Hiking in NJ During Hunting Season

2015-2016 New Jersey Hunting Season schedules, rules, and resources.

Hiking in NJ During Hunting SeasonNew Jersey hunting regulations can be confusing. Each park or area can have it’s own rules and dates, so you need to check into each park to make sure. Most do allow hunting at least some time during the season – but it may just be for certain dates or areas of the park.

We’ve provided dates and links to resources below to help sort it out… but the easiest, most general answer for the average casual hiker who doesn’t want to hike in hunting areas and doesn’t want to sort through the dates: From September to February, hike only on Sundays in areas closed to bow hunting, which tend to be State Parks/Forests and County Parks.

However, there is no need to stop hiking during hunting season, just be aware if there is hunting allowed where you are going. The safest bet is to simply be visible by wearing blaze orange during the entire season.

Tips: Stay on designated hiking trails. Make noise as you hike. Avoid wearing brown/tan or white (deer colors) and have blaze orange visible from all directions. In general, hunting is done very early or late in the day when hikers are usually not on the trail anyways.

2015 – 2016 Season Key Dates

Sept. 12 – Fall Bow, Zones 4-8 only
Sept. 26 (Saturday) – Youth Bow
Oct. 3 – Fall Bow, Statewide
Nov. 21 (Saturday) – Youth Firearm
Dec. 7 – Dec. 12, 2015 (Monday – Saturday) – Six-day Firearm Deer / Bear Hunt
Small Game – Hunted throughout the year, for info, check here.

Most hikers go all over the state and aren’t thinking about hunting zones so we’ve sorted through the 2015-16 Deer Regulation sets and created a summary of all possible deer days across the state.

If you hike mostly in one particular area, look up that zone as there will likely be less hunting days than the summary here.

Overall Bow Range:
Sept. 12, 2015 – Feb. 20, 2016
(Sundays are WMAs only. No hunting Christmas/Thanksgiving)

Overall Firearm Range (none on Sunday):
Nov. 23 – Dec. 4 (M – F, except Thanksgiving)
Dec. 7 – 31 (M – SA, except Christmas Day)
Jan. 1 – Feb. 13, 2016 (M – SA)

New for 2015 – The Bear hunt can be extended by four days the following week if objectives are not met.  The addition of an October bow/muzzleloader bear season is not until 2016. See New Jersey’s Black Bear Hunting Season.

Sunday Hunting

There is no hunting on SUNDAY in New Jersey EXCEPT for certain Wildlife Management Areas and private lands. Prior to 2009, the best option was to limit your hiking to Sundays but now if where you hike is a WMA you need to check the NJ Fish and Wildlife list to make sure your park is OK: Lands Open or Closed to Sunday Bow Hunting.

Be Visible

Wear bright colors or blaze/hunter orange when hiking during hunting season. A hat, vest, jacket, bright backpack etc… and if you hike with a canine companion, you can get a blaze orange dog vest for them. See the the bottom of this page for blaze orange gear.

Some non-hunting park options:

(Rules can change at anytime, contact the specific park if you have questions.)

Some parks that are no-hunting most of the time but do close some days for hunts:

  • Baldpate Mountain – Best bet… hike on Sundays as the park is closed to non-hunters during Permit Shotgun, Permit Muzzleloader, and Six-day Firearm days. Should be open on Dec 25th and Jan 1)
  • Great Swamp NWR – closed to the public certain dates in November
  • Morris County Parks Schedule and Info for non-hunters. (Pyramid Mountain, Schooley’s Mountain, Lewis Morris Country Park, Black River Parks (Kay Center, Willowwood, Bamboo Brook, Knight/Allen, Chester Twp. etc)
  • Union County Deer Management Program – Lenape Park, the Watchung Reservation, Passaic River Park may be closed to the public certain dates in Jan/Feb, usually Mondays.
  • Washington Valley Park – may be closed to the public certain dates in January
  • Wells Mills County Park – Ocean County. Trails closed as a safety precaution during Firearm Season.

Park that used to be no-hunting anytime but is no longer:

Hunting Season Resources for New Jersey Hikers
NJ Deer Hunting Regulation Set 2015-16 – List of hunting dates. Zones shown here.
NJ Black Bear Hunt Information – Monday Dec. 7 – Saturday Dec. 12, 2015
Hunting and Trapping Digest – From NJ Fish & Wildlife, has regulations, zones, season dates etc… a lot of into to weed through
Hunting Seasons in NY/NJ 2014 – Info from the NY-NJ Trail Conference.
Public Deer Hunting Land in New Jersey – List of hunting land from NJ Fish & Wildlife
State Parks open to hunting – lists parks open to hunting from NJ Parks & Forests. Assume if the State Park is not on here, there is no hunting at it.
Lands Open or Closed to Sunday Bow Hunting – List of WMAs and public lands that are still CLOSED to hunting on Sunday
Somerset County – Franklin Township Hunting – Very specific usage rules; areas often closed entirely to non-hunters on certain days or even times of day. No hunting on Sundays.
Hunterdon County Hunting – List of hunting dates, parks. No Sunday bow hunting on Park Property.
Mercer County Hunting – Info, hunting area maps, closure dates.
Monmouth County Parks – areas open for hunting and zone maps (scroll down page)
Morris County Parks – list of hunting sites and dates; and they have a page of Info for non-hunters. Note that some parks are closed to hiking during shotgun hunting on certain weekdays.
NY Hunting Season Summary – Zone maps with date ranges for NY.
Safety on the trail during hunting season – article with good some tips

Blaze Orange Hiking Gear

We’ve made it easy on you and collected a selection of clothing/gear to help keep you (and your dog!) visible while hiking during hunting season.