Story by Tom Pagliaroli

Yep...the early archery deer season opens Saturday in 29 select Deer Management Zones (check pages 39-40 in the NJ Hunting & Trapping Digest for additional regulations) this Saturday, but it’s not too late to get in some prime time scouting for the general statewide opener that commences half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, September 29.

Sure, many of us will be afield this Saturday, and the law mandates that in all of the early season DMZs, a doe, or antlerless deer (button buck or a buck with antlers less than 3-inches high) must first be harvested and reported before pursuing a “rack” buck. This “Earn A Buck” program is all about balancing the doe/buck ratios for the overall health of the herd and the habitat. It’s working and should be continued

Youth hunters 15-years and younger are not bound by the Earn A Buck restriction.

The next couple of weeks are prime scouting time and should put one in a good position for the statewide opener. The bucks are beginning to rub the velvet covering on their antlers, and the telltale scrapes and scratching on saplings will give you a good idea as to the travel routes of the headgear owners.

Deer trails through the vegetation are obvious even during the waning weeks of summer, and locating food and water sources (read: white and red oak acorns, beechnuts, hickory nuts, and various browse; brooks, streams, and seepages) will pretty much pinpoint the goings and comings of the whitetails.

Trail cameras are invaluable and will give you an actual visual, either in still photo and/or video forms of the quarry. However, be cognizant of the fact that when placed on public land tracts, unless deep in the swampiest, hardest to reach locations, there is always the real possibility that the unit will be stolen. Sad, but true, so position it so that it’s hidden from scanning biped eyes but still providing a decent view of the desired area. Easier said than done, but certainly doable.

It’s not too late to spread attractant and also bait, corn being the most popular, in the zone where it’s hoped a shot will occur. Attractant-wise, we’ve been using south Jersey-made ACP Redneck’s Pride Deer Stuff One, and it just keeps them coming in. Another effective attractant is Yo Buck Premium Deer Mineral Attractant, and this is also produced here in southern New Jersey.

Tags for permit archery, shotgun and muzzleloader (all $28) seasons will be available for purchase at license issuing agents or online at www.njfishandwildlife.com beginning at 10 am Monday, September 10. Remember, you’ll have to fork over an additional $28 for “buck tag” if you plan on taking an antlered whitetail.

Photo by Tom P

Trigger Happy: Triggerfish are on the big time chomp along the jetties and on any piece of shallow (10-40 feet) bottom structure, be it a single piece or part of an artificial reef or a wreck. No kidding...they are on the swarm and are putting the parrot-like dentition to clam, chunks of green crab, or bits of squid. Even artificial baits are working, and we filled a bucket last Sunday along the south jetty at Barnegat Inlet using small squares of the FishBites EZ Flea, a bait which oozes the scent of mole crabs, aka sand fleas. Triggers to 3-lbs. could not resist, and it out-caught fresh clam 4 to 1. Three days prior we had loaded a small cooler with the luscious triggers using FishBites EZ Clam Chunks for bait. No muss no fuss. Expect these delectable light tackle brawlers to stick around through the remainder of the month and into the first, maybe second week in October.

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