Regulations in red are new this year.
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, License Information, 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, below.
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, Farmer Hunting & Permit Information. Crossbows are not legal for bowfishing. Crossbows are 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 legal only on private land and state wildlife management areas.
See Safety Zones, below.
It is unlawful to:
There is no hunting or trapping season for bobcat, fisher, mourning dove, sandhill crane and king rail in New Jersey. See Protected Wildlife, below.
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 on Wildlife Management Area 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.
For the purpose of hunting in New Jersey, firearms refer to shotguns, muzzleloaders (rifled or smoothbore), air guns and modern rifles.
“Air gun” means any shoulder-mounted firearm which by the force of a spring, air or other non-ignited compressed gas expels a missile or projectile and has a rifled or smooth barrel, using ammunition no smaller than .177 caliber and no larger than .22 caliber producing projectile velocities of not less than 600 feet per second measured at the muzzle. Pursuant to Title 2C:39-1 f., air guns are classified as a firearm. Air gun BBs are not legal for hunting. Air guns are now legal for taking cottontail rabbit, hare and gray squirrel. A rifle permit is not required. Modern air guns have sufficient power to take small game plus are quieter and lighter than some shotguns, making them an ideal tool for smaller-framed hunters. Air guns hunting information is now part of the basic shotgun hunter education course.
Important: See Firearms and Missiles, above, for the law regarding silencing mechanisms that also apply to air guns.
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 Regulations. For rifle permit information, see License Information. For muzzleloader coyote/fox hunting, see Small Game Hunting.
A valid rifle permit must be in possession while hunting with a modern rifle.
Rifles for small game hunting are allowed using limited types of .22 caliber rimfire ammo and are legal only for taking woodchuck (ammo restrictions, Small Game Hunting), raccoon and opossum with hounds (.22 shorts only) plus coyote and fox (ammo restrictions, Small Game Hunting). NO rifle woodchuck hunting on wildlife management areas or state parks, forests and recreation areas. Small game hunting with centerfire rifles is limited to not larger than .25 caliber for coyote and fox (see Small Game Hunting) and .25 caliber or larger for woodchuck (see Small Game Hunting). See also Firearms and Missiles, above.
A modern rifle magazine need not be pinned (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.
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 Regulations. For information on legal shot sizes, see regulations for each game species to be hunted.
It is illegal to obstruct or attempt to obstruct or annoy a person lawfully taking wildlife. This includes making loud noises or gestures designed to disturb, alarm, drive, attract or affect the behavior of wildlife.
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. 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. See exceptions below along with ground blind hunting fluorescent orange requirements.
It is now mandatory to wear a hunter orange hat when firearm hunting for small game on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant or quail. See list of WMAs at Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas, License Information.
All firearm and bow and arrow deer and black bear 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, 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.
Injured or Orphaned Wildlife
If you encounter injured or orphaned wildlife, contact a wildlife rehabilitator. For more information visit our website at NJFishandWildlife.com/bornwild.htm.
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.
A non-resident licensee (see Non-resident Licenses, License Information) 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. In addition, nonresident possession of migratory birds is the same as those described in the annual New Jersey migratory bird regulation publication.
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 Numbers, gender and age (fawn or adult) 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.
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, NJFishandWildlife.com. See also Sale of Wildlife, above.
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. For more information about bobcat (including incidentally trapped) and fisher, see Trapping Regulations. 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, above.
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
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, above. Questions should be directed to a regional Fish and Wildlife law enforcement office; see Operation Game Thief.
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, Safety & Hunting Opportunities, for diagram and safety zone explanation.)
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.
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.
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 (the day’s beginning) and one hour before sunrise on Sunday during the prescribed season.
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 Wildlife Management Area Regulations for the Hunt SMART Courtesy Card.
It is unlawful for any person who kills or wounds any white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, rabbit, squirrel, pheasant, quail, partridge, ruffed grouse or waterfowl while engaged in any hunting to refuse or neglect to make a reasonable effort to retrieve, retain or lawfully take into possession such game animal or bird.
It is unlawful for any person to take, kill, or capture any game mammal or game bird and remove from the carcass the head, hide or antlers and leave the edible portions of the carcass and meat to waste except for a furbearer, crow, woodchuck or squirrel. See Edible Portions guide above.
It is unlawful for any person to place, leave, dump or abandon a game mammal, game bird or wildlife carcass or parts of it along or upon a public right-of-way or highway, or on public or private property, including a waterway or stream, without the permission of the owner or tenant, or on any wildlife management area or state park. Make every effort to retrieve your game, remove the animal from the field—except entrails may be left discretely in the field—consume the edible portions and properly dispose of the remains such as bagged in your household trash.
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.
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, License Information. 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, License Information and Youth Licenses, License Information. Be sure to visit the Take a Kid Hunting section and special youth hunt days, Take A Kid Hunting.
In the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the following apply:
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.