Pheasant and Quail Seasons Open Saturday

Ringneck pheasants and bobwhite quail (on two wildlife management areas only) will become legal quarry Saturday, and the “bird” season is eagerly anticipated by the 12,000-plus uplanders who have shelled $40 for the mandatory Pheasant & Quail Stamp.

Said stamp gives on the opportunity to hunt stocked ringnecks on 24 statewide wildlife management areas (WMAs) in addition to portions of Fort Dix and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Stocked bobs can be hunted only on the Greenwood Forest WMA (Ocean County) and Peaslee WMA (Cumberland County). Throughout the rest of the Garden State, the quail season remains closed.

During the next five weeks, both pheasants and quail will be liberated thrice weekly after dark, with Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays the prime next-day dates. However, the birds hold over well and provide ample opportunities on those days without stocking dates, the corollary being hunter numbers are thin to practically non-existent.

A season total of 52,440 pheasants, and 11,000 quail will have been liberated by December 31.

Those who balk at the $40 cost should consider that a hunt on a commercial preserve will cost least $100 for four ringnecks, with the tab for six or eight bobs in the neighborhood of $70-80. Yeah, the WMAs can be crowded, especially on a Saturday, but if you can comb the fields and tangled edges the Tuesday or Thursday, the numbers of hunters is easily halved, if not more. And again, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you have the areas pretty much to yourself.

In the 105.7 The Hawk listening area, the following WMAs will receive pheasants for this Saturday as well as Tuesday and Thursday. The respective numbers are in parenthesis.

Assunpink (600, 300, 300); Colliers Mills (370, 180, 180); Howardsville (90, 50, 50); Manahawkin (70, 40, 40); Manasquan (210, 100, 100); Medford (150, 80, 80); Stafford Forge (270, 140, 140), and Port Republic (70, 40, 40).

Bobwhites will be released on The Greenwood Forest WMA (600, 280, 260) and Peaslee WMA (600, 280, 260).

During the next five weeks, stocking numbers will be posted on this blog.

Tom P

Coastal Zone Ducks and Canada Geese: Traditionally, New Jersey’s Coastal Zone salt marshes, bays, tidal creeks and estuaries provide prime hunting for myriad duck species from early-December through January when winter’s brutal cold in states north drive the birds down. Hence, the second portion of the split season (including Canada geese) runs November 28 through January 31. The first segment (also for Canada geese) kicks in Saturday and in a brief blast runs through Wednesday, November 13. As you’re reading this, we’ve observed scatterings of mallards, black ducks, ring-necks, green-wing and blue-wing teal, gadwall and wigeon. More will arrive daily as per the impending cold snap that will hit this weekend through next week. The “true” winter waterfowl, as in bluebills and broadbills, buffleheads, goldeneyes, shovelers, and redheads should start appearing in mid-December and, along with more arriving black ducks, provide the historical winter gunning.

The daily limit is six in aggregate but cannot include more than two mallards and of these, no more than one hen. The black duck limit is also two.

Migratory Canada geese have fallen on hard tomes with several consecutive years of poor reproduction. As such, the daily limit has been reduced to two birds.

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