Blogs > Oneida Outdoors

An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Deer season over; Holiday season in full swing


The regular deer seasons ended last Sunday, although there is a post-season muzzle loading and archery season in the southern zone and a few select areas of the northern zone. Nasty weather in the middle of this week made it difficult to keep your powder dry if you were a muzzleloader hunter and not many hunters were out.
It’s too early to accurately assess the results of the season and the DEC report will not be available for many weeks. It’s safe to say that your opinion and assessment of the season depended on your experience. If you were one of the 1 in 10 hunters who statistically got a buck, it was good. If you were in the majority, it wasn’t so good.
More hunters than usual reported seeing fewer deer this year. Whether this is an indication of less deer, a result of less hunters afield or deer being even more nocturnal than normal is unclear. We will have some reports and statistics in a special column after the holidays.
At any time of year, but especially now with the end of hunting season and the onset of the holiday season, it is appropriate to remember the landowners who let you use their property with some gift. Some small gift will show your appreciation for them letting you hunt or fish on their property. It also helps mark you as a considerate and responsible sportsman and may go a long way towards getting permission to hunt or fish there again next year.
For the deer hunters who have been successful and are wondering what to do with the hide, Jim Ward of Oneida Trap Supply is again buying hides. Call Jim at 363-2913 for information and hours.
With the end of the season there is a tendency to toss all the gear out of the way and deal with it later. Avoid the temptation to do this with your guns. You have a sizable investment in your guns and they should be given good care as soon as possible. Make sure they are dry, cleaned and oiled before putting them away.
It is also a good time to have any repairs done or any special care. If you are not confident of giving them a thorough cleaning, you should have a professional like Gunworks of CNY do it. Gary Donovan and his staff perform any repairs or cleaning necessary. Autoloaders are especially in need of a periodic cleaning of the gas system that ejects and loads cartridges. Call 363-7041 or see www.cnygunworks.com for more information.
Congratulations to all those who got a deer. We are still looking for interesting stories of success or adventure. Remember as Dick Cooper always says, “Scouting for next season begins next week.”
Holiday Shopping
You buy a wide variety of quality products for the outdoors that are made in the USA and many of them are made here in New York State. Here is a small sample.
I have always stressed shopping locally whenever possible. Local merchants and craftsmen are the ones who support our community and deserve your support, especially at this time of year. Shop at your local sport shop, marina, archery shop or gun shop. In many cases, you can buy directly from the craftsmen or producers. There is great quality and variety available and gifts to fit every budget.
If you are looking for an ultra light pack canoe that you can carry into the backcountry with one hand, consider the canoes produced by Lake Placid Boatworks. Slipstream Watercraft is another Adirondack company that manufactures lightweight canoes and kayaks. If you are looking for a workhouse canoe, consider the Marathon boat company which makes the successor to the famous Grumman aluminum canoe. For paddles for your kayak or pack canoe, check out Fox paddles which makes quality paddles in the southern tier.
For the fisherman in your family there are the famous Cortland fly rods and fly lines. If you are looking for walleye rods or the new innovation of rods for Center Spin steelhead fishing, you can’t go wrong with Bart’s Rods which are made locally. Bass and walleye fishermen are certain to be pleased with jigs made by Billy Alexander (www.billysmtolures.com) based on his tournament winning experience. Northern King lures are another NY product and have long been a favorite of Lake Ontario anglers.
Shawn Fox of Camden (www.foxscustomcalls.com) makes great hand crafted turkey, duck, goose and locator calls. Lou Pulverenti is a local call maker noted for his excellent diaphragm or slate and pencil turkey calls under the Boss Tom label. Gary Campanie of Oneida has won numerous national awards for his decorative turkey calls which are also effective working calls. Quaker Boy Company is based in western New York and makes a variety of waterfowl, deer and turkey calls as well as hunting accessories.
For gun cleaning accessories, one of the bright stories of business success is Otis Technology in Lyons Falls. Despite the move of some of their other firearms production to Alabama, Remington guns, including the iconic model 870 shotgun are still made in Ilion. Crosman BB guns and their newer air rifles are standards of quality that are made in western New York.
Havlick Snowshoes have changed ownership but they are resuming making a great product in nearby Mayfield. Peter Rickard Lures not only makes the lures popular with trappers and deer hunters, but has other related accessories.
A gift basked of seasonings and rubs from Iron Skillet makes a great addition to any kitchen. Dennis Dedek (www.ironskilletseasonings.com) makes over 30 products locally that provide great flavor for a variety of fish and game dishes. Check Joe’s Jerky on Route 5 in Sherrill for great jerky, a variety of other foods and rubs and marinades that are great with venison. Consider gift baskets with excellent New York State wines, cheese, maple syrup or similar food items.
These ideas only scratch the surface but they are designed to make you think that there is a great variety of gifts for every budget. But the main thing is that you put some thought into gift giving. Making it special and coming from you does not have to be expensive. Help make it a special holiday season for everyone and do not lose sight of the real meaning of the holidays.
Personal Preferences
I am often asked for suggestions for gift ideas or my preferences in outdoor gear. Based on my experiences and activities, here are some of my favorites that I might suggest for others.
Olympia RG850 flashlight. Everybody needs a good light and this is one of the best with its rugged, high intensity LEDs that produce 850 lumens. It has five modes, non-slip grip, USB re-chargeable port and is waterproof and impact resistant. [OlympiaProducts.com]
I put on a lot of miles during the hiking and hunting seasons and I need quality footwear. Wolverine boots are among the very best. My favorite (I have six pair) is the King Caribou III in Realtree camo and with lightweight rubber lugsoles. They provide great traction, arch support and are made with Gore-Tex and 800 grams of Thinsulate for cold weather hunting. [Wolverine.com]
Even outdoorsmen are increasingly reliant on electronic devices and there is always the problem of running out of power in remote locations. For camping, travelling, etc. the answer can be the Solar Pad 3000. The compact lightweight (8.7 oz) solar panel charges at camp, in car window, etc. and stores the energy for charging your electronic devices.  [SecurProducts.com]
Quality socks are essential for comfort and warmth. Merino Compression socks are made with merino wool and synthetics that keep you warm despite their minimal thickness. They wick away moisture and the snug fit around the calf is designed to improve blood circulation and reduce muscle strain.  [CEP Sportswear]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Deer season ends this weekend

This weekend is the end of both the northern zone and southern zone deer seasons. The season which started with much promise and anticipation six weeks ago is now down to a final few days with most of the hunters holding faint hopes and facing disappointment.
It is easy to get discouraged but there are enough examples of late season success to give everyone hope. Are there deer out there? Yes. Are they going to be easy to get? No. There are additional factors working against the hunter at the end of the season. The weather is colder. Deer have been pressured and are more wary. The rut is essentially over. There are far less hunters afield moving deer around.
We have to adjust if we want to be successful. Although some people will advise sitting in your usual tree stands for the end of the season, others see this as a waste of time. Deer have been pressured in many cases and will spend much of the day bedded in heavy cover. Your best bet is to watch food sources, especially those that adjoin areas of heavy cover.
Most of the deer, especially bucks, will feed during the night or just about dusk. You might consider watching in the heavy cover near food sources if you can. Hunt the fringes or thickets. Deer will frequently seek refuge in the most inhospitable areas such as tops of windfalls, patches of honeysuckle, multiflora rose or other nasty vegetation. If you have the stamina and the weather isn’t too extreme, you might consider staying in your stand all day. Even though the deer are unlikely to move much, they often get up and stir a bit at mid day when the weather is cold.
If you know that other hunters will be putting on a final push during the last weekend, consider the possible escape routes of deer and be on watch in these often thick areas. For most of the past couple weeks the hunting pressure has been light but in some cases there will be groups of hunters pushing the woods for the final opportunity of the season.
Consider still hunting the heavy cover where you think the bucks might be bedding. Although the current trend is to not disturb core or bedding areas, this is the last weekend so what do you have to lose? Deer will have all year to get over the fact of being disturbed and they will return to their old haunts soon enough when the season is over.
If you have several hunters, the best bet is to probably put some hunters on watch along the likely escape routes while others still hunt or slowly move through likely areas. Remember you want to nudge the deer towards the other hunters, not send them flying into the next zip code.
Dress warmly. You won’t be able to spend the entire day afield, much less sit still, if you are cold. Carry spare gloves, etc. so you won’t have to be moving or heading back to your vehicle when a deer finally does appear.
Good luck to everybody. Be safe and let us know of any interesting stories from the final weekend.
SHORT CASTS
Remember Landowner: At any time of year, but especially now with the end of hunting season coming and the onset of the holiday season it is appropriate to remember the landowners who let you use their property with some gift. Some small gift will show your appreciation for them letting you hunt or fish on their property. It also helps mark you as a considerate and responsible sportsman and may go a long way towards getting permission to hunt or fish there again next year.
Deer Hides Wanted: For the deer hunters who have been successful and are wondering what to do with the hide, Jim Ward of Oneida Trap Supply is again buying hides. Call Jim at 363-2913 for information and hours.
Holiday Shopping: I have always stressed shopping locally whenever possible. Local merchants and craftsmen are the ones who support our community and deserve your support, especially at this time of year. Shop at your local sport shop, marina archery shop, or gun shop. In many cases you can buy directly from the craftsmen or producers. There is great quality and variety available and gifts to fit every budget.
If you are looking for an ultra light pack canoe that you can carry into the backcountry with one hand consider the canoes produced by Lake Placid Boatworks. Slipstream Watercraft is another Adirondack company that manufactures lightweight canoes and kayaks. If you are looking for a workhouse canoe, consider the Marathon boat company which makes the successor to the famous Grumman aluminum canoe. For paddles for your kayak or pack canoe, check out Fox paddles which makes quality paddles in the southern tier.
For the fisherman in your family there is the famous Cortland fly rods and fly lines. If you are looking for walleye rods or the new innovation of rods for Center Spin steelhead fishing, you can’t go wrong with Bart’s Rods which are made locally. Bass and walleye fishermen are certain to be pleased with jigs made by Billy Alexander (www.billysmtolures.com) based on his tournament winning experience. Northern King lures are another New York product and have long been a favorite of Lake Ontario anglers.
Shawn Fox of Camden (www.foxscustomcalls.com) makes great hand crafted turkey, duck, goose and locator calls. Lou Pulverenti is a local call maker noted for his excellent diaphragm or slate and pencil turkey calls under the Boss Tom label. Gary Campanie of Oneida has won numerous national awards for his decorative turkey calls which are also effective working calls. Quaker Boy Company is based in western New York and makes a variety of waterfowl, deer and turkey calls as well as hunting accessories.
For gun cleaning accessories, one of the bright stories of business success is Otis Technology in Lyons Falls. Despite the move of some of their other firearms production to Alabama, Remington guns - including the iconic model 870 shotgun - are still made in Ilion. Crosman BB guns and their newer air rifles are standards of quality that are made in western New York.
Havlick Snowshoes have changed ownership but they are resuming making a great product in nearby Mayfield. Peter Rickard Lures not only makes the lures popular with trappers and deer hunters, but has other related accessories.
A gift basked of seasonings and rubs from Iron Skillet (www.ironskilletseasonings.com) makes a great addition to any kitchen. Dennis Dedek makes over 30 products locally that provide great flavor for a variety of fish and game dishes. Check Joe’s Jerky on Route 5 in Sherrill for great jerky, a variety of other foods and rubs and marinades that are great with venison. Consider gift baskets with excellent New York State wines, cheese, maple syrup or similar food items.
These ideas only scratch the surface but they are designed to make you think that there is a great variety of gifts for every budget. Help make it a special holiday season for everyone and do not lose sight of the real meaning of the holidays.
Make Your Opinions Known: There is still time to make comments on the Open Space Plan or the Adirondack Railroad. Among the Open Space Plans is a possibility to create a park from part of the former Seneca Army Depot to preserve military history and save the Seneca White Deer. Send comments to Open Space Conservation Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233. E-mail comments to LF.OpenSpacePlan@dec.ny.gov. Deadline is Dec. 17.
The Adirondack Railway Plan for operating railroad from Utica to Lake Placid would give tourists views of beautiful backcountry and provide access for sportsmen for camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, etc. in remote areas. Indicate your support for the Adirondack Railroad operating all the way to Lake Placid by sending an e-mail to: Nystravelcorridor@dot.ny.gov by Dec. 15.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cold weather doesn't dampen enthusiasm for southern zone deer opener

The Southern Zone deer season opened in frigid temperatures across most of the region. Temperatures in the teens were the rule in higher elevations of the southern tier on Saturday morning but that did not keep the legions of hunters home. However, later in the day it did send many of them home early even if they did not have success.
There is no accurate gauge on if the weather had any impact on the harvest or not. Judging by reports at processing plants like Phil Roe’s in Hamilton or some other deer cutting shops, there was an average amount of deer killed and brought in.
If you check with individual hunters, it naturally depends on whether or not they were successful. There were also reports from different local areas that indicate that the hunter activity and amount of shooting on nearby properties was lighter than normal. Friends say that areas near Vernon Center, west of Canastota and East Hamilton were much quieter than most opening weekends.
Typically on the days after opening weekend I get quite a few calls from people that I know asking how I did. Of course that is really a lead in to tell me that they were successful. This year I haven’t had very many so I’m assuming that my contacts weren’t as successful as other years.
But overall there were probably a significant number of bucks and does taken. In the next week or two we will probably have lots of individual tales to share with you. Ken Cronn continued his string of success with a buck taken near home. Blaine Cook was actually hunting at his home and took a four-point buck. Of course, earlier that day he was at his house warming up and looked down the field to see an eight point buck crossing by his tree stand.
Pumpkin Gang Trifecta
The three original members of the “Pumpkin Gang” (nicknamed for their orange hunting vests, not their body shapes!) hunt together throughout the bow season and through the gun season. Bob Washbon, Dick Cooper and Terry Yardley have hunted together for 40 years but last Saturday was the first time that they have all gotten bucks on the same day. On opening day all three of them got nice bucks in different spots within half an hour of each other.
It Only Takes a Few Seconds 
Sunday evening I was comparing results and hunting stories with my friend Bill Batdorf. As we discussed our opening weekend results, Bill mentioned that he had not seen many deer but missed a great opportunity on Sunday. He climbed up in a tree stand and was watching a hunter on nearby property and then turned the other way to see a nice buck bounding off into the woods. Apparently it was bedded down nearby and when Bill was looking the other way it jumped up and ran away. It only took a few seconds of looking away for a missed opportunity.
It Only Takes Seconds – Part II 
The few seconds that make the difference between success and frustration hit home for me earlier this week. Terry Yardley and I were hunting near Hamilton in frigid conditions on Tuesday. With temperatures in the teens and wind chill factor in single digits we decided to move and hunt towards each other around a small valley. We met along an area where last summer’s wind shear had knocked down many trees. After we talked there for several minutes I moved towards the blowdowns to see how the mess might affect next spring’s turkey hunting. Less than 30 yards away up sprang a big buck that had been bedded down in the tree tops all that time. In my surprise I hesitated and then by the time I had gotten my gun up the big buck bounded away through the tangle of trunks and limbs with only the sight of those big antlers visible!
Make Your Opinions Known
Several people have spoken to me about making their comments on the Open Space Plan or the Adirondack Railroad. At a recent presentation at the Oneida’s Club, I promised to make the addresses available again.
The Open Space Plans are the priorities or projects of the DEC to conserve a valuable resource, increase public access or create a new area. Two possible projects that are of interest to local people are the Seneca White Deer and the Keesler Boat Launch on Hinckley Reservoir.
Creating a park or Wildlife management Area out of part of the Seneca Army Depot would help preserve an important part of our military heritage, save the rare Seneca White Deer herd, and create a nature viewing area for the public. Tell the DEC that this is more important than creating another landfill!
The Keesler Boat Launch would provide a much needed larger boat launch on Hinckley Reservoir and be named after an important person who did much to publicize the outdoor world.
E-mail comments to LF.OpenSpacePlan@dec.ny.gov or send them to:
Open Space Conservation Plan
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233 
Deadline is Dec. 17.
The Adirondack Railway Plan would offer several options. At the recent hearing in Utica it was revealed that rehabilitating the tracks would cost less than the “superhighway” biking and hiking trail that many of the greenies want. It is possible to have hiking and biking access along the present track right-of-way and preserve the railroad.  An operating railroad from Utica to Lake Placid would give tourists access to beautiful backcountry that they would never see otherwise. It would make rail travel to Lake Placid possible and help tourism and the economy. It would provide access for sportsmen to be dropped off for camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, etc. in remote areas that are otherwise inaccessible.
Indicate your support for the Adirondack Railroad operating all the way to Lake Placid by sending an e-mail to: Nystravelcorridor@dot.ny.gov by Dec. 15.
Subject: Venison vs. Beef - The controversy ends
Note: This satire has made the rounds before but it is worth repeating with the peak of the deer season upon us.
Controversy has long raged about the relative quality and taste of venison and beef as gourmet foods. Some people say venison is tough, with a strong “wild” taste. Others insist venison’s flavor is delicate. An independent food research group was retained by the Venison Council to conduct a taste test to determine the truth of these conflicting assertions once and for all.
First, a Grade A Choice Holstein steer was chased into a swamp a mile and a half from a road and shot several times. After some of the entrails were removed, the carcass was dragged back over rocks and logs and through mud and dust to the road. It was then thrown into the back of a pickup truck and driven through rain and snow for 100 miles before being hung out in the sun for a day.
It was then lugged into a garage where it was skinned and rolled around on the floor for a while. Strict sanitary precautions were observed throughout the test, within the limitations of the butchering environment. For instance, dogs and cats were allowed to sniff and lick the steer carcass, but were chased away when they attempted to bite chunks out of it.
Next, a sheet of plywood left from last year’s butchering was set up in the basement on two saw horses. The pieces of dried blood, hair and fat left from last year were scraped off with a wire brush last used to clean out the grass stuck under the lawn mower.
The skinned carcass was then dragged down the steps into the basement where a half dozen inexperienced but enthusiastic and intoxicated men worked on it with meat saws, cleavers and dull knives. The result was 375 pounds of soup bones, four bushel baskets of meat scraps, and a couple of steaks that were an eighth of an inch thick on one edge and an inch and a half thick on the other.
The steaks were seared on a glowing red hot cast iron skillet to lock in the flavor. When the smoke cleared, rancid bacon grease was added, along with three pounds of onions, and the whole conglomeration was fried for two hours.
The meat was gently teased from the frying pan and served to three blindfolded taste panel volunteers. Every member of the panel thought it was venison. One volunteer even said it tasted exactly like the venison he has eaten in hunting camps for the past 27 years. The results of this scientific test conclusively show that there is no difference between the taste of beef and venison.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Southern zone deer season opens with high hopes

This coming Saturday, November 15, will see an amazing transformation. People who normally have to be dragged out of bed after hitting the snooze alarm several times will be up and about long before the alarm goes off. The person who is always misplacing glasses or is unable to find their keys will have all their clothing and equipment laid out in military precision. Those who complain or put off tasks because it is raining or too cold outside will not give a second thought to the frigid temperatures, rain or snow forecast for the day.
Hundreds of auto headlights will criss-cross the country roads of Madison, southern Oneida, Onondaga and Chenango counties in the pre-dawn darkness on Saturday morning. Sunrise will find orange-clad hunters sitting on stonewalls or in tree stands hunched against the chilly air of dawn as they scan the fields and forests for sight of a deer. All across the southern part of New York State hunters will set out in pursuit of the nation’s most popular big game animal; the whitetail deer.
For a lot of people it is “The” deer season. Opening day is still a big event for deer hunters but it is a far cry from what it used to be. Due to the popularity of bowhunting in recent years, a lot of the anticipation and excitement of opening day of regular firearms season is lost.
Now many hunters take to the woods on October 1 with their stands, compound bows, etc. and enjoy several weeks of seeing and trying to bag a deer. This year crossbows became a legal instrument to use at the end of the bowhunting season. And of course the total number of deer hunters has declined in recent years for a variety of reasons.
Unlike other season openers, which are mostly psychological or a welcome beginning of good times to come, the opening days of southern zone deer season are directly related to success. Statistics show that 55 percent of the bucks taken are shot on the first two days of the season. Thus if you hunt later in the season, your odds of getting a buck are reduced, although there will still be bucks around. Somebody recently put it in perspective when he said, “there will never be more bucks in the woods than there are on opening day.”
The past few years the season have opened on Saturday instead of the traditional Monday opener. This is designed to make it easier for people, especially youngsters, to be able to hunt on the opening of the season.
Easier hunting conditions, the familiarity of hunting small woodlots or farms instead of bigger woods and increased deer numbers all contribute to the immense popularity of southern zone hunting. Increased numbers of hunters afield also increase your chances of seeing deer since they often move deer from one area to another. The availability of Deer Management Permits which allow hunters to take an antlerless deer in specific units means that approximately one in five hunters will be successful in taking a deer during the season. Sixty percent of the state’s total deer harvest comes from the southern zone.
There has been considerable discussion about the prospects and number of deer in various areas. Generally there are increased numbers of deer in most areas, partially due to the easy winters in the southern tier the past few years. Many bowhunters, including my hunting partners Dick Cooper and Bob Washbon, have been seeing a lot of bucks in recent weeks.
Everyone has their favorite areas and tactics,but one of the methods that will probably still pay off if there are other hunters in the area is to be sitting on watch about mid day. Many hunters get cold, restless or head out to the truck or nearby diner for lunch. In the process they often move deer that they never see. Thus a large number of deer are shot by hunters on watch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
There are a lot of different opinions and favorite methods but it is probably true that if you are ever going to sit on watch much of the day, this should be the day. Hunters moving to and from their hunting spots, others in nearby areas still-hunting or driving are likely to cause deer to be on the move most of the day. If you have a good spot in likely cover or a funnel area the odds are that you will make yourself comfortable and hope someone else moves a deer towards you.
Of course regardless of where you hunt, your number one concern should be safety. Keep firm control of your gun at all times, do not carry it loaded unless you are actually hunting and only point at what you intend to shoot. Be certain of your target and what is beyond it. Wear some blaze orange since statistics show that most accidents involve people who weren’t wearing orange.
Finally, be sure and be an ethical sportsman. In addition to safety, you should be sure of your shot for quick, clean kills. Follow up every shot, even an apparent miss. Remember that even a fatal shot may not show any apparent effects. Follow even a bloodless trail for at least 200 yards. It is the mark of a responsible sportsman to make sure that every possible wounded animal is found.
Good luck to all hunters next week and in the remaining season, which ends December 7 in both northern and southern zone. Remember to enjoy the experience and don’t forget that any deer is a trophy. Even though you may not get one in the first few days, do not get discouraged. Although half of the bucks may be taken in the first couple days, less than 10 percent of the trophy bucks are taken then.
Be sure to let us know of any nice deer that you get or any interesting stories.
SHORT CASTS
Processing Venison: Although some people like to cut up and package their own venison, for those who do not have the facilities or skill, it is a good idea to go to a professional. Phil Roe of Hamilton is one of the best. He will not only do a great job of cutting your deer the way you want, he offers a variety of specialty services and products for your venison such as summer sausage, pepperoni, etc.
Deer Hides Wanted: For the deer hunters who have been successful and are wondering what to do with the hide, Jim Ward of Oneida Trap Supply is again buying hides. Call Jim at 363-2913 for information and hours.
Venison Donation: Again this year the Venison Donation Coalition is sponsoring free processing of any deer that you would like to donate to the food bank. You can also check the website www.VenisonDonation.com for a list of participating meat processors. You must call ahead for free processing of any deer you wish to donate.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Considerations for the ethical deer hunter

Ethics is defined as a system of right and wrong. In some cases these behaviors are defined by law. In most cases, however, they are simply a matter of conscience and generally accepted behavior.
When it comes to hunting, especially deer hunting, there are lots of questions of ethics. Some might involve so-called “canned hunts” where animals are confined. Others might involve baiting, which is illegal, or the use of food plots which some people consider to be akin to baiting even though they are legal.
Many of the questions that are not a legal issue but involve deeply held beliefs are about what weapons are used for shooting deer, what types of shots hunters take and following up on their shots. The law only says that rimfire cartridges (.22 caliber) may not be used for deer hunting. However there are a considerable number of people that opt for light calibers for deer hunting because the high velocity cartridges have a flat trajectory and the guns are light to carry.
Although it does not take a huge bullet to kill a deer, many hunters question the ethics of using some of the light calibers. They claim that these bullets are not effective and will not produce quick, clean kills. Without getting into the specifics of foot-pounds of energy and the characteristics of some these smaller caliber bullets, it is safe to say that an ethical hunter should be sure to use a gun that has enough knock-down power to kill quickly and cleanly.
Maybe even more important is the fact that the ethical hunter will not take shots that he or she is not sure of. Don’t shoot beyond the effective range of the gun. Don’t shoot beyond the range of your own ability. Don’t shoot at impossible angles or try difficult shots when the animal is moving at high speeds. Needlessly wounding an animal is showing lack of respect for your quarry and very likely letting that animal die a slow death. It also wastes valuable game if you can’t recover it.
A third closely related issue is following up every shot, including an apparent miss. The ethical hunter will make sure that an apparent miss really was a miss. If it was wounded game, the ethics demand that a hunter make every effort to recover it.
Follow up even an apparent miss or bloodless trail for at least 200 yards. Not all deer will drop quickly when shot, even in a vital organ. Many will not show any signs of being hit. Many years ago I shot a buck through the heart at close range and it turned and ran without showing any signs of being hit. There was no blood sign for 100 yards, yet I found the deer dead 200 yards away. Many hunters can tell of similar tales.
Learn the skills of following wounded game. Look for signs of blood, not only on the ground, but on brush or weeds that an animal may be passing through. Search in widening circles or use the grid method. Bow hunters are usually adept at this skill but all hunters should use this. Too often gun hunters expect to see an animal drop and when it does not, they assume that it was a miss.
With northern gun season getting into high swing and the southern zone season set to open in a little over a week, this becomes an important issue. Know your gun and what it is capable of and certainly know what you are capable of. Practice with your gun is not only a practical matter; it is a matter of ethics.
Don’t take foolish shots. When you do shoot and the deer runs away, make sure that it really was a miss. Make every effort to recover wounded game.
These are already key ethics of most hunters but they need to be standard behavior for all hunters. The success of your hunt, the image of the sport to outsiders and respect for a noble animal like the whitetail deer demand it.
SHORT CASTS
CWD IN Ohio and Pennsylvania: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has recently been detected in a deer in Ohio. New York State recently enacted stricter laws about the importation of deer from states or areas where CWD has been found.
CWD is a highly contagious, fatal disease that affects the brain, spine and nervous system. It can be sprad through a variety of ways as the prions live in these tissues and fluids.
Any deer imported must have these organs removed and essentially only the meat processed and packaged. The bigger problem involves bringing back a skull for mounting. Complete specific directions and regulations can be found on the DEC website – www.dec.ny.gov. Anyone planning on hunting in these sates or other areas where CWD is detected should check all of these regulations.
Emerald Ash Borer: The invasive species of Emerald Ash Borer has recently been detected near Peekskill in Westchester County and south of Binghamton in Broome County. There have been special regulations about the transfer of firewood, lumber, etc. to try and stop the spread of this destructive insect.
Essentially this will cause the death of ash trees, and the spread of this to many counties so far is not good news. But for the time being 98 percent of our forests are not yet affected. To familiarize yourself with the regulations and the issues, check out the DEC website – www.dec.ny.gov. You can also ask the DEC for assistance if you have ash tree on your property and a forester will come and give you advice.
Last of the Mohicans: Earlier this week Tuesday was a beautiful day to be afield, although not a great day for hunting. Warm dry weather made it too nice to stay home and work but the dry crunchy leaves in the woods made it impossible to still hunt and the warm weather meant that the deer were not moving on their own.
While I was hunting up in East Florence near 46 Corners, I met my old friend Bob Hamner and we had a good visit about a lot of things, mainly deer hunting. We agreed that the deer hunting in many ways is better than it ever was. There are many more deer around, even in the north woods beyond Camden and Florence.
But in many ways it has changed, and not always to our liking. Today there is much more emphasis on technical knowledge. Some of it can be good, but a lot of it such as the so called experts analyzing the rut and seem to make it so complicated that it discourages some people. There is also a growing obsession with antler size rather than the experience of hunting and a trend towards managing deer like beef cattle. A lot of the younger hunters think that unless you have 25 food plots and 30 different tree stands, you might as well stay home.
Many years ago I had a big gang that hunted that area with me and Bob had an even larger group that hunted out of his camp. We would usually see some of each other’s group, ask where they were hunting, and tell them we would be hunting a few miles away to not interfere with each other’s hunt. Now it seems that a lot of our friends have given up hunting or most days find other things to do. More often than not, Bob and I end up going hunting alone or with one other person. Both in numbers and in attitude, we sometimes feel like the last of the Mohicans.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Northern Zone deer season opens with high hopes


The first orange light appears on the southeastern horizon as the sun rises and its soft light filters through the barren branches of the trees along a hillside. A hunter snuggles into his jacket to protect against the early morning chill while watching the gray shadows along what he hopes will be a route for a whitetail buck. As the forest comes alive with the sound of birds, squirrels and other creatures, the anticipation, excitement and hope build.
The weather forecast for this weekend seems good, unlike the past week or last weekend. Cool clear weather will be a welcome change and make for a pleasant weekend in the woods or fields instead of the rain and chill that characterized the week of muzzleloading season.
Calendars have been marked for weeks. Hours of scouting resulting in plans have been made and revised. On Saturday thousands of red or orange clad hunters will be afield at daybreak eagerly watching for America’s number one big game animal – the whitetail deer.
The traditional Northern Zone deer season opener is still a magic moment, even though it has lost some of the significance since the advent of the popular bow hunting and muzzleloading seasons. It is still a big event for those who enjoy hunting the big woods and carrying on tradition.
For those who hunt the northern zone, there is a special feeling that can’t be described or easily put into words. Of course there is the eagerness and hope that we will be successful in bagging a deer but it is the special feeling of being in the woods, the challenge of trying to outwit one of nature’s noblest animals and a feeling that we have several weeks of fun and adventure ahead of us.
Opening day in the northern zone is more of a time of excitement and anticipation than it is a time of increased success. Unlike the southern zone where over 40 percent of the bucks taken are shot on opening day, success throughout the northern zone is evenly spaced throughout the season. Thus the odds this weekend are no better but the excitement is greater. Nevertheless there never will be more deer in the woods than there will be this weekend.
The fact that northern woods have less deer per square mile, bigger territory and less hunters afield means that success is lower. But the challenge of hunting these wily animals, the excitement and the chance for a big buck keeps many hunters going. The tradition of deer camps or testing your skill and woodsmanship in the big woods is a magnet for many people regardless of success ratio.This does not mean that there is a deer behind every tree or that they will be easy to get. These are big woods and deer will use their many keen senses to avoid hunters. Your best bet is to find escape routes or funnels and let others move deer past you or hunt the popular food sources. There doesn’t seem to be many beechnuts or even apples in the north country this year but in areas of oak trees there is a good crop of acorns.
Of course many of us who hunt the northern zone do because we like to. There may be less deer than in many areas of the southern zone but we like the challenge and experience. Your odds of getting a deer in the northern zone are perhaps half of what they will be in the southern zone but most hunters like the big woods, the variety of wildlife they often see and the challenge of testing your skills as a hunter.
You feel like you are hunting because you typically have lots of area to try your favorite tactics. If the deer are not in the location you anticipate you often have the room and ability to move elsewhere. You are not hemmed into a small patch, hoping that deer pass through, as in many areas of the southern zone. A part of the appeal of northern zone hunting is the ability to look into a patch of woods and not see out the other side!
Hunters have their own favorite methods of hunting including sitting on watch, driving or still-hunting. One thing you should definitely not do is wander aimlessly through the woods or fields, expecting a deer to pop up in front of you and stand there.
Remember that deer have great senses of smell, hearing, and sight and they will easily detect and avoid anybody just out for a stroll.
Sitting on watch may be more productive this weekend because there will be more hunters than normal in some areas and they may move deer around. Normally early morning or just before sunset are the periods when deer are on the move. Keep in mind that most big bucks are nocturnal by nature.
Since there are fewer hunters these days and consequently smaller groups of hunters, many opt for having some hunters sitting a likely spots while one or two others still hunt towards them. The key is to move slowly and have the watchers at likely escape routes or funnels. Consider wind direction when placing watchers or planning the route of the hunters on the move.
Of course safety should be a concern in any method we use. Be sure of your target and beyond. Always treat every gun as if it is loaded, and be certain to keep it under control. Unload your gun while climbing tree stands, stone walls, etc. Wear orange or red for your own safety. Remember that blaze orange is most visible, especially in periods of low light.
Good luck to everyone. Remember that any buck is a trophy, regardless of size. And even if you don’t have any action on opening weekend, keep in mind that it is a long season for a reason. Enjoy the experience because the season will be over before you know it.
SHORT CASTS
Deer Hides Wanted: This weekend with the opening of Northern Zone Season should see a lot of deer harvested. For the deer hunters who have been successful and are wondering what to do with the hide, Jim Ward of Oneida Trap Supply is again buying hides. Call Jim at 363-2913 for information and hours.
Adirondack Railroad Comments: The DEC and DOT have announced that they will be holding public hearings and accepting comment on the future of the Adirondack Railroad and the travel corridor. As reported recently, there are some of the extremists who want to tear up the track and make a “super highway” trail for hikers and bikers. The cost of this would be more than the cost of rehabilitating the tracks.
Make your opinions known by attending the meeting next Tuesday, October 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the State Office Building in Utica. You can also send e-mail to Nystravelcorridor@dot.ny.gov until December 15. Don’t let some of the wealthy elitists keep the average tourist or sportsman out of much of the Adirondacks by replacing the tracks with an expensive hiking trail that won’t get much usage.
Adirondack Outdoors: The fall issue of Adirondack Outdoors features a trophy buck on the cover and that is no accident. The special hunting edition has lots of articles on deer hunting, including some important tips that can be used anywhere. One feature article focuses on local hunting legend, Jim Massett, and his traditional methods of hunting.
There are also articles on fall fishing, hiking, photography and paddling. This publication is now available at many major newsstands throughout the area or you can check out the digital edition and other information at www.adirondackoutdoorsmagazine.com. Meanwhile complimentary copies are available at Hanifin Tires & Service Center and at Sweet Temptations Café.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur Harvesters of Central NY will hold a work day on Sunday, October 26 to start repairs on the clubhouse. The next regular meeting will be November 13 at the clubhouse with food served at 5 p.m. and meeting at 6 p.m. There are still raffle tickets left for the bear hunt so call 682-2050 if you need tickets.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fourth annual youth goose hunt a success


The Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Oneida County, Region 6 Environmental Conservation Officers, National Wild Turkey Federation, Oneida County Sherriff’s Dept. and the NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame, as well as some interested sportsmen, recently teamed up to hold the fourth Annual Youth Goose Hunt. There was a total of 24 youths signed up from Herkimer, Oneida and Madison Counties to participate in this year’s hunt.
The 24 youths and their parents attended a Safety Day at the Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls where safety and regulations presentation was given by ECO Steve Lakeman on goose hunting. Lakeman also put on a presentation on setting up decoys in the field.
That afternoon, each youth was set up in a lay down blind and shot at clay targets to get the sensation of what hunting would be like the following day. This was under the instruction of ECO Mike Dangler, a certified Firearms Instructor for ECOs.
Each youth group was partnered up with the ECOs and mentors from their area. They discussed their equipment that they had and what they might need and each youth hunter was registered with their HIP number.
The next morning the ECOs and mentors took the 24 youths out goose hunting. Each group had at least three youths and four mentors. A total of seven groups took to the fields that morning to hunt Canada geese. All groups had flocks of geese come in to their decoys but some groups were better than others in getting the geese close enough to shoot at. A total of 103 geese were harvested that morning.
The Oneida County Federation and the Committee would like to give a big thank you to the New York Conservation Officer Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Gander Mountain of New Hartford for their donations for this year’s hunt. They would also like to give a big thank you to the ECOs and the sportsmen and women mentors that took the time out of their schedule to take a kid out hunting.
Thanks also go to the cooks for the event, Brian Day and Larry Chandler, and to the Cassetty Hollow Club members for the use of their club for Safety Day and the day of the hunt. It was a successful day in introducing youngsters to the sport of goose hunting.
Canoe & Kayak Storage
For a lot of people, next weekend represents the end of canoe and kayak trips. If you are getting ready to store your canoe or kayak for the winter there are some things you should keep in mind. Scott Locorini of Adirondack Exposure offers the following tips.
If at all possible, store them inside a building since ultraviolet light will cause the colors to fade. Canoes can be stored upside down hanging from the ceiling of a garage or shed since the gunwales or edges are the strongest part of the canoe. However kayaks should not be stored that way since they will take a permanent bend or “set.”
The strongest part of a kayak is the bow or the stern so ideally you should stand them on end inside the building. However, most of us do not have the luxury of a building with a high ceiling, etc. so the best way is to store them on the edge.
One way is to loop two straps through strong eye bolts on the side of the garage or shed and suspend the kayak. That way the bottom will be flush against the wall and the straps will be supporting the side, which is the stronger part.
Scott also suggests putting mothballs or fabric softener sheets inside the boat to keep rodents away and prevent them from damaging the outfitting, which could be costly. He also recommends putting 303 on the gaskets of the dry top and your dry suits.
It is also a good time to get odor out of paddling clothing or footwear. There are many commercial products but Scott says “Sink the Stink” works well to eliminate stubborn odors. Hunter Specialty Scent-Away clothes soap works well with washing clothing items.
If the ferrules on your paddles have been sticking, pull them apart and sand them with Emory paper. Wash off the dust, let them dry thoroughly and apply spray silicone so you will start off the next season with ease.
Throughout the winter months Scott will be operating a variety of paddling trips with camping or lodge accommodations in various locations in Florida or Costa Rica. Contact him at 315-335-1681 for more information.
SHORT CASTS
Finger Lakes: My wife and I closed out our camping for the season with a week in the Finger Lakes. This year we stayed at Cayuga Lake State Park, a very nice park at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls. Most of the days were very pleasant and we enjoyed visiting the wineries at harvest time, having lunch at vineyard restaurants, hiking at locations like Taughannock Falls and some fishing.
Unfortunately the bass fishing was slow. Despite its reputation, the fishing recently has been tough. A group of 12 from a bass club near Pittsburgh was spending several days there and they spent a lot of time and covered most of the 41 miles of lake with little to show for it. But bass fishing has been very tough all year from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks, the St. Lawrence River and tributaries of Lake Ontario. Some theories are that the cold spring meant that the bass never really schooled up and inhabited the areas they normally would.
Fishing for lake trout at the lower end of Cayuga Lake was better, at least for lake trout fishermen. Shore anglers fishing from Taughannock State Park were casting egg sacks or alewives off the Taughannock Bar and catching some nice lakers.
Rush TV Challenge: A couple years ago, John Lenox - one of the organizers of the NY Sportsmen Expo in Syracuse and owner of Rush TV Productions from Rochester - came up with the idea of a good-natured challenge. The crew of Rush TV would field of anglers and challenge a team of fishermen from the NYS Outdoor Writers’ Association (NYSOWA) for bragging rights.
As a side effect, the event would be filmed to publicize the area and it would be used to benefit charities. Last year the event was held on Lake Ontario out of Point Breeze and NYSOWA won. John and his team had a good time kidding us and saying that they would get revenge this year.
The 2014 Challenge was held last weekend in Cape Vincent and we fished the St. Lawrence River for walleye, pike and bass. The two boats were operated by captains Adam and Erik Swenson, two charter boat operators out of Cape Vincent. Things did not look good for the NYSOWA team much of the day and we knew that the Rush TV Boat had a slim edge.
But I didn’t lose faith since I had chosen two skilled anglers, Sue Bookhout and Mike Seymour, to be on my team. With 10 minutes to go Mike hooked a nice northern pike and five minutes after that Sue landed an even bigger one. NYSOWA wins again!
Most importantly we all had a good time, enjoyed a nice lunch at the Cape Vincent Park and learned more about the area. It is a great fishery and a beautiful area. Captain Erik Swenson, who is married to former local resident Julie Carmola, and his brother Adam operate very successful charter boats out of the Cape and fish for lake trout, northern pike, walleye, bass and muskie. Contact Erik at Lori-J Charters, PO Box 256, Cape Vincent, NY 13618.
We will have more information about Cape Vincent and its attractions and fishery later. But it was a fun and pleasant way to wrap up fishing adventures for the year.
VNSP Fall Hours: Vernon National Shooting Preserve announces its fall hours will be Tuesday noon to dusk, Wednesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Members have access all day, every day. They have re-set the stations to two traps per station. There will still be five stations for the Tower Shoot. Tower Shoot participants get exclusive pheasant preserve hunting the day following the Tower Shoot.