Story by Tom Pagliaroli

 

One week in, and it’s looking like this will be on par with last year’s spring gobbler season harvest when 2,864 gobblers were brought in to the mandatory check stations during the five week segmented season.

This year, the season concludes Friday, May 24 at sunset.

“It (the take) should be about the same as last year,” says Tony McBride, a supervising biologist with the Division of Fish & Wildlife and is the state’s wild turkey project leader.

The one factor that could negatively impact hunter success is prolonged bad weather: sustained high winds and rain the two notorious culprits.

However, never say never. Case in point: last Saturday’s “Youth Turkey Day” opened with pouring winds and gusting rains, yet 11-year old Babe Finelli from Medford, guided by dad “Big Fish” Finelli, bagged a monstrous 23-lb. tom that boasted a 10-inch beard and 1-1/4 inch spurs.

Observed McBride, “That bird could be a Youth Day record. It goes to show you the quality of the turkeys and the turkey hunting opportunities here in New Jersey.”

During the D-Week segment (May 13-17, 20-24) and the final Saturday of E-Week (May 18), hunting hours continue to sunset. All other days hunting ends at noon.

Leftover and unclaimed permits ($21) are still for sale, either at a license-issuing agent or on line at www.njfishandwildlife.com. The website also has a link to show how many permits are still available as per the specific turkey hunting area and segment.

Photo by Tom P

Tog Finale: The tog (blackfish) season has a final call of Tuesday, April 30 and will not re-open until August 1. Currently, the limit is four fish at a 15-inch minimum. From August 1 through November 15, the limit drops to one at the same minimum length. To be sure, this last week generally offers the best cracks at bigger blackfish, so get aboard a personal boat, charter boat or party boat and get to it! The Robin Ann (609-879-5296) out of Barnegat Light is a charter that caters to toggers, as does the party Boat Carolyn Ann III (609-693-4281), also sailing from Barnegat Light.