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Small Game Season Opens November 11

October 24, 2006

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2006-07 small game season for pheasant, bobwhite quail, rabbit, fox and coyote opens 8:00 AM on Saturday, November 11. The seasons for squirrel (open since September 30) and grouse/woodcock (open since October 19), remain open (8:00 AM start on November 11). Firearm hunting is prohibited November 10 on those Wildlife Management Areas designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas.

Hunters should review current regulations, season exceptions and bag limits in the August issue of the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Digest (specifically pages 60-63), available at license agents statewide and on the Division’s website at www.njfishandwildlife.com/dighnt06.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 of the 2005-06 New Jersey Firearm Hunter Harvest Survey indicated that an estimated 35,411 small game firearm hunters spent in excess of 11.1 million dollars (US, excluding license, permit and stamp fees), enjoyed 420,228 recreation-days and harvested an estimated 61,811 bobwhite quail, 6,481 crows, 27,546 chukar partridge, 711 ruffed grouse, 155,238 pheasants, 3,794 woodcock, 79 gray fox, 18,140 gray squirrels, 30,431 rabbits, 435 raccoons, 790 red fox and 4,031 woodchucks during the 2005-06 season. The reported coyote harvest for 2005-06 was 91.

Continued human development, land use changes 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 are conducting a bobwhite study in Cumberland County to determine what wild quail need to survive and increase under current conditions 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, see the Habitat Improvement Programs page or contact your local NRCS regional office representatives Ross Shramko (609-267-0811 ext. 113) 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 other small game species such as coyote, eastern gray squirrel, gray fox, opossum, rabbits, raccoon, red fox and woodchuck populations remain at healthy levels throughout New Jersey. For additional information regarding small game hunting and trapping, contact Division biologist Andrew Burnett at 609-748-2058.

2006 SEASON PROSPECTS

Small game season in New Jersey is an exciting and much anticipated time for hunters. Beautiful weather, colorful foliage and abundant opportunities to harvest wild game offer sportsmen and women a variety of quality hunting experiences. Small game season is also a great way for families and friends to spend time afield and an even better way to introduce young hunters to the excellent hunting opportunities in the Garden State.

CHUKAR/PHEASANT/QUAIL

Approximately 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 sunrise to ˝ hour after sunset.

Approximately 5,200 quail will be stocked 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.

Stocking will continue through the Thanksgiving weekend, and pheasants will be released on these two areas through December. 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, 2007 south of Route 33 but will remain open north of Route 33 through February 19, 2007. There is no possession or season limit. Hunting hours are sunrise to ˝ hour after sunset.

For a complete schedule of dates pheasant and quail will be stocked see the links on the Small Game Information page.

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 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.

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.

Spring and early summer conditions were good during 2006, so expect to encounter good numbers of rabbits. 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 12 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.

The bow and arrow season for coyote and fox, which began September 30, will remain open through February 19, 2007. Firearm hunters may pursue coyote and fox from November 11, 2006 until February 19, 2007. The use of dogs is prohibited on December 4-9 and December 13. 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 11 and thereafter from ˝ hour before sunrise to ˝ hour after sunset.

The Special (permit only) Coyote and Fox Season will be January 15 to February 19, 2006 (concurrent with the small game season for these species). A Special Permit is required during Jan. 15-Feb. 19 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 2007 hunting license must be purchased prior to or in conjunction with the purchase of the 2007 Special Coyote/Fox Permit.

GRAY SQUIRREL

The season for gray squirrel, which opened September 30, 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. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to ˝ hour after sunset on November 11 and thereafter from sunrise to ˝ hour after sunset.

GROUSE/WOODCOCK

The season for ruffed grouse, which opened October 19, remains open. While New Jersey’s mature hardwood forests provide good habitat 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 many plant species including 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. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to ˝ hour after sunset on November 11 and thereafter from sunrise to ˝ hour after sunset until the season concludes on December 30.

Woodcock also 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 19 will conclude Saturday, November 11. Season dates in the South Zone are Saturday, November 11 to November 25 and from December 22 to December 30. 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 2006-07 Migratory Bird Regulations supplement for details). The daily bag limit is three woodcock, with six birds in possession. There is no season limit. Hunting hours are 8:00 AM to sunset on November 11 and thereafter from sunrise to sunset.

OPOSSUM/RACCOON

Although the Fish and Game Council proposed season dates for hunting raccoon and opossum during the 2006 to 2010 seasons, the proposals were inadvertently omitted from publication in the New Jersey Register. Therefore, hunting season dates for these species will revert to those established by N.J.S.A Title 23.

The season for hunting raccoon, which opened November 1, will remain open through January 15, 2007. The opossum hunting season is closed. Once the 2006-07 Game Code becomes effective, raccoon and opossum hunting will be permitted through March 1, 2007. 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 following the effective date of the 2006-07 Game Code). 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 4-9 and on December 13, 2006).

Hunters are reminded that subscribers to the Hunting E-mail List receive immediate notification of news, including regulatory items. See the E-Mail Subscription page for information.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: October 24, 2006