Turkey Hunting in New Mexico

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  • B
  • 14,458 Merriam's; Rio, Gould's and hybrid numbers unavailable

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Merriam's, Rio Grandes, Gould's and Hybrids

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 97,103

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $40

    Hunting license and turkey permit

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $165

    Hunting license and turkey permit

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) estimates the New Mexico turkey population as follows: Merriam's (14,458 birds), Rio Grande, Gould's and hybrids (n/a).

That said, some 2,607 turkeys were taken here in 2016, the most recent data available.

So where should you go to find them?

Most mountain ranges in New Mexico support healthy numbers of Merriam’s gobblers, which make up most of the turkey population, as indicated by population estimates.

Rio Grande turkeys are less distributed, and are primarily located along the Rio Grande River south of Albuquerque and the Canadian River Basin north of Tucumcari.

You'll also find Gould's wild turkeys here.

In 2012, the hunter success rate was nearly 30 percent, which is really good considering most of them were taken on public ground. In 2014, 1,896 bearded turkeys were tagged.

The kill number, noted above in my lead paragraph, increased even more last year.
Some of the more popular areas to find longbeards are the Sacramento Mountains in south-central New Mexico; the Gila National Forest out West, and the Zuni Mountains in Unit 10. 

Success rates in these regions are usually well-above the statewide average, and they offer excellent public-land opportunities.

Pressure, as turkey hunting states go, is fairly low. Overall hunter-participation numbers lean heavily toward fall hunting and other species.

That's an upside, we figure, for folks chasing bearded turkeys in New Mexico.

Fun Fact: New Mexico is a success story when it comes to wild turkey restoration. Over the years, the NWTF and New Mexico Game and Fish have captured and transplanted hundreds of Merriam's and Rio Grande wild turkeys across the state. This has created and sustained wild turkey populations serious New Mexico turkey hunters enjoy today.

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in New Mexico © John Hafner photo

New Mexico Turkey Hunting

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