October 21, 1997

For more information contact:
Daniel Ferrigno at 609-748-2043

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protectionís Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, an estimated 1,781 white-tailed deer were harvested statewide during the opening day of the 1997 Fall Bow Season on October 4. This preliminary harvest estimate was based on a recent sampling of deer check stations throughout the state and represents a decrease from last yearís record opening day harvest of 2,555 deer. (Click here for 1986-1997 table.)

In addition, an estimated 119 antlerless deer were harvested during the opening day of bow season in suburban deer management zones 13, 36, 42 and 49 which began three weeks earlier than the regular bow season on September 13. The experimental extension to the fall bow season provided bow hunters with an additional three weeks of hunting and included the "earn-a-buck" provision where during the first three weeks, hunters were required to harvest an antlerless deer before harvesting an antlered buck. In other words, from September 13 - October 3, bow hunters in these highly suburban zones with very limited hunter access had to earn the privilege of harvesting an antlered buck by first taking an antlerless deer. Results were encouraging with antlerless harvests of 93 in zone 13; 15 in zone 36; 10 in zone 49; and 1 in zone 42.

Opening day results for the rest of the state (on October 4) were fairly consistent, however, bow hunters in the central region fared somewhat better than those in the north and south. Northern and southern region check stations registered 33 percent fewer deer than last year, while central region stations experienced a smaller decline of 20 percent. The Fish and Game Councilís decision to eliminate the restriction of harvesting antlered bucks only in zones 21 and 24 boosted the central region total. Either-sex hunting was also restored to the full fall bow season in zones 1 and 3. Totals for check stations on those areas reflected an increased harvest in zones 1 and 3, however, the number of deer taken in those zones is not large enough to have a big impact on the northern regionís total as a whole.

This harvest estimate was based on a comprehensive telephone survey of 81 deer check stations. In the past, this type of estimate has been extremely accurate. For example, last yearís harvest estimate for the opening day of fall bow season was 2,449 deer and the actual harvest was 2,555.

A summary of recent opening day harvests follows:

Opening Day Harvests
1986 - 1997

Year Harvest Hunting Conditions
1997 1,781* Warm & sunny, mid-upper 70s
1996 2,555 Excellent - cool & mostly sunny
1995 2,517 Excellent - cool & partly sunny
1994 1,148 Fair - light rain, light wind
1993 1,508 Excellent - breezy
1992 804 Rainy, then clearing
1991 1,640 Excellent weather
1990 1,019 Mild weather
1989 1,388 Good weather
1988 989 Good weather
1987 1,230 Excellent weather
1986 633 Poor, rainy weather

* estimate

The fall bow season not only provides recreation to approximately 50,000 bow hunters, but also contributes to deer population management because it allows for the taking of antlerless deer. By harvesting a sufficient number of antlerless deer in each zone, populations are maintained in a healthy condition and at levels that minimize conflicts between deer and people. This is particularly important in areas with a high incidence of agricultural damage and deer-vehicle collisions. Overall, the Division's population management objectives are designed to reduce deer populations on 70 percent of the range, stabilize populations on 29 percent and allow for small increases in deer populations on only one percent of the stateís deer range. Zones where deer populations will be allowed to increase contain mostly public lands with little agriculture and minimal potential for deer-human conflicts.

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