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Rod, Gun and Game: New York turkey season will open on May 1, this year

GET THAT GOBBLER — The expert turkey hunting panel of, from left: Steve Schicker from Forever Outdoors; Bruce Kowalski from Elusion Camouflage; Chuck Tiranno from 1-Up Game Calls; Kurt Myer, champion turkey caller, and Gerry Rightmyer from Adrenaline Adventures Outdoors, provided a turkey seminar at the Safari Club meeting in Hamburg. Photo by Jim Montleone.

SPRINGVILLE — The official New York state spring turkey season will open on May 1, at 30 minutes before sunrise, and run through noon each day, throughout the entire month of May.

Early morning in the suburbs and rural areas of Western New York offer audible proof that turkey mating season is on with toms strutting their finest tail feathers and gobbles in search of hens that are looking to mate. It’s perfect timing for hunters dressed in camouflage clothing and face paint to hide their facial outline and contrast to return calls to fool the birds with their best imitation hen cluck and purr.

At the April Safari Club meeting held at Michael’s Banquet Hall in Hamburg, President Jim Monteleone provided attendees with a combination of talent, experience and enthusiasm for the group’s annual Turkey Panel discussion, held each year in the month preceding the NYS opening day of turkey season.

Turkey experts consisted of Chuck Tiranno, owner of 1-Up Game Calls; Steve Schicker, from Forever Outdoors; Gerry Rightmyer, from Adrenaline Adventures Outdoors; Bruce Kowalski, from Elusion Camouflage and Kurt Myer, a competition champion turkey caller. Schicker is a five-time winner in New York state calling competitions, Rightmyer and Myer have been on the calling scene for many years, competing in many local and regional contests; Kowalski has extensive experience in trials of videotaping hunts in his background and, having been on both sides of the camera, offers insight that all hunters can appreciate.

Regarding the use of decoys, while Tiranno has had little luck while using a “jake” decoy, explaining that birds seem to shy away from his set-up, the other four experts all agreed that “jake” decoys are effective, for a good part of the season. Myer noted that decoys used in the fall season can be a big plus. Schicker added a tip about including a turkey decoy near his fall deer stand to attract whitetail. His logic is that this gives a sense of realism and plays on the deer’s curious nature.

The entire panel agreed on the need for a lower volume of calling. Calling less, in most scenarios, is much more effective than calling too often. When asked about the average shot distance to the bird, the consensus was between 14 and 25 yards.

Monteleone asked the panel, “If you could only carry one call in the spring, what would it be?” The panel included box calls, slate calls and mouth calls. Tiranno mentioned that it is good to carry an assortment of calls, as the season wears on.

Monteleone then asked about hunting public land and the group said that, to be successful, you needed to be off the beaten path, wherever you can find it. The group also concluded that continuing to hunt after 9 a.m. can often result in trophy success, as less experienced hunters leave the woods by then, providing several hours of prime time hunting, especially as the season gets into later May, when the hens begin laying their eggs and gobblers find themselves alone.

The group was unanimous about its lack of concern for beard, spur length or the weight of that first bird.

The NYS daily limit is one bird; the season limit is two birds. If you are lucky enough to score on a good bird, don’t forget to immediately tag your bird and then later, phone in your harvest to NYS DECALS at 1-866-4263-778. There are instructions on your turkey tag in your backtag license packet.

Kids and parents: Free fishing clinic

The weekend forecast looks good and families with kids may want to start off this spring with an educational, fun fishing experience for everyone. On April 27, the Bison City Rod & Gun Club will host the 10th Annual Jimmy Griffin Memorial “Teach-Me-To-Fish” seminar event, running from 2 -5 p.m., at 511 Ohio St. in Buffalo. The event is totally free and is open to the public, for all parents and kids aged 15 years and younger.

Kids receive a registration ticket upon arrival, then watch a brief slide show introduction on fishing in the Western New York area, learn about clean waters, catch and release and then visit seven friendly learning stations, including a visit aboard the 31-foot Erie County Sheriff’s boat moored at the Bison City docks for the day.

Kids will learn how to cast a line, tie a fishing knot, bait a hook and rig for fishing with artificial plastic baits. Parents and kids will also feed the 10,000 steelhead fingerlings being raised in special floating fish pens at the facility, located right on the rejuvenated Buffalo River. The pens allow the young steelhead to scent imprint to local waters, so fish recognize the Buffalo River as their home waterway system and will return here to spawn, in future years. The fish are hand-fed high-protein food for 4-6 weeks and then released under the watchful eyes of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, during the first few weeks of May.

In addition, Bison City offers a free Sahlen’s hot dog lunch with potato chips, cupcakes, ice cream, water and pop. If you ever wanted to learn more about fishing WNY, grab this free seminar and courtesy lunch. Call 652-2256 or 597-4081, for more information. No pre-registration is required; the event will run rain or shine.

Annual sportsman flea market

On April 26, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., the Bison City Rod & Gun Club will host their popular annual Hunting and Fishing Flea Market. Visitors may find outboard motors, rods, reels, lures, tackle, anchors, chainsaws and just about anything else. Located at 511 Ohio St., Bison City offers the event for the benefit of all area sportsmen. Call chairman Paul Stoos at 563-9258, for more information.

New York bowhunters speak up

President Rick Kirschner of New York Bowhunters, perhaps the one organization that worked to keep crossbow outside the scope of use during the regular archery season, provided an official comment on the NYB website, last week. After the 2014-15 budget passed and crossbows became legal for hunting, during the last 14 days of southern zone big game archery season and last 10 days of northern archery season, Kirschner said, “Contrary to what has been perpetuated by some, NYB does not exist to be an anti-crossbow organization.”

If you ask many elderly archers who have arthritis and other health issues and cannot effectively pull back a recurve, long bow or compound bow, they blame NYB for the 20-year crossbow delay into archery season. Many have suggested that Kirschner is still naive about the whole issue and believe he must be a young man without sore bones anywhere. His statement also said, “With the crossbow issue resolved and behind us, NYB looks forward to devoting more time to our many successful programs and to the continued promotion of bowhunting’s storied heritage.”

NYB programs such as summertime Youth Archery Camps and military veteran hunting outreach programs are among NYB’s success stories, but the simple majority of sportsmen insist that the issue regarding crossbow will only be fully resolved when crossbow can be used for the entire bow hunting season. See Kirschner’s web statement in entirety at

From my view, at least the elderly hunters can now hunt with crossbow during the last two weeks of the warmer weather archery season. For me and for many, if not most archers, a regular modern super-bow will still suffice, though these modern compound bows are close to being a crossbow; they are just vertically oriented. They are quiet, have 75-85 percent let-off and if you hunt from a tree stand, the deer will never see the archer draw their bow back, anyway.

Outdoor calendar

April 25-27: Hawkeye Bowmen Primitive Archery Shoot, wood bows and arrows, free camping available, located at 13300 Clinton St., Alden. For more information, call Phil Fleck at 998-4857.

April 26: Sportsmen’s Flea Market, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Bison City Rod & Gun, located at 511 Ohio St., Buffalo. For more information, call Paul Stoos at 562-9258.

April 27: Erie County SCOPE Chicken Dinner fundraiser, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8113, located at 299 Leydecker, West Seneca, noon-5 p.m. For more information, call 560-7289.

April 27: Kids Fishing Clinic, 2 p.m. -5 p.m., includes lunch and free rod and reel prizes for kids, all free, Bison City Rod & Gun, located at 511 Ohio St., Buffalo. For more information, call 597-4081.

May 1: Opening Day NYS spring turkey hunting season, runs 30 minutes before sunrise-noon, every day through the end of May.

May 3: Opening Day for NYS walleye, northern pike, tiger musky and pickerel fishing seasons.

May 5: David DiPietro Sportsmen’s Fundraiser, North Java Hall, located at 878 Route 20A, Strykersville, 1-5 p.m. For more information, call 866-1398.

Send information for inclusion in the calendar to Forrest Fisher, 10 days in advance, via email to


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