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Early Fall Bow Deer Season Opens in Certain Zones September 10
Statewide Season Kicks Off October 1
Youth Bow Hunt Scheduled for September 24

September 2, 2011

It's hard to believe that summer is winding down and cooler temperatures will soon prevail. This may be a sad time for some, but for hunters it marks the beginning of another exciting season of great deer hunting in the Garden State!

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters they will not have to wait much longer to pursue their favorite pastime, as the 2011 New Jersey Fall Bow Deer Season opens on Saturday, September 10 in certain zones. After the early opener, the statewide season kicks off on October 1 and runs through October 28. Permit bow season then starts up on Saturday, October 29.

Young hunters will have their own special day again as the popular Youth Bow Hunt is scheduled for Saturday, September 24.

Important Bow Season Updates and Reminders

There were important Game Code amendments approved by the NJ Fish and Game Council relevant to bow hunters for the upcoming season. These include the following:

  • Removal of the requirement for youth hunters to take an antlerless deer before an antlered deer during the early fall bow deer season for deer management zones in regulation sets 4, 6 and 8.
  • Inclusion of deer management zones 28, 30, 31, 34, 47 into the Antler Point Restriction program.
  • Creation of a new deer regulation set.
  • Boundary changes to deer management zones 19, 23, 25 and 65.
  • Hunters using a ground blind when there is a concurrent deer firearm season must now display 200 inches of hunter orange atop the blind and visible from all sides or within 5 feet of the blind and higher than the blind or at least 3 feet off the ground, whichever is higher.
Hunters should check the 2011-12 NJ Hunting and Trapping Digest for a full explanation of all regulation changes.

The Bow Hunting Safety Zone Perimeter Bill signed into law by Governor Christie last year reduces the minimum distance from an occupied building where a bowhunter may have a nocked arrow from 450 feet to 150 feet. Carrying a bow with a nocked arrow within 150 feet of an occupied building or 450 feet of any school playground is prohibited. Any portion of the school grounds (including fields used for sports), that could be used for play or recreation, is considered to be part of a playground

The owner or lessee of a building-and persons specifically authorized by the owner or lessee in writing (written permission must be in possession while hunting)-may hunt within 150 feet of the building. Persons authorized to hunt within 150 feet of a building must hunt from an elevated position to shoot down toward the ground. Shooting into a safety zone is prohibited.

Sunday bow hunting is allowed on Wildlife Management Areas and on private property ONLY. There are no exceptions to this rule. It is extremely important for all hunters to know the boundary lines of the property (s) they are hunting.

Crossbows are now included in the definition of "bow" in the hunting regulations. This means that sportsmen and sportswomen interested in hunting with a crossbow are now allowed to do so anywhere and during any hunting season a compound, recurve or longbow can be used. Crossbows must however, have minimum draw weights of 75 pounds.

If you do not have private land available to you for hunting don't worry. There are more than 750,000 acres of public lands open to the New Jersey deer hunter. A current listing of these lands can be found at Online maps of Wildlife Management Areas are also available and can be viewed at

Extensive information regarding deer hunting in New Jersey including season dates, bag limits, regulations and important changes to the Game Code for this season can be found in the 2011-12 NJ Hunting and Trapping Digest or on the Fish and Wildlife Web site at:

All hunters should be completely familiar with the rules and regulations pertaining to the areas they wish to hunt.

Take a Kid Hunting Youth Bow Hunt

Youth bow hunters with a valid youth hunting license will have their own special day to harvest a deer on Saturday, September 24 as part of the Division of Fish and Wildlife's popular Take a Kid Hunting Program.

Youth may hunt statewide for one deer of either sex on this day. They MUST be under the direct supervision of a person who is at least 21 years old and who has a valid bow and arrow license. Direct supervision is defined as both the youth hunter and parent/guardian set up together at the same location, hunting as a unit, not hunting independently. The adult CANNOT hunt or possess a bow. The adult may grunt, call or rattle for the youth.

This hunt is an extension of the fall bow season so no special season deer permit is required. Youths are also exempt from the "antlerless first" requirement which is in effect for the regular Fall Bow Season in all zones of Regulation Sets 3A, 4, 6, and 8.

Successful youth hunters must tag their deer with a homemade transportation tag, or cut out the deer transportation tag provided on page 29 in the 2011-12 NJ Hunting and Trapping Digest. The tag must include the youth's hunting license number or Conservation ID number, sex of deer, number of antler points, date, zone, county and township from which the deer was taken, and must say "Taken during the Bow Youth Hunt." No supplemental tags are issued when Youth Hunt deer are checked.

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Last Updated: September 1, 2011