New Jersey has some very interesting and beautiful wildlife. No matter where you go throughout the Great Garden State you're bound to see something that'll excite you.

It's one of the things I look forward to whenever I go camping in New Jersey. Yes, we can travel out of state if we really wanted to, but New Jersey is home to many campsites scattered throughout the state that are just as amazing to visit.

A few times, I encountered black bears and raccoons while camping in New Jersey. None of those situations ever put us in danger, but you must keep your guard up if it happens.

A big part of staying safe is knowing what to do when animals like a black bear or raccoon get a bit too close. As long as you play it smart and don't do anything that'll provoke the animal, chances are you'll be fine.

William Stark via Unsplash
William Stark via Unsplash

The same is also true when it comes to wild turkeys. And even though a black bear or raccoon might seem scarier, turkeys can be just as dangerous.

This brings us to what this wild turkey did while I was camping with my father and sons in the Delaware Water Gap. To note, none of us were ever in any danger because we remained in our cars.

However, our cars played an important role in why this turkey behaved the way he did.

Wild turkey along Old Mine Road in Worthington State Forest, NJ
Mike Brant - TSM

The photo above is the actual turkey I'm referring to. This encounter happened on Friday, April 14, along Old Mine Road in Worthington State Forest located in the Delaware Water Gap.

One thing to understand is that mating season for wild turkeys in New Jersey begins in spring, putting us right in that early window. This means that turkeys, especially males, may be extra aggressive.

This picture was shot from our car. My kids never saw a turkey in the wild this close, and the vehicle in front of us had already stopped to take a look, which means we were stopped by default.

car in blurred motion in city street with switched on headlights in autumn

What you don't see is after we took the pic and started driving away, the turkey came to charge our vehicle.

This particular young tom turkey never made contact with our vehicle, but it came close. Which begs the question, why did it run toward our car in the first place?

Well, one very possible reason goes back to spring. As mentioned above, spring is the start of mating season for wild turkeys in New Jersey, a time when males will become extra aggressive toward other birds that come too close.

They'll also be trying to seek out a female turkey, which brings us to the reason this turkey probably charged toward our vehicle. It most likely saw its reflection in the side of our car and thought it was another turkey.

Mirror image of a Wild turkey along Old Mine Road in Worthington State Forest, NJ
Mike Brant - TSM (Canva)

Male turkeys have been known to charge cars when they see their reflection because they think it might be another turkey moving in on their territory.

Since they sense a threat is upon them, they become aggressive and try to chase away the other bird. And with that being a strong possibility, there's no telling what could've happened if we stayed put a little too long or if our windows were open and it jumped in.

It's bizarre because the turkeys can't tell the difference between an actual turkey and its own reflection. They just think another turkey is moving onto their turf.

Wild turkey along Old Mine Road in Worthington State Forest, NJ
Mike Brant - TSM (Canva)

Turkeys aren't the smartest animals, which is one of the reasons why it makes this mistake. But it also points to the danger that these wild animals pose even when we're in our own vehicles.

Regardless of where you encounter them, be sure to keep your distance and your windows up. Wild turkeys can be aggressive pretty much anywhere throughout the state (check out Dennis Malloy's most recent encounter with wild turkeys by clicking here).

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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