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Rod, Gun & Game: Enjoy the beauty of our Western New York outdoor winter wonderland

SPRINGVILLE — Tall trees, stripped of their leaves, seem taller, as winter’s bright sunlight casts long shadows, in sharp contrast to the blinding snow.

Deer and turkey silhouettes are cast, in detail, and onlookers often stop to watch these beautiful creatures, while driving on cold, winter days. Photography buffs capture the beauty of sparkling, snowy landscapes.

But these winter days also offer a new perception about the cold weather’s harshness. It is easy to appreciate wildlife’s capacity to overcome the cold, survive the day and look toward the next new day and warm spring.

Birds fly from tree to tree, in search of emerging buds and other natural foods, but they also know where to find humans who take pity on them and set out bird feeders. Squirrels and chipmunks join these birds and compete for food, from people who are looking to provide subsistence, for local wildlife.

My wife watches these winter critters with compassion that reaffirms her reverence for nature. She understands that the birds need her recurring assistance for survival and she enjoys providing the best bird seed she can find. She does not talk very nicely to the squirrels who are stealing bird food, though, preferring that they unearth the acorns and nuts they buried, all over the lawn, before the snow fell.

Most of our visiting bird friends are common sparrows, grackles and finches. We have not seen robins yet, this year, but we will be building a pair of new bluebird houses, to mount in the backyard. These houses are made from rough-hewn white pine or hemlock, three-fourths of an inch thick, and offer a side panel that rotates outward, with a detachable pin, to permit a view of the internal house contents. I hope we will see tiny eggs, as spring approaches.

Rough surfaces near the 1 1/2-inch diameter front entry hole help the birds enter and exit, without issue.

The roof board is extended above the entry hole, to provide cover from the weather and, more importantly, to make it difficult for raccoons and squirrels to reach in and steal the bluebird eggs. Raccoons in search of food have no remorse, in this regard; nature’s way can sometimes be hard to understand and accept.

Plans for these easy-to-build bluebird houses are available on many websites. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation offers instructions at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/c4kBluebirdplan.pdf.

Watching wildlife, during the Western New York winter, allows us to experience the outdoor’s changes and appreciate our unique climate.

Florida residents have nothing on us! Enjoy this simple, but grand, winter adventure.

Lake Erie 2012 fishing
The final angler survey results have been concluded by the NYS DEC, for last year’s boat fishing activity on New York’s Lake Erie waters.

The overall fishing effort has increased, for three consecutive years, and measured at approximately 338,000 angler hours. The 2012 fishing effort total was the largest effort recorded in the last eight survey years, with 50 percent of anglers’ fishing for walleye, 20 percent for bass and 17 percent for yellow perch. Last year’s angling quality for walleye, smallmouth bass and yellow perch were all higher than long-term Lake Erie averages.

Hats off to the NYS DEC for compiling these annual survey records. This year marked the 25th consecutive year for the collecting and analyzing of data.

The report’s accuracy provides empirical evidence of the fishery quality and allows anglers and recreationalists to understand when changes occur and to practice the best possible management for Lake Erie’s fish species.

The New York angler effort and harvest data for walleye and yellow perch are compared with data from neighboring Lake Erie states and Ontario, to produce a lake-wide assessment of the fish species status that help establish proper harvest limits across all Lake Erie borders.

Turkey hen study
The NYS DEC is in its first year of a four-year, statewide banding and telemetry study that will determine hen turkey survival and harvest rates.

Hens will be captured and fitted with leg bands, from January – March. Some of the birds will also be equipped with radio transmitters, so the DEC can track their movements and seasonal survival. Trapping and banding will be done on state and private lands. Landowners who are interested in cooperating are asked to contact Wildlife Biologist Emilio Rende at 372-0645.

Bushnell acquires Gold Tip Archery

Bushnell Outdoor Products has acquired the arrow and archery product manufacturer Gold Tip, which is based in Orem, Utah.

Gold Tip, which was founded in 1989, is a leading manufacturer of arrows and archery products for target archery and bow hunting. This company makes some of the most durable and accurate carbon arrows available and produces the Bee Stinger line of premium bow stabilizers. The terms of the transaction have not yet been disclosed.

Great Backyard Bird Count
Those who love bird watching should consider participating in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 15 – 18.

Count the number of individual birds of each species you see, for at least 15 minutes, from any location you enjoy, whether it be in your backyard, at a favorite park or in a wildlife refuge. You do not have to be an expert at identifying birds, to participate.

Your bird checklist can be submitted through the GBBC website or through eBird online, at www.ebird.org. You may also do the submitting from the field, with the eBird BirdLog mobile application, available from www.birdseyebirding.com for Apple© and Android® smartphones.

To learn more about the GBBC, read bird identification tips, receive downloadable participation instructions and more, visit www.birdcount.org.

Outdoor calendar

– Feb. 16: Harry Staebell Memorial Archery Shoot. Open to the public from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. West Falls Conservation Society, 55 Bridge St., West Falls. For more information, email Bob Pfeil at Leosjoad@aol.com or call Mike Cummins at 432-6035.

– Feb. 20: Trap shooting, West Falls Conservation Club, 55 Bridge St., West Falls. Open to the public, beginning at 7 p.m. For more information, call Dave at 652-8509.

– Feb. 24: WNY winter 3D league archery shoot. Open to the public from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Glen Coe Conservation Society, 9869 Foote Road, Glenwood. For more information, call Dave Procknal at 337-0733.

Send outdoor information for the Forrest Fisher column, 10 days in advance, to nugdor@yahoo.com.
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