Welcome to 2020-21 New Jersey Hunting
Over the course of the past year, so much in our world has changed. As our society adapts to new and unfamiliar social norms, a renewed interest in the outdoors has emerged. Visitation to our wildlife management areas reached record numbers during the summer of 2020 as people left the confinement of their homes to seek solace in the natural world. The comfort and rejuvenation that nature provides has long been recognized by the readers of the New Jersey Hunting & Trapping Digest. After all, hunters are well known as the country’s “original conservationists.” It is your license purchases that fund the management of wildlife and wildlife management areas in New Jersey. We appreciate the continued support you show to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. We work hard to provide safe and abundant wildlife and open space opportunities.
During the most challenging periods of 2020, the men and women of Fish and Wildlife worked through mounting obstacles to deliver on our agency’s commitment of maintaining abundant wildlife and quality public lands for all New Jerseyans. Our conservation police officers have been in the field and on the waters each day throughout the COVID-19 crisis, enforcing hunting and fishing regulations while upholding order and public safety on our wildlife management areas.
With a continued focus on early successional habitats, our Land Management staff also has been in the field throughout this crisis, maintaining and creating field and young forest habitats across the state. Look for evidence of their hard work when visiting our Stafford Forge, Winslow, Sparta Mountain, South Branch and Flatbrook wildlife management areas, just to name a few.
Speaking of fields, who’s ready for some pheasant hunting? This year the Division of Fish and Wildlife will be providing additional opportunities on wildlife management areas for the pheasant hunting season, as part of its Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation or R3 program. Pheasant & Quail Stamp buyers can look forward to additional pheasants getting stocked this season. Check the stocking schedule on Small Game Hunting Regulations to know when the birds are going out and where they are going.
Visitors to some of Fish and Wildlife’s outdoor shooting ranges are already enjoying the new, safe, high-quality renovation projects on which our staff worked industriously during the first half of 2020. Renovations are complete at our Clinton and Millville muzzleloader ranges. These renovated ranges have new benches and covered shooting stations to provide comfort and safety for range users. More range projects like this are on the way. Similar renovations should be completed soon at the Colliers Mills and Stafford Forge ranges. Sight in your firearm at one of these free outdoor ranges before heading into the field this season! Additional details about our ranges are found on Wildlife Management Area Ranges.
While our ranges were being renovated, many of our online services continued to be innovated. Fish and Wildlife’s new Electronic License System provides easy access for purchasing licenses and permits from the comfort of your home. Our convenient Automated Harvest Reporting System now allows you to report your turkey harvest. Another new online offering this season is zone maps for deer, bear, waterfowl, turkey, beaver/otter plus other species. Having an accurate understanding of the zone boundaries where you hunt or trap is a critical component of your legal participation in these activities. Online maps are found on our website (www.njfishandwildlife.com/hunt-trap_zones.htm) and are meant to help you know before you go.
As you page through this year’s Digest, you may notice several simpler, more straightforward regulation tables. The new archery and firearm deer tables consolidate New Jersey’s deer regulations into an easy-to-read format. The deer license/permit table provides new and returning hunters with a quick understanding of what’s needed for each season while the Take a Kid Hunting Youth Hunt table spells out dedicated youth hunt days at-a-glance. The new formats are designed to better deliver information to keep you safe and legal in the field. Look for additional design changes in upcoming editions of the Digest.
By all accounts, 2020 has been an incredibly unique year. We’re all looking forward to the familiar feel of fall and getting back into the woods for the start of our hunting and trapping seasons. Time afield — with friends or by yourself — is one of the best remedies to relieve stress and soothe the soul. The outdoors awaits, so know the regulations, grab your gear and go have fun!
Dave Golden is the Director of New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.