Let’s hear it for the fall turkey season!


Lost in the anticipation, hoopla, and excitement of the corresponding opening of the permit bow season when the rut is getting underway and the bucks are behaving a bit more carelessly by day to the point of recklessness by the time the urge to merge is at full pump, is that the Garden State’s second turkey season is underway.

It’s a shorty, starting tomorrow and then running from Monday through next Saturday, and it’s by no means as popular via participation and harvest as the nearly month-long April-May gobbler season. While it is similar in some ways, such as calling in a bird, with the use of a decoy(s) allowed, it’s different in others.

Tom P.
Tom P.

During the autumn hunt, it’s a matter of finding a flock of this gregarious gamebird, “busting” the gathering that scatters them (some use dogs for this, and it’s legal), then finding an advantageous spot, letting things settle for a 20 minutes or so, and then working a call that will have the birds responding.

They want to get back together and will sound off from here and there, looking to once again gather. Getting a shot is not as easy as it would appear, because there are a lot of eyes moving in, and not all of the wayward will be vocalizing. As such, movement can and will be quickly spotted.

Permits ($21) are still available at license-issuing agents or online at www.njfishandwildlife.com. Gobblers, jakes, and hens are legal quarries, but only one turkey per day can be taken even if holding several permits.

Tom P.
Tom P.

A call must be in possession, and fluorescent orange is not required. Should a bird be bagged, it must be reported by 7 p.m. that day via the automated reporting system. Shotgun (20 to 10 gauge; shot not larger than 4 or smaller than 7 1/2) and bow (recurve, compound, and crossbow) are the legal tools. Hunting hours are half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.

We liken it to a shot at getting that Thanksgiving Day main event. With an autumn population estimate of 20,000 turkeys statewide, and permits still available in all 18 Turkey Hunting Areas, the opportunity is certainly there!

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