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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deer season ends, holiday season begins

It was a typically ironic end to our deer season last Sunday. After driving some prime areas without any results in the morning, some of the gang called an early end to the season. Bob Washbon and I stuck it out until dark by watching some likely spots but saw absolutely nothing. However as we pulled out onto the road and headed home there were seven deer crossing the road ahead of us.

Although the special postseason archery and muzzleloading season runs until December 18 in most areas of the Southern Zone, hunter turnout is typically much lighter. Archery is especially tough considering the deer have been pressured and the weather is often nasty. Muzzleloader hunting is a little easier but on many days at this time of year it is really a challenge to keep your powder dry.

One person recently asked me why the DEC ends the season a week or two before Christmas. I replied that they are afraid that hunters aren’t smart enough to tell the difference, and they might end up shooting Santa’s reindeer. In reality there are both traditional and biological management reasons for setting the seasons roughly as they are. But in the interest of family harmony it is probably a good thing that the deer season ends so hunters can shift their attention to the holiday season.

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.

If you are looking for some last minute gifts or stocking stuffers for the hunter in your family, consider gloves. Gloves are something every hunter needs and you would be surprised at how many are lost in the course of the season. If we are lucky we lose an equal number of left and right gloves so we have pairs, even if they are mis-matched.

Knives are another gift that is always appreciated. All sizes and types are available and most hunters have several for various uses. Don’t buy a knife in camo pattern! Believe me, deer are not going to see the knife in your sheath or your pocket. I always figured that having a knife, wallet, radio, etc. in camo pattern was a plot by the manufacturers to make sure that you would never find it when you set it down. Thus they would sell more to replace the ones you lost.

People who are looking for some different type of gift should consider a membership in some organization such as the Ruffed Grouse Society, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited or some similar conservation group. You will not only be giving something different that should help increase their interest and skill, but you will be helping the organization as well.

Consider giving a living piece of the Adirondacks with the Adopt a Loon program. The recipient will have a specific loon and lake, complete with personal history, fact sheet about the common loon, a special edition loon poster and an 8x10 color photo. Call Toll Free: 1-888-749-LOON or order online at

At your holiday party or family get-together at Christmas consider some appetizers or snacks made from your fish and game harvest. Turkey poppers, venison cubes marinated and grilled or salmon smoked or cut in chunks and grilled make tasty snacks and can help some people get over their reservations about eating “wild” food.

Remember that the key to tasty venison is to carefully remove all fat or connective tissue before cooking. Avoid over-cooking or it will be tough and tasteless. Venison is dry anyway so it’s best to use moist cooking methods or stop before it reaches the desired degree of being done. Any meat will continue to cook for a few minutes after you remove it from the heat.
Of course the most important thing to remember is the real spirit of the season. Remember the less fortunate people in our community at Christmas, and throughout the year.

The 2012 deer season was unusual in several ways. A lot of the hunters saw a lot of deer, and there were many truly large bucks taken in both the northern and southern zones. Many hunters saw a lot of bucks but many of the veteran hunters had no luck in getting one.

For all the people who were not successful in getting a deer there is always a small consolation in not being alone. Statistically only about one in ten hunters get a buck and about one in five get a deer of some type when you figure in doe permits.

Besides as one of my hunting partners, Dick Cooper, says – “It’s only 285 days until next deer season.” Happy Holidays!

Short Casts

Wildlife Art Display: View, The Old Forge art center, is hosting a wildlife exhibition that focuses on wildlife art and photography. Among the artists and world famous photographers on exhibit are Jeanette Fournier, Bob Ripley, JC Parker and Eric Dresser. In addition, there are currently special displays featuring the photography of Don Andrews and the art of local artist Tom Yacovella. Winter hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Call 369-6411 for more information.

NYS Outdoorsman Hall of Fame seeks nominations: The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame (NYSOHOF) is seeking nominations for men and women to be considered for induction in 2013. The Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame is an organization that seeks to honor individuals for long service to the cause of conservation or enhancing outdoor sports including hunting, fishing, and trapping.

Individuals selected are honored at the annual banquet and have a permanent plaque on display at the NYSOHOF Museum at the Wildlife Sports Museum in Vail Mills. Nearly 300 individuals have been honored for their service and accomplishments in preserving our outdoor heritage.

Nomination forms and information may be obtained at the web site Completed forms and letters of recommendation should be sent to NYSOHOF, PO Box 605, Poland, NY 13461 or send via e-mail to Deadline is January 31, 2013.

Crossbow bill: The New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC) received word last week that the bill to authorize hunting with crossbow, A 10583A (aka the “Sweeney Bill”), has been delivered to the governor. This is the one that would only extend the current law by one year. It would restrict use of crossbows to the firearms season. The governor did not call for it earlier because if he signed it, it would have prevented the youth big game hunt from taking place.
According to the language in this bill that was put in by supporters of New York Bowhunters, Inc., the only junior hunter days for big game hunting the DEC may authorize during archery seasons are “junior archery days.”

NYSCC finds it unacceptable that this bill contains language repealing all but junior archery hunting on special days. They believe the governor should veto this bill and that another should be introduced for 2013 that would protect the youth hunt while allowing the use of crossbows. There is no reason why a big game youth hunt cannot continue to be held during the archery season.

The real issue at hand is having the crossbow be considered a legal hunting implement and having NYS DEC (not the politicians) determine where it can be used. You may contact the Governor’s office about A 10583A through his website, or by calling (518) 474-8390.

Steelhead Report: Steelhead fishing has been good on the Salmon River with anglers doing best with egg sacks or beads. Fly fishermen have had success with nymphs or egg patterns. Remember that the Upper Fly Zone is now closed to avoid disturbing the eagles that traditionally winter there along the river. For the latest reports on various waters check


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