Outlook good on opening day of New Jersey spring turkey hunting seasons

With wild turkey populations reportedly restored statewide, the New Jersey spring wild turkey hunting seasons kicked off today (Monday, April 24), running for five weeks. 

STATEWIDE SPRING OUTLOOK

The statewide wild turkey population is currently estimated at 20,000 to 25,000 birds, and the outlook for this spring’s turkey season is good statewide. Poult production in 2016 was fair, with 2.4 poults per hen measured during summer brood counts, but production was good in 2015, with approximately 3.2 poults per hen measured. As a result, a higher proportion of two-year-old gobblers are expected in this year’s harvest. If New Jersey experiences another year or two of weather conditions conducive to good summer productivity our turkey population should continue to rise.

The winter survival rate of poults has been excellent throughout the state, and with the mild temperatures and low snowfall amounts the Division of Fish and Wildlife has received no reports of turkey mortality due to winter weather. Even though much of the state experienced some heavy snow, which can hamper the winter movement of flocks, the snow quickly melted and turkey movement was not impeded. 

LAST SPRING’S HARVEST

Spring wild turkey hunters harvested 2,906 gobblers during the five-week season that began on April 25 and ended on May 27, 2016. This total was slightly below the average harvest of the last five years.

PERMIT INFORMATION

Over the counter permits are now available and can be purchased at license agents or online at www.nj.wildlifelicense.com. Permits will be available as long as the permit supply lasts or the season ends. If you decide to use the Internet you cannot print the permits from home. They must be mailed, and can take seven to 10 business days (additional shipping charges apply.) 

An up-to-date chart of all available permits is at www.nj.wildlifelicense.com/ALS/unit_report.php.

TURKEY HUNTING AREA RECOMMENDATIONS

New Jersey’s 121 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) offer diverse landscapes and endless opportunities for turkey hunters. Nearly 348,000 acres statewide currently comprise the WMA system so hunters are sure to find a prime hunting spot to fit their needs. New properties and additions to existing properties are continually being added, so hunters should check the Fish and Wildlife website regularly for updates to the WMA system. 

Many State Parks and Forests are also open to turkey hunting, as is the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

A list of public lands available for turkey hunting can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/huntland_turkey.pdf (pdf, 50kb).

MANDATORY GOBBLER CHECK IN

All harvested gobblers must be tagged immediately with a completed transportation tag. The turkey must then be taken by the person who killed it to the nearest turkey check station before 3 p.m. on the day it is killed (7 p.m. local time during the last two weeks of the season). Personnel at the check station will issue a legal possession tag. Consult the list of turkey check stations at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2016/turk_chkstations16-17.pdf (pdf, 100kb) to locate one near your hunting area. 

REGULATIONS AND OTHER INFORMATION

The Turkey Hunting Booklet is no longer being published. Turkey regulations are available on pages 58-61 in the 2016-17 Hunting Digest and at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2016/turkregs16-17.pdf (pdf, 575kb).

Hunters should familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations for spring turkey hunting in the Garden State. New Jersey spring gobbler hunters are limited to the use of shotguns or bows and arrows, which includes crossbows. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to noon. One male wild turkey may be taken with each permit, but only one turkey may be taken on a given day.

Helpful turkey hunting information and tips can be accessed through the Wild Turkey in New Jersey page at www.njfishandwildlife.com/turkey_info.htm.

— New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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