All About Hunting In New Jersey

The state of New Jersey provides high-quality hunting to its visitors as well as natives being home to a wide variety of wildlife. The most interesting attraction of the Garden State is that it has the highest number of white-tailed deer per square mile in North America.

It offers exceptional recreational activities along with hunting to highly enthusiastic hunters. Expanded over more than 757,000 acres of land consisting of marshes, swamps, forests, New Jersey creates the most suitable habitat for animals, birds, and other wildlife to thrive in. 

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1. What Species To Hunt

1.1 Deer

Deer is the most popular and hunted species in New Jersey. After a fall in population in the early 1900s, New Jersey is home to 147,000 whitetails at present.

Morris, Hunterdon, Somerset, Mercer, and Monmouth are the counties for finding non-typical bucks. There are two seasons for deer hunting with permits for bow, shotgun, and muzzleloader.

Though only one antlered deer can be taken down per season, some deer management zones allow unlimited antlerless bag limits.      

1.2 Wild Turkey

Having disappeared around the mid-1800s, this species re-established its population by the end of the 1980s in the state. Now wild turkeys are abundant in numbers throughout all the suitable areas of the land with an estimated population of 23,000 of its kind.

Turkey permits should only be obtained by youth turkey hunters. Adults must possess a regular license.     

1.3 Black Bear

Black bear hunting in New Jersey remains controversial with the recent announcement of allowing trophy hunters to kill black bears with the aid of baiting. It also made legal hunting on private lands and restricted places where bear hunting was prohibited.

The population of this wildlife stands at 5,000 at present that makes the issue more complicated. However, abiding by the laws and regulations, you may plan a black bear hunt in the land of New Jersey. 

1.4 Duck

New Jersey has hundreds of coastal and inland wetlands, salt marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes that make it the best place for waterfowl hunting.

It has diversity in subspecies of ducks such as buffleheads, and scoters that are the most-harvested and mallards, gadwalls, wood ducks, black ducks, and green-winged teal.

Many of the WMAs are situated in coastal marshes, the best waterfowl habitat attracting thousands of waterfowl hunters every year.   

1.5 Goose

There are two major subspecies of this bird -Canada geese and Light geese that is further divided into three more subspecies: greater and lesser snow geese, Ross’s geese.

Though poor in population, you can find migratory Canada geese in the North and South zones of New Jersey. However, the resident birds of this species are abundant and cause several damages to humans and other wildlife habitats.

So, the use of electronic calls, unplugged shotguns, extended hunting hours, and liberal bag limits are allowed during the September season. 

Light geese are, however, high in population compared to resident Canada geese and can be easily found around the Arctic wetlands.      

1.6 Americal Brunt

The population of this bird- species has reduced over the years. It has declined by 28%, which is about 120,100 brunts, in 2019. Hunters are advised to check bag limits and other regulations before going to the field.   

1.7 Small Game Species

 New Jersey allows hunting of small game species such as pheasant, quail, coyote, fox, opossum, raccoon, partridge, rabbit, squirrel, woodchuck, and woodcock.    

Pheasant is abundant all over the state. Around 50,000 of them are stocked in Wildlife Management Areas yearly. Hunters must start from sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.    

Squirrels and rabbits are native to the land and can be found at any place. Hunters are allowed to use muzzleloading rifles with 36 calibers or smaller while hunting gray squirrels. 

Hunting coyotes and foxes can be challenging among all the small game species. Trapping and hunting of raccoon, opossum, mink, beaver is also available for everyone.        

2. Seasons

Hunting season refers to that time of the year when killing, seeking, or pursuing a certain species of wildlife for sport or food is legal without any restriction.

In the United States, each state ascertains its own specific dates to hunt a certain sport animal considering the complete understanding of its breeding and incubation period, ideal distribution of age and gender, and also the economic concerns of the state.

In New Jersey, the season dates for each animal are as follows-   

  • Deer season starts from September to January. Hunters are only allowed to take one antlered deer statewide. You can also go for bowhunting on Sundays on Wildlife Management Areas and private land legally. 
  • There are two seasons for turkey hunting- fall and spring. The spring hunting season lasts from April to May along with a Youth Turkey Hunting Day for children aged between 10 and 16. 
  • Black bear hunting season is divided into two segments- A bad B. It usually lasts from October to December. However, hunters cannot take more than one bear per segment.    
  • Quails are allowed to be legally hunted from November to December. 
  • Coyote and fox are generally taken down from October to December and also in March except on Sundays. 
  • Pheasant is hunted from November to December and partridge in February. 
  • Rabbits and squirrels are taken down from September to December and also in February.    
  • Woodcock season starts from November to December. They can be hunted from sunrise to sunset.
NJ Hunter Education: Chapter 06: Treestand Safety

3. Where Can You Hunt

3.1 Country Park System

Public hunting lands are increasing day by day in New Jersey as hunting on private land is a bit challenging. It has more than 750,000 acres of public land allowing hunters to find a spot very easily. Atlantic, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Morris County Parks are open to all game species hunting from deer to woodcock and many more.     

3.2 National Wildlife Refuges

Public hunting land comprises around 27 State Parks and forests, National Wildlife Refuges in New Jersey. One should check each place he or she is interested in before going. There are some excellent Wildlife Refuges which are stated below:

  • Cape May National Wildlife Refuge Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge 
  • Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge 
  • Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge 
  • Supawna Meadows National Wildlife        

3.3 Private Land

Hunting on private land must be done with written permission from the landowner or occupant. In New Jersey, much to the surprise of the hunter, you can hunt deer on Sundays.

However, hunters are liable for any damage done to the property including buildings, crops, livestock while hunting and can be arrested if proved.
NJ Hunter Education: Chapter 02: Wildlife Management

4. License Requirements

A license is required by hunters to hunt, chase, trap, or kill and must be of 10 years of age. Hunters need to renew their licenses on December 31 regardless of the date they have purchased.    

Residents or locals of New Jersey or someone who has lived for 6 months before the time of application can obtain a resident license. 

In New Jersey, non-residents are needed to present a record of appropriate hunter education course completion approved by any other state. 

Youths aged 15 years or below can apply for a hunting license after the successful completion of a hunter education course. However, children of 10 to 13 years must be accompanied by their properly licensed guardian or parent (minimum age of 21) while hunting. Youth licenses will no longer be valid once the licensee turns 16. 

Apprentice license allows a person of any age to use shotgun or archery equipment for hunting before completing a hunter education course.      

Active-duty military personnel or anyone working in the U.S. Armed Forces, whether native or not, must obtain a resident license.

Free licenses are offered to veterans with a service-oriented disability and they must be a resident of New Jersey.      

5. Hunter Education

5.1 Do You Require It

In New Jersey, if you never had a hunting license or has no record of previous license or hunter education, must complete a hunter education course, whether offline or online, to obtain any type of license.  

5.2 Traditional Course

In a traditional course, there are two options- archery and firearms, both of which compromise a home-study portion and the live-fire range session (which is mandatory).

However, this course is free of cost. After completion of a hunter education field session, one needs to pass a written exam to get the certificate.     

5.3 Internet Course

Hunter education course is also offered online for which one needs to log in with an account and study according to your place. Once you are done with the study material, you will need to complete some hands-on activities, a live-fire session, and a final exam to pass.    

6. Rules And Regulations

6.1 Distance

Hunters must maintain a 450-foot safety zone distance around buildings or playgrounds while hunting any species. For firearm and archery hunting season, the safe distance is curbed down to 150 feet.
NJ Hunter Education: Chapter 03: Hunting Laws

6.2 Hunter Orange Requirement

Hunters using firearms for deer, bear, rabbit, hare, squirrel, coyote, fox, railbirds and game birds and also hunters using firearm, bow or arrow on a ground blind must wear a 200 square inches of hunter orange cap or outer garment that could be visible from all sides every time while hunting.

However, hunting of waterfowl, crow, wild turkey, and coyote or fox on the special permit season does not require the hunters to wear any hunter orange garment or cap.  

6.3 Can You Hunt On Sundays

Sunday hunting is only available on a semi-wild and commercial shooting to preserve lands. Bowhunting for deer is legal on Sundays only on State Wildlife Management Areas and private property.

Hunters can also hunt raccoon or opossum on Sunday mornings from 12:01 a.m. to one hour before sunrise.       

6.4 Bow Requirements

Hunters can legally use long, recurve, compound, or crossbows except for air bows. 

  • Archers must bring a bow with a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds irrespective of what kind of bow it is.   
  • Only compound bows can have a minimum peak draw weight of 35 pounds.  
  • For crossbows, the draw weight is increased to 75 pounds with a minimum stock length of 25 inches.     
  • Fishing with crossbows is legal except for Greenwood Lake. You can, however, hunt migratory birds with crossbows.   
  • Hunters must use arrows installed with a well-sharpened edged head of metal of minimum width of ¾ inches.    

However, in New Jersey, there is no prescribed length, weight for bows or arrows, and also for cutting edge or bow sight magnification.
NJ Hunter Education: Chapter 14: Bow and Arrow

7. Prohibited Practices

  • Hunters will be subject to punishment if they cast or possess a poisoned arrow and an edge head for shooting game birds in flight.   
  • It is illegal to use a bow and arrow from a stationary or moving vehicle and also to carry a crossbow in cocked position while in any transport.  
  • Using dogs to pursue deer or bear (also when injured) is prohibited. Hunters also cannot train dogs to hunt raccoon or opossum. Training of dogs is only legal during any open firearm season without using any firearm. 
  • You cannot possess or use silencers on firearms while on the field. 
  • No animal should be pursued, injured, or killed with the aid of baiting. 
  • It is prohibited by the law to use any drone or unmanned aircraft to hunt, trap, harass, or retrieve any wildlife.   
  • No one can use a raptor without a falconry permit and it is only issued to those who successfully pass an examination and provide facilities for housing a raptor.
NJ Hunter Education: Chapter 04: Survival and First Aid


The abundance of natural resources and suitable habitat attract wildlife as well as hunters to the land of New Jersey. One cannot be disappointed if he or she chooses it as their first hunting destination.

For further details, you can visit the official website of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife:


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