurs in years with cold, wet weather in late May and June.
Fortunately, it appears that turkey production was very good in 2005 and over-winter survival was likely high because of the mild weather conditions. Therefore, the DEC expects a good number of 1-year-old males (jakes), and the number of older males (toms) this spring should be similar to a year ago.
Successful hunters should be sure to check for metal leg bands on any birds they shoot.
The DEC began a four-year turkey banding study this winter, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the National Wild Turkey Federation. These studies will provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest rates for male wild turkeys in New York State and guide future management efforts.
More than 600 wild turkeys were banded across the state this winter, out of an estimated population of more than 250,000 birds. While the chance of shooting a banded bird is small, hunters are asked to call the toll-free number printed on the band of any bird they shoot.
Wild turkeys are the most popular small game species in New York in terms of the number of hunter-days afield and growth in license sales, Sheehan said. Data generated by these studies will provide valuable information on turkey harvest rates, survival rates and population size, which will help guide future management of this important game species.
For more information on turkey hunting in New York, including spring and fall harvest data by county, please visit the DEC Web site at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/turkey/index.html.