NJ Firearms Laws NJAC 7:25-5.23

Pertaining to Wildlife - For Additional Regulations Please refer to:


Please note: You MUST be properly licensed to utilize firearms in wildlife control

  1. 7:25-5.23. Firearms and missiles, etc.
    1. Except when legally engaged in deer or black bear hunting during the prescribed firearm seasons, respectively, no person shall have in his or her possession in the woods, fields, marshlands or on the water any shell or cartridge with missiles of any kind larger than No. 4 fine shot. This shall not apply to persons properly licensed and permitted for hunting during the special eastern coyote, red fox and gray fox hunting season, exclusively, who may use fine shot no smaller than #4 (.13 inches in diameter) or larger than #T (.20 inches in diameter). This shall not preclude farmers or their agents from using shot not larger than No. 4 buckshot to control woodchuck causing damage or a properly licensed person from hunting woodchuck with a rifle during the woodchuck season. For hunting woodchuck, center-fire rifles of .25 caliber or smaller or rim-fire rifles may be used. Center-fire rifles larger than .25 caliber may also be used provided that the bullets used do not exceed 100 grains in weight. All center-fire rifle ammunition used in hunting woodchucks must be hollow point, soft point or expanding lead core bullets. All rim-fire rifle ammunition used in hunting woodchuck must be hollow point or soft point type. Also excepted is the use of a muzzleloading rifle, .36 caliber or smaller, loaded with a single projectile during the prescribed portion of the squirrel season in designated areas. Waterfowl hunters may possess and use shotgun shells loaded with T (.200") steel fine shot or smaller or other non-toxic shot authorized by Federal regulations no larger than T (.200") shot and properly licensed persons hunting for raccoon or opossum with hounds or engaged in trapping for furbearing animals may possess and use a .22 caliber rifle and raccoon, or opossum or legally trapped furbearing animals other than muskrat. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this subsection shall not preclude agents and/or permittees operating under an approved Special Deer Management Permit ( 7:25-5.32) from shooting deer with a rifle or a rifle equipped with a silencer or suppressor if that permit so specifically provides. Rifles for this purpose shall be restricted as specifically provided in that permit to include only .22, .223, .270 and .45 caliber or other calibers approved by the Division. Only highly frangible bullets shall be employed in .223 and .270 caliber rifles. Bullets employed in .22 and .45 caliber rifles shall be restricted to those designed to provide maximum expansion and limited penetration. As a part of a Special Deer Management Permit, use of .22 rim-fire ammunition is restricted to euthanasia of captive deer only.

    2. All persons in possession of a rifle while hunting or trapping must have in addition to their proper license, a valid and proper rifle permit.

      Please Note: A valid rifle permit is required for dispatching trapped animals other than muskrat with a .22 caliber rifle. You must first pass the shotgun course or have a firearm hunting license before you can take this course. This course is required to obtain a NJ Rifle Permit. Hunter Education Training

    3. Except as may be permitted for waterfowl hunting in accordance with Federal regulations and as provided for agents and/or permittees operating under an approved Special Deer Management Permit ( 7:25-5.32), no person shall use in hunting fowl or animals of any kind, any shotgun capable of holding more than three shells at one time or that may be fired more than three times without reloading. Except as provided for agents and/or permittees operating under an approved Special Deer Management Permit ( 7:25-5.32), no person shall use in hunting or trapping of any kind, a rifle loaded with more than three cartridges. No person shall have in his or her possession while deer hunting on Monmouth Battlefield State Park any shell or cartridge with missiles of any kind other than shotgun slugs or No. 4 or No. 000 buckshot.

    4. It shall be legal to use a .22 caliber rifle and .22 caliber short cartridge only for hunting raccoon and opossum with hounds and for killing legally trapped animals other than muskrats on State wildlife management areas.

    5. Within the areas described as portions of Passaic, Mercer, Hunterdon, Warren, Morris and Sussex Counties lying within a continuous line beginning at the intersection of Rt. 513 and the New York State line; then south along Rt. 513 to its intersection with Rt. 511; then south along Rt. 511 to its intersection with Rt. 46; then west along Rt. 46 to its intersection with Rt. 80; then west along Rt. 80 to its intersection with Rt. 15; then north along Rt. 15 to its intersection with the Morris-Sussex County line; then south along the Morris-Sussex County line to the Warren County line; then southwest along the Morris-Warren County line to the Hunterdon County line; then southeast along the Morris-Hunterdon County line to the Somerset County line; then south along the Somerset-Hunterdon County line to its intersection with the Mercer County line; then west and south along the Hunterdon Mercer County line to its intersection with Rt. 31; then south along Rt. 31 to its intersection with Rt. 546; then west along Rt. 546 to the Delaware River; then north along the east bank of the Delaware River to the New York State Line; then east along the New York State Line to the point of beginning at Lakeside; and in that portion of Salem, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties lying within a continuous line beginning at the intersection of Rt. 295 and the Delaware River; then east along Rt. 295 to its intersection with the New Jersey Turnpike; then east along the New Jersey Turnpike to its intersection with Rt. 40; then east along Rt. 40 to its intersection with Rt. 47; then north along Rt. 47 to its intersection with Rt. 536; then east along Rt. 536 to its intersection with Rt. 206; then north along Rt. 206 to its intersection with the New Jersey Turnpike; then northeast along the New Jersey Turnpike to its intersection with Rt. 571; then southeast along Rt. 571 to its intersection with the Garden State Parkway; then south along the Garden State Parkway to its intersection with Rt. 9 at Somers Point; then south along Rt. 9 to its intersection with Rt. 83; then west along Rt. 83 to its intersection with Rt. 47; then north along Rt. 47 to its intersection with Dennis Creek; then south along the west bank of Dennis Creek to its intersection with Delaware Bay; then northwest along the east shore of Delaware Bay and the Delaware River to the point of beginning; persons holding a valid and proper rifle permit in addition to their current firearm hunting license may hunt for squirrels between September 24 - November 11, 2005 and January 7 - February 20, 2006; September 30 - November 10, 2006 and January 6 - February 19, 2007; September 29 - November 9, 2007 and January 5 - February 18, 2008; September 27 - November 7, 2008 and January 10 - February 16, 2009; September 26 - November 6, 2009 and January 9 - February 15, 2010; and September 25 - November 12, 2010 and January 8 - February 21, 2011 using a .36 caliber or smaller muzzleloading rifle loaded with a single projectile.

    6. Except as specifically provided below for waterfowl hunters, semi-wild and commercial preserves, trappers, woodchuck hunters, raccoon and opossum hunters, muzzleloader deer hunters, muzzleloader squirrel hunters, and muzzleloader bear hunters, it shall be illegal to use any firearm of any kind other than a shotgun. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the use of a shotgun not smaller than 20 gauge nor larger than 10 gauge with a rifled bore for deer and black bear hunting only. Persons hunting black bear shall use a shotgun not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge with lead, lead alloy or copper slug only. Persons hunting deer shall use a shotgun not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge with the lead, lead alloy or copper slug only; or, a shotgun not smaller than 20 gauge nor larger than 10 gauge with the buckshot shell. It shall be illegal to have in possession while deer hunting any firearm missile except the 20, 16, 12 or 10 gauge lead, lead alloy or copper slug; or, if hunting deer the 12, 10, 16 or 20 gauge buckshot shell. Shotgun shells containing a single spherical projectile may not be possessed or used in deer or black bear hunting. (This does not preclude a person legally engaged in hunting on semi-wild or commercial preserves for the species under license or a person legally engaged in hunting woodcock from being possessed solely of shotgun(s) and nothing larger than No. 4 fine shot, nor a person engaged in hunting waterfowl only from being possessed solely of shotgun and nothing larger than T (.200 inch) steel shot or other bismuth non-toxic shot authorized by Federal regulations during the shotgun deer seasons). A legally licensed trapper possessing a valid rifle permit may possess and use a .22 rifle and short rimfire cartridge only while tending his or her trap line. Farmers or their agents may use shot not larger than No. 4 buckshot to control woodchuck causing damage. firearm deer season and the permit muzzleloader rifle deer season. Persons who are properly licensed may hunt for black bear with a muzzleloader rifle during a prescribed black bear season. Muzzleloader rifles used for hunting deer or black bear are restricted to single-shot single barreled weapons with flintlock or percussion actions, shall not be less than .44 caliber and shall fire a single missile or projectile. Only one muzzleloader rifle may be possessed while hunting. Double barrel and other types of muzzleloader rifles capable of firing more than one shot without reloading or holding more than one charge are prohibited. Persons who are properly licensed may hunt for deer with a single-shot, single barreled, flintlock or percussion action, smoothbore muzzleloader during the permit muzzleloader rifle season. Single shot, smoothbore muzzleloaders used during the permit muzzleloader season shall fire a single missile or projectile and shall not be smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge. Double barrel and other types of smoothbore muzzleloaders capable of firing more than one shot without reloading or holding more than one charge are prohibited during the permit muzzleloader season. Persons who are properly licensed may hunt deer with double barrel, smoothbore muzzleloader during the six day firearm and permit shotgun deer seasons. Smoothbore muzzleloaders used for deer hunting during the six day firearm and permit shotgun deer seasons shall not be smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge, and shall fire a single missile or projectile, or buckshot no smaller than No. 4 (.24 inch) or larger than 000 (.36 inch). Only one muzzleloader rifle or smoothbore muzzleloader may be possessed while deer hunting.

  2. Properly licensed persons 10 years of age and older engaged in hunting with a muzzleloader rifle must have in possession a proper and valid rifle permit. Properly licensed persons 10 years of age or older, hunting during the muzzleloader rifle permit deer season with a smoothbore muzzleloader, must also have in possession a proper and valid rifle permit. Rifle permits for 10 to 17 year olds will be valid for muzzleloader deer hunting, muzzleloader squirrel hunting, muzzleloader woodchuck hunting and muzzleloader bear hunting.

  3. A muzzleloader is considered unloaded when, in the case of a percussion cap rifle or shotgun, the percussion cap has been removed from the nipple; in the case of a flintlock, when the powder is removed from the pan and a boot or cover made of a nonmetallic material is placed over the frizzen.

  4. Only black powder or black powder equivalents, including Clean Shot, GOEX Clear Shot and Pyrodex, may be used with a muzzleloading firearm when engaged in hunting any game species during the prescribed seasons enumerated within the current Game Code. Modern smokeless powder is strictly prohibited while hunting game with a muzzleloading firearm.

  5. Whenever a firearm is in a motor vehicle, in addition to the requirements found in 7:25-5.23(f)4 (unloaded), it shall be enclosed in a securely fastened case.

    1. (g) No person shall hunt, hunt for, or attempt to capture, kill, take, injure or destroy game birds or animals except at the time and in the manner provided by N.J.S.A. Title 23 and the valid State Game Code and any regulation required for a special permit deer hunt.

    2. Wild waterfowl, migratory game birds, rabbits, hares, jack rabbits, squirrels, grouse, chukar partridge, pheasants, and quail shall not be hunted for or taken on Sunday. However, pheasants, quail and chukar partridge may be hunted for or taken on Sunday on semi-wild and commercial shooting preserve lands that are properly licensed for the taking thereof.

    3. Except for conservation officers and their deputies, no person shall carry or possess a bow and arrow, firearm of any kind or any instrument capable of firing or throwing a projectile of any type within the limits of a state game refuge unless authorized by the Division.

    4. Deer shall not be hunted for or taken on Sunday except on wholly enclosed preserves that are properly licensed for the propagation thereof.

    5. No person shall, for the purpose of hunting for, pursuing, taking or killing, or attempting to hunt, pursue, take or kill any bird or animal, have in an automobile or vehicle of any kind, any firearm loaded with missiles of any kind, under a penalty of not less than $20.00 nor more than $50.00.

    6. The Division may issue special permits without fee, to shoot or hunt from a standing vehicle that is parked off the road to licensed hunters who have demonstrated in writing the nature of their disability and the need for an exemption. The applicant shall provide medical documentation on the form(s) provided by the Division, which must be certified by a physician licensed to practice medicine. Permittees are subject to all applicable New Jersey Fish and Wildlife laws and regulations. Violation of any Fish and Wildlife law or regulation may result in the revocation of any special permit issued by the Division.

      1. Individuals hunting with a permit to hunt or shoot from a motor vehicle shall mark the vehicle being used for the purpose of hunting in one of the following ways: The vehicle shall display handicapped license plates issued by the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles or display a sign, provided by the Division, in the rear window of the vehicle being utilized.

      2. Permits issued to individuals under this subsection and under (o) below may be revoked by the Division when the applicant is found to have made false statements on their application or the applicant had been convicted of any violation of Fish and Wildlife laws and regulations.

    7. No person shall have both a firearm and a bow and arrow in his or her possession or under his or her control in the woods or fields or on the water while hunting any wild bird or mammal. This does not preclude a person from carrying both a firearm and bow and arrow in a motor vehicle. This does not apply to duly constituted law enforcement officers.

    8. No person shall hunt with the aid of a deer decoy, except during the fall bow, special permit bow and winter bow seasons. Any person while carrying or moving deer decoys in the woods and fields for the purpose of hunting shall wear a cap of fluorescent hunters orange or some other garment containing at least 200 square inches of fluorescent orange material which shall be visible from all sides. No person shall hunt for deer with the aid of an electronic calling device, or any device which projects a beam of light upon the target.

    9. Physically challenged persons whose need for alternative methods of taking game animals can not be addressed by the provisions of (l) above and 7:25-5.24(e) may apply to the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife for further exemption from the existing regulations concerning methods of taking wildlife including alternative equipment on forms provided by the Division. Applicants must demonstrate in writing the nature of the disability and the need for an exemption and must provide medical documentation on the form(s) provided by the Division, which must be certified by a physician licensed to practice medicine. The Division will review each request submitted under (l) above, this subsection, and 7:25-5.24(e) and may determine the need to schedule interviews with the applicants and/or their physician to verify the circumstances and determine the specific requirements of each applicant, and assess the ability of each applicant to safely and effectively use alternative equipment or methods. Additional medical information and/or evaluation may be required if deemed necessary by the Division in order to make a determination of the validity of the application. The cost of the additional medical testing is the responsibility of the applicant. Each permit shall designate the specific alternative methods to take wildlife, including equipment permitted and the term of the permit for each individual determined to be qualified. All handicapped permit applications will be accepted during the period of January 1 to August 31 of each year. Within 60 calendar days from the denial of any application by the Division, the applicant may appeal to the Fish and Game Council. Any further right of appeal shall be determined and handled in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1 et seq., and the Uniform Administrative Procedure Rules, 1:1. Such disputes will be referred to the Office of Administrative Law for hearing.

    10. No person shall carry or possess a shotgun and any shotgun slug in the woods and fields or on the water while hunting unless he or she has in possession a shotgun which has adjustable open iron or peep sights or a scope affixed. No person shall use any shotgun containing shotgun slugs for the purpose of hunting unless it has adjustable open iron or peep sights or a scope affixed.

    11. Persons required by law to wear corrective lenses to operate a motor vehicle shall wear corrective lenses when hunting with a bow or a firearm of any kind.

    12. Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to prevent the Director of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife from authorizing personnel or agents of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife from possessing, carrying or using hand held pistol-like devices which launch pyrotechnic missiles for the sole purpose of frightening, hazing or aversive conditioning of nuisance wildlife; or from possessing, carrying or using animal immobilization rifles, pistols or similar devices for the sole purpose of chemically immobilizing wild or non-domestic animals or from possessing, carrying or using rifles or shotguns, upon completion of approved training course, in order to dispatch sick, injured, or dangerous animals or for non-lethal use for the purpose of frightening, hazing or aversive conditioning of nuisance or depredating wildlife. All such duly authorized personnel of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, except Conservation Officers, shall possess a firearms purchaser card, a valid New Jersey hunting license and a rifle permit issued by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

    13. Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to prevent duly authorized personnel or agents of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife from the possession and use of any other Division approved device or equipment for the capture, marking or killing of wildlife for scientific, enforcement or public safety purposes. This section applies to all non-domestic animals whether native or exotic, irrespective to season status, or other restrictions in any statute or rule.

    14. Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to prevent duly authorized personnel or agents of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife from possessing, carrying or using any device which projects, releases or emits any substance specified as being non-injurious to black bears or other animals by the State Director of Animal Health and which produces temporary physical discomfort though being vaporized or otherwise dispensed in the air for the purpose of repelling animal attacks or for the aversive conditioning of nuisance wildlife.

    15. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this section shall not preclude the Director from authorizing, on a case by case basis, Federal Government employees operating under a State of New Jersey Depredation Control Permit, Special Wildlife Management Permit and/or a Federal Fish and Wildlife permit that is co-signed by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, to shoot wildlife specifically listed on that permit with an air rifle or a rifle when that permit specifically authorizes the use of air rifles and/or rifles. Air rifles used for this purpose shall be restricted to .22 caliber or smaller only. Rifles used for this purpose shall be restricted to .22 caliber or other calibers approved by the Division.

    16. Authority: The authority for the adoption of the foregoing section is found in N.J.S.A. 13:1B-30, 23:3-1, 23:4-1, 23:4-12, 23:4-13, 23:4-16, 23:4-18, 23:4-19, 23:4-24.1, 23:4-29, 23:4-42, 23:4-44 and 23:8-10 and other applicable statutes.

HISTORY:
Amended by R.1995 d.427, effective August 7, 1995. See: 27 New Jersey Register 1897(a), 27 New Jersey Register 2889(a). Amended by R.1996 d.404, effective August 19, 1996 (operative August 24, 1996). See: 28 New Jersey Register 2434(b), 28 New Jersey Register 3934(a). Amended by R.1997 d.327, effective August 4, 1997 (operative August 9, 1997). See: 29 New Jersey Register 2213(a), 29 New Jersey Register 3462(a). In (e) and (f)1, amended dates of hunting season; inserted (t) through (v); and recodified former (t) as (w); and in (w), amended N.J.S.A. references. Amended by R.1998 d.408, effective August 3, 1998 (operative August 8, 1998). See: 30 New Jersey Register 1681(a), 30 New Jersey Register 2886(a). In (e), changed the season date; in (f), deleted the former second and tenth sentences in 2; deleted former (p); and recodified former (q) through (w) as (p) through (v). Amended by R.1999 d.287, effective August 16, 1999 (operative August 21, 1999). See: 31 New Jersey Register 1231(a), 31 New Jersey Register 2338(a). In (a), rewrote the third sentence, and added the last four sentences; in (c), added an exception at the beginning; in (e), changed dates; and in (f), added the last sentence in the introductory paragraph, and substituted "10" for "14" throughout 3. Amended by R.2000 d.365, effective September 5, 2000 (operative September 10, 2000). See: 32 New Jersey Register 1673(a), 32 New Jersey Register 3294(a). In (a), inserted a reference to black bears in the first sentence, and rewrote the second sentence; in (e), changed dates; in (f), rewrote the introductory paragraph, 1 and 2; and in (p), deleted a reference to (o) in the first sentence, inserted "on the forms provided by the Division" following "documentation" in the second sentence, and rewrote the third sentence. Amended by R.2001 d.300, effective August 20, 2001 (operative August 25, 2001). See: 33 New Jersey Register 1527(a), 33 New Jersey Register 2829(a). Rewrote section. Amended by R.2002 d.272, effective August 19, 2002, (operative August 24, 2002). See: 34 New Jersey Register 1504(a), 34 New Jersey Register 2973(a). Rewrote (l) and (o); neutralized the gender reference in (m). Amended by R.2003 d.359, effective September 2, 2003 (operative September 7, 2003). See: 35 New Jersey Register 1804(a), 35 New Jersey Register 4053(a). In (a), inserted "or black bear" following "deer" in the first sentence and added the last sentence; in (e), changed the dates; rewrote (f). Amended by R.2004 d.385, effective October 4, 2004 (operative October 9, 2004). See: 36 New Jersey Register 2325(a), 36 New Jersey Register 4513(b). In (e), changed the dates; added a new (u) and recodified existing (u) as (v). Amended by R.2005 d.321, effective September 19, 2005 (operative September 24, 2005). See: 37 New Jersey Register 1959(a), 37 New Jersey Register 3657(a). In (a), deleted "coyote" following "permitted for hunting", added ", red fox and gray fox" following "eastern coyote", deleted "No.2" following "who may use", and added "no smaller than #4 (.13 inches in diameter) or larger than #T (.20 inches in diameter)" following "fine shot"; in (e), updated dates.