New York’s spring youth turkey hunt is just around the corner, set for April 23-24, 2016. This is a perfect opportunity to give junior nimrods the opportunity to have the outdoor stage all to themselves – along with an adult mentor, of course. All the young hunter needs is a Junior Hunting license and a turkey permit. The accompanying adult must also be a current hunting license and turkey permit holder.
There are some ground rules, as there should be. The adult mentor can assist in the hunt by calling, but they can carry a firearm, crossbow or bow (or attempt to kill a bird during the youth hunt). We mentioned crossbows. Junior hunters must be at least 14 years of age if they wanted to try that challenge. The reason? Crossbows are not classified as archery equipment in the Empire State. Crazy!
Junior hunters can harvest one bearded bird during the youth hunt weekend. This would become part of the two-bird bag allowed during the May 1-31 spring season if they are successful early. A second bird can be harvested starting May 1. There isn’t a better way to “Share the Outdoors” than to get a kid out turkey hunting!
According to Steve Schicker, host of Forever Wild Outdoor Adrenaline Adventures that appears on The Sportsman’s Channel, now is when you want to be scouting these birds for the youth turkey hunt weekend or opening day for the regular season.
“I like to drive around and glass the fields,” said Schicker. Locating the birds should be first on your list. “Whatever you do, don’t call these birds before the season opens,” emphasized Schicker, a five-time New York State Turkey Calling Champion. “Try to identify where the birds are roosting and then prepare accordingly.”
Once the hunt is underway, though, the emphasis is placed on safety. Since we are coming off a year when accidents in the field had no fatalities, it’s important to keep that record going. Hunters are outfitted entirely in camouflage clothing, so there are certain things you can do to make things safer on the whole. Some of the other things that Schicker pointed out were:
1) Find a big tree to use as a backdrop and to lean against – larger than your shoulders;
2) Don’t stalk what you think is a bird. It could be another hunter;
3) Never where red, white or blue;
4) Never shoot at sound or movement, always identifying your target before you pull the trigger;
5) Always look beyond your intended target;
6) When another hunter moves into your area, speak up loud and clearly. Don’t wave or move;
When it comes to the actual hunt, Schicker suggested to try and do some things a little differently if you are hunting on public land or areas that receive a lot of pressure. “You don’t have to actually call to make a difference if you are trying to pull a bird in. Try scratching the leaves or the ground to make it appear that there’s another bird there. You can also sound like a bird coming down out of the roost first thing in the morning, too. Figure out what the birds want on any given day.”
On a personal note, there’s one thing I would encourage every turkey hunter to purchase before heading out in the forests and fields. One of the most valuable tools in my turkey hunting arsenal is my Thermacell Repeller. It’s a perfect defense against unwanted guests like mosquitos and makes things more comfortable when you are outdoors in potentially adverse situations. If you have a new hunter with you, it’s a great way to make sure that insects won’t keep them away from a second hunt. Two new products include Max Life Insect Repellent pads that last up to 12 hours and a tree hanger that can help to give you maximum coverage when in the woods. Check out www.thermacell.com for details. Good luck, stay safe out there and take a kid out hunting!