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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 28, 2015

Northern Zone deer season opens with mixed results

Sunrise was bright and beautiful on Saturday morning, the opening day of the Northern Zone Deer Season. The day turned out to be a good day for weather, although the results in many areas were definitely not as high as the expectations. Sunday was a different story as a steady rain, often accompanied by high winds made it unpleasant or downright miserable to be afield.
Generally the number of deer taken was not very high. Some hunters had success and there were some impressive bucks taken according to reports from various areas. This is not really surprising because statistics show that opening weekend success is about the same as other weekends in the Northern Zone. The number of deer shot in the north is usually evenly spread out through the entire season.
Sunday it was predictable that numbers would be down since the wet nasty weather made for tough hunting and a lot of hunters called it quits by mid day. Of course the deer do not have that option and some hunters found success by sticking it out. Bob Hamner told me that one of his hunting party was successful in bagging a nice 9-point buck early Sunday afternoon.
Most of the deer that I’ve heard about were taken on deer drives. This is also predictable since Sunday was a miserable day to sit on watch and the deer were not moving on their own. Of course in the Northern Zone it is not a popular method to sit on watch because the deer are primarily nocturnal or on the move mainly in hours around dawn and dusk. And when you consider that in the north country a “deer run” can be one half-mile wide, you see that your odds are not great.
Some people hear the term “deer drives” and think it is unsportsmanlike or that deer do not have a chance. They may visualize the huge numbers of hunters over large areas that characterized Adirondack hunting a century ago. Today the number of participants is much smaller and the tactics have changed.
First of all you have to realize that it is difficult to drive cattle where you want them to go, much less deer. The term is more accurately called pushing or bumping where some hunters still hunt through a likely area and other hunters are posted at likely escape routes. But wind, vision and a deer’s particular preference will determine where they go. The hope is that deer will move in a careful fashion near where other hunters are posted, or quietly try to sneak back past the drivers.
Hunters with patience, a knowledge of local deer habits, and lots of time can be successful sitting on watch in the north woods. Scouting and trail cameras help narrow the odds by giving hunters a good idea of the best spots to watch. Keep in mind that deer are not always going to follow the same routes as they may do in the southern tier in areas of less cover.
My buddy Tom VanPelt uses his trail cameras to find out what bucks may frequent an area and what their common routes may be. Tom was laughing that his trail cam shows that the best time to see a big buck is about midnight until 2 a.m. Although he did see some pictures of nice bucks near Big Moose his camera also recorded the travels of several big bear and a moose.
Whatever your favorite methods are, remember that it is a long season and there are many good hunting days ahead. But don’t waste any good days watching TV when you could be out hunting. You are not going to get a buck while sitting in your living room and the season will slip by before you know it.
Bear Facts: Ken Cronn spent the opening weekend of the muzzleloader season hunting the area around Long Lake with some of his friends. They did not see many deer but on the Saturday opener Ken spotted a bear running through the woods. He took aim and fired and when the smoke had cleared he saw that he had hit the bear but it took off running. On the advice of one of his friends, they waited for a while before trying to find the bear. The trail became increasingly difficult to follow but with the aid of friends they were able to find the bear about a quarter of a mile away. The bear had to be bought across the lake by boat. Ken is planning on having a wall rug made from his first bear.
Close But: Bowhunters are the most serious of deer hunters. They pay great attention to the wind, go to great lengths to keep scent free, and place themselves in position for a close shot with their bow. Often they will see a good number of deer but they will be out of range or the shot will be blocked by branches, etc.
Such was the case for Terry Yardley earlier this week. Terry told me that he was hunting a spot other than his regular ones so he was positioned on the ground rather than in a tree stand. He was excited, yet frustrated because he had 16 deer parade past him yet was unable to get a shot!
Some of the deer were moving too rapidly to get a good shot while others passed or paused in areas where he could not get a clear shot at a vital area. One buck passed within three yards of him but he was unable to get in position for a shot! As he waited for the buck to pass by and get a shot, another buck appeared and spotted him, and Terry was unable to get a shot at either one.
Bowhunters have lots of these stories, but usually not as close or as many as Terry had in one day.
Deer–Car Collisions: This is the time of year when deer hunting gets underway with the opening of bowhunting in the southern zone and regular firearms in the northern zone. But it is also the time when deer are in the news in another less popular way – deer-car collisions.
There are close to 57,000 deer-car collisions in New York State annually and the majority of them occur in October and November. Not only is this a significant economic loss in automobile damage, it is a serious threat to human injury or even fatalities. Those of us who live in Central New York are aware of this threat. However there are ways we can minimize this threat.
Most deer travel in groups so when you see one, be alert for others that may follow. Many times the first one may be aware of you while it crosses the road, but the others rush to catch up and are more likely to dash heedlessly into the path of your car. If it appears that you are going to hit a deer, resist the urge to swerve. That could turn a potential property damage accident into a possible fatal rollover.
Whenever possible drive with your lights on high beam. Be especially alert in areas where deer are frequently seen. Certainly you should not be texting or some other asinine activity when you need to devote full attention to your driving.


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