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Fall Turkey Take by County

As described in DEC's Wild Turkey Management Plan (PDF) (283 kB), DEC has changed the way that seasonal turkey harvest is reported. In the past, DEC only summarized the number of birds actually reported by hunters. Now, the Department reports an estimated total turkey harvest based on surveys of approximately 12,000 turkey permit holders after the close of the hunting season. This results in a calculated harvest based on estimated reporting rates. This provides a more accurate harvest estimate and a more realistic assessment of the status of New York's wild turkey populations.

New York State Fall Wild Turkey Harvest 2013

Estimated wild turkey harvest during fall 2013 was 3,256 birds. This is significantly lower than fall 2012 and below the five-year and ten-year averages (about 7,500 birds and 9,700 birds, respectively). The below average fall turkey harvest the past few years is likely due to fewer turkeys on the landscape, as well as fewer turkey hunters and less hunting effort during the fall season.

Of the 56 counties that had fall turkey hunting, most (75%) experienced a decrease in harvest from fall 2012 to fall 2013. The counties with the highest estimated take in fall 2013 were Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Jefferson, Steuben, and Orange. Of the roughly 25% of counties where harvest increased or was unchanged from 2012 to 2013, about 40% were in DEC Region 8 (Finger Lakes region).

There were likely fewer birds on the landscape this fall due to poor production during summer 2013. Reproductive success, as measured by the summer poult survey, was lower than in 2012 and was below the long-term average. This continues a trend of below-average productivity observed from 2009 through 2011. Poor production was confirmed by the age and sex composition of the reported harvest. About 47% of the reported harvest was comprised of juvenile birds, compared to 57% last year. In addition, there was an abundance of hard and soft mast in the woods last fall so birds did not have to roam over large areas in search of food. These conditions made turkeys less vulnerable to harvest.

The estimated number of fall turkey hunters declined about 20% from last year, continuing a downward trend in fall turkey hunting participation over the past decade (about 85,000 in 2002-03 to 43,000 in 2012-13). When we control for the number of hunters and hunter effort, we observed a decrease in take from 2.3 birds/100 days effort in fall 2012 to 1.4 birds/100 days effort in fall 2013.

Due to concerns about turkey population declines, DEC initiated a study in winter 2013 to assess wild turkey hen survival and harvest rates. Having current, accurate data on hen survival and breeding success is critical to the successful management of wild turkey populations. This research will also provide wildlife managers with estimates of the fall harvest rates of female wild turkeys statewide and for major regions of the state. The primary form of turkey population management for wildlife agencies is through the fall either-sex turkey hunting season. Currently however, fall harvest rates in New York are dated or unknown. This information is essential for estimating population abundance and for gauging the effect of fall season length and harvest on population status. This is especially important now that many indicators suggest that turkeys are not as abundant as they were 10-15 years ago.

Forecast for Fall 2014 - The good production observed in summer 2014 will likely be balanced against poor production in 2013 and harsh winter conditions in 2013-14. We anticipate that the fall 2014 harvest will be higher than last year, but still below the ten-year average. In areas with good growing conditions this spring and summer and plentiful hard mast, there will be an abundance of food available to turkeys this fall. Under these conditions birds have to roam less in search of food making them less vulnerable to hunters.

New York State Estimated Fall Turkey Harvest
County 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Albany 246 161 156 153 125 42 160 65 121 33
Allegany 276 267 325 279 391 201 254 152 123 122
Broome 422 287 304 416 382 176 262 91 194 81
Cattaraugus 338 406 361 594 546 290 352 170 193 229
Cayuga 223 181 148 279 232 102 124 75 135 67
Chautauqua 420 413 450 474 617 298 480 226 279 236
Chemung 110 83 82 87 106 50 50 40 41 52
Chenango 488 394 550 651 598 298 406 111 309 79
Clinton 81 9 19 29 7 47 19 26 12 15
Columbia 262 201 175 192 219 93 124 77 145 62
Cortland 266 201 182 291 283 139 185 53 108 37
Delaware 524 416 281 717 796 427 569 140 394 131
Dutchess 639 308 281 349 271 100 138 150 124 98
Erie 260 247 200 372 125 217 220 84 122 19
Essex 81 23 6 29 0 20 10 14 27 2
Franklin 24 107 13 70 33 44 36 44 14 12
Fulton 97 48 25 70 66 67 45 14 43 15
Genesee 48 42 38 48 21 34 33 21 17 3
Greene 225 190 167 145 164 48 116 39 161 67
Hamilton 20 37 0 37 3 33 7 7 23 2
Herkimer 304 247 116 265 230 348 160 110 123 39
Jefferson 699 434 312 529 265 408 248 203 188 176
Lewis 183 65 47 138 85 145 81 63 70 71
Livingston 76 54 82 68 94 30 38 34 27 30
Madison 217 204 213 305 344 199 243 81 174 52
Monroe 17 90 119 105 38 54 44 51 51 8
Montgomery 193 143 133 184 137 99 185 36 154 71
Niagara 39 73 91 55 56 47 59 38 43 8
Oneida 276 283 157 403 197 257 193 124 95 100
Onondaga 244 249 205 384 374 226 157 144 167 69
Ontario 36 74 94 93 160 59 75 58 61 74
Orange 462 362 471 325 464 184 264 168 207 144
Orleans 26 43 5 29 32 22 11 25 11 1
Oswego 97 163 76 179 157 144 128 117 65 14
Otsego 639 417 353 564 598 256 301 122 315 119
Putnam 115 54 57 87 125 21 36 17 27 29
Rensselaer 193 204 118 267 194 100 155 71 121 40
Rockland 8 0 4 4 0 0 11 0 13 4
St. Lawrence 447 149 169 244 124 233 167 103 144 78
Saratoga 177 62 110 109 66 74 69 47 83 37
Schenectady 68 50 46 79 51 29 47 18 24 17
Schoharie 377 305 315 302 335 114 160 93 247 75
Schuyler 57 108 70 65 58 41 63 16 27 26
Seneca 22 36 67 48 24 37 37 29 32 8
Steuben 288 271 329 325 387 221 295 161 164 56
Suffolk n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a 102 104 101 110 30
Sullivan 225 287 285 313 313 135 174 60 197 37
Tioga 393 301 364 517 434 194 257 101 177 60
Tompkins 242 224 296 420 434 159 188 71 142 40
Ulster 238 179 194 291 210 122 207 131 132 104
Warren 89 19 3 29 3 20 12 10 31 5
Washington 427 309 270 329 327 213 179 83 234 42
Wayne 37 95 81 109 75 47 44 38 40 11
Westchester 56 32 11 16 43 15 14 15 33 8
Wyoming 107 149 78 111 89 50 82 31 38 41
Yates 86 56 98 81 106 73 85 74 70 70
Total 12,211 9,812 9,202 12,654 11,614 7,204 8,164 4,243 6,422 3,256