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NJ Upland Bird Small Game Season Opens Saturday, November 8

November 3, 2014

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that the 2014-15 small game seasons for pheasant, chukar and Hungarian partridge, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse (south of Route 70) and woodcock (south of Route 70) will open at 8:00 AM this Saturday, November 8. Small game seasons for several other species have already opened. Hunters are reminded that quail hunting is limited to commercial and semi-wild shooting preserves and the Peaslee and Greenwood Forest Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), as the wild quail hunting season remains closed.

Hunters should review current regulations, season dates and bag limits in the 2014-15 issue of the 2014-15 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 (pdf, 68kb).

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). Archers must use flu-flu type arrows or bolts when attempting to take birds in flight. Hunters pursuing pheasants on state WMAs designated as Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas and/or bobwhite quail on the Peaslee and Greenwood Forest WMAs must also possess a Pheasant and Quail Stamp while hunting.


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 may be used 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. Air gun BBs are not legal for hunting. A rifle permit is not required to hunt with an air gun. For more information, see the Air Gun Hunting in NJ page.

The Rockport Pheasant Farm has had an excellent year and has 55,000 pheasants ready to be stocked for hunters this season. These birds will be stocked on 24 Wildlife Management Areas throughout New Jersey, and hunting opportunities should be excellent for Garden State sportsmen and women. The stocking schedule is linked from the Small Game Hunting in NJ page.

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 bobwhite quail season was closed 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 (the stocking schedule is linked from the Small Game Hunting in NJ page). 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.

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 of Fish and Wildlife 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 print 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, PO Box 418, Port Republic, NJ 08241-0418, or view or download the pdf version at (pdf, 1.0mb).

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. Frequent spring rainfalls this year may have reduced nesting success and increased hen mortality from predation.

For more information about small game hunting in New Jersey visit the Small Game Hunting page on the Fish and Wildlife website, or pick up a copy of the 2014-15 Hunting and Trapping Digest wherever hunting licenses are sold.

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Last Updated: November 3, 2014