|New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife|
Oct. 30, 2003
A current and valid hunting license (bow and arrow, firearm or all-around sportsman) is required to pursue any small game species. Properly licensed hunters may hunt small game with shotgun, muzzleloader or bow and arrow. HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES
The opportunity to pursue quail is also included with the purchase of a pheasant / quail stamp. Eleven thousand quail are purchased and stocked on 17 days spread over two months. The quail are stocked on two South Jersey WMAs, Peaslee and Greenwood Forest, where portions of the areas are managed specifically for quail.
For chukar hunters, the daily bag limit has increased from three to seven birds. Since there is no resident population of chukar partridge in New Jersey, any birds harvested would have been stocked on either private clubs, commercial, or semi-wild preserves.
Coyotes have excellent senses of sight, smell and hearing, making them extremely wary and challenging to hunt. Last year, 64 coyotes were taken during the various hunting seasons, which included hunting with bow and arrow (3), shotgun (56) and muzzleloader (5). Hunters who participate in the coyote season and who are successful, should note that all harvested coyotes must be reported to a Division law enforcement office within 24 hours (North: 908-735-8240; Central: 609-259-2120; South: 856-629-0555). The bag limit for coyote is two per day.
Fox are most active during the evening hours so hunters in the field typically encounter them at dawn and dusk. Fox hunters (those with fox hounds) are few in New Jersey; therefore the majority of the 2000 – 3000 animals harvested each year are probably taken during deer season. There is no bag limit for fox.
The regular coyote and fox season runs from Sept. 27 to Nov. 7, 2003, for bow and arrow, and from Nov. 8, 2003, to Feb. 16, 2004, for firearm and bow and arrow. Hours for hunting are half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, except for Nov. 8 when hunting hours are from 8 a.m. to half an hour after sunset. The use of dogs is allowed except during the bow and arrow only season for coyote and fox, the six-day firearm deer season and the Wednesday of the shotgun permit deer season immediately following the six-day firearm season. Bows must have a minimum 35 lb.- draw (long and recurve bows) or 35 lb. peak weight for compound bows. Arrows must be fitted with a well-sharpened broadhead with a minimum width of three-quarters of an inch. Shotguns may not be smaller than .410 or larger than 10 gauge and capable of holding no more than 3 shells. Shot size may not be larger than # 4 fine shot.
During the special February season, a permit from the Division is required. Hunting methods are restricted to calling and stand hunting, and a predator-calling device must be in possession while hunting during the special season. Coyote and fox may be hunted with bow and arrow, shotgun and single barrel muzzleloader rifle between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. Bow and arrow equipment requirements are the same as for the regular coyote and fox season but shotguns may not be smaller than 12 gauge or larger than 10 gauge and shot size may not be larger than # 2 or smaller than # 4. Muzzleloading rifles shall be no less than .44 caliber and smoothbore muzzleloaders shall be single barreled.
The special February season also allows hunters to take coyote and fox between half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. During this time period, only 10 or 12 gauge shotguns with # 2 or # 4 fine shot may be used. Portable lights are allowed.
NOTE: Hunters are also allowed to take coyote and fox during the six-day firearm, muzzleloader permit and shotgun permit deer seasons, and should consult the Fish and Wildlife Digest for those regulations.
Rabbits prefer a variety of cover types so hunting effort should be concentrated in areas where fields, woodlots and hedgerows predominate. A beagle or basset hound, while not necessary to hunt rabbits, makes the hunting more enjoyable and also increases the likelihood of success. Number 6 fine shot is the preferred choice for use by rabbit hunters.
The eastern gray squirrel is one of the most abundant, yet underutilized game species in New Jersey. Gray squirrels may be encountered virtually anywhere in the state, but prefer areas containing stands of mast producing hardwood trees such as oak and beech. Larger shot sizes such as #5 or #6 are recommended for taking squirrels while leaves remain on trees. After the leaves fall, #7 ˝ fine shot will suffice. A dog is not needed for squirrel hunting, but patience is. Hunters who pursue gray squirrels should find a large tree to rest against and allow the woods to quiet down after their arrival. If you do so, you shouldn’t have long to wait.
The abundant eastern gray squirrel provides an excellent hunting opportunity for sportsmen and women, and also an excellent opportunity for families to spend quality time afield. Squirrels are easy to find and hunt, fun to pursue, and are probably the quarry that most hunters sought early on in their hunting lives. Young hunters will find squirrel hunting rewarding and challenging, and an excellent way to sharpen their skills. Those who haven’t gone into the woods for squirrels in many years should give it a try again. The experience may very well bring back fond memories of a simpler and less hectic time.
Hunters can find opportunities for grouse in New Jersey, but they will have to work harder to be successful in taking home their bag limit.
While New Jersey’s mature hardwood forests provide good habitat for squirrels, they are not as hospitable to ruffed grouse. Ideal habitats for grouse include areas with early stage hardwood forest mixed with some mature mast trees. Adult ruffed grouse feed on many plant species including berries and mast crops so early stage forests interspersed with shrubby vegetation and some large mast trees such as oak provide the best source of food. This diverse vegetation also provides concealment from predators, good nesting and brood rearing habitat, and protection from cold winter weather. Much of this mixed-forest vegetation has disappeared in New Jersey because of habitat loss and the maturation of forest. Forest manipulation and renewal from prescribed burning or professional forest management can improve habitat for grouse as well as their populations. The Division of Fish and Wildlife along with conservation organizations such as the Ruffed Grouse Society (New Jersey Chapters) has embarked on habitat improvement projects in many areas that will not only benefit grouse, but also other ground nesting and ground dwelling wildlife.
For more information about hunting in New Jersey, visit the Division of Fish and Wildlife online at www.njfishandwildlife.com or pick up a copy of the 2003 hunting issue of the Fish and Wildlife Digest. The Digest is available free of charge at Division offices and from license agents.