General Hunting Regulations

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Regulations in red are new this year. Purple text indicates an important note.

 

This is not the full law. Consult the Division of Fish and Wildlife for further details. 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.

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.

See crossbow safety tips on this page. Currently, crossbows are not legal for bowfishing.

All arrows used for hunting deer, turkey, coyote, fox or woodchuck must be fitted with a well-sharpened metal head with 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. For the purpose of discharging a crossbow, hunters may carry judo points or blunts.

The safety zone may change only for bowhunters and is not confirmed at press time. For details, see Safety Zone.

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 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

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: See regulations for dog training on wildlife management areas.

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.

Falconry

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, Mail Code 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

  • 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 and during a light goose conservation order season, if any.

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.

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.

Exceptions: this law does not apply to waterfowl, crow, wild turkey, coyote/fox (during the special permit season), 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.

Muzzleloaders

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. See muzzleloader rifle squirrel hunting, muzzleloader deer hunting, rifle permit information, and muzzleloader coyote/fox 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 tag 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, hunting license number and possession seal number of any black bear, deer or turkey 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 (tag or seal) should be retained for verification. Road killed deer are intended only for consumption; antler possession from these deer is not legal.

Taxidermists note: The sale of wild birds and game animals, or parts thereof, is prohibited in New Jersey. Legally-trapped furbearers may be sold. Questions should be directed to a regional Fish and Wildlife law enforcement office.

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 Areas, and Hunter Access.

Rifles, .22 caliber

A valid rifle permit must be possessed 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 shells. No 10–17 year-olds may hunt with any rimfire or centerfire rifle.

See Woodchuck Season chart for details on small caliber rifle ammunition legal for hunting woodchucks.

Safety Zone

IMPORTANT notice for bowhunters: At press time, legislation has passed—but is awaiting action by the governor—to reduce the bowhunter safety zone. Check our Web site (NJFishandWildlife.com) prior to hunting. If this bill becomes law as passed, it will be as follows:

(Tentative) Carrying a bow with a nocked arrow within 150 feet of an occupied building or 450 feet of any school playground is prohibited, except the owner or lessee of a building—and persons specifically authorized by him in writing (written permission must be in possession while hunting)—may hunt within 150 feet of the building. Note: Persons authorized to hunt within 150 feet of a building must hunt from an elevated position to shoot down toward the ground. Shooting into a safety zone is prohibited. (See Safety Zone Awareness for diagram and safety zone explanation.)

With the exception of the bowhunter safety zone bill potentially becoming law, no hunter may carry a loaded firearm or nocked arrow 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 may hunt within 450 feet of the building. Note: persons authorized to hunt within 450 feet of a building must be in possession of the written permission while hunting. Shooting into a safety zone is prohibited. (See Safety Zone Awareness for diagram and safety zone explanation.)

Shotguns

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. For information on legal shot sizes, see regulations for each game species to be hunted.

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 now 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.

Wildlife

It is illegal to capture, kill, injure or have in possession any wild bird other than a game bird.

No one may rob a bird’s nest.

The removal of the skin or feathers or mutilation of any wild bird or mammal in the woods or fields for the purpose of concealing sex or identity is illegal.

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. It is illegal to kill, attempt to kill or possess bobcats except parts of bobcats legally taken in other states may be possessed but not sold in New Jersey.

See also Possession of Wildlife.

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 Web site, NJFishandWildlife.com.

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.

 


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