Suburban bowhunting is defined with deer hunting New Jersey.
Welcome to the northeast mecca of urban white-tailed deer hunting. Deer hunting New Jersey is still phenomenal. From the mountainous federal land, and state parks of the north, to the farm fields and eventually the pines of the south. With nothing but suburban housing developments in between, deer have plenty of safe havens and it makes deer hunting New Jersey some of the best on the east coast.
Here’s the public land lowdown for deer hunting New Jersey. There are over 750,000 acres of public deer hunting land throughout the state. Some of the biggest tracts include Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area/Worthington State Forest in the northwestern part of the state, and Wharton State Forest in the southern part. Both produce lots of deer and some genuinely respectable deer for northeast standards, but the real honey holes for deer hunting New Jersey are the ones that lie in between the suburban developments. You just have to find them.
According to the New Jersey DEP, deer populations in the Garden State peaked between 1995 and 2000, around the time when more liberal bag limits were introduced. If evenly distributed now, New Jersey would see about 14 deer per square mile. They’re not evenly distributed at all, as any experienced deer hunter, deer hunting New Jersey knows. Some towns still have over 100 deer per square mile, and have even decided to hire sharpshooters to cull the populations instead of deer hunters.
A large benefit to deer hunting New Jersey are the liberal bag limits and long seasons in most zones. To break down their licenses and seasons, let me start by telling you this, figure out which zone/zones you will be hunting. The DEP has a deer zone map either online or in the annual hunting digest, along with a written description. Next, match up your zone with the proper regulations. This is very important for anyone looking to go deer hunting New Jersey because the regulations vary. Some zones start bow seasons as early as September 10th with a doe before a buck rule, while others don’t start until October 1st. Many zones give you unlimited doe tags, but not all and some have antler restrictions. The one constant throughout all the major zones is the traditional “buck week” 6-day firearm season. It’s the same week throughout the state and the bag limit is the same, two bucks.
To explain the licensing for deer hunting New Jersey can get a little tricky. First off, there are no lotteries, whether you’re a resident or non-resident, for bow hunting or gun hunting licenses. The bow licenses allow you to hunt two seasons beginning with January winter bow, and then that same license allows you to hunt fall bow the following September and October. The firearms licenses are also good from January until December and is all you need to hunt the 6-day firearm season.
Here is where it gets tricky because there are other seasons you can choose to hunt, permit seasons. Permit bow, permit shotgun, and permit muzzleloader. In order to hunt these seasons, you must have either a bow or gun license first, and then you can buy a permit. Permits are for antlerless deer only, if you want to shoot a buck you have to buy a bonus buck tag. You can buy as many permits as you want for different zones, but only one buck tag is allowed. It can be used in any zone you have a valid permit for. Certain permits are a lottery but most are not. Anyone wishing to use a muzzleloader also has to purchase a rifle permit when deer hunting New Jersey.
Weapons allowed for deer hunting New Jersey include compound bows, long bows, and recurve bows with a minimum peak draw weight of 35 pounds, crossbows with a minimum peak draw weight of 75 pounds, shotguns from 20 gauge- 10 gauge shooting either slugs or buckshot, and muzzleloaders greater than .44 caliber. Baiting for deer is legal, and any person deer hunting New Jersey with a valid license can take coyotes while deer hunting. Tagging requirements are simple, once a deer is harvested make your own tag with your name and confirmation number on it, and then as soon as possible within one day of your harvest check it in either online or by phone.
There you have it, deer hunting New Jersey may be your home turf, or someplace not too far that you’re looking to try your hand at taking home some delicious venison. Either way, good luck, shoot straight, be safe, and have fun.