New Jersey Bow Deer Season Underway

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New Jersey's regular Fall Bow deer hunting season kicked off statewide on October 3 with some very important and exciting changes for Garden State bow hunters. Crossbows can now be used for all archery seasons in New Jersey and bow and arrow deer hunting is legal on Sundays on Wildlife Management Areas and private properties. (Hunters should note that the proposed law changing the 450-foot "safety zone" to 150 feet for bow hunting has NOT passed and it remains illegal to have a nocked arrow within 450 feet of a building or playground).

Early season bow hunting started up in some Garden State deer management zones on September 12, but for hunters statewide this year's regular Fall Bow season opener is October 3. The early season continues until October 2 and during this time the first deer taken MUST be antlerless. The regular Fall Bow season begins statewide on October 3 and runs through October 30. The statewide permit bow season begins on October 31.

Crossbows are now included in the definition of "bow" in the hunting regulations. Crossbows can be used in any hunting season and for all species where the use of a compound, recurve or longbow is allowed. No special permits are required. Crossbows must however, have minimum draw weights of 75 pounds.

Sunday hunting is allowed on Wildlife Management Areas and on private property ONLY. There are no exceptions to this rule. It is extremely important all hunters know the boundary lines of the property (s) they are hunting. A list of lands open or closed to Sunday bow hunting can be found at: www.njfishandwildlife.com/news/2009/sundayhunt.htm.

Sunday hunting and the crossbow are great incentives for both former and new archery hunters to hunt with archery equipment. Hunters who have never purchased a New Jersey bow and arrow license or have not purchased one since the implementation of the electronic licensing system must present ONE of the following to purchase their first bow license:

  • * A hunter education archery certificate.
  • * A prior year resident bow and arrow license (from NJ or any other state).
  • * A prior year nonresident NJ bow and arrow license.

Hunter education archery certification is now more convenient than ever to obtain. New Jersey hunter education courses are home study and the field/testing session only requires a few hours of scheduled time. The course video, manual and workbook can be viewed and printed online or obtained from license agents throughout the state. Course materials and information on hunter education certification are available at www.njfishandwildlife.com/hunted.htm.

Visit http://www.wildlifelicense.com/nj/ALS/course/course_report.php to register for a session. If preferred sessions are full, check the website often, as sessions will be added when possible to meet demand.

More than 750,000 acres of public lands are open to the New Jersey deer hunter looking for a place to hunt. A current listing of these lands can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com/hunting_publicland.htm. Online maps of Wildlife Management Areas are also available and can be viewed at www.njfishandwildlife.com/wmaland.htm.

Extensive information regarding deer hunting in New Jersey can be found in the August 2009 Hunting and Trapping Issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, and at www.njfishandwildlife.com/deer.htm. All hunters should be completely familiar with the rules and regulations pertaining to the areas they wish to hunt.