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New Jersey

Hunting

Migratory Bird Regulations

What Do I Need To Hunt Migratory Birds In New Jersey?

Species Hunted

Hunting License

HIP Certification

NJ Stamp Certification

Federal Stamp

Crow

No

No

No

Woodcock, rail, moorhen, snipe

No

No

Duck, brant, goose

New Jersey Migratory Bird Regulations

Major Changes for the 2021–22 Season

  • The Canada goose bag limit in the North and South Zones is reduced to 1 bird during the Regular Season.
  • The scaup bag limit is reduced to 1 bird during the first 40 days, and 2 birds during the last 20 days, of the duck season in each zone.
  • The gallinule daily bag limit is reduced to 1 bird.

Waterfowl Stamps

Both the New Jersey Waterfowl Stamp Certification and Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp) are required for all waterfowl hunters 16 years and older and must be signed in ink. New Jersey Stamp Certifications are available from license agents and from the Licenses and Permits button on Fish and Wildlife’s website. Federal stamps are available from some U.S. post offices and online at www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/buy-duck-stamp.php.

Harvest Information Program (HIP)

All hunters, including Apprentice License holders, must obtain an HIP certification before hunting ducks, geese, brant, coot, woodcock, rails, snipe or gallinules. Hunters may purchase an HIP certification from a License Agent or Online at NJ.WildlifeLicense.com. Both methods allow hunters to go hunting immediately after registering.

HIP certification should be carried in the hunter’s license holder and are valid from Sept. 1 to April 15 the following year. Information collected for HIP is confidential and used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for conducting migratory bird harvest surveys.

Hunters: Report Banded Birds

Hunters who recover banded migratory birds are asked to report the band number to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL), Washington, D.C. Banding data plays a critical role in migratory bird harvest management. There are two ways to report bands:

  1. Online: reportband.gov
  2. Write: to the address inscribed on the band.

Online reporting provides instant access to the original banding information including the species, sex, location, date and age of the bird at banding. Band reporters will be able to print a certificate of appreciation on their home computer which will include information about the bird which had been banded.

When contacting the BBL, be prepared to provide: band number, date the bird was recovered, exact location of the bird’s recovery as well as nearest town, and method of recovery, e.g., shot or found dead. Hunters may keep the bands.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Youth hunters must possess a valid Youth Firearms License—OR be less than 16 years of age and qualified to hunt without a license under the farmer license exemption (see Farmer Hunting & Permit Information)—to hunt the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days as detailed on Take a Kid Hunting.

Did you Harvest a Marked Atlantic Brant?

During winter 2018, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife initiated a multi-year collaborative Atlantic brant migration and breeding ecology study with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, Canadian Wildlife Service and University of Missouri.

  • If you shoot or find dead a brant with a geolocator or backpack transmitter, contact Ted Nichols at (609) 628-3218 or e-mail ted.nichols@dep.nj.gov to return the device(s). To obtain data from a geolocator, we must have the device in hand. Geolocators are clear, plastic electronics about the size of a "fat nickel," attached to a red and white plastic leg band with a plastic cable lock tie. Hunters who want to retain a geolocator or transmitter as a keepsake will be provided with a replica unit.
  • If you see a brant with a colored leg band: Please report the observation to U.S. Bird Banding Lab at REPORTBAND.GOV.
  • If a bird with leg band only is shot or found dead: Please report to U.S. Bird Banding Lab at REPORTBAND.GOV.

Your cooperation and interest is appreciated. For more information on this study, see
NJFishandWildlife.com//news/2021/brantstudy21.htm.

Migratory Bird Seasons, 2021–22

Hunting Hours for species below: 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset

Migratory Bird Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag Limits1

North Zone

Ducks, Mergansers and Coot

Oct. 16–Oct. 23

Nov. 13–Jan. 13

Ducks: 6 in aggregate; see Duck Limits* below; Mergansers2: 5 Coot: 15

Scaup

Oct. 16–Oct. 23

Nov. 13–Dec. 21

1

Dec. 22–Jan. 13

2

Brant

Oct. 16–Oct. 23

Nov. 13–Jan. 1

2

Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

Nov. 25–Nov. 27

Dec. 11–Jan. 11

1

Youth-only Waterfowl Day

Oct. 9

See footnote3

South Zone

Ducks, Mergansers and Coot

Oct. 23–Oct. 30

Nov. 20–Jan. 20

Ducks: 6 in aggregate; see Duck Limits* below; Mergansers2: 5 Coot: 15

Scaup

Oct. 23–Oct. 30

Nov. 20–Dec. 28

1

Dec. 29–Jan. 20

2

Brant

Oct. 23–Oct. 30

Nov. 20–Jan. 8

2

Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

Nov. 25–Nov. 27

Dec. 18–Jan. 18

1

Youth-only Waterfowl Day

Oct. 16

See footnote3

Coastal Zone

Ducks, Mergansers and Coot

Nov. 11–Nov. 13

Nov. 25–Jan. 29

Ducks: 6 in aggregate; see Duck Limits* below; Mergansers2: 5 Coot: 15

Scaup

Nov. 11–Nov. 13

Nov. 25–Jan. 6

1

Jan. 7–Jan. 29

2

Brant

Nov. 11–Nov. 13

Nov. 25–Jan. 18

2

Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Geese

Nov. 11–Nov. 13

Nov. 25–Jan. 29

2

Youth-only Waterfowl Day

Oct. 30

See footnote3

Migratory Bird Statewide Seasons

Migratory Bird Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag Limits1

Canada Geese (September Season4 )

Sept. 1–Sept. 30

15

Light Geese - Regular Season5

Oct. 16–Feb. 15

25, singly or in aggregate

Light Geese - Conservation Order5

Feb. 16–Apr. 9

No limit

Rail (Sora, Clapper and Virginia) and Gallinule

Sept. 1–Nov. 20

Sora & Virginia rail: 25 total or aggregate;
Gallinule:1; Clapper rail: 10

Snipe

Sept. 11–Jan. 13

8

Crow

Aug. 9–Dec. 4

Dec. 13–Mar. 19

Mon., Thur., Fri., Sat. Only

No limit

Youth and Veterans/Military Day

Feb. 5

See footnote3

Veterans/Military Only Day

Nov. 6

See footnote3

*Ducks Limits – 6 ducks in aggregate and may not include more than:

Black duck - 2

Black-bellied whistling duck - 6

Blue-winged teal - 6

Bufflehead - 6 Canvasback - 2

Eider - 4

Gadwall - 6

Goldeneye - 6

Green-winged teal - 6

Long-tailed duck - 4

Mallard - 2 (including no more than 1 hen)

Pintail - 1

Redhead - 2

Ring-necked duck - 6

Ruddy duck - 6

Scaup - See above.

Scoter - 4

Shoveler - 6

Wigeon - 6

Wood duck - 3

Migratory Bird Zones

All migratory bird zones are described in detail at NJFishandWildlife.com/migbirdzones.htm

Waterfowl Zones

Applies to hunting duck, coot, merganser, regular season Canada goose, brant, regular season light goose and Youth Waterfowl Days.

Coastal Zone: That portion of the State seaward of a line beginning at the New York State line in Raritan Bay and extending west along the New York State line to NJ 440 at Perth Amboy; west on NJ 440 to the Garden State Parkway; south on the Garden State Parkway to NJ 109; south on NJ 109 to Cape May County Rt. 633 (Lafayette St.); south on Lafayette St. to Jackson St.; south on Jackson St. to the shoreline at Cape May; west along the shoreline of Cape May beach to COLREGS Demarcation Line 80.503 at Cape May Point; south along COLREGS Demarcation Line 80.503 to the Delaware state line in Delaware Bay.

North Zone: That portion of the State west of the Coastal Zone and north of a line extending west from the Garden State Parkway on NJ 70 to the NJ Turnpike, north on the turnpike to U.S. 206, north on U.S. 206 to U.S. 1 at Trenton, west on U.S. 1 to the Pennsylvania State line in the Delaware River.

South Zone: Portion of the State not within the North Zone or the Coastal Zone.

Special Sea Duck Area

Waters of the Atlantic Ocean seaward from the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) Demarcation Lines (jetty and inlet mouths). For more detailed information see: www.NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt.

Special Winter Canada Goose Season Hunting Areas

The two hatched areas are open to hunting. Scan this QR code with your mobile device or visit www.NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt for detailed Special Winter Canada Goose Season hunting areas and all migratory bird hunting zone boundaries.

New Jersey Waterfowlers Clinic

Every year, experienced waterfowlers throughout New Jersey join together dedicating their time and energy to present the New Jersey Waterfowlers Clinic—an all day, free seminar covering “everything you ever wanted to know” about the traditions of waterfowl hunting in New Jersey. This year is no exception!

Forty years ago, the clinic began as an opportunity to introduce young people to the world of waterfowl hunting. However, with the growing interest among men and women, as well as youths, the event has been transformed into an opportunity for anyone 10 and up to spend a fun and interesting day learning about waterfowling!

Our full-day clinic covers waterfowling from A to Z, and includes bird identification, decoys, calling, guns and ammo, boats, safety, laws and ethics, do’s and don’ts, clothing and camo, and even a demonstration by working retrievers! The value of the day is priceless! It’s a unique chance to ask any question you’ve ever had about the sport—to be answered by the most experienced waterfowlers in New Jersey. Our instructors have a combined 300 years of experience!

  • Free breakfast and lunch to all attending!
  • Date: Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021
  • Location: Tip Seaman Park, Tuckerton, NJ
  • Time: 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Please register in advance by calling Marty Kristiansen at (732) 977-5648 so we can plan accordingly.

We hope you’ll join us this year and share our enthusiasm for all that is waterfowling!

Other Migratory Bird Seasons

Migratory Bird Species

Season Dates

Hunting Hours

Daily Bag Limits1

Woodcock - North Zone

Oct. 16–Oct. 30

Nov. 2–Nov. 27

Sunrise to sunset

3

Woodcock - South Zone

Nov. 6–Nov. 30

Dec. 16–Jan. 1

Sunrise to sunset

3

Sea Ducks in Special Sea Duck Area Only2 (Black, Surf and White-winged Scoter;
Long-tailed Duck and Eider only)

Nov. 6–Jan. 14

1⁄2 hr before sunrise to sunset

5, but no more than 4 scoters in aggregate, 4 long-tailed ducks or 4 eiders

Sea Ducks Outside Special Sea Duck Season

Same as ducks by zone

1⁄2 hr before sunrise to sunset

Count toward the bag limit of 6 ducks

Canada Geese (Special Winter Season Areas) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

Jan. 19–Feb. 15

1⁄2 hr before sunrise to sunset

5

Swans, harlequin duck, king rail, sandhill crane and mourning dove

Closed

None

Summary of Federal Regulations

The following is a synopsis of Federal Regulations that pertain to the hunting of migratory game birds. More information can be found at: NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/waterfowl_federal_regs.pdf or by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Office at (908) 787-1321.

No persons shall take migratory game birds:

  • By the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. Baiting means the direct or indirect placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of salt, grain, or other feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Baited area means any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Any such area will remain a baited area for ten days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed.
  • With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machinegun, fish hook, poison, drug, explosive, or stupefying substance;
  • With a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. Exceptions: In New Jersey, shotguns capable of holding no more than 7 shells are permitted during the September Canada goose season and the Light Goose Conservation Order.
  • From or by means, aid, or use of a sinkbox or any other type of low floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water;
  • From or by means, aid, or use of any motor vehicle, motor-driven land conveyance, or aircraft of any kind, except that paraplegics and persons missing one or both legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor-driven land conveyance;
  • From or by means of any motorboat or other craft having a motor attached, or any sailboat, unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or the sails furled, and its progress there from has ceased. Exception: crippled birds may be shot from craft under power in the Special Sea Duck Area.
  • By the use or aid of live birds as decoys; although not limited to, it shall be a violation of this paragraph for any person to take migratory waterfowl on an area where tame or captive live ducks or geese are present unless such birds are and have been for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to such taking, confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such birds from the sight of wild migratory waterfowl;
  • By the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds. Exceptions: In New Jersey, hunters can use electronic calls during: crow season, September Canada goose season and the Light Goose Conservation Order.
  • By means or aid of any motor driven land, water, or air conveyance, or any sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of any migratory bird.

Tagging requirement—No person shall put or leave any migratory game birds at any place (other than at his personal abode), or in the custody of another person for picking, cleaning, processing, shipping, transportation, or storage (including temporary storage), or for the purpose of having taxidermy services performed, unless such birds have a tag attached, signed by the hunter, stating his address, the total number and species of birds, and the date such birds were killed. Migratory game birds being transported in any vehicle as the personal baggage of the possessor shall not be considered as being in storage or temporary storage.

Custody of birds of another—No person shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged.

Species identification requirement—No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

New Jersey State Regulations

State laws and regulations may be more stringent but not more lenient than those prescribed in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 20). See General Hunting Regulations.

Restrictions:

  1. Migratory bird hunting is not permitted on Sunday in New Jersey.
  2. No person may take rails or snipe while possessing shot other than non-toxic shot.
  3. The starting time to hunt waterfowl on opening day of pheasant season (Nov. 6, 2021) is 8 a.m. on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant and quail except the tidal waters or marshes of those WMAs. See pheasant and quail stocked WMAs. The starting time to hunt waterfowl on opening day of the pheasant season conforms to the regular start time (e.g. 1⁄2 hr. before sunrise) on private land, tidal marshes, WMAs not stocked with pheasant and quail, and the tidal marsh portions of pheasant and quail stocked WMAs.
  4. There shall be no open season for hunting any game birds or animals including migratory waterfowl:
    • In or on the shores of the Shark River in Monmouth County.
    • In that portion of the Manasquan River from the ocean inlet upstream to Route 70 bridge.
    • On Herring Island and that portion of Barnegat Bay lying between northern and southern tips of Herring Island easterly to adjacent shoreline of Mantoloking Boro, Ocean County.
    • On Parker Creek and Oceanport Creek, Monmouth County, or the shores thereof, southwest or upstream of the Conrail R.R. bridge.
    • On the non-tidal portions of Cox Hall Creek WMA in Cape May County.
    • In the waters or shoreline of Barnegat Inlet westward from the COLREGS Demarcation Line; to the north end of Broadway in Barnegat Light; then northwest to Red Buoy 14 in the channel (39.763783 N; 074.109283 W); then northeast to the westernmost section of rock jetty at Island Beach State Park.

These areas are also explicitly mapped in the Hunting & Trapping Explorer:

NJFishandWildlife.com/hunt

  1. It is unlawful for any person to leave the edible portions (defined as the breast meat) of migratory birds (excepting crows) to waste. Edible portions do not include 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.
  2. Waterfowl hunting on Delaware River is governed by state boundaries and restricted to respective state seasons.
  3. Permanent blinds may not be constructed on some state wildlife management areas.
  4. Arrows with flu-flu type fletching are required for taking flying game birds. Arrows with edged heads are prohibited for taking flying game birds.

Spring Light Goose Conservation Order — Feb. 16–Apr. 9, 2022

  1. Electronic calls are permitted.
  2. Shotguns capable of holding no more than 7 shells (including magazine and chamber) are permitted.
  3. Shooting hours: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.
  4. A valid hunting license, federal and state duck stamps, HIP certification and NJ Light Goose Conservation Order (CO) Permit ($2) are required.
  5. The NJ Light Goose CO Permit is available ONLY from the Internet sales site.

The light goose permit will not be available until January 2022. As part of the permit process, hunters will be required to report their activity and harvest as requested on the permit. Check N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife's website in late winter for more details.

Falconry—Special season dates and bag limits apply. Contact N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife at (908) 735-6938.

Nontoxic Shot Regulations

In New Jersey, no person may take ducks, geese, brant, coots, rails, snipe or moorhens while possessing shot other than approved non-toxic shot which includes: steel, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-nickel-iron, tungsten-iron-nickel-tin, tungsten-bronze, tungsten-iron-polymer, bismuth-tin, copper-clad iron, tungsten-iron-copper-nickel, tungsten-tin-iron, corrosion-inhibited copper shot, and tungsten-tin-bismuth shot types. Shot size may not
exceed Size T (0.200 inch) for waterfowl. See www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/hunting/nontoxic.php for more information. For crows and woodcock, shot size may not exceed Size #4 and although lead shot is permitted, hunters are encouraged to use non-toxic shot.

Hunting Hours

See Sunrise and Sunset for sunrise/sunset table.

  • Duck, goose, brant, coot, rail, moorhen, snipe—1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset. For example, if sunrise is 6:30 a.m. and sunset is 5:00 p.m., hunting hours for these species are 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Woodcock—sunrise to sunset.
  • Crow—sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
  • September Canada Goose and the Spring Light Goose Conservation Order—1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

Waterfowl Blinds

No permanent waterfowl blinds, including pit blinds, shall be constructed, hunted from or used in any manner on these WMAs:

  1. Assunpink
  2. Black River
  3. Colliers Mills
  4. Hainesville
  5. Tuckahoe
  6. Manahawkin
  7. Stafford Forge
  8. Whittingham
  9. Beaver Swamp
  10. Sedge Island
  11. Salem River
  12. Prospertown
  13. Paulinskill

Any blind used on these WMAs must be portable and completely removed by day's end. Blinds remaining on WMAs are subject to confiscation and disposal by Fish and Wildlife.

Veterans/Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days

Nov. 6, 2021 — Statewide Veterans Military Day

Feb. 5, 2022 — Statewide joint Veterans/Military and Youth waterfowl hunt day

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed states to choose special hunting days for Veterans and Active Military personnel in recognition of their service to our country. Waterfowl hunting outside the regular season is allowed on the day(s) officially designated as “Veterans/Active Military Waterfowl Day.” New Jersey has two Veterans/Active Military Hunting Days, one of which runs concurrent with a special Youth Hunting Day.

Active Military includes members of Armed Forces on active duty, including National Guard and Reserves (other than active duty for training). Veterans includes those who served in the active military, naval or air service and who were discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable. Participants in Veterans/Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days must carry while hunting one of the documents which applies to their status to be eligible to participate:

  1. Active military identification card
  2. Copy of honorable discharge certificate DD-214

Bag limits for these days include ducks, geese, brant, mergansers, coots and gallinules. Bag limits are the same as those allowed in the regular season in each zone except the scaup limit is 2 per day.

FAQs for special veteran/active military and youth hunt days:
NJFishandWildlife.com/yth-vet_waterfowl_day.htm.

NJDFW Director Dave Golden hunted out of his 25-year-old aluminum duck boat with friend Jerry Kronemeyer (pictured) in Cape May Wetlands WMA.

Over the past several seasons, one memorable feature of most hunts was a fair amount of periodic bailing of water from the boat. This year, Dave finally installed a bilge pump, leaving more time to enjoy the hunt.

Attention
Waterfowl Hunters

Special Regulations Permitted During September Canada Goose Season,
Sept. 1–30, 2021 Only

Special regulations designed to help curb the growth of resident population Canada geese.

  1. Electronic calls are permitted.
  2. Shotguns capable of holding no more than seven shells (including magazine and chamber) are permitted.
  3. Hunting hours: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.

Remember: these special regulations apply only to the September Canada goose season. Hunters who choose to use an unplugged gun during the September Canada goose season must remember to reinstall the magazine plug before pursuing other game species.

During all other waterfowl seasons, including duck, brant, regular and winter Canada goose, and snow goose, standard regulations apply. Standard regulations include: electronic calls prohibited, shotguns may not be capable of holding more than three shot shells and hunting hours end at sunset.