Turkey Hunting in New York

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  • B
  • 160,000-180,000 (estimate)

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 89,000 (turkey permits)

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $32

    Hunting license and turkey permit.

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $120

    Hunting license and turkey permit.

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Some would suggest New York spring gobbler hunting isn't what it was a decade or two ago.

Back then, roughly a quarter of a million turkeys roamed the state; estimates now put the number at around 160,000 to 180,000 birds.

I can personally attest to this decline, having turkey hunted the state since the early 1990s, yet there are still some decent opportunities to be found.

Northeastern hunters know New York offers good spring gobbler opportunities, with vast public lands, wildlife management areas, state forests, and landowners willing to offer access (18.6 million forested acres).

That's one upside; here's another.

The Empire State sells a fairly affordable nonresident license/turkey permit.

New York wild turkey numbers have been on a downward trend, with last year's hatch offering hope. As of this writing, the official New York State Department of Environmental Conservation turkey harvest management word is:

After reaching their peak around 2001, wild turkey populations declined gradually over the next decade, followed by a more severe decline since 2009. There are several reasons for this, including a natural population contraction as turkey populations settled down to levels more in line with local environmental conditions, and other factors such as density dependence, poor production, and changing habitats and predator communities.

The decline in turkey numbers may be more pronounced in some areas. Reasons for this include cold wet spring weather, tough winters, and changes in habitat quantity and quality. In areas where open habitats such as agricultural fields, hayfields, old fields, thickets, and young forests have been lost due to development and vegetative succession, there are fewer turkeys. In areas with a larger proportion of "big woods" turkeys will persist, but at lower densities than areas with a mix of mature timber, early successional habitats, and agriculture.

Top counties for "estimated harvest" often include Chautauqua, Steuben, Otsego, Delaware, and Erie. 

Go here for the updated 2021-22 New York State Hunting Season Maps.

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in New York. Image by Tes Randle Jolly

New York Turkey Hunting Regulations

Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting.