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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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Deer harvest numbers down slightly

The NYS DEC recently released its report on the deer harvest for the 2014 season. According to the figure, the total number of deer killed was 238,672 a decrease of 2 percent from the previous year’s total of 243,567. However it was a little bit above the five year average of 233,556.
The number of bucks taken was 108,604 which showed a drop of 5.3 percent from the 2014 total of 114,716. The five year average of bucks killed is 110,546. This is probably a more accurate reflection of the season since the total number includes does and young male and female deer taken on Deer Management Permits. The total number of permits issued in 2014 was up 3.3 percent from the previous year.
A lot of people were curious or waiting for the report on deer killed since so many hunters had complained about seeing much less deer. This is a legitimate concern but we must remember that there can be several factors influencing this. Seeing less deer does not necessarily mean that there are less deer in an area.
Secondly these totals may not reflect a trend or situation in our area or any specific area. These are totals for the state and that can take in a lot of highs and lows. Even within some of the Wildlife Management Units or individual townships there can be a big discrepancy in numbers. Whether we are talking about deer numbers, climate change or personal incomes, remember the old adage – “many a person has drowned in a stream that averaged two feet deep.”
For some of the more popular areas for areas hunters, these are the totals. WMU 6K north of Oneida Lake had 2,671 bucks taken and a total number of 5,232 deer killed. WMU 7M, the large area of Madison County surrounding Route 20, had 4,532 bucks taken and a total of 9,199 deer killed. WMU 7J, which runs west from Oneida along northern Madison County, had 3,197 bucks taken out of a total deer harvest of 8,381.
Even in Madison County the totals showed significant variation. The town of Brookfield had 315 bucks killed while Hamilton had 176 bucks killed and Georgetown had 148. The town of Lincoln harvested 80 bucks in contrast to Eaton’s 237. There are lots of factors influencing these totals including size of the county, the amount of public access, habitat, etc. in addition to deer populations or densities.
It is no surprise that Southern Zone totals far surpassed the northern zone totals. A bigger area with better habitat for deer that supports greater deer densities combined with easier hunting conditions yields the majority of deer harvest every year. Last season there was a total of 206,106 deer taken in the Southern Zone compared to 29,075 deer in the Northern Zone.
What did come as a surprise to me was the large percentage of bucks taken by bowhunters and muzzleloader hunters in each zone. In the Northern Zone there was a total of 16,727 bucks harvested. Approximately 22 percent of these were killed by either bow (893) or muzzleloader (2,961). In the Southern Zone there was a total of 90,702 bucks killed and of that number 22,584 were killed by bowhunters and 3,050 taken by muzzleloader in the post season hunt.
Statewide statistics show that 158,954 deer were taken by gun, 47,842 by bow, 24,420 by muzzleloader and 5,535 by crossbow. Statistics show that taking a doe on a DMP is far from a certain thing. In WMU 7M only 19 percent of DMP holders successfully took a doe. Other units showed similar results.
At some time in the future we will try to glean through the 25 pages of the reports for comparison of local units and areas harvest figures in 2014 to past years. We will try to add some local sportsmen’s observations and opinions on reasons for any changes.
Walleye Opener: Good weather marked the opening of the walleye and pike season on Oneida Lake last weekend. Eager anglers were out in force and some nice fish were taken. Fishing in the creeks and canals was slower than expected causing some discussion and varying opinions among anglers. But fishing in the shallow areas of the lake was very good and those anglers who moved and found the active fish were rewarded with some nice fish on their stringers.
Vernon Rod and Gun Club Chicken Barbeque: The Vernon Rod and Gun club will hold a chicken barbeque on Saturday, May 16, rain or shine. The event will be from noon until all are meals are gone. You can eat in or take out service is available. Menu includes half a roast barbequed chicken, coleslaw, salt potatoes, roll and dessert. Support youth and community activities and enjoy a delicious meal.
Turkey season opens: Turkey season opened last weekend to great weather and high expectations. But a lot of hunters ended up frustrated when they saw few birds and heard even fewer gobbling. The woods were fairly silent and there was not a lot of action among the hunters that I talked to.
Most hunters had trouble finding mature gobblers and of course bringing them into gun range is even more difficult. Some hunters did take jakes which were fairly sizable for year old birds. From a personal viewpoint my seasons started off with excitement as I worked a gobbler along a ridgetop at sunrise. However he ended up flying down over the ridge to join some hens on posted property so the rest of my morning was spent watching deer or a few hens that came into check out my decoys.
Preliminary reports from the Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs Youth Hunt from April 25 - 26 indicate that it was a great success. A lot of the youngsters got birds, and some of them were trophy size. All had a great time and learned a lot from the ECOs and other mentors who spent time taking the youngsters out on their special hunts. We will have the complete report soon. In the meantime, congratulations and thanks to all who were involved in this worthwhile cause.
Billy Alexander’s Jigs: Many area residents are aware that Bill Alexander of Sylvan Beach is a very successful fisherman. He is also a very successful fisherman in competitive bass tournaments. Sine 1981 when he started fishing competitively he has either won or finished in the top three in several Bassmaster tournaments.
But what many do not realize is that part of the secret to Bill’s success is the fact that he designs and makes his own jigs. Bill understands bass habitat, their feeding habits and other behavior and fine-tunes his lures to take advantage of this. He also believes in using quality components, whether there is money on the line, or just fishing for fun.
Bill also sells his successful line of jigs with a variety of styles. Check his web site The web site gives background, illustration and even tips for using the various types. Of course the name comes from “Made To Order” since all of the lures are individually poured, painted and tied with hair or other material. He has a lot of them, especially the more popular ones, in stock. But otherwise you may have to wait a little bit for customized jigs during the bass fishing season!
Check out the site for useful information and to see the amazing variety available. Support a local person. And at the same time your fishing success may increase.
St. Lawrence River Pike Season Opens: Earlier this week I was in touch with some of my friends who are guides up on the St. Lawrence River. Up there they are excited about the opening of pike season. Opening weekend was nothing special because the water was still cold. However this week the water temperature is 47 degrees and should be getting warmer.
This is approaching the temperature where pike start to spawn so they should be moving into the shallow water and staging off the mouths of bays and shallow creeks. They are looking forward to this weekend and the next two weeks when the action should be good. The suggestions for those who want the excitement of northern pike fishing include using artificial lures such as stickbaits, crankbaits, jigs or spinnerbaits.


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