No doubt one of the most popular hunting seasons opens tomorrow when the general small game opener kicks off at 8am.

A shotgun start, if you will.

Rabbits, squirrels and woodchucks have been legal quarries since the September 30 early opener.

Tomorrow is about ringneck pheasants and bobwhite quail. This is traditionally referred to as the “upland season” opener as gamebird aficionados note.

Tom P.
Tom P.

Starting tonight, and extending through December 30, ringnecks will be stocked on 23 select wildlife management areas (WMAs) statewide. Added to the list is the expansive Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area in portions of Sussex and Warren counties.

Fort Dix (Ocean County; special permit required) will also be stocked with pheasants for tomorrow and then five times in season, as opposed to the 14 in season times on the WMAs.

Bobs will be stocked on the Greenwood Forest WMA (Ocean County) and the Peaslee WMA (Cumberland County) on the 14 release schedule as well.

Including tonight’s stocking and at the December 30 conclusion, 57,480 pheasants and 11,000 quail will have been released.

The birds are put out for Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Hunting is allowed every day but Sunday. Saturdays receive the heaviest hunting pressure, especially during the morning into early afternoon. Thanksgiving Day? A mob scene until around noon. Tuesdays and Thursdays see a significant reduction in the early morning masses. Afternoons are prime.

Tom P.
Tom P.

If hunting on Saturdays, we prefer the mid to late afternoon. Sure, only a couple of hours at most to find and bust some birds, the corollary being there are hardly uplanders still roaming the fields and edges by that time of day. Nice having the place to oneself. Some that we know that have bird dogs prefer to hunt the Monday, Wednesday and Friday “off” days, as there are always some survivors skulking around, with near zero hunting pressure.

The daily limit is two pheasants of either sex, and four quail of either sex. The $40 Pheasant/Quail stamp must be in possession and signed. These are available at license issuing agents or online at

After tomorrow’s 8am opening, legal shooting hours start at sunrise. Hunting ends half an hour after sunset.

The full list of tracts stocked is available on the aforementioned website or on page 55 in the 2023-24 NJ Hunting and Trapping Digest.

To learn more about the logistics involved the stocking and the procedure itself, listen to the November 4 podcast of Rack & Fin Radio. DEP’s Fish and Wildlife southern region lands management supervisor Nate Figley explains all in detail...and then some.

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