navigation bar
   
njdep  
  New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife
 
njdep home f&w home

NJ Small Game Season Opens November 8

November 7, 2008

2008 Pheasant Distribution Schedule (pdf, 19kb)

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2008-09 small game season for pheasant, bobwhite quail, rabbit, fox and coyote opens 8:00 AM on Saturday, November 8. The seasons for squirrel (open since September 27), raccoon/opossum (open since October 1), and grouse/woodcock (open since October 16) remain open (8:00 AM start on November 8).

Firearm hunting is prohibited November 7 on state Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas to allow for stocking (except in tidal marshes open to an on-going waterfowl season.). Hunters should review current regulations, season exceptions and bag limits in the August issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest (specifically pages 61-64), available at license agents statewide and on the Division's website at www.njfishandwildlife.com/dighnt08.htm.

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.

Results from the 2007-08 Firearm Hunter Harvest Survey, as well as other information relating to small game harvests, are available on the Fish and Wildlife Web site. Small game hunting is expected to result in nearly 15 million dollars in economic benefits to the State of New Jersey during the 2008-09 season.

Land use changes due to development and natural habitat succession result in an overall loss of habitat that affects many wildlife species, including the State's upland game bird species. Habitat loss, measured in terms of both quantity and quality, is considered the primary agent in decreased wild populations of northern bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant, ruffed grouse and woodcock. The Division and the University of Delaware continue their cooperative bobwhite study in Cumberland County to determine habitat needs, as well as reproductive and mortality rates of wild quail in New Jersey.

The Division encourages landowners to take advantage of programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). These and other habitat programs are administered by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and provide funding for management practices that benefit a wide variety of wildlife species. For additional information, contact your local NRCS regional office or Division representatives Ross Shramko (609-748-2065) and MacKenzie Hall (908-852-2576 ext, 3).

The Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), administered by the Division, provides similar funding for habitat programs targeting endangered and threatened species, as well as those of special concern such as bobwhite. For additional information, contact program coordinator Kim Korth at 609-984-1541 or Ross Shramko and MacKenzie Hall at the numbers listed above.

Most small game species such as coyote, eastern gray squirrel, gray fox, opossum, rabbits, raccoon, red fox and woodchuck remain at healthy population levels throughout New Jersey.

2008 SEASON PROSPECTS

CHUKAR/PHEASANT/QUAIL

Compared to past decades, wild populations of pheasant and quail are greatly reduced. Continued habitat loss, both in terms of quantity and quality, are considered the major factor in these reduced population levels. The release of pen-reared game birds provides the overwhelming majority of recreational opportunity for these species.

More than 50,000 pheasants will be stocked on 23 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) throughout the state, in addition to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Hunters should note that a Pheasant and Quail Stamp is required on these designated areas in addition to a valid hunting license. Stocking will continue through December. The daily bag limit is two pheasants of either sex. There is no possession or season bag limit for pheasant. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from sunrise to hour after sunset.

Approximately 10,000 quail will be stocked through December on two WMAs (Greenwood Forest in Ocean County and Peaslee in Cumberland County), where portions of these areas are managed specifically for this native game bird. Hunters should note that a Pheasant and Quail Stamp is required on these designated areas in addition to a valid hunting license. Hunters are reminded that the daily bag limit of quail south of Route 33 is four birds per day. North of Route 33, the daily bag limit is seven birds. The statewide quail season will conclude January 31 south of Route 33 but will remain open north of Route 33 through February 16. There is no possession or season limit. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from sunrise to hour after sunset.

There is no natural population of chukar partridge in New Jersey and any birds encountered are the result of stocking efforts by private individuals or clubs, semi-wild properties or commercial shooting preserves. The daily bag limit is seven chukar and there is no possession or season limit. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from sunrise to hour after sunset.

Properly licensed semi-wild hunting clubs and commercial shooting preserves have no daily bag limits for chukar partridge, northern bobwhite and ring-necked pheasants. However, the total season harvest for these species may not exceed the anticipated number of birds scheduled for release as indicated on the license application. All harvested birds must be properly tagged before leaving the property. Commercial shooting preserves have been open to hunting since September 1 and will remain open until May 1. Hunting on semi-wild properties will begin November 8 and end March 15. Sunday hunting is permitted on these licensed lands.

COTTONTAIL RABBIT/HARES/JACKRABBIT

The cottontail is one of New Jersey's most popular game species. They prefer a variety of cover types, so hunting efforts should be directed to areas where fields, woodlots and hedgerow intersperse. A hound, typically beagle or basset, is not essential but increases the likelihood of success and adds to the overall enjoyment of the hunt. Number 6 fine shot is a good choice.

Descendants of hares and jackrabbits introduced during the mid-20th century may still exist in small numbers, particularly in Hunterdon/Warren counties. The daily bag limit is four cottontails, 1 hare and 1 jackrabbit. There is no season limit. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from sunrise to hour after sunset.

COYOTE AND FOX

Coyote and fox are perhaps the most challenging of the state's small game species. Their intelligence, wariness and predominately nocturnal behavior enable them to elude most sportsmen. The majority of the hunter-harvested animals are taken during the firearm deer seasons. Both utilize a variety of cover types, but generally hunt for prey species along field edges. Heavier shot sizes, like #4 fine shot, are recommended for taking coyote and fox during the regular small game season

The bow and arrow season for coyote and fox, which began October 4, will remain open through February 16, 2009. Firearm hunters may pursue coyote and fox from November 8 until February 16. The use of dogs is prohibited on December 8-13 and December 17. Properly licensed deer hunters may take coyote and fox incidentally while hunting deer during the six-day firearm, permit muzzleloader and permit shotgun seasons, provided they are in possession of a valid deer transportation tag for the applicable season (i.e., before a deer is harvested).

Hunters should note that a valid rifle permit is required when hunting with a muzzleloading rifle, in addition to a valid firearm license. There is no daily or season bag limit for fox. The daily bag limit for coyote is two and there is no season limit. Successful coyote hunters are reminded to report their harvest to a regional Division Law Enforcement office within 24 hours. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from hour before sunrise to hour after sunset.

The Special (permit only) Coyote and Fox Season will be January 19 to February 16, 2009 (concurrent with the small game season for these species). A Special Permit is required during Jan. 19-Feb. 16 when any of the following conditions apply: hunting between the hours of hour after sunset to hour before sunrise (limited to shotgun hunting only); hunting while in possession of shot sizes larger than #4 fine (up to and including "T" size); hunting with a muzzleloading rifle (must be .44 caliber or greater); and, hunting with a firearm while not wearing fluorescent hunter's orange.

Hunting under the provisions of the special season permit is limited to stand hunting only and the use of dogs is prohibited by permit holders. Permit holders must also be in possession of a predator call. Permits cost $2 and will be available for purchase at any license agent or via the Division's Internet license sales site beginning December 1. A 2009 hunting license must be purchased prior to or in conjunction with the purchase of the 2009 Special Coyote/Fox Permit.

GRAY SQUIRREL

The season for gray squirrel, which opened September 27, remains open. Gray squirrels may be found throughout 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 the trees. After leaf fall, #7 fine shot will suffice. A dog is not needed for squirrel hunting, but patience is a must. The daily bag limit is five squirrels, and there is no season limit. Firearm hunting is prohibited November 7 on those Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp areas. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from sunrise to hour after sunset until the season concludes on February 16.

GROUSE/WOODCOCK

The season for ruffed grouse, which opened October 16, remains open. While New Jersey's mature hardwood forests provide good habits for squirrels, turkeys and deer, they are not as hospitable to ruffed grouse and woodcock. Ideal habitats for grouse include areas with early stage hardwood forests mixed with some mature mast trees. Adult ruffed grouse feed on leaves, berries and mast crops. Much of this mixed-forest vegetation has disappeared from the New Jersey landscape through human development and natural habitat maturation. The daily bag limit is two grouse and there is no season limit. Firearm hunting is prohibited November 7 on those Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp areas. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from sunrise to hour after sunset until the season concludes on December 31.

Woodcock also prefer early succession habitat types, particularly along stream and rivers where soils are moist and easily probed for earthworms. New Jersey is the nation's only state that has split zones for woodcock. Hunting in the North Zone, which opened on October 16, will conclude Saturday, November 8. Season dates in the South Zone are Saturday, November 8 to November 22 and from December 26 to January 3. Hunters should note that a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number is required to hunt woodcock, in addition to a valid hunting license (see New Jersey 2008-2009 Migratory Bird Regulations booklet (pdf, 178kb) for details).

The daily bag limit is three woodcock, with six birds in possession. There is no season limit. Firearm hunting is prohibited November 7 on those Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp areas. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to hour after sunset on November 8 and thereafter from sunrise to hour after sunset.

OPOSSUM/RACCOON

The season for hunting raccoon and opossum, which opened October 1, will remain open through March 1. Both species prefer habitats characterized as deciduous woodlands associated with streams, marshes, reservoirs and agricultural habitats with access to water. There is no daily or season bag limit for raccoon or opossum. Hunting hours are one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. Use of portable lights is permitted for hunting raccoon. Fluorescent hunter's orange on outer clothing is not required, but is strongly encouraged as a safety precaution. A current and valid rifle permit is required when possessing a .22 caliber rifle while hunting these species. The season will be closed during the prescribed deer seasons (December 8-13 and on December 17, 2008).

  Adobe Acrobat Some files on this site require adobe acrobat pdf reader to view. download the free pdf reader  
bottom footer contact dep privacy notice legal statement accessibility statement nj home nj home citizen business government services a to z departments dep home

division of fish & wildlife: home | links | contact f&w
department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2008
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 7, 2008