Predicting deer season harvests can be more iffy than the most scientifically based weather forecast.
Jim Snider, senior wildlife biologist for the Department of Environmental Conservation's Region 9, sees the coming gun seasons as varied but promising for bigger bucks.
"Bow hunters had a frustrating season earlier," Snider said. Buck signs varied and deer movement was not extensive. Processors began archery season with fewer deer being dropped off this year.
Deer are out there. But hunters have had fewer sightings so far. Snider considers weather conditions a factor.
After a relatively cool, wet summer, early fall days and nights consistently offered warmth with just the right amounts of rainfall.
"Deer fattened by lush fall growth were not moving to feed much during daylight hours," Snider said. "If we can get the right hunting conditions opening day, shotgun season could be good for (harvesting) big bucks."
Predictions of overcast skies and temperatures above freezing for the Monday opener will give shotgun hunters access to backwoods and distant hunting sites.
Whatever the weather, however the harvest, hunt safely.
Archers scout long before the Oct. 15 opening of bow season. Gun hunters do the same for finding good deer areas and sighting.
So far this season, bow hunters have had success at either harvests or at getting deer moving in the right direction for what could be a good shot during the gun season.
Northern Whitetail Scents takes honors for the biggest buck take during the archery season, a 276-pound 11-pointer that Batavia hunter Tom Kaczmarek took at midseason in Albion. To view this deer, go to: www.northernwhite.com.
Scents make sense throughout the deer season, and Ron Bice at Wildlife Research Center in Anoka, Minn., works on scent offerings for deer and other game at all times.
Bice has the grueling task of hunting in just about every state, and his product line includes soaps, deodorants, scents and scent dispersing devices that do exceptionally well on deer.
Three products have shown good results on Western New York hunts. A new WRC Ultimate Scrape dripper releases drops only during daylight hours. The liquid Active-Scrape works well in this dripper, but the addition of Trail's End formula No. 307 brings in bucks and does well after the rut has run.
For details on these and other WRC products, call (800) 655-7898 or go to: www.wildlife.com.
Archers have all kinds of drop-rest sights and camo-colored devices, but shooters report Easton's new ST AXIS a straight, quick-killing arrow.
"ST (slim technology) in this new C2 series carbon composite fiber arrows has improved penetration, power and accuracy for archers," said Jeff Pippard at Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda.
Hunters have Skyline Camo, a local company that produces camouflage and bright orange hunt clothing and gear. Skyline held its showroom grand opening on Sept. 25 at 3984 Burke Parkway, suite 2 in Blasdell, behind the McKinley Park Inn.
Skyline, with patterns for fall and winter outings, introduced its new Phantom line for this season. Check out all the new items at the store site or go to: www.skylinecamo.com.
Fortunate hunters who come home with more deer than they can store and use can donate excess harvests to processors through the Venison Donation Coalition and Western New York Food Bank, which joined the VDC last year.
Clem Eckert, coordinator of area meat donations for WNYFB, has added two new processors this year to the list of cooperating meat cutters in Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
The VDC has expanded to service nearly 50 of New York State's 62 counties, processing and distributing 111,000 pounds of venison statewide last season.
To locate the nearest venison processor or contribute tax-deductible funds to state or local programs, call VDC at (866) 862-3337 or go to: www.veniosndonation.com; or call WNYFB (852-1305) or see www.foodbankwny.org.