Hidden New Jersey Whitetails

Hidden New Jersey Whitetails

To bowhunters who aren't in the know, New Jersey might seem the last place to go looking for a trophy bucks. But that's just evidence of the fact reputations can be deceiving. The Garden State's lack of respect as a trophy producer is far more a matter of perception than reality.

New Jersey's Justin Swanson tagged this 132 7/8-inch Pope & Young trophy during the 2016 season. This was one of two big deer Justin got that year. Photo courtesy of Justin Swanson

It's not that the notion of this being a place full of people and pavement is totally incorrect. It's just that New Jersey is way more than just the place where people working in New York City actually live.

"This is the most densely populated state in the nation," notes Nelson Roque, whose Jersey's Big Bucks page on Facebook keeps tabs on trophy deer in the area. "But it regularly produces bucks as big as any taken in some of the more highly noted states."


As the local expert points out, while New Jersey might not look all that big on a map, it has great geographic diversity and is well suited to bowhunting. The northern part of the state has its "wilderness hills," while southern zones feature the Pine Barrens and a lot of rural farm country. There are roughly 500,000 acres in wildlife management areas, plus other public lands open to deer hunting.


The counties shown in red have produced New Jersey's highest numbers of all-time Pope & Young whitetail entries. Counties shown in brown trail those hotspots but outrank those shown in beige.

Pope & Young-caliber bucks have been shot in good numbers for many years, and that production continues. Interestingly, the bulk of these bucks keep coming not from generally rural portions of the state, but from some of the more developed counties.

Soils are a big part of the reason. While the vast Pine Barrens encompassing over a million acres of southern New Jersey offers a bowhunter relative peace and quiet, the sandy, acidic soils just aren't that fertile. And as goes vegetation, so goes a deer herd's productivity. It's harder to grow big antlers when the diet is lacking in key nutrients. For this reason, the archer seeking P&Y antlers might want to focus farther north.

Particularly productive have been the counties of Morris, Monmouth, Somerset and Hunterdon. Morris leads the way with 110 bucks in P&Y; Monmouth has 95, Somerset 84 and Hunterdon 67. But it's worth noting that Monmouth has recorded 56 of its entries since 2010, as opposed to Morris' 42. Hunterdon has 15 in that period, while Somerset has 10. Although Warren County has a relatively low all-time total of 29 entries, 12 of them have been recorded since 2010. So it's been on the upswing of late.


Bow season in New Jersey starts early. In 2017, the opener for some zones was Sept. 9. Baiting is allowed, and it has about as good a chance of giving you a look at a bear as buck; New Jersey is rapidly gaining a reputation as a prime place for hunting black bears, which now exist in large numbers in many areas bowhunted for deer.

For more details on the state's bowhunting opportunities, click here. To learn more about P&Y's archery records for whitetails and other big game across North America, visit here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Deer Dog: Puppy Pitfalls

Deer Dog: Puppy Pitfalls

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore explores the pitfalls of puppy training.

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

Deer Dog: Replicating Realistic Tracks

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore discusses the role scent plays when it comes to tracking and how to incorporate it into your training.

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

How to Control Predators on Deer Hunting Property

In this edition of "Deer Factory," Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss ways to help control predators on deer hunting property.

Deer Factory: Northern Climate Warm-Season Food Plots

Deer Factory: Northern Climate Warm-Season Food Plots

Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss warm-season food plots on this deer factory in Minnesota.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

To hear many serious trophy bowhunters tell it, Kentucky must be a figment of someone's fertile United States

Best Spots for Bowhunting Kentucky Trophy Bucks

Gordon Whittington - July 21, 2016

To hear many serious trophy bowhunters tell it, Kentucky must be a figment of someone's...

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional requirements will not only increase your chances of harvesting a good buck, but also your enjoyment of whitetail hunting. Land Management

What Do Deer Eat?

Dr. James C. Kroll

Understanding what deer eat and how they adjust their diets to meet changing nutritional...

In terms of coloration, which whitetails are the rarest of all? Most hunters would claim that Deer Behavior & Facts

Rarest Whitetails Of All?

Gordon Whittington - September 22, 2010

In terms of coloration, which whitetails are the rarest of all? Most hunters would claim that

After weeks of speculation, the official 60-day entry score for Luke Brewster's epic Illinois non-typical bow-killed whitetail was announced today in the OSG booth at the 2019 ATA Show in Louisville. According to North American Whitetail editor Gordon Whittington and associate editor Haynes Shelton, the Brewster buck is the largest buck ever taken by a hunter anywhere in North America! Trophy Bucks

BREAKING NEWS: Brewster's 320-5/8-Inch Non-Typical Buck Pending World Record Announced

Lynn Burkhead - January 10, 2019

After weeks of speculation, the official 60-day entry score for Luke Brewster's epic Illinois...

See More Trending Articles

More United States

East and West Coasters jetting across the U.S. often refer to Nebraska a United States

Don't Bypass Nebraska Hunting

Gordon Whittington - August 21, 2017

East and West Coasters jetting across the U.S. often refer to Nebraska a "fly-over" state....

Nestled in southern Oklahoma, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant offers a drawing for a limited number United States

Oklahoma DIY Hunting Awaits

Bernie Barringer - December 06, 2017

Nestled in southern Oklahoma, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant offers a drawing for a limited...

In 1972, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) completed a gigantic project creating a shortcut United States

Tag A Trophy Whitetail at the Tenn-Tom Waterway

Bernie Barringer - February 22, 2018

In 1972, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) completed a gigantic project creating a...

Upon hearing Tennessee had yielded a possible world-record hunter-killed buck last fall, the United States

Tennessee Hunting Garnering Lots of New Attention

Gordon Whittington - February 22, 2017

Upon hearing Tennessee had yielded a possible world-record hunter-killed buck last fall, the

See More United States

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.