|    New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife|
On Saturday, November 9, 2002 at 8:00 a.m., the traditional small game hunting season began for pheasant, quail and cottontail rabbit. The season for gray squirrel and ruffed grouse began September 28, 2002.
Opening day always brings back fond memories of time spent with my father and friends preparing equipment and training our dogs. My father's gone now, but the passion he taught me about hunting remains.
Our specialty was hunting pheasants and quail on both private property and the state's wildlife management areas. This year, the Division of Fish and Wildlife will be stocking approximately 50,000 pheasants and 11,000 quail during the 2002 small game season. The pheasants, raised at the Division's Rockport Pheasant Farm, are in excellent condition. The quail are purchased from a private vendor and look great.
Pheasants will be stocked on 23 Division Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The 11,000 quail will be stocked on the Greenwood Forest (Ocean County) and Peaslee (Cumberland and Cape May counties) WMAs. (2002 stocking schedule)
The Division's stocking program provides birds for the opening on Saturday, November 9 and continues until Tuesday, December 31, 2002. The stocking is paid for by those hunting on WMAs through the required purchase of Pheasant/Quail stamps. While the $40 price of a pheasant and quail stamp may at first seem high to the average hunter, when compared to the cost of joining a semi-wild hunting club or a commercial preserve it's a real bargain.
The Division's stocking policy is to spread out the birds as much as possible, often in proximity to developed parking areas. This provides enough space for a safe, enjoyable hunt and a quality experience.
Hunting for pheasants and quail can be done either with or without a dog. I have done both and prefer the use of a dog as I've had more success doing so. If you are hunting without a dog, take your time and stop frequently. This style often results in numerous birds flushing early instead of running.
If hunting a wildlife management area, I recommend going out during the afternoon and on non-stocking days - they often provide surprising results, especially late in the season. Areas are less crowded during these times, making for a more enjoyable experience.
During last year's hunting season, the Division conducted a survey of pheasant and quail stamp buyers using a questionnaire distributed at the WMAs and on the Division's Website. The results have been tabulated and analyzed, and division staff is now working with the Fish and Game Council to identify changes to improve the stocking program. We expect to begin to implement improvements next hunting season.
Getting outdoors during the small game season, whether for pheasants, quail or other game, is a long-standing tradition for many family and friends, a time to reconnect with nature and each other. Take advantage of the Division's pheasant/quail stocking program for some quality hunting time. On behalf of the Division of Fish and Wildlife, I wish for everyone a successful small game hunting season. But remember, in the end, just being out there is what it's really all about.