Deer Season Forecast

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OUTLOOK

Sportsmen and women who hunt in New Jersey can anticipate an outstanding 2004-2005 deer season. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to modify and improve its white-tailed deer management program.

The population management objective for the 2004 – 2005 season is to decrease the deer herd on 62 percent of available deer range, stabilize the herd on 37 percent of deer range, and increase it on the remaining 1 percent. Deer herds will be allowed to increase only in Zone 1, which contains mostly public land and has limited agriculture and minimal potential for deer-human conflicts.

Last year a total of 69,456 whitetails were harvested statewide.

As New Jersey’s deer management program has progressed over the years, the percentage of land where the management objective is to decrease the deer herd has slowly dropped. For instance, the objective this year is to reduce the deer herd on 62 percent of available deer range while the objective for the 2001 – 2002 deer season was to reduce the herd on 75 percent of available deer range. These percentages change each year based on the fluid management strategy of Division deer biologists, but the overall trend is a gradual decrease and stabilization in the deer population, especially on lands with good hunter access and in zones where deer densities were above management objectives.

Hunter support of scientifically based deer management programs is making a difference in New Jersey, and hunters are to be commended for their support of these programs and for their patience in seeing them through.

Keeping the deer herd in balance with the carrying capacity of the land and reducing problems associated with deer such as agricultural damage and automobile collisions are part of the overall deer management strategy. In order to be successful, hunters must have access to huntable land. The loss of access to huntable land is the number one problem facing sportsmen and women as well as professional wildlife managers.

The 2004-05 deer hunting season will include 138 potential deer hunting days and is expected to rank high in terms of total harvest and recreation days provided. Approximately 82,000 deer hunters are expected to take to the field in pursuit of their sport enjoying countless hours of recreation. These same hunters will also contribute greatly to New Jersey’s economy by contributing more than $85 million primarily to the state’s small businesses.

PLACES TO HUNT

New Jersey offers extensive public lands for hunting and continues its efforts to protect as much of our diverse landscape as possible. Nearly 300,000 acres of Wildlife Management Areas administered by the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife are open to deer hunting. Thousands of acres of federal properties, state parkland and forests and county, municipal and non-profit lands are also open for deer hunting. In all, more than 750,000 acres of public land is open to deer hunting in New Jersey.

A list of all state wildlife management areas can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com/wmaland.htm as well as in the 2004 Hunting Issue of the Fish and Wildlife Digest. A list of state parks, forests and federal lands open to deer hunting can also be found on the web and in the Digest (page 74).

Hunters should check with county and municipal agencies as well as non-profit organizations to ascertain what lands are open for hunting under their administration. Hunters should ALWAYS RESPECT the property rights of landowners, whether public or private, and obtain permission before hunting private property or any area where access is not obviously permitted.

LEARN MORE

Below are links to more information on deer and deer hunting in the Garden State. Hunters will find excellent information about the biology of whitetail deer, deer management objectives, the condition of New Jersey’s deer herd, guidelines for rating deer range, chronic wasting disease and other information on the Division’s website. The Division recommends that all sportsmen and women check the website frequently as information is constantly updated.

Have a Safe and Enjoyable Hunting Season!