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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Turkey season opens next week

Just over a week from today, May 1, will be the opening of the spring turkey season. Hunters have been eagerly awaiting this day for some time. Practicing calling, patterning the shotgun and checking out our gear has been an important activity for most of us. Spotting the flocks and observing them with binoculars is one part of scouting. Another important aspect will be locating the roosting areas of the tom turkeys. Cruising the back roads or hiking the ridge trails before dawn and listening to the sounds of gobbling is the usual method of pin-pointing toms.
Avoid temptation and leave the regular calls at home. The last thing that you want to do is call in a tom with yelps, etc. and then “educate” or spook the bird. Even in their tiny brain the idea that a hen calling is a fake makes a big impression.
Once you find the roost, look for strutting areas. These are usually clearings in the woods or old pastures where toms will parade in full strut to attract and impress the hens. Consider possible locations to set up between the roost and strutting areas for calling. Especially on rainy days the turkeys like to be in the open. Woods clearings, secluded fields or log roads are common places they frequent during rainy periods. Look for signs like feathers or droppings to find evidence of turkeys or their travel routes.
Check for good calling locations as well as alternates. Look for a large tree that you can sit against and is wide enough to protect and cover your back. This is important for safety to protect you against unethical or unsafe hunters who may carelessly shoot in your direction. It also helps protect against the infernal coyote or bobcat that may come into the calls and pounce from behind when they see a movement.
Is there adequate open space ahead of you to see and shoot a turkey? You do not want to be in too thick cover because it will hinder you from pointing the gun in different directions. Remember that the birds do not usually come from the direction that you think they will.
Think about where you will place your decoy if you plan on using one. It should visible to an approaching tom and hopefully draw him into an area where you can get a shot. Take time to measure the distance of a possible shot.
Consider all the things that may cause a tom turkey to “hang up” and not come in to your call.  Are there potential obstacles like small streams, stone walls, fences, etc. between you and the route of the bird? Remember that even though the bird could easily clear these obstacles they rarely ever will. After all, you are dealing with a creature with a brain the size of a small walnut.
Consider routes that will lead you to the area in the darkness. Remember that even in the gray light of pre-dawn a turkey perched high in some hardwood tree can see a camouflaged hunter making its way across an open field. Get there in darkness and hopefully under cover of trees and brush.
Have alternate spots. Not only might the turkeys move their area but you might find some other hunter in the area when you get there on opening morning. Be safe and ethical and go somewhere else.
Check out your gear and start lining up your jackets and vests with the essentials you will need. There are always lots of little things to get ready but now is the time to start. Doing your homework now and paying attention to little details may pay big dividends later.
Walleye and Pike Season Near: May 2 will be the opening of the walleye, pike and pickerel season, and local anglers are eagerly anticipating that weekend. Local Environmental Conservation Officers have been enforcing the ban on fishing certain tributaries before the season and have made several arrests on poachers who have caught walleye during the closed season. Next week’s column will feature advice from some of our local experts on where to go and tips on fishing.
Cicero Lions Club Walleye Derby: The Cicero-Mattydale Lions Club will hold its 37th annual walleye derby on opening weekend of the season on Oneida Lake and the lower tributaries. Dates are May 2 and 3 with fishing from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday. There will be over $3,500 in cash prizes for the top 25 fish based on length. There will also be daily draw tickets and tagged fish prizes.
All entries must be weighed in between the hours listed above and fish must be live. For complete rules and details, as well as weigh stations, check the website or e-mail
Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend: This weekend, April 25 and 26, is the Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend which allows youngsters age 12 – 15 who have a junior hunting license and a turkey permit, and have the permission of a parent or guardian, to hunt with a mentor as described below.
Youth 12 to 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or relative over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youth 14 to 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or an adult over 18 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
Bear Harvest: Recently the DEC released the statistics on the past bear season. A total of 1628 bears were taken, exceeding the previous season by nearly 300. In the 2013 season 1,358 bears were taken which was slightly above the five year average of 1301 for the state. These numbers reflect the increasing population of bears throughout much of New York State and the revised regulations which now hold an open season in most areas.
The Northern Zone/Adirondacks had a total of 518 bear taken compared to 2013. The last five years average was 519 and the historical average is 515. In the southern zone 1,110 bears were killed compared to 978 the previous year and the five year average of 782.
Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail: After a successful year in 2014, the Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail has big plans for 2015. They have announced that there will be four tournaments this year on May 17, June 28, July 26 and August 23. We will have details as the dates approach. For more information check the website at


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