Turkey Hunting in New York

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  • B
  • 160,000-180,000 (estimate)

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 152,765 resident turkey permits; 8,033 nonresident

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

Some would suggest New York spring gobbler hunting isn't what it was several decades 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 vast public lands, wildlife management areas, state forests, and landowners willing to offer access (18.6 million forested acres).

New York wild turkey numbers and poult production have been on a downward trend, with last several hatch years offering no change in this direction.

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.

In 2020, the pandemic season of increased participation across much of the country, New York hunters registered 21,381 birds. Last year, the number dropped to 16,891. 

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in New York. Image by Tes Randle Jolly

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