Wednesday, February 1st, 2023
Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

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Spring wild turkey kill may dip below 30,000

Albany – New York’s spring gobbler harvest is expected to be
down as much as 10 percent or more, even though the reporting rate
for both the youth and regular seasons is up slightly.

DEC wildlife biologist Mike Schiavone said good weather was the
key factor in a successful two-day youth season, and a weekend
kickoff to the regular spring gobbler season likely led to a higher
reporting rate of hunter harvests.

But ultimately, a poor nesting season of 2009 and “just OK”
reproduction a year earlier meant fewer birds available for
harvest, and that will likely translate into a total kill that will
be below the 2009 spring harvest of 34,664 birds.

“We’ve had reports from hunters who have been successful, and
from others who struggled,” Schiavone said. “But it’s pretty hard
to develop any conclusions based on anecdotal evidence. Our
five-year average harvest is about 31,000, and it wouldn’t surprise
me if it was below that. And it wouldn’t shock me if it went below
30,000.”

Final harvest figures will be available later this year after
DEC compiles the results of its annual spring turkey hunting
survey, which goes out to a percentage of gobbler hunters and seeks
more detailed information of their success.

Schiavone said early statistics from the 2010 spring season
showed that:

  • Harvest reports from the two-day youth turkey hunting season
    for hunters ages 12-15 were up by about 5 percent. Schiavone
    attributed that to good weather for that weekend (April 24-25) and
    increased awareness of the special season.
  • The reported spring harvest take for the regular season was up
    by about 6 percent. DEC officials, however, are attributing that to
    a weekend start (May 1-2) to the season this year, which pumped up
    the reported take for the first two days by 30 percent over the
    previous season. Good weather for the opening weekend of the
    regular season further added to hunter success.
  • A solid number of longbeards harvested, as opposed to yearling
    “jakes,” based on early success reports. Schiavone said that’s not
    a surprise, based on the poor 2009 nesting season that left fewer
    jakes on the hunting landscape.
  • Early harvest figures indicating a slightly higher take in
    several western New York counties. Harvest rates in the central New
    York area were generally on par with last season, according to
    early figures.
  • Preliminary reports showing lower success rates in the Mohawk
    Valley, Taconic Highlands and northeastern New York regions.

DEC officials predicted heading into the 2010 spring season the
overall gobbler take would be down, based on back-to-back poor
nesting seasons.

Last year’s tally of 34,664 birds was the sixth-highest of the
decade in New York.

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