Turkey Hunting in New York: Season Timing, Bag Limits, and Best Spots

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Published: September 2, 2023
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While not the most popular place to hunt turkeys, New York state does have a sizable turkey population and turkey seasons every year. With the right license and documents, you can legally hunt turkey in this state.

However, there are many regulations and rules surrounding turkey season in New York. Therefore, it is important to understand how to hunt legally in this state before you hit the door.

Below, we’ll go over season timing, bag limits, and other important regulations you need to know. Remember, the state can change the regulations at any time. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on local announcements for potential changes.

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Turkey Season in New York Timing

In New York, Turkey season is divided into two different parts: spring and fall. Both of these seasons are a bit different from each other and often have different regulations.

Spring Season

Spring season in New York opens sometime in late April and extends into May. The specific dates do differ from year to year, though. Therefore, it’s important to check annually.

Spring is the primary hunting season for most turkey hunters. It coincides with the turkey’s breeding season, making the males more responsive to calls and very active. The chance of successful hunts is higher for this reason.

However, the weather in New York in the Spring is unpredictable. Therefore, you must be prepared for a range of different conditions, including warm afternoons and chilly mornings.

Fall Season

Fall turkey hunting in New York is usually in October and November. This season is often less popular than the spring season, as it doesn’t coincide with the breeding season. Turkeys are often less vocal and harder to find. Hunters often target flocks instead of individual birds, but you have to find that flock, first.

Still, many hunters do like hitting the woods in the fall, as the changing colors can make it a scenic experience.

Special Youth Season

There is also a special youth season on one weekend during each season. This weekend provides young hunters with the opportunity to learn about turkey hunting. The state considers this season important to preserve the hunting tradition, so it is often heavily advertised.

License Requirements and Costs

Goose Hunter

Hunting turkeys in New York requires a hunting license and a turkey permit.

©Steve Oehlenschlager/Shutterstock.com

To hunt turkeys in New York, you must possess a valid hunting license. The type of license depends on whether you’re a resident or a non-resident. Resident licenses are often much less expensive than non-resident licenses. There are often special rates for senior citizens, disabled individuals, and youth hunters.

Licenses are obtainable through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website, local license-issuing agents, and some online vendors.

On top of a hunting license, you must also purchase a turkey permit. This permit allows you to participate in both spring and fall turkey seasons. There are different fees for residents and non-residents, similar to the hunting license.

Some youth hunters may be eligible for free turkey permits as part of the state’s youth hunting program.

Bag Limits and Regulations for Turkey Season in New York

New York is home to two main turkey species: Eastern wild turkeys and hybrid Eastern-Rio Grande turkeys. The bag limits for each species vary by hunting zone, and you should always determine the exact bag limit for the zone you’re hunting in before you hit the field. Be cautious about wandering into a different zone while hunting, where the regulations may be slightly different.

Bag limits change every year. However, hunters are generally allowed to harvest one bearded turkey per day during the spring season. Fall turkey hunting season is often more regulated, as the hunter is often hunting a whole flock instead of individual birds.

You can hunt during turkey season in New York using shotguns, bows, or crossbows. The shotguns must be 20-gauge, and shot sizes are often regulated to ensure a safe hunt. Archery equipment is often regulated, too, such as the draw strength.

Legal shooting hours change daily, depending on the timing of sunrise. Often, legal shooting hours begin at sunrise and continue to noon.

After a successful turkey hunt, all hunters must properly tag their turkeys following the state regulations. You may also have to report your turkey, depending on the exact zone you’re in. This reporting helps the state figure out the local turkey population.

Local Hunting Zones in New York

New York is divided into several different hunting zones. All of these have their own rules and regulations. Therefore, it’s important to know exactly what zone you’re hunting in and follow the correct regulations. You can travel between zones, but you must follow the regulations of each zone.

Different zones have different bag limits, for instance. In areas with more turkeys, hunters are often allowed to take more birds.

Each area is a mixture of private and public land where you may hunt. Public lands often have specific regulations that hunters must follow, such as registering with the park before yoru hunting date. Private lands require permission from landowners, which you should carry in writing while hunting in that area.

Stony Kill Falls - Long Exposure of Waterfall in Autumn - Minnewaska State Park - Catskill Mountains + Appalachian Mountain Region - New York

The Catskill Mountains are a pretty popular spot to go hunting in New York.

©The American Explorer/Shutterstock.com

There are many popular hunting spots for turkey in New York. Here are a few options:

  • The Catskill Mountains: The Catskill Mountains offer diverse terrain, including dense forests and open fields. Therefore, it is a prime destination for turkey hunters. This region offers a mix of public and private lands for hunting.
  • Adirondack Pack: This is a vast wilderness area with tons of scenic beauty and abundant wildlife, including turkeys. You can find turkey in the northern reaches of the park, where the woods are a mix of hardwood and conifers. You must stay in designated hunting areas when in this area, though.
  • Finger Lakes Region: This whole region has a high population of turkeys, making it one of the most productive turkey hunting areas. There are many public hunting areas consisting of woodlands and rolling hills. However, the local wildlife management units often have their own regulations and season dates.
  • Southern Tier: This region has a strong turkey population, as well, making it a popular option for turkey hunters. Counties like Steuben and Allegany have public areas that often make for some great turkey hunting. Rolling hills and agricultural areas often make this region very productive.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Paul VanDerWerf (Me in ME) / CC BY 2.0, Flickr – License / Original

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About the Author

Kristin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering dogs, cats, fish, and other pets. She has been an animal writer for seven years, writing for top publications on everything from chinchilla cancer to the rise of designer dogs. She currently lives in Tennessee with her cat, dogs, and two children. When she isn't writing about pets, she enjoys hiking and crocheting.

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