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Rod, Gun and Game: New York state firearms deer season opens, this weekend

GOT HIM! — Pictured is Tonawanda resident Nathan Serwinowski, with his first archery buck. He bagged this eight-pointer in Freedom, during the early archery season. After processing, the packaged deer weighed in at nearly 100 pounds.
SPRINGVILLE — Western New York offers a great range of habitat options for deer hunters, across multiple areas of public and private hunting grounds.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, the 2012 New York state southern zone, big game, regular firearms, whitetail deer and black bear season will officially open to all certified and licensed hunters, at sunrise. Hunting hours are sunrise – sunset, each day, including Sundays, through the end of the regular, big game season, on Dec. 9.

The highest harvest densities of New York State occur throughout Western New York, Region 9. New York hunters took 230,000 deer in 2010 and 2011 and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reported that it anticipates the total deer harvest will increase slightly, in 2012.

The DEC also reported that the 2011 deer harvest in Region 9 was about two percent lower than it was in 2010. This decrease reflected the reduction in antler-less opportunities in many Southern Tier units.

By contrast, the region-wide buck harvest rose, by 1.6 percent. Five of the region’s wildlife management units have deer populations greater than 10 percent above the desired management levels. One unit in the region had a 2011 harvest within 10 percent of its objective.

Nine units in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties have deer populations below desired levels and more conservative antler-less harvests, through reduced deer management permit availability, was mandated, in these units.

The DEC said that, in areas with deer populations above objective levels, it will maintain harvest pressure on antler-less deer in these areas, such as WMU 9F and 9H, the nearest suburban areas to population centers.

In other regions, such as several portions of the Region 9 Southern Tier, deer populations are slightly below, or near, target levels. The DEC is monitoring for signs of population growth in these areas and has adjusted DMP allocations accordingly, looking for continued modest growth in some areas and population stability in others.

The DEC issues DMPs to control antler-less harvest and move the population closer toward objective levels in each WMU. The target DMP allocation for 2012 varies by unit, depending on the management objective, but the DEC has reported that it issued approximately 10 – 12 percent more DMPs this year, than it had in 2011, overall.

Because of last year’s mild winter, the DEC announced that it expects the annual fawn survival rate to have been high. NYS hunters will probably observe a high number of 1 1/2-year-old bucks afield, this fall. Although hunters can take a buck of any age, an increasing number of hunters voluntarily choose to not take young, small-antlered bucks.

Hunters who are interested in taking older and larger bucks can coordinate with hunting clubs and neighboring landowners to reduce their harvest of young bucks, but the choice is still up to the hunter.

One of the most important things that we can do for the next generation is to consider mentoring young hunters.

With opening day falling on Saturday, during the last few years, the DEC has been encouraging veteran hunters to take young people hunting, since 14- and 15-year-olds can hunt big game with a firearm, now. Young people or unlicensed folks of any age may accompany hunters, as well, as long as they do not participate in the hunt.

Current legislation now allows the use of center-fire rifles for big game hunting in Allegany, Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, as well as numerous nearby counties, in Region 8.

Current legislation also allows for the use of crossbows, but only during regular firearms seasons for deer and bear and the late muzzleloading seasons for deer or bear.

Crossbows cannot be used in bow hunting-only areas of the state or during the regular bow hunting season. Hunters wishing to use crossbows must have signed certificates of qualification. Visit www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/crossbowform.pdf for more information.

There are no special provisions for the use of crossbows for disabled hunters or for hunters 70 years old or older. The current crossbow law expires on Dec. 31, unless the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo agree to an extension.

As hunters head out into the woods this firearms season, look beyond your shot, before you squeeze the trigger. Consider wearing hunter orange, to ensure that you are visible to other hunters. Deer are color blind; they do not see the bright colors.

Long WNY archery season
Many bow hunters participated in the six-week-long archery season, enacted in 2012. During the recent rutting activity that started the first week of November, hunters noted high numbers of first-year deer and an increased number of young bucks.

Among the deer counts were some large animals, like an eight-point buck, taken by Nathan Serwinowski of Tonawanda.

While Serwinowski was hunting on Oct. 6, he was alerted to movement fewer than 30 yards away.

The hunter saw a huge rack and, using a Martin Cheeta™ bow set to 70 pounds pull, Serwinowski drew back his bow, while harnessed atop a fixed metal ladder stand. Using a 2-inch Rage™ broadhead, Serwinowski found a shooting lane and, after 45 seconds of holding the draw, he released the arrow for a perfect 23-yard shot on the big buck.

Serwinowski, a second-year hunter, was wearing a Scent-Blocker® suit in Mossy Oak Breakup Infinity™ camouflage and matching 1,000 gram Field and Stream rubber boots. He did not use any deer scent products. The deer was processed at Black Angus and weighed almost 100 pounds.

“I’m very excited about hunting rifle, this year,” Serwinowski said. “A good friend just killed a 10-pointer, on the same property, and we have trail cam pictures of a 12 pointer that hasn’t shown itself during legal hunting hours, yet.”

While hunting near his home, Erik Maeder of Colden downed a 10-point buck. Maeder teased the buck into range, by setting out a small buck decoy 20 yards from his 16-foot stand. At 9:30 a.m., the deer came around an open field, behind the decoy.

Using the new Rage two-blade broadhead, Maeder dropped the deer, which ran 40 yards, after the shot. Maeder field dressed the deer and there is now fresh venison in the Maeder freezer.

Sportsmens act
As the 112th Congress begins its post-election session, firearms owners, hunters and sportsmen should call or email their senators and urge them to vote in favor of the Sportsmens Act (S.3525), considered the most important package of measures for the benefit of sportsmen, in a generation.

This legislation is comprised of 19 separate bills, including the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (S.838), which would clarify that ammunition is excluded from regulation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Approximately 46 of the nation’s sportsmen and conservation groups, including the National Shooting and Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and Ducks Unlimited, support S.3525.

Your voice, as a sportsman, is considered crucial, by these hunting and outdoors-focused organizations.

Gunmaker stocks rise
Shares of Ruger® and Smith & Wesson® rose sharply last week, following President Barack Obama’s re-election, according to national news sources.

Between the closing bell on Election Day to last Friday’s close, Ruger shares jumped more than 9 percent and Smith & Wesson shares rose more than 8 percent.

Outdoor calendar
Nov. 17: NYS Southern Zone big game firearms season opening day, sunrise – sunset. Ends Dec. 9.

Nov. 30: NYS musky and bass season closes.

Dec. 14: Safari Club dinner, Michael’s Banquet Center. Call 542-9929 to purchase tickets.

Dec. 15: NYS Conservation Council fundraiser, Southtowns Walleye Association, 5895 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg, 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 655-0975 or 640-2776.
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