Youth Turkey Hunt was soggy but successful
Albany – New York State’s second annual Youth Turkey Hunt last
month was punctuated by wet and cold weather.
But the April 23-24 hunt was also labeled a success by DEC
officials, who said preliminary reports indicate participation and
harvest numbers were similar to 2004.
“It looks like, from the preliminary harvest data we’ve
received, we’ll be at about the same number as last year,” said DEC
Game Bird Unit Leader Bryan Swift. “Maybe just a little below.”
Youth hunters ages 12-15 took about 1,000 spring gobblers last
year during the inaugural special weekend hunt. About 15,000
eligible youths participated statewide.
“We may have even had a few more eligible youths take part this
year,” Swift said. “Last year was our first ever youth turkey hunt,
and word didn’t get out right away. There may have been more young
hunters aware of it this year, as well as some new recruits
(12-year-olds) who took part.”
This year’s hunt was marked by wet and cold weather that swept
across the state over the April 23-24 weekend, making for some
challenging hunting conditions. In some cases, the rain was
replaced by snow.
Swift said that the timing of the rains played a role in
hunting. Some areas didn’t see heavy rain until the afternoon –
after the noon quitting time for spring gobbler hunting. Others,
however, had to deal with the rainy weather in the morning.
Early indications are the young hunters did just that. Swift
said about 300 – actually 298 – harvest reports were received from
successful youths through the DECALS automated reporting system,
compared to 320 last year.
DEC will mail out a hunter survey form to about 2,000 eligible
youth hunters to further determine both participation and success
rate. A calculated harvest number will then be established based on
all the data collected.
“It looks like we’ll be in the same ballpark as last year,”
The Youth Turkey Hunt was established last year in an effort to
recruit young hunters to the sport. By all accounts, it has done
that, Swift said.
“We’re getting a lot of good feedback from the parents and
mentors involved,” he said. “The kids have really enjoyed the
With the Youth Turkey Hunt behind them, DEC officials are now
focusing on the month-long regular spring gobbler season. Early
reports are anecdotal, but Swift says “hunters have been seeing
birds, which is good. Gobbling activity has been varied. But we
think it will be a pretty good season.”
Statewide, turkey hunters harvested about 26,300 gobblers last
spring, down 28 percent from the 2003 take of 36,800. DEC officials
attributed that decline to a series of poor nesting years, notably
in 2002, which meant fewer 2-year-old longbeards available to