September, oft referred to as the “transition month” when it comes to the fishing and hunting scenes, will hit full stride when the early archery deer season in certain deer management zones (DMZs) opens half an hour before sunrise (6:03) Saturday, September 9.

The listing of the DMZs, and their respective bag limits, can be found on page 34 of the 2023-24 Hunting & Trapping Digest, or by going to and clicking on the hunting link.

An antlerless (doe, button buck) deer must be harvested first before an antlered buck can be taken. The exception is for youth hunters. Also, there are antler point restrictions in many of these DMZs which require the buck to have at least three points on one side. Hunting hours are half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset. The early season concludes September 29, with the statewide bow season opening September 30.

Hopefully, whitetail numbers in those areas in several counties north, central, and south, devastated by an outbreak of EHD late last summer into autumn have recovered, and no future outbreak occurs. Arrows and bolts crossed on that one!

September 1, the month-long special statewide resident Canada goose season started as did the clapper, sora and Virginia rail, and gallinule seasons.

Tom P.
Tom P.

The “local” geese, as always, are beyond abundant, but the capricious Canadas can be surprisingly challenging to hunt despite the high counts of young birds. Lots of scouting is involved to locate feeding and roosting areas, and as with their snow and light goose kin, they will oftentimes switch either from one day to another.

The daily limit is 15. Electronic calls are allowed, as are unplugged shotguns not capable of holding more than seven shells. Non-toxic shot only, and a state waterfowl stamp, federal duck stamp, and HIP certification must be in possession. Hunting hours are a half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. The season ends September 30.

Railbird (mudhen) hunting is definitely an acquired taste. For all intents and purposes, scratch the Virginia, as they are rare visitors to Garden State coastal marshes. Ditto the equally gangly gallinule that, with a limit of one, tells of its scarcity.

97.3 ESPN logo
Get our free mobile app

Clappers frequent the coastal salt marshes during the autumn migration, with the soras found on the freshwater marshes, primarily on the Mullica and Maurice rivers where a staple of its diet, wild rice, is found.

The daily limit is 10 clappers, 25 soras, and Virginias (total or in aggregate) and one gallinule. Hunting hours are half an hour before sunrise to sunset. A nontoxic shot is required, as is the HIP certification. No state or federal waterfowl stamp is needed. The season wraps up on November 21.

Another marsh migrant, the snipe, wings through New Jersey during the autumn season. It closely resembles the woodcock with an even longer bill. The daily limit is eight with the same hunting hours and requirements as the rails. The last day is January 11, 2024.

More From 97.3 ESPN