NJ Small Game Season Opens Saturday, November 6
2010 Pheasant Distribution Schedule (pdf, 15kb)
The New Jersey DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2010-11 small game firearm seasons for pheasant, chukar, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse (south of Route 70) open at 8:00 AM on Saturday, November 6. Small game seasons for several other species have already opened.
Hunters should review current regulations, season exceptions and bag limits in the 2010 Hunting and Trapping issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest for information regarding the specific seasons they wish to hunt.
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, including crossbow. Firearm hunting is prohibited November 5 on Pheasant and Quail Stamp designated Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) to allow for stocking (except in tidal marshes open to an on-going waterfowl season.).
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.
New Jersey Hunter Harvest Survey data suggests small game hunting will result in nearly 15 million dollars in economic benefits to the State of New Jersey during the 2010-11 season. Each year a random sample of firearm hunters receive a Firearm Hunter Harvest Survey at the end of the season. Data from returned surveys is used to estimate small game harvests and hunting related expenditures. Results from prior surveys are available on the Fish and Wildlife Web site.
2010 SEASON PROSPECTS
The release of pen-reared game birds provides the overwhelming majority of recreational opportunity for these species. Wild populations of pheasant and bobwhite quail are greatly reduced compared to past decades due to habitat loss and habitat change.
There is good news this year for New Jersey hunters who purchase Pheasant and Quail Stamps. A major milestone in the ongoing modernization of Fish and Wildlife's Rockport Pheasant Farm was attained this year with the completion of a state-of-the-art incubation and brooder building. The building's energy efficient, automated systems for egg incubation and chick care replace hand operated equipment and labor intensive chick handling and care regimes that date back to the farm's creation in the 1920s. The significant energy and labor cost savings realized with the new building and equipment ensures reliable annual production of superior pheasants for the same or lower cost to purchase birds from suppliers who may not be able to consistently meet annual demand.
More than 60,000 pheasants will be stocked on 25 wildlife Wildlife Management Areas throughout the state, in addition to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Stocking will continue through December. A Pheasant and Quail Stamp in addition to a valid hunting license is required to hunt pheasants on these designated areas. 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 ½ hour after sunset on November 6 and thereafter from sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.
A cooperative bobwhite study in Cumberland County conducted by the Division and the University of Delaware indicates our State's bobwhite population is declining 30% annually, compared to the national decline rate of 44%. Research results suggest that both improving the quantity and quality of habitat and reducing winter mortality are both critical components necessary to sustain and potentially increase the New Jersey bobwhite population.
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. A Pheasant and Quail Stamp in addition to a valid hunting license is required to hunt quail on these WMAs.
The daily bag limit of quail south of Route 33 is four birds per day, while north of Route 33 the daily bag limit is seven birds per day. The statewide quail season will conclude January 31 south of Route 33 but will remain open north of Route 33 through February 21. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to ½ hour after sunset on November 6 and thereafter from sunrise to ½ 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 ½ hour after sunset on November 6 and thereafter from sunrise to ½ 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 6 and end March 15. Sunday hunting is permitted on these licensed lands.
The season for rabbit, hare and jackrabbit opened September 25.
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. Firearm hunting is prohibited November 5 on Pheasant and Quail Stamp designated WMAs to allow for stocking. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to ½ hour after sunset on November 6 and thereafter from sunrise to ½ hour after sunset until the season concludes on February 21.
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 (only) season for coyote and fox, which began October 2, will remain open through November 5, 2010. Firearm and bow and arrow hunters may pursue coyote and fox from November 6 until February 21. The use of dogs is prohibited on December 6-11 and December 15.
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.) When hunting with a muzzleloading rifle, a valid rifle permit is required in addition to a valid firearm license.
There is no daily or season bag limit for fox or coyote. 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 ½ hour after sunset on November 6 and thereafter from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.
The Special Permit Coyote and Fox Season will be January 1 to March 15, 2011 (concurrent with the small game season for these species until February 21). Hunter orange is not required while hunting under the provisions of the Special Permit, but is recommended while traveling to / from hunting areas. The Special Permit Season also allows night hunting with shotguns only. Hunting methods are restricted to calling and stand hunting. A predator-calling device must be in possession. Use of dogs is prohibited. Use of bait is prohibited. Portable lights are allowed.
Permits cost $2 and will be available for purchase at any license agents or via the Division's license sales Web site beginning December 15. A 2011 hunting license must be purchased prior to or in conjunction with the purchase of the 2011 Special Coyote/Fox Permit.
The season for gray squirrel opened September 25.
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 ½ 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 5 on on Pheasant and Quail Stamp designated WMAs to allow for stocking. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to ½ hour after sunset on November 6 and thereafter from sunrise to ½ hour after sunset until the season concludes on February 21.
The season for ruffed grouse opened October 21 north of Route 70 and remains open. South of Route 70 the season opens on November 6.
New Jersey's mature hardwood forests provide good habitat for squirrels, turkeys and deer, but are not as hospitable to ruffed grouse and woodcock. Adult ruffed grouse feed on leaves, berries and mast crops, with their ideal habitat being early stage hardwood forests mixed with some mature mast trees. Much of this mixed-forest vegetation has disappeared from the New Jersey landscape because of development and natural habitat maturation.
The daily bag limit is two grouse and there is no season limit. Firearm hunting is prohibited November 5 on Pheasant and Quail Stamp designated WMAs to allow for stocking. Hunting hours are sunrise to ½ hour after sunset except for an 8:00 AM start on November 6.
Woodcock prefer early succession habitat types, particularly along streams 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 14 will conclude Saturday, November 6. Season dates in the South Zone are Saturday November 6 to November 27, 2010 and from December 31, 2010 to January 1, 2011. A Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification is required to hunt woodcock, in addition to a valid hunting license (see New Jersey 2010-2011 Migratory Bird Regulations (pdf, 255kb) booklet for details.)
The daily bag limit is three woodcock, with six birds in possession. There is no season limit. Firearm hunting is prohibited November 5 on Pheasant and Quail Stamp designated WMAs to allow for stocking. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to ½ hour after sunset on November 6 and thereafter from sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.
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 areas (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 deer seasons dates of December 6-11 and December 15, 2010.