As the seasons change, our excitement grows for another great year of hunting and trapping in New Jersey. Getting outdoors this year is particularly exciting after the challenges we faced during 2020 and early 2021. I know I’m ready to get into the woods and I hope you are, too.
As always, the staff of the Division of Fish and Wildlife have been working hard to ensure wildlife management areas (WMA) across the state are in prime condition for the season. With over 358,000 acres on 122 WMAs, opportunities abound for those looking to hunt public lands. The diverse habitats among our WMAs range from fields to forests to coastal wetlands, so no matter the season, there’s a remarkable variety to explore. Remember always to practice good outdoor ethics and hunting etiquette when on these open spaces. They are owned by the public and we all share the responsibility of keeping them clean. Follow the regulations and keep everyone safe.
Speaking of regulations, a revision to our Game Code has resulted in several new regulations. These new regulations appear in red text throughout this edition of the New Jersey Hunting & Trapping Digest. Deer hunters should pay special attention to these changes, which include stricter regulations on transporting deer parts plus a ban on natural, urine-based lures to reduce the possibility of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) entering New Jersey. This disease has devastated deer herds in other states. Everyone must do their part to help prevent its spread into New Jersey. More details on CWD and the new regulations are found on Chronic Wasting Disease.
As you read through this edition of the Digest, you’ll notice significant changes for how regulations are presented, part of our ongoing effort to make regulation information more accessible and understandable. Regulation summary tables, like the sporting arms and ammo table for deer hunting on Deer Hunting Regulations and our new What Do I Need tables (example, License Information & Fees), make it easier to know before you go.
Remember that all hunting zone information is now online and interactive as part of our Hunting & Trapping Explorer. (See callouts or go to NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt.) Use this app to explore new hunting and trapping locations and get regulation information from your computer or mobile device.
This season we are pleased to have six new conservation police officers (CPOs) working in the field. These recruits advanced through their multi-year training and are now full CPOs working as team members in their regions. Adding to our already excellent Bureau of Law Enforcement, these new officers will increase our ability to enforce fish and wildlife regulations and keep the public safe. You can assist in this effort by reporting violations you see in the field. Call our NJDEP hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report illegal activity. For more information on hunting-related law enforcement in New Jersey, be sure to see Law Enforcement.
As you get ready to head into the field this year, take time to sight in your firearm or bow. Our renovated, WMA public shooting ranges have never been better. New covered shooting stations are installed at the Millville, Colliers Mills, Stafford Forge, Clinton and Flatbrook ranges. These range improvements were made possible with funding from your hunting license purchases in combination with federal funding from the Wildlife Restoration Program. In addition to comfortable shooting benches, the range renovations increase safety by designing concrete baffles to decrease visible ‘blue sky’ downrange, reducing the possibility for a projectile to travel over the backstop area. More information about our outdoor shooting ranges is found on WMA Shooting Ranges.This year, consider sharing your hunting experience with someone who has not yet been hunting. Our New Jersey Apprentice Hunting License (see Licenses, Permits & Fees) makes it easy to bring first-time hunters into the field. Can you remember your first hunting experience? You can be the hunter who helps to create those wonderful memories for another. Your next New Jersey hunting adventure awaits. Get outside and bring a friend!