Deer Hunting Regulations
New Jersey Hunting
Legal Deer Hunting Hours: half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset
Only one antlered deer may be taken per season statewide regardless of the number of antlered buck permits in possession, except two deer may be taken during the Six-Day Firearm Season. To be legal, all deer harvested must be reported using Fish and Wildlife’s Automated Harvest Report System (see below), either online or by telephone. Hunters will be assigned a Confirmation Number in place of the metal possession seal formerly provided at check stations. This Confirmation Number, like the metal seal, must be kept with the deer and its parts.
Note: Only one deer at a time may be taken during any permit season even if you possess both an antlered and antlerless permit, except in those zones in Regulation Sets 6, 7 and 8 where two deer at a time may be harvested during the Fall Bow, Permit Bow, Permit Shotgun, Permit Muzzleloader and Winter Bow seasons.
NOTE: Sunday bowhunting for deer is legal only on state wildlife management areas and private property.
With the ongoing presence of feral hogs in the Gloucester County area, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife will allow deer hunters in Deer Management Zones 25 and 65 to hunt feral hogs during the regular deer seasons. Feral hogs must be checked. Hunters who harvest a feral hog must call (908) 735-6938 to schedule a time to check in the hog.
Report sightings, rooting evidence or other damage caused by feral hogs!
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services at (908) 735-5654 x 2
Deer hunters must report the harvest of feral hogs to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife at (908)735-6938.
For more information on
Feral Hogs in New Jersey, visit our website by scanning this code or go to NJFishandWildlife.com/qr/hogs.htm.
Deer management zone (DMZ) boundary descriptions are now available by scanning this QR code with your mobile device or by visiting our website at NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/deerzones.pdf. Review the map on Deer Hunting Zone Map (PDF) for general DMZ borders and the Regulation Set color-coding scheme.
For quicker results, use the Deer Hunting Location Viewer at NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs.htm with simple instructions above the viewer’s map to determine the deer management zone (zone), county, township and deer management unit (unit) where you hunt. Write down all of this information and keep it accessible while in the field for when you must report your deer harvest.
Key Concepts and Definitions
- Antlered deer is defined as any deer with at least one antler measuring at least three inches in length as defined below.
- Antler length is defined as the maximum length of a deer antler measured from the lowest outside edge of the antler burr along the outer curve to the most distant point of what is or appears to be the main antler beam. For the purposes of this definition, the antler length does not include the pedicel or portion of skull between the skull plate and base of the antler point.
- Antler point is defined as any point at least one inch long from its tip to its base line, and the length must exceed the width at some location at least one inch down from the tip.
- Antlerless deer is defined as any deer that does not have an antler length measuring at least three inches. For the purposes of this definition, adult male deer that have shed their antlers, button bucks and adult males with antlers less than three inches are considered antlerless deer.
- Antlered Buck Muzzleloader Permit, Antlered Buck Shotgun Permit or Antlered Buck Bow Permit refers to the antlered buck permits available for purchase which are valid only when used in conjunction with the antlerless, zone-specific deer season permit. The antlered buck permits contain an antlered deer Harvest Report (formerly called a transportation tag) and allows for the pursuit and harvest of an antlered deer only.
- Antler Point Restriction zones include Zones 3, 9, 13, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 47, 63 and 67. The harvest of antlered deer from these zones during any open season is restricted to deer with at least one antler having a minimum of three antler points as defined above. The goal of the antler point restriction strategy, as part of Quality Deer Management, is to reduce harvest pressure on the 1½ year-old antlered deer in the expectation that they will survive to produce larger antlers as older animals.
- Special Areas Deer Management zones include Zones 37, 38, 39, 53, 54, 56, 57, 58, 61, 64, 66, 67, 68 and 70. They are generally small, publicly-owned properties administered by county, federal or state agencies (other than Fish and Wildlife) where deer season dates, bag limits or regulations differ from those of the surrounding deer management zone. See Deer Hunting Season Special Areas Information for details.
- Youth Hunter status applies to the possessor of a valid Youth Hunting License (or the immediate member of a qualified occupant farmer who is at least 10 years of age) and continues until Dec. 31 of the year in which he or she turns 16 years of age. The Youth Bow Deer Hunt Day is Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. The Youth Firearm Deer Hunt Day is Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The bag limit for youth hunters on this day is one deer of either sex. Antler Point Restrictions and Earn-A-Buck requirements do not apply for deer taken on this day by youth hunters. See Take a Kid Hunting for details. See Deer Harvest Report Cards (PDF) for a cut-out Harvest Report Card.
- See License, Permits & Stamps, for details and for Hunter Education requirements.
- Additional hunting licenses may not be purchased in order to harvest additional deer.
- Although hunters may purchase multiple deer permits, they are limited to only one zone-specific ANTLERLESS permit per zone during each of the permit seasons. For example, a hunter may buy an ANTLERLESS muzzleloader permit for each of Zones 18, 21 and 24. A hunter may purchase a bow permit, a muzzleloader permit and a shotgun permit for Zone 24; however, they may not purchase two ANTLERLESS bow permits (nor two shotgun permits nor two muzzleloader permits) for Zone 24.
- It is unlawful to use a bow and arrow for hunting deer while using a firearm license (except during the Six-day Firearm Season) and unlawful while using a shotgun or muzzleloader deer permit. A bow and arrow license and permit (when required) must be in possession using this hunting equipment. In addition, during the overlapping Six-day Firearm Season, bowhunters with a valid Permit Bow Season zone permit in those zones governed by Regulation Sets 4–8 may continue to hunt using their bow and arrow license and must register their harvest with their zone permit Harvest Report Number. Hunters without a Permit Bow Season zone permit who want to use a bow during the Six-day Firearm Season MUST also possess a valid Firearms Hunting License and register their harvest using Harvest Report Number on their firearm license.
- The zone-specific Bow, Muzzleloader and Shotgun Permits are valid ONLY for the pursuit and harvest of ANTLERLESS deer. Hunters who want to pursue and take an antlered deer during any of these seasons must purchase an Antlered Buck Bow, Antlered Buck Muzzleloader or Antlered Buck Shotgun Permit. Hunters may purchase only one Antlered Buck Permit per season. An Antlered Buck Permit must be used in conjunction with zone-specific antlerless permit. The Antlered Buck Permit is not zone-specific; it is valid for use in any zone for which the hunter already holds a zone-specific antlerless season permit, but only one buck may be harvested per season. Adult deer permits are $28; youth deer permits are $12.
Antlered Buck Permits must be purchased by 11:59 p.m. on the following dates: Oct. 27 for Permit Bow; Nov. 26 for Permit Muzzleloader and Dec. 12 for Permit Shotgun seasons, UNLESS you are buying your first zone-specific antlerless permit AND an Antlered Buck Permit at the same time after these dates. See Antlered Buck Permit Deadline! Deer Season Permits.
Firearms, Ammunition and Sights
- See chart below and General Hunting Regulations for general hunting regulations which also apply to deer hunting.
- All firearms must be cased and unloaded while being transported in vehicles, including on all-terrain vehicles. A muzzleloader is considered unloaded when, in the case of a percussion cap rifle or shotgun, the percussion cap has been removed from the nipple; in the case of a flintlock, when the powder is removed from the pan and a boot or cover made of nonmetallic material is placed over the frizzen.
- Hunters using or possessing any shotgun slug in the field during the deer seasons must have a shotgun with adjustable open iron or peep sights or a scope affixed to the shotgun.
- Telescopic sights of any magnification (scope power) are permitted for deer hunting on all firearms, including muzzleloader rifles and smoothbore muzzleloader shotguns. No permits are required for telescopic sights.
- Any sight or device that casts a beam of light upon the deer is prohibited.
- Shotgun shells containing single spherical projectiles referred to as pumpkin balls are prohibited.
- While deer hunting with a shotgun, it is illegal to have in possession any ammunition not authorized for deer hunting.
- Muzzleloaders are legal during the Six-day Firearm season where the hunter must also possess the annual Rifle Permit. See License, Permits & Stamps.
- When hunting during the overlapping firearms seasons for deer and when in possession of the proper permits for the current seasons, hunters may carry the firearms legal for the current seasons. For example, when Six-day Firearm and Permit Muzzleloader seasons run concurrently, a hunter may be in possession of a shotgun and either a muzzleloading rifle or smoothbore muzzleloader.
- Double-barreled muzzleloading rifles are not permitted during the Six-day Firearm or Permit Muzzleloader seasons.
- Only one muzzleloading rifle or smoothbore muzzleloader may be in possession while deer hunting, but not both simultaneously.
- Only black powder or black powder equivalents, such as Pyrodex and Triple Se7en, may be used with a muzzleloading firearm when engaged in hunting. Modern smokeless powder is strictly prohibited while hunting game with a muzzleloading firearm.
- Special Areas Deer Management Zones may have regulations that differ from the statewide regulations. See Deer Hunting Season Special Areas Information for details.
Gauge, Caliber or Draw Weight
Firearm sights; Bow releases
Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow. 35 pounds pull at archer’s draw length (long and recurve bows) or peak weight (compound bow) or 75 pounds minimum draw weight (crossbow) Arrows must be fitted with a well-sharpened metal broadhead with a minimum width of ¾” Handheld release devices are permitted
Muzzleloader: rifle or smoothbore, single-barrel, single-shot. Flintlock, percussion and in-line ignitions permitted. Electronic ignitions are not legal. Double-barrel firearms prohibited. Rifle: not less than .44 caliber
Smoothbore: not smaller than 20 gauge and not larger than 10 gauge
Must be loaded with a single projectile only Telescopic sights permitted
Six-day Firearm Season
Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow. 35 pounds pull at archer’s draw length (long and recurve bows) or peak weight (compound bow) or 75 pounds minimum draw weight (crossbow) Arrows must be fitted with a well-sharpened metal broadhead with a minimum width of ¾” NOTE: bowhunters must possess both a firearm and a bow and arrow license during this season. Shotgun: single or double barrel, rifled bore or smoothbore Not smaller than 20 gauge and not larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than three shells Slugs: lead, lead alloy or copper rifled slug or sabotted slug
Buck shot: sizes not smaller than #4 (0.24″) nor larger than #000 (0.36″)
Shotgun must have an adjustable open iron or peep sight or a scope affixed if hunter is hunting with or in possession of slugs Muzzleloader: single-shot, single barrel rifle OR single or double-barrel smoothbore shotgun. Flintlock, percussion and in-line ignitions permitted. Electronic ignitions are not legal. Muzzleloading rifle: single shot not less than .44 caliber
Smoothbore: single or double-barrel not smaller than 20 gauge and not larger than 10 gauge
Muzzleloading rifle: single projectile
Smoothbore: buck shot not smaller than #4 (0.24″) nor larger than #000 (0.36″) or a single projectile
Telescopic sights permitted
Permit Shotgun Season
Shotgun: single or double barrel, rifled bore or smoothbore Not smaller than 20 gauge and not larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than three shells Slugs: lead, lead alloy or copper rifled slug or sabot slug
Buck shot: sizes not smaller than #4 (0.24″) nor larger than #000 (0.36″)
Shotgun must have an adjustable open iron or peep sight or a scope affixed if hunter is hunting with or in possession of slugs Muzzleloader: single or double-barrel smoothbores only (no rifles.) Flintlock, percussion and in-line ignitions permitted Not smaller than 20 gauge and not larger than 10 gauge Buck shot: sizes not smaller than #4 (0.24″) nor larger than #000 (0.36″) or a single projectile —
Blinds and Treestands
All firearm and bow and arrow deer hunters utilizing a ground blind when a firearm deer season is concurrently open 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.
A “ground blind” is defined as a temporary, man-made structure used for the purpose of concealing from sight a person who is hunting. A ground blind is not a naturally occurring feature that a hunter merely uses for concealment.
The State Park Service has modified its policy on the use of hunting treestands and ground blinds on state parks, forests and recreation areas where hunting is allowed. To view the updated policy, visit the State Park Service website atNJParksandForests.org/stand-blind_policy.htm.
Hunters are cautioned to avoid placing treestands in or near ash trees weakened by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. First detected in New Jersey in 2014, beetle damage is not always evident although a tree’s structural integrity might already be seriously compromised. Evaluate any tree carefully but note that ash trees may die quickly, concealing their risky status. For more information and ash tree ID tips, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/emeraldashborer.html.
Baiting is allowed for deer hunting. Hunters may hunt for deer while in a tree, on the ground or in a structure and from any height and any distance from the bait pile. Hunters should check with the landowner or administrative agency before placing bait on their hunting area as baiting is not allowed on properties such as national wildlife refuges.
Decoys and Electronic Devices
- Persons may hunt with the aid of deer decoys statewide in those zones open for deer hunting only during the Fall Bow, Permit Bow and Winter Bow seasons. When carrying or moving deer decoys for the purpose of hunting, persons must wear a fluorescent orange hat or outer garment consisting of at least 200 square inches of fluorescent orange material, which shall be visible from all sides as currently required for firearm deer hunting.
- It is unlawful to hunt for deer with the aid of an electronic calling device or any device that casts a beam of light upon the deer.
- For all seasons except Six-day Firearm, properly licensed and permitted hunters are limited to taking one antlered buck per season, regardless of the number of antlerless, zone-specific permits purchased, when applicable.
- During fall bow in early season zones, the hunter need only harvest one antlerless deer to satisfy the antlerless-first requirement and may then harvest a buck in any zone where the early season is open.
- Bag limits for the fall bow and winter bow seasons are as prescribed for each zone (see Regulation Sets) except that once a hunter has met the bag limit in a given regulation set, he or she may not harvest additional deer from any zone in that regulation set or in one of identical or more restrictive bag limits. However, the hunter may subsequently hunt in a zone with a more liberal (greater) antlerless bag limit as described in the regulation sets.
- Bowhunters may take two antlered deer legally on a Bow or All-around Sportsman License, one antlered deer each during the Fall Bow and Winter Bow seasons. Hunters who want to pursue and harvest an antlered deer during the Permit Bow Season must purchase a buck permit valid only when used in conjunction with the zone-specific antlerless Bow Permit. For permit purchasing deadline, see Deer Season Permits.
- Bowhunters may take antlered deer with their bow during the Six-day Firearm season, provided that they have a current and valid firearm license in addition to an archery license, or have an All-around Sportsman License. Bow hunters who bag an antlered deer during the
Six-day Firearm Season with their bow must use the Harvest Report for the Six-day season from their firearm or All-around Sportsman License only. However, during the overlapping Six-day Firearm Season, bowhunters with a valid Permit Bow Season zone permit in those areas governed by Regulation Sets 4–8 may continue to hunt using their bow and arrow license and must register their harvest with their Permit Bow Season zone permit Harvest Report Number.
- Firearm hunters legally may take two antlered deer during the Six-day Firearm Season on a firearm or All-around Sportsman License. Hunters will be assigned a Confirmation Number upon reporting their first Six-day Firearm Season buck using the new Automated Harvest Report System, allowing the immediate pursuit and harvest of a second buck. Hunters who want to harvest an antlered deer during the Permit Shotgun or Permit Muzzleloader seasons must purchase a buck permit for the corresponding season, valid only when used in conjunction with the zone-specific antlerless Shotgun or Muzzleloader permit. If hunters take a second antlered deer during the Six-day Firearm Season, their Shotgun Permit Season bag limit is then restricted to antlerless deer only. For purchasing deadlines, see Deer Season Permits.
- Remember, although two antlered bucks may be taken during the Six-day Firearm Season, when that occurs, the antlered buck bag limit for the Permit Shotgun Season is then zero. Hunters may choose: take either two antlered bucks during Six-day Firearm Season, or one antlered buck during Six-day Firearm Season and one antlered buck during Permit Shotgun Season (while possessing an Antlered Buck Permit.) The antlerless bag limit for these permit seasons will be one, two or unlimited depending on the zone and season. See Regulation Sets.
- Note: Only one deer at a time may be taken during any permit season even if you possess both an antlered and antlerless permit, except in those zones in Regulation Sets 6, 7 and 8 where two deer at a time may be harvested during the Permit Bow, Permit Shotgun and Permit Muzzleloader seasons.
All hunters are required to report harvested deer on the day killed using the Automated Harvest Report System and now must immediately tag your deer.
Before you go hunting:
- Before your hunt, verify that you have the correct year’s license and proper, valid zone permit. This is essential—both to report your harvest and to comply with the law!
- Use the Deer Hunting Location Viewer at NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs.htm with easy instructions above the viewer’s map. Use this app to determine the deer management zone (zone), county, township, and deer management unit (unit) where you hunt. Write down all this information and keep it accessible while in the field for when you need to report a deer.
In the field:
Upon retrieval, the deer is considered to be in your possession. The hunter must:
- Immediately fill out the Harvest Report that is part of your license or permit (or a Harvest Report card found on Deer Hunting Zone Map (PDF)) with the exception of the Confirmation Number (a number automatically assigned by the system which replaces the metal possession seal). Leave the Harvest Report attached to the license. The Harvest Report is not used as a tag. See item 2 below for tagging details.
- Hunters are required to tag all deer upon harvest and before transporting the deer. The tag must include the hunter’s CID, both the date and zone of harvest, antler points and confirmation number, if applicable. Make your own tag or use the Deer Harvest Report Card on Deer Hunting Zone Map (PDF).
- Report your harvest via the Automated Harvest Reporting System (by phone or Internet as printed on every hunting license and permit) by 8 p.m. during the Fall Bow Season or by 7 p.m. for all other seasons. If unable to access the Automated Harvest Reporting System by the designated time, the deer shall be reported immediately by telephone to the nearest Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement office (see Law Enforcement Regional Offices for Law Enforcement listings). The hunter must continue to attempt accessing the Automated Harvest Report System until they receive a Confirmation Number for that deer.
- Record your assigned Confirmation Number on your Harvest Report or card. Keep this report in your license holder – Do not attach to the deer. Retain your Confirmation Number as long as the deer or its parts are in possession. To report the harvest of additional antlerless deer during the same season (and zone, if applicable) reuse the same Harvest Report Number from that season’s antlerless Harvest Report for all other antlerless deer taken in this season. Since the license or permit report only has space for two Confirmation Numbers, use the Harvest Report Card in this Digest (Deer Hunting Zone Map (PDF)) and on our website, or make your own card on which to record your harvest data and Confirmation Number for each deer.
NOTE: A hunter may be required to produce the head of the deer—or produce records relating to the location of the head such as the butcher or taxidermist who has possession of the deer’s head—upon request by a conservation police officer within 48 hours after a deer harvest is reported.
Harvest Reports from 2018 permits are valid for the entire length of the Permit Bow, Permit Muzzleloader and Permit Shotgun seasons, including January and February 2019, if the zone specified on the original permit is open for hunting during these dates.
When regulations allow taking multiple deer, hunting may resume after each deer is reported and a Confirmation Number assigned.
The online license system, including the Harvest Reporting section, is optimized for smartphones and other mobile devices. Mobile device users must provide a valid email address and phone number.
After Harvesting a Deer
Even when in possession of deer that have been reported already, each deer must be tagged with their assigned Confirmation Number, when applicable, and other information. See Mandatory Harvest Report and Tag Requirements on this page for tagging details. See Deer Hunting Zone Map (PDF) for a Harvest Report Card for use when each of your license or permit Harvest Reports have been filled or for use as a tag. Be discreet when transporting your deer to the butcher, taxidermist or home; rinse away excess blood, turn the field-dressed side to face in toward your vehicle and push the tongue back into the deer’s mouth.
Deer Recovery with Tracking Dogs, Restricted
Dog handlers in possession of a New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife-issued Tracking Dog Permit may assist hunters to recover legally harvested deer. For a list of authorized handlers with certified tracking dogs, go to www.NJFishandWildlife.com/deer_trackingdog.htm. For tracking dog permit information, see Tracking Dog Permits under Permits, Other, License, Permits & Stamps.
After Reporting Your Deer—Possession or Sale
- The Confirmation Number assigned by the Automated Harvest Report System must be retained until all venison is consumed and as long as you keep any deer parts, including antlers. Persons with deer mounts should write their name, assigned Confirmation Number, date of kill and season of harvest on back of the mount for future reference.
- It is illegal to sell deer meat, deer antlers or any part of a deer except deer hides, tails and the lower portion of the legs. However, nonprofit organizations conducting wild game dinners for social and fundraising events may offer game or furbearer meat (the sale of which is otherwise prohibited) provided that the meat has been harvested, stored and processed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
Spotlighting deer during hours of darkness from a vehicle is illegal while in possession of a weapon capable of killing deer, whether the weapon is cased, uncased or in a locked compartment. This does not apply to the regular use of headlights when traveling in a normal manner on public or private roads.
Six-day Firearm Deer Season
Dec. 3–8, 2018
Dec. 9–14, 2019
(Season always opens the second Monday after Thanksgiving.)