New York State has both spring and fall hunting seasons. The most successful turkey hunters use a variety of calls (e.g., box calls, slate calls, mouth calls) to bring a bird within gun range (usually 30 yards or less). Head-to-toe camouflage helps hunters to stay undetected prior to the shot. Movement must only occur when the bird is behind a tree or other obstacle. Few hunting experiences can rival the excitement as a turkey approaches a hunter. Turkey hunters need to be extremely careful, however, before taking a shot.
The excitement of a turkey hunt should sharpen the hunter’s awareness of key safety rules: Always identify the target before shooting, and be sure that no other person is in harm’s way. Some people are tempted to try to stalk a wild turkey. Forget it! First, it is extremely difficult to approach a turkey undetected. You will be much more successful calling the bird to you. Second, stalking turkeys puts both you and other hunters at risk. Let the bird do the walking.
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.
Here are some rules you need to know:
- You will need a hunting license and a turkey permit.
- You may hunt with a bow or crossbow, but you may not hunt turkey with a crossbow in the fall in the Northern Zone if you are using dogs. A crossbow may not be used in Westchester or Suffolk counties.
- You may hunt with a shotgun or handgun only when using shot no larger than #2 and no smaller than #9.
- You may not take a turkey with a rifle, or with a handgun firing a bullet.
- You must fill out the tag which comes with your permit and attach it to any turkey you shoot immediately.
Be sure to consult your hunting regulations guide for other rules.
More about Turkey Hunting:
- Turkey Hunting Seasons – Map of New York State showing the wild turkey hunting seasons and regulations
- Turkey Hunting Regulations – Summary of Wild Turkey Hunting Regulations for New York State.
- Youth Hunt For Wild Turkey – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is establishing a new youth hunt for wild turkey.
- Turkey Harvest Management – A description of factors considered when setting season lengths, bag limits, and other parameters for wild turkeys.
- Spring Turkey Take by County – Spring Turkey Take showing the calculated number of turkeys by hunters as taken by county
- Fall Turkey Take by County – Fall Turkey Take showing the number of turkeys reported by hunters as taken by county.