The following questions and answers pertain to the 2020 black bear hunting season:
General Bear Season FAQs
Segment A FAQs
Segment B FAQs
NOTE: Although there are no FAQs regarding bear check requirements on this page, the mandatory bear check procedure has changed due to COVID-19.
Please see the Bear Season Information page for bear check procedure information.
The following questions and answers pertain to the entire 2020 New Jersey black bear hunting season:
1. Q) Are there two bear seasons in 2020?
A) There is one season but it is broken into two periods: a bow/muzzleloader portion in October (Segment A) and the "traditional" firearm bear season in December (Segment B). There is a one bear bag limit per segment, and a permit is valid for only one bear.
2. Q) Are separate permits needed for the two segments?
A) No. Permits are for Bear Hunting Zones, not season segments.
3. Q) Can I use bait to hunt black bear if I am hunting from the ground?
A) Yes, but you cannot be within 300 feet of bait if in a structure of any kind. Baiting on National Wildlife Refuges and in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is not permitted.
4. Q) Can I use bait to hunt black bear if I am hunting from an elevated stand?
A) Yes, but your elevated stand must be at least 300 feet from the bait.
5. Q) Can I black bear hunt from my elevated stand after harvesting a deer if the remains from field dressing the deer are within 300 feet of the elevated stand?
A) No. If the deer field dressing remains are within 300 feet that would be considered baiting and would not be legal. The only way to legally utilize the field dressing as bait and hunt within 300 feet would be to hunt from the ground provided you are not in a constructed blind.
6. Q) Can I chase a black bear out of a den or off of an open nest to shoot it?
A) No. Black bear in dens or on an open nest are not legal to shoot and must be left undisturbed.
7. Q) Are still hunting and driving allowable methods to hunt black bear?
A) Yes, both methods of hunting are legal. However, please note that as driving is considered a hunting activity, it is against the law to conduct a drive for black bear on DEP-owned lands, including all state forests, parks, recreation areas, historic sites, natural areas and wildlife management areas. Reports of driving of black bear on or from state lands will be referred to Conservation Police and/or State Park Police for investigation.
8. Q) How far must I be from a building or school playground to hunt with a firearm?
A) You must be outside the safety zone (pdf, 58kb) of at least 450 feet from a building or school playground unless you have written permission from the landowner(s) in your possession.
9. Q) Can youth hunters hunt black bear?
A) Yes, provided they have a valid Youth Hunting License, Rifle Permit (if muzzleloader hunting), black bear hunting permit, and if between the ages of 10-13 are under direct supervision at all times by a properly licensed hunter age 21 or older also in possession of a valid bear permit. Holders of Youth Hunting Licenses age 14 and above are permitted to hunt black bear on their own.
10. Q) Can I legally shoot a black bear with tags or a radio collar?
A) Yes. If you are successful and harvest a bear with tags or a collar be sure to bring them to the check station with your bear.
11. Q) Can I shoot a female if it is with cubs?
A) Yes, you are encouraged to shoot the first black bear that presents you with a safe shot that will provide a quick clean kill. This is a management hunt and all year classes, male and female black bears are legal to harvest.
12.Q) Can I shoot a cub?
A) Yes, any sex or size black bear is legal to shoot.
13. Q) Where must I place the bear transportation tag after harvesting a black bear?
A) The completed transportation tag must be placed in the hide of the black bear.
14. Q) Can I quarter my black bear to transport it out of the woods?
A) Yes, provided that all of the parts (except entrails) are taken to the check station.
15. Q) After harvesting a black bear can I use an ATV to carry my black bear to my vehicle?
A) Only if you hunt on private land and have secured permission of the landowner. ATV use on all state and federally owned properties is prohibited, however, hunters
might be permitted to use ATVs to retrieve a bear, but only with approval from, and on a pathway approved by, the park superintendent or designee (for state parks and forests) or from Fish and Wildlife’s regional Law Enforcement office (for Wildlife Management Areas) at 908-735-8240.
16. Q) What if a bear runs onto state land which is closed to hunting after being shot?
A) If you shoot a bear and it runs to state land you should call the Division's law office at 908-735-8240 before proceeding to pursue or retrieve the bear. If the office is closed, leave a message on the answering machine that includes your name, CID number, a telephone number where you can be reached, and the location where you will be attempting to track and recover the bear.
The following questions and answers pertain to Segment A (October 12-17, 2020) of the 2020 New Jersey black bear hunting season:
17. Q) What are the dates of the October season?
A) Segment A of the NJ black bear hunting season is October 12-17, 2020. The first three days (October 12-14) will be archery only; the final three days (October 15-17) will be for both archery and muzzleloading rifle hunters.
18. Q) How do I get a permit for the October segment of the season?
A) Permits for the entire season are sold over-the-counter at license agents and online. THERE IS NO LOTTERY FOR BEAR PERMITS.
19. Q) Is a permit good for my choice of either bow or muzzleloader that week?
A) Yes, but only bow is allowed the first three days. Permits are for a specific bear hunting zone. Use of bow or muzzleloader is dependent on the day a person is hunting; it is illegal to have both a bow and a firearm in possession while hunting.
20. Q) Can I take two bears in October?
A) No. There is a one bear limit during the October segment of the season. Once a harvest is made, that permit is no longer valid.
21. Q) If I harvest a bear with a bow in Segment A can I take another with a muzzleloader?
A) No, not in Segment A. If you have a second permit it can be used in December (Segment B). There is one-bear bag limit for each segment and for each permit; once a harvest is made, that permit is no longer valid.
22. Q) If I harvest a bear in Segment A, can I harvest another in Segment B?
A) Yes, as long as another permit is used to hunt in Segment B.
23. Q) Can I hunt for both deer and bear with my bow?
A) Yes, the Fall Bow Deer Season is open during Segment A.
24. Q) If I get a permit online can I hunt immediately?
A) No. Permits purchased online are mailed, so purchasers need to allow for delivery time. Second-day expedited shipping is available for a fee, and orders must be in by 2pm for 2nd-day delivery. See the license sales website for information and to order.
25. Q) Is the permit I purchased for October (Segment A) still good in December (Segment B) if I don't harvest a bear in October?
A) Yes. If a hunter does not harvest a bear during Segment A the permit can be used to hunt during December firearm period (Segment B).
26. Q) What is the 'Safety Zone' for bow hunting bears?
A) The bow 'Safety Zone' is 150-feet - see Safety Zone Information (pdf, 58kb)
27. Q) Can the October segment be closed before Saturday, October 17?
A) Yes, if the harvest rate reaches 30% of bears tagged in 2020 during the week. In the event of a season closure, notification will be on the permit hotline number (609-292-9192), announced on our website and via the NJ Hunting E-mail list. A season closure will become effective 24 hours from the daily legal closing time of the day on which the decision is made. This means that Segment B would not be held in December.
The following questions and answers pertain to Segment B of the 2020 New Jersey black bear hunting season which runs concurrently with the Six-day Firearm Deer Season, December 7-12, 2020:
28. Q) Can I hunt both deer and black bear with a firearm at the same time provided I have the proper licenses and permits?
A) Yes, provided you follow the legal requirements for the specific firearm and ammunition for black bear hunting found in the Hunting Digest. You may NOT have buckshot in possession while hunting black bear.
29. Q) Can I use buckshot for black bear hunting?
A) No. The only allowable shotgun ammunition is 20, 16, 12 and 10 gauge slugs.
30. Q) Can I use buckshot if I decide to only hunt deer on a given day or morning/afternoon?
A) Yes, but do not have your black bear hunting permit in your possession. If you are in possession of a black bear hunting permit while in possession of buckshot you are in violation of the law.
31. Q) If I have a black bear hunting permit can I take the buckshot out of my gun while deer hunting and load my gun with ammunition legal to hunt black bear if provided with the opportunity to shoot a black bear?
A) No, you can only carry ammunition that is legal to use for black bear hunting while in possession of a black bear permit.
32. Q) Can I use my muzzleloader to hunt black bear in Segment B?
A) Yes, provided you are in possession of a valid Rifle Permit, Firearm or All-around Sportsman license, and a black bear hunting permit and using a single barrel rifle muzzleloader not smaller than .44 caliber.
33. Q) Are sights needed on my shotgun to hunt black bear?
A) Yes, either an adjustable open iron or peep sight, or a scope, must be affixed to the shotgun.
34. Q) Can the December segment be closed before Saturday, December 12?
A) Yes, if the harvest rate reaches 30% of bears tagged in 2020 during the week. In the event of a season closure, notification will be on the permit hotline number (609-292-9192), announced on our website and via the NJ Hunting E-mail list. A season closure will become effective 24 hours from the daily legal closing time of the day on which the decision is made.
Black Bear Hunting Season Information