By Denise DiStephan |
It’s deer hunting season in New Jersey and that means there will be some hopeful hunters staking out spots in certain wooded Monmouth County parks in Holmdel, Middletown and Colts Neck during permitted hours.
Since Oct. 1, bowhunters have been permitted to hunt in Tatum Park in Middletown and Holmdel Park’s Ramanessin section.
Starting in November, bowhunting is allowed at Holmdel Park’s North section on six scheduled mornings, while the park is closed to the public.
Beginning Dec. 15, bowhunters will be looking for opportunities at Dorbrook Recreation Area in Colts Neck. On a handful of scheduled December dates, designated areas of Hartshorne Woods Park and Thompson Park, both in Middletown, will close until noon for shotgun, muzzleloader and/or bowhunting, as permitted by New Jersey Fish and Wildlife.
Hunting is prohibited in all county parks on Sundays, even during designated seasons, and all hunting must be done from pre-approved and inspected tree stands, according to Karen Livingstone, public information officer for county parks.
The county has been allowing hunting in its parks since 2004 and has had no incidents of any harm to people, Livingstone said.
“Our staff goes through a lot of training and planning for the hunt and are patrolling and monitoring daily,” Livingstone said, adding that the hunt has helped preserve plants and brush on “the floor of the parks,” which had been greatly reduced by deer.
“The hunt is helping us to keep the deer population status quo,” she said.
The purpose of the program is to reduce the population of whitetail deer in order to improve forest health and wildlife diversity, according to the county’s latest annual report on hunting in the parks.
The report states that last season 21 park areas were hunted and 604 deer were harvested.
Hunters have to report to the parks’ offices whether or not they harvested any deer and must remove carcasses, Livingstone said. “Most of the deer hunters do consume what they harvest,” she added, based on her interactions with many of the hunters.
For those who want to mount what they bag, they can visit one of the area’s taxidermists. That’s the work Richard G. Santomauro has been doing for 48 years and, for the last 20, from his Wildlife Taxidermy business at 1732 Route 71, Wall Township, near Belmar.
When asked if a lot of his customers hunt in the county parks, he said, “It’s only a small percentage because most people don’t know there’s a hunt in the parks.”
Santomauro, who was busy Monday renting “a lot of animals,” meaning the stuffed kind, to the new television show “FBI,” said there’s been a decrease in hunting during the past 20 years, especially in recent years.
“Kids are on their computers and cellphones” rather than hunting, he said.
But his business is still brisk, constantly stoked by customers all over the world, including numerous television and movie studios in different parts of the U.S. who rent a wide variety of “animals” to use in filming.
In the county, designated hunting grounds include safety zones, keeping them at least 450 feet from schools and playgrounds, Livingstone said. The county mails postcards to those who live 200 feet or less from county park boundaries where hunting will take place, she said.
Hunters must complete a hunting safety course and obtain a state license before they can obtain a permit to hunt in county parks, she said.
The deer hunting season ends Feb. 16 at bowhunting sites such as Dorbrook Recreation Area, Holmdel Park Ramanessin section and Tatum Park.
The designated dates for deer hunting at Hartshorne Woods Park are Dec. 4, 6, 12 and 14, and Jan. 8 until 11 a.m.
At Holmdel Park’s North Section, they are Nov. 14, 16, 20 and 27 and Dec. 11 and 17 until 11 a.m.
At Thompson Park, they are Dec. 3, 5, 7 and 13 and Jan. 10 until 11 a.m.
This article was first published in the Nov. 1-7, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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