Deer Hunting Regulations in New Jersey

Key Requirements for Deer Hunting in NJ

To engage in deer hunting across New Jersey, hunters must adhere to specific licensing and permit requirements. These prerequisites vary based on the hunting season and the type of weapon used. Below is a detailed overview of the essentials for each deer hunting season in NJ:

Fall Bow Season

  • Hunting License: Mandatory. Options include the 2023 Bow & Arrow, All-Around, Apprentice Archery, or Youth Archery license.
  • Permits: No additional permits are required for this season.
  • Rifle Use: Not permitted.
  • Additional Information: The Fall Bow season does not necessitate any zone-specific antlerless or antlered buck permits.

Permit Bow Season

  • Hunting License: A 2023 Bow & Arrow, All-Around, Apprentice Archery, or Youth Archery license is required.
  • Zone-Specific Antlerless Permit: Mandatory for specific zones or regulation sets.
  • Antlered Buck Permit: Required if targeting Antlered Bucks. Refer to the notes section for more details.
  • Rifle Use: Not allowed.
  • Usage Restriction: This permit is valid only in zones where the hunter possesses a zone-specific antlerless permit.

Youth Days

  • Regulations: Consult the 'Youth Day regulations' in the Licenses, Permits & Fees section for comprehensive details.

Permit Muzzleloader Season

  • Hunting License: A valid 2023 or 2024 Firearm, All-Around, or Youth Firearm license is required.
  • Permits: Zone-specific antlerless permits are mandatory, similar to the antlered buck permit for those pursuing Antlered Bucks.
  • Rifle Permit: Required for this season.
  • Specific Usage: Only applicable in zones with an appropriate antlerless permit. Rifle Permit is a prerequisite.

Six-Day Firearm Season

  • Hunting License: A valid 2023 Firearm, All-Around, Apprentice Firearm, or Youth Firearm license is essential.
  • Rifle Use: Muzzleloaders can be used with the appropriate permit.
  • Bow Usage: Hunters with a valid Bow License and either a Firearm or All-Around License are permitted to use a bow during this season.

Permit Shotgun Season

  • Hunting License: Either a 2023 or 2024 Firearm, All-Around, Apprentice Firearm, or Youth Firearm license is mandatory.
  • Permits: Zone-specific antlerless and antlered buck permits are required for certain targets and areas.
  • Rifle Use: Not permitted in this season.
  • Zone Restriction: Valid only in zones where the hunter has a zone-specific antlerless permit.

Winter Bow Season

  • Hunting License: The necessary licenses include the 2024 Bow & Arrow, All-Around, Apprentice Archery, or Youth Archery.
  • Permits: No additional permits are needed for this season.
  • Rifle Use: Not allowed.

Additional Notes

  • License Validity: All hunting licenses are valid for the calendar year, whereas deer permits are valid for the 2023–2024 deer seasons.
  • Farmer's Exemption: Farmers residing on their farms are exempt from purchasing a hunting license but must report all harvested deer. Detailed information is available in the 'Farmer Hunting & Permit Information' section.

Deer Hunting Terminology and Concepts in New Jersey

Comprehensive Guide to Deer Hunting Terms

Understanding the language and concepts related to deer hunting is crucial for hunters in New Jersey. Below is an extensive breakdown of critical terms and definitions, offering clarity and guidance for a successful hunting experience.

Antlered Deer

  • Definition: Deer with at least one antler measuring 3 inches or longer.
  • Examples: Adult bucks, spikes of 3 inches or more, or broken racks measuring 3 inches or more.

Antler Point

  • Definition: A projection on the antler measuring at least one inch in length.
  • Measurement Criteria: The length is measured from the tip of the point to its baseline.

Antlerless Deer

  • Definition: Female deer or male deer with antlers less than 3 inches in length.
  • Examples: Does, button bucks, shed bucks, or spikes less than 3 inches.

Antlered Buck Permit

  • Description: A supplemental permit, in conjunction with an Antlerless Permit, allowing the harvest of one Antlered Buck. The permit is specific to weapon type and season (Permit Bow, Permit Muzzleloader, and Permit Shotgun).
  • Zone Applicability: Valid in any zone where an Antlerless or DRS Permit has been acquired for a permit season.

Antlerless Deer Permit

  • Purpose: A permit for a specific zone to harvest Antlerless Deer, tailored to the weapon type and season.
  • Seasons Requiring Permit: Necessary for the Permit Bow, Permit Muzzleloader, and Permit Shotgun seasons.

Antler Point Restriction Zone

  • Definition: Zones mandating the harvest of antlered deer with a minimum of 3 points on one antler side.
  • Applicable Zones: Zones 3, 9, 13, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 47, 63, and 67. Exemptions apply to youth hunters during Youth Archery and Youth Firearm Days.

Baiting

  • Description: The act of placing agricultural products or other edible lures in natural settings to attract deer.
  • Legality and Examples: Legal, except where prohibited by landowners. Common baits include corn, mineral supplements, or apple-scented grain blends.

Cervid

  • Definition: Any member of the deer family, Cervidae.
  • Examples: White-tailed deer, elk, reindeer, caribou, moose, and others.

Deer Regulation Set (DRS) Multi-Zone Permit

  • Offer: A season-specific antlerless permit for either Regulation Set 7 or 8, covering all zones within the chosen set.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Provides the benefit of hunting antlerless deer in multiple zones for a specific season at a reduced total cost.

Legal Deer Hunting Hours

  • Timing: From half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset.
  • Reference: Check local sunrise and sunset times for precise information.

Lures, Deer-Derived

  • Description: Products made from deer urine, gland secretions, tissues, or other biological materials.
  • Regulation: The possession or use of natural deer lures is prohibited.

Regulation Set

  • Definition: A collection of deer management zones sharing identical season dates and bag limits.
  • Categorization: Numbered from 0 to 8, ranging from most restrictive to most liberal.

Special Area Zone

  • Scope: Encompasses military bases, federal installations, and specific lands requiring special access or not open to the general public.
  • Examples: Zones 37, 38, 39, 53, 54, 61, 64, 66, 67, and 68. Further details can be found in the 'Deer Special Areas Information.'

Spotlighting

  • Illegality: The act of using a spotlight to locate deer during the night while in possession of a weapon capable of killing deer is illegal.
  • Exceptions: Regular use of vehicle headlights on roads is not considered spotlighting.

Sunday Hunting

  • Permitted Activity: Archery hunting for deer is allowed on Sundays.
  • Restrictions: Limited to Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and private properties, excluding state parks and forests.

Firearms, Bows, and Ammunition Regulations for Deer Hunting in New Jersey

Detailed Overview of Legal Hunting Equipment

Understanding the specific regulations governing the use of firearms, bows, and ammunition for deer hunting in New Jersey is vital for compliance and safety. Here’s a comprehensive guide detailing the legal requirements for each weapon type across various deer hunting seasons.

Bow Hunting

  • Applicable Seasons: Fall Bow, Permit Bow, Winter Bow.
  • Bow Types: Long, recurve, compound, or crossbow.
  • Draw Weight Requirements: 35 pounds minimum for long and recurve bows at archer’s draw length; compound bows at peak weight; 75 pounds minimum for crossbows.
  • Arrows: Must be equipped with well-sharpened metal broadheads, minimum width ¾”. Only single projectile firing bows are allowed.
  • Release Devices: Handheld release devices are permissible.
  • Prohibitions: Sights or devices casting light on the deer; multi-barrel bows.
  • Transportation: Bows must be unnocked or uncocked during transportation.

Muzzleloader (Permit Muzzleloader Season)

  • Type: Single-barrel, single-shot rifle or smoothbore. Flintlock, percussion, and in-line ignitions are acceptable. Electronic ignitions are illegal.
  • Caliber/Gauge: Rifle - not less than .44 caliber; Smoothbore - between 20 and 10 gauge.
  • Projectile: Single projectile loading only.
  • Sights: Telescopic sights are allowed. Light beam projecting sights are prohibited.
  • Ammunition: Only black powder or black powder equivalents; modern smokeless powder is banned.
  • Transportation: Must be cased and unloaded in/on vehicles, including ATVs and UTVs. “Unloaded” implies the removal of the percussion cap or emptying the powder from the pan, and the frizzen is covered.

Shotgun (Six-day Firearm and Permit Shotgun Seasons)

  • Type: Single or double barrel, rifled bore or smoothbore.
  • Gauge Limitation: Between 20 and 10 gauge, with a maximum shell capacity of three.
  • Projectiles: Slugs (lead, lead alloy, or copper rifled slug, or sabotted slug) and buckshot (sizes between #4 (0.24") and #000 (0.36")). Pumpkin Balls are prohibited.
  • Sights: Adjustable open iron or peep sight, or a scope, is required when hunting with slugs. Devices projecting light beams are banned.
  • Transportation: Shotguns must be cased and unloaded during transportation in/on vehicles, including ATVs and UTVs.

Six-Day Firearm Season (Muzzleloader)

  • Type: Single-shot, single barrel rifle, or single/double-barrel smoothbore shotgun. Flintlock, percussion, and in-line ignitions are legal; electronic ignitions are not.
  • Specifications: Muzzleloading rifle - single shot not less than .44 caliber; smoothbore - between 20 and 10 gauge.
  • Projectiles: Muzzleloading rifle - single projectile; smoothbore - buckshot between #4 (0.24") and #000 (0.36") or a single projectile.

Additional Considerations

  • Bowhunters in the Six-day Firearm Season: Must possess both a Firearm and a Bow and Arrow license or an All-Around license.
  • Legal Hunting Hours: Generally, half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset. Check local sunrise and sunset times for accuracy.

Adherence to these detailed specifications ensures legal and ethical hunting practices in New Jersey, contributing to the conservation and responsible management of deer populations.

Antlered Buck Permit Deadlines for New Jersey Deer Hunting

Important Dates for Purchasing Antlered Buck Permits

For deer hunters in New Jersey, it's crucial to be aware of the specific deadlines for purchasing Antlered Buck Permits. These permits are essential for those planning to hunt antlered bucks during various seasons. Here is a detailed timeline to guide hunters in their permit acquisition process:

General Sale Period

  • Start Date: All deer permits, including Antlered Buck Permits, are available for purchase from September 11, 2023.
  • End Date: Sales continue through the last day of the respective season for each zone.

Recommended Purchasing Strategy

  • Best Practice: It is advised to buy the Antlered Buck Permit and any zone-specific permit(s) for each season in the same transaction for convenience and to ensure adherence to deadlines.

Specific Deadlines for Antlered Buck Permits

  1. Permit Bow Season
    • Deadline: October 28, 2023, at 11:59 PM.
  2. Permit Muzzleloader Season
    • Deadline: November 27, 2023, at 11:59 PM.
  3. Permit Shotgun Season
    • Deadline: December 13, 2023, at 11:59 PM.

Key Note for Late Purchasers

  • Restriction: Hunters who buy only an antlerless, zone-specific permit before the season opens must be mindful of these deadlines.
  • No Subsequent Opportunities: If you do not purchase any antlerless, zone-specific deer permit before the season begins, an Antlered Buck Permit can only be acquired with the initial antlerless zone-specific permit purchase. There will be no other opportunity to buy an Antlered Buck Permit later.

Six-Day Firearm Deer Season Dates

  • 2023 Season: December 4–9, 2023.
  • 2024 Season: December 9–14, 2024.
  • Consistent Timing: The season always commences the second Monday following Thanksgiving.

Final Reminder

For a successful and lawful hunting season, hunters should carefully plan their permit purchases in accordance with these deadlines. This ensures legal compliance and contributes to the sustainable management of deer populations in New Jersey.

Comprehensive Guide to New Jersey Deer Hunting Regulations

Legal Hunting Hours, Reporting, and Zone Information

Legal Hunting Hours

  • Duration: From one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Harvest Reporting

  • Requirement: All harvested deer must be reported using NJ Fish & Wildlife’s Automated Harvest Report System.
  • Methods: Call (855) 448-6865 or visit NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs.htm.
  • Confirmation Number: Upon reporting, hunters receive a Confirmation Number, which must be kept with the deer and its parts.

Deer Management Zones

  • Zone Boundaries: Detailed descriptions available at dep.nj.gov/njfw/hunting/deer-management-zone-descriptions/.
  • Zone Map: Check the Deer Hunting Zone Map for general zone borders and corresponding Regulation Sets.
  • Hunting & Trapping Explorer: Use NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt for quick zone, county, township, and unit identification.

Licenses, Permits, and Bag Limits

Licenses and Permits

  • Details: See Licenses, Permits & Fees for comprehensive information and Hunter Education requirements.
  • Restrictions: Additional hunting licenses cannot be purchased to harvest more deer. Only one zone-specific ANTLERLESS permit per zone for each permit season is allowed.
  • Antlered Buck Permits: Only usable in a zone where you possess an antlerless permit or DRS Multi-Zone Permit. One antlered buck permit per season is the limit.

Bag Limits

  • General Limit: One antlered buck per season, regardless of antlerless permit count. Exception: Two antlered deer can be taken during the Six-day Firearm Season.
  • Specific Seasons: For Fall Bow and Winter Bow seasons, bag limits are as prescribed per zone. Once a limit in a regulation set is met, hunters cannot harvest additional deer from any zone in that set or a more restrictive one.

Deer Harvest Trends

  • 2022–23 Harvest Data: 38,324 deer were harvested, a 4% increase from the previous season.

Firearms and Ammunition Regulations

Legal Firearms and Ammunition

  • Reference: Refer to the provided table for legal firearms, bows, and ammunition for deer hunting.
  • Restrictions: Possession of non-authorized ammunition while deer hunting with a shotgun is illegal. The use of centerfire and rimfire firearms for deer hunting is prohibited.
  • Overlapping Seasons: Hunters can carry firearms legal for current seasons during overlapping periods.

Firearm Range and Safety

  • Maximum Distances: Vary by gauge and ammunition type (e.g., 12 gauge shot sizes from 708 feet for No. 6 shot to 3,780 feet for 1 oz slug).
  • Safety Tips: Consider barrel angle for trajectory, avoid shooting over hills, and understand that distances can vary based on shotgun and ammunition specifics.

Blinds, Tree Stands, Decoys, and Electronic Devices

Blinds and Tree Stands

  • Hunter Orange Requirement: 200 square inches of hunter orange visible from all sides or placed outside and above the blind.
  • Ground Blind Definition: A temporary, man-made structure for concealment. Not applicable to natural features used for hiding.
  • Tree Stand Safety: Be cautious of ash trees affected by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Check nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/emeraldashborer.html for more information.

Decoys and Electronic Devices

  • Usage: Allowed in Fall Bow, Permit Bow, and Winter Bow seasons. Hunters must wear fluorescent hunter orange when transporting decoys.
  • Restrictions: Hunting with electronic calling devices or light-beam devices on deer is unlawful.

Incidental Hunting and Certified Tracking Dogs

Incidental Coyote/Fox Opportunity

  • Conditions: Allowed during Six-day Firearm, Permit Muzzleloader, and Permit Shotgun seasons before reaching the deer bag limit.
  • Reporting: Mandatory for coyotes and recommended for gray foxes.

Certified Tracking Dogs

  • Purpose: To assist in the recovery of harvested deer.
  • Contact: Visit dep.nj.gov/wp-content/uploads/njfw/trackingdogpermittees.pdf for tracking dog services.

Adherence to these regulations ensures responsible and ethical hunting practices, contributing to the conservation and management of New Jersey's deer populations.

Post-Harvest Steps for Successful Deer Hunting

Step 1: Complete Your Deer Transportation Tag

Do Not Move the Deer Without a Tag!

  1. Download the Tag: Visit the provided link to download a deer transportation tag. You can create your own or photocopy the tag provided.
  2. Tag Information: Each deer in zones where two deer can be taken at a time must have its own transportation tag. Fill in the following information:
    • A. Name
    • B. CID# (Customer Identification Number)
    • C. Date of Harvest
    • D. Season of Harvest
    • E. Deer Management Zone, County, Township, and Deer Management Unit
    • F. Confirmation # (after reporting the harvest)
    • G. Type of Weapon Used
    • H. Antlered or Antlerless Category
    • I. If Antlered, record Right and Left Antler points
  3. Attach the Tag: Securely attach the tag to the deer before moving it from the field.

New Jersey Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations

Step 2: Report Your Harvest

Report Your Harvest and Receive a Confirmation Number

  1. Use the AHRS: Visit NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs.htm using your smartphone or computer.
    • You will need the last four digits of your SSN (Social Security Number) or your Driver License number to access your account.
  2. Or Call In: Call (855) I HUNT NJ or (855) 448-6865 to report your harvest. Have your CID number ready and verify that they are reporting your deer on the correct tag.
  3. Record Confirmation Number: Record your Confirmation Number on your green Antlerless/Buck Tag. Keep these tags attached to your license/permit.
    • Retain your Confirmation Number for as long as the deer or its parts are in your possession.

Step 3: Keep a Record of Your Harvest(s)

Maintain an Annual Harvest Record

  1. Throughout the seasons, keep an annual record or log of deer harvested and their corresponding confirmation numbers.
  2. Use the green tag attached to your license/permit. Do not separate the tag from your license.
  3. For each harvest, record the following information including the confirmation number:
 New Jersey Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations
  • For Antlered Deer:
    • Fill in the ZONE
    • Fill in the DATE of harvest
    • Fill in POINTS ON RIGHT SIDE AND LEFT SIDE if it's a buck
    • If reporting the deer in the field, fill in the confirmation number.
New Jersey Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations
  • For Antlerless Deer:
    • Fill in the ZONE
    • Fill in the DATE of harvest
    • Fill in SEX OF DEER (Doe, Button Buck, Shed, or Male deer with antlers less than 3 inches)
    • If reporting the deer in the field, fill in the confirmation number.
  • There is room for two deer on the antlerless tag. If you harvest additional deer, download and fill out the Supplemental Harvest Log.

    Supporting Hunters Helping the Hungry

    An Opportunity to Make a Difference

    Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH), a commendable organization that has made a significant impact by providing over two million servings of nutritious venison to New Jersey families since 1997, is reaching out to the public for assistance in covering the costs of professional meat processing.

    The Program's Remarkable Work

    HHH has consistently donated substantial amounts of venison to food banks and charitable organizations, with last year's contribution amounting to 31,911 pounds of venison, equivalent to 127,644 servings, sourced from 1,050 hunter-provided deer. This program operates on a limited budget, and the butchers who participate in it receive $100 to process the donated deer.

    A Grant for the Cause

    Thanks to recommendations from partners such as the NJ Farm Bureau working in collaboration with the NJ Dept. of Agriculture, HHH was fortunate to receive a grant. This grant allows them to waive the processing fees for hunter-donated deer weighing 50 lbs. or more (dressed hanging weight) for the entire 2022–23 season, and this fee waiver will continue for the 2023–24 season. For deer weighing under 50 lbs. (dressed hanging weight), the hunter's fee is $50.

    Check Funding Availability

    Hunters who wish to contribute by donating a deer should check the funding availability status by visiting the HHH website, as it may change over time.

    Making a Charitable Contribution

    Individuals interested in making a charitable contribution to support the program's meat-processing costs can do so conveniently through the HHH website. Donations can be made securely via PayPal or by sending a check payable to:

    Hunters Helping the Hungry P.O. Box 587 Lebanon, NJ 08833

    Participating Butchers

    Several butchers participate in the HHH program, spanning from north to south New Jersey. These butchers play a vital role in processing the donated deer. Hunters are encouraged to contact the butcher in advance and inquire about their availability to accept donated deer.

    Participating Butchers Include (listed north to south):

    Sussex County:

    • Newton High School, Newton
      • Phone: (973) 383-7573 x243
      • Call first for instructions

    Hunterdon County:

    • Game Butchers - The Person Family, Lebanon
      • Phone: (908) 735-4646
    • Hunterdon Deer Butcher
      • Phone: (908) 797-2315
      • 51 Old Franklin School Rd., Pittstown
    • Bishop’s Market, Whitehouse Station
      • Phone: (908) 534-9666
    • V. Roche & Son, LLC Meat Processing
      • 9 High St., Whitehouse Station
      • Phone: (908) 534-2006

    Mercer County:

    • The Valley Butcher, Pennington
      • Phone: (609) 947-2235

    Salem County:

    • The Buck Stop
      • Phone: (856) 794-1281
      • 989 Alvine Rd., Pittsgrove

    Camden County:

    • Bringhurst Fine Meats/Catering, Berlin
      • Phone: (856) 767-0110

    HHH is always on the lookout for additional butchers to participate in their program, so if you are interested, please contact them through their website HuntersHelpingtheHungry.org. Additionally, stay updated on their website for potential changes in the list of participating butchers.

    Please note that butchers may not accept donated deer during the Six-day Firearm Buck Season, as this is decided on a day-to-day basis by individual butchers to accommodate their regular customers.

    Upcoming Fundraising Events

    If you're interested in supporting HHH through fundraising events, they have several exciting activities planned, including sporting clay shoots, a golf outing, and a 3-D archery shoot. Stay informed about these events by visiting HuntersHelpingtheHungry.org.

    Your support can make a significant difference in ensuring that HHH continues its valuable mission of helping those in need while promoting ethical hunting practices.

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    Disclaimer:

    The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.