Story by Tom Pagliaroli

The 2018 “Six-Day Firearm” season concludes Saturday, but for those who did not get afield and/or could care less about a rack on the wall but who wants some venison for the slow cooker, the “Permit Shotgun” and “Permit Muzzleloader” seasons commence next Wednesday.

And “Permit Bow” is still open in a number of areas.

Predicated on the Deer Management Zone (s) you have purchased a permit for (and these still can be bought at license issuing agents), the seasons can vary from as short as three days to as long as six weeks, overlapping the January 1-31 winter bow season.

That’s a mother lode of deer hunting opportunity and speaks volumes about the successful management policies of the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s bureau of wildlife management, specifically its whitetail deer project.

The Hawk’s expansive listening area encompasses all (or portions thereof north-to-south) DMZs 51, 16,18, 21, 24, 22, 26 and 42. Hunting days range from as few as three to as many as four weeks.

And by all means be sure of the permit. Is it the buck/doe that cost $56  or is it the $28 doe fee? And be mindful of the bag limits. A single deer in some, and multiple deer in others.

The available information can be found in pages 38-40 in the 2018-19 Hunting Digest or by visiting www.njfishandwildlife.com, clicking on the hunting link and from there go to the deer link.

Bear With Me: As expected the black bear take during this week’s Segment B of the split season is way down, with harvested as of Thursday evening, December 6.  The final tally when the season draws to a close half-hour after sunset Saturday won’t be much more.

Murphy’s lockout of bruin hunters on public lands (which are primarily funded by hunter $$) left only federal properties (Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge), municipal property (Newark Watershed in portions of Sussex and Passaic counties), and privately owned acreage. With approximately 134,467 acres of state-owned wildlife management areas and state forests and parks in the five Bear Management Zones in the northern tier counties, it was a no-brainer that the harvest figure would plummet.

All in keeping with his campaign promise to eventually end bear hunting in New Jersey.

The Comprehensive Black Bear Management Plan allows for a 4-day extension to the hunt if the management figure of 20% of the 120 bears tagged during field research by the Bureau of Wildlife Management’s bear project team is not met.

Right now, the figure is   11.7% of the 185 brought in as of yesterday (Thursday) to check stations, and a third phase is scheduled for Wednesday, December 12 through Saturday, December 15. The hunt will be restricted to shotguns (slugs only) and muzzleloaders not less than .44 caliber, same as during Segment B.

Boat Bass Blast: Stripers are in rapid movement down the Jersey coast gorging on the massive schools of sand eels. Unfortunately for surf casters, the overwhelming majority of the fish are well out of range, with only the occasional keeper bass beached from the suds...shorts have been the norm from the sands. The action is from the boats anywhere from 300 yards to the 3-mile EEZ demarcation. As per the sand eel glut, jigging AVAs and Run Off sand eel jigs is putting lots of meat in the boxes, but trolling white or chartreuse mojos is also a fillet-maker.

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