Memorial Day Weekend is usually the last chance to fill that second gobbler tag or for some even the first.
However, this year there is another full weekend to follow the holiday weekend, with the season closing on the following Sunday. Perhaps not the best year to have such a lineup of weekend days given the extremely large volume of hunters afield due to the pandemic conditions, but there is no changing how the calendar falls.
Birds have seemingly (to myself and numerous hunting brethren) been somewhat quiet off the roost and have sempt to come alive during the later hours morning. Actually, now can be an excellent time to lay the hammer down on that big old tom.
With the majority of the hens already bred and either nesting or, by this time of the season, we typically begin to see young poults following close behind the hen, which, in turn, makes these hens want nothing to do with the Mr. Longbeard whom is still looking for love. This factor leaves them very vulnerable, especially for the patient turkey hunter. There are a few different tactics to try out this time of year.
Although birds have been pressured an entire season already, you never know. You may catch him in just the right mood and he comes strutting in right off the roost, gobbling his fool head off just like it was opening day all over again.
Then there is the old tried-and-true wait him out trick. You’ve watched him strut back in forth for hours in a certain spot all season long, gobbling to every call, but refusing to come any closer. Back and forth he goes until noon time comes, or you’re just sick of watching him and finally throw in the towel.
Get there. Early, exceptionally early. Camouflage yourself well, sparsely call or maybe even consider not calling whatsoever. Just wait him out like you are on a deer stand. More than likely if you’re patient enough, he will show up at some point to his favorite strut zone. The only difference is this time he will be leaving hanging over your shoulder.
Another worthy tactic to give a go is the use of a full strut decoy, competition for the last few ladies of the season can be fierce. The last thing that old gobbler wants to see with one of his girls is another tom on his turf. I am not a huge fan of decoys in general, but they certainly do have their place. If I could chose only one decoy to use, it would 100% be a full strut tom decoy. Care must be exercised when using such a decoy though, and probably is not the wisest choice (safety aspect wise) to use on state or public lands.
Obviously, with any hunting situation nothing is a guarantee, but give these few tips a try this weekend and your Memorial Day BBQ may very well include some fresh wild turkey.
CAMPING DO’S AND DON’TS
Memorial Day weekend might be the biggest camping weekend of the entire season, but unfortunately this year it is just not going to happen. All state run campgrounds are officially closed until May 31, and all campers with prior reservations will be issued full refunds.
New York State has suspended all new camping, cabin and cottage reservations for the 2020 season until further notice. The state is assessing campground status on a daily basis. Visitors who wish to cancel an existing reservation may do so and receive a full refund or can transfer the reservation to the 2021 season.
The DEC and New York State Parks have temporarily lifted the nine-month reservation window restriction for camping and will allow for transfers of existing camping reservations into the 2021 season. If you choose to transfer, the change fee will be waived until June 11 for online transactions only. In addition, you may also make new reservations for the 2021 season at this time. Please note that there is no guarantee that you will get the same camping site or dates for 2021 whether you transfer or make a new reservation.
Hikers and backcountry campers take notice as certain places have closed or have special regulations in place as well as state run facilities.
Due to COVID-19, DEC will temporarily stop issuing permits for backcountry camping for groups of 10 or more, and for more than three days at one location on state lands.
DEC has also temporarily suspended all overnight camping at the following facilities:
Region 3-Lower Hudson Valley: Peekamoose Valley Camping Areas — Lower, Middle, Upper, and Trailer Fields (Sundown Wild Forest, Town of Denning, Ulster County).
Region 4-Capital Region/Northern Catskills: Spruce Grove Camping Area (Bear Spring Mountain Campground, Catskill Forest Preserve, Town of Downsville, Delaware County).
Region 6-Western Adirondacks/Upper Mohawk Valley/Eastern Lake Ontario: Otter Creek Horse Trail (Independence River State Forest, Town of Glenfield, Lewis County).
Region 7-Central New York: Long Pond Camping Area (Long Pond State Forest, Town of Smithville, Chenango County); Balsam Pond Camping Area (Balsam Swamp State Forest, Town of Pharsalia, Chenango County); Hunt’s Pond Camping Area (Hunt’s Pond State Forest, Town of New Berlin, Chenango County); Stoney Pond Camping Area (Stoney Pond State Forest, Town of Nelson, Madison County); Cherry Ridge Camping Area (Charles E. Baker State Forest, Town of Brookfield, Madison County); The Assembly Area (Charles E. Baker State Forest, Town of Brookfield, Madison County); Moscow Hill Camping Area (Charles E. Baker State Forest, Town of Brookfield, Madison County); Spruce Pond Camping Area (Morgan Hill State Forest, Town of Fabius, Onondaga County).
Region 8-Rochester/Western Finger Lakes: Sugar Hill State Forest, Camping and equestrian area; Birdseye Hollow State Forest, Sanford Lake; Ossian State Forest, Evergreen Pond.
Region 9-Western New York: Hannum Road Campsites (Chautauqua Gorge State Forest, Town of Chautauqua, Chautauqua County); Jasper Park Campsites (North Harmony State Forest, Town of North Harmony, Chautauqua County); West Almond Horse Trail System - Stewart Forest Road and Route 244 Camping Areas (Palmer’s Pond, Phillips Creek, and Turnpike State Forests, Towns of Ward and West Almond, Allegany County); Palmer’s Pond Campsites (Palmer’s Pond State Forest, Town of West Almond, Allegany County); Camp Seneca and Little Rock City Campsites (McCarthy Hill and Rock City State Forests, Towns of Mansfield, Little Valley, Ellicottville and Great Valley, Cattaraugus County); East Otto Campsites (East Otto State Forest, Town of East Otto, Cattaraugus County).
CAMPING BY BOAT
Water-access campsites at DEC campgrounds remain closed to overnight camping until DEC’s campgrounds reopen.
This includes, but is not limited to: Saranac Lake Islands Campground; Indian Lake Campground; Lake George Islands Campground; Tioga Point Campground; Forked Lake Campground; and Alger Island Campground.
Boaters and other day users should continue to social distance on the water and on shore and avoid crowded sites. Boaters and day use visitors should use mainland bathroom facilities before going out on the water, as outhouse facilities at DEC day use sites and campsites are not currently maintained or sanitized.
Primitive tent sites outside of DEC campgrounds remain available for those who are recreating locally but are limited to a maximum of three nights with nine people or less from the same household.