New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife Back to State of NJ Homepage Back to Fish and Wildlife Homepage Back to DEP Homepage 

September 5, 2001


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 75 percent of the deer range, stabilize the herd on 21 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 2001-02 deer hunting season will include 138 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. With favorable weather on popular hunting days (opening days and Saturdays) the previous year's harvest record could be broken with a potential harvest of over 80,000 deer.

"Approximately 90,000 deer hunters are expected to participate and contribute $150 million to the state's small businesses in pursuit of their sport," McDowell said.

The first of New Jersey's six deer seasons, the Fall Bow Season, is scheduled to open on Saturday, September 8, in deer management zones 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42, 49, 50 & 51. Hunters will be limited to taking antlerless deer only during the period of September 8 through September 28. On Saturday, September 29 the Fall Bow Season will open statewide and will remain open through October 26. The early fall bow opener was authorized to help reduce deer herds in agricultural and suburban deer management zones. Deer populations in these areas have been slated for reduction in order to reduce conflicts (agricultural and ornamental depredations and deer-vehicle accidents) between deer and people.

Approximately 51,000 bow hunters are expected to participate in the fall bow season and enjoy over half a million days of recreation. It is anticipated that between 13,000 to 14,000 white-tailed deer will be harvested.

Numerous changes in deer hunting regulations have been authorized for the 2001-02 deer seasons. In addition, several important programs, such as antler point restrictions, Earn-a-Buck regulations, and bag limits of only one antlered deer per season, except during the Six-Day Firearm Season have been continued. Hunters should consult the "Deer Regulation Sets" starting on page 34 of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest, August hunting season issue for specific bag limits and regulations. Some of the more notable changes authorized by the Fish and Game Council include the following:

  1. The permit bow season has been extended in 17 zones through December 31, 2001. "Combining both the December 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.

  2. A special Youth Deer Hunting Day has been established for Saturday, November 17, 2001. On this day, properly licensed youth hunters may harvest one deer of either sex when accompanied and supervised by a licensed adult over 21 years of age acting as a mentor. A youth may use a shotgun or muzzleloader provided he/she has taken the necessary safety course and the mentoring adult, who may NOT hunt on that day, is also trained with the appropriate firearm. Note that this restriction does not apply to properly licensed bow hunters who may hunt on Nov. 17 when the Fall Bow Season is open statewide. In addition regarding the special youth hunting day, restrictions on Earn-A-Buck or QDM (Quality Deer Management) antler points do not apply.

  3. In some zones the Permit Muzzleloader season has been increased to 50 or 67 days.

  4. The Permit Shotgun, Muzzleloader and Winter Bow seasons will be extended through February 16, 2002 in Earn-A-Buck zones. Of these three seasons, McDowell called special attention to the Winter Bow Season stating, "For years bow hunters have made a significant impact by harvesting deer in suburban areas not normally open to firearm hunting. In order to enhance this opportunity, the Winter Bow Season has been extended to mid-February in Earn-A-Buck zones. Bow hunters in these zones can hunt from Sept. 8 until Feb. 16, 2002."
These changes and other deer hunting regulations are intended to decrease deer populations, minimize conflicts with motorists and farmers, decrease damage to forest habitats and enhance the quality of white-tails 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, more than 70% (343,997 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 2001-02 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," McDowell said.


The normal life expectancy for a white-tailed deer is between 10 and 12 years of age. While actual weights vary depending on habitat-type and quality, age of the animal and season of the year, adults average 100 pounds (females) to 150 pounds (males).

During summer, adults have a thin coat of reddish-brown hair. This coat is shed during August and September and replaced with brownish-gray winter hair with a darker streak along the spinal column. The top of the tail is similar and is broadly fringed with white down to the tip below.


Antlers are composed of true bone that grows from the front of the skull each year starting in April. The bone is full of blood vessels and nerves, and is covered with "velvet." Growth continues through August or September, when calcium is deposited along the blood vessels. The bone then hardens, and the velvet dries up and sloughs off or is rubbed off against trees and shrubs. By November, all of the velvet is rubbed off. Deer shed their antlers by winter's end.

Antlers play an important role in deer society. Rubbing the antlers on trees marks territories and sparring matches determine dominance.


Does come into heat for a 24-hour period (if not bred, the female will come into heat approximately 28 days later). The shorter days of autumn and the animal's condition govern the exact timing of the rut. Studies indicate that the peak of the mating season in New Jersey occurs during the first three weeks of November in northern counties and during the last three weeks in southern counties. Males are usually incapable of breeding until their second year.


Knowing where deer are active and their movement patterns is critical when selecting a place to hunt. Although the deer is a large animal, its home range is one of the smallest among wild ruminants. Studies in Hunterdon County (January 1970 to July 1976) indicated the main home range size to be one square mile or less. A study in the Pine Barrens (March 1973 and July 1978) indicated that home range sizes varied between 120 and 400 acres; however most activity was within "core" areas of 40 to 60 acres.

The general home range size is the same for males and females; however, there is a greater tendency for bucks to disperse long distances. Does appear to be more reluctant to leave the regular feeding areas and remain close to home during the fawning season. Their movements during the rutting (breeding) season tend to be in large circles within their range rather than dispersal out of the range. The principal month for dispersal is November, which coincides with the breeding season.


Many wildlife management areas (WMAs) and state parks throughout the state are open to deer hunting. Hunters may wish to consider purchasing the Division's Wild Places and Open Spaces map. Information about the map and an order form can be obtained on the website at Designed similar to a road map, it not only contains valuable information on Division wildlife management areas and the variety of wildlife present, but also includes state parks, forests and more - over 700,000 acres in all. In addition to viewing the open space map, website visitors can also view a list of public land open to deer hunting.


Thanks to sound management, New Jersey's deer herd is thriving. However, in our densely populated and developed state, management objectives call for reducing the deer population on about three-quarters of their range. This means the role of the hunter and his/her willingness to harvest adequate numbers of antlerless deer are essential parts of successful deer management.

New Jersey's liberal seasons and bag limits allow hunters numerous days of outdoor recreation. The Division of Fish and Wildlife encourages hunters to get out and enjoy this time of year, and to be our partners in keeping white-tailed deer an asset among our wildlife resources.


For more information on deer and deer hunting in the Garden State, visit the Division's website at