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Rod, Gun & Game: The archery hunting season heats up

DEER CATCH — Greg Gajewski and his 10-year old son, Jacob, enjoy the thrill of deer archery hunting success in Franklinville as WNY deer approach their annual seasonal rutting cycle.
Deer movements have increased in the last week and bucks have started to leave evidence of deer presence, with more ground scrapes and tree rubs in many area locales.

As whitetail deer begin to evolve to the romance period of their annual cycle, archery hunters are taking to the woods. Hunting deer this old fashioned way is the most fun, especially if your 10-year old son wants to join you.

That was the case for Greg Gajewski and his son Jacob, last weekend, as the two headed for the hills in Cattaraugus County near Franklinville. “We hunt an area near the state land, where the property starts at the bottom of a hillside; there is a small stream and a few acres of flat fields where we start our walk, toward the top of the hill. There, wild apple trees seem to attract and hold the deer,” Gajewski said.

The landowner allows Gajewski to put up a two-man stand, but the hunting location is a 15-minute walk up to the edge of a 3-acre clover field near the wild apple orchard. Gajewski explained, “We were there to camp for the weekend, a family tradition for Ellicottville’s Oktoberfest weekend, and to just relax. I thought I would take my two kids hunting with me for the mornings, one each day so they could say they went, but I didn’t expect it to be too productive, this early in the season.”

Having left early in the morning, “when we got to the top of the hill, we stopped to put on our heavier clothes,” he said. “While getting dressed, we heard something get up near us and run away. I told him that may have been a deer that we woke and scared off. We got settled in the tree stand about 6:15 a.m., about an hour before sunrise.”

Sunrise came about 7:30 and Gajewski noticed a sapling shaking, 75 yards in front of the two. Before long, he saw an ear flick. He told Jake, “There’s a buck in front of us.” It wasn’t bright sunlight yet, so Jake looked, but couldn’t see the deer. Gajewski said, “I gave Jake my binoculars to look through, as a little, four point buck came out into the open, before Jake could find him through the glasses.

“The deer made a semi-circle at about 60 yards around us, to our left-hand side, and then started coming right at us. I told Jake to sit still and we’ll see what happens. He was disappointed when I let the deer walk away, because I didn’t have a good shot with the bow, but he understood. At about 8 a.m., we had a doe come across the field toward us. We let her go and just took her picture, because she was just a baby.”

Jake spotted a six-pointer that ran behind a pine tree on the other side of the field. Gajewski said, “I got my bow ready, the buck came out from behind the tree and started right toward us. About halfway through the field, he stopped. This is where Jake started with the deer call I gave him, a Quaker Boy ‘Thug-Jug’ bleat call.”

This call sallow kids to get into the hunt when they are too young to use a bow with New York’s 12-year old minimum age rule. Turn the call over and an internal mechanism and gravity create a perfect doe bleat, attracting bucks and does alike. Tone and volume can be varied by cupping your hand around the end of the call, but that is not necessary to be effective.

Using his PSE Beast (circa 1996) at 70-pound draw with Beman ICS Hunter shafts and Blazer vanes, tipped with Rocket Sidewinder mechanical broadheads, Gajewski placed a 32-yard shot on target, as the deer stepped past some tall goldenrod stalks and into a shooting lane.

Gajewski said, “We watched and listened, as the deer ran away. Jake saw the exit wound and was saying, ‘You got him!’ We heard the deer hit the ground a few seconds later, and then my shakes started. I had to explain to Jake about the adrenaline and excitement that was causing this to happen to me.”

In the moments after the shot, the pair descended from their 15-foot perch and Gajewski explained, “I took Jake to see the spot where I hit the deer, showed him the hair that was cut off and found my arrow right behind where the deer was. We looked for a blood trail for about 10 yards and then I told him, ‘Let’s go for breakfast and then we’ll come back to find the deer.’”

When the duo returned, 2 1/2 hours later, “we found the buck about 70 yards from where I hit him,” Gajewski said. “Jake got a little queasy watching his first field dressing, but was there for the whole thing.”

Since no cooler was available and because it was such a warm day, a trip to the deer processor was required, before dinner. Gajewski said, “Jacob surprised me, when he insisted he go with me instead of having dinner with everybody, because that is what we had to do. I tried to talk him out of the three-hour round trip, but he still went.”

Time in the outdoors is best, when you spend it with your family. Congratulations to this fine outdoor family that can look forward to the hope of harvesting two healthy deer, each year.

The bonus for this health food plan is that it also helps with the food bill.

Good luck to all who enjoy the peace, solitude, excitement and memories that come with every early archery season, whether you bag a buck or not.

Outdoor calendar:

– Oct. 26 – 27: Caledonia Gun Show, J.W. Jones Hall, Route 36, 354 Leicester St., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. There is an admission charge. For more information, visit or call 542-9929.

- Oct. 26-27: Iroquois Gun Collectors Gun Show, Frontier Fire Company, 2176 Liberty Drive, Niagara Falls, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. There is an entry fee. For more information, call Robert Chambers 876-9815.

– Oct. 29: Western New York Trout Unlimited, monthly meeting, Donovan Legion Post, 3210 Genesee St., Cheektowaga., 6:30pm for fly tiers (Wooly Booger day), 7:30pm meeting start.

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