Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Tagging toms and making memories

Oriskany Falls, N.Y. — A tag team effort by several groups and individuals helped some youngsters tag their first turkeys during New York’s youth turkey hunt weekend last month.

The fifth annual youth turkey hunt event was again a joint effort of the Federated Sportsmen Club’s of Oneida County; DEC Region 6 environmental conservation officers; the National Wild Turkey Federation; Oneida County Sheriff’s Department; the New York State and Outdoorsman Hall of Fame and other interested sportsmen and women from the region.

Twenty-five kids from Herkimer, Oneida and Madison counties took part in this year’s hunt, in which 10 gobblers were harvested – seven on Saturday and three more on Sunday.

Included in that number was a double by brothers Sam and Logan Campbell, who had a pair of longbeards – both over 24 pounds, with beards of 9.5 and 8 inches – stroll into their decoys. The hunt was videotaped by a mentor.

“Turkeys were seen by all the youths that morning (Saturday), but some hung up just out of shooting range. The largest turkey harvested that day was 25 pounds with a double beard – one 9 ¼ inches beard and another 5¾ inches, and 15⁄8-inch spurs,” organizer Scott Faulkner said. “The youth all had a great time and they received lunch after the hunt.”

Fewer kids – 13 – headed afield on Sunday with ECOs and other mentors for the second day of the hunt. Three birds were taken and there were a couple of misses as well. The largest bird harvested on Sunday was a 21-pounder with an 8.5-inch beard and one-inch spurs.

The young hunters got an additional educational experience in the field on Sunday: one of the birds harvested acted abnormally before it was shot, prompting DEC wildlife biologist Steve Heerkens, who served as a mentor, to take the bird for testing. ECOs issued the young girl who shot the tom another turkey tag.

A “Safety Day” gathering was held the weekend before the hunt at the Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls. Kids and their parents attended that session, in which ECO Ric Grisolini offered a presentation on safety and regulations for turkey hunting. Tim Furner of Gander Mountain and the NWTF reviewed turkey decoy setup and gave a calling demonstration, and in the afternoon the youths patterned their shotguns under the supervision of environmental crimes investigator  Mike Dangler, a certified firearms instructor for the state’s environmental conservation officers.

Faulkner said a number of groups donated items for this year’s hunt, including the New York Conservation Officers Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Gander Mountain of New Hartford, Mountain Hollow Game Calls, and Heerkens.

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