It's rutting season in New Jersey, and around this time of year, you're way more likely to see deer carcasses scattered all over the outskirts of streets and highways. It's not a pretty sight, but it's one we've become pretty accustomed and desensitized to.

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David De Lossy
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But what if you come across a recent deer carcass that's not rotten? Maybe you hit it with your car yourself....and you have a taste for venison? Can you just haul it in the back of your car, take it home, butcher and eat it?

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Is it illegal to take and eat roadkill deer in New Jersey?

Let's set aside the rest of the roadkill you can find in New Jersey... raccoons, possums, squirrels... For this inquiry, we're specially talking about deer.

White-tailed deer buck along the edge of the woods
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The answer is yes and no. In New Jersey, you can take a deer carcass to take home and eat, but you need to have a permit, according to eRegulations:

"Deer accidentally killed by motor vehicles may be possessed only for private consumption by obtaining a free permit from the local police department or from a NJ Fish & Wildlife regional law enforcement office... The permit authorizes only possession of the meat and is valid only for 90 days. The possession of all other parts such as antlers, under terms of this permit, is expressly prohibited. Wrapped venison packages must be labeled with the permit number."

Long story short, you have to get that free permit from your local police or a NJ Fish and Wildlife authority. And it's only for the meat. You can't keep the antlers, for some reason.

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It's not a very "New Jersey" thing to do - it's more likely to happen in Southern states, but the more you know!


 

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