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September 28, 2000

For more information contact:
Daniel Ferrigno at 609-259-8692

Hunters can anticipate another outstanding deer season this fall as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to modify and improve its white-tailed deer management program.

This year's population management objective is to decrease the deer herd on 74 percent of the deer range, stabilize the herd on 22 percent of the range, and increase it on 4 percent of the range. Deer herds will be allowed to increase only in zone 24, which contains mostly public land and has limited agriculture and minimal potential for deer-human conflicts.

According to division Director Bob McDowell, the 2000-01 deer hunting season will include 124 potential deer hunting days and is expected to rank in the all-time top five years in terms of total harvest and recreation days provided.

"Approximately 92,000 deer hunters are expected to participate and contribute $150 million to the state's small businesses in pursuit of their sport," he said.

The deer season began with the opening of the early fall bow season on September 11, 2000 in zones 5, 7-14, 33, 36, 41, 42, 49, 50 and 51. The final seasons are scheduled to end on January 31, 2001 statewide. In those zones, where the fall bow season started on September 11, 2000, hunters were limited to harvesting antlerless deer only through September 29, 2000. This experimental extension of the fall bow season provided bow hunters with an additional three weeks of hunting to satisfy the earn-a-buck requirement of first taking an antlerless deer prior to the traditional opening of the fall bow season on September 30, 2000. Those fall bow hunters who were successful in taking an antlerless deer in one of the early, earn-a-buck zones (5, 7-14, 36, 41, 50 and 51) will be allowed to take one antlered buck from any of the earn-a-buck zones starting September 30.

The three additional weeks combined with the earn-a-buck regulation is expected to result in hunters removing additional female deer in developed areas and in agricultural areas with a high potential for deer-related crop damage. "Combining both the early extension plus earn-a-buck should provide hunters with a quality hunting experience while ensuring that landowners get the relief they need in the form of fewer deer. These benefits will be especially helpful in urban and agricultural areas, since bow hunters can often hunt and harvest deer where firearms are restricted," McDowell said.

Other changes in deer hunting regulations include replacing "New Jersey Bonus Deer Transportation Tags" with "New Jersey Supplemental Deer Transportation Tags". Zones with a bag limit of more than two deer now allow for an unlimited harvest of antlerless deer. The bag limit of one antlered and unlimited antlerless deer, during each of the either sex deer seasons (fall bow, permit bow, permit muzzleloader, permit shotgun and winter bow seasons) will apply to most zones (see shaded zones on the map).

Hunters will not be permitted to harvest more than one antlered buck in all seasons except the six-day firearm season. During the six-day firearm season hunters are permitted to harvest two antlered male deer. In the past, hunters were permitted to buy additional permits and harvest additional antlered male deer. This year, regardless of the number of permits purchased, hunters will be limited to one antlered deer per season, except during the six-day firearm season.

A quality deer management program will be in effect in deer management zones 3, 6, 9, 13, 27, 29, 35, 37, 59, 63, 66 and 67. In these deer management zones, hunters will not be permitted to harvest an antlered male deer unless at least one antler has at least three antler points. This experimental program is intended to increase the harvest of antlerless deer, while allowing the antlered male deer to age. Hunters should expect to see more and larger antlered bucks in these zones as this program continues over the next few years.

The bow, shotgun and muzzleloader permit quotas have been increased considerably over the 1999 permit quotas. A total of 70,210 shotgun permits, 42,255 muzzleloader permits and 55,375 bow permits will be available to hunters wishing to pursue deer during the 2000-01 hunting seasons. These changes in hunting regulations are intended to decrease deer populations, minimize conflicts with motorists and farmers, decrease damage to forest habitats of other wildlife and enhance the quality of the whitetails in the State.

Throughout the State, there are 260,675 acres of Wildlife Management Areas open to deer hunting, administered by the Division of Fish and Wildlife. In addition to the Wildlife Management Areas open to deer hunting, over 70% (255,883 acres) of State Parks and Forest land is open to hunting. With longer deer seasons and more land open to deer hunting, New Jersey's deer hunters have ample opportunities for a successful 2000-01 deer season.

"Management techniques, such as the earn-a-buck program and liberal bag limits and permit quotas, can only be successful if hunters are willing to participate and the deer population is accessible to hunting. This deer season, I encourage landowners to open their lands to hunting wherever possible. A reduction in the deer herd will help decrease the amount of damage to farm crops experienced during the spring and summer growing seasons. It will also reduce damage to residential trees and shrubs and damage to forest understory which reduces nesting habitat for neotropical songbirds," McDowell said.

For the special permit seasons, hunters may once again obtain additional permits not claimed in the mail-in application process. Over-the-counter sales of permits are scheduled to begin October 28 for permit bow season permits and November 12 for shotgun and muzzleloader season permits. Hunters should consult the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, hunting season issue for specific bag limits and regulations.