New Jersey Shuffles Deer-hunting Dates The Muzzle-loading Rifle Season Will Be Longer. The Fall Bow Season, However, Was Shortened. Officials Want To Give Muzzleloader Hunters A Chance To Harvest More Deer.

Posted: July 21, 1996

New Jersey hunters who use muzzle-loading rifles will have more opportunities to hunt deer this year, but archers who hunt during the fall bow season will have fewer, the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife has announced.

As a result of changes to the 1996-97 New Jersey Game Code, two days - Dec. 2 and 3 - have been added to the permit muzzleloader season in most deer-management zones. Muzzleloader hunting will be allowed on Dec. 2, 3, 16, 17, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30 and 31, and from Jan. 1 to 4, 1997.

This year's fall bow season will run from Oct. 5 through Nov. 1 - two weeks less than in 1995.

Shortening the fall bow season - and giving muzzleloader hunters the chance to hunt two days before the start of the six-day firearms season on Dec. 9 - will make more antlered deer available to muzzleloader enthusiasts, division biologists said.

The changes were recommended by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council, which regulates seasons and bag limits. Officials said they believed that muzzleloader hunters, who number more than 20,000, should be given a chance to harvest more deer than they have in the past.

Hunters who use muzzle-loading rifles represent 12 percent of all deer hunters in New Jersey, but in recent years they have harvested only about 5 percent of the bucks killed by hunters of all types, biologists said. Now, with the addition of two hunting days, muzzleloader hunters will account for 12.8 percent of the buck harvest during 1996-97, according to biologists' estimates.

Archers, who represent 31.5 percent of all New Jersey hunters, are expected to kill 33.8 percent of all bucks taken during 1996-97, biologists said. Had the bow season not been shortened, archers would have been expected to account for 42.3 percent of all bucks harvested in 1996-97.

Although the fall bow season has been cut, officials have added one week to the permit bow season, which will take place Nov. 2 to Nov. 30 in most deer-management zones. In addition, the winter bow season, scheduled for Jan. 1 to Feb. 1, 1997, will run concurrently with the permit shotgun season. In previous years, winter bow hunting was prohibited on days when the permit shotgun season was open.

Among other things, the division also announced that:

* Turkey Hunting Area 22, which includes portions of Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic Counties, will be open for the 1997 spring turkey-hunting season.

Biologists said that the number of turkeys in this area has grown large enough to allow hunting.

* A statewide season for coyotes, by permit only, will take place from Feb. 1 to Feb. 17, 1997. Hunters can use bows, shotguns and muzzle-loading rifles. The daily bag limit will be two.

The division said that the purpose of the hunt is to provide relief to landowners whose livestock has been harmed by coyotes, which can be found in 17 of the state's 21 counties.

* Hunters can use deer decoys statewide during the fall bow, winter bow and special-permit bow seasons.

ANTLERLESS-LICENSE ALERT. Pennsylvania's deer seasons are months away, but the start of the timetable for applying for permits to hunt antlerless deer is just around the corner.

In all, 724,350 antlerless licenses will be available for sale this summer in 61 of the state's 67 counties. Six special-regulation counties - Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Allegheny - will have an unlimited number of licenses.

Beginning Aug. 5, county treasurers will accept, through the mail only, applications for licenses from Pennsylvania residents, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced. Nonresidents can apply beginning Aug. 19.

On Aug. 22, county treasurers will begin to accept mail applications for bonus antlerless licenses from holders of valid muzzleloader licenses. On Aug. 26, residents and nonresidents can apply by mail for a regular antlerless or first bonus license. Starting Sept. 9, county treasurers may accept applications by mail for regular antlerless licenses and first and second bonus licenses.

With the exception of the six special-regulation counties, there will be no over-the-counter sales of bonus licenses.

The number of antlerless licenses and bonus tags available in counties outside the six special-regulation areas will depend on how many licenses are left at the time a hunter sends in an application, the commission said.

The number of antlerless licenses that the commission makes available for purchase in each county is based on the size of a county's deer population.

Applications for antlerless licenses are given to hunters when they buy regular 1996-97 hunting licenses, which went on sale several weeks ago.

NEW LOOK. People who buy Pennsylvania hunting licenses will notice something different this year.

The familiar, pocket-size copies of the Digest of Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which were small enough to fit inside a hunter's license holder, are now history.

They have been replaced by a larger digest, whose dimensions are 8 1/4 inches by 5 1/4 inches. Going to the new format saved $30,000 in printing costs, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Digests are given to everyone who buys a hunting license.

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