Turkey Hunting in New Jersey

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  • C
  • 23,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 12,000 (estimated turkey permits)

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • $48.50

    Hunting license with turkey permit.

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • $156.50

    Hunting license with turkey permit.

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country (1,185 residents per square mile).

So what's this got to do with turkey hunting, you ask?

Habitat access is challenged.

Still, public-land opportunities exist for hunters to take one spring turkey per permit (lottery drawing).

Low hunter density is an upside for Northeastern turkey hunters. Nonresident costs are also affordable with the two-day small-game license option.

Some historical insights from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection include:

The Division's Turkey Restoration Project represents one of the greatest wildlife management success stories in the history of the state. By the mid-1800s, turkeys had disappeared in New Jersey due to habitat changes and killing for food. Division biologists, in cooperation with the NJ Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, reintroduced wild turkeys in 1977 with the release of 22 birds. In 1979 biologists and technicians began to live-trap and re-locate birds to establish populations throughout the state. By 1981 the population was able to support a spring hunting season, and in December, 1997, a limited fall season was initiated.

There is now an abundance of wild turkeys throughout the state with turkeys found wherever there is suitable habitat. In South Jersey, where wild turkeys had been struggling just a few years ago, intensive restoration efforts have improved population numbers significantly. The statewide population is now estimated at 20,000-23,000 turkeys with an annual harvest of approximately 3,000 birds.

So where should you hunt?

Hotspots include the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Pine Barrens region, Wharton State Forest, Belleplain State Forest, and Peaslee Wildlife Management Area.

Important Facts: While many states allow for the legal taking of "bearded birds" (including hens), the Garden State does not. Only male turkeys may be tagged (adult toms and jakes). Legal tactics are calling or stand hunting only. Stalking a bird is against the law.

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in New Jersey. Image by Tes Randle Jolly

New Jersey Turkey Hunting Regulations

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