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Oct. 9, 2003


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2003 Fall Wild Turkey Hunting Season is scheduled to begin Monday, Oct. 27, and will continue through Saturday, Nov. 1. A permit is required to participate in this season.


Fall is a great time to be outdoors in New Jersey. The diverse hardwood forests of the Garden State provide colorful foliage rivaling that of New England, and cooling temperatures and lower humidity make participating in outdoor activities even more enjoyable. For the turkey hunter, this is the perfect time of year.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife continually monitors turkey populations to ensure their continued success and survival in New Jersey. This year, the Division’s Wild Turkey Project Leader reports turkey populations are healthy across the state, but research indicates a slight drop in the production of young birds (poults). This drop in production can be attributed to the significant rains that fell from mid-May to mid-July. Some birds attempted to re-nest, but many of those attempts failed because of more rain. Wildlife populations of course fluctuate from year to year, so to the hunter this means that somewhat fewer birds may be available this fall season relative to years of higher productivity.

Another factor to be considered this fall is that mast crops are plentiful in many locations. This means that patterning birds may be more difficult as turkeys will not have to come to a single spot consistently for food. More effort may be needed in order to find birds, as they will probably be dispersed.

Other than that, the 2003 fall turkey season should be a good one for sportsmen and women. It may take some additional effort to bring home a bird this season, but the payoff is certainly worth it.


The New Jersey Fish and Game Council has opened Turkey Hunting Area (THA) 21 to fall turkey hunting. THA 21 encompasses parts of Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester and Atlantic counties and has exhibited an increasing spring harvest for many years. In fact, THA 21 produced the third highest harvest in the state during the 2002 Spring Gobbler Season (357 birds), and the second highest harvest in 2003 (414 birds). Successful wildlife management programs such as trap and transfer along with habitat enhancement projects have resulted in an increase in the turkey population in this region.


Beginning Monday, Sept. 29, turkey permits were made available for the following Turkey Hunting Areas: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 20. These are permits that were left over after the lottery was held. Sales will be held weekdays ONLY from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for as long as the supply lasts. Adults interested in purchasing an unclaimed permit must bring their 2003 hunting license along with cash or check for $21 per permit. Youth hunters must bring their youth license, hunter education certificate or previous year’s youth license and cash or check for $12 per permit.

Permits will be sold on a first come, first served basis at the following Division offices: Pequest Trout Hatchery and Natural Resource Education Center (nine miles west of Hackettstown on Route 46 in Oxford, Warren County); Northern Region Office (westbound Rt. 78, take exit 13 to Rt. 173 or eastbound Rt. 78, take exit 12 to Rt. 173 in Hampton, Hunterdon County); Southern Region Office (one mile south of Rt. 73 on Blue Anchor Rd. in Sicklerville, Camden County); Central Region Office (exit 11 off Rt. 195, head north, at second intersection turn right - office is at the corner of East Branch and Eldridge Rds. in Upper Freehold Twp., Monmouth County); and the Trenton Main Office (501 East State Street, Third Floor in Trenton, Mercer County).

For more information on over-the-counter turkey permit sales please call the 24-hour computerized permit hotline at 609-292-9192.


Turkey hunting in New Jersey is an extremely safe activity. Successful hunter education programs and low turkey hunter densities help ensure participants will have a safe and enjoyable hunting experience. While hunter orange is not required for hunting turkeys in New Jersey, it is recommended that hunters wear orange when walking through woods in search of flocks, especially since other hunting seasons are open at the same time. Hunters should always understand and follow the regulations set forth in the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest.

Turkey hunting areas 1 to 11, 20 and 21 are open for hunting. Hunting hours are ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. Turkey hunters may take only one wild turkey of either sex per permit during the fall season. However, hunters may only take one turkey per day regardless of the number of permits the hunter holds.

Dogs and artificial decoys may be used while turkey hunting during the fall season, however, the use of electronically operated decoys and electronic calling devices is prohibited. All turkey hunters are required to have a calling device with them while hunting and turkeys may not be hunted by a group of hunters larger than five individuals. Hunters may not attempt to chase or drive turkeys for the purpose of putting them in range of other hunters. However, hunters may rush a flock of turkeys to scatter the flock.

No shot larger than #4 fine shot or smaller than #7½ fine shot may be used. Hunters may not use shotguns larger than 10 gauge or smaller than 20 gauge. Properly licensed hunters may use archery tackle for hunting turkeys. Turkeys may not be hunted within 300 feet of any baited area.

Successful turkey hunters must complete the transportation tag on their fall hunting permit immediately upon killing a turkey and must take the bird to an official wild turkey check station by 7 p.m. on the day it is killed. The hunter who killed the bird is the only person who may transport and check the turkey.


The Wild 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 over-exploitation. In 1977 biologists released turkeys captured in other states and as the population grew, biologists and technicians began to live-trap and re-locate birds. Using rocket nets and drop nets, more than 1,500 birds have been trapped and re-located, resulting in healthy populations of wild turkeys throughout most of the state. Even in South Jersey (parts of Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland and Gloucester counties) where wild turkeys had been struggling just a few years ago, intensive restoration efforts have improved population numbers significantly.


The Outstanding Garden State Gobbler Records Program is administered by the New Jersey Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation. For more information, contact your local or state chapter representative at 856-785-0455.


Additional turkey hunting information can be found in the 2003 NJ Wild Turkey Hunting Season Information and Permit Application supplement (1.2mb - PDF, requires the Acrobat Reader) and the August hunting issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest.

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