October 4, 2002
Biologists with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife surveyed a sample of deer check stations in order to estimate the number of white-tailed deer taken during the Early Fall Bow Season (September 7-27, 2002), and the statewide opener (September 28, 2002). As a result, an estimated 4,178 deer have been taken by archers through September 28, compared to 5,033 taken by bow hunters during the equivalent period in 2001. The reduction in this year's harvest to date is likely the result of the Division's efforts to reduce the deer population over most of the State's deer range.
Fifteen agricultural and suburban zones (Zones 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 36, 41, 42, 49, 50 and 51) were open for the Early Fall Bow Season which began on September 7. During this season, hunters were required to harvest an antlerless deer before taking an antlered buck. Approximately 15,000 bow hunters participated and harvested 2,790 deer, compared to 3,361 taken during the similar period last year.
The traditional, statewide Fall Bow Season opened on Saturday, September 28 with an estimated 1,388 deer harvested in 2002 as compared to 1,672 deer taken on the 2001 opening day.
The Fall Bow Season provides quality recreation to approximately 40,000 hunters, but more importantly, contributes to the Division's deer population management goals through the harvest of antlerless deer (adult females and fawns). By harvesting a sufficient number of antlerless deer in each zone, deer populations are maintained in a healthy condition and at levels that minimize conflicts between people and deer. This is particularly important in areas with a high incidence of agricultural damage and deer-vehicle collisions. The Division's objective for 2002 is to decrease the deer population on 70 percent of the deer range and to stabilize the population on the remaining 30 percent.
The 2002 estimated bow harvest is consistent with recent harvest data that show hunting opportunities have increased as a result of the New Jersey Fish and Game Council's authorization to reduce deer populations where needed. However, continued progress toward controlling deer herd numbers will rely on hunters gaining and maintaining access to all lands where deer may be hunted safely and responsibly.