Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Suffolk turkey season coincides with southern deer opener

Stony Brook, N.Y. – Long Island’s first ever turkey hunting
season will be a five-day offering in November, but some hunters –
even those who want to pursue the birds – aren’t real happy about
it.

That’s because the season opens on Nov. 21, the opening day of
the Southern Zone firearms deer hunting season. As a result, many
Long Island hunters won’t be able to take part in at least the
kickoff of turkey season – unless they scrap their deer-hunting
plans, which is highly unlikely.

“Some hunters aren’t happy about the Nov. 21 date to start the
turkey season, but that was by design,” DEC wildlife biologist Mike
Schiavone said. “Indications were that a lot of hunters were
interested in taking part, and we want to take baby steps with this
and approach it in a conservative fashion.”

By opening the Nov. 21-25 Suffolk County turkey season on the
Southern Zone deer opener, DEC officials were able to somewhat
control hunting pressure that is really an unknown heading into the
first ever turkey hunt.

“We don’t have any idea what the harvest might be,”_Schiavone
said of the five-day turkey season. “But we do know there’s a lot
of interest out there in hunting turkeys.”

DEC_Region 1 Director Peter A. Scully said the fall turkey
offering “not only gives more opportunities to local hunters, it
can also serve as a poignant example of how locally extirpated
populations can be successfully reintroduced, given enough effort
and attention.”

Scully praised DEC regional wildlife staff as well as local
hunters and volunteers “who took the time to fill out and submit
surveys of turkey sightings that allowed our staff to assess
(turkey) population health and growth.”

Wild turkeys disappeared from Long Island in the late 1800s due
to a reduction in forested habitat. In the early 1990s, the DEC
trapped about 75 turkeys in upstate New York and transferred them
to three locations in Suffolk County. Long Island’s turkey
population is now estimated at 3,000 birds – and growing.

DEC officials began looking at a limited turkey hunt on Long
Island as bird numbers grew and there were even some nuisance
complaints in agricultural areas in the eastern end of the
island.

Schiavone said the limited fall turkey hunting season was
proposed in lieu of a spring gobbler season due to heavy use of
public lands by the non-hunting public during the spring.

“There are a lot of social issues on Long Island,”_Schiavone
said earlier this year. “Public lands get heavy use by the
nonhunting public. They’re used to hunters being out there in the
fall, so from that standpoint, it was more feasible to have a
limited fall season.”

The hunt is being held only in Suffolk County _(DEC’s Wildlife
Management Unit 1C).

Most of the hunting may occur on managed lands in Suffolk
County, such as Otis Pike Preserve, Rocky Point Natural Resources
Management Area, Westhampton Management Area, West Tiana, Barcelona
Neck and Sarnoff Pine Barrens Preserve.

In addition, town-owned properties in East Hampton and Southold
are open for turkey hunting, but may have residency requirements.
Town lands in Brookhaven, Shelter Island and Southampton will not
be open to hunting, and the Suffolk County parks and New York state
parks won’t be issuing turkey hunting permits.

Hunters will be allowed to take one bird – hen or gobbler –
during the five-day fall season. Either a shotgun or archery
equipment may be used and all hunters must have a hunting license
and turkey permit.

In preparation for the Suffolk County fall turkey season, DEC
will hold special seminars “to emphasize the importance of turkey
hunting safety” with the opening of the new season. Hunters are
encouraged but not required to attend the seminars, which will be
held Oct. 2 and Nov. 5 at Longwood Public Library (Middle Island);
Oct. 7 at the East Moriches Fire Department; and Oct. 15 at the
Brookhaven Town Hall (Farmingville). The seminars will run from 6-9
p.m. and hunters can call (631) 444-0255 to register.

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