Turkey Hunting in New Jersey

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  • C
  • 20,000-23,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 12,000 (estimated turkey permits)

    Number of Licenses Sold Annually

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Resident License and Permit

  • Varies (check regulations)

    Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country (1,210 residents per square mile). Even the state's estimated turkey population is up slightly from our last update.

Low hunter density is an upside for Northeastern turkey hunters though (0.8% of the population). And public-land opportunities exist for these folks to take one spring turkey per permit (lottery drawing; followed by over-the counter sales).

As recent kill data goes, some 2,850 turkeys were taken during the 2020 pandemic year. This total increased by 111 birds (+1.4%) from 2019, and came in at 2,327 last spring.

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.

Where to Go

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

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in New Jersey. Image by Tes Randle Jolly

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