Location Summary

  • Watchung Reservation
  • Lenape & Nomahegan Parks
  • Ash Brook Reservation and Oak Ridge Park
  • Passaic River Park – Summit, New Providence and Berkeley Heights
  • Hawk Rise Sanctuary and Linden Municipal Landfill
  • Galloping Hill Golf Course – Union
  • Elizabeth River Park – Hillside and Union
  • Rahway River Park – Springfield, Union, Clark, Rahway and Winfield Park
  • Reeves Reed Arboretum – Summit
  • Hidden Valley – Summit
  • Linden Airport – City of Linden
  • Plainfield – County and Municipal Properties
  • Westfield – County and Municipal Properties
  • Clark – County and Municipal Properties

Location Specifics

  • The Watchung Reservation encompasses 2065 acres (3.2 square miles) in the Townships of Berkeley Heights, Scotch Plains and Springfield; the Boroughs of Mountainside and Watchung; and the City of Summit.
  • Lenape and Nomahegan Parks cover 480 acres (0.75 square mile) in the Townships of Cranford, Springfield, and Union; the Borough of Kenilworth; and the Town of Westfield.
  • The Ash Brook Reservation encompasses 667.45 acres (1.04 square miles) in the Townships of Clark and Scotch Plains.  Oak Ridge Park includes 166.14 acres (0.26 square mile) in the Townships of Clark and Edison.
  • The Hawk Rise Sanctuary and Linden Municipal Landfill cover 181 acres (0.28 square mile) in the City of Linden.
  • The Woodruff, Lightning Brook and Salem Sections of Elizabeth River Park span approximately 165 acres in the Townships of Hillside and Union.
  • The Galloping Hill Golf Course encompasses approximately 145 acres in the Township of Union.
  • The Rahway River Park hunt area includes approximately 170 acres in the Townships of Springfield, Union, Clark,  Rahway and Winfield Park.
  • The Watchung Reservation, Lenape Park, Nomahegan Park, Ash Brook Reservation, Oak Ridge Park, Passaic River Park, Elizabeth River Park, Rahway River Park and Hidden Valley are units of the Union County Park System. The Hawk Rise Sanctuary, Reeves Reed Arboretum and Linden Airport are municipally owned properties.


  • Forest ecologists recommend that white-tailed deer populations in Northeast hardwood forests should not exceed an overwintering density of 20 deer per square mile in order for deer browse to not impair forest health.  In areas where the forest health is already compromised, deer density needs to be as low as 5 per square mile.
  • The County of Union has been very successful in reducing the deer population on county and municipal properties utilizing archery equipment and will again utilize the assistance of volunteer community-minded licensed hunters with a proficiency in marksmanship to reduce the populations of white-tailed deer in the subject parks.
  • The goals of this program are to minimize the incidence of deer-related motor vehicle accidents and to prevent over browsing of native vegetation in the park areas and allow forest regeneration and minimize browsing of residential landscaping surrounding the park properties.  Additional benefits that could result from this program are a reduction in the incidence of Lyme disease and an increased opportunity for homeowners to use and enjoy their yards for recreating and gardening.

Program Overview

  • The County of Union will remove deer from various County and municipal park properties during the Fall and winter of
    2023-24 in an attempt to bring the deer population densities down to levels that are more in balance with the ecosystems, with a specific goal density of 20 deer/square mile or less.
  • Such removal will be accomplished through the efforts of selected hunters, acting as agents of the County of Union, shooting over baited sites.
  • The County of Union, through its Department of Public Works & Department of Parks and Recreation, will administer and conduct all deer management activities defined in these Guidelines.
  • Specific details of this deer control program may be adjusted as field conditions necessitate while conforming to statutory law and NJDFW policy and maintaining the highest standards of safety.
  • Up to 60 agents may be selected from among experienced, licensed hunters who have demonstrated a proficiency in marksmanship and many of whom have participated in this program in the past.
  • Agents will take part in this program on a voluntary basis.
  • This program is designed to address a problem of population control; it is not intended to provide sport or recreational opportunities. These properties are otherwise closed to traditional hunting at all times.
  • This program will be conducted as an archery hunt only utilizing volunteer hunt agents with crossbow archery equipment to cull deer during the Fall Bow, Permit Bow and Winter Bow Seasons.

Selection and Qualification of Agents

  • Applicants must meet the following qualifications:
    • be at least 21 years old;
    • possess a valid NJ Bow Hunting or All-Around Sportsman License;
    • have not been convicted of any firearms violation, in any state, in the last 10 years or of any fish and game code violation in the last 5 years;
    • be able to demonstrate an expertise in marksmanship;
    • possess and be comfortable with using a portable tree stand at a height of 12 feet or more for archery; and
  • Applications must be returned to the Division of Public Works, Union County Engineering Building, 2371 South Avenue, Scotch Plains, NJ  07076, by Wednesday, August 9, 2023 no later than noon. Applications may be sent via mail or in person before the deadline. E-mailed applications will not be accepted.
  • Up to 60 agents may be selected for the program.
  • All applicants will be informed of the selection process results via letter or e-mail.
  • All successful applicants will subsequently be required to pass a marksmanship proficiency test administered by a Union County certified archery range officer.
  • Archery crossbow qualifications will be held on Wednesday & Thursday, August 23-24th, at Oak Ridge Park Archery Range, Clark, at 5:00PM.
  • All participants will be required to attend an orientation program.
  • The mandatory archery orientation will be held on Monday, September 11th, 7 PM, at the Union County Engineering Building, 2325 South Avenue, Scotch Plains.
  • Each selected agent will be required to possess and provide proof of a $1 million general liability insurance policy, and to sign a Hold Harmless Agreement.


  • If authorized by the Union County Board of County Commissioners and the appropriate municipalities, hunters selected will hunt deer in the subject parks during the Fall and Permit Bow Season of October 2 to December 29, 2023 and/or the Winter Bow Season that extends from January 1st through February 16, 2024.
  • Hunting will be conducted under the regular hunting season format.
  • Agents must utilize crossbows only.
  • Hunters selected for this program will be required to purchase a 2023 and 2024 hunting license, at their own expense.
  • Hunters who are selected and approved for participation in this program will also be required to purchase at their own expense a Fall Bow, Permit Bow and/or Winter Bow Season license and applicable permits for the zone(s) in which they will hunt – Zone 13 for the Watchung Reservation and Passaic River Park and Zone 36 for Lenape Park, Nomahegan Park, Ash Brook Reservation, Oak Ridge Park, Hawk Rise Sanctuary, Galloping Hill Golf Course and Elizabeth River Park. 
  • If a hunter wishes to hunt for an antlered buck during the Permit Bow Season, then he or she must also purchase an Antlered Buck Permit.
  • Use of any permits must conform strictly to the statutes, rules and regulations as promulgated and administered by the State of New Jersey through the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Program Schedule

  • Shooting will occur only during daylight hours, which are defined as ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. Hunters may be in the park before and after those hours to set up their tree stands or to remove deer carcasses
  • Hunting in the subject parks may occur on any and all weekdays within the range of dates specified.
  • The specific date ranges and hunting shifts are as follows:
  • Fall Bow and Permit Bow Seasons (65 days), October 2 – December 29, 2023; Monday through Friday at:
    • Lenape Park
    • Ash Brook Reservation
    • Oak Ridge Park
    • Passaic River Park
    • Hawk Rise Sanctuary and Linden Municipal Landfill
    • Watchung Reservation
      • (26 days: Tuesdays and Thursdays, only)
    • Elizabeth River Park
    • Galloping Hill Golf Course
    • Hidden Valley Park
    • Linden Airport
    • Rahway River Park
    • Clark County properties
  • Winter Bow Season (35 days), January 1 – February 16, 2024; Monday through Friday at:
    • Lenape Park
    • Ash Brook Reservation
    • Oak Ridge Park
    • Passaic River Park
    • Hawk Rise Sanctuary and Linden Municipal Landfill
    • Watchung Reservation
      • (21 days: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, only)
    • Elizabeth River Park
    • Nomahegan Park
    • Galloping Hill Golf Course
    • Reeves Reed Arboretum
    • Hidden Valley & Bryant Parks
    • Linden Airport
    • Rahway River Park
    • Westfield County & Municipal properties
    • Clark County & Municipal properties
    • Plainfield County & Municipal properties

Program Operation

  • Baiting stations will be set up in a multitude of locations in the various subject park units.
  • Baiting stations will be carefully selected to provide the shooter with a clear and open view of the deer.
  • All archery shooting will occur from tree stands, shooting near or over bait, with the tree stand base secured at a height of at least 12 feet above the ground. 
  • No shots may be taken from ground level or across roads or paths.
  • Shots are limited to 20 yards with archery equipment.
  • Hunting may not take place within 150 feet of any structure.
  • Agents must provide their own portable stands and remove them as directed by the hunt manager at the conclusion of the hunt.  Ladder stands are acceptable and placement location must be approved by the hunt manager.  Safety harnesses must be worn.
  • The maximum number of agents that may be deployed into a park at any one time is as follows:
    • Watchung Reservation – 17 for archery
    • Lenape Park – 9 for archery
    • Nomahegan Park – 3 for archery
    • Ash Brook Reservation – 8 for archery
    • Oak Ridge Park – 3 for archery
    • Hidden Valley Park – 3 for archery
    • Passaic River Park – 4 for archery
    • Hawk Rise Sanctuary and Linden Municipal Landfill – 3 for archery
    • Galloping Hill Golf Course – 4 for archery
    • Elizabeth River Park – 4 for archery
    • Rahway River Park – 6 for archery
    • Other properties – to be determined
  • Some portions of the parks may be closed or restricted during program operation as safety or operational needs dictate.
  • The County will provide notification to park users, adjoining homeowners and the community at large through signage, press releases, and printed literature.


  • Agents will not be restricted as to the total number of deer each individual can harvest.  
  • Although there will be no daily bag limit, the hunter must report any deer killed to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife through its Automated Harvest Report System, and must be authorized by that system before killing more than two deer. Agents will contact the Program Administrator to report daily harvest and provide date, location, sex and confirmation numbers. Agents will be required to provide a completed End of Season Harvest Report and Survey to the Program Administrator, via email or hard copy, as directed.  That report must include the hours that they hunted, the number of deer killed, the sex of those deer, and the disposition of the carcasses.

Disposition of Deer

  • All deer harvested will be field-dressed and the entrails will be bagged and removed by the agents.  
  • All deer harvested not being kept for personal consumption will be transported to a NJDOH-approved butcher contracted by the County.
  • All venison derived from those deer will be distributed to the needy and homeless through the Community FoodBank of NJ. A total of 3,081 pounds of processed venison was donated by the agent hunters during the 2022/23 season, which provided approximately 12,300 meals to the needy in our community.


  • The County of Union will purchase any bait required for the conduct of this program.
  • The County will pay the fees for butchering deer carcasses for deer donated to the Community Food Bank of NJ.
  • The agents will be responsible for the cost of licenses and permits, insurance, personal equipment and crossbow bolts and the butchering of deer kept by them.

Submit Comments

All comments will be forward to the Union County Board of County Commissioners and Park directors.

Contact Information

Mailing List

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