Segment B of New Jersey’s 2023 black bear season re-opens Monday and will run through a half-hour after sunset, Saturday, December 9.
Unlike Segment A, which ran October 9-14, and was relegated to bow and muzzleloader, the upcoming portion, which runs concurrently with the six-day firearm deer season (“Buck Week” as it’s traditionally known), is limited to shotgun and muzzleloader only.
The first hunt saw a take of 331 bruins in the five north Jersey hunting zones spread over eight counties. Should the combined harvest not reach 20% of NJ Fish & Wildlife’s target tally, the hunt will be extended from December 13 through December 16.
The 2023 bear hunting permit ($2 and still available at license issuing agents or through njfishandwildlife.com) must be in possession for the specific zone being hunted. If there is an extension to the Segment B portion, only those permit holders who did not take a bear during the initial hunt are eligible to hunt.
To be sure, the Garden State’s bruin population is robust. And the bruins are big. Really big.
The current world record archery record was harvested in Morris County several years back. It weighed 700 pounds and had a skull measurement of an amazing 23 inches. Several bruins this size have been tagged during winter den research studies. In fact, Jersey bears in the 300-400 pound class don’t even raise eyebrows any longer (unless, of course it’s on your back deck or in your driveway) as these are common sizes.
Bruins have been sighted in all of the Garden State’s 21 counties, and it’s recognized that New Jersey has the most dense population regarding the size of the state. That they are in the southern tier counties is a foregone conclusion.
Our first sighting was in Belleplain State Forest in northen Cape May County back in October‘94, and the second the following June while canoeing a creek (“crik” in south Jersey parlance) feeding Atsion Lake in Cumberland County. Sightings, while not common, continue.
Given the vast and remote undeveloped sizes of land, such as the 122,000-plus acre Wharton State Forest, for example, with its swamps, myriad criks and seeps, and thick pitch pine stands, that’s understandable.
But I digress.
It looks promising for the upcoming week barring torrential rains and big winds. No worries about the brief cold snap...the bruins were out and about. Trust me on that one.
Any bear taken must be brought to one of the mandatory checking stations where it will be affixed with a possession seal. All pertinent regulations regarding the bear hunting season, including the hunting zones and check station locations and times, are found on pages 46-48 in the 2023-24 NJ Hunting & Trapping Digest.
Hiking NJ: Tatum Park
Gallery Credit: Shawn Michaels