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April 4, 2002

2001-02 Deer Seasons Preliminary Harvest Estimate
All Seasons Total

For more information contact:
Al Ivany at 609-984-1795

Based upon preliminary deer harvest data, the Division of Fish and Wildlife is characterizing the 2001-02 deer hunting season as one of the most successful to date for deer management efforts and for deer hunters. An estimated 68,669 deer were harvested during the six deer seasons.

The 2001-02 total was the third highest harvest on record providing deer hunters with one of their best years ever. This year's harvest exceeded the average harvest for the past five years (65,822 deer) by nearly three thousand deer and is indicative of increasing deer harvests over the past few years. Deer harvests and hunting opportunities have increased as a result of the Fish and Game Council's authorization to reduce deer populations over 75 percent of the State's deer range. "The 11% reduction from last year's record harvest of 77,444 deer is a good indication that deer population reduction goals are being met as a result of special harvest programs put in place over the last several years," according to Division Director Bob McDowell. "Continued progress in reducing deer herds will rely on land owners providing access to hunters on lands where deer can be effectively hunted," he added.

Shotgun hunters continued to account for the majority of the deer harvest, with 47% (32,947 deer) of the total deer harvest, including 740 white-tails harvested by youth hunters in New Jersey's first ever youth deer hunt on November 17, 2001. The combined harvest from all three bow seasons accounted for 34% (23,516) of the total harvest and muzzleloader hunters took the remaining 18% (12,206) of the deer harvested this year.

New Jersey has one of the most progressive deer management programs in the country. Maintaining a healthy deer herd at a density compatible with human land uses and maximizing recreation associated with the deer herd and its economic return to the State are key objectives of the deer program. The Division's current deer population management objectives include the reduction of deer populations on 75% of the range.

Special harvest programs were put in place by the Fish and Game Council beginning with the 1999-2000 deer seasons when several major changes in deer hunting regulations were authorized. Those changes included: requiring hunters to take an antlerless deer before taking an antlered buck (earn-a-buck) in major agricultural and suburban zones; limiting deer hunters to one antlered buck per season in all but the firearm buck season and allowing for the taking of an unlimited number of antlerless deer in most deer management zones, including additional days of permit shotgun hunting in November and December in 19 major zones; and extending the permit shotgun, muzzleloader and winter bow seasons to include the first few weeks of February.

The Fish and Game Council's use of earn-a-buck, requiring deer hunters to harvest an antlerless deer (females and male fawns) before taking an antlered buck, continued to achieve the desired result. This year over 25,000 antlerless deer were harvested during all either sex seasons in earn-a-buck zones. The regulation remained in effect in 13 zones where hunter access to private properties is very restrictive. By requiring hunters to take an antlerless deer first, the antlerless deer harvest was increased by as much as five-fold in some seasons.

Summary tables and pie chart are available in PDF format, viewable with the Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Reader is available free from Adobe's Web site).