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Spring Turkey Hunting in NY

It's 5:30 am on opening day. You’re sitting in a blind in a field that you have scouted in advance, where several Toms have courted hens within shotgun range of your position for the past few weeks. A barred owl hoots and you hear a faint gobble. So you try an owl call and two or three Toms respond. They are in the trees just 80 yards from your position. You can hear some hen yelps, but fortunately they are roosted on the other side of the field. The toms gobble back to some crows several more times. Its 5:55 am now and the three toms sound more muffled and further away. They are on the ground. You make a few low yelps followed by a fly-down cackle. The toms double gobble. You make a few more mating yelps and the toms respond loudly; they are coming towards the field! The Toms are all puffed up as they slowly make their way towards your decoy set up. It seems like an eternity but the biggest tom is now just 25 yards from the blind. You raise your gun slowly, then take aim. Boom! It is 6:30 am and you have taken your first Tom turkey; 22 lbs, 10” beard, and 1¼” spurs. You look across the field and can see the Catskill Mts. in the distance. It is indeed a great morning to be hunting in New York State's Hudson Valley.

In the Hudson Valley, you will find a wide diversity of terrain including wooded areas, large fields, and mild to steep sloping ground.
  1. Preseason scouting is the most important factor for success. Get out early, listen to and observe the turkey activity. Once you know the locations of several birds at different times of the morning you can set up accordingly. A portable blind is good as it hides your movement and makes long sits and calling sessions  more bearable.  Leaving the woods early is a mistake, as many a good Gobbler has fallen just before noon.
  2. The temperature in early May in New York state can be quite cold especially in the mornings so I suggest bringing some warm clothing as well as rain gear. All clothing items that are visible should be camouflaged. Later in the season the temperatures are usually milder but a light jacket is still a good idea first thing in the morning. High rubber boots will keep your feet and legs dry crossing wet fields in the morning dew. Bring a turkey vest to store calls, decoys, flash light, head-net, gloves, shells, water, and snacks. A vest is a good investment so get one with a good thick seat cushion attached (you will thank me later).
  3. A 12-Gauge shotgun 3”-3.5” chamber with a turkey choke that will pattern effectively out to 40 yards and beyond is a good choice. I prefer a semi-auto because of less felt recoil using heavy-duty loads designed just for turkey hunting.  My shotgun is fitted with a Bushnell holographic site, as a turkey’s head and neck area is a small target at 40 plus yards.  Some form of sight and a sling is recommended for your turkey gun. For a young hunter or a small-framed individual, a 20 gauge 3” magnum in semi auto patterned to 30 yards and beyond is a good choice. Your gun should be dull in color or cameo.   
  4. To learn all the calls, set up blinds, roost turkeys and become successful, I recommend you hunt with someone experienced to act as a mentor and will help you experience the fun and fulfillment of turkey hunting in New York.
Ed Van Nostrand is a:

Licensed NYS Guide

NRA Member
Buckmasters
Member

North American
Hunt Club
Life Member


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