In upstate New York where I live, I guess that 80 percent of the property is owned by Mennonites, who are great people and like to hunt. I've learned that the best time for me to hunt is from the May 15 – May 31, since the Mennonites will be heavily into farming at that time of the month. Most of them have hunted turkeys during the early season. The last half of May is usually the planting season in upstate New York. Also, by the middle of the season, most turkey hunters have quit hunting on public lands,the bugs come out and are aggravating, and the foliage is thick.
I've harvested turkeys on Sugar Hill, which is state property that anyone can hunt. Sugar Hill has 8,900 acres, but this particular public land doesn’t get a lot of hunting pressure. When I'm hunting there, I may only see two or three other hunters. The number of turkeys in our area seems to have been on the decline. So, on Sugar Hill, we don’t seem to hear as many gobblers as we once did. Since the turkey hunting has gotten tougher on Sugar Hill, fewer hunters go there to hunt. I've been able to find and take gobblers by waiting until most of the other hunters have left the woods.
Also, I've got some quality private land I can hunt at the end of the season. I approach landowners somewhat differently than many other turkey hunters do. Many turkey hunters will find out who owns the land they want to hunt on, pick up the phone and call the landowner. But I go in person to see the landowners,put on a happy face, shake the landowners’ hands and tell them who I am and my philosophy of hunting and life. Most of the private land I hunt, I’ve been hunting for 27 years. However, each year before turkey season, I go knock on the landowner’s door, and shake his hand and once again, ask for permission to hunt the turkeys on his property. I tell him who I'll be hunting with, and the vehicle I’ll be using. Then when he looks out his back door during turkey season and sees my white F350 sitting down by the edge of his property, he knows who’s there, and he’ll know I'm hunting. More than likely, he’ll know who is hunting with me. If you knock on the door, meet the landowner, tell him you'll take care of his land and treat it like it’s your land, I've found that you can get permission to hunt on some really good private property where I live. If you approach the farmers like I've described, most of the farmers will allow you to hunt their lands. On many properties I hunt, I'm not the only hunter who hunts there, so that’s another reason I hunt at the end of the season. Even if other people have hunted that property at the first of the season, they generally won’t return to hunt it at the end of the season.
In New York, we can take two turkeys in the spring and a turkey in the fall. In a typical season of turkey hunting up here, I don’t take a gun the first 2 weeks of the season. I’ll take my wife, Megan, and several of my friends hunting, and I’ll call for them. Then, the second half of the season is when I take a gun and try to harvest my two turkeys. Most years, I can get both gobblers before the end of the season. Our turkeys also respond well to decoys. If you're hunting more than one turkey, and you use a gobbler decoy, most of the time, two or more gobblers will come in and attack the decoy.