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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, October 21, 2015

High hopes for Northern Zone opener

The gray light of dawn starts to illuminate the shadows of the northern forests and creatures start to stir. A deer hunter waits at his chosen spot, hoping to spot a deer moving in the early morning light. This will be the scene all across the northern zone as hunters clad in orange or red and black plaid jackets will be afield for the northern zone deer season opener. For many it is the anticipation of a yearly drama, much like the feeling we experienced as kids on Christmas morning.
The weather forecast for this weekend seems good, unlike 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 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.
Despite the fact that northern woods have less deer per square mile, bigger territory and lower success rate it is a special time for many of us. 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.
These are big woods and deer will use their many keen senses to avoid hunters. Just because you don’t see deer or fresh sign does not mean that there are no deer around. A deer will have a range of one square mile or more and they may be in the high country now. Deer may have also changed their habits or areas due to hunter activity.
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 is hunting is the ability to look into a patch of woods and not see out the other side!
Sitting on watch may be more productive in certain locations 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. When moved, deer will normally quickly cover about 200 yards then veer left or right and often circle back behind the hunter.
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.
Woman Rescued by Drift Boat Guide:  Many people read about the dramatic rescue of a woman angler from the Oswego River a week ago, but in case you missed it the story is worth re-telling. A female angler fell into the Oswego River in downtown Oswego and was being swept downstream. She was on the verge of being pulled by the strong current into the river’s deep, dangerous section behind the Brookfield powerhouse.
Guide Chris Mulpagano, a former local resident, who operates a charter service on the Oswego and Salmon Rivers was fishing with some clients and saw her being swept downstream. Chris maneuvered his drift boat into position and they grabbed the woman with the net. They were able to pull her over to shallow water near the wall where she was able to stand up.
The woman was extremely grateful to say the least. Other anglers saw and videotaped the incident. Later Chris and his clients were rewarded with a pretty good day of salmon fishing.
Deer Hides Wanted:  The bow season has been open for three weeks and the northern zone rifle season opens next Saturday so there should be an increasing number 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.


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