For more information contact:
Daniel Ferrigno at 609-259-8692
Hunters can anticipate another outstanding deer season this fall as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife continues to modify and improve its white-tailed deer management program. (Click to see changes in Zone Boundaries, Fall Bow, Six-day Firearm, Permit Muzzleloader, Permit Shotgun and Winter Bow regulations.)
This year's objective or population management strategy, is to decrease the deer herd on 70 percent of the deer range, stabilize the herd on 29 percent of the range, and increase it on 1 percent of the range. Zones where deer populations will be allowed to increase contain mostly public lands with little agriculture and minimal potential for deer-human conflicts.
According to division Director Bob McDowell, the 1997-98 deer hunting season will include 116 potential deer hunting days and is expected to rank in the all-time top five years in terms of total harvest and recreation days provided. "Approximately 105,000 deer hunters are expected to participate and contribute $100 million to the state's small businesses in pursuit of their sport," he said.
The duration of the fall bow season was changed to September 13 through October 31 in suburban deer management zones: 13, 36, 42 and 49. The experimental extension to the fall bow season provided bow hunters with an additional three weeks of hunting and included the “earn-a-buck” provision where during the first three weeks, hunters were required to harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting an antlered buck.
The multiple "Bonus Deer Tag" program will include 36 zones during the fall bow and 38 zones during the extended bow season in an effort to harvest additional female deer in developing areas and in agricultural areas with a high potential for deer-related crop damage.
"Using the bonus tag during the fall bow season especially benefits urban and agricultural areas, since bow hunters can often hunt and harvest deer where firearms are restricted," McDowell said.
The multiple “Bonus Deer Tag” will be offered during the fall bow season to hunters who harvest antlerless deer first in the following zones: 2, 5-17, 19, 22, 25, 27-29, 33, 35, 36, 39-42, 46-51, 54, 63 and 66. All 36 zones offering multiple bonus tags during the fall bow season will also be designated multiple bonus tag zones during the extended bow season. In addition, zones 59 and 61, which are closed during the fall bow season, offer multiple bonus tags during the extended bow season. A deer of either sex may be taken with the bonus deer tag. As long as the tag is used to take an antlerless deer, the hunter will continue to be offered bonus tags upon registration of the deer. Bonus deer tags are available without a fee and are not valid on the date of issuance during the fall bow and extended bow seasons. Should the hunter opt to harvest an antlered deer, he or she will be issued a supplemental tag, but will not be eligible for additional bonus tags. Bonus tags are valid in any bonus tag zone during the fall bow season, but are only valid in the zone designated on the hunter’s special permit during the extended bow season.
The Hunter’s Choice Area, zones 13 and 36, will also offer a bonus tag during the six-day firearm season to hunters harvesting antlerless deer on their first tag. The bonus tag will be valid on the date of issuance during the six-day firearm season and will be valid statewide for the harvesting of an antlered deer or a deer of either sex in the Hunter's Choice Area.
"Management techniques, such as the bonus tag and earn-a-buck programs, can only be successful if hunters are willing to participate and the deer population is accessible to hunting. This deer season, I encourage landowners to open their lands to hunting wherever possible. A reduction in the deer herd will help decrease the amount of damage to farm crops experienced during the spring and summer growing seasons," McDowell said.
For the special permit seasons, hunters may obtain additional permits (not claimed in the mail-in application process), thereby increasing the number of deer they can legally harvest. Over-the-counter sales of permits are tentatively scheduled to begin November 1 for extended bow season permits and November 15 for shotgun and muzzleloader season permits. Hunters should consult the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, August hunting season issue for specific bag limits and regulations.
In most areas, the six deer seasons began on October 4, 1997 and will continue through January 31, 1998. During the 1997-98 deer seasons, hunters are expected to register a total harvest in excess of 60,000 deer. More than half of the harvest should consist of antlerless deer, as an adequate harvest of these deer will allow the division to achieve its population management objectives on the 67 deer management zones throughout the state.
Total and season harvests depend upon several factors, including weather, hunter participation and issuance of special permits. Favorable weather conditions on key hunting days (such as the opening day of a season and Saturdays), have a major impact on hunter participation, success, and consequently, on the season total.
Several changes have been made to the Game Code, involving the 1997-98 deer seasons. These changes will help to increase hunting opportunities and promote the achievement of deer population management objectives, which include managing a deer population that is compatible with current land use practices and the human population.
Changes for the 1997-98 deer seasons include the following:
Zone Boundary Changes
Minor zone boundary adjustments were made to Zones: 22, 23, 24, 26, 46 and 47. Hunters should consult the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, August hunting season issue, for details regarding those changes.
The fall bow season was increased from four weeks to seven weeks (September 13-October 31) in Deer Management Zones 13, 36, 42 and 49, and hunters were required to take an antlerless deer before taking an antlered deer during the first three weeks of the season (September 13 - October 3). This change was made on an experimental basis in order to increase the antlerless deer harvest on huntable areas of these more urbanized and developed zones. The change also increases recreational opportunity for bow hunters. In all other deer management zones open for fall bow hunting, the season is October 4-31.
The standard bag limit of two deer of either sex is reinstated for the fall bow season in Zones 1, 3, 21 and 24.
Single New Jersey Bonus Deer Permit and Transportation Tags are deleted from the fall bow season in order to simplify the regulations. Multiple New Jersey Bonus Deer Permit and Transportation Tags will remain available in designated zones in order to achieve antlerless harvest objectives.
In an effort to achieve antlerless deer harvest objectives and enhance recreational opportunity for bow hunters, multiple bonus tags were added to Zones 2, 17, 48, 54 and 66, while single bonus tags were eliminated from Zones 17, 20, 31, 34, 48, 65 and 66. In addition, multiple bonus tags were eliminated in Zone 26.
The extended bow season is Nov. 1-Dec. 31 in Zones 13, 36, 39, 40, 42, 49 and 54. In Zone 66, the season is Nov. 1-28 and Dec. 7-31. In all other zones open for the extended bow season, it is Nov. 1-29. Multiple bonus tags will replace single bonus tags during the extended bow season in Zones: 39, 40, 59 and 61 and multiple bonus tags will be added to Zones: 2, 5-17, 19, 22, 25, 27-29, 33, 35, 36, 41, 42, 46-51, 54, 63 and 66 to achieve antlerless harvest objectives in each zone and add recreational opportunity for bow hunters in these areas. Zone 21 is open for the extended bow season in an effort to include bow hunters in the distribution of the antlerless deer harvest in this area.
The six-day firearm season for white-tailed deer is Dec. 8-13. Supplemental Tags will be valid on the date of issuance in Zones 16-35, 37, 39, 42-49, 51-53, 55, 61, 63 and 65 only.
The duration of the permit muzzleloader season in most zones is Dec. 1, 2, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31 and Jan. 1, 2 and 3, 1998 in Zones 1-3, 5-20, 22-36, 41, 42, 44-51, 55, 57, 58, 61, 63 and 65. In Deer Management Zone 4, the season will run Dec. 1, 2, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24 and 26. The duration of the permit muzzleloader season in Zones 21 and 43 is reduced from 16 to 10 days (December 1, 2, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26 and 27). In most zones, the bag limit is two deer of either sex and any age per permit with the exception that only one deer taken per permit during December 1-2 may be antlered. The bag limit for the muzzleloader season is increased from 3 to 4 deer of either sex in Zone 66, exclusively.
Deer Management Zone 67, which includes portions of High Point State Park, is added to the zones open for the muzzleloader season. The duration of the season is November 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25 and 26. Hunters should consult the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, August hunting season issue for specific bag limits and regulations.
The permit shotgun season is December 17 in Zones 1, 4, 18, 21, 23, 43, 45, 55 and 65. The season is December 17-19 in Zones 2, 3, 20, 26, 30, 31, 34, 44 and 46. The season is December 17-19 and January 16, 17, 23 and 24, 1998 in Zones 6, 15-17, 19, 22, 27-29, 33 and 48. The permit shotgun season is December 17-19 and January 10-24, 1998 in Zones 11, 25, 35, 47 and 63. The season is December 17-19 and January 10-31, 1998 in Zones 5, 7-10, 12, 14, 42 and 49-51. The season is November 24-26, December 17-19 and January 10-31, 1998 in Zones 13 and 36. Only antlerless deer may be taken on November 24-26 in these two zones. The permit shotgun season is closed in Zones 24, 32, 40 and 62. See the Special Area Hunting Season Information section for season dates of special zones.
The bag limit is increased to better achieve antlerless deer harvest objectives as follows: from 1 to 2 deer in Zones 3, 30 and 44; from 2 to 3 deer in Zones: 16, 22 and 48; from 3 to 4 deer in Zone 59; and from 4 to 5 deer in Zones: 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 41, 42, 49, 50 and 51.
The winter bow season for white-tailed deer is January 1-31, 1998. It will run concurrently with the January portions of the permit muzzleloader and permit shotgun seasons in zones that are open for those seasons.