CHARTING THE SEASON — A chart breaks down the regular and bowhunting deer seasons for 2013.
While most sportsmen truly respect the state department of environmental conservation for its efforts to manage our fish and wildlife health and welfare, I wonder about the intention of the state wildlife management, when no one in Albany publishes a press release announcing the opening day opportunities for the Southern Tier big game archery season.
We may be looking through a cloud of smoke that spells the end of many freedoms for New York sportsmen. Consider the recent decrease in state license fees that no sportsmen asked for; they will deplete the state’s conservation fund in fewer than four years. The department has a reduced staff, a loss of pheasant farms, loss and reduction of fish hatchery facilities and related manpower and a lack of proper care to promote a legal crossbow season for young and old hunters, all mainly due to Long Island Assemblyman Robert Sweeney.
Despite the political playmanship, the deer populations for Region 9 are healthy, so archers and firearms hunters alike should fare well, this year. Region 9 is comprised of agricultural and residential areas in the north and wild habitat in the Southern Tier. Both areas have forest and agricultural lands. As housing projects close in, deer are domiciled to specific lands in some communities that are left for wildlife. These areas can provide the best hunting zones, where legal.
Mature forest dominates the landscape in the Region 9 Southern Tier. As these forests continue to mature, the need for habitat improvement is apparent to wildlife managers; forest thinning and regrowth are part of the plans. The DEC encouraged landowners to put forth their own efforts to improve their lands, through active forest management.
All across Region 9, public access for hunting continues to be a major interest for the DEC. The best access for hunting opportunities occurs in the Southern Tier counties, with multiple state forest areas. There are also a number of cooperative hunting areas in the region giving hunters additional lands to use. Many landowners are willing to allow hunting on private lands; hunters need to just ask.
The DEC reported that last season’s deer harvest in Region 9 was 6.5 percent higher than that the year before. This increase in harvest reflects the increase in antlerless opportunities in many of the wildlife management units, especially in the Northern Tier counties. Additionally, the region-wide buck harvest rose by 9 percent. Six of the region’s WMUs have deer populations greater than 10 percent above the desired levels. Two units in the region had a 2012 harvest within 10 percent of management objectives, while six units in the southern counties of Allegany and Cattaraugus have deer populations below objective levels – Regions like 9N, 9W and 9X. Hunters applying for deer management unit permits there will notice conservative antlerless harvest quotas in these areas.
For archery that opened Oct. 1, hunters may use a long bow, recurve bow or compound bow with a draw weight of at least 35 pounds. If you have spent some time in the woods tracking deer trails and feeding locations of deer prior to the hunting season, you have probably been able to pattern deer movements and identify areas where typically favored fall deer foods are abundant. Good going; you are ahead of most archers in the hunting game. A heavy apple crop, acorn crop and beechnut crop will provide all deer with adequate food staples, this year.
Bowhunters should not forget the common sense safety tips, before heading afield and while hunting. Make sure someone knows where you are hunting and when you expect to return. Leave a note or mark a map with your family or a friend and if possible, pack a cell phone for emergencies. Never climb trees during archery season or any other time, without a full-body harness. Do not climb dead, wet or icy trees, though our current temperatures are well above freezing.
Carry a tiny loud whistle, in case your phone is dead and you need help. Many hunters also carry a compass and matches, or other fire-lighting device. Consider taking along a small flashlight is mandatory. Always use a small rope to lift your bow and backpack into your tree stand. Carry your broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver. If you use a mechanical release, keep your index finger away from the trigger, when drawing. Check all your equipment before you head out, it might take two or three trips before you have everything in order.
As you prepare for the 2013 – 2014 hunting seasons, know that there are several very new items for all to consider. The NYS youth firearms deer season will occur during the early archery season, the Columbus Day holiday weekend, on Oct.12 – 14. New legislation allows use of rifles for big game hunting in Ontario and Wayne Counties until Oct. 1, 2015. Many other areas allow use of rifles during the regular firearm big game season. There are mandatory antler restrictions (minimum three points on one side) are in effect in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 4G, 4O, 4P, 4R, 4S and 4W, during all seasons, for all hunters 17 years and older. The southern tier archery season will end on Nov. 15, the day before the firearm season begins.Outdoor calendar:
– Oct. 6: Niagara Frontier Gun Show, Alexander Firemen’s Hall, 10708 Alexander Road, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.nfgshows.com.
– Oct. 13: NYS hunter safety training course, Allied Sportsmen, 12847 Clinton St., Alden, 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, call 474-0460.
– Oct. 15 and 17: NYS archery course, Frontiersmen, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7545, 1050 Elgin, Tonawanda, 6 – 10 p.m.Email outdoor information to Forrest Fisher, 10 days in advance, at email@example.com.