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New Jersey

Hunting

Deer Hunting Regulations

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

2021 Bow & Arrow, All-Around, Apprentice Archery, or Youth Archery

No

Permit Bow

2021 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 on Licenses, Permits & Fees

Permit Muzzleloader

Valid 2021 or 2022 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 2021 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 2021 or 2022 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

2022 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 or spike 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 Permit 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 Sets 7 and 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 and Sunset table

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 Special Areas Information for more 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.

Youth Hunter

A hunter between the ages of 10 and 16.

Free license is valid until December 31 of the year the hunter turns 16

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. 13, 2021 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. 30 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Antlered Buck Permits for Permit Muzzleloader Season must be, purchased by Nov. 29 at 11:59 p.m.
  • Antlered Buck Permits for the Permit Shotgun Season must be purchased by Dec. 15 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. 6–11, 2021

Dec. 5–10, 2022

(Season always opens the second Monday after Thanksgiving.)

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.

Deer Management Zone Boundaries

Deer management zone (DMZ) boundary descriptions are available by visiting our website at NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/deerzones.pdf. Review the map on Deer Hunting Zone Map for general DMZ borders.

For quicker results, use the Hunting & Trapping Explorer at NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt with simple instructions to determine the deer management zone (zone), county, township and deer management unit (unit) where you hunt. Write down all of this information and keep it accessible while in the field for when you must report your deer harvest.

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 NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs.htm. 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 NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/deerzones.pdf. Review the map on 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

    Licenses, 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, 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.

Mandatory Harvest Report and Tag Requirements

All hunters must immediately tag their deer upon harvest. Deer must be reported prior to pursuing additional deer, except in zones where it is legal to take two deer at a time. (See Archery and Firearm Deer Seasons tables, Deer Hunting Seasons.) Reporting of harvest is required on the day killed using the Automated Harvest Report System (AHRS). Farmers see below for information on reporting. Harvests must be reported by 8 p.m. during the Fall Bow Season, or by 7 p.m. during all other deer seasons. If unable to access the AHRS by the designated time, report deer by phone to the nearest Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement office. (See Law Enforcement)

Before you go hunting:

  1. Verify that you have the correct year’s license and correct, valid zone or antlered permit, if required by season.
  2. To determine hunting location data needed to report deer, use the Hunting & Trapper Explorer at NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt to find the deer management zone (zone), county, township and deer management unit (unit) where you hunt. Write down all this information for use in the field to tag and report a deer.

In the field, immediately after you harvest a deer:

  1. Hunters are required to tag all deer immediately upon harvest. The tag must include your CID, both the date and zone of harvest, antler points and if reported in the field, the Confirmation Number. Make your own tag or use the Deer Harvest Report Card/Tag at NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/deer_harvest_report_card.pdf and on Deer Hunting Regulations.
  2. After tagging the deer, fill out the Harvest Report Card that is part of your license or permit, with the exception of the Confirmation Number (which will be assigned upon reporting the deer). Leave the Harvest Report Card attached to the license. The Harvest Report Card attached to your license or permit is not to be used as a tag.

    Youth and farmer hunters without a license preprinted Harvest Report Card can create a self-made harvest report card containing the information listed in #1, above, or use the Harvest Report Card/Tag to record your harvest information and Confirmation Number for each deer.

Reporting your harvest:

  1. Report your harvest via phone or online on the Automated Harvest Reporting System (phone number/website printed on every hunting license and permit), (855) 448-6865 or NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs.htm by 8 p.m. during the Fall Bow Season or by 7 p.m. for all other seasons. You must have either the last four digits of your SSN or your Driver License number to access the system.

    If unable to access the Automated Harvest Reporting System by the designated time, report the deer immediately by telephone to the nearest Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement office. (See Telephone Directory for Law Enforcement listings.) The hunter must continue to attempt accessing the Automated Harvest Report System until they receive a Confirmation Number for that deer.

  2. Record your assigned Confirmation Number on your Harvest Report Card. Keep this report in your license holder — do not attach to the deer. Retain your Confirmation Number for as long as the deer or its parts are in your possession. To report the harvest of additional antlerless deer during the same season (and zone, if applicable) reuse the same Harvest Report Number from that season’s antlerless Harvest Report Card for all other antlerless deer taken in this season. Since the license or permit report only has space for two Confirmation Numbers, use the printable Harvest Report Card/Tag at NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/deer_harvest_report_card.pdf (see Harvest Report Card/Tag) or make your own card on which to record and retain your harvest report data and Confirmation Number for each deer.

NOTE: A hunter may be required to produce the head of the deer—or produce records relating to the location of the head such as the butcher or taxidermist who has possession of the deer’s head—upon request by a Conservation Police Officer within 48 hours after a deer harvest is reported.

Harvest Reports from 2021 permits are valid for the entire length of the Permit Bow, Permit Muzzleloader, and Permit Shotgun seasons, including January and February 2022, if the zone specified on the original permit is open for hunting during these dates.

When regulations allow taking multiple deer, hunting may resume ONLY after both deer are reported and a Confirmation Number is assigned to each deer.

The online license system, including the Harvest Reporting section, is optimized for smartphones and other mobile devices. Mobile device users must provide a valid email address and phone number.

Farmer Requirements: Farmers hunting on the property on which they reside do not need a hunting license, but ALL farmers must have a CID. (See Farmer Hunting & Permit Information.)

When reporting a deer harvest on your farm property, farmers do not need a Harvest Report Number during the non-permit deer seasons and should make a homemade tag or use the Deer Harvest Report Tag/Card on Harvest Report Card/Tag.

Firearms, Ammunition

  • See Deer Hunting Regulations 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.

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 NJ.WildlifeLicense.com with mobile device or computer.

­­Safety Zone Awareness: Protecting Your Hunting Privilege

New Jersey hunters enjoy many types of hunting, numerous days afield and generous bag limits. But development and other human encroachment on the forests and fields of the Garden State has changed both wildlife habitat and land suitable for hunting, such that SAFETY ZONE awareness is even more critical for hunters.

What is a SAFETY ZONE?

  • The firearm SAFETY ZONE is the area within 450 feet of a building or school playground, even if not occupied. For bowhunters, the SAFETY ZONE around buildings is 150 feet but remains 450 feet from a school playground. See Safety Zone, General Hunting Regulations.
  • The SAFETY ZONE is the place where you, the hunter, cannot carry a loaded firearm or nocked arrow unless you have written permission in hand.
  • The SAFETY ZONE was established by legislation in 1946 as an area to place some physical distance, a buffer, between hunters and homeowners.
  • The SAFETY ZONE could be land where there is suitable wildlife ­habitat for adaptable species, like the white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbit and Canada goose.
  • The SAFETY ZONE is not a magic shield and cannot stop a misdirected projectile from entering the area around a home.

What can you do to heighten your SAFETY ZONE awareness?

  1. Post SAFETY ZONE signs.
  2. Talk with landowners.
  3. Scout hunting property annually to be aware of new construction or other changes.
  4. Hunt SMART and remind your hunting partners to Hunt SMART.
  5. Know the law. Know the land.

Remember, failure to hunt safely and responsibly is inexcusable. Always be a responsible hunter. Always be aware of your surroundings, the target and what may lie beyond the target. The principles of good conduct learned at your hunter education course are called into practice every time you hunt.

Take special care hunting on “high visibility” property, habitat where our adaptable wildlife species—especially white-tailed deer—are ­flourishing. Here, hunter conduct will be watched closely; the image we portray can have a great impact on the tolerance for our sport. Hunting these special areas carries added responsibility for you, as a hunter, to ­exercise restraint and make superior judgment decisions.

Deer Harvest Trends in New Jersey

New Jersey deer hunters harvested 54,980 deer during the 2020–2021 seasons.

The harvest for this year’s deer season is 20.4 percent higher than the 45,650 deer taken in 2019–20. The antlerless portion of the 2020–2021 harvest was 33,305 deer, up 24.3% from 2019–20. The antlered portion of the 2020–2021 harvest was 21,675 deer, up 15% from 2019–20.