Turkey Hunting in New Mexico

New Mexico


20,000 to 30,000 (NWTF estimate)

Wild Turkey Population

Merriam's, Rio Grandes, Gould's

Turkey Subspecies


Number of Licenses Sold Annually

$15 (game-hunting license) plus $25 (turkey)

Cost of Resident License and Permit

$65 (game-hunting license) plus $100 (turkey)

Cost of Non-Resident License and Permit

New Mexico's turkey population includes Merriam's, Rio Grande and Gould's.

So where should you go to find them? Most mountain ranges in New Mexico support healthy numbers of Merriam’s gobblers, and that subspecies makes up most of the turkey population, as indicated by population estimates. Rio Grande turkeys are less widely distributed, and are primarily located along the Rio Grande River south of Albuquerque and the Canadian River Basin north of Tucumcari. You'll also find Gould's turkeys there.

New Mexico Game and Fish reports:

The main components of suitable turkey habitat include water, roost sites, nest sites, and summer/brood areas. In New Mexico, free water is essential for turkey survival since vegetation may not be able to meet moisture requirements. Turkeys are often found in forested areas interspersed with edges and fields. Turkeys use mature trees for roosting. Typical roost trees are 14-plus inches in diameter, and have branches parallel to the ground that are spaced at least 18 inches apart. Turkeys are ground nesters, and will scratch a shallow depression on the ground to use as a nest site. Nests are often located in dense vegetation consisting of grass, fallen leaves, shrubs, or at the base of a tree. A turkey diet varies between and throughout years depending on forage availability. Some food options include grass leaves and seeds, forbs, pine nuts, juniper berries, acorns, invertebrates, and cultivated crops.

Some of the more popular areas to find longbeards are the Sacramento Mountains in south-central New Mexico, the Gila National Forest in the western part of the state, and the Zuni Mountains in Unit 10. Success rates in these regions are usually well-above the statewide average, and they offer excellent public-land opportunities.

Turkey hunting pressure in New Mexico is fairly low. Overall hunter participation numbers lean heavily toward fall hunting and other species. That's an upside, we figure, for folks chasing turkeys in New Mexico. 

Turkey Hunting in New Mexico © John Hafner photo

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