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Rod, Gun and Game: Western New York offers hunters big whitetail bucks

A FAMILY AFFAIR — Pictured are Russ Morgan, founder of, and his 9-year-old son Blaine, with Morgan’s nine-point buck taken with a bow at 30 yards in Arcade.
A GREAT HUNT — Hunter and Moog engineer Ben Chaves is pictured with his first buck, a 10-pointer that scores around 130 Boone and Crockett points, which he took with a rifle, during a family hunting outing Nov. 24 in Warsaw.
BUFFALO — When you have been deer hunting for a week, following the regular firearm season’s opening day, and have seen only one or two deer, it is easy to become disheartened. Many hunters are feeling that way, this week.

But now is the time when you need to use common sense and maintain a desire to succeed, because the biggest deer of your lifetime could walk past you, at any time.

Russ Morgan, a Western New York resident and hunter, identified something this region sorely needed, when he started a hunting club organization called, a few years ago. Check out this site, which offers hunting plots for sale, plots to rent and many other WNY hunting items of interest.

More than 800 hundred individuals have joined this organization, in which a paid, annual membership entitles them entry into one of the biggest buck contests conducted in any northeastern state, with more than $10,000 in cash and prizes going to the winners in the biggest archery and biggest firearms bucks categories, each year. antler scoring is done by a system similar to Boone and Crockett, in which the total tine length of at least 1 inch, total beam length to the nearest eighth of an inch, inside spread to nearest one-eighth inch and the circumference of the right antler base is added up, for a total score.

The tie-breaker is the circumference of the left antler base, a figure that is not included in the original scoring. The same system is used for both archery and firearms deer, with an actual total that comes to approximately 25 percent less than the Boone/Crockett scoring system.

A live leaderboard is posted online at and provides recent photographs that specify where the bucks were taken. According to this system, many very large deer have been taken here, in Western New York.

Bliss resident Darren Kmicinski, who took a monster, 10-point buck, touting an inside spread of 18 2/8 inches, for an official score of 118 5/8 inches, is the current firearms leader. In second place is Randy White, with a nine-point buck, sporting an inside spread of 16 2/8 inches, taken in Arcade. The deer netted White a score of 116 7/8 inches.

Other big buck firearm hunters include Terry Bray, with a 10-pointer from Arcade; Chris Weatherson, with a nine-pointer from Farmersville Station; Beth Hobin, with a nine-pointer taken from Fillmore; Dave Muir, with a nine-pointer taken from Clarence and many more seven, eight and nine-point animals.

While the firearms season is still underway, the archery season is over and the official winners have been declared.

In first place was Scott Petschke, with an 11-point buck that offered an inside spread of 17 6/8 inches and total score of 124 4/8 inches, taken in Alden. The second-place winner, Dustin Shearing, downed a 10-point buck in Gainesville, with an inside spread of 16 2/8 inches, for a total score of 108 6/8 inches.

Chad Duncan downed an eight-pointer in Delevan, with a total score of 101 1/8 inches. Bob Wild shot an eight-point deer in Holland, netting him 95 6/8 inches.

More than 25 big deer entries are listed on the archery winner board. There are also many photographs that sport moms and dads, posing with their sons or daughters, dressed in camouflage and face paint. What better way to introduce young people to the Western New York hunting frontier, than by taking them hunting with us? Teddy Roosevelt would be very proud of these parents.

When kids understand why hunting is important to conservation, respect firearms and hunting implements and learn outdoor safety, parents can feel a great accomplishment. The past trend in declining hunting license sales finally seems to have ended, as hunter numbers are now increasing, again.

Morgan often tells the story of the buck he downed, on Oct. 19. While out, he taught his 9-year-old son Blaine how to use deer calls and deer scents. The two blind-grunted and watched, as a nine-point buck came running to their Antler Ice deer scent. Morgan said, “I stopped him with a grunt at 30 yards and downed him there, with no tracking needed. The best part was sharing the entire moment with my son, who also did a great job videotaping the whole episode, on film. I am so proud.”

With the Boone and Crockett scoring system, Morgan’s buck measured 120 inches, in comparison to the simplified scoring of, where it measured 96 inches. As moderator of the program, Morgan does not allow himself to enter the big buck contest.

The winners will receive their awards and prizes at the club’s annual banquet, open to the public on Jan. 19, for a charge, at the Delevan training center, with festivities’ beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.

After spending the archery season looking for a mature buck and not finding success, Ben Chaves, an engineer from Lancaster, went into the second week of the regular firearms deer season with his .243 rifle. Hunting in Wyoming County near Warsaw, toward the end of the day, last Saturday, his family hunting party decided to conduct a drive.

Chaves was sitting, with his back against a large tree, when he heard the sounds of an approaching deer, running at approximately 30 mph. With the deer bearing down on Chaves, at the hunter’s tree, Chaves peered through the rifle scope to see the buck, which filled the entire screen. He shot at 10 yards, downing a 10-pointer buck, which is unofficially scored at 130 points. The deer stopped, less than 10 feet from where Chaves was sitting.

“I will never forget the moment of that deer encounter. It was so exciting and, in hindsight, just when I thought the season might be a bust, it turns into an unforgettable dream season.”

A deer encounter can instantly change the hunting season for any Western New York hunter.

So, for hunters who may be running out of steam, as we approach the first week of December, take heart!


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2012-12-04 | 20:27:14
congrats on nice buck ,