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General Hunting Regulations

This is not the full law. The information in this Digest is based on N.J.S.A. Title 23, Title 13:1B-34 and N.J.A.C. 7:25-5. The amended regulations are known as the Game Code and implement the statute laws. Consult the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Bureau of Law Enforcement for further details. See the Telephone Directory , for regional Law Enforcement offices. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal documents

No person shall hunt except as prescribed by law. See section Permits for Hunters with Disabling Conditions, for special rules.

Persons required by law to wear corrective lenses to operate a motor vehicle (as noted on a valid driver’s license) must wear corrective lenses when hunting with any kind of bow or firearm.

Bow and Arrow

“Bow” means any long bow, recurve bow, compound bow or crossbow. Hand held release devices are permitted.

See additional regulations under Specifically Prohibited .

All bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds at the archer’s draw length, except compounds, which must have a minimum peak draw weight of 35 pounds and crossbows which must have a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds. Crossbows must have a minimum stock length of 25 inches.

See crossbow safety tips on this page. Crossbows are not legal for bowfishing. Crossbows are now permitted for hunting migratory birds. See below for restrictions when taking game birds in flight.

All arrows used for hunting deer, turkey, coyote, fox or woodchuck must be fitted with an edged head of well-sharpened metal and a minimum width of ¾ inches.

Arrows fitted with heads other than specified for deer, turkey, coyote, fox or woodchuck may be carried in the woods and fields during the small game season or other seasons which overlap with the bow and arrow deer season except that for taking game birds in flight, arrows equipped with an edged head are prohibited. Also, flu flu arrows are required for taking game birds in flight because the arrow is designed to fly only a short distance. For the purpose of discharging a crossbow, hunters may carry judo points, target points or blunts. Canada geese and turkeys which are not in flight may be taken with standard fletched arrows and an edged head as described above.

Sunday bowhunting for deer is now legal only on private land and state wildlife management areas.

It is unlawful to:

  • use or possess a poison arrow or one with an explosive tip
  • use an edged head for taking game birds in flight
  • use a bow one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise during any hunting season
  • use a bow and arrow from any vehicle, moving or stationary
  • have both a firearm and bow in possession or under control while hunting
  • transport in a vehicle a crossbow in the cocked position

Closed Seasons

  • Bobcat: The bobcat season remains closed in New Jersey. The possession and sale of bobcat pelts and parts is allowed from bobcats legally harvested from other states or provinces, when lawfully tagged with a CITES tag.
  • Mourning Dove: There is no mourning dove season in New Jersey.

Dogs, Hunting and Training

Allowing dogs to run at large is prohibited.

Persons may train dogs without firearms in daylight at any time except during any open firearm deer season.

No person shall train a raccoon or opossum hunting dog on WMAs other than during the periods of Sept. 1 to Oct. 1 and from Mar. 1 to May 1 each year. Training hours shall be one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.

It is illegal to use dogs to pursue or run deer or black bear or to track wounded deer or bear.

Note: Regulations for dog training on wildlife management areas are in Wildlife Management Areas Regulations .

Delaware River, Hunting

Hunting on the Delaware River is restricted by state boundaries. A valid hunting license and any appropriate permit/stamp is required for your location.


No person shall use a raptor for hunting without a falconry permit and a valid hunting license. No person under 14 years of age may hunt by means of a raptor. Hunting migratory birds with raptors on Sunday is prohibited.

Falconry permits will be issued only to persons who pass a comprehensive examination and who can provide proper facilities for housing a raptor.

Beginning falconers must be sponsored by an experienced falconer.

No person shall possess a firearm while hunting with raptors.

For additional information, write to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, MC 501-03, P.O. Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420 or call (908) 735-8793.

Farmer Regulations

See Farmer Hunting and Permit Information .

Firearms and Missiles

For the purpose of hunting in New Jersey, firearms refer to shotguns, muzzleloaders (rifled or smoothbore) and modern rifles.

  • A person may not go into the woods or fields with a firearm except during prescribed seasons.
  • Airguns are not legal hunting firearms.
  • It is unlawful to possess in the woods and fields shot larger than #4 fine shot except for hunting deer, bear, waterfowl, woodchuck (farmers only) and coyote/fox during the Special Permit Coyote and Fox Season.
  • Rimfire and centerfire rifles are not legal to hunt deer.
  • See sections on specific game animals for permitted firearms and ammunition.
  • No person shall use a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells at one time or that may be fired more than three times without reloading except for the September Canada goose season (see Migratory Bird) and during a light goose conservation order season, if any.
  • See additional regulations under Specifically Prohibited .

Hunter Orange

Firearm hunters must wear a cap made of solid daylight fluorescent orange or an outer garment containing at least 200 square inches of fluorescent orange material visible from all sides at all times while engaged in hunting. A camo-orange hat alone is not adequate. See exceptions below and also newer fluorescent orange requirements.

This applies to all persons while hunting with a firearm for deer, bear, rabbit, hare, squirrel, coyote, fox, railbirds, and game birds including while in a tree stand. All firearm and bow and arrow deer hunters utilizing a ground blind when a firearm deer season is open concurrently must display 200 square inches of hunter orange atop the blind and visible from all sides or within five feet outside the blind and higher than the blind or at least three feet off the ground, whichever is higher. During these concurrent seasons, bowhunters in treestands also should consider wearing hunter orange.

Exceptions: the hunter orange law does not apply to waterfowl, crow, wild turkey, coyote/fox (during the special permit season, see Small Game Hunting), woodchuck nor bowhunters except that a bowhunter using a deer decoy must wear hunter orange, as described above, while transporting the decoy into and out of the woods and fields. During the Six-day Firearm Season, it is recommended that bowhunters wear hunter orange.

Landowner Liability Act

(Excerpted from N.J.S.A. 2A:42A-2 et seq.) a. An owner…of a premises, whether or not posted and whether or not improved or maintained in a natural condition, or used as part of a commercial enterprise, owes no duty to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for sport and recreational activities, or to give warning of any hazardous condition of the land or in connection with the use of any structure or by reason of any activity on such premises to persons entering for such purposes; b. An owner of a premises who gives permission to another to enter upon such premises for a sport or recreational activity or purpose does not thereby (1) extend any assurance that the premises are safe for such purpose, or (2) constitute the person to whom permission is granted an invitee to whom a duty of care is owed, or (3) assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by any act of persons to whom the permission is granted. Note: A landowner’s liability changes if a fee is charged (or other consideration) or if there is a “willful or malicious failure” to warn of a dangerous condition on the property.


It is unlawful to use smokeless powder in a muzzleloader while hunting in New Jersey. Only black powder or black powder equivalents, such as Pyrodex and Triple Se7en, may be used with a muzzleloading firearm when engaged in hunting.

Properly licensed and permitted hunters 10 years and older may hunt with a muzzleloading rifle. A valid rifle permit must be possessed while hunting with a muzzleloading rifle. Permitted action types include percussion, flintlock and inline. Electronic ignitions are not legal. For muzzleloader barrel types and legal hunting ammunition, see regulations for each game species.

It is unlawful to hunt with a muzzleloading rifle on WMAs, except for deer, bear and during the special seasons for coyote/fox and squirrel hunting. For muzzleloader rifle squirrel hunting, see Small Game Hunting. For muzzleloader deer hunting, see Deer Hunting. For rifle permit information, see Permits for Hunters and Trappers. For muzzleloader coyote/fox hunting, see Small Game Hunting.

Non-Resident Game Removal

A non-resident licensee may remove from the state each day a daily bag limit of game. However, a non-resident may not take more than two day’s bag limit from the state after one week’s stay (Sunday to Saturday inclusive.) This restriction does not apply to game raised or killed at a licensed commercial preserve and legally tagged.

Possession Of Certain Wildlife By Persons, Taxidermists & Butchers

No person shall have in possession a deer, bear, migratory game birds or turkey that they did not kill unless it has a label bearing the name, address, telephone number, license and permit numbers of the person who killed the deer, bear, migratory game bird or turkey. Those in the business of processing deer, bear or turkey (that is butchers, taxidermists, etc.) shall keep a ledger of all of their customers. Each customer’s name, current address, day and evening telephone numbers, Conservation ID Number and possession seal number of any black bear or turkey, or Confirmation Number for deer being processed shall be included in the ledger. The ledger shall be made available for inspection upon request during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by any law enforcement officer or employee of the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Possession of naturally shed deer antlers is legal. Parts of deer possessed, other than shed antlers, must be from lawfully harvested deer. Proof of lawful harvest (Confirmation Number or seal) should be retained for verification. Road killed deer with a permit are intended only for consumption; antler possession from these deer is not legal.

Protected Wildlife

It is illegal to capture, kill, injure or have in possession any wild bird other than a game bird. The sale of wild birds or game animals or parts thereof is prohibited except as described in N.J.S.A. 23:4-27. For more specific information, refer to our website, See also Sale of Wildlife, this page.

No one may rob a bird’s nest.

All nongame mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians are protected. Penalties for taking these species range from $250–$5,000.

There is no open season on bobcat or fisher. It is illegal to kill or attempt to kill a bobcat or fisher in New Jersey. Bobcat pelts from animals legally harvested in other states may be possessed or sold provided a CITES tag from the state of harvest is attached. Fishers legally harvested in other states may be possessed or sold.

See also Possession of Certain Wildlife, this page.

Property Damage

Hunters must not hunt in unharvested crops unless first obtaining permission from the owner. Anyone causing damage to cultivated crops, orchards, fences, buildings or livestock may be arrested without warrant by the owner, occupant, lessee, or any officer of the law. Violators are liable for a fine of up to $2,000 and restitution to the property owner in addition to the loss of hunting privileges for a period of five years.

Public Land Hunting

For public land hunting, refer to Wildlife Management Area Regulations, Public Deer Hunting Land in New Jersey and Hunting Opportunities on New Jersey’s National Wildlife Refuges.

Rifles, .22 caliber

A valid rifle permit must be in possession while hunting with a .22 caliber rifle.

It is unlawful to possess and use .22 caliber rifle except while hunting woodchuck (no rifle hunting on wildlife management areas),­ hunting raccoon and opossum with hounds, and dispatching trapped animals other than muskrat.

A .22 caliber rifle must be loaded with short cartridges only, except when hunting woodchuck.

A .22 caliber rifle need not be plugged, but may be loaded with no more than three cartridges. Rife permit holders of all ages may hunt with all rifle types as allowed by New Jersey laws.

See chart in Small Game Hunting for details on small caliber rifle ammunition legal for hunting woodchucks.

Sale of Wildlife

The sale of wild birds and game animals, or parts thereof, is prohibited in New Jersey with the following exceptions: legally trapped furbearers may be sold plus the sale of white-tailed deer hides, tails and the lower portion of the legs is legal. See also Closed Seasons, Bobcat, see above. Questions should be directed to a regional Fish and Wildlife law enforcement office; see Telephone Directory.

Safety Zone

No firearm hunter may carry a loaded firearm or hunt within 450 feet of a building or any school playground, even if unoccupied, except the owner or lessee of a building, and persons specifically authorized by him in writing. No bowhunter may carry a nocked arrow or hunt within 150 feet of a building or within 450 feet of any school playground, even if unoccupied, except the owner or lessee of a building, and persons specifically authorized by him in writing. Persons authorized to bowhunt within 150 feet of a building must hunt from an elevated position to shoot down toward the ground. Note: persons authorized to hunt with a firearm within 450 feet, or with bow and arrow within 150 feet of a building must be in possession of that written permission while hunting. Shooting into a safety zone is prohibited. (See Safety Zone Awareness, for diagram and safety zone explanation.)


Shotguns larger than 10-gauge are prohibited for hunting. Shotguns may not be capable of holding more than three shells except for September Canada goose hunting; see Migratory Bird. For information on legal shot sizes, see regulations for each game species to be hunted.

Stealing Traps or Trapped Animals

(Excerpted from N.J.S.A. 23:4-40) No person shall take or unlawfully appropriate, with intent to steal, a trap or the property of another, set along, by or in any of the public or private ditches, streams, ponds or waters in this state for the purpose of catching furbearing animals, or remove an animal from the trap of another person.

Sunday Hunting

No person may hunt with firearms or any other weapon or carry a gun in the woods or fields or on the waters on Sunday except on semi-wild and commercial shooting preserve lands for the purpose of shooting stocked game; and when using a .22 rifle for dispatching trapped animals. See note below.

NOTE: Sunday bowhunting for deer is legal only on state wildlife management areas and private property.

Persons are allowed to hunt raccoon or opossum between midnight on Saturday and one hour before sunrise on Sunday during the prescribed season.

Trespass Law

Hunters and trappers must have permission (oral or written) from the landowner or lessee prior to entering either posted lands or agricultural lands (which are not required to be posted.) Hunters also must obtain permission to enter posted land and agricultural land to recover deer. Hunters and trappers may not enter unposted land after having been forbidden to trespass by the owner, lessee or occupant.

If a hunter or trapper is charged with trespass, they must provide documentation of written permission in court for their defense. See page 77 for the Hunt SMART Courtesy Card.

Wildlife Damage Control

Property owners and occupants of dwellings, or their agents designated in writing, suffering damage from squirrel, raccoon, opossum, skunk, weasel, woodchuck, gray fox, red fox and coyote may control these animals by lawful procedures at any time subject to state law and local ordinances. Farmers or their agents may also control the above species by lawful procedures when found destroying livestock, crops or poultry at any time subject to state and local ordinances.

Note: Persons who kill a coyote must notify a Fish and Wildlife Regional Law Enforcement Office within 24 hours.

Youth Hunting

A youth hunter means the possessor of a youth hunting license-—or the immediate family member of a qualified occupant farmer-—who is at least 10 years of age. Youth hunter status continues until Dec. 31 of the year in which the youth turns 16. For youth hunters from 10 through 13 years of age, they MUST hunt under the direct supervision of a person who is at least 21 years old and who has a valid firearm or bow and arrow license corresponding to the season hunted. Direct supervision is defined as both the youth hunter and parent/guardian set up together at the same location, hunting as a unit, not hunting independently. See also Youth Licenses. Youth licenses are issued free to youths ages 10–15 upon completion of a hunter or trapper education course. Youth hunters who pre-registered for and successfully complete a hunter education course will receive their youth hunting license at the course. See Hunter and Trapper Education Requirements, and Youth Licenses. Be sure to visit the Take a Kid Hunting section. 129271.png




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Purple text indicates an important note.

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