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Small Game Hunting Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon New Jersey Hunting

Regulations in red are new this year.

A current and valid hunting license (Bow and Arrow, Firearm or All-Around Sportsman) is required to pursue any small game species. See General Hunting Regulations. The season for ruffed grouse is closed statewide. The use of dogs, unless specifically stated otherwise, is permitted to pursue any small game species, except wild turkey. Hunting for those species shown on Small Game Hunting Seasons is prohibited during the statewide Six-day Firearm (deer) Season and on the Wednesday of the Permit Shotgun (deer) Season that immediately follows the Six-day Firearm Season. For exceptions, see Coyote and Fox and Semi-wild and Commercial Preserve Hunting sections below. Sunday hunting is prohibited; see Raccoon and Opossum, below plus Semi-wild and Commercial Shooting Preserves for exceptions.

Season Dates and Bag Limits: The Small Game Hunting Seasons table lists dates, hunting hours and daily bag limits for all small game species open for hunting.

General Small Game Hunting Methods: Properly licensed hunters may hunt small game with shotguns or bow and arrow and limited hunting with small caliber rifles; see air gun and coyote/fox regulations. See also General Hunting Regulations.

Shotgun: Unless specifically stated otherwise, shotguns for small game hunting may be single or double barrel, rifled or smoothbore and not larger than 10-gauge or smaller than .410 caliber and capable of holding no more than three shells.

Shot: Unless specifically stated otherwise, shot size for small game hunting may be no larger than #4 fine shot.

Bow and Arrow: All bows must meet the requirements specified in General Hunting Regulations. For taking game birds in flight, arrows equipped with an edged head are prohibited. Flu flu arrows are required for taking game birds in flight.

Air gun: 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. Air gun BBs are not legal for hunting. See also Air Guns under Firearms and Missiles, General hunting Regulations.

Muzzleloading Rifles: For limited small game rifle hunting, see below for Coyote and Fox—Special Permit Season, Squirrel—Muzzleloading Rifle Season and Woodchuck for restrictions.

Wildlife Damage: Property owners or their agents, and occupants of dwellings that are suffering damage from coyote, fox, opossum, raccoon, skunk, squirrel, weasel or woodchuck may control them by lawful means at any time subject to local ordinances.

Stealing Traps or Trapped Animals: It is illegal to take, carry away or unlawfully remove or steal a trap belonging to another person that is set along, by or in public or private property, ditch, stream, pond or water in this state and which has been set for the purpose of catching any of the furbearing animals species for which a legal season is established. It is also illegal to remove, alive or dead, any animal from the trap of another person.

Coyote and Fox, General and Special Permit Seasons

Coyote / Fox Season

Dates

Bow Only Season: Sept. 28–Nov. 8 (except Sundays)

General Season
Firearm or Bow:
Nov. 9–Mar. 14
(except Sundays and Dec. 9–14, 18)

Special Permit Season: Jan. 1 – March 14 (except Sundays*)

(Permit required with shot larger than #4 fine thru #3 Buck sizes
and/or nighttime hunting and/or using a muzzleloading rifle
other than incidental to deer hunting and/or using a modern rifle)

Hours

½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset, except 8 a.m. start on Nov. 9 ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset ½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise*

Weapon Type and Projectiles Permitted

Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow

See General Small Game Hunting Methods, column two above.

Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow. See General Small Game Hunting Methods, above. Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow
See General Small Game Hunting Methods, above.
Shotgun: single or double barrel. Not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than 3 shells.

Shot: sizes not smaller than #4 fine shot or larger than T

* Hunting must cease at 11:59 p.m. Saturday evening.

Shotgun: single or double barrel. Not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than 3 shells.

Shot: Not larger than #4 fine.

Shotgun: single or double barrel. Not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than 3 shells.

Shot: Not smaller than BB or larger than #3 Buck. Pellets must be lead or a tungsten-nickel-iron hybrid.

Rifles Prohibited during the general season, including centerfire, rimfire and muzzleloading types. Muzzleloading rifle: single-shot, single barrel no less than .44 caliber. Flintlock, percussion and in-line ignitions permitted, loaded only with a single projectile, either round ball or conical bullet. Electronic ignitions prohibited.

Centerfire rifles: From .17 to maximum of .25 caliber with soft point or hollow point bullets and maximum of 80 grains.

Rimfire rifles: From .17 to maximum of .22 caliber with soft point or hollow point bullets and maximum of 50 grains.

A modern rifle magazine need not be pinned (plugged), but may be loaded with no more than three cartridges.

Notes

Manner: Call, stalk or stand

Method: Ground, elevated or other structure

Bait: 300 ft when hunter elevated or in other structure

Predator Call: Allowed (manual/electronic)

Decoys: Allowed (no live decoys)

Dogs: Use prohibited

Hunter Orange: Optional

Daily Bag: Unlimited

Manner: Call, hound, stalk or stand

Method: Ground, elevated or other structure

Bait: not closer than 300 ft when hunter elevated or in other structure

Predator Call: Allowed (manual/electronic)

Decoys: Allowed (no live decoys)

Dogs: Allowed (except Dec. 9–14, 18)

Hunter Orange: Required

Daily Bag: Unlimited

Note: Apprentice license holders prohibited from using any rifle and from nighttime hunting during the Special Permit Season.

Manner: Call or stand

Method: Ground, elevated or other structure

Bait: Use prohibited

Predator Call: Required (manual/electronic)

Decoys: Allowed (no live decoys)

Dogs: Use prohibited

Hunter Orange: Optional

Daily Bag: Unlimited

See chart above for the bow only, general and special permit season regulations for coyote and fox. NOTE: All coyote and GRAY fox harvests must be reported within 24 hours. Hunters must report their harvest by calling (609) 748-2058 and leave their name, CID# and daytime phone number. Once Fish and Wildlife’s new license/harvest report system is operational (late in 2019; check our website for updates), all coyote and gray fox harvest reports will be handled through that system as follows. Reports can be made via mobile phone or computer at www.NJ.WildlifeLicense.com or calling 1-855-I HUNT NJ (1-855-448-6865). Hunters should use the same location information used for deer hunting; see Deer Hunting Regulations or go to www.NJFishandWildlife.com/ahrs_deer_viewer.htm. Red fox harvests do NOT need to be reported.

In addition to the general coyote and fox seasons described in the table above, properly licensed turkey hunters may legally harvest coyotes if encountered incidental to legal turkey hunting. Turkey hunters shall not actively pursue coyotes or have coyote calls or decoys in possession. Also, properly licensed persons hunting deer during the Six-day Firearm, Permit Muzzleloader or Permit Shotgun deer seasons may kill coyote or fox if the coyote or fox is encountered before the hunter has taken the season bag limit of deer. However, after the hunter has taken a daily bag limit of deer, they must cease hunting immediately. Incidental hunting of coyote or fox while deer hunting may resume the following day (provided the season remains open and the season bag limit of deer has not been reached.) Only applicable projectiles approved for deer hunting may be used to take coyote and fox incidental to deer hunting during the deer seasons described above. See Firearms, Bow & Ammunition Legal for Deer Hunting.

Baiting for coyote/fox is prohibited while hunting elevated in a standing tree or in a structure of any kind within 300 feet of a baited area.

Coyote and fox hunting are allowed on WMAs including all legal sporting arms listed in the table above.

Further, in addition to the general Coyote and Fox seasons plus the incidental harvest of coyote or fox while deer hunting, a Special Permit Coyote and Fox Season runs concurrent with the regular small game coyote and fox season. A Fish and Wildlife-issued permit is required to hunt coyote or fox under the provisions (see table above) of the Special Permit Coyote and Fox Season; as follows:

A permit to hunt coyote or fox is required 1.) to hunt at night and/or 2.) to use shot sizes larger than #4 fine and up to size #3 Buck, and/or 3.) to use a rifle for coyote or fox other than incidental to deer hunting (see Table). Sunday hunting is not legal.

Apprentice License holders may not hunt coyote or fox.

Special Coyote, Red and Gray Fox Hunting Permits

  • A $2 permit is required to hunt coyote, red or gray fox during the special permit season from Jan. 1–March. 14.
  • Permits will be available at any license agent or via Fish and Wildlife’s Internet license sales site beginning on or about Dec. 2, 2019. A 2020 hunting license must be purchased prior to, or in conjunction with, the purchase of a 2020 Special Season Coyote/Fox Permit.

Pheasant

Pheasant Stocking Schedule 2019

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Sat

Tues

Season

11/9

11/12

11/14

11/16

11/19

11/21

11/23

11/26

11/28

11/30

12/5

12/21

12/24

12/28

12/31

Total

Northern Region

Berkshire Valley

70

40

40

60

40

30

40

30

70

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Black River

320

160

160

270

160

140

160

140

300

140

140

140

190

160

140

2,720

Clinton

370

190

190

310

190

160

190

160

340

160

160

160

220

190

160

3,150

Delaware Water Gap N.R.A.*

590

290

290

490

290

240

290

240

540

240

240

240

340

290

240

4,850

Flatbrook

390

190

190

320

190

160

190

160

350

160

160

160

220

190

160

3,190

Pequest

320

160

160

270

160

130

160

130

290

130

130

130

190

160

130

2,650

Walpack

70

40

40

60

40

30

40

30

70

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Whittingham

310

150

150

260

150

130

150

130

280

130

130

130

180

150

130

2,560

Central Region

Assunpink

600

300

300

500

300

250

300

250

550

250

250

250

350

300

250

5,000

Colliers Mills

370

180

180

310

180

150

180

150

340

150

150

150

220

180

150

3,040

Greenwood-Howardsville Section

90

50

50

80

50

40

50

40

80

40

40

40

50

50

40

790

Manahawkin

70

40

40

60

40

30

40

30

70

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Manasquan

210

100

100

170

100

90

100

90

190

90

90

90

120

100

90

1,730

Medford

150

80

80

130

80

60

80

60

140

60

60

60

90

80

60

1,270

Stafford Forge

270

140

140

230

140

110

140

110

250

110

110

110

160

140

110

2,270

Fort Dix

60

0

0

50

50

70

60

60

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

350

Southern Region

Dix

240

120

120

200

120

100

120

100

220

100

100

100

140

120

100

2,000

Glassboro

180

90

90

150

90

80

90

80

170

80

80

80

110

90

80

1,540

Heislerville

70

40

40

60

40

30

40

30

70

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Mad Horse

170

90

90

140

90

70

90

70

160

70

70

70

100

90

70

1,440

Millville

640

320

320

530

320

270

320

270

580

270

270

270

370

320

270

5,340

Nantuxent

210

100

100

170

100

90

100

90

190

90

90

90

120

100

90

1,730

Port Republic

70

40

40

60

40

30

40

30

70

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Tuckahoe

200

100

100

160

100

80

100

80

180

80

80

80

110

100

80

1,630

Winslow

250

130

130

210

130

100

130

100

230

100

100

100

150

130

100

2,090

Statewide Totals

6.290

3,140

3,140

5,250

3,190

2,670

3,200

2,660

5,730

2,600

2,600

2,600

3,630

3,140

2,600

52,440

Quail Stocking Schedule 2019

Statewide

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Thurs

Sat

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Thurs

Sat

Season

11/9

11/12

11/14

11/16

11/19

11/21

11/23

11/26

11/28

11/30

12/5

12/21

12/24

12/28

12/31

Total

Greenwood

600

280

260

400

280

400

400

280

600

260

260

400

400

280

400

5,500

Peaslee

600

280

260

400

280

400

400

280

600

260

260

400

400

280

400

5,500

See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart for season dates and bag limits. See exceptions below for semi-wild and commercial preserve hunting.

Pheasant and Quail Stamp Areas: Anyone aged 16 and over (except 16 year olds whose Youth License remains valid until Dec. 31 in the year they reach 16 years of age) hunting or possessing pheasant or quail on the following designated wildlife management areas shall have in possession a current and valid Pheasant and Quail Stamp (Youth Hunting licenses include pheasant and quail stamp): Assunpink, Berkshire Valley, Millville (Bevan), Black River, Clinton, Colliers Mills, Dix, Flatbrook, Glassboro, Greenwood (including Howardsville), Heislerville, Tuckahoe (MacNamara), Mad Horse, Manahawkin, Manasquan River, Medford, Nantuxent, Peaslee, Pequest, Port Republic, Rockport, Stafford Forge, Walpack, Whittingham and Winslow. A current and valid Pheasant and Quail Stamp is also required at the Delaware River National Recreation Area.

Pheasant and Quail Stocking

Wearing a hunter orange hat is required for all firearm small game hunters on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant or quail.

Fish and Wildlife anticipates pheasant and quail releases to follow as shown in the table above. However, the stocking schedule is not finalized until approved by the Fish and Game Council in October when it will be published on our website at the link below. Also, the schedule is subject to pheasant production issues and may change due to rain or emergency weather conditions. For these unplanned stocking schedule changes or other necessary adjustments, visit our website at NJFishandWildlife.com/smgame_info.htm.

Pheasants are stocked after dark, precluding interaction between Fish and Wildlife personnel and hunters or the chance of prematurely harvesting a pheasant before the season opens.

New maps showing the specific field locations for every stocked wildlife management area are now available here: NJFishandWildlife.com/pheasmaps.htm.

Quail, Northern Bobwhite

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.

Rabbit and Hare

The rabbit and hare hunting season will begin the last Saturday in September. The early opening date allows for hunting opportunity when rabbit populations are at their peak. Air guns may be used for taking cottontail rabbit and hare using ammunition not smaller than .177 caliber or larger than .22 caliber. See also Air Guns under Firearms and Missiles, General Hunting Regulations and General Small Game Hunting Methods, above.

See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart for season dates and bag limits.

Raccoon and Opossum

See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart for season dates and bag limits.

Hours: Hunting may not begin until one hour after sunset on the opening day of the season. On all other days open during the season, the hours of hunting are one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise. Persons may hunt raccoon and opossum on Sunday mornings only between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and one hour before sunrise during the prescribed season.

Hunting methods: Portable lights are permitted. Fluorescent orange is encouraged but not required on outer clothing while hunting raccoon and opossum. A current and valid Rifle Permit is required when possessing a .22 caliber rifle while hunting raccoon and opossum. Only .22 caliber shorts are permitted.

Apprentice License holder are not permitted to use rifles, obtain rifle permits or hunt at night.

Dog Training: Dogs may be trained during the month of September and from March 2 to May 1, inclusive. The training hours are one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed grouse rely on young forest habitat which currently comprise only 5% of state forest lands. This lack of habitat has caused grouse populations to decline below the level necessary to support a hunting season. In an effort to reduce the decline, the grouse hunting season is closed statewide. No exceptions.

Semi-Wild and Commercial Preserve Hunting

Hunting for pheasant, quail and partridge is allowed from Nov. 9 to March 15 on semi-wild and from Sept. 1 through May 1 on commercial shooting preserves (which also allows mallards) that are properly licensed for the taking of such species. These game birds may be hunted on Sunday only on semi-wild or commercial shooting preserve lands.

Youth hunters (in possession of a valid Youth Hunting License and accompanied by a licensed, non-shooting adult) will be permitted to hunt pheasant, quail and partridge on licensed semi-wild preserves on Saturday, Nov. 2—the Youth Upland Bird Hunting Day.

All game taken on semi-wild or commercial preserves must be properly tagged before being transported off the licensed property.

A person may legally hunt on semi-wild or commercial preserves for game birds during deer seasons, but no shot larger than #4 fine may be used. There are no daily bag or seasonal limits for pheasant, quail, partridge or mallards taken on commercial preserves. There are no daily bag limits for pheasant, quail or partridge taken on semi-wild properties. Seasonal harvests on semi-wild properties may not exceed the number of birds to be stocked as indicated on the semi-wild permit application.

Squirrel, Regular Season

Air guns may be used for taking squirrel using ammunition not smaller than .177 caliber or larger than .22 caliber. See also Air Guns under Firearms and Missiles, General Hunting Regulations and General Small Game Hunting Methods, above. See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart.

Squirrel, Muzzleloading Rifle Season

Persons holding a current and valid firearm license and rifle permit may hunt for squirrels from sunrise to ½ hour after sunset with a muzzleloading rifle (.36 caliber or smaller loaded with a single projectile) during the periods Sept. 28–Nov. 8 and Jan. 4–Feb. 22. See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart.

Hunting for squirrel in the manner described above is restricted to the areas described.

Woodchuck

All persons in possession of a rifle (including a muzzleloading rifle) while hunting woodchuck must have a current and valid rifle permit in addition to the current hunting license. Rifle hunting (of any kind) for woodchuck is prohibited on state wildlife management areas, state parks, state forests or state recreation areas. Farmers and their agents may use shot not larger than #4 buckshot to control woodchuck causing damage. Hours of hunting are sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. See chart above for woodchuck hunting details.

 

Squirrel Muzzleloading Rifle Season Zones

For a complete description of the squirrel hunting areas, go to NJFishandWildlife.com/qr/squirrelzones.htm.

 

Quail Season Closed

In an effort to reverse the decline of quail in New Jersey, the statewide quail hunting season is closed except at Peaslee WMA and Greenwood Forest WMA where Fish and Wildlife will provide hunters and falconers the opportunity to hunt for quail.

No person may release quail for dog training purposes on the following WMAs: Buckshutem, Dix, Egg Island, Fortescue, Millville (Bevans), Nantuxent, New Sweden and Stafford Forge.

See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart for season dates and bag limits. Exception: This statewide closure does not apply to certain semi-wild and commercial shooting preserves that were permitted to stock quail during the 2009–10 season.

 

Woodchuck Season

Dates

Weapon Type Permitted

Gauge, Caliber or Weight

Projectile(s)

March 1 to Sept. 25, 2019

March 2 to Sept. 30, 2020

Center-fire rifle .25 caliber or less Hollow point, soft point or expanding lead core bullets of any weight.
Larger than .25 caliber Hollow point, soft point or expanding lead core bullets of any weight not exceeding 80 grains in weight.
Rim-fire rifle .25 caliber or less Hollow point or soft point of any weight not exceeding 50 grains in weight.
Muzzleloading rifle: single-shot, single barrel. Flintlock, percussion and in-line ignitions permitted. No restriction Must be loaded with a single projectile, either round ball or conical bullet.
Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow 35 pounds pull at archers draw length (long and recurve bows) or peak weight (compound bow); 75 pounds pull for crossbow Arrows must be fitted with a well-sharpened metal broadhead with a minimum width of ¾”
Shotgun: single or double barrel, rifled bore or smoothbore Not larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than 3 shells Shot – sizes not larger than #4 fine shot

Sept. 28–Dec. 7 and Dec. 16, 17, 19–31, 2019

Jan. 1–Feb. 17, 2020

Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow 35 pounds pull at archers draw length (long and recurve bows) or peak weight (compound bow);
75 pounds pull for crossbow
Arrows must be fitted with a well-sharpened metal broadhead with a minimum width of ¾”
Shotgun: single or double barrel, rifled bore or smoothbore Not larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than 3 shells Shot – sizes not larger than #4 fine shot