All-day turkey hunting

Mike RaykoviczFor years I’ve always said I’m glad we can only hunt spring turkeys until noon because if we could do it all day it might just kill me. Don’t get me wrong, I love hunting turkeys in the spring and even before I retired I was in the woods every morning. I never missed going out even if it meant walking around in a zombie like state once I got to work. The idea of quitting at noon was based on biology rather than concern for the hunter, but that thinking is beginning to change.

Last year Pennsylvania instituted all-day spring turkey hunting beginning the middle of May, and the afternoon harvest comprised just six percent of the total reported spring kill.  Still, during the second half of the season when all-day hunting was allowed, 78 percent of the total number of turkeys taken were bagged before noon. It has been reported by the Pennsylvania Game Commission that the majority of birds taken during the afternoon and evening hunting period were taken between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. For the record, 49 of the 50 states have turkey seasons and, of that number, 34 have all-day hunting for all or part of the season.

Wildlife biologists have set the turkey hunting rules conservatively in order to maintain a sustainable harvest and to provide an optimum hunting experience. But according to Dr. James Earl Kennamer, chief conservation officer of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the idea of only hunting them until noon in the springtime needs to be revisited. According to Kennamer, scientific studies conducted by game agencies across the United States have proven there is no biological reason not to permit all-day hunting. Apparently Pennsylvania’s biologists agree with Kennamer.

It can be argued that all-day hunting would get more youngsters into the woods after school and give working people added hunting opportunities after work, but at what cost? Hunters traipsing around the woods just as turkeys are flying to roost would almost certainly have an adverse affect on their activity the following morning and mess things up for those who love being in the woods at first light. I can see how this proposal has the potential of generating as much controversy as permitting the use of crossbows during archery season.

One highly respected New York outdoor writer is making a plea for the DEC to consider all-day spring turkey hunting, and it remains to be seen how the sportsmen in this state feel about such a possibility. No one knows what the future holds but for now, and for the foreseeable future at least, spring turkey hunting in New York will remain a half-day affair. 

Categories: New York – Mike Raykovicz

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