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Big game archery season has begun

WRITER AND GRANDSON — Outdoor columnist Forrest Fisher and his grandson, Collin Voss, sport their camo during the archery season.
With the early Oct. 1 opener for big game archery season in Western New York, archery hunters are heading to the woods in increasing numbers, this year.

The mild winter and no-frost spring have allowed maximum deer counts to survive and thrive to grow to a healthy size, making for great hunting.

Archers who are trying to find the best places to hunt are among many from Western New York to ask the same question.

It is actually very hard to say when the peak of rut and best hunting actually are. Experts are divided on the issue, to some degree.

Different deer populations may react to certain varying criteria for the rut; it could be the amount of daylight exposure (no clouds) in relation to the number of hours we have for full moon exposure during night periods, combinations of cold weather — rainy or no rain time periods and more.

Some hunters who bag big deer are hunting simply because they can. Their time in the woods is not related to predictions and expert advice, but more to local advice and their ability to make time for the woods. They just love to be in the woods, watching and enjoying the wildlife.

New York state outdoor writer Charlie Alsheimer and Vermont biologist Wayne Larouche came up with the “rutting moon” theory and have made their study known with books and magazine articles in hunting magazines for the past 10 – 15 years.

I have learned to trust Alsheimer’s thinking and rut predications. His theories are based on his personal hunting success and extended time spent in the woods, collecting data.

Alsheimer wrote, “The ‘rutting moon’ falls on Oct. 29 and it is noted that this should be considered the ‘starting point’ for the rut to ramp up.” Four – five days before this date though, Alsheimer predicts an increase in activity; then, the “seeking phase” will begin.

This period will be followed by the start of the “chasing phase,” which should be kicking into gear some time around Nov. 2. This intense period of chasing and scraping should continue on for several days, until the actual breeding begins. This is predicted to occur sometime in that second to third week of November, between Nov. 8 and 16.

Alsheimer’s theory to define the rutting moon is simple: it’s the second moon after the autumnal equinox, the time of the year when the night and day are nearly equal to 12 hours in length, all over the world. This occurs on Sept. 22 each year (the first day of autumn) and will happen again in spring on March 20.

Most WNY hunters will agree that the best chance to see deer and bag a buck occurs between the end of October and the start of the New York state firearms season opener in the middle of November.

Some say it takes a bit of cold weather to trigger the rut; whatever you believe, if you plan to hunt a few days in that time period, chances are you will enjoy an opportunity to harvest some venison for your freezer.

Youth deer hunt

New York’s second annual firearms youth deer hunt will occur this weekend in upstate New York, during the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 12 – 14. During this hunt, 14- and 15-year-old junior hunters may use a firearm to take a deer of either gender, when accompanied by a licensed adult mentor.

Outdoor calendar:

– Oct. 10: Lake Ontario Trout & Salmon Association monthly meeting, 4H Cooperative, 4487 Lake Ave. (Route 78) in Lockport, 7 p.m. For more information, call 636-0519.

– Oct. 10: Erie County Federation of Sportsmen monthly meeting with free dinner. Discuss outdoor issues. Open to the public. Hawkeye Bowmen, Marilla, 7 p.m. For more information, call 440-6995.

– Oct. 11: Shooters Committee on Political Education banquet, Lucarelli’s, 1830 Abbott Road, Lackawanna. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7. Guest speaker: Alan Gottlieb. For more information, call 570-3436 or visit www.scopeny.org.

– Oct. 12: “Ladies Shoot ‘N’ Hoot,” North Forest Rod & Gun Club, Lockport, 2 p.m. For more information, call 628-9023.

– 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 St., Tonawanda, 6 – 10 p.m.

Email outdoor information to Forrest Fisher, 10 days in advance, at nugdor@yahoo.com.

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