NEW JERSEY

Deer Forecast 2004 -- EAST

Outdoor Life Online Editor

Since taking a record 77,444 whitetails in 2000, New Jersey had exhibited a decline in its harvests. That is, until last year, when sportsmen killed 69,456-the fourth-best take on record and a 10 percent increase over the year before-indicating the herd is still doing extremely well. "We know the herd is bigger than it should be," says DEP deer project leader Carole Kandoth. "The problem in the state is access."

For 2004, the DFW is looking to reduce deer herds in 62 percent of the state, particularly south of I-80 and north of I-195. Hunterdon County should lead the harvest, followed by Sussex and Warren. Anyone in search of a bruiser may want to try Monmouth, Somerset and Morris counties, along with Cumberland and Burlington.

"I think hunting opportunities will be as good as they've ever been," Kandoth says.