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Pheasant stamp not a cheap one
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
For the Star-Ledger
The state Division of Fish and Wildlife doesn't deny it: At $40, the price of a pheasant/quail-hunting stamp isn't cheap.

As pheasant season approaches, the Division is aiming to convince hunters the fee is a worthwhile investment. Topping the list of justifications is the fact that hunters should have a few more chances to get a bird this year.

That's because the state plans to release 20 percent more pheasants than were released last autumn. Fish and Wildlife, citing a "record year of pheasant production" at the Rockport Pheasant Farm, plans to set free about 60,000 birds, some 10,000 more than they liberated in 2003.

It might be nitpicking, but it should be noted that the 50,000 birds stocked in 2002 and 2003 was a decrease in the number of pheasants raised at Rockport and released. In 2001, Fish and Wildlife reported releasing 55,000 birds and in 2000 it said 52,000 were placed in WMA fields.

That was the year after the price of a pheasant/quail stamp was nearly doubled, going from $22 to $40. The state noted, at the time, that fewer hunters were buying the stamps (18,285 people bought one in 1998, while 15,405 forked over the extra $18 when the fee was increased for the 1999 pheasant season, when 45,000 birds were released).

The number of quail to be released -- about 11,000 -- hasn't changed in at least four years. The fee increases, as well as the division's yearly effort to sell pheasants to hunting clubs, are needed to keep the historic Rockport facility in operation. The 81-year-old pheasant farm, near Hackettstown, is funded solely by pheasant stamp fees and pheasant sales.

This year's season begins Nov. 13. Stocking is scheduled to begin Nov. 12 and conclude Dec. 30, with birds being scattered in 23 state wildlife management areas (WMAs) as well as in the sprawling Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

The federal land is slated to get 170 more pheasants this year than it received last year while an additional 200 are being freed in the nearby Flatbrook Wildlife Management Area. The quail will be released on two South Jersey management areas: Greenwood Forest in Ocean County and Peaslee in Cumberland County.

This year, pheasant hunters can do what trout anglers do: Plan their outings based on stocking numbers and locations revealed daily by Fish and Wildlife. This information will be made available at or by calling 609-259-2132.

While pheasant hunting begins in earnest 12 days from now, 10- to 15-year-old hunters don't have to wait that long. The annual Take a Kid Hunting Pheasant Hunt Day takes place Saturday.

Kids with valid youth hunting licenses will be allowed to hunt at seven WMAs that will be stocked just for the event. Fish and Wildlife needs adult volunteers to help, particularly trained dog handlers. Call Paul Ritter at 908-735-6826.

Anyone who wants to participate in a "mentored" youth hunt must pre-register. Only 50 kids will be allowed on each management area for these guided hunts.

Fred J. Aun covers the outdoors for The Star-Ledger. He can be reached at

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