Hunters in the Garden State can look forward to exciting changes beginning this fall. Recent revisions to the Game Code now offer more opportunities to enjoy the sport than ever before.
Extended hunting hours during D-week of the Spring Turkey Season and the use of air guns to harvest squirrel and rabbit are just two of the changes for this season. These and several others were meant to increase participation and enhance the overall hunting experience in New Jersey. By offering hunters more flexibility when it comes to scheduling their recreation time and adding variety to the ways in which they can hunt, more individuals have an opportunity to get outside and enjoy their sport.
D-week turkey hunters can now spend all day outdoors from regular start time to sunset if they choose, or find time to fit in a few hours amidst their busy daytime schedules. This is a significant change not only in New Jersey, but in the entire Northeast where turkey hunting hours have traditionally been confined to the morning. With this limited trial of full-day turkey hunting, New Jersey now joins the majority of states in offering a more progressive and flexible season that can better accommodate the needs of today’s modern family.
In addition, air guns are now a legal means for harvesting squirrel and rabbit. That should be inspiring news for young hunters and an opportunity for more “seasoned” individuals like me, who haven’t picked up a pellet gun in years, to revisit the pleasures of childhood and dust off some old memories.
Besides enhancing the immediate experience, increasing opportunities for Garden State hunters provides benefits further down the road. More individuals participating in the sport spurs the economy through hunting supplies and equipment sales. These sales, in turn, generate additional funding for wildlife conservation through a special federal excise tax earmarked solely for that purpose. This excise tax, known as the Wildlife Restoration Act, provides critical funding for wildlife conservation (for more information on this excise tax visit fws.gov). These federal funds are then collected and appropriated to each state based on license and permit sales, and used to benefit wildlife management programs that will ultimately enhance hunting opportunities. It is a perfect example of conservation efforts coming full circle. Those who use the wildlife resource support it through their sport and receive enhanced opportunities in return. The economics are even more astounding when factoring in how the sporting community increases state revenue and benefits local businesses.
It is through a spirit of conservation and stewardship that I encourage you to take advantage of all that’s new this fall. May the changes make your next hunt a safe and successful one.
Dave Chanda is the Director of the Division of Fish & Wildlife.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.