(WETM) – Turkey season in New York will start next month for the entire state except for New York City. This year will also allow turkey hunting on Long Island for the first time, the DEC said.

Spring 2023 turkey season will start on May 1 in New York State. The DEC said each year, around 18,000 birds are harvested each spring season, but this year the number is expected to be higher than 2022. The DEC said this is because hunters usually take toms, leaving a two-year gap between the summer when they reproduce and the next big spring harvest. Still, turkey numbers overall are lower than a few years ago because of “below-average reproductive success” in two of the last four years.

The DEC is also allowing shot sizes as small as No. 9 for turkey hunting this year in both spring and fall. “The change was made to modernize regulations as technology has advanced over the years to increase the down-range effectiveness of smaller shot sizes,” the announcement said.

This is also the first year spring turkey hunting is allowed in Suffolk County on Long Island. The DEC said turkeys were moved there in the 1990s and have grown in population since.

The DEC provided the following tips and reminders for this year’s turkey hunters:

Important Details for the Spring Turkey Season, May 1-31:

  • Hunting is permitted in most areas of the state, except for New York City and Nassau County;
  • Hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their hunting license;
  • 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 and no more than one bird per season in Wildlife Management Unit 1C (Suffolk County);
  • 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 Number 2 or smaller than Number 9, or with a bow or crossbow (except crossbows may not be used in Westchester or Suffolk counties);
  • 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 the harvest online at DEC’s Game Harvest Reporting website; and
  • For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2022-23 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the “Turkey Hunting” pages of DEC’s website.

Hunting Safety:

  • Point your gun in a safe direction;
  • Treat every gun as if it were loaded;
  • Be sure of your target and beyond;
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; and
  • Stalking stinks! Sit with your back against a tree or other object wider than your shoulders and call birds to you.

A hunter education class is required for all hunters. To find a hunter education class in your area, visit DEC’s Hunter Education Program website or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).

Tips for a Successful and Safe Turkey Hunting Season:

  • Don’t stalk. More than half of turkey hunting injuries happen when one hunter stalks another;
  • Always assume any call or footsteps you hear are from another hunter. Don’t shoot until you clearly see the whole turkey and know its sex;
  • If you see another hunter, talk to them clearly, and don’t move. Never wave or use a turkey call to alert another hunter;
  • Turkeys are tough. You need to be close before you shoot (30 yards or closer is best). You need to get a clear head and neck shot. Do not try to shoot the turkey in the body or when they are flying;
  • Smaller shot, Number 4, 5, and 6, work better than larger shot, due to denser shot patterns;
  • When calling, sit still with your back against a big tree, to hide you from turkeys and stalkers;
  • Never wear turkey colors — red, white, or blue;
  • Wear hunter orange when going in or out of the woods and when walking around to make yourself more visible to other hunters;
  • When sitting still waiting for a turkey, put hunter orange on a tree near you to alert other hunters to your presence; and
  • If you take a turkey or carry a decoy, wrap it in hunter orange.