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Ryan Mullins taps the hunting opportunities of the Garden State

Despite its nickname, the Garden State of New Jersey serves as a haven for many sportsmen. Avid hunter Ryan Mullins, a native of Hoboken, NJ, and the Bayonne area, the state has provided an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors while experiencing a classic hobby and developing a valuable skill.

Ryan Mullins' childhood of exploration

Both Hoboken and Bayonne are major urban areas full of day-time transplants to Manhattan or downtown companies. As a child and young man, Ryan Mullins frequently left the cities behind to travel on hunting trips across the state.

Generous state laws allowing children as young as 10 to enjoy free hunting licenses make it possible to develop a passion for hunting early, and hunter education courses provide the information needed for best practices in safety when hunting with friends and family, as many hunters like Mullins do.

Some of the best, easily accessible hunting in New Jersey is found on over 350,000 acres of state Wildlife Management Areas where the populations of specific animals and waterfowl are maintained for both enjoyment and recreational hunting. It is both here and on private property that Mullins was able to develop skills using both traditional firearms and the bow. The most enthusiastic sportsmen rely on a combination of bows and guns to extend the state's noted deer season as long as possible.

Wildlife on the move in New Jersey Deer hunting Concerted efforts to restore the native animal populations have created unique opportunities for hunters like Ryan Mullins. At different points, New Jersey was home to more deer per square mile than other states, and according to New Jersey Digest, white-tail deer are now an invasive species.

While the state has not put together a comprehensive plan for addressing the deer population, Mullins and other hunting enthusiasts harvested nearly 55,000 deer in the 2020-21 open season.

Explosions in an animal population beyond sustainable levels are dangerous from a biological perspective, as diseases can take hold and there is an increased likelihood of some, including Lyme disease passing on to household pets or people. Overpopulation also makes itself known with crop and decorative plant consumption as well as increased wrecks and other negative encounters between wildlife and people.

Ryan Mullins appreciates the majesty of the animal but recognizes the value of hunting for its practical benefits as food gathering and as a sport. He believes as the need to more effectively manage the white-tail deer population grows, increased hunting opportunities and limits will be key to minimizing the negative side effects of unsustainable growth.

Waterfowl hunting opportunities Hunters like Ryan Mullins tend to form many of their best memories on hunts for waterfowl. Duck blinds and chilly mornings on the water lend themselves to both comradery and peaceful meditation when hunting solo — a marked contrast to the bustle of the Hoboken and Bayonne areas.

However, bird hunting can also provide a thrill in the Garden State thanks to the reintroduction of the wild turkey in the 1970s. A new generation of sportsmen have grown up with access to the proud and notoriously hard-to-hunt bird as its population soared to over 20,000 statewide with average kills each season reaching 3,000.

According to Mullins, New Jersey provides some of the best bird hunting on the eastern seaboard, making journeys to the marsh and popular private destinations an excellent opportunity for the enjoyment of sport and striking up conversations with fellow enthusiasts in town for the weekend. For young people building careers and families, this type of networking can lead to lifelong friendships and new opportunities.

The future of hunting With deer populations ever-growing and a superior amount of acreage for migrating birds to enjoy as temporary homes, opportunities for hunting in NJ should remain ample for years to come for devoted sportsmen like Ryan Mullins.

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Ryan Mullins Portfolio