Allegany State Park
The birthplace of New York’s wild turkey revival offers one of the prime spots to hunt the big birds. Allegany State Park stands out as New York’s largest state park and the third largest in the country, with 65,000 acres (97 square miles) of public land. Allegany State Park is one of the main reasons that Cattaraugus County is the top turkey county in the state year after year. The 2001 spring harvest in the county tallied a whopping 520 birds. Stop at the park office (on Red House Lake) and ask around to get as many details as you can about where the birds were seen throughout the winter. Then with map and compass, find a high listening point in those areas and be there at last light. Hoot like an owl or howl like a coyote loud enough to make a bird gobble on the roost that evening. That’s your bird for the next morning. Try some very soft cutting and purring when you’re set up to hunt. The park also offers 400 tent sites and 380 cabins, many open all year. Allegany State Park can be reached from the east or west via the Southern Tier Expressway (Route 17) and from the north via Route 219, to where it intersects the Southern Tier Expressway at Exit 21. A free park permit to hunt is required. There’s no Sunday hunting. Contact: New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 9 (716-851-7010; www.dec.state.ny.us); Allegany State Park office (716-354-9101).