New Jersey Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

New Jersey Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations (2023)

Certainly, here's the information formatted differently for easier reading:

Ducks, Brant, Mergansers, Coot, 'Regular and Special Winter Season' Canada Goose, and 'Regular Season' Light Geese

  • Hunting Hours: 1/2 hr before sunrise to sunset
  • Max Shot Shell Capacity: 3
  • Nontoxic Shot: Yes
  • Electronic Calls: No
  • HIP Certification: Yes
  • NJ Stamp Certification: Yes
  • Federal Stamp: Yes

September Canada Goose

  • Hunting Hours: 1/2 hr before sunrise to 1/2 hr after sunset
  • Max Shot Shell Capacity: 7
  • Nontoxic Shot: Yes
  • Electronic Calls: Yes
  • HIP Certification: Yes
  • NJ Stamp Certification: Yes
  • Federal Stamp: Yes

Light Goose Conservation Order

  • Hunting Hours: 1/2 hr before sunrise to 1/2 hr after sunset
  • Max Shot Shell Capacity: 7
  • Nontoxic Shot: Yes
  • Electronic Calls: Yes
  • HIP Certification: Yes
  • NJ Stamp Certification: Yes
  • Federal Stamp: Yes

Rails, Gallinule, Snipe

  • Hunting Hours: 1/2 hr before sunrise to sunset
  • Max Shot Shell Capacity: 3
  • Nontoxic Shot: Yes
  • Electronic Calls: No
  • HIP Certification: Yes
  • NJ Stamp Certification: No
  • Federal Stamp: No


  • Hunting Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Max Shot Shell Capacity: 3
  • Nontoxic Shot: Not Required
  • Electronic Calls: No
  • HIP Certification: Yes
  • NJ Stamp Certification: No
  • Federal Stamp: No


  • Hunting Hours: Sunrise to 1/2 hr after sunset
  • Max Shot Shell Capacity: 3
  • Nontoxic Shot: Not Required
  • Electronic Calls: Yes
  • HIP Certification: No
  • NJ Stamp Certification: No
  • Federal Stamp: No


Major Changes for the 2023–24 Season

  1. The bag limit for Canada geese has increased to 3 birds in the North and South Zones, while the Coastal Zone maintains a limit of 2 Canada geese.

  2. Hunters are now allowed to harvest up to 4 mallards, with a maximum of 2 hens.

  3. The bag limit for brant has been reduced to 1 bird, and hunters are advised to carefully check season dates for brant during duck hunting.

  4. Hooded mergansers continue to be part of the aggregate bag limit of 5 mergansers.

  5. Sea ducks can only be hunted during the regular duck season in each respective zone and are included within the bag limit of 6 ducks.

Veteran / Active Military Waterfowl Hunts

Veterans and Active Military have the opportunity to participate in two statewide, Veterans/Active Military Hunting Days:

  • November 4, 2023
  • February 3, 2024

Please see below for further details.

Waterfowl Stamps

All waterfowl hunters aged 16 and older are required to have both the New Jersey Waterfowl Stamp Certification and the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp). Both stamps must be signed in ink.

Harvest Information Program (HIP)

Before hunting ducks, geese, brant, coot, woodcock, rails, snipe, or gallinules, all hunters, including Apprentice License holders, must obtain a HIP certification.

You can obtain a HIP certification in two ways:

  1. License Agent: Purchase it from a License Agent.
  2. Online: Obtain it online at This method allows you to start hunting immediately after registering.

HIP certifications are valid from September 1 to April 15 of the following year. The information collected for HIP is confidential and is used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for conducting migratory bird harvest surveys.

Migratory Bird Zones

All migratory bird zones are described in detail at

New Jersey Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations


North Zone

  • Ducks, Mergansers and Coot

    • Season Dates: Oct. 14–Oct. 21
    • Daily Bag Limits:
      • Ducks: 6 in aggregate
      • Mergansers: 5
      • Coot: 15
  • Scaup

    • Season Dates:
      • Oct. 14–Oct. 21
      • Nov. 11–Dec. 19
    • Daily Bag Limits:
      • Oct. 14–Oct. 21: 1
      • Nov. 11–Dec. 19: 2
  • Brant

    • Season Dates:
      • Nov. 11–Nov. 25
      • Dec. 23–Jan. 11
    • Daily Bag Limits: 1
  • Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

    • Season Dates:
      • Nov. 18–Nov. 25
      • Dec. 16–Jan. 29
    • Daily Bag Limits: 3
  • Youth-only Waterfowl Day

    • Season Date: Oct. 7
    • See footnote3

South Zone

  • Ducks, Mergansers and Coot

    • Season Dates: Oct. 21–Oct. 28
    • Daily Bag Limits:
      • Ducks: 6 in aggregate
      • Mergansers: 5
      • Coot: 15
  • Scaup

    • Season Dates:
      • Oct. 21–Oct. 28
      • Nov. 18–Dec. 26
    • Daily Bag Limits:
      • Oct. 21–Oct. 28: 1
      • Nov. 18–Dec. 26: 2
  • Brant

    • Season Dates:
      • Oct. 21–Oct. 28
      • Nov. 18–Dec. 14
    • Daily Bag Limits: 1
  • Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

    • Season Dates:
      • Nov. 18–Nov. 25
      • Dec. 16–Jan. 29
    • Daily Bag Limits: 3
  • Youth-only Waterfowl Day

    • Season Date: Oct. 14
    • See footnote3

Coastal Zone

  • Ducks, Mergansers and Coot

    • Season Dates: Nov. 9–Nov. 11
    • Daily Bag Limits:
      • Ducks: 6 in aggregate
      • Mergansers: 5
      • Coot: 15
  • Scaup

    • Season Dates:
      • Nov. 9–Nov. 11
      • Nov. 23–Jan. 4
    • Daily Bag Limits:
      • Nov. 9–Nov. 11: 1
      • Nov. 23–Jan. 4: 2
  • Brant

    • Season Dates:
      • Nov. 23–Dec. 2
      • Dec. 14–Jan. 6
    • Daily Bag Limits: 1
  • Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

    • Season Dates:
      • Nov. 9–Nov. 11
      • Nov. 23–Jan. 27
    • Daily Bag Limits:
      • Nov. 9–Nov. 11: 2
      • Nov. 23–Jan. 27: 2
  • Youth-only Waterfowl Day

    • Season Date: Oct. 28
    • See footnote3

Duck Limits*

  • 6 ducks in aggregate and may not include more than:
  • Black duck - 2
  • Blue-winged teal - 6
  • Bufflehead - 6
  • Canvasback - 2
  • Gadwall - 6
  • Goldeneye - 6
  • Green-winged teal - 6
  • Mallard - 4 (including no more than 2 hens)
  • Pintail - 1
  • Redhead - 2
  • Ring-necked duck - 6
  • Ruddy duck - 6
  • Scaup - See above.
  • Sea ducks - 4 (but not more than 3 scoters, 3 long-tailed ducks, or 3 eiders [no more than 1 hen eider]).
  • Shoveler - 6
  • Wigeon - 6
  • Wood duck - 3
  • Whistling duck - black-bellied or fulvous in aggregate - 1

1 - Possession Limits: three times the daily limit for all species during each of the corresponding seasons. Exceptions: light geese and crows have no possession limit.

2 - Mergansers including common, red breasted, and hooded, in aggregate. Merganser limits are in addition to duck limits.

3 - Includes ducks, geese, brant, merganser, coot, and gallinule. Bag limits are the same as allowed in the regular season in each zone except scaup, which is 2 scaup per day.

Special Sea Duck Area

Waters of the Atlantic Ocean seaward from the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) Demarcation Lines (jetty and inlet mouths).

For more detailed information, please refer to this link.

To aid in safety and to conserve birds, crippled birds may be shot from craft under power in the Special Sea Duck Area only.

Special Winter Canada Goose Season Hunting Areas

The two hatched areas are open to hunting. Visit for detailed Special Winter Canada Goose Season hunting areas and all migratory bird hunting zone boundaries.

New Jersey Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations

Statewide Hunting Seasons for Migratory Birds

Gain an insightful overview of the hunting dates, limits, and regulations for migratory birds across the state. Expertly planned seasons cater to wildlife conservation and management, ensuring sustainable hunting practices.

  • Canada Geese (September Season): Active from September 1 through September 30, with an impressive daily bag limit of 15 birds.
  • Light Geese (Regular Season & Conservation Order): The regular season runs October 17 to February 15, with a daily limit of 25, which can be a single species or a combined total. The Conservation Order follows, from February 16 to April 6, where no daily limits apply.
  • Rail & Gallinule: From September 1 to November 21, hunting seasons for Sora & Virginia rail permit 25 in total, Gallinule has a limit of 1, and Clapper rail allows for 10.
  • Snipe: Open season starts September 9 until January 11, with daily hunting capped at 8.
  • Crow: Encompasses two periods, August 14 to December 2 and December 11 to March 16, with hunting restricted to Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. No daily limit is enforced.
  • Special Days for Youth and Veterans/Active Military: Recognize days such as February 3 specifically for youth and veterans/active military, as well as November 4 for veterans and active military personnel only. Refer to footnote 3 for bag limit details.

Understand the possession limit dynamics — you can possess three times the daily bag limit per species during each season, aside from light geese and crows which do not maintain possession limits. In the case of mergansers, which includes common, red-breasted, and hooded varieties, their limits are additional to standard duck limits. Please see footnote 3 for bag limits, which mirror regular season allowances.

  • Light Geese: Clarification includes greater and lesser snow geese and Ross’s geese as part of the regular and conservation order seasons.

For those interested in Other Migratory Bird Seasons:

  • Woodcock (North & South Zones): Seasonal hunting is permitted from sunrise to sunset with a daily bag limit of 3. Dates vary between zones — North Zone (October 14-28 and October 31-November 25), South Zone (November 11-December 2 and December 14-January 2).
  • Sea Ducks: Hunting aligns with duck season by zone. Special provisions allow for shooting crippled birds from craft under power only in the Special Sea Duck Area. The daily bag limit is up to 4 sea ducks, with restrictions on the mix of species.
  • Canada Geese (Special Winter Season Areas): From January 30 to February 15, hunters can bag up to 5 geese, half an hour before sunrise to sunset.

Some species, such as swans, harlequin ducks, king rails, sandhill cranes, and mourning doves, are currently under a closed season, with no hunting permitted.

Compliance with these guidelines ensures the preservation of wildlife and the enjoyment of hunting traditions for generations to come.

New Jersey Waterfowlers Clinic: A Comprehensive Free Seminar

Uncover the World of Waterfowl Hunting

Announcing this year's edition of the New Jersey Waterfowlers Clinic—a comprehensive, free seminar that's become an eagerly anticipated tradition for waterfowl hunting enthusiasts. A chance to delve into the sport's rich heritage within the state, this event is open to participants aged 10 and above regardless of gender or prior experience.

Forty Years of Educating Hunters

What started four decades ago as a youth-oriented clinic has now evolved into an inclusive full-day experience. Attendees gain knowledge on an array of topics presented by expert waterfowlers, each distinguished by years of practical experience.

All-Encompassing Curriculum

The clinic offers attendees a robust syllabus including:

  • Migratory bird identification
  • Effective use of decoys and calls
  • Insights on firearms and ammunition
  • Boating essentials for hunters
  • Critical safety guidelines
  • Hunting laws and ethical practices
  • Practical advice on outdoor attire and camouflage techniques
  • Live demonstrations featuring working retrievers

This educational journey, boasting over 300 years of combined professional experience from our instructors, is considered invaluable by past participants.

Complimentary Meals and Details

Enjoy complimentary breakfast and lunch as part of your learning experience. Mark your calendars:

  • Date: Sunday, October 8, 2023
  • Venue: Tip Seaman Park, Tuckerton, New Jersey
  • Time: 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM

To ensure a well-organized seminar, attendees are required to register in advance by contacting Marty Kristiansen at (732) 977-5648.

Join us for a day dedicated to the passion and art of waterfowl hunting—come engage with the experts and expand your horizons in waterfowling this fall.

New Jersey Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations

Regulations for Waterfowl Blinds in New Jersey WMAs

Prohibition on Permanent Waterfowl Blinds

Attention waterfowl hunters: when planning your hunting strategy, be advised that certain Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in New Jersey explicitly prohibit the use of permanent waterfowl blinds. This includes traditional pit blinds as well. Activities such as constructing, hunting from, or utilizing these permanent structures in any capacity are strictly forbidden in the following WMAs:

  • Assunpink
  • Black River
  • Colliers Mills
  • Hainesville
  • Tuckahoe
  • Manahawkin
  • Stafford Forge
  • Whittingham
  • Beaver Swamp
  • Sedge Island
  • Salem River
  • Prospertown
  • Paulinskill

Mandatory Removal of Portable Blinds

In these specified areas, only portable blinds are permissible and they must adhere to the "carry in, carry out" policy. Hunters are required to completely remove their portable blinds by the end of each day's hunt. Failure to comply with this rule may lead to confiscation and disposal of the blinds by the Division of Fish and Wildlife authorities.

Ensure you follow these regulations to maintain the integrity of the natural habitats within these WMAs and to avoid any potential legal issues while enjoying the waterfowl hunting season.

How to Report Recovered Banded Migratory Birds

Importance and Methods of Band Reporting

Hunters play a crucial role in the conservation of migratory birds by reporting recovered banded birds. The band numbers offer valuable data that aids in managing bird populations and tracking migration patterns. There are two official methods to report banded bird recoveries to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL):

  1. Report Online: Easily submit band numbers at and receive immediate details about the bird, including species, sex, banding location, date, and age.
  2. Mail-In Report: Write to the address inscribed directly on the bird's band, providing the necessary information.

Certificate of Appreciation

Those who use the online reporting system have the advantage of printing a personalized certificate of appreciation which will detail the history of the banded bird.

Information to Provide

Be ready to submit the following information when reporting:

  • The band number;
  • The date of recovery;
  • The exact recovery location, including proximity to the nearest town;
  • The method of recovery (such as shot or found deceased).

Hunters are entitled to keep the bands as souvenirs once they've reported the necessary data to BBL. Remember, each report is a valuable contribution to the ongoing study and conservation of migratory bird species.

Summary of Federal Regulations for Migratory Game Bird Hunting

General Prohibitions

  • Baiting is not allowed. Direct or indirect bait placement that lures game birds is illegal.
    • A "baited area" remains off-limits for 10 days after all bait is removed.
  • Hunting with certain weapons or devices is forbidden:
    • Traps, snares, nets, rifles, pistols, swivel guns, shotguns over 10 gauge, punt guns, battery guns, machine guns, fish hooks, poison, drugs, explosives, or stupefying substances.
  • Shotgun regulations:
    • Must not hold more than three shells unless plugged.
    • Exceptions in New Jersey are shotguns that can hold up to 7 shells during certain seasons.

Specific Hunting Methods and Devices

  • Usage of sinkboxes and similar low-floating devices for concealment is prohibited.
  • Motor vehicles and aircraft cannot be used, except for stationary use by disabled hunters.
  • Motorboats and sailboats must be immobile when hunting, except when retrieving crippled birds under certain conditions.

Decoy and Call Restrictions

  • Live birds cannot be used as decoys unless confined and concealed.
  • Recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds are generally banned.
    • Exceptions in New Jersey include electronic calls during specified seasons.

Conveyance Usage

  • Motor-driven land, water, or air conveyances, or sailboats must not be used to disturb or rally migratory birds.

Tagging and Custody Requirements

  • Birds must be tagged for storage, transportation, or taxidermy with hunter's information.
  • Possession of another's migratory game birds requires proper tagging.

Species Identification in Transport

  • Transported migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, must retain head or feathered wing for identification.

For more detailed information, please refer to the complete federal hunting regulations or contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Office at (908) 787-1321.

New Jersey State Hunting Regulations for Migratory Birds

State vs. Federal Regulation Alignment

  • New Jersey's state laws must align with or exceed the strictness of federal regulations (50 CFR Part 20).

State-Specific Restrictions

  • No hunting migratory birds on Sundays.
  • Rails and snipe hunting require non-toxic shot only.
  • Waterfowl hunting start time on the opening day of pheasant season (Nov. 11, 2023) is restricted to 8 a.m. on certain areas.

Location and Time Specifics

  • WMA hunting times coincide with private land regulations, except for areas stocked with pheasant and quail.
  • Specific wildlife management areas have designated start times and hunting restrictions.

Restricted Areas

  • Several geographical restrictions are in place for migratory bird hunting, including, but not limited to:
    • Shark River, Manasquan River up to Route 70 bridge, Herring Island area, Parker and Oceanport Creeks, non-tidal portions of Cox Hall Creek WMA, and Barnegat Inlet as defined by precise coordinates and maps.

Wasting and Butchering Regulations

  • It is illegal to waste the edible portions of migratory birds, with specifics on what constitutes waste.

Other Regulatory Details

  • Waterfowl hunting on the Delaware River follows state boundary laws and seasons.
  • Permanent blinds have restrictions on certain state wildlife management areas.
  • Arrow specifications for taking flying game birds include mandatory flu-flu fletching and a prohibition on edged heads.

Refer to the New Jersey Hunting & Trapping Explorer for maps and detailed area restrictions.

Edible Portions Guide

Edible portions do not include meat from the head or neck; meat that has been damaged by the method of taking; bones, sinew, and meat reasonably lost as a result of butchering, boning, or close trimming of bones, or viscera. Edible portions do not include meat from diseased or scavenged carcasses. See Wanton Waste of Game in General Hunting Regulations.

For rabbit and squirrel:

  • Front shoulders
  • Thighs
  • Backstrap

For game birds such as turkey:

  • breast, legs and thighs

For game birds other than turkey:

  • breast

NJ Spring Light Goose Conservation Order

Permit Requirements

  • The Light Goose Conservation Order Permit in NJ will only be available online in January 2024.
  • Permit holders must report hunting activities and harvest as specified.

Additional Information

  • Season details will be updated on NJ Fish & Wildlife's website during late winter.

Falconry Regulations

  • Unique season dates and bag limits are set for falconry.
  • For specific falconry regulations, contact Fish and Wildlife at (908) 735-6938.

Tuckahoe WMA Managed Waterfowl Hunt

Background and Objectives

  • NJ Fish & Wildlife's R3 Program aims to:
    1. Enhance waterfowl hunting quality in Tuckahoe WMA.
    2. Encourage participation of new or novice waterfowl hunters.
    3. Improve hunting experiences for existing waterfowl hunters.
    4. Address access issues and reduce overcrowding.

Program Implementation

  • Initiated after a habitat restoration project and Fish and Game Council approval in 2019.
  • Began in Fall 2021, post-Covid-19 delay.

Hunting Experience and Management

  • Hunting by limiting pressure and providing attractive waterfowl forage.
  • Managed hunts are common and designed for quality experiences.

Lottery Application Process

  • No fee for the blind and zone lottery at the Tuckahoe impoundments.
  • Decoy loaner program available for inexperienced hunters.
  • Hunters require a current license, HIP Certification, and state and federal stamps.

For detailed information and applications, visit Tuckahoe WMA Managed Waterfowl Hunt or contact via email at

Veterans/Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days

Designated Hunting Days for 2023-2024

  • Veterans & Active Military Day: November 4, 2023 — Statewide
  • Combined Veterans/Active Military & Youth Waterfowl Hunt Day: February 3, 2024 — Statewide


  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorizes special waterfowl hunting days for Veterans and Active Military as a tribute to their service.

Eligibility and Documentation

  • Active Military: Must carry an active military ID, including National Guard and Reserves.
  • Veterans: Must have proof of service, such as a DD-214, demonstrating an honorable discharge.

Licensing Requirements

  • Participants must possess a valid hunting license, HIP certification, and both state and federal duck stamps.

Bag Limits

  • Ducks, geese, brant, mergansers, coots, and gallinules can be hunted.
  • Regular season bag limits apply, with a specific limitation of 2 scaup per day.

For frequently asked questions regarding these special hunting days, visit Special Veteran/Active Military and Youth Hunt FAQs.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Licensing Requirements for Youth Hunters

  • Must have a valid Youth Firearms License.
  • Alternatively, be under 16 and eligible under the farmer license exemption.

Non-Toxic Shot Regulations

  • All hunters must use approved non-toxic shot for various species including ducks, geese, and others.
  • Approved shot materials: steel, various tungsten alloys, bismuth-tin, and other specified non-toxic types.
  • Maximum allowed shot size: Size T (0.200 inch) for waterfowl.
  • For crows and woodcock, Size #4 shot is the limit; non-toxic shot is recommended though lead is permitted.

For further details, refer to the electronic Code of Federal Regulations on non-toxic shot.

Wild Advisor Pro


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.