New Jersey Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2014

New Jersey Turkey Hunting Forecast for 2014
Johnson brothers, Luke, 14(L) and Josiah, 12(R), both bagged their first turkeys on the same day.

For New Jersey turkey hunting, there has seen some long-term declines in the population, particularly in traditionally strong northern counties. Similar to much of the northeast, last year's hatch and brood-rearing were off as well, meaning fewer jakes. However, 2012 was better, which means there's still a decent crop of two year old longbeards.

Large public lands like the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and several state forests anchor the northern part of the state with smaller state and watershed district properties scattered throughout. The Pine Barrens region contains over 120,000 acres of public lands, mostly in the Wharton State Forest and the Colliers Mills and Pasadena-Greenwood Forest. Though public lands are fewer and smaller, Southern Jersey does have higher turkey densities with some of the highest kills reported in Hunting Areas 20 and 21.

New Jersey's spring season is a bit complicated, but definitely worth figuring out. It's divided into five hunting periods consisting of four Monday through Friday periods and a fifth (E) comprised of four Saturdays. Permits for each are lottery-drawn but left-overs are sold over the counter, and are usually available for the week-day periods, particularly later in the season. Hunting hours remain ½ hour before sunrise to noon for hunting periods A, B, C and E, but this year extend to sunset in period D - the last two weeks. Perhaps most intriguing, the bag limit is one bearded bird per permit, but the number of permits you may purchase is limited only by availability.

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