As the calendar hits March, Utica-Rome hunters start feeling the itch. Spring turkey season is not far off. Proof positive, the annual Spring Youth Turkey hunts are on the schedule.

Police Officers with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will join with Oneida and Madison County Sportsmen's clubs, and Wild Turkey Federation  groups to hold two Youth Turkey hunts for ages 12 through 15. The event is free and equipment will be provided if necessary.

Both programs begin with an educational day on April 17 followed by hunting the next weekend. Here are the specifics for each event.

In Oriskany Falls, the educational day will be held at Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 17. The following weekend, April 24 and 25 will be the hunt. To sign up or for more information contact Scott Faulkner, in Vernon Center at 315-225-0192.

In Massena, the educational day will held at the Massena Rod and Gun Club at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 17 with the hunt on Saturday, April 24. To sign up or get more information contact Lt. Troy Basford at 315-265-2757 or ECO Ian Helmer at 315-559-8503.

Both programs will have special COVID-19 precautions in place. Attendees will have to complete a health questionnaire, practice social distancing, and wear a mask. Space limitations will be in place to enforce social distancing, so pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

To participate in the hunt, youth must be 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of age and possess a New York State small game license and valid turkey tags. They must also be accompanied by an adult who also possesses a valid hunting license and turkey permit. If the person accompanying the youth hunter is not a parent or legal guardian, they must have written permission from them. The adult may assist the youth hunter, including calling, but may not carry a firearm, bow, or crossbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt.

Get more information on regulations for the Youth Hunt at the DEC's website.

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