Story by Tom P

With the meat of the summer deli in full slice mode, make it a point to get in on the fantastic and bountiful recreational clamming opportunities available in Great and Barnegat bays and the ICW. (Check www.nj.gov/dep/bmw/waterclass.htm for the total particulars).

And the eats can’t be beat!

With a daily limit of 150 (a minimum length of 1-1/2 inches) and literally miles upon coastal miles of prime bivalve habitat, New Jersey’s hard clams represent tons of in-the-water fun and epicurean delights afterward. The simplicity of clamming lends itself perfectly to individuals to entire groups or families.

Nothing complicated here. One can employ a special clam rake, drawing it through the mud or sand and then lifting with any clams caught on the tongs or in the basket (based on the type of rake), or “tread” i.e. feel for the hard knobs that are the clams with your feet. It’s then a matter of merely reaching down and gently digging them out.

We suggest wearing a pair of wet suit booties if treading for the simple reason that there are things submerged that could nick or cut bare skin. Said footwear is available at just about any surf or diving shop.

Clam rakes can be kind of pricey, usually between $50-$60, but some shops along the shore offer them for rent to those on vacation and/or want to give the dig a try. One such emporium is Surf City Bait & Tackle (609-494-2333), and the price is $15 for a 24 hour period.

Captured clams are generally kept in a basket that’s kept afloat via a safety ring or, as many do, are merely places in a mesh bag that is slung from the waist.

The prime time is the last hour or two of a dropping tide, when water levels are from mid-thigh to mid-shin deep.

Clams encountered will be in the order of size are cherrystones, top necks, and little necks. The true jumbos, chowder clams, are best left alone, as cherrystones make a much more “tender” chowder and chopped up for white clam sauce over linguini, and are great when steamed and dipped in butter. Ditto top necks when it comes to steaming and also for faves such palate pleasers as Clams Casino, Buffalo Clams and Clams Oreganato. Not too bad on the half shell either.

However, it’s the littleneck that is primo when it comes to eating raw. A dab of cocktail sauce and a subtle slurp will lead to a quick dozen down the hatch!

Ah, yes…the license. New Jersey adult residents will have to fork over $10; seniors and youngsters under 16 the price is $2. For non-resident adults, it’s a $20 hit. About the kids: all ages must get a license, so when going to an agent, be sure to have their social security numbers ready. No social, no go clamming.

Oh yeah. Because of a blue law dating back to the 1920s, there is no recreational clamming permitted on Sunday. Also, do not clam in areas where stakes are protruding through the surface. These are private “clam leases” and are off limits.

And do not forget the bug spray!

Start Lookin!: With the archery deer season set to commence September 9th in 28 Deer Management Zones (visit www.njfishandwildlife.com) ahead of the statewide September 30th opener, now is the time to start scouting, setting trail cameras and establishing attractant and bait locations.

With the earn-a-buck mandate still in place in these zones (an anterless deer must be harvested before a buck can be tagged), it’s still a pregnant idea to get an idea of the travel patterns and habits of the males in the hunting area. Sure, some may be sitting out on freshly mowed patches showing off their velvety racks that still have some growing to do, but secrecy is still in the Whitetail DNA, and the majority of bucks prefer to move and feed under the cover of darkness. Hence the trail cameras. Still, visiting areas via vehicle with a pair of binoculars or a still or video camera, or merely walking the property noting trails, beds and early season food sources will certainly put the odds in one’s favor when it’s early season antlers up time.