Is Hunting Legal in New Jersey?

NJ Hunting Rules Hunting and trapping in New Jersey is a popular activity for many Northern and Western New Jersey residents, but there are rules for doing it legally. Once you know how to lawfully hunt and trap, the process is very simple.  Below you will find the steps you need to take and more importantly, the conduct you want to avoid when it comes to hunting in this state. If you have already been charged with a weapons crime or issued a violation because perhaps you were unaware of the extensive state regulations for hunting, the experienced attorneys at The Tormey Law Firm are prepared to assist you. Simply contact us at (201) 614-2474 to speak with a New Jersey gun lawyer about your unique situation free of charge.

Do I Need a License for Hunting in New Jersey?

If you wish to hunt in New Jersey you must first obtain a valid Hunting or Trapping License.  There are several types in the Garden State and depending on your background, age, and how you wish to hunt, will determine the type of certificate you need to acquire.  Let’s first begin with the basic Hunting License. Again, all persons who wish to hunt or trap in New Jersey must be properly licensed. To acquire the proper paperwork you must: (1) be the proper age, (2) complete the online Hunter Education Course which can be found online at, and (3) pay the licensing fee.

How old do you have to be to hunt in NJ?

A license to hunt may be issued to any person who is 10 years of age or older, and a license to trap may be granted to any person who is 12 years of age or older. The child can be a resident or non-resident.  Further, if the youth is between the ages of 10 and 14, the child must be supervised by an adult.  However, above the age of 15, the youth can hunt or trap without adult supervision.  And lastly, a youth license is valid until the child reaches the age of 16.  From there, he or she must obtain an adult license.

What is the NJ Hunting License Test?

The hunting course focuses on safety and how to properly use a firearm and bow and arrow.  Following the course, the participant must pass a 100-question test and then print the results. It’s important to print the results so you have a hard copy because you must present proof to an agent that you passed the test in order to receive a license.  The agent cannot look up your scores and if you do not supply the proper documentation, he or she will not issue you a license.

What Else is Required for a New Jersey Hunting License?

After passing the test, you can turn in proof that you passed the course to an authorized agent who can be found online. In addition, you will also need to supply your driver’s license number, social security number, and date of birth.  If everything is correctly supplied and the fee is paid, the agent will issue you a valid New Jersey Hunting License, which is effective for one calendar year.  The fees vary depending on what type of license or permit you are seeking.  If you are a resident of New Jersey and wish to obtain a traditional license to hunt with a firearm, the fee is $27.50.  If you are not a resident, the fee is $135.50. A resident bow and arrow license costs $31.50 and an out-of-state permit is $135.50.

Can I hunt in NJ with a license from another state?

If you are a gun owner from out-of-state but wish to visit New Jersey to hunt, you may do so, but you must first obtain a New Jersey license.  The process itself is very straightforward. Simply present a hunting license from your home state or pass the online hunting course and supply proof that you passed the test.

What is an Apprentice Hunting License?

An apprentice license is a certificate authorizing a person to hunt without completing the hunting course.  However, like a youth license, the apprentice must be supervised while hunting by a mentor.  A mentor shall be 21 years of age or older and possess a valid New Jersey hunting license. Additionally, both residents and non-residents are eligible and a person can obtain two apprentice licenses over the course of their lifetime. Thereafter, they need to acquire a hunting or trapping license.

How do I Legally Hunt in New Jersey?

When you are ready to hunt, there are a few mandates that a person must follow.  Again, make sure you possess a valid license and make sure the license is openly displayed.  Most hunters and trappers attach the license to their clothing so it can easily be viewed by law enforcement.  Additionally, a person is also obligated to wear an outer garment containing no less than 200 square inches of fluorescent orange material or a similarly colored hat, which can be seen at all times from all different angles.

Once you are properly dressed, you need to make sure you are using a lawful weapon.  A licensed hunter cannot use a silencer or a “smart” rifle.  They also cannot use a shotgun that is larger than 10-guage and cannot utilize air guns unless they are hunting for small animals such as rabbits or squirrels. On top of that, bows are permitted but the arrows cannot be explosive or laced with poison. Also, hunters and trappers cannot utilize drones. The premise behind these regulations is to promote a fair pursuit of the animal.

And lastly, with regard to locations, most state parks are open to hunting and the proper areas can be found online from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Is important not to trespass or cause serious damage to private property, as a person could face criminal charges if they fail to hunt within the authorized sites.

What if You Violate New Jersey Hunting Regulations?

If you violate any of New Jersey’s hunting regulations, you will likely be fined.  Keep in mind, violating a regulation is not a criminal offense. It is a civil violation, similar to receiving a traffic ticket.  Some common violations are hunting or trapping without a license, which is a $10 penalty.  Also, any person who tries to alter, transfer or misrepresent information when seeking a permit is subject to a fine between $25 and $50.00.  Further, if an out-of-state resident wrongfully obtains an in-state license, he or she is liable for $100.  Finally, if a person commits two violations within five years, their permit shall be revoked. Nevertheless, if a person disagrees with the fine or revocation, he or she can appeal the decision to the State Fish and Game Council. Again, the aforementioned infractions are only civil violations.  They are not criminal offenses and cannot result in a criminal record or any other penalties such as jail time.

Can I be Charged with a Crime while Hunting in NJ?

It is possible to find yourself facing criminal charges if you do not hunt properly. For instance, an individual can be charged with trespassing if they enter private property. According to the New Jersey criminal code, a person commits the offense of trespass if they knowingly enter or remain in any place as to which notice against trespass is given by: (1) actual communication to the actor; (2) posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or (3) fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude intruders.  Defiant trespass is a petty disorderly persons offense and therefore, if convicted, the person can be sent to jail for 30 days, ordered to serve probation, and subject to a fine up to $500.00.

Nevertheless, if accused, there are a few affirmative defenses that can be raised.  First, if the property is abandoned, a person cannot be convicted of trespass.  Second, if the land or area was open to the public and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed regarding access to the area. And lastly, the person reasonably believed that the owner of the property would have permitted him or her to enter or remain on the premises.

Another common and very serious criminal offense is unlawful possession of a weapon, which is a second degree felony offense when it involves a firearm that carries with it a jail term up to 10 years and a fine of $150,000. Indeed, a person is allowed to hunt with a gun and is allowed to carry the firearm to and from their home and the hunting area. In addition, they are permitted to do the same with respect to target ranges.  However, what many hunters, especially out of state residents, tend to do is travel with their firearms improperly.  To lawfully travel with a firearm in New Jersey, the firearm must be unloaded and contained in a closed and fastened case or gun box.  It must also be securely placed in the truck of the vehicle. Additionally, the owner must travel directly to and from their home or hunting site and refrain from any unnecessary detours. If the person is stopped by police, it is best to immediately alert the officer that you are traveling with a firearm and it is properly, and safely, located in the trunk of the vehicle.

What many people believe is they are permitted to carry their firearm anywhere in public.  Unfortunately, that is not legal and cannot be done unless they have a permit to carry. Also, many out-of-state residents believe their license to carry from another state is valid in New Jersey.  It is not and therefore, you will be criminally charged. Notably, it is not a defense to claim you did not understand New Jersey law because you reside elsewhere.  Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse.  It is everyone’s duty to know and understand the law.  To that end, if you are planning to travel to another State with your gun, it is imperative you research the law of the State.

Facing Gun Charges related to Hunting, What are my options?

If you are charged with unlawful possession of a gun, one of the best options you may have is to take advantage of New Jersey’s diversionary program called PTI.  PTI stands for Pretrial Intervention. The program is for first-time offenders and consists of placing the individual under supervision for a certain amount of time, generally between one to three years. If there are no issues or violations, the charges will be dismissed.  The reason this is the best direction for many defendants is the underlying charge is a very easy case for the State to prove.  The State only has to show that the person knowingly possessed a gun and did not have a New Jersey permit to carry.  Thus, going to trial is not an advisable option. Unfortunately, most prosecutors will not dismiss the case or downgrade the offense to a non-criminal violation.  As such, enrolling into PTI is one of the top ways to avoid a conviction.

On the other hand, there are methods for defeating gun and weapons charges altogether, from challenging an illegal search to demonstrating that you were questioned by police without being properly mirandized. For this reason, having your case reviewed for possible defenses by a seasoned New Jersey defense lawyer who regularly handles weapons charges is extremely beneficial.

Speak to Guns and Weapons Lawyers about Your Hunting Related Charge in NJ

If you or someone you loved is facing criminal charges or accused of violating New Jersey’s hunting rules, please contact The Tormey Law Firm for immediate assistance. You can reach us at (201) 614-2474 for a free consultation now. We consistently provide information and dedicated defense for clients charged with guns in Bergen County, Morris County, Passaic County, Essex County, and statewide.