Story by Tom P.

The free two day event is pretty much anything and everything outdoors, at least by New Jersey standards and definitions, and not only promises to please those familiar with the outstanding woods ‘n waters recreation opportunities in the Garden State, but also open the eyes of anyone who is interested in learning more about our inland and coastal environments and/or perhaps is contemplating trying one of the myriad open air and on the water pursuits that include not only fishing, camping, hunting, backpacking, target shooting (gun and/or archery) or hiking, but also birding, wildlife watching, zip-lining, nature photography, rock climbing, paddling and scuba diving.

Or perhaps how life was back in the colonial times.

And the list goes on and on.

Now in its eighth year, the “New Jersey WILD Outdoor Expo” will be held this Saturday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. at the expansive Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in New Egypt, Ocean County, on East Colliers Mills Road directly off Route 539. It’s a rain or shine scenario, and the outdoor gods must like what’s been happening because for the event’s last seven years there has been hardly more than a passing sprinkle to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of visitors who take part in this incredibly educational and entertaining all-that-is outdoors celebration.

But pack along a poncho or Frog Toggs jacket just in case.

Boasting in excess of 100 exhibitors and exhibits, and a revolving schedule of demonstrations, seminars, and activities, the expo is truly an all-day event. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect is that it appeals to the individual and family alike, and is very youth-friendly.

One of the most popular attractions that draws “oohs” and aahs” from viewers is the massive outdoor aquarium that is chock full of warm water gamefish that are raised at the Hackettstown Hatchery in Warren County and stocked by the Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries in waters statewide. Huge pure strain and tiger muskies, northern pike, hybrid striped bass, walleyes and channel catfish…all of which provide heart pounding, rod bending action and have made New Jersey a freshwater fishing destination by throngs of anglers from neighboring states.

There will be a chance to snag some great deals on fishing, hunting, and other outdoor related equipment via the event’s open-air flea market (we scored a couple of vintage reels last year), and scrumptious vittles will be available from food trucks and individual food vendors.

While you’ll want to take everything in, and please do, some of the exhibitors worth an extra look or two include the following: NJ Marine Fisheries, NJ Outdoor Alliance, Hunters Helping the Hungry, Ducks Unlimited, Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Ocean County Parks & Recreation, Traditional Archery, Sportsman’s Table, NJ Forest Service, NJ Waterfowlers, Heroes on the Water, NJ Conservation Officers, NJ Parks Service, Sunrise Kennels and Wolf Visions.

Pets are not allowed unless it’s a service animal.

Admission is free and there are acres of free parking. Hats off to personnel with the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s central region lands management team that makes this massive event a seamless operation.

See you there.

The Goose is Loose: September’s special Canada goose season continues and runs through Saturday, September 30. With cooling temperatures and the month’s inevitable storms (Irma’s coming), expect the gunning to improve the last couple of weeks of the season. The daily limit is 15 birds, electronic calls are permitted and unplugged shotguns (not capable of holding more than seven shells) are permitted. Hunting time is ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.

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