I want to wish all the deer hunters heading out this morning lots of luck. Please be careful and make sure you’re shooting at a deer before you pull the trigger.
I remember my first deer hunt back in 1956. A friend had permission to hunt a piece of land near Smyrna and he asked me to join him. I was only 16 and the thought of being able to hunt a deer was extremely exciting.
My friend put me in a spot next to a downed tree so I had some concealment. It was hard to keep still, but about two hours into the day I heard a shot close by that scared the dickens out of me. Right after that, I saw a deer walking by and was able to get off a shot from my Winchester Model 12. The deer went down.
I ran to the deer as fast as I could, not a good idea with a loaded gun, and it was dead. I saw the slug had gone into the head and that would explain why the animal went down so quickly.
As I stood there shaking like a leaf in a wind storm, two other hunters arrived on the scene. One of them tried to claim the deer saying he had shot it out in the open field a good 100 yards away. He would have gotten away with this if the friend who had invited me on the hunt hadn’t arrived. He knew the two men and was able to point out that the deer and a slug in its head and could not have traveled that distance with that type of injury. The other hunter didn’t put up much of an argument and I tagged my first deer.
Other than my four years in the Navy, I hunted deer every year and it was a long time before I tagged my second deer. My problem was I thought I was Davy Crocket, the great white hunter who could walk through the woods and find my deer standing still and giving me the perfect shot. Once I got that idea out of my head and started hunting from a tree stand, my score greatly improved.
Today I only hunt when asked to join someone on private land. All of my hunting leases went away while I was living in Virginia Beach, so I must depend on the kindness of others. I tried hunting on public land and that scared me to death. Too many people I do not know wandering around the woods makes me very nervous.
Other than the wind, conditions look good for opening day of shotgun season, and I expect a record harvest. Good luck and please be careful.
Most fishing trips in the bay and ocean have been successful. Tog are the primary target for those fishing close to shore, while black sea bass fill the coolers for those who venture out past the 20-Fathom Line.
The Outer Wall has been the place to tog fish out of Lewes. My last report from there indicated plenty of short tog and oyster crackers along with some keeper tog. Some type of crab remains the top tog bait. The Lower and even the Upper Bay reef sites are also giving up some tog.
The Del-Jersey-Land Reef Site has been very popular with sea bass fishermen. How long it will produce keepers is a good question that only time will answer. Clams, squid and Gulp! will all work on sea bass.
Every week I hear about keeper rockfish caught in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the Broadkill River. These are just legal fish from 28 to 32 inches and not the coastal stock that is making everyone in North Jersey happy. Jersey anglers are catching striped bass from beach and boat in daylight and after dark.
Surf fishermen are still struggling to find anything bigger than a 12-inch bluefish. Cut mullet has been the top offering. A few red drum have been taken from the beach on the same bait.
Indian River Inlet is still not producing much action. A few blues on incoming water and some tog out of the rocks, but very few keeper rockfish and most of them caught after dark. My boat stands ready to go after the rockfish if and when they finally show here. I also have a good supply of white bucktails with a white worm that has always been a rockfish favorite.
This is a tough time of year for those of us who hunt and fish. I expect the boats and beaches will be sparsely populated today, but once deer season is over the lure of fishing will return.