Story by Tom Pagliaroli

 

Thirteen days to go until the winter bow deer season draws to a close, and with the nasty weather and frigid temperatures forecast for the coming week augurs well for putting some last minute meat in the freezer.

In fact, opportunities should remain optimum up through the January 31 ending.

Yeah, the conditions and weather can make for a teeth chattering, foot numbing sit, but pick your times and don the windproof and insulated duds, and a winter wait won’t be so bad.

Figure the whitetails to be out and about during breaks in the rain and snow, and again as the weather patterns settle post blow. Ideally, Monday’s full moon brightness will be blocked by overcast, and hopefully, rain or snow, compelling the deer to be up and moving during all hours of daylight the next day.  Usually, a cloudless full moon night will have the deer out and feeding and then bedded by first light.

With the secondary rut at an end, the bucks will now be on the full-time chow. Freshen the bait piles, and don’t be stingy. There is still antler out there, and even though we plucked the first shed of the New Year, we’ve seen several bucks, two south, and one north, all within the past week, still sporting racks. Granted, these can fall at any moment this time of the year but don’t be surprised to see headgear even through the end of the month, if not longer. In Deer Management Zone (DMZ) 51 in the heart of 105.7 The Hawk listening area, the winter bow season extends through February 16, with permit shotgun and permit muzzleloader seasons running through February 9. Besides the steaks and roasts, racks are a possibility.

Check pages 38-40 in the Digest for the winter bow bag limits which vary, predicated on the DMZ, from one deer of either sex to one antlered buck and unlimited antlerless deer.

Winter Rainbow - Photo by Tom P

Winter Rainbows: As in trout. Between the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries’ October and November stockings, there are dozens upon dozens of streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes that still harbor decent populations of 14-16 inch rainbows. No doubt a fair percentage of the 17-23 inch breeders, some in excess of 6-pounds, that were stocked in October, are still swimming around and inhaling anything that looks and/or smells edible. In The Hawk territory, one can expect fair-to-good shots at ‘bows in the Toms and Manasquan rivers as well as in the north branch and south branch of the Metedeconk rivers.  This is the time for bait and flies, as the cold water has the trout somewhat lethargic and reluctant to chase a spinner, spoon or plug. Garden worms, salmon eggs, Gulp! Eggs, wax worms and meal worms will all get nabbed, as will beadhead pheasant tail, beadhead prince, gold ribbed hare’s ear, sparkle caddis, and black stonefly nymphs. The daily limit is four trout, but at these sizes, one or two should make a fine repast. Leave a few for the next trip.

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