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New Jersey

Hunting

Small Game Hunting Regulations

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, below, 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.

Coyote and Fox, General and Special Permit Seasons

See chart below for the bow only, general and special permit season regulations for coyote and fox.

The Special Permit Season Allows Hunters to:

  1. Hunt at night with 10-12 gauge shotgun and shot size #4 fine to "T".
  2. Use 10-20 gauge shotgun using shot size "BB" to #3 Buckshot during daylight.
  3. Use a muzzleloading or small caliber rifle during daylight.
  4. Hunt without the hunter orange requirement.
  5. Use of dogs is prohibited when hunting under Special Permit provisions.

Purchasing a Special Coyote/Fox Permit:

  • A $2 permit is required.
  • Permits are available at any license agent, or via www.NJ.WildlifeLicense.com
  • A license must be purchased prior to, or in conjunction with, the purchase of a special season coyote/fox permit.

Harvest Reporting:

  • All coyote and GRAY fox harvests must be reported by 8 p.m. on the day of harvest. RED fox harvests do NOT need to be reported.
  • Use deer management zone (DMZ) boundaries to report harvest location.

Two Options for Reporting:

  1. Call 1-855-I HUNT NJ (1-855-448-6865); OR
  2. Report at www.NJ.WildlifeLicense.com via mobile device or computer

ADDITIONAL Harvest of Coyote/Fox Allowed

In addition to regulations specified in the table below, hunters have the following opportunities:

  • Turkey Season — Properly licensed turkey hunters may legally harvest coyotes, but NOT fox, if encountered incidental to legal turkey hunting. Turkey hunters shall not actively pursue coyotes or have coyote calls or decoys in possession.
  • Firearm Deer Seasons — Properly licensed deer hunters may legally harvest coyotes or fox incidental to legal deer hunting during the Six-day Firearm, Permit Muzzleloader and Permit Shotgun seasons only if the coyote or fox is encountered before the hunter has taken the season bag limit of deer. After the daily bag limit of deer has been taken, the hunter 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 used for deer hunting may be used to take coyote and fox incidental to deer hunting in the seasons outlined.

Other Important Notes:

  • Coyote and fox hunting are allowed on WMAs including all legal sporting arms listed in the table on Firearms, Bows, & 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.

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, below.

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

Raccoon and Opossum

See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart, 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.

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, below. See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart, 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. 26–Nov. 6 and Jan. 2–Feb. 20. See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart, Small Game Hunting Seasons.

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

Squirrel Muzzleloading Rifle Season Zones

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

Pheasant

See Small Game Hunting Seasons chart, Small Game Hunting Seasons 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 the table below. The table is a proposed schedule. To see the most up to date stocking schedule changes or other necessary adjustments, visit our website at NJFishandWildlife.com/smgame_info.htm.

Pheasants are stocked after dark, the evening before the date listed on the chart.

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

Semi-Wild and Commercial Preserve Hunting

Hunting for pheasant, quail and partridge is allowed from Nov. 7 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, Oct. 31—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.

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.

Five-step Guide to Using the Coyote/Fox Regulation Chart

  1. Which column(s) include the date you want to hunt?
  2. What weapon type will be used?
  3. Follow across the row of Permit Requirements for weapon/shot size/hunting hours to determine if a permit is required.
  4. For non-permit seasons (Bow Only and General seasons), follow regulations in the column that includes your hunt date.
  5. For Special Permit Season, follow regulations in column matching hunting hours.

Coyote / Fox Seasons

An Apprentice License is not valid for taking coyotes or fox at any time.

Season

Bow Only Season

General Season (Bow or Shotgun)

Special Permit Season (Bow, Shotgun, Muzzleloading or Modern Rifle)

Dates Oct. 3–Nov. 6 (except Sundays) Nov. 7–March 15 (except Sundays and Dec. 7–12, 16) Jan. 1–Mar. 15 (except Sundays*)
Permit Requirements None None Permit required when:
  • Using shotgun shot sizes larger than #4 fine through #3 buck
  • Nighttime hunting
  • Using a muzzleloading rifle aside from when deer hunting
  • Using a modern rifle (centerfire and rimfire rifles)
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. 7 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 Bow and Arrow Regulations, pg. 26) Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow (See Bow and Arrow Regulations, pg. 26) Bow: long, recurve, compound or crossbow (See Bow and Arrow Regulations, pg. 26) Shotgun: single or double barrel. Not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than 3 shells. Shot Size: no smaller than #4 fine shot or larger than T.
* Hunting must cease at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday evenings
All Firearms Prohibited Shotgun: single or double barrel. Not smaller than 20 gauge or larger than 10 gauge, capable of holding no more than 3 shells. Shot Size: no 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 Size: no smaller than BB or larger than #3 Buck. Pellets must be lead or a tungsten-nickel-iron hybrid.
All Rifles Prohibited 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 does not need to be pinned (plugged), but it may not be loaded with more than 3 cartridges.
Manner Call, stalk or stand Call, hound, stalk or stand Call or stand
Method Ground, elevated or other structure Ground, elevated or other structure Ground, elevated or other structure
Bait Not closer than 300 ft. when hunter elevated or in other structure Not closer than 300 ft when hunter elevated or in other structure Use prohibited
Predator Call Allowed (manual/electronic) Allowed (manual/electronic) Required (manual/electronic)
Decoys Allowed (no live decoys) Allowed (no live decoys) Allowed (no live decoys)
Dogs Use prohibited Allowed (except Dec. 7–12, 16) Use prohibited
Hunter Orange Optional Required (if using a firearm) Optional
Daily Bag Limit Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited

Firearm Ammunition Legal for Hunting Coyote and Fox in New Jersey

Visit us at NJFishandWildlife.com/coyote-fox_ammo.htm for a reference chart useful for coyote-fox hunting during seasons that overlap other game species.

Areas Open to Quail Hunting

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, 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.

Pheasant Stocking Schedule 2020

(Birds stocked the evening prior to the hunting dates listed.)

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Tues

Thurs

Season

11/7

11/10

11/12

11/14

11/17

11/19

11/21

11/24

11/26

11/28

12/19

12/22

12/24

12/29

12/31

Total

Northern Region

Berkshire Valley

80

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

50

50

820

Black River

290

170

170

260

170

170

170

170

260

170

170

170

170

170

170

2,850

Clinton

340

200

200

300

200

200

200

200

300

200

200

200

200

200

200

3,340

Delaware Water Gap* N.R.A.

530

320

320

480

320

320

320

320

480

320

320

320

320

320

320

5,330

Flatbrook

350

210

210

310

210

210

210

210

310

210

210

210

210

210

210

3,490

Pequest

290

170

170

260

170

170

170

170

260

170

170

170

170

170

170

2,850

Walpack

80

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

50

50

820

Whittingham

280

170

170

250

170

170

170

170

250

170

170

170

170

170

170

2,820

Central Region

Assunpink

540

320

320

480

320

320

320

320

480

320

320

320

320

320

320

5,340

Colliers Mills

330

200

200

300

200

200

200

200

300

200

200

200

200

200

200

3,330

Greenwood-Howardsville Section

80

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

50

50

820

Manahawkin

80

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

50

50

820

Manasquan

190

110

110

170

110

110

110

110

170

110

110

110

110

110

110

1,850

Medford

140

80

80

130

80

80

80

80

130

80

80

80

80

80

80

1,360

Stafford Forge

260

160

160

230

160

160

160

160

230

160

160

160

160

160

160

2,640

Fort Dix

60

0

0

50

50

0

0

0

70

60

60

0

0

0

0

350

Southern Region

Dix

210

130

130

190

130

130

130

130

190

130

130

130

130

130

130

2,150

Glassboro

170

100

100

150

100

100

100

100

150

100

100

100

100

100

100

1,670

Heislerville

80

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

50

50

820

Mad Horse

150

90

90

140

90

90

90

90

140

90

90

90

90

90

90

1,510

Millville

570

340

340

520

340

340

340

340

520

340

340

340

340

340

340

5,690

Nantuxent

190

110

110

170

110

110

110

110

170

110

110

110

110

110

110

1,850

Port Republic

80

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

70

50

50

50

50

50

50

820

Tuckahoe

180

110

110

160

110

110

110

110

160

110

110

110

110

110

110

1,820

Winslow

230

140

140

210

140

140

140

140

210

140

140

140

140

140

140

2,330

Statewide Totals

5,780

3,430

3,430

5,180

3,480

3,430

3,430

3,430

5,200

3,490

3,490

3,430

3,430

3,430

3,430

57,490

Quail Stocking Schedule 2020

(Birds stocked the evening prior to the hunting dates listed.)

Statewide

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Sat

Sat

Tues

Thurs

Tues

Thurs

Season

11/7

11/10

11/12

11/14

11/17

11/19

11/21

11/24

11/26

11/28

12/19

12/22

12/24

12/29

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

For maps showing the areas to be stocked with pheasants during the small game season, visit NJFishandWildlife.com/smgame_info.htm.

* Number stocked subject to change based on pre-season farming practices and field conditions. Check for updates at the DFW website link, above.

Ruffed Grouse Season Closed

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.

New Jersey