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New Jersey

Hunting

Hunting

Deer Hunting Regulations

Regulations in red are new this year.

What Do I Need to Deer Hunt in NJ?

A hunting license is required for all seasons. Permit Bow, Shotgun and Muzzleloader seasons also require an antlerless zone-specific permit and antlered buck permit. See Deer Permits.

Season

Hunting License

Zone-Specific Antlerless Permit

Antlered Buck Permit

Rifle Permit

Notes

Fall Bow

2022 Bow & Arrow, All-Around, Apprentice Archery, or Youth Archery

No

Permit Bow

2022 Bow & Arrow, All-Around, Apprentice Archery, or Youth Archery

Yes (zone or regulation set-specific)

Yes, if hunting for Antlered Bucks. See Notes.

No

For use ONLY in Zones where you possess a zone-specific antlerless permit

Youth Days

See Youth Day regulations in Licenses, Permits & Fees

Permit Muzzleloader

Valid 2022 or 2023 Firearm, All-Around or Youth Firearm

Yes (zone or regulation set-specific)

Yes, if hunting for Antlered Bucks. See Notes.

Yes

For use ONLY in Zones where you possess a zone-specific antlerless permit. Rifle Permit required.

Six-Day Firearm

Valid 2022 Firearm, All-Around, Apprentice Firearm, or Youth Firearm

Yes, if using muzzleloader

Hunters with a valid Bow License AND a Firearm or All-Around License may use a bow during Six-day firearm.

Permit Shotgun

Valid 2022 or 2023 Firearm, All-Around, Apprentice Firearm, or Youth Firearm

Yes (zone or regulation set-specific)

Yes, if hunting for Antlered Bucks. See Notes.

No

For use ONLY in Zones where you possess a zone-specific antlerless permit

Winter Bow

2023 Bow & Arrow, All-Around, Apprentice Archery, or Youth Archery

No


Deer Hunting Definitions and Concepts

Term

Definition

Example/Explanation

Antlered Deer

Any deer with at least one antler 3 inches or greater

Adult buck, spike 3 inches or greater, or broken rack 3 inches or greater

Antler Point

Any point at least one inch in length

Measured from tip of point to its base line

Antlerless Deer

Any female deer or any male deer with antlers measuring less than 3 inches

Doe, button buck, shed buck or spike measuring less than 3 inches

Antlered Buck Permit

An optional permit purchased in conjunction with an Antlerless Permit in order to harvest one Antlered Buck. Permit is specific to weapon type license and season (Permit Bow, Permit Muzzleloader and Permit Shotgun).

Valid in any zone in which an Antlerless or DRS Permit (see below) has been purchased for a permit season.

Antlerless Deer Permit

A permit purchased for a specific zone in order to harvest Antlerless Deer. Permit is specific to weapon type license and season.

Required for the Permit Bow, Permit Muzzleloader and Permit Shotgun seasons.

Antler Point Restriction Zone

A Deer Management Zone where only antlered deer with at least one antler having a minimum of 3 points on one side may be harvested.

Applies to Zones: 3, 9, 13, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35, 47, 63 and 67

Baiting

Placing agricultural products, salt or other edible lure in the woods, field or wetlands to attract a game animal to approach closer to a hunter. Baiting for deer is legal except where prohibited by the landowner.

Corn, mineral supplements or apple scented grain blends are examples of bait.

Cervid

Any member of the deer family (Cervidae)

Including white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, reindeer, caribou, moose, fallow deer, muntjac, wapiti, red deer, roe deer, etc.

NEW

Deer Regulation Set (DRS) Multi-Zone Permit

Available for Regulation Set 7 OR 8 ONLY. A $56 season-specific antlerless permit valid for ALL zones within Regulation Set 7 OR 8 for the season specified

For the price of 2 regular zone permits, a DRS Multi-Zone Permit enables you to hunt antlerless deer in six zones in Set 7 OR nine zones in Set 8 for a specific season. A hunter may still purchase an antlerless permit for a specific zone for $28 if they choose. NOTE: a season antlered buck permit is still required to hunt antlered deer.

Legal Deer Hunting Hours

Half hour before sunrise to half hour after sunset

See Sunrise & Sunset Times.

Lures, Deer-Derived

Products derived from deer urine, deer gland secretions or tissues, or other bodily fluid or biological material from deer.

No person shall possess or use natural deer lures.

Regulation Set

A group of deer management zones with the same season dates and bag limits. Reg Sets are numbered 0 through 8 (most restrictive to most liberal).

Example: Reg Set 0 includes DMZs 21, 23, 24, 34, 43, 45, and 46.

Special Area Zone

Military bases, Federal installations, specific public and/or privately owned land requiring special access or not open to the general public.

Includes Zones: 37, 38, 39, 53, 54, 61, 64, 66, 67, and 68. See Deer Special Areas Information.

Spotlighting

Spotlighting deer during 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.

Sunday Hunting

Archery Hunting for Deer ONLY. Archery hunting for deer is allowed only on WMAs and private property.

Sunday deer hunting is not allowed on state parks and forests.

Firearms, Bows, and Ammunition Legal for Deer Hunting

Weapon

Season(s)

Weapon Type

Gauge, Caliber or Draw Weight

Projectile(s)

Firearm Sights; Bow releases

Weapon Transportation

Bow

Fall Bow, Permit Bow, Winter Bow

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". Only bows capable of firing a single projectile may be used.

Handheld release devices are permitted.

Prohibited: Any sight or device that casts a beam of light upon the deer; multi-barrel bows.

All Bows MUST be unnocked or uncocked.

Six-day Firearm

Bowhunters must possess both a Firearm and a Bow and Arrow license OR an All-Around license to use a bow during the Six-day Firearm Season.

Muzzleloader

Permit Muzzleloader

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

Must be loaded with a single projectile only

Telescopic sights permitted.

Only black powder or black powder equivalents may be used.

Prohibited any sight or device that casts a beam of light upon the deer.

Prohibited modern smokeless powder.

Muzzleloader MUST be cased and unloaded while being transported in or on vehicles, including ATVs and UTVs. Unloaded means percussion cap has been removed or powder is emptied from the pan and frizzen is covered.

Smoothbore: not smaller than 20 gauge and not larger than 10 gauge

Six-day Firearm

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

Muzzleloading rifle: single projectile

Smoothbore: single or double-barrel not smaller than 20 gauge and not larger than 10 gauge

Smoothbore: buckshot not smaller than #4 (0.24") nor larger than #000 (0.36") or a single projectile

Permit Shotgun

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

Buckshot: sizes not smaller than #4 (0.24") nor larger than #000 (0.36") or a single projectile

Shotgun

Six-day Firearm

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.

Prohibited: Pumpkin Balls

Telescopic sights permitted.

Shotgun must have an adjustable open iron or peep sight or a scope affixed if hunter is hunting with, or in possession of, slugs.

Prohibited: any sight or device that casts a beam of light upon the deer.

Shotgun MUST be cased and unloaded while being transported in or on vehicles, including ATVs and UTVs

Buckshot: sizes not smaller than #4 (0.24") nor larger than #000 (0.36")

Permit Shotgun

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.

Prohibited: Pumpkin Balls

Buckshot: sizes not smaller than #4 (0.24") nor larger than #000 (0.36")

Antlered Buck Permit Deadlines!

All deer permits may be purchased beginning Sept. 12, 2022 through the last day of the season for that zone. RECOMMENDATION: Purchase your Antlered Buck Permit and zone-specific permit(s) for each season in the same transaction. Hunters who initially purchase only an antlerless, zone-specific permit before the season opens should remember the following deadlines:

  • Antlered Buck Permits for Permit Bow Season must be purchased by Oct. 29 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Antlered Buck Permits for Permit Muzzleloader Season must be, purchased by Nov. 28 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Antlered Buck Permits for the Permit Shotgun Season must be purchased by Dec. 14 at 11:59 p.m.

For hunters who do not purchase any antlerless, zone-specific deer permit until after the season opens, an Antlered Buck Permit may be purchased only with the initial antlerless zone-specific permit. There will be no other chance to purchase an Antlered Buck Permit.

Six-day Firearm Deer Season

Dec. 5–10, 2022 and Dec. 4–9, 2023

(Season always opens the second Monday after Thanksgiving.)

Deer Hunting Regulations

  • Legal Hunting Hours: one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset
  • Harvest Report Requirement: To be legal, all deer harvested must be reported using Fish and Wildlife’s Automated Harvest Report System at (855) 448-6865 or dep.nj.gov/njfw/hunting/automated-harvest-report-system-ahrs/. Hunters will be assigned a Confirmation Number which must be kept with the deer and its parts.

Deer Management Zone Boundaries

  • Deer management zone (zone) boundary descriptions are available by visiting our website at dep.nj.gov/njfw/hunting/deer-management-zone-descriptions/. Review the Deer Hunting Zone Map for general zone borders and corresponding Regulation Set.
  • For quicker results, use the Hunting & Trapping Explorer at NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt with simple instructions above the Explorer's map 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 report your deer harvest.

Licenses and Permits

  • See License, Permits & Fees for details and Hunter Education requirements.
  • Additional hunting licenses may NOT be purchased in order to harvest additional deer.
  • Although hunters may purchase deer permits for multiple zones, they may purchase only one zone-specific ANTLERLESS permit per zone for each permit season (bow, shotgun, muzzleloader).
  • Antlered Buck Permits may be used ONLY in a zone for which you possess an antlerless, zone-specific permit or DRS Multi-Zone Permit for the specified season. You may only buy one antlered buck permit per season.

Bag Limits

  • 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. NOTE: if two antlered deer are taken during the Six-day Firearm Season, the Permit Shotgun buck stub is no longer valid.
  • Bag limits for the Fall Bow and Winter Bow (both non-permit) seasons are as prescribed for each zone (see Archery Deer Hunting Seasons table in Deer Hunting Seasons) 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 an identical or more restrictive (lesser bag limit) regulation set. However, the hunter may subsequently hunt in a zone with a more liberal (greater) antlerless bag limit as described in the regulations.

Firearms, Ammunition

  • See the table above for Firearms, Bows and Ammunition Legal for Deer Hunting.
  • While deer hunting with a shotgun, it is illegal to have in possession any ammunition not authorized for deer hunting.
  • The use of centerfire and rimfire firearms for deer hunting is prohibited.
  • 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 overlap, a hunter may be in possession of a shotgun and either a muzzleloading rifle or smoothbore muzzleloader.

Only one muzzleloading rifle or smoothbore muzzleloader may be in possession while deer hunting, but not both simultaneously.

WARNING: Tree Stand Hunters

Avoid placing treestands in or near ash trees weakened by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Beetle damage is not always evident although a tree's structural integrity might already be weakened. Evaluate any tree carefully but note that ash trees may die quickly, concealing their risky status. For more info and ash tree ID tips, visit nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/emeraldashborer.html.

Blinds and Tree Stands

  • All firearm and archery deer hunters utilizing a ground blind when an archery and firearm deer season are open at the same time, 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 overlapping seasons, bowhunters in tree stands also should consider wearing hunter orange. In addition, firearm hunters must always use hunter orange on a ground blind, except while turkey and waterfowl hunting.
  • 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.
  • To view the New Jersey State Park Service updated policy on stands and blinds, visit: NJParksandForests.org/stand-blind_policy.htm.

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 hunter orange hat or outer garment consisting of at least 200 square inches of fluorescent hunter 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.

Incidental Coyote/Fox Opportunity

  • Properly licensed deer hunters may legally harvest coyotes or fox incidental to legal deer hunting during the Six-day Firearm, Permit Muzzleloader and Permit Shotgun seasons only if the coyote or fox is encountered before the hunter has taken the season bag limit of deer. Incidental hunting of coyote or fox while deer hunting may resume the following day, provided that the season remains open and the season bag limit of deer has not been reached.
  • Only applicable projectiles used for deer hunting may be used to take coyote and fox while deer hunting in the seasons listed.
  • Coyote MUST be reported using the AHR system; gray fox should also be reported. To report harvest, call 1 (855) 448-6865 or visit NJFishandWildlife.com/licensesalessite.htm with mobile device or computer.

Deer Harvest Trends in New Jersey

New Jersey deer hunters harvested 36,787 deer during the 2021-22 seasons.

The harvest for this year’s deer season is 33% lower than the 54,980 deer taken in 2020-21. The antlerless portion of the 2021-22 harvest was 20,891 deer, down 37% from 2020-21. The antlered portion of the 2021-22 harvest was 15,896 deer, down 27% from 2020-21.

Certified Tracking Dogs Speed Recovery of Your Harvest

Responsible hunters strive to make that perfect shot. Afterwards, tracking conditions can sometimes be challenging.

To speed recovery of your harvest, call in the skills of a certified tracking dog. These trained dogs and their handlers have an impressive track record at finding difficult-to-recover deer while supporting the conservation ethic by which hunters live. Don’t hesitate to utilize this option if the need arises!

To locate a tracking dog visit dep.nj.gov/wp-content/uploads/njfw/trackingdogpermittees.pdf

Feral Hogs

Report sightings, rooting evidence or other damage caused by feral hogs!

USDA APHIS Wildlife Services at (908) 735-8793

I harvested a deer, now what??

Congratulations on a successful hunt! The completion of any successful deer hunt requires three things:

  • Filling out and attaching a Deer Transportation Tag to your harvest before moving the deer.
  • Reporting your harvest through the Automated Harvest Report System and receiving a Confirmation Number.
  • Recording your harvest on the green tag attached to your license or permit.

NOTE: If you don’t recover your deer or are unable to access the AHRS by the designated times on the day of harvest, call the nearest Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement office and leave a message (see Telephone Directory). Please leave your name, CID number, phone number, and a brief message explaining your situation. Then report your deer the next day. Your harvest is not legal until you receive a Confirmation Number from the AHRS.

Step 1: Complete Your Deer Transportation Tag

DO NOT MOVE THE DEER UNTIL you fill out a deer transportation tag and attach to deer!

To download a deer transportation tag, click here. Tags can be cut out, photocopied or you can create your own.

In zones where two deer may be taken at a time, each deer must have its own transportation tag with the following information:

A. Name

B. CID#

C. Date of Harvest

D. Season of Harvest

E. Deer Management Zone, County, Township, and Deer Management Unit

F. Confirmation # after reporting the harvest.

G. Type of Weapon Used

H. Antlered or Antlerless Category

I. If Antlered, record Right and Left Antler points

Attach the tag to the deer.

You may now remove the deer from the field.

Deer Transportation Tag

Step 2: Report Your Harvest

Report your harvest and receive a confirmation number…

Use the AHRS by visiting:

NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs.htm

You can use your smart phone or computer. You will need the last four digits of your SSN or your Driver License number to access your account.

OR

Call in your harvest in at:

(855) I HUNT NJ or (855) 448-6865

Have your CID number ready and verify that they are reporting your deer on the correct tag.

Record your Confirmation Number on your green Antlerless/Buck Tag.

Keep these tags attached to your license/permit

* Retain your Confirmation Number for as long as the deer or its parts are in your possession.

Step 3: Keep a Record of Your Harvest(s)

Throughout the seasons it is important to keep an annual record or log of deer harvested and corresponding confirmation numbers. Use the green tag attached to your license/permit. Do NOT separate the ”tag” from your license. For each harvest, record the information identified below including the confirmation number. Download a Supplemental Harvest Log in the event you fill the spaces on the tag attached to your license.

Be sure to keep a record of your harvests with you at all times when hunting.

For Antlered Deer:

A. Fill in the ZONE

B. Fill in the DATE of harvest (If late recovery, use the date the deer was shot)

C. Fill in POINTS ON RIGHT SIDE AND LEFT SIDE if it’s a buck

D. If you are reporting the deer in the field, once completed, fill in the confirmation number.

For Antlerless Deer:

A. Fill in the ZONE

B. Fill in the DATE of harvest (If late recovery, use the date the deer was shot)

C. Fill in SEX OF DEER (Doe, Button Buck, Shed or Male deer with antlers less than 3 inches)

D. If you are reporting the deer in the field, once completed, fill in the confirmation number.

There is room for two deer on the antlerless tag, if additional deer are harvested, download and fill out the Supplemental Harvest Log.

Antlered and Antlerless Tag

Edible Portions Guide

Edible portions do not include meat from the head or neck; meat that has been damaged by the method of taking; bones, sinew, and meat reasonably lost as a result of butchering, boning, or close trimming of bones, or viscera. Edible portions do not include meat from diseased or scavenged carcasses. See Wanton Waste of Game section in General Hunting Regulations.

Edible Portions of White-tailed Deer

For white-tailed deer:

  • Front quarters to the knee
  • Hind quarters to the hock
  • Backstrap/tenderloin — the meat along the backbone, between the front and hind quarters
Hunters Helping the Hungry Logo

Hunters Helping the Hungry

Hunters Helping the Hungry, an organization that has enabled hunters to provide over two million servings of tasty and nutritious venison to feed New Jersey families since 1997, needs some help from the public to cover the costs of professional meat processing.

The program, which donated 26,054 pounds of venison (104,216 servings from 839 hunter-provided deer) to food banks and charitable organizations last year alone, operates with limited funding. Butchers who participate in the Hunters Helping the Hungry program receive $90 to process the donated deer. Due to recommendations from our friends at the NJ Farm Bureau working with the NJ Dept. of Agriculture, HHH was awarded a grant that allows us to waive the hunter's portion of the processing fees for hunter-donated deer weighing 50 lbs or more (dressed hanging weight) for the entire 2021–22 season, and will continue to waive this fee for the 2022-23 season. The hunter's fee for deer weighing under 50 lbs (dressed hanging weight) is $50. If the program’s funding runs out, hunters who donate deer will have to cover the entire cost for meat-processing.

Hunters should check on funding availability before harvesting a deer intended for donation by visiting the website below.

Anyone interested in making a charitable contribution to offset the program’s meat-processing costs can visit our website at HuntersHelpingTheHungry.org to donate securely through PayPal or send a check payable to: Hunters Helping the Hungry, P.O. Box 587, Lebanon, NJ 08833.

Participating Butchers Include (listed north to south):

Sussex County

  • Newton High School, Newton
    (973) 383-7573 x243 Call first for instructions
  • Vassallo Processing
    (862) 268-2441, 21 Devita Rd., Branchville

Hunterdon County

  • Game Butchers
    The Person Family, Lebanon (908) 735-4646
  • Hunterdon Deer Butcher (908) 797-2315
    51 Old Franklin School Rd., Pittstown
  • Bishop’s Market
    Whitehouse Station (908) 534-9666
  • V. Roche & Son, LLC Meat Processing
    9 High St., Whitehouse Station (908) 534-2006

Mercer County

  • John Hart Farms
    Pennington (609) 947-2235

Salem County

  • The Buck Stop, (856) 794-1281
    989 Alvine Rd., Pittsgrove

Camden County

  • Bringhurst Fine Meats/Catering
    Berlin (856) 767-0110

We are always looking for butchers to participate in our program, so please contact us through the website HuntersHelpingtheHungry.org. Also check our website, as the list of butchers may change periodically.

Butchers may not accept donated deer during the Six-day Firearm Buck Season, decided by individual butchers on a day-to-day basis, so they can accommodate their regular customers. Hunters should contact the butcher in advance.

For upcoming fundraising events such as sporting clay shoots, a golf outing, and a 3-D archery shoot, visit HuntersHelpingtheHungry.org

New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs Annual Convention and Awards Banquet Information