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Rod, Gun and Game: Hunting welcomes you outdoors

BUFFALO — Many sportsmen live for this time of year, dreaming about weekends spent outside, fishing and hunting during Western New York’s premier season.

On inland lakes, Lake Erie and our many tributary streams, fishing is entering the annual, autumn parade of fever pitch feeding. Multiple fish species are entering the annual, fall binge-feed, in preparation for the winter ahead. Freshwater fishing in WNY is very hot, right now.

With most of our WNY tributary streams’ sporting low water, anglers in search of the best fishing should head for steelhead country, in the lower sections of Cattaraugus Creek. According to New York Department of Environmental Conservation reports, Cattaraugus Creek is flowing at approximately 108 cubic feet per second, the perfect low flow rate, and, while steelhead catches have been reported through Gowanda, the best biters are in the lower section of that creek.

DEC biologist Mike Todd said that anglers can look for fresh runs of steelhead to move into the Cattaraugus Creek, following any significant rain. He also reported that most other Lake Erie tributaries are very low and clear.

Lake Erie steelhead commonly hit flies such as salmon egg imitations, streamers and woolly bugger patterns and lures like minnow-type stickbaits and in-line spinners, but they will also bite natural baits like egg sacs and worms, although it is more difficult to catch and release fish alive, when using live bait.

Successful anglers are currently targeting steelhead from the Cattaraugus Creek breakwall or off any other local creek mouths, by casting hardware such as spoons, spinners and stickbaits.

The NYS DEC has a helpful website available for steelhead fishing newcomers. The site includes information about steelhead fishing tackle options, terminal equipment and links to colorful steelhead stream maps. Check it out at

Access ramps on Lake Erie are busy, due to boatloads of anglers’ heading for the perch grounds off Sturgeon Point and Evangola State Park. Using two-hook rigs tipped with favored emerald shiners for bait, 50 fish-per-person limits are common right now, in the fishing west of Sturgeon point in 60 – 70 feet of water. Anchor your boat, drop the line to the bottom and wait about 10 seconds. Lift up gently and check out your fish.

If Lake Erie’s big waters and giant fish are a bit over-the-top for you, check out inland streams, which currently offer the best-of-the-year trout fishing. The East Koy, Wiscoy, Oatka and Genesee River lower sections all offer great trout action right now, even with dry flies, on sunny days. Watch for hatches, but isonychia and blue-winged olives are popular dry fly patterns that are working across our inland, trout fishing waters.

If you are just beginning to fish, a good all-around starter fly assortment, for most of New York, includes dry flies in sizes 12 and 14, Adams, light cahill, pale evening dun (sulphur dun), wet flies in sizes 10, 12 and 14, leadwing coachman, black gnat, gold-ribbed hares ear, nymphs in sizes 10, 12 and 14, gold-ribbed hare’s ear, prince, pheasant tail, elk hair caddis; streamers in sizes 8 and 10, muddler minnow, woolly bugger and blacknose dace.

Outdoor archery action is rocking with one-month-early, pre-rut whitetail deer activity. The NYS archery season is open early, this year. This is when rutting bucks are chasing does that are not ready to mate. The bucks can become very frustrated and vulnerable, offering hunters an advantage. It is a great time to be in the woods!

Scouting in the middle of the day is one of the best ways to figure out where to focus your hunting efforts. Quietly walk the terrain, looking for tree rubs and ground scrapes that signify area markers for dominant bucks. The deer that made those rubs and scrapes are not far away and will return to check for tell-tale signs of a hot doe twice: just before sunset and in the morning, just before they head to their bedding area for a daytime snooze, until the full rut begins. After that point, bucks sleep very little.

After you identify a buck area by rubs and scrapes, take advantage of the location. Set a tree stand up downwind and wait for the buck to check his area. In the meantime, you may have to pass on multiple does that may wander through the area, after noting the scene and smells left by the buck.

Scent lines can offer hunters an advantage and bring deer right to their locations. Use hot, doe-in-heat scents to attract bucks or upset the bucks and trigger them into more aggressive modes, with the use of buck scent. You can tell that it is working when you see the deer return to his scrape and violently attack the ground.

Bucks are territorial. If a deer believes he is not the dominant buck in an area, the scent may cause him to bolt away and not return, so be careful with the buck scent.

Doe-in-heat scents will attract the buck who made the scrape. By dragging a scent line from the scrape to your stand location, you can set up your shot at a range of your choosing.

While bucks are ready to breed now, 95 percent of does are not. Now is the perfect time to drag doe-in-heat scent lines from a scrape to your stand area. Use a small piece of cotton tied to a 6-foot line for the scent line.

Many hunters claim that all scents are good, but here in WNY, we have at least one source of real doe-in-heat lure, bottled from local deer herd stock. Pines & Tines Whitetails, a deer farm with more than 60 deer, is located at 7852 Lewis Road in Colden, about 6 miles south of East Aurora.

While commercial store versions of doe-in-heat are sold in 1- or 2-ounce bottles at $12 – $14, most of these are chemical equivalents of the real thing. Pines & Tines sells an 8-ounce bottle for $10. This local product has worked for me and many of my hunting friends, for the last several years. We just never told anyone where we bought our hunting attractant scent. Now, the secret is out!

Call Eric and Cheryl Lafferty at 655-5007 or just stop in. A sign on the door will direct you to the refrigerator stock of doe-in-heat and buck lure. Use this stuff sparingly, for best results.

Find a scrape line, set up a tree stand downwind and drag the scent line from the scrape area to the stand location. Then, sit down and relax, until a buck shows up, in search of a doe. The prime times are sunrise and sunset. Do not forget your full body harness and stay safe when you go vertical.

Good luck to everyone on the water or in the woods!

NYS fishing licenses available online

New York state 2012-2013 freshwater fishing licenses can now be purchased online or at all DEC regional offices and from license-issuing agents, including many town clerk offices, sporting goods stores and bait and tackle shops. To obtain a map of agent locations or to purchase a fishing license online, visit Licenses can also be purchased by calling 1-866-933-2257.

Sick deer sightings

The DEC is asking for your help in identifying outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a fatal virus transmitted to deer by biting midges, generally known as “no see-ums” or “gnats.”

Infections commonly occur in the late summer or early fall. Sick deer have small bruises in their mouths and noses and swelling of the head, neck, tongue and lips. The sick or dead deer may be found in small areas, particularly in or near water sources. Thank goodness there is not much extra water around, this year. Although no EHD outbreaks have been detected in New York, so far, we heard about some limited EHD outbreaks in 2007 in Albany and Niagara counties and in 2011 in Rockland County.

The virus is not a problem for humans or domestic animals, but can have a locally significant impact on deer populations. The southeast region of Pennsylvania has incurred an outbreak this year, that killed a small herd of 19 deer. If you encounter a sick deer or spot an unusual number of dead deer, report it to the DEC regional wildlife office at 851-7200. For more information, visit

Safety recall notice

During an internal quality review, Carl Walther GmbH identified a condition that may exist in certain Walther PK380 pistols. He reported that these guns may permit a round to be discharged if the trigger is pulled, despite the engagement of the manual safety.

Walther found that engagement of the manual safety may not prevent firing of a chambered round. This recall applies to Walther PK380, .380 ACP pistols manufactured by Carl Walther GmbH from May – September of this year. The guns’ serial numbers range from PK101201 to PK112155. Stop using this firearm and call 1-800-713-0356.

Death sentence for killer

After four hours of deliberating in Adams County, Pa. on Oct. 4, a jury sentenced 29-year-old Christopher Johnson to death by lethal injection, for the killing of state wildlife conservation officer David Grove.

Grove, 31, was shot and killed in the line of duty, while on patrol at 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, 2010, in Adams County. He was investigating reports of ongoing night-time shooting and possible poaching activity, in the area. Prior to this incident, the last WCO to have been shot and killed in the line of duty was Game Protector Joseph McHugh in Weatherly, Carbon County, on Nov. 7, 1915.

Outdoor calendar:

Oct. 11: Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, monthly meeting, free, Hawkeye Bowmen, 13300 Clinton St., Alden, 7 p.m. Open to the public. Free dinner included. Call 440-6995 for more information.

Oct. 11: Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association monthly meeting, 4H Cornell Cooperative Extension, 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport, 7 p.m. Call 636-0519 for more information.

Oct. 13: NYS hunter safety, Allied Sportsmen, 12847 Clinton St., Alden, 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Home study course. Call 474-0460 for materials.

Oct. 16, 17 and 19: NYS hunter safety, VFW Frontiersmen Post, 110 Elgin St., Tonawanda, 6 – 9:30 p.m. Call 627-9861 to register or for more information.

Oct. 22 – 23: Late NYS archery home study course, Bison Archery, 2459 Seneca St. Register at the store.

Oct. 22 – 24: NYS hunter safety, Eden North Collins Rod & Gun, 2404 Sandrock Road, 6 – 10 p.m. Call 992-4866 to register or for more information.

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

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