Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Youth turkey hunting weekend set for April 23, 24

New York State offers several youth hunting opportunities to allow young hunters time afield with experienced adult hunters outside of the regular hunting seasons. As a result, they gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting community. This spring, the youth turkey hunt is April 23 and 24.

If you’re an experienced, licensed hunter, please consider taking a youth out! The youth season is open throughout upstate New York and even in Suffolk County. Several non-profit groups sponsor specific events, and we encourage experienced hunters to reach out and take a kid hunting.

Other details of the youth turkey hunting weekend are as follows:

  • Eligible hunters are youth 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of age, holding a hunting license and a turkey permit.
  • All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult, as required by law for a junior hunter.
    • Youth 12 or 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 21 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
    • Youth 14 or 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person 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. S/he 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. Crossbows may not be used by licensees who are under 14 years of age.
  • The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) and Suffolk County. Shooting hours are from 1/2-hour before sunrise to noon.
  • The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken in upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) beginning May 1.
  • All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

Photo at top: A youth turkey hunting participant. DEC photo. 

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

23 Responses

  1. Although I agree with young people having this mentored opportunity to become safe hunters, I’m hoping the dates are before turkeys are laying eggs.

    • Boreas says:


      The key here is the target birds must be “bearded”, which 90% of the time indicates a male. Also, the males do not help rear the young, so there is no real issue there. But yes, ~10% of bearded hens can breed successfully and some hens could be laying this early. Also, assuming the hunter is calling, typically males respond to the calls because of territoriality.

      The late season isn’t foolproof, which is why the teen should be accompanied by an experienced adult familiar with turkey hunting. Turkey hunting also has its accidents, which is another reason for experienced supervision.

  2. Ken M. says:

    Like whitetail deer and human beings, there are too many turkeys on the landscape. Turkeys are ferocious predators that are damaging the ecosystem. Given the turkey population and impacts in New York state, the season and bag limits are too short and too limited.

    • Boreas says:

      I don’t know what represents “too many” turkeys, but we do seem to have plenty. Can you explain “ferocious predators”? My definition seems to differ from yours.

      But IMO, the reason there are “too many” turkey and deer is that there are “too few” larger predators. Until we get more of a mix of large predators, larger animals will remain out of balance.

      • JT says:

        Ken M., Boreas
        Interesting, too many turkeys. The NYSDEC thinks we have to few turkeys due to low reproduction rates. A couple years back, they reduced the Fall season from one month to two weeks and they reduced from two birds to one bird during this season. A bird of either sex may be taken during the Fall season. Spring season did not change, still two bearded turkeys. Predation is actually quite high but mostly occurs by predators raiding the nests for eggs and if the eggs hatch, juvenile turkeys are vulnerable.
        Not sure about damaging of the ecosystem. I think they fit in quite well providing a food source for fox, coyote, fisher, etc. They consume a lot of insects. They probably help in seed dispersal. Unlike deer where it is well documented that over browsing has a negative impact on the ecosystem.

        • Boreas says:


          I guess I wasn’t too clear. I do not feel there are too many turkey, because I do not know what the normal amount would be in a balanced system. I DO know there are plenty in my area. I saw a flock of about 120 near Essex early this winter! I typically have about 3-4 hens with broods that visit my property every season. Once I counted 27 birds of various ages. They have harmed nothing that I know of – although I don’t know how many ticks hitch a ride on them.

          Deer are also plentiful here – largely because the human population is too dense to allow effective hunting of either creature. The deer are DEFINITELY destructive, both on my property and to forests in general. One doesn’t need to see a deer to know when you are in an area with high numbers. If you can see far into the woods because there is no browse left below 6-8 feet, you have a high deer population. We do know they carry ticks as well.

          We need both deer and turkey, but we also need a complement of large predators to keep the populations and ecosystems healthy. This we DON’T have. We shouldn’t have to rely on disease, parasites, starvation, and hunting alone to “control” populations.

          • JT says:

            Actually, i did not think that you thought there were too many turkeys. Same, I don’t know what would be the desired population to maintain the ecosystem balance. I don’t think NYSDEC even knows. These populations are managed more for hunter satisfaction than ecosystem considerations. Populations have been much higher in the past, so when they started to decline, they adjusted seasons and bag limits to compensate. One thing I heard was the population decline may have been due to wetter and cooler conditions than normal during the nesting seasons causing greater mortality.

  3. Buck says:

    Most Northeastern states, including NY, structure their turkey hunting seasons so that most of the breeding has taken place by the time the season opens. This applies mainly to the May gobbler season, but the youth impact on the harvest is minimal. The youth turkey hunt has been taking place since 2004, and is an excellent introductory program, along with youth waterfowl, pheasant and big game seasons in the fall.

  4. I’m replying to Ken M who wrote there are too many turkeys. Ken wrote that turkeys are “ferocious predators.” What do they eat that needs protecting? Since they like to hang out at my bird feeder, I assume they like a bird’s menu. Probably bugs, too?

    • Joseph Van Gelder says:

      Please ignore ” Ken m “

      • Ken M. says:

        Here is one article of evidence. Forgive me I am not certain if this is the proper way to site someone else’s work, but here is the copy and paste method with credit:

        By Glenn Martin
        “Wild turkeys, artificially introduced to southern Maine by 1980, and the disruption in the food web they have caused, are likely to blame for the state’s extremely large and growing tick population and tick-borne diseases such as the Lyme epidemic.

        Turkey relocation continued across the state for 20 years by netting birds from established New England flocks. The goal of the program was to increase hunting opportunities. Regulated permit-only hunting kept the birds safe and propagated the current population.

        Increased wild turkey populations have caused disruptions in the bug food chain. Voracious, shoulder-to-shoulder eating habits have stripped tracts of woods, edge and grassland of large protein-filled grasshoppers, caterpillars, worms, grubs, beetles and spiders, among others. The resulting reduction of bug life is detrimental to many wild creatures (migratory song birds, snakes, shrews, voles and moles) and beneficial to others (gypsy moths, Japanese beetles and ticks).

        The wild turkeys’ aptitude for fast growth and large food consumption has decreased the protein-producing bug numbers. Many species of spiders and insects rely on other bugs for food. These creatures are called predator bugs. Their populations reflect the amount of protein a particular area’s bugs are producing. Foliage and grass-eating insects convert vegetation into protein. Subterrestrial beetles, grubs and worms convert decaying vegetation into protein. Eggs and larvae (protein) are the currency of the bug world. When a caterpillar is eaten, it doesn’t mature to lay eggs as a moth. Reduction of eggs and larvae is reflected in reduced bug populations.

        As mammals depend on protein in milk, insect and spider populations depend on protein in eggs and larvae. Tick populations have not suffered because their protein source is warm-blooded animals. A tick’s largest predator is other young spiders and insects eating their eggs and larvae. Reduced predator bug populations provide sanctuary for tick eggs and larvae.

        History shows a balanced food web will not allow for an exponential growth in tick population. The natural predators must be restored to their past levels, when ticks were virtually nonexistent. The disruption turkeys caused in the complex food web is the primary reason we have a tick-borne disease public health crisis.

        Many publicly funded studies and reports were consulted to better illustrate this connection. A passive, statewide tick surveillance was initiated in 1989 to record the species, size, season, location, host and age, with a report published in 2007. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife made a wild turkey assessment, recording a basic timeline and reasoning behind the turkey program. Public records clearly show that where wild turkey populations have grown, tick populations increased exponentially.

        In 2010, the Maine State Legislature required the Maine CDC to record all incidences of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Up-to-date wild turkey harvest records are available from IF&W. The help of numerous state wildlife biologists, the vector-borne disease research group led by Chuck Lubelczyk and the wisdom of the Maine State Legislature made the pieces available to put this puzzle together.”

        • Boreas says:

          Ken M.,

          Thanks for posting this. It makes sense to me.

        • JT says:

          Ken M.

          Thanks for this article. Have not heard this before.

        • Joseph Van Gelder says:

          Again please ignore ‘ Ken m ‘ wild turkeys are not artificially introduced to Maine. They are native to the state.

          • Boreas says:

            Turkeys were essentially extirpated from much of the Northeast along with their predators. Turkeys were indeed reintroduced or naturally re-established across much of their original range in the NE over the last 50 years. Unfortunately, predators were not. Predators of larger game are still being persecuted.

  5. Scott Willis says:

    Why is it necessary to teach children how to kill animals ? The photo of the smiling child with a beautiful dead bird is gross.

    • Boreas says:


      I understand. It isn’t “necessary” per se, but it is traditional in some families. But currently, hunting is necessary to help control several game species because our historical large predators are mostly absent. Either we “control” certain species with hunting or they starve and die of disease. I am an ex-hunter, but I understand the sport.

      I bagged my first deer at age 12 in PA alongside my father. Dad and I butchered it and the family ate the venison. There were only a handful of turkey in PA at the time, and a long drive was needed to find them.

      The advantage of a child learning to hunt with a parent or good mentor is they learn the sport and hopefully the proper ethics at an early age. Once age increases, often unethical practices become a temptation. If good ethics and sportsmanship are ingrained at an early age, the easier it is to follow the proper trail throughout life.

      • Boreas says:


        And perhaps a little off-topic, when I was a wee lad, I wanted to do everything my dad did. Hunting was his only hobby, so I accompanied him on hunts long before I was of age to carry a gun. We mostly sat and talked. As I became a teen, we started growing apart, but we still hunted together. When I went to college and studied biology, I eventually gave up hunting. Unfortunately, this was the last thing we had in common. Conversation consequently became more difficult when I visited a couple times/year. I regret this.

        Later, I became interested in fly-fishing and I got my parents started in lake shore fishing to help pass their retirement time. We were able to spend some nice time together before their passing, but it didn’t make up for the years lost bonding with my father. Whatever a parent can do to bond with their kids that is ethical, is OK in my book. There are not many outdoor activities that can be shared with family. Those that can, should. If I had had kids, I may have done the same thing with fishing. It isn’t teaching your kids how to kill, it is about bonding, communing with nature, teaching environmental and ethical principles, and starting a kid on a relatively healthy path. But it certainly does not HAVE to be hunting.

        • Scott Willis says:

          Mr. Boreas,

          I appreciate your well written replies. As you said, hunting is a tradition for many North Country folks. As long as one eats what they hunt, that is the cycle of life. From what I have read and heard, wild turkeys are not very tasty, neither is black bear. Venison IS tasty and can feed a family for months. I have no problem with hunting for food. Trophy killing however I find immoral. We had a BIG bear on our Ring Cam last night. What a gorgeous critter, he was beautiful. I would never think of killing him.
          Thanks for your insights.

          • Buck says:

            Wild turkey is a fantastic meal. My wife and I get 4-5 meals (8-10 servings) from one turkey. Like venison, wild turkey is lean and requires a different approach to cooking, I’m not a bear hunter, but have also had some very good (and a few bad) bear meals over the years.

            That said, I’m looking forward to hunting with a youth this coming weekend and passing on the virtues of hunting.

          • Ken M. says:

            Bear and turkey are also delicious, but these of course are all opinions. The nutritional value of a healthy wild bear is hard to dispute. I don’t hunt any of these creatures but I enjoy cooking and eating them immensley. Presently I’m contemplating is it worse for someone to kill an animal and not eat it vs. consuming whatever one wishes with zero responsibility to the impacts of the meal.

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