Director’s Message

Hunting Regulations Icon New Jersey Hunting

As summer moves into fall, mornings become cooler and days begin to shorten. These changes, subtle at first, signal to many that the season is upon us. As excitement builds, time is spent scouting sites, reconstructing blinds and inventorying gear. This is, without question, my favorite time of the year.

As our thoughts shift towards hunting and trapping, it is important to recognize that managing New Jersey’s wildlife is a year-round endeavor. The dedicated staff of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife have been working hard throughout the spring and summer to ensure wildlife populations are healthy and habitats remain intact. Over the past year wildlife has been surveyed, regulations have been evaluated, fields have been planted and access points have been maintained. With all this work accomplished, great things await those who are planning to hunt or trap public and private lands in New Jersey.

Around the end of 2019, you will be treated to a brand-new licensing system with a more user-friendly interface and additional online purchasing options. Several years in the making, our new licensing system is designed to be more convenient so that you can spend less time purchasing your license and more time using your license.

To inspire you to increase your days afield, our staff has worked hard to enhance your field experience. Fish and Wildlife’s wildlife management area system continues to grow—now over 355,000 acres. Our habitat management efforts on these lands is at an all-time high. Our pheasant stocking program will release over 54,000 birds this year for youth hunts, veteran hunts, dog training and regular hunting. Our 54 boat ramps throughout the state will get you to your favorite waterfowl spot and the over 900 miles of roads on wildlife management areas will give you access to that “secret spot” you’ve been keeping to yourself.

The primary goal of the Division of Fish and Wildlife is to maintain healthy wildlife populations and habitats.  This disease can be devastating to deer populations and the easy tips described in the article can go a long way to keep our herd healthy.

This year we had to make the difficult, but responsible, decision to close the Ruffed Grouse Season due to concerns about its population. This species has suffered severe population declines due to habitat loss and the bird’s susceptibility to West Nile Virus. While hunting was not the root cause of the population’s decline, we need to work together to grow this population and hope that through active habitat management, the grouse population can be restored in New Jersey.

For duck hunters, note that all Atlantic Flyway states have reduced bag limits on Eastern Mallards based on 25-year trend data. New Jersey is among these states and continues to work with hunters to reverse these trends. A bag limit reduction to two mallards with no more than one hen has been implemented in all Atlantic Flyway states for 2019.

While the Director’s Message always provides the introduction to the New Jersey Hunting & Trapping Digest, all the “good stuff” can be found on the pages that follow. The content within will help keep you safe, legal and responsible while you are in the field this season. Whether you access the regulations online or from a hard copy of the Digest, it is your responsibility to be informed and to be safe. As my first year as the director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to unfold, I look to forward to helping you to get outside and have fun! Tuck the Digest in your backpack or view it from your cellphone and enjoy your time outdoors!