Suburban bowhunting defines deer hunting in New Jersey.
Welcome to the northeast mecca of urban whitetail deer hunting—from the mountainous federal land and state parks of the north to the farm fields and pines of the south. With nothing but suburban housing developments in between, deer have plenty of safe havens, which makes deer hunting in New Jersey some of the best on the east coast.
Here’s the public land lowdown for deer hunting in 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 in the northwest and Wharton State Forest in the south. Both produce lots of deer—and respectable deer for northeast standards. The real honey holes for deer hunting in 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. Any experienced deer hunter in New Jersey can tell you that they are not evenly distributed at all. Some towns still have over 100 deer per square mile. Many have even decided to hire sharpshooters.
Zoning for Deer Hunting in New Jersey
A large benefit to deer hunting in New Jersey are the liberal bag limits and long seasons in most zones. When it comes to their licenses and seasons, figure out which zones you will be hunting. The DEP has a deer zone map online and 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 in New Jersey, since regulations vary.
Some zones start bow seasons as early as September 10 with a “doe-before-buck” rule. Others don’t start until October 1. Many zones give you unlimited doe tags, though 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.
Licenses for Deer Hunting in New Jersey
There are no lotteries for bow hunting or gun hunting licenses, whether you’re a resident or not. The bow license allows you to hunt two seasons, the first in January and the second in September and October. The firearm license is good from January to December and is all you need to hunt the 6-day firearm season.
There are permit seasons for bow, shotgun, and muzzleloader. In order to hunt these seasons, you must have a license and purchase a permit. Permits are for antlerless deer only. If you want to shoot a buck, you have to buy a 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. Most are not. Anyone wishing to use a muzzleloader has to purchase a rifle permit when deer hunting in New Jersey.
Weapons allowed for deer hunting in 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 are allowed as are shotguns from 20-10 gauge, shooting either slugs or buckshot. Muzzleloaders must be greater than .44 caliber. Baiting for deer is legal and any person deer hunting in 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. Check-in your harvest either online or by phone within one day of the harvest.
There you have it. New Jersey may be your home or a distance you traveled in order to get your hands on some delicious venison. Either way: good luck, shoot straight, be safe, and have fun.
Last modified: October 3, 2018