Following is the Executive Summary for the Assessment of NJ Resident Bow Hunter Participation survey conducted in 2010. The full document is available in PDF format below the summary.
In late 2007, the Division of Fish and Wildlife conducted a random survey of resident New Jersey hunters regarding the inclusion of crossbow to the list of legal hunting weapons. Hunter support, in addition to research on crossbow ballistics and success rates, and a review of other states' crossbow seasons led the Fish and Game Council to approve the crossbow for inclusion as a legal hunting arm during all archery seasons beginning in the 2009-2010 deer season.
In 2009, the New Jersey Legislature legalized bow hunting on Sundays on private property and state-owned Wildlife Management Areas . It offered a tremendous opportunity for bow hunters by adding 12-21 days to the archery seasons, depending on the deer management zone hunted.
In response to these new opportunities for bow hunters, the Division of Fish and Wildlife conducted a survey to gather information on bow hunter participation in the new crossbow and Sunday hunting regulations.
The survey was conducted in May 2010. A survey was mailed to 1,900 resident bow hunting license holders, randomly chosen from the Division's automated licensing system. Eight hundred ninety (890) surveys were returned (46.8%) indicating a very strong interest in this subject. A summary of results follows:
- PARTICIPATION IN BOW HUNTING IN NEW JERSEY
Resident license buyers, 16 years or older who purchased a Resident Archery License, Resident Senior Archery License or All-around Sportsman license were surveyed (Youth Archery and Youth Firearm License buyers were excluded). Respondents were asked which deer seasons they participate in with bows and with firearms. Only seven percent of respondents did not bow hunt in 2009-2010. User groups were defined by the seasons hunted, breaking down deer hunters into bow and gun hunters, gun-only hunters, and bow-only hunters. Seventy-eight percent of participating deer hunters use bow and guns; 14% hunt with bows only; and 4% hunt with guns only. This is not representative of the total hunter population as firearm license purchasers were not included in this survey.
- TYPES OF ARCHERY EQUIPMENT UTILIZED
Hunters were asked to identify all types of bows used in 2009-2010. Compound bows were the most commonly used, by 85% of respondents; followed by crossbows at 25%; recurve bows at 4%; and longbow at 2%.
When asked to identify the primary bow used, 78% of respondents answered compound bow. Crossbows were the next popular choice at 19%, followed by recurve bows, 2%; and longbow, 1%.
- INFLUENCE OF CROSSBOW LEGALIZATION
Eighty-eight percent said that the legalization of crossbows had no influence on their decision to hunt. Those respondents who attributed a return to bow hunting due to crossbow legalization numbered 11%, and less than 1% said that crossbows influenced them to start bow hunting. Three percent of the participants did not respond.
- METHOD (S) OF HUNTING
The majority of respondents (93%) utilized elevated stands, 32% used ground blinds and 28% still-hunted or stalked.
- HUNTERS USE OF BAIT
Sixty percent of respondents hunted over or near bait. Most participants used multiple types of bait. Among the types bait, food attractants (i.e. corn, apples, etc.) were the most common bait choice at 92%; 37% used scent attractants and 20% used mineral licks.
Seventy-three percent of hunters thought baiting increased their success in harvesting a deer. Twenty-seven percent did not believe that baiting increased their success.
- INFLUENCE OF SUNDAY BOW HUNTING LEGALIZATION
The majority of respondents answered that Sunday bow hunting increased their days afield (56%). Forty percent of respondents indicated that Sunday bow hunting did not influence their decision to hunt.
- PARTICIPATION IN SUNDAY BOW HUNTING
Sixty percent of respondents participated in Sunday bow hunting during the fall bow season, 50% during the permit bow season and 29% during the winter bow season.
During the fall bow season, 69% of respondents reported 1-4 days of Sunday hunting participation. During the permit bow season, 79% of respondents reported 1-4 days of Sunday hunting participation. During the winter bow season, 72% of respondents reported 1-4 days of Sunday hunting participation.
The majority of participants hunted Sundays with a bow on only private property (66%); 12% utilized state Wildlife Management Areas only. Twenty-two percent used both private and state WMAs.
- PURCHASE of ANTLERED DEER PERMITS
The majority of respondents purchased an antlered deer permit for the Permit Bow season (73%); 27% did not purchase an antlered deer permit.
- ANTLER POINT RESTRICTIONS
Participants were asked if they were willing to pass up shooting smaller-antlered bucks and shoot more does, for the chance to shoot larger-antlered bucks in later years. Most respondents were in favor (67%), 20% opposed and 13% had no opinion.
Further, participants were asked if they found it acceptable to pass up an average of 11 yearling bucks for every older age class buck in the harvest, based upon data from 2001-05 in the existing 3-point Antler Restriction Zones. Thirty-six percent responded in favor, 33% opposed and 31% had no opinion.
The majority of respondents were unaffiliated (44%); 36% belonged to a private hunting club, 18% belonged to the NJ State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.
- YEARS HUNTED IN NEW JERSEY
Participants were asked how many years they have been bow hunting in New Jersey. The majority (51%) of respondents has been hunting between 21 and 40 years. Note that youth hunters, ages 10 through 16, were not included in this survey.
- AGE AND GENDER
The majority of participating hunters were 40 years old or older (76%).
The overwhelming majority of respondents were male (99%).
Assessment of NJ Resident Bow Hunter Participation Survey (pdf, 105kb).