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Did you know there are nearly 200,000 turkeys roaming the state of New York? For those who love turkey hunting, that’s a lot of opportunity. Whether it’s the fall turkey season or spring turkey hunting, NY has vast public lands, Wildlife Management Areas, state forests and landowners willing to offer access at any given moment. Will you be prepared for the hunt?

Get Your Hunting Stuff Together. It’s Turkey Time

The turkey population is one of the highest in N.Y. State, where mature, wild turkeys can weigh an average of 18 to 25 pounds, with beard lengths up to 13″ and 1½ spurs. And since some of the best turkey hunting guides are some of the finest callers and hunters around, there’s always someone available to make sure your wild turkey hunt is a successful one.

In the meantime, here are some tips to keep your spring or fall turkey season safe.

  • Wear blaze-orange when entering or leaving the hunting area, and only put on your camouflage when you’re set up to call.
  • If you use camouflage, cover your entire body, including your face.
  • Don’t wear or use anything that’s red, white, blue or black, as turkeys display these colors and puts you at risk of being shot by another hunter.
  • Use a flashlight in the dark to alert other hunters to your presence, and prevent falls and accidents.
  • Never assume you’re alone in the woods. Always look for other turkey hunters.
  • Identify your target, head to tail, and never shoot when you believe you recognize one area of the target.
  • Always aim a firearm at the head and neck of the turkey.
  • Assume that any noise you hear has been made by a human, especially during peak times (i.e., spring turkey hunting NY).
  • If you don’t see another hunter, remain perfectly still. Speak to the hunter in a normal voice or call out loudly if the hunter is farther away. Make certain the hunter knows you’re there before you move.
  • Never carry harvested turkeys or decoys in the open. Conceal and wrap them in blaze orange.

Turkey Hunting is Already Underway in New York

Turkey season opens May 1 in all of upstate New York north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. Nearly 90,000 turkey hunters take to the field at that time in pursuit of this exciting game bird. In fact, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) even offers annual youth turkey hunting programs to spark interest in this tradition from a young age.

If you’re heading out for some hunting in spring or waiting for the fall turkey season, you’ll want to have all your hunting stuff ready to go. Be sure to stop by your local sporting goods store to stock up.