Deer Head Haunting;
Holgate Gets Walloped
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It’s that humbling time of the year where I ask for donations to keep this blog up and running. It is a time consuming enterprise but I enjoy it. It’s kinda therapeutic. I hope you find it fun – and functional. I’d also like to take this time to sincerely thank those who email or phone me with tales, fishing reports and questions. It’s energizing. Donations can be mailed to: Jay Mann, 222 18th Street, Ship Bottom, NJ, 08008-4418. Being Type A I don’t always have the time to mail Thank-you note but, believe me (!), your donations are fully appreciated. J-mann.
HALLOWEEN DEER GHOST: It’s a good week to include this initially eerie, semi-ghoulish story. It reached me via an online paranormal group. For me, it is a pinnacle in paranormal perkiness, while a low point for the folks who were called in to investigate a very nice pinelands home that had suddenly become haunted by – gospel truth – a deer’s head.
While I’m not obsessively into the paranormal, I would have jumped tall buildings in a single bound for the chance to experience a real live dead deer ghost -- or even the ghost of a trap-skewered shrew or a roadkill raccoon.
Anyway, after some phoning around, I got relatively close to what surely seemed to be a legitimate hooved haunting. I talked to the coworker of a gal who came to the office fully convinced a “disgusting” deer head mount her husband bought at a garage sale had somehow conveyed the pissed off spirit of the shot creature into her dream house, located in a comely corner of pines. Of course, I wanted to talk to the freaked out folks themselves but there was some reluctance to name names, even though the couple’s hysterics over a haunting of their home were utterly understandable – as you’ll see.
As was told to me, beyond-weird things began happening shortly after the husband kicked open the front door – arms loaded with fur and antlers – and shouted to his significant other that he had scored big time at a near-by garage sale. The gal walked out of the kitchen as her hubby kicked the door shut, hoisted a nine-point white tail buck deer’s head in the air, and proudly announced, “Check … it … out! Only twenty bucks.”
His wife stared at the hoisted head and felt a hot flash of nausea and fury coursing through her body. “It was mangy and musty and the ears were rotting and the eyes looked like a serial killer’s,” the wife told coworkers.
Trying to adhere to recent wedding vows of betterness and worseness, the wife held her teetering cool and carefully asked, “Where do you plan to put that … thing?”
“Right above the fireplace in the living room. We can take down all those wedding pictures,” offered the husband excitedly.
Walking toward the fireplace, he raised the hair-raining head right above his wife’s beloved Roseville Pottery pieces and the vase containing the ashes of her grandfather. “Here?” he asked, looking for a head nod of spouse approval.
“No,” was her concise and calculated response.
“No, what?” He returned, a bit stunned.
“Just plain no.”
Being a bachelor, I really wasn’t that interested in the intricacies of the husband-and-wife exchange that finally swayed the man from even idly envisioning the deer head going above the fireplace. It has something to do with established give-and-take compromises made between two equal partners, the outcome being the woman pretty much always wins lock, stock and barrel.
What was agreed upon twixt the couple was the mount could go on the wall inside the glass-enclosed backyard-facing patio that overlooked a large cedar deck and a small grassed backyard, which snuggled up to a state park forest. Therein, the mount would reside on the wall above a fireplace of sorts -- namely, a converted pot-bellied stove with an acrylic door that allowed fake electrical flames to pulse from within. It was essentially a 150-pound lamp that was sensored to flame-on right after nightfall. Despite the stove producing no heat whatsoever, the wife told coworkers she was quite sure that someday (soon), in her husband’s absence, the deer’s head would inexplicably burst into flames – to be speedily extinguished by the wife.
Well, that less than spontaneous combustion would never come about, not in the face of the beyond-bizarre events that began to take place the very first night the mount assumed its new habitat. In the middle of the night, the couple was snapped awake by this odd, almost unworldly, sound of thumping -- repeated thumping within the pitch of darkness.
“Do you hear that?” the wife asked, blankets hand-pulled up to her neck.
“What is it?”
“Sure sounds like … deer hooves.”
“I knew it. I knew it. I knew it,” rapid-fired the wife.
“The minute I saw that stupid deer head, I knew there was something evil about it,” she said.
“Evil? It’s the head of a dead deer. How can it be …?” The husband’s words were cut off by louder hoof sounds that all but shook the bed.
“You go right down there and check it out,” she ordered.
“I will,” he said indignantly, getting up and quickly heading toward the door, before pausing and walking over to the closet to fetch a ridiculously over-adorned ceremonial Samurai sword he kept for just such occasions.
As he went down the steps, assuming assumed Ninja moves as he worked his way down the steps and across the living room, the sound reared up again. “Uh, maybe we should call the police,” he loud-whispered up toward his wife.
Getting no response, he edged toward the patio door, reached in and threw on the overhead lights.
The gal telling me the tale was cracking up when she explained the husband then jumped into the room with a yell and assumed an attacking Samurai pose – clad in his baggy prison-orange Joe Boxer pajamas and mis-holding the sword so the blade was actually facing his own head. (Hey, the man openly admitted this later.) Despite his skepticism that the spirit of the deer head was causing the frightening bumps in the night, he focused his first burst of attention directly at it. The glassy stare of the deer seemed somehow more intense than the man had remembered it. He glanced away to see if anything was amiss in the patio but quickly threw his attention back at the mount. It was then he realized the head didn’t seem to be in the exact same position he had hung it. Very odd, he thought. At the same time, the now well-lit room seemed otherwise just fine. And the sound had stopped. He went back to bed – leaving the patio overhead light on.
A few days passed without incident. Then, an instant replay. This time, around midnight, the thumping sounds echoed through the house. What’s worse, they seemed to actually be going all through the house this time, per the wife. At one point, the couple felt the sounds were right at the bottom of the stairs leading to their room. The man once again performed his swordly check-see. Again, absolutely nothing.
To this husband, the decaying deer head mount became more than just a pretty face on the wall. He simply would not acknowledge in any way, shape or sound that there could be anything supernatural about it. He refused to take it down.
That’s where the paranormal people came in. One of the wife’s coworkers was part of a budding spook investigation team, egged on by the new hugely popular cable ghost hunting shows. Somewhat hard-up for conventional ghost hunts and haunts – hey, spooks and spirits aren’t under every rock -- the paranormal group became intrigued by the prospect of an animal haunting, a rarity by any mystic measures. The group got the OK from the hubby to set spirit-searching stuff up. That wasn’t so surprising. The man wanted the nonsense of a deer head haunting to forever rest in peace. At the same time, he wouldn’t mind some restful nights of unhooved sleep.
Using fairly entry-level equipment, the paranormal investigators set up in the house, emphasizing “the head” patio area. Going dark around midnight, the team didn’t have to wait very long for the haunting to heat up. Less than 90 minutes into dark time, the group was jarred into utter attentiveness with the unmistakable sound of hooves came crashing in – right there in the patio area with them! “Instead of being analytical, they freaked,” I was told.
The freak was short-lived, replaced by the group’s stunned reaction to findings two of their cameras had caught. They had clear crisp images of the night-hoofing deer creature.
Turns out, it wasn’t so much the spirit of a deer as a spirited deer.
This is fully documented: Seems the husband’s wall mount was visible through the glass patio – and was even being highlighted by the potbelly fake-o flames. Apparently, a cocky neighborhood buck, who felt he owned that nape of the backyard and all the deer dames who dawdling thereabouts, kept catching a somewhat hazy glimpse of an interloping buck in that patio – and a tall sucker at that! Wanting to make sure the Watusi deer didn’t get any designs on his backyard harem, the ruling buck would, now and again, challenge the overly-tall troublemaker by hooving aggressively down on the redwood deck.
I think the story is thoroughly comical, though the paranormal folks brushed it off as a waste of their time. I’m promised some footage, though. And, get this, the man ended up chucking the deer head when it kept dribbling loose hairs onto his favorite easy chair. Also, the decking began to look worse for wear.
Also: deer ghosts? Come on now. How many deer masks do you see being worn at Halloween. And just imagine the first deer hunter’s house a deer faced trick-or-treater stops at. “Oh, Fred, just look at the little deer we have asking for candy. Fred? Where did he go?”
SUCH DEER PEOPLE: I caught one of those classic conversation snippets while at a Tuckerton 7-11 this past weekend.
A gal with a decidedly North Jersey accent was talking about the wonderful veggies and fruits she got at a Route 9 farm market. I got my internalized chuckle when she noted to her friend, “When I was there I saw they also sell deer feed.” She then added, “I think it’s wonderful that people feed their deer around here.”
WUBADIITY DECIPHERED: Many thanks for the double shot of folks helping me decipher the local mystery word WUBMADIITY.
I have to admit that end-around word wouldn’t really hit home with a lifelong nondrinker like myself – nondrinker with the exception of that ugly incident in my junior year of college on Maui when I decided to emulate Janis Joplin via the downing an entire bottle of Southern Comfort, which I eventually offered back in an altered form.
I just got lightheaded simply recalling that night, dating back some 35 years.
Anyway, here’s one of the calls and emails that came to my confusion.
“You referred to Frankie Mayo's Half Way House ad in an old edition of the Derby paper and wondered what the meaning of WUBADIITY is.
Will you buy a drink if I tell you?
If you didn't pick up on the question, I actually answered your question. It is an acronym for, "Will you buy a drink if I tell you?"
Frankie was a great old guy who owned the Half Way House as well as being a part time owner of the Surf City Hotel, along with is brother, Billy Mayo and a gentleman from Kentucky, George Bowles. When I was in the Marine Corps I would stop by the Half Way House with my parents and Frankie felt I'd make a good bartender. He suggested I come see him after my discharge and he felt he could use me in the summers while I attended Penn State. I wound up working at the Surf City as a bartender until my graduation in 1958.
Frankie remained in touch with me for many years and he passed away while living in California probably about 35 years ago. WUBADIITY was his trademark - he passed out many mimeographed papers containing ornery cartoons, jokes and of course, many business cards with WUBADIITY boldly printed across the front. I carried one for many years and when showing it to people they naturally would ask, "What does WUBADIITY mean?" My obvious response was, "Will you buy a drink if I tell you?"
Dick Doyle, High Bar Harbor.
HOLGATE HAPPENINGS: The double-barrel storm over the weekend escalated the eating away of Holgate. The erosional baby steps taken over the past couple years were momentarily replaced by a couple giant steps, which squashed the last stretch of upland vegetation just north of the Osprey Nest.
Speaking of which, the famed Osprey nest in the Holgate Wilderness Area is no more. May it rest in pieces.
For those unfamiliar with this fishermen’s friend, it was essentially a full-sized telephone pole stuck in the middle of nowhere, topped by a platform for ospreys to use when egging it out.
The Nest went down like an old friend dying in the night. It fell to wind-blown wave action. Quite depressing. It was a long-time landmark for mobile anglers and a navigation aid for mariners plying both bay and ocean waters off Holgate.
The structure had become something of a gauge to show how astoundingly rapid the demise of the Holgate Wilderness Area has become. A mere 20 years ago, it was fully 150 yards back from the beach, standing amid deeply overgrown uplands.
To offer some LBI-ish reference to the speed of erosion in Holgate, that would be like Beach Haven being permanently eaten away from, say, the Sea Shell Hotel down to the Surflight Theater. Even if we were to quickly go full-bore with beach replenishment in Holgate, it would only rescue the remaining 30 or so percent of the far south end. That would be well worth it, mind you.
Elsewhere, I’ve gotten photos of 10-foot-plus drop-offs at buggy entrances. The damage is so widespread that it will surely take days and even weeks to get the beaches back to full possibility. Of course, the buggy entrances are often primary equipment entrances for the public works folks, so they’ll likely be fixed first. But, just getting on the beach doesn’t mean you won’t soon hit a no-further erosion zone. Then, that easy-on entrance – your only chance at exiting the sands -- can be a bugger when trying to get off, especially if other vehicles have torn it up. I
CLASSIC BASS: Some bass were Classic-fied, despite less than enjoyable surfside conditions for those entered in the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic (www.lbift.com
I think those storms may have sped up the arrival of bass migrating down from the northeast shores -- and that those fish will be shouldering up to the beach, as is always the case when clams and crabs get uncovered. I totally guarantee that every bass that is caught and kept for days to come will be loaded with crabs. Clams are a different story. In the past, storm like this would uncover surf clams by the thousands. From what a number of experts have told me, there are no longer surf clams in nearshore sands, once so thick with them you could actually feel them under your feet when standing on sand bar areas. One has to wonder if that lack of clams – a huge part of a bass diet – is yet another reason that stripers are now seemingly so quick to move off the beach a ways, to pursue bunker balls.
BASS LAW BANTER:
I got a very important read about striped bass laws. Seems there is some consideration being given to change to the NJ laws. The gist of it offers these three options: What do you prefer?
A – Leave the striper laws as they are now, 2 fish at 28” or greater.
B – A slot fish perhaps 24-28” and one larger fish perhaps over 30”.
C – One fish 24” and over and one fish 32” and over.
Here is an excerpt from a longer piece written my Paul H.
“As a representative of the NJBBA, I attended the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Striped Bass Committee meeting on 10/15/09. In addition to the council members, several advisors from other larger organizations such as the JCAA and RFA were present. There were a lot of varying opinions but it seemed like the majority felt there was a need to protect the larger spawning sized stripers. There was also pretty strong sentiment favoring anglers being able to take home a smaller striper to eat …
“It is my belief that the current 2 fish at 28” is favored by many fishermen but that allowing a slot fish is also favored by many as well. The Division presented us with an equivalency table which showed a number of different options. The one that generated the most interest was one that would allow us to keep one fish over 24” and another over 32”. This is not a slot limit – you would be able to keep two fish larger than 32” if you wanted but if you chose to do so you could keep one fish between 24” and 32” and another over 32”.”
I have to align very heavily with the slot fish possibility – as most every angler I know would agree. I’m not sure where the equanimity is. By that I mean is there really an equal number of folks who would want the laws to stay the same – 2 fish over 28 inches when we could all keep a 24-inch fish????
Please note carefully that striped bass are controlled by laws, not rules and regulations. The Division of Fish and Wildlife (which issues rules and regulations) could likely influence lawmakers in Trenton into considering making a bass change but the process could be drawn out-- as the Legislature alleges to being perpetually busy with other pressing issues. They’ve always dragged their well-heeled heels when fishery subject arise. That is where we as an angling mass have to continue to show what kind of political clout we have. Get this: If every LBI angler alone (excluding all the other areas of the Jersey Shore) were to call their back-home NJ assemblymen and senators, it would surely end up causing enough commotion in Trenton to eventually alert all our legislators that they better step lively when any fishing issues arrive.