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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 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 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 MissilesGeneral 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. 29–Nov. 9 (except Sundays)

General Season
Firearm or Bow:
Nov. 11–Mar. 15
(except Sundays and Dec. 3–8, 12)

Special Permit Season: Jan. 1 – March 15 (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. 12 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

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. 4-9, 13)

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

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

See chart on above for the bow only, general and special permit season regulations for coyote and fox. NOTE: All successful coyote hunters must report any coyote harvested to (609) 748-2058 within 24 hours. Callers must identify themselves by name, CID# and daytime phone number.

In addition to the general coyote and fox seasons described in the table on 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 and Ammunition chart, Deer Hunting Regulations.

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 on 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 tableabove) 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. 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. 15.
  • Permits will be available at any license agent or via Fish and Wildlife’s Internet license sales site beginning on or about Dec. 3, 2018. A 2019 hunting license must be purchased prior to, or in conjunction with, the purchase of a 2019 Special Season Coyote/Fox Permit.
  • For the permit application process, changes, status check and to claim your permits, see details on License, Permits & Stamps.

NOTE: See callout box on License, Permits & Stamps to change your lottery application or to check your permit application status online!

Pheasant

See Small Game Hunting Seasons for season dates and bag limits. See exceptions on this page 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

Pheasant Stocking Schedule 2018

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Thurs

Sat

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Thurs

Sat

Season

11/10

11/13

11/15

11/17

11/20

11/22

11/24

11/29

12/1

12/15

12/18

12/20

12/22

12/27

12/29

Total

Northern Region

Berkshire Valley

70

40

40

60

40

70

40

30

30

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Black River

270

140

140

230

140

250

140

110

110

110

110

110

160

140

110

2,270

Clinton

320

160

160

260

160

290

160

130

130

130

130

130

180

160

130

2,630

Delaware Water Gap N.R.A.*

520

260

260

430

260

480

260

220

220

220

220

220

300

260

220

4,350

Flatbrook

330

160

160

270

160

300

160

140

140

140

140

140

190

160

140

2,730

Pequest

270

140

140

230

140

250

140

110

110

110

110

110

160

140

110

2,270

Walpack

70

40

40

60

40

70

40

30

30

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Whittingham

260

130

130

220

130

240

130

110

110

110

110

110

150

130

110

2,180

Central Region

Assunpink

500

250

250

420

250

460

250

210

210

210

210

210

290

250

210

4,180

Colliers Mills

310

160

160

260

160

290

160

130

130

130

130

130

180

160

130

2,620

Greenwood-Howardsville Section

80

40

40

60

40

70

40

30

30

30

30

30

40

40

30

630

Manahawkin

70

40

40

60

40

70

40

30

30

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Manasquan

180

90

90

150

90

160

90

70

70

70

70

70

100

90

70

1,460

Medford

130

70

70

110

70

120

70

50

50

50

50

50

80

70

50

1,090

Stafford Forge

230

120

120

190

120

210

120

100

100

100

100

100

130

120

100

1,960

Fort Dix

60

0

0

50

50

70

60

60

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

350

Southern Region

Dix

200

100

100

170

100

180

100

80

80

80

80

80

120

100

80

1,650

Glassboro

160

80

80

130

80

140

80

70

70

70

70

70

90

80

70

1,340

Heislerville

70

40

40

60

40

70

40

30

30

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Mad Horse

140

70

70

120

70

130

70

60

60

60

60

60

80

70

60

1,180

Millville

540

270

270

450

270

490

270

220

220

220

220

220

310

270

220

4,460

Nantuxent

180

90

90

150

90

160

90

70

70

70

70

70

100

90

70

1,460

Port Republic

70

40

40

60

40

70

40

30

30

30

30

30

40

40

30

620

Tuckahoe

170

80

80

140

80

150

80

70

70

70

70

70

100

80

70

1,380

Winslow

210

110

110

180

110

190

110

90

90

90

90

90

120

110

90

1,790

Statewide Totals

5,410

2,720

2,720

4,520

2,770

4,980

2,780

2,280

2,220

2,220

2,220

2,220

3,080

2,720

2,220

45,080

Quail Stocking Schedule 2018

Statewide

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Thurs

Sat

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Thurs

Sat

Season

11/10

11/13

11/15

11/17

11/20

11/22

11/24

11/29

12/1

12/15

12/18

12/20

12/22

12/27

12/29

Total

Greenwood

600

280

260

400

280

600

400

280

260

260

400

400

400

280

400

5,500

Peaslee

600

280

260

400

280

600

400

280

260

260

400

400

400

280

400

5,500

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 on 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.

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 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.

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 for season dates and bag limits.

Raccoon and Opossum

See Small Game Hunting Seasons 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

The state’s two ruffed grouse hunting zones are delineated by Rt. 70. North of Rt. 70 the season will begin October 20. South of Rt. 70 the season will begin Nov. 10 to reduce harvest mortality of the remaining populations in the southern zone. The ruffed grouse zones are identical to those for woodcock and will provide for consistent regulations for these species that are often hunted simultaneously. See Small Game Hunting Seasons for season dates and bag limits.

Semi-Wild and Commercial Preserve Hunting

Hunting for pheasant, quail and partridge is allowed from Nov. 10 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. 3—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 this page. See Small Game Hunting Seasons.

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. 29–Nov. 9, 2018 and Jan. 5–Feb. 23, 2019. See Small Game Hunting Seasons.

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.