NJ Upland Bird Small Game Season Opens Saturday, November 9
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2013-14 small game seasons for pheasant, chukar, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse (south of Route 70) and woodcock (south of Route 70) will open at 8:00 AM on Saturday, November 9. Small game seasons for several other species have already opened.
Hunters should review current regulations, season dates and bag limits in the New Jersey 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping Digest (specifically page 65) for information regarding the specific season(s) they wish to hunt. A summary of small game hunting season information can also be accessed at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2013/smgame_summary13-14.pdf (pdf, 51kb) on the Division's website.
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). Hunters pursuing pheasants on state Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas and/or bobwhite quail on the Peaslee and Greenwood Wildlife Management Areas must also possess a Pheasant and Quail Stamp while hunting.
SMALL GAME SEASON INFORMATION AND UPDATES
Small game species such as coyote, eastern gray squirrel, gray fox, opossum, raccoon, red fox and woodchuck remain at healthy population levels throughout New Jersey, and should provide excellent hunting opportunities for Garden State sportsmen and sportswomen. Rabbit populations, while healthy, may have been subject to increased mortality due to significant spring rainfalls and exposure. Prospects for rabbit hunters may therefore not be as good as in recent years.
Air guns are now legal for taking cottontail rabbit, hare and gray squirrel using ammunition not smaller than .177 caliber or larger than .22 caliber producing projectile velocities of not less than 600 feet per second measured at the muzzle. Modern air guns have sufficient power to take small game plus are quieter and lighter than some shotguns, making them an ideal tool for smaller-framed hunters. Air gun BBs are not legal for hunting however. A rifle permit is not required to hunt with an air gun. For more information, see the Air Gun Hunting in NJ page.
The options of firearms and ammunition for legal coyote and fox hunting have been expanded this season. Small game hunters should consult the coyote/fox season chart on page 62 of the 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping Digest for more information.
Operations at the Rockport Pheasant Farm are fully restored and production is back to normal for the 2013 small game season. The facility has recovered from the damage from the October 2011 snowstorm and the increased pheasant brooder mortality in 2012 due to issues caused by extreme summer heat. As a result 53,000 pheasants will be stocked on 24 Wildlife Management Areas throughout New Jersey and hunting opportunities should be excellent for Garden State sportsmen and women. The Division of Fish and Wildlife would like to thank pheasant hunters for their patience and support as we recovered from the serious circumstances faced at the pheasant farm throughout the last two years. The Division would also like to thank members of the Gloucester County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs who provided invaluable assistance with repairs at the pheasant farm after the 2011 snowstorm.
Northern bobwhite quail are native to the southern half of New Jersey. In recent years, quail populations have declined throughout their range including New Jersey. As part of a comprehensive effort to reverse this decline, the Division closed the bobwhite quail season statewide in 2011 except for the Peaslee and Greenwood Wildlife Management Areas where the Division of Fish and Wildlife purchases and releases 11,000 birds in total. Quail may also be pursued at properly licensed semi-wild and commercial shooting preserves. Hunters are reminded that the quail season remains closed except as noted above.
Hunters can view the 2013 Pheasant Quail Stocking Schedule at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2013/pheas-quail_sched13.pdf (pdf, 19kb)
Quail are an integral part of New Jersey's natural landscape and their decline should be of concern to everyone. Therefore, as part of an ongoing educational effort the Division has posted the updated Bobwhite Basics brochure on its website. Originally published in May, 2003, the updated version is a handy reference tool on Habitat Basics, Nesting, Brood Habitat, Fall/Winter Activities, Foods, Management and Bobwhite Facts.
A hard copy of the brochure can be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped ($0.46) #10 envelope to NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife, Bobwhite Basics Brochure, P.O. Box 418, Port Republic, NJ 08241-0418.
For a pdf version, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/bobwhitebasics.pdf (pdf, 1.0mb) on the Division's website.
Ruffed grouse populations face problems similar to those of bobwhite (i.e., lack of suitable habitat) and may be challenging to find, particularly in the southern region. Grouse prefer young forest habitat (less than 20 years old) and although New Jersey contains nearly 2 million acres of forest, only 4% of forests fall into the young forest category. The Division has undertaken several habitat projects designed to increase young forest acreage on several northern WMAs.
For more information about small game hunting in New Jersey visit Small Game Hunting page on the Fish and Wildlife website, or pick up a copy of the 2013 Hunting and Trapping Digest wherever hunting licenses are sold.