St. Lawrence County's youth can hunt turkeys this weekend
Friday, April 25, 2014 - 2:45 pm

Spring turkey season officially opens in St. Lawrence County on May 1 but youth hunters in the North Country have the opportunity to bag a bird this weekend.

About 100,000 turkey hunters will take to the field this spring, according to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens.

The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York.

Regular turkey season runs from May 1 through May 31.

Important Details for the Youth Turkey Hunt on April 26 and 27:

Hunters 12-15 years of age are eligible and must hold a hunting license and a turkey permit.

Youth 12-13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youth 14-15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult over 18 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.

The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling, but may not carry a firearm or bow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt.

Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.

The bag limit for the youth weekend is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth's regular spring season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken only in upstate New York, north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary, beginning May 1.

All other wild turkey hunting regulations are in effect.

Other Important Details for the turkey season:

Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Long Island.

Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license (if purchased before Feb. 1) or hunting license (if purchased after Feb. 1).

Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.

Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day.

Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow and arrow.

Crossbows may not be used for the spring 2014 turkey season.

Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.

Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html.

The state's enacted 2014-15 budget, signed by Governor Cuomo, includes language authorizing the use of crossbows for hunting under certain circumstances. DEC will draft regulations soon and implement the new law in time for the fall 2014 hunting season. Hunters cannot use crossbows to take wild turkey during the 2014 spring season. For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the "Turkey Hunting" pages of DEC's website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8366.html.

The DEC suggests hunters follow the cardinal rules of hunting safety: assume every gun is loaded, control the muzzle, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, be absolutely sure of your target and what may be beyond it and don't stalk. Set up with your back against a large tree and call birds to you. To find a sportsman education class in your area, go to: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7860.html or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).

The DEC is seeking turkey hunters for a ruffed grouse drumming survey. Turkey hunters are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season. Turkey hunters can record the number of grouse they hear drumming while afield to help DEC track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a survey form, go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/48169.html or call (518) 402-8886.

To participate in DEC's Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys, visit the "Citizen Science" page of the DEC website, http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/1155.html.

Do you have photos from a spring turkey hunt you would like to share? The DEC has created a hunting and trapping photo gallery for junior hunters ages 12-15, young trappers under age 16 and hunters who have harvested their first big or small game animal.

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a junior hunter, or if you are an adult who would like to share your first successful hunt, visit the photo gallery on the DEC website, http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/54055.html.