Deer Hunting Season Underway
Wherever you go in Jersey these days, there may, sometimes even entire herds of deer, running and roaming, jumping and grazing.
An estimated 110,000 deer live in parts of Jersey where hunting is allowed, and just as many if not more may be inhabiting other areas.
To try and keep the deer population under control, state wildlife officials allow 6 different hunts over a 5 month period, using a variety of bows and shotguns.
“Right now is archery deer hunting season for two thirds of the state, with cross bow, compound bows and primitive bows, which would be a long bow or re-curve,” says Dan Roberts, the Acting Deer Project Leader at the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
He says once this archery season ends October 2nd, “we have to continuation of our fall bow season, which goes statewide at that point in October.”
Roberts points out deer hunters are many parts of Jersey right now.
“Typically it’s our urban, suburban and agricultural areas where we have higher deer densities and are looking to put a little more reduction on the deer population in those areas,” he says.
Interestingly, Roberts says while the DEP does not keep a master list of towns that allow deer hunting, a growing number of municipalities are allowing it to reduce their deer populations, even in residential areas if property owners give their permission.
“It is allowed but the safety zone for archery has been reduced over the years, down to 150 feet,” he says, “as long as there is nothing in a town to prevent access to hunting, hunters can hunt in neighborhood areas with permission of landowners.’
After the statewide archery deer hunting season ends at the end of October there is a permit archery season.
“This typically coincides with the peak of the rut season for deer, with the mating season,” says Roberts.
That season runs in portions of the state through the end of November, but in parts of the state that hunt goes till December 31st
“The biggest season for us would be our 6 day firearm antler deer season, that is December 7th through 12th , that’s 2 antler deer harvest,” he says.
The safety zone for shotgun and muzzle loading rifle deer season is 450 feet, according to Roberts, again assuming the town allows it and all landowners give permission, however he points out most hunters go on state parkland areas where there are no residential homes.
“When towns contact us we review the options for deer management and what can be done with regulated sport hunting ,” says Roberts.
He points out technically towns do not have to get permission for a deer hunt, they can allow it through a local ordinance and the permission of property owners.
So how many towns allow some form of deer hunting?
“Honestly I wouldn’t even be comfortable guessing how many towns, again it’s more and more each year,” he says.
After the shotgun season in December there’s a winter bow season in January and February, but some sections of the state will continue to allow shotgun hunting. Bythe 3rd week in February all deer hunting ends until the following September.
For a complete breakdown on when you can hunt, where it’s allowed and what weapons can be used, you can visit http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/pdf/2015/regsets15-16.pdf.