By Joseph Sapia
COLTS NECK – Bow hunting will be permitted this year in specific sections of Dorbrook Recreation Area and Hominy Hill Golf Course, both operated by the Monmouth County Parks System.
The Dorbrook Recreation Area will allow bow hunting south of Route 537 in the undeveloped section of the park.
“At any given time, you can see deer at Dorbrook,” said Thomas E. Fobes, the Park System’s superintendent of parks.
At Hominy Hill Golf Course, bow hunting will be allowed in the undeveloped area near Matthews Road and Route 18.
“There’s a very large herd on the backside of Hominy Hill,” Fobes said.
On its parkland, the Monmouth County Park System looks to limit the deer population to 10 to 12 deer per square mile to protect ecosystems. Although counting deer is not easy, “We don’t think we’ve gotten there, anywhere,” said Anna Luiten, a Park System ecologist. The deer population is gauged by the destruction of the forest understory it feeds upon, Luiten said.
Deer eat 5 to 10 pounds of vegetative matter a day, Luiten said. “They are decimating the understory (of the forest).”
Deer tend to eat native vegetation, which, in turn, allows non-native species to grow. The Park System does not want a “monoculture of these ornamentals,” she said.
The matter has been of critical concern for park ecologists for years. Dorbrook and Hominy Hill were of concern to the Park System, “but we were also approached by Colt Neck’s Wildlife Committee” said Luiten.
“We can do our part, but it’s a roving herd,” Fobes said. “Everybody has to play a part in this issue. We need everybody to buy into controlling the deer herd.”
No gunning will be allowed at Hominy Hill or Dorbrook.
Besides Dorbrook and Hominy Hill, bow or gun hunting will be allowed in the Two River area in Holmdel at Holmdel Park; in Middletown at Hartshorne Woods Park, Huber Woods Park and Tatum Park; on the Middletown-Holmdel boundary at Thompson Park; and on the Colts Neck-Marlboro boundary at Big Brook Park.
Other Monmouth County Park System properties open for hunting outside the Two River area are in Millstone at Charleston Springs Golf Course and Perrineville Lake Park; in Upper Freehold at Clayton Park and Crosswicks Creek Greenway; in Howell at the Howell Park Golf Course, Manasquan River Reservoir and Yellow Brook Tract; in Neptune at Shark River Park; in Freehold Township at Turkey Swamp Park; in Freehold Township and Howell on the Metedeconk River Greenway; and in Marlboro at the Wickatunk Recreation Area. Hunting is new this year at the Wickatunk Recreation Area.
The hunting dates vary by park, beginning as early as Oct. 1 and going to as late as Feb. 18. The parks remain open to the general public during bow hunting.
Outdoor activities in parks at which hunting by gun – either shotgun or muzzleloader – is in progress will be closed to the general public. But the hours for hunting are restricted, not taking in the whole day.
Property owners within 200 feet of a park that allows hunting are notified by the Park System via mail. Hunters, by state law, cannot shoot a bow while hunting if they are within 150 feet of an occupied building, 450 feet if a gun is used.
Hunters using the designated hunting areas in the Monmouth County Park System must be New Jersey-licensed and at least 18 years old. Then, they must obtain a Park System permit for $25. The hunters are required to use tree stands.
This is the 13th straight year the Park System is opening up some of its land for hunting deer.
During the 2015-2016 hunting season, the Park System issued 840 hunting permits. Of these, 51 percent, or about 428, were to county residents. Of the 840 hunters, 86 percent, or about 722 hunters, actually went hunting.
The reported deer kill during the 2015-2016 season was 426. Over the 12 years of hunting, 5,020 deer were reported killed.
More information on deer hunting on Park System land is available from the system at 805 Newman Springs Road, Middletown; 732-842-4000; www.monmouthcountyparks.com.
2016-2017 hunting season at Monmouth County Park System properties:
Big Brook Park on the Marlboro-Colts Neck boundary, bow only, Oct. 1 to Feb. 18.
Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck, bow only, Dec. 15 to Feb. 18.
Hartshorne Woods Park, Middletown, shotgun, muzzleloader or bow until 11 a.m., then the park opens to the general public at noon, Nov. 30 and Dec. 2, 6, 8 and 14.
Holmdel Park, Ramanessin section, bow only, Oct. 1 to Feb. 18.
Holmdel Park, north section, shotgun, muzzleloader or bow until 11 a.m., then the park opens to the general public at noon, Nov. 16, 18, 22 and 29 and Dec. 13 and 16.
Hominy Hill Golf Course, the undeveloped section by Route 18, Colts Neck, bow only, Oct. 1 to Feb. 18.
Huber Woods Park, west section, Middletown, bow only, Nov. 1 to Feb. 18.
Tatum Park, Middletown, bow only, Oct. 1 to Feb. 18.
Thompson Park, Middletown-Holmdel boundary, shotgun, muzzleloader or bow until 11 a.m., then the park opens to the general public at noon, Dec. 1, 5, 7, 9 and 15.
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