Story by Tom Pagliaroli

In a Rut!

It’s here!

Yeah, a few days from now at various points around the Garden State, but figure that the whitetail deer mating season (aka “rut”) is 95% on, and, to put it mildly, the bucks will be love loco for the next two, maybe three weeks.

No doubt the time those bow hunters who are keyed strictly on antler points/mass, have the opportunity to catch what is regarded far and wide as one of the most challenging big game quarries with pretty much all of its survival guards in down mode.

Making fawns is now the primary reason for existing, and a buck can lose as much as 20-30% of its body weight lookin’ for love and grabbing only the occasional mouthful of mast, crop or vegetative nutrition.

That bucks of all sizes are pure “stoopid” during this minute gap in their survival calendar is an understatement. We’ve seen rackers walking around mid-day in fields, woodland edges, along roads, in parks and up and down suburban streets following the aroma of a doe in heat. Oftentimes they will stop for a minute or two and “upper lip curl” as they luxuriate in the future prospectus.  At times, the dank, urine-over-metatarsal glands permeates the air to a point that it’s olfactory discernible to human noses, such as it was for us two days ago while slow hiking/squirrel hunting in a state forest.

And it all coincides with the permit archery season (permits still available for purchase through November 4; $28 for doe only but a wallet-whining $56  if you’re after antler. No doubt about it: these next few weeks are prime time to drill a buck of a lifetime, or, at the very least, the buck you’ve been keyed to since September.

This means being in a blind, stand or on the creeping walk, from half-hour before sunrise to half-hour after sunset...the legal hunting time. Bucks can show at any time of day, and a doe on a prance and stopping to look over her shoulder indicates that it’s reproductive game on.

Photo by Tom P

Sea Bass Two Bump: Starting November 1 and continuing through December 31, the black sea bass limit is increased to a 15 daily bag limit, up from 10, but in another bump, the length limit is increased to 13-inches.

Porgy Pump: Porgies (scup) are running rampant over the bottom structures, and they are ranging from 9-inch legal keeper to pork chop to pie plate to hubcap sizes. Fun drop ‘n reel fishing, and a tongue tickler in the frying pan.

Not to be ignored are the blackfish (tog) that are also inhabiting the wrecks, reefs and patches of structure as are the sea bass. Although the limit is one (15-inch minimum until November 16 when it increases to five) the delectable fillets perfectly complement the sea bass and porgy bounty.

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