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) indicates the New Mexico turkey population includes Merriam's, Rio Grande, Gould's and hybrids.

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.

As New Mexico Game & Fish reports:

The main components of suitable turkey habitat include water, roost sites, nest sites, and summer/brood areas. In New Mexico, free water is essential for turkey survival since vegetation may not be able to meet moisture requirements. Turkeys are often found in forested areas interspersed with edges and fields. Turkeys use mature trees for roosting. Typical roost tree are 14+ inches in diameter, and have branches parallel to the ground that are spaced at least 18 inches apart. Turkeys are ground nesters, and will scratch a shallow depression on the ground to use as a nest site. Nests are often located in dense vegetation consisting of grass, fallen leaves, shrubs, or at the base of a tree. A turkey diet varies between and throughout years depending on forage availability. Some food options include grass leaves and seeds, forbs, pine nuts, juniper berries, acorns, invertebrates, and cultivated crops.

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

Go here for more Realtree turkey hunting.