Hiking in NJ During Hunting Season

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New Jersey Hunting Season schedules, rules, and resources for hikers.

Hiking in NJ During Hunting Season

New 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.

Summary:

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 dates:

From September to February, hike only on Sundays in areas closed to bow hunting.

These tend to be State Parks/Forests and County Parks, or on any day at the non-hunting parks listed below.

But you can still hike.

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.


2020 – 2021 Season

Key Dates:

Sept. 12 – Early Fall Bow starts (Zones in Regulation Sets 4-8 only)
Sept. 26 – (Saturday / 1 Day) – Youth Bow.

Oct. 3 – Fall Bow starts, Statewide.
Oct. 12-17 (M – Sa) – Bear (Segment A – Archery/Muzzleloader)
Oct. 31 – Permit Bow starts.

Nov. 21 (Saturday / 1 Day) – Youth Firearm.
Nov 23 – Muzzleloader/Shotgun starts (Except Thanksgiving; varies by zone).

Dec. 7-12 (M – Sa) – Six-day Firearm Deer / Bear (Segment B).
Dec. 16-19 (W – Sa) – If Extended, Firearm Bear (Segment B).

Jan. 1, 2021 – Winter Bow starts.
Small Game – Hunted throughout the year.

Most hikers go all over the state and aren’t thinking about hunting zones so we’ve created a simplified range for bow and firearm deer seasons across the state.

There are gaps within these ranges, look up regulation sets for zone by zone detailed dates. Use the NJ Deer Hunting Interactive zone map to zoom into the area you’d like to hike.

Overall Bow Range:

Sept. 12, 2020 – Feb. 20, 2021
(M – Sa, Sunday hunting at WMAs only. No hunting Christmas Day or Thanksgiving)

Overall Firearm Range:

Oct. 15-17, 2020 (Bear Segment A – Muzzleloader)
Nov. 23, 2020 – Feb 13, 2021
(M – Sa, no Sundays. No hunting Christmas Day or Thanksgiving)

Bear Season:

There are two segments: Archery/Muzzleloader in October and Firearm in December (same dates as Firearm Deer).

2020, 2019, 2018:
No bear hunting on state forests, parks, recreation areas and natural areas, and wildlife management areas.

2016:
A second bear season was added in October, first 3 days archery, second 3 days archery/muzzleloader. In addition, the bear hunt can be extended if objectives are not met after Segment B in December. 


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.

2020 change – Pennsylvania is adding hunting on these dates:

  • Sunday, November 15 – archery deer.
  • Sunday, November 22 – firearm bear.
  • Sunday, November 29 – firearm deer.


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 bottom of this page for blaze orange gear.

Some non-hunting park options:

Rules can change at any time – contact the specific park if you have questions. Contact us to add a park that is missing or has changed.

Apshawa Preserve – Passaic County.

Black Run Preserve – Burlington County.

Hacklebarney State Park – Day use area (note that a large portion of this park is hunting only). Morris County.

Harriman State Park (New York, just over the northern NJ border). No-hunting in most of the park. Hunting allowed west of Rt. 17 (as of 2009).

Jockey Hollow – Morristown NHP, Morris County.

Kittatinny Valley – Non-hunting area is the main section of the park, between Goodall Road and Lime Crest Road. Sussex County.

Palisades Interstate Park – A few of the hike options: Alpine to Forest View, Alpine to Huyler’s Landing and The Giant Stairs. Bergen County.

Ramapo Valley County Reservation – Note that the surrounding areas of Ramapo Mountain State Forest and Ringwood State Forest allow hunting. Bergen County.

Tenafy Nature Center – Always no hunting; 7 miles of trails. Bergen County.

No-hunting most of the time, but do close some days for hunts:

Great Swamp NWR – Closed to the public certain dates in November. Morris County.

Hartshorne Woods Park – Hunting on certain days Dec/Jan. Monmouth County.

Morris County Parks:
Some parks are closed to hikers during firearm hunts, be sure to check the schedule for closures.
Hikes in this area include Pyramid Mountain, Schooley’s Mountain, Lewis Morris Country Park, Black River Parks (Kay Center, Willowwood, Bamboo Brook, Knight/Allen, Chester Twp. etc. 

South Mountain ReservationPark is usually closed on Tues. and Thurs., between certain dates Jan – Feb. Essex County.

Watchung Reservation – And several parks that are part of the Union County Deer Management Program have deer bow hunting on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Oct. 1 thru mid-Feb as well as shotgun days from Jan through early-Feb. Parks are not closed to the public but portions can be closed for safety.

Washington Valley Park – May be closed to the public certain dates in Jan and Feb. – check the park’s page for dates. Somerset County.

Wells Mills County ParkTrails closed as a safety precaution during Firearm Season. Ocean County.

Allows hunting AND closed to hikers sometimes:

Baldpate Mountain – CLOSED to the public Wed. – Sat. during firearm season days in December. Also closed Wed. – Sat. from mid-December to mid-February. See Mercer County deer management for closure dates. Mercer County.

Mercer County Park – “Lake North” Region Trails CLOSED Monday-Thursday Dec. 7-31, 2020 and Monday-Saturday Jan. 1-Feb 13. 2021.

Used to be no-hunting anytime:

Cheesequake State Park. Bow hunting allowed since 2011. No hunting on Sunday. Middlesex County. 

Plainsboro PreserveUpdate 11/2019 – Noticed this has now allows bow hunting certain days; closes entirely for firearm. See park site for latest details. Middlesex County. 


Hunting Season Resources for New Jersey Hikers

Hunting in New Jersey – Division of Fish and Wildlife. Regulation sets, digest, deer, black bear seasons.

NJ Deer Hunting Interactive zone map – Links to the corresponding regulation set to check date ranges of the exact area you want to hike. Deer zone map.

NJ Black Bear Hunt Information – Info and date range.

Hunting Seasons in NY/NJ – Info from the NY-NJ Trail Conference.


Hunting Season Resources by County

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. Each park has different rules, including being closed entirely to hikers certain hours and days.

Morris County Parks – List of hunting sites and dates; page of info for non-hunters. Note that some parks are closed to hiking during shotgun hunting on certain weekdays.

Ocean County Parks – Interactive map showing hunting/no-hunting on Natural Land Trust areas.

Somerset County / Franklin Township Hunting
Very specific usage rules; areas often closed entirely to non-hunters on certain days or even times of the day. Usage per season, hunting areas map. No hunting on Sundays. Covers parks such as Bunker Hill, Butler Road, Griggstown Grassland Preserve, Negri-Nepote Grassland Preserve.

Union County Parks – Program regulations. Parks such as Watchung Reservation.

Pennsylvania Hunting Rules

PA Game Commission – Pennsylvania hunting season info. Scroll down for pocket guide PDF.

Pennsylvania hunting season tips – Good overview of PA rules, seasons, and how to safely enjoy hiking during hunting season in PA.

Pennsylvania State Game Lands – Blaze orange regulation:
“All hunters and non-hunters are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined, or a fluorescent orange hat, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 (except on Sundays).

The orange material must be visible from all angles (360 degrees).”

New York Hunting Rules

New York  Hunting Seasons – Zone maps with date ranges for New York.

Other

Tips for hikers during hunting season – Tips; also info regarding hunting on the Appalachian Trail.


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.