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Fall & Spring Wild Turkey Hunting Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon New Jersey Hunting

Regulations in red are new this year.

Turkey Hunting and Spring Gobbler Permit Information

Beginning with the Spring 2020 Turkey Hunting Season, mandatory checking of turkeys will be electronic only

Turkey Hunting Permits, General

This hunting Digest contains information for both the 2019 Fall Turkey Season and 2020 Spring Turkey Season. Turkey hunting is by permit only. NOTE: For the permit application process, lottery notes, changes, status check and directions on how to claim your permits. See License Information & Fees for fees.

Turkey Permits, 2019 Fall Season

The fall turkey permit lottery has been eliminated. A turkey hunting permit is still required and may be purchased at license agents or online at Fish and Wildlife’s Internet license sales site www.NJ.WildlifeLicense.com.

Fall turkey permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 9, 2019. Permits will be available until the permit quota is reached or the season ends.

Turkey Permits, 2020 Spring Season

  • Spring turkey permits are allocated by lottery. Hunters who apply in the lottery have a much greater chance of receiving their desired area and period choices than hunters who wait for over-the-counter sales of leftover permits.
  • Application Period January 25–February 22.
  • Award notifications and permit pickup begins March 2. Permits must be claimed by 11:59 pm on March 23.
  • All permits awarded in the lottery will be available to claim until 11:59 p.m. on March 23. Unclaimed awarded permits will be redistributed in the over-the-counter sale. Application fee(s) will not be refunded for unclaimed permits.
  • Over-the-county sale of leftover permits: 10 a.m. MONDAY, MARCH 30, 2020 until permits sell out or the season ends, whichever occurs first.

Spring 2020 Gobbler Season Permits

Hunters are limited to filing only one application which allows for up to two permits, one in the first lottery and one in the second lottery.

First Lottery

  • Selects applicants from the Spring Season First Lottery.
  • See above for dates of the five turkey hunting period segments.
  • The Youth Turkey Hunting Program guarantees that all applicants aged 10 to 15 (16 for those still eligible to hunt using their Youth License) will receive their first choice permit request in the first lottery for the spring season designated as Period Y. Youth permits are not counted in the permit season quotas. Period Y Permits are also available during the over-the-counter sales period.
  • Hunters possessing a Permit to Shoot From a Standing Vehicle are guaranteed one first lottery permit only for the Spring Season. Any additional permit purchased is taken from the available permit quota and is not guaranteed. Individuals possessing a Permit to Shoot from a Standing Vehicle must apply and/or purchase their permits via their home computer or go to a web-based license agent. Verifone© agents cannot handle these requests.

Second Lottery

  • Assigns unissued first lottery permits (leftover) to applicants who applied for a permit in the second lottery.
  • Youth permit requests for the second lottery are not guaranteed. A youth’s second permit (or more) is valid only for the one designated hunting period A, B, C, D or E.

Consider your requests carefully! If you request the same turkey hunting area and peri­od in both the first and second spring lotteries you could receive two permits for the identical area and peri­od combination. Permits will not be exchanged if you receive the permits requested on your application. If you are awarded two permits in the lottery you must claim them both at the same time. You will not be able to claim only one.

IMPORTANT: Hunters who are awarded two permits in the lottery must claim (purchase) both at the same time. Hunters cannot claim only one awarded permit.

Turkey Season Dates and Hunting Hours

The 2019 fall turkey season will consist of one seven day hunting segment, N, (excluding Sunday) from Saturday, Oct. 26 through Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Fall hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

Hunting hours for the spring season are one-half hour before sunrise until noon daily, except hunting hours for the last two weeks of the spring turkey season (including all of period D and the last Saturday of period E) are changed to one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. These expanded hunting hours during the last two weeks of the season allow opportunities for working and youth hunters.

Coyotes may be harvested incidentally while turkey hunting. See Small Game Hunting Regulations.

Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 Turkey Hunting Regulations

  • Bag Limit: During the fall season, turkeys of either sex may be taken. During the spring season, only male turkey may be taken; bearded hens may not be taken in the spring. During both seasons, the bag limit is one turkey per permit, but only one bird may be taken in a given day, regardless of the number of permits a hunter holds.
  • Artificial decoys may be used while turkey hunting, except the use of electronically-operated decoys is prohibited. Dogs may be used for turkey hunting only during the fall season. All hunters are required to possess a calling device while turkey hunting. The use of a hand-held decoy or a turkey tail-on-a-stick as camouflage to sneak up on a turkey is prohibited. Stalking a turkey is not legal. Electronic calls are not legal.
  • Hunting methods during the spring gobbler season are restricted to calling or stand hunting.
  • The maximum group size while turkey hunting is five hunters.
  • Hunters may not attempt to chase or drive turkeys for the purpose of putting them in range of other hunters. However, during the fall season only, hunters may rush a flock of turkeys to cause the flock to scatter.
  • No shot larger than #4 fine shot or smaller than #7½ fine shot may be used for turkey hunting.
  • Hunters may not use shotguns larger than 10-gauge or smaller than 20-gauge for turkey hunting. Shotguns must be plugged to be capable of holding no more than three shells.
  • Fluorescent hunter orange is not required to hunt turkeys.
  • Properly licensed hunters may use archery tackle to hunt turkeys. Bows used for turkey hunting (long, recurve, compound or crossbow) must have a minimum draw pull weight of 35 pounds at the archer’s draw length (long and recurve bow), or peak weight (compound bow), or 75 pounds minimum draw weight (crossbow). Arrows must be fitted with a well-sharpened metal broadhead with a minimum width of 3/4 inch.
  • While turkey hunting, a weapon may not be in possession within 300 feet of any baited area.

Mandatory Turkey Check (Fall Season) and Harvest Report (Spring Season) Requirement

After the close of the Fall 2019 Turkey Season, physical turkey check stations will no longer be used. Beginning with the Spring 2020 Turkey Season, all hunters will be required to report a harvested turkey on the day killed using the Automated Harvest Report System.

Fall 2019 Mandatory Turkey Check:

All turkeys harvested in the Fall 2019 Season must immediately be tagged with a transportation tag. The turkey must be taken by the hunter who killed it, on the day killed, to the nearest turkey check station where personnel will issue a legal possession tag. See https://www.NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/turkey_checkstations.pdf for a list of official fall turkey check stations. During the fall 2019 Turkey Season, the turkey must be brought to the nearest check station by 7 p.m.

Spring 2020 Mandatory Harvest Reporting:

Upon retrieval, the turkey is considered to be in your possession. The hunter must:

  1. Immediately fill out the Transportation Tag that is part of your permit with the exception of the Confirmation Number, the number automatically assigned when the turkey is reported which replaces the Tyvek possession seal. Hunters are required to tag their turkey upon harvest and before transporting the turkey. Attach the turkey Transportation Tag to the turkey. The tag must include the hunter’s CID, date and THA of harvest.
  2. Record the sex and age of your turkey and take measurements of the beard and longer spur, if applicable. Measure BEFORE starting the harvest report process to have your answers ready. See sexing, aging and measuring wild turkeys at https://www.njfishandwildlife.com/turkey_reporting.htm. Use the ½ inch ruler provided on your turkey Transportation Tag to determine if the longest spur is less than, equal to, or greater than ½ inch. Measure the spur from the very base where it meets the leg scales to the very tip. Use a ruler or tape measure, or a dollar bill (which is 6 inches in length) to determine if the beard is less than, equal to, or greater than 6 inches in length. Measure the beard from the skin at its base to the end of the longest filament.
  3. Report your harvest via the Automated Harvest Reporting System (by phone or online as printed on every hunting license and permit). During Youth Turkey Hunting Day, hunting periods A, B, C and the first three Saturdays of hunting period E, the turkey harvest must be reported by 3 p.m. During hunting period D and the last Saturday of hunting period E, the turkey harvest must be reported by 9 p.m. If unable to access the Automated Harvest Reporting System by the designated time, the turkey shall be reported immediately by telephone to the nearest Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement office (see Law Enforcement Regional Offices for Law Enforcement listings). The hunter must continue to attempt accessing the Automated Harvest Report System until they receive a Confirmation Number for that turkey. During the reporting process, you will be asked for the turkey’s sex, age (juvenile or adult), beard measurement (equal to or greater than 6 inches, or less than 6 inches), and spur measurement (equal to or greater than ½ inch, or less than ½ inch). Again, please take the measurements BEFORE you begin the reporting process.
  4. Record your assigned Confirmation Number on your Transportation Tag. Retain your Confirmation Number as long as the turkey or its parts are in possession.

Turkey Hunting Seminars

The latest turkey hunting techniques are presented at several turkey hunting seminars sponsored by Fish and Wildlife or wildlife conservation organizations. These seminars focus on how to set up, calling techniques and key safety information for turkey hunters. New turkey hunters are especially encouraged to join us at a seminar. Check your newspaper and our website for the seminars scheduled during March or April.

2020 Spring Gobbler Hunting Season Dates

Hunting Period

Dates

Youth Turkey Hunting Day

(10–16 years of age)

Hunting Period Y

Sat., April 18
If no turkey is harvested on this youth hunt day, Period Y permits may be used in the designated zone for balance of season until a bird is harvested
Hunting Period A Mon., April 20–Fri., April 24
Hunting Period B Mon., April 27–Fri., May 1
Hunting Period C Mon., May 4– Fri., May 8
Hunting Period D Mon., May 11– Fri., May 15; Mon., May 18–Fri., May 22
Hunting Period E All Saturdays, April 25, May 2, May 9, and May 16

Turkey Hunting Areas

Map for general reference only. For a complete description of the Turkey Hunting Area boundaries, visit our website at NJFishandWildlife.com/qr/turkeyareas.htm.

Youth Turkey Hunt Day

April 18, 2020

If no turkey is harvested on this youth hunt day, Period Y permits may be used by the youth hunter in the designated zone for the balance of the season until a bird is harvested .

All youth turkey hunters 10 to 16 years of age must possess a valid spring turkey hunting permit in addition to their youth hunting license.

Youth hunters must be accompanied by a properly licensed, non-hunting adult age 21 or older who may not shoot on this youth day.

This season is considered an extension of the regular season permit held by the youth.

If youth hunter harvests a turkey on this youth hunting day, the “Y” Period permit is no longer valid for future hunting.

Non-hunting adults accompanying youth turkey hunters need only have in possession a valid hunting license. Spring and fall turkey hunting are by permit only.

 

Stalking is Illegal

Use of a hand-held decoy or a turkey tail-on-a-stick as camouflage to sneak up on a turkey is prohibited. In New Jersey, stalking of wild turkeys is illegal, both for ethical reasons and for personal safety.