Youth Season Success on Long Island 

The NWTF is proud to have supported a growing youth hunting opportunity in Long Island, New York. With its proximity to New York City and its dense, urban population, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation offers nearby hunting opportunities otherwise not available.

(Photo Courtesy of NYDEC)

The DEC first established a spring youth turkey season on Long Island in 2009, as the population of turkeys grew to huntable levels. The relatively new season has successfully provided opportunities to many new, young hunters.

“Suffolk County’s proximity to urban areas presents a unique opportunity for nontraditional hunters to go afield and learn about hunting close to home,” said Josh Stiller, NYDEC game bird biologist and NWTF Technical Committee representative. “Previously, if hunters from NYC and Long Island wanted to participate in the youth hunt, they would need to travel upstate; now they have that opportunity right down the road.”

The Suffolk County Youth Turkey Hunt is an effort led by NYDEC officer Taylor Della Rocco and a group of dedicated volunteers and sponsors. 

The event took place at the Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area, Sarnoff Cooperative Hunting Area, Otis Pike Preserve and the Wertheim Wildlife Refuge, where novice hunters learned about hunting ethics, firearm safety and patterning, all while getting the opportunity to call and tag a bird. 

“This event would not have been as great of a success without the help of the New York Conservation Officer Association and the NWTF,” Della Rocco said. “With the amazing support, I was able make this hunt a positive experience for the youths and give them some of the knowledge and gear for success.”

Youth yielded birds throughout the two-day hunt: one gobbler had a 10 1/4-inch beard and 1 5/8-inch spurs. Gary King at Waterfowl Creations is mounting that bird for the youth hunter free of charge. 

As the turkey population on Long Island grows, NYDEC is working on expanding opportunities and making events like these more accessible. 

(Photo Courtesy of NYDEC)

“In recent years, the wild turkey population has grown to a healthy level, and I have seen interest building,” Della Rocco said. “A large hurdle most hunters on Long Island have is that there is not a large support group of experienced turkey hunters. This is where DEC officers come in to help and show both the youth and their parents some of the officers’ skills and knowledge of hunting turkeys in the spring. The public can expect to see this event continue in the following years and hopefully grow to reach more new turkey hunters.”

In addition to the NWTF and the NYDEC, contributors and sponsors of the event include New York Conservation Officers Association, NYS Hunter Education Program, Phelps Game Calls, ALPS Outdoors, Bait and Barrels, Camp-Site Sport Shop, Benson’s Gun Shop, The Hunting Public, Waterfowl Creations, Knight and Hale, Tangle Free and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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