Turkey Hunting in Rhode Island

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  • C
  • 4,000-5,000

    Wild Turkey Population

  • Easterns

    Turkey Subspecies

  • 2,111 (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

Hunt Rhode Island if you want your six-state New England Slam. Definitely try it if you have friends or relatives there with private land, as this is where hunters will find some birds. Otherwise the smallest state in the union (1,045 square miles) only offers limited opportunities. Hunting pressure, however, is low, as only 0.7% of Rhody residents do.

Some History

The Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife (RIDFW) and National Wild Turkey Federation began a joint wild turkey restoration project during the winter of 1980. Twenty-nine wild turkeys, trapped and transferred from Vermont, were released in the town of Exeter.

Population growth was assisted by birds released in 1983 and 1984 by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection along the border of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Wild bird dispersal (turkeys moving to new locations on their own) did the rest.

Additional efforts occurred in 1994 and in 1995 when the RIDFW started its first ever in-state trap and transfer program. Efforts continued into 1996.

Where to Go

Recent regulation changes included an increased turkey bag limit during the 2019 spring turkey season from one to two birds (one may be taken on state land), as well as the online licensing system (2018). Hunters now also report their birds online.

The 36th annual statewide Rhode Island spring turkey season was held April 28 through May 22 last year, when hunters reported 282 birds, a 5.2% increase from the 268 turkeys during the 2020 season.

In 2021, wild turkeys were taken in 26 of 39 towns (89% on private land). The highest harvests included: Burrillville (29), Exeter (23), Glocester (23), Coventry (21) and Foster (21). 

– Steve Hickoff

Turkey Hunting in Rhode Island. Image by Bruce MacQueen / Shutterstock

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