March 5, 2003
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey sportsmen and women took an estimated 63,031 deer between September 7, 2002 and February 15, 2003. The deer season total is the fourth best in state history and a decline from the 69,970 deer taken in 2001 and the 77,444 taken in 2000.
A decline in this year's deer yield was anticipated as the Division of Fish and Wildlife, together with the Fish and Game Council, sought to reduce the deer population on approximately 68 percent of the state's deer range.
Methods employed to achieve the desired reduction included the Earn-A-Buck regulation, liberal permit shotgun and muzzleloader seasons and allowing for an unlimited antlerless deer taking in most zones.
The use of these methods resulted in a decline in the number of deer complaints received by the Division's Wildlife Services Unit (WSU). According to the WSU, individual residential and commercial complaints were down 53 percent and 14 percent, respectively, in 2002 compared to 2001.
Estimated deer season totals are as follows: Fall Bow - 11,329; Permit Bow - 8,657; Youth Day - 783; Six-day Firearm - 10,524; Permit Muzzleloader - 10,166; Permit Shotgun - 20,678; and Winter Bow - 894. The 2002 yield consisted of 20,783 antlered and 42,248 antlerless deer. The top five deer producing counties were Hunterdon (11,487), Sussex (6,547), Warren (6,538), Burlington (5,186) and Somerset (4,877).