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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 Turkey Harvest 2014

Estimated wild turkey harvest during fall 2014 was 4,041 birds. This is an increase from fall 2013, but below the five-year and ten-year averages (about 5,900 birds and 8,500 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 (64%) experienced an increase in harvest from fall 2013 to fall 2014. The counties with the highest estimated take in fall 2014 were Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Chautauqua, and Chenango. Of the roughly one-third of counties where harvest decreased or was unchanged from 2013 to 2014, almost 40% were in DEC Region 8 (Finger Lakes region).

There were likely more birds on the landscape last fall due to average to above-average production during summer 2014. Reproductive success, as measured by the summer poult survey, was higher than in 2013 and slightly above the long-term average. This was counter to the short-term trend where productivity has been below-average four of the last six years. In addition, in areas with a lack of hard and soft mast, birds had to forage across a larger area in search of food, making them more vulnerable to harvest.

The estimated number of fall turkey hunters declined about 13% from last year, continuing a downward trend in fall turkey hunting participation over the past decade (about 82,000 in 2003-04 to 36,000 in 2013-14). When we control for the number of hunters and hunter effort, we observed an increase in take from 1.4 birds/100 days effort in fall 2013 to 2.0 birds/100 days effort in fall 2014.

Due to concerns about turkey population declines, over the past four years DEC has initiated three studies to inform decisions regarding fall hunting season structure. These have included a study to determine the influence of habitat and weather on turkeys in different regions of the state, a survey of fall turkey hunters to understand what drives hunter satisfaction, and a study to assess survival and harvest rates of hen turkeys. Information from this work will be used to determine the optimal fall season structure that balances turkey abundance and hunter satisfaction.

Changes proposed for fall 2015 will be evaluated as part of a four-year research program. DEC staff banded and radio-tracked hens in 2013 and 2014 under the existing fall season structure and will continue to band and track hens in 2015 and 2016 to help evaluate the effects of fall season changes on hen harvest and survival. This information will be used along with information on turkey abundance, productivity, and hunter activity and harvest data collected annually, to determine future fall harvest opportunities that are sustainable under current environmental conditions and trends in turkey populations.

New York State Estimated Fall Turkey Harvest
County 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Albany 161 156 153 125 42 160 65 121 33 61
Allegany 267 325 279 391 201 254 152 123 122 71
Broome 287 304 416 382 176 262 91 194 81 90
Cattaraugus 406 361 594 546 290 352 170 193 229 117
Cayuga 181 148 279 232 102 124 75 135 67 64
Chautauqua 413 450 474 617 298 480 226 279 236 141
Chemung 83 82 87 106 50 50 40 41 52 19
Chenango 394 550 651 598 298 406 111 309 79 138
Clinton 9 19 29 7 47 19 26 12 15 14
Columbia 201 175 192 219 93 124 77 145 62 81
Cortland 201 182 291 283 139 185 53 108 37 61
Delaware 416 281 717 796 427 569 140 394 131 353
Dutchess 308 281 349 271 100 138 150 124 98 93
Erie 247 200 372 125 217 220 84 122 19 50
Essex 23 6 29 0 20 10 14 27 2 12
Franklin 107 13 70 33 44 36 44 14 12 38
Fulton 48 25 70 66 67 45 14 43 15 18
Genesee 42 38 48 21 34 33 21 17 3 2
Greene 190 167 145 164 48 116 39 161 67 110
Hamilton 37 0 37 3 33 7 7 23 2 16
Herkimer 247 116 265 230 348 160 110 123 39 132
Jefferson 434 312 529 265 408 248 203 188 176 138
Lewis 65 47 138 85 145 81 63 70 71 59
Livingston 54 82 68 94 30 38 34 27 30 39
Madison 204 213 305 344 199 243 81 174 52 76
Monroe 90 119 105 38 54 44 51 51 8 32
Montgomery 143 133 184 137 99 185 36 154 71 64
Niagara 73 91 55 56 47 59 38 43 8 18
Oneida 283 157 403 197 257 193 124 95 100 71
Onondaga 249 205 384 374 226 157 144 167 69 114
Ontario 74 94 93 160 59 75 58 61 74 31
Orange 362 471 325 464 184 264 168 207 144 126
Orleans 43 5 29 32 22 11 25 11 1 0
Oswego 163 76 179 157 144 128 117 65 14 38
Otsego 417 353 564 598 256 301 122 315 119 238
Putnam 54 57 87 125 21 36 17 27 29 5
Rensselaer 204 118 267 194 100 155 71 121 40 78
Rockland 0 4 4 0 0 11 0 13 4 10
St. Lawrence 149 169 244 124 233 167 103 144 78 127
Saratoga 62 110 109 66 74 69 47 83 37 53
Schenectady 50 46 79 51 29 47 18 24 17 19
Schoharie 305 315 302 335 114 160 93 247 75 190
Schuyler 108 70 65 58 41 63 16 27 26 22
Seneca 36 67 48 24 37 37 29 32 8 20
Steuben 271 329 325 387 221 295 161 164 56 110
Suffolk n/a n/a n/a n/a 102 104 101 110 30 36
Sullivan 287 285 313 313 135 174 60 197 37 100
Tioga 301 364 517 434 194 257 101 177 60 126
Tompkins 224 296 420 434 159 188 71 142 40 69
Ulster 179 194 291 210 122 207 131 132 104 83
Warren 19 3 29 3 20 12 10 31 5 8
Washington 309 270 329 327 213 179 83 234 42 122
Wayne 95 81 109 75 47 44 38 40 11 25
Westchester 32 11 16 43 15 14 15 33 8 12
Wyoming 149 78 111 89 50 82 31 38 41 46
Yates 56 98 81 106 73 85 74 70 70 55
Total 9,812 9,202 12,654 11,614 7,204 8,164 4,243 6,422 3,256 4,041