Story by Tom Pagliaroli

What was traditionally known for generations as “Shotgun Buck Week” but is now a grossly mislabeled “Six-day Firearm Season Week”, kicks off Monday, December 4th and extends through Saturday, December 9th.

During the same time frame, Segment B of the 2017 black bear season is underway and, unlike Segment A in October, is limited to shotgun (slug payload only) and muzzleloader (not less than .44 caliber).

In its never-ending quest for more $$$, the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife decided to allow archery tackle to be utilized during the “Firearm” season, the stipulation being that the bowhunter must purchase and have in possession a firearm license as well as an archery license. Muzzleloaders are also permitted.

Think how the shotgun hunter is shafted and has smoke blown up his butt: shotguns are not allowed during either the autumn bow, permit bow or winter bow seasons. Ditto the special permit muzzleloader season. Even worse, muzzleloaders are legal during what is labeled the “Permit Shotgun Season”.

When questioned about this, both the bow and muzzleloader fraternities start the whining and Division powers-that-be blather about “Dividing the deer pie” equitably.

What a joke, but that’s how it is.

Insofar as the bruin season is concerned, this looks like it will be the last one for at least four years as long as Murphy sits in Governor’s chair. Pandering to the animal rights freaks and their donations, he’s let it be known that no way no how will there be a bear hunt on his watch, despite the ear-splitting sound science from numerous sources besides the biologists with the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife that a hunt is an integral part of successfully managing and controlling the robust bear resource.

“Better trash control, and education” is the Murphy mantra. No doubt sterilization will be raised as an alternative to hunting.

An even bigger joke, but that’s how it is.

Buck Week: Last year, the overall statewide take was 6,284 (compared to 10,247 during earlier Permit Bow season. Hmmm…) and despite a late season outbreak of EHD that did some damage to deer counts in portions of the ever-popular Sussex and Warren counties, it’s expected that the harvest will hover around the same figure as the 2016 mark.

South Jersey buck week hunting is synonymous with clubs and driving, as the extremely thick habitat necessitates the “busting of brush” “pushing through swamps” necessary to get deer, especially the normally warier antlered quarry to get moving and expose themselves, hopefully long enough for a killing shot.

Not all have access to club memberships and/or are part of a group big enough to state a successful drive. These opt to position themselves in an area where a buck may pass by within range. These “pot hunters” (in south Jersey parlance) take their share of bucks as well.

Bear Week: Unless a nose-numbing, den-driving Alberta Clipper roars through over the next few days, expect a decent number of bruins to be up and active during the six-day season in the five areas located within the counties of Sussex, Passaic, Warren, Morris, Hunterdon and Bergen. There are still permits ($2) for sale either at a license-issuing agent of by going to

As per the Segment A season in October when 243 bruins were brought in to the mandatory check stations, the top producing hunting areas were Bear Management Zones 1, 2 and 3, each producing 81, 77 and 59 bruins respectively. Barring bad weather such as heavy rains, wild winds or significant snow, there’s now doubt another 100 or so bears will be tagged. Again, it will be required to bring a bear in to check station where it will be weighed, a tooth extracted and hair and blood samples taken by Division biologists for research purposes. These check stations are listed on page 53 in the New Jersey Hunting & Trapping Digest.

If you’re fortunate enough to harvest a black bear, finding a meat cutter to handle the job might pose a problem. No worries. Jorge & Sons Processing (; 862-432-0387) specializes in bruins and is recognized as the finest at this craft. Besides the basic cuts, including medallions and cutlets, kielbasa, hot sticks, baloney and a variety of sausages can be made from your bear meat. The facility is located at 33 Old Stagecoach Road in Newton (Sussex County) in the heart of bear country and is easily reached from most of the northern tier county hunting zones.

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