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Opportunities could be plentiful for pheasant hunters

Published in the Asbury Park Press 11/07/04
The state Division of Fish and Wildlife promises that there will be better pheasant hunting on state wildlife management areas when the season opens next Saturday than there has been in years.
The division will not only stock 10,000 more pheasants than in previous years, but the 60,000 birds will be subjected to less pressure than in the past.

There are fewer hunters seeking pheasants every year creating more opportunity on the 23 wildlife management areas. The 10,000 extra pheasants are the result of a 20 percent increase in production at the Rockport Pheasant Farm.

An innovation this year will be the release of the daily stocking numbers in a program that closely resembles the division's trout stocking program, according to director Martin J. McHugh.

"If you're a pheasant hunter or thinking about becoming one, 2004 is your year," he said. "Now is the perfect time to buy a pheasant and quail stamp and take advantage of the extra opportunities.

"It's easier than ever to locate a place to hunt, find out when the birds will be stocked, and even how many will be released on a given day."

Examples of the changes in stocking are seen in the 900 birds to be released on the Flatbrook Wildlife Management Area, and 789 pheasants at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area for opening day.

These totals represent an increase of 200 pheasants for Flatbrook and 170 for the Delware Water Gap over last year's releases.

In Monmouth County, the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area will be stocked with 600 pheasants. In Ocean County, Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area will receive 500 pheasants for opening day. This is an increase of 180 and 80 pheasants, respectively, for the two areas.

In south Jersey, the Millville Wildlife Management Area will be stocked with 500 pheasants, an increase of 170 birds, and Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area will receive 300 pheasants for the first day, an increase of 70.

The quail portion of the stocking program will remain the same as 2003, with 11,000 quail being liberated on the Greenwood Forest and Peaslee wildlife management areas. Greenwood is in Ocean County, Peaslee in Cumberland County.

In the northern region of the state, 31,600 pheasants will be released on the Flatbrook, Whittingham, Walpack, Black River, Berkshire Valley, Pequest and Clinton wildlife management areas.

In the central region, 14,200 pheasants will be stocked at Colliers Mills, Howardsville, Manahawkin, Stafford Forge, Medford, Assunpink, and Manasquan wildlife management areas.

In the southern region, 14,200 pheasants will be stocked on the Glassboro, Dix, Mad Horse, Millville, Nantuxent, Port Republic, Tuckahoe, Winslow and Heislerville wildlife management areas.

A complete listing of stocking days and numbers of birds to be stocked can be found on the division's web site or by calling (609) 259-2132. A hunting license is required for hunting any small birds or game animals on open lands, and a pheasant and quail stamp is required in addition to hunt on state game management areas. The cost of the stamp is $40.

The daily bag limit is two pheasants of either sex on all areas stocked by the division, in pheasant hunting zones 1 and 3 and on the Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station.

Hunters should not take or attempt to take female pheasants elsewhere or to have a female pheasant in possession unless in the areas described. The daily bag limit is two male pheasants in pheasant hunting zone 2. Hunting hours are sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.

Division biologists claim that spring and early summer conditions were near optimal for rabbit production this year, so hunters can expect to find an abundance of rabbits in the state, especially south Jersey.

The daily bag limit for rabbits is four cottontails, one hare and one jack rabbit. Hunting hours are 8 a.m. to a half-hour after sunset Nov. 13, and from sunrise to a half-hour after sunset thereafter.

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