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Kids supply helping hand during hunt for big game

Big-game hunting reports -- and the big-time family bonding that goes along with these hunts -- keep coming in from earlier seasons.

Hank Sontag, 62, a life-long hunter, takes his younger sons on hunts at Persia in Cattaraugus County each year, and the trio has established a family tradition for taking deer on Thanksgiving morning.

Last year, sons Kurt, 18, and Garrett, 17, collectively took what dad called a "Devil Deer," a mature, full-sized buck that sported only spike antlers.

"Over the years I've probably taken 25 percent of my deer on Thanksgiving morning, and that Devil Deer was a shoot with dad," Sontag said of the buck that was bigger than most 10-point bucks.

"This year we broke the tradition, taking a seven-pointer the day before Thanksgiving," dad said.

Sontag worked to make sure his kids got into the hunt. Peter Freyburger of Pendleton strove to make sure his dad, Joe Freyburger, 76, of the Town of Tonawanda, took the top moose while on a hunt in Manitoba, 525 miles north of Winnipeg.

Son Peter scored early on a bull with a 34-inch spread, but it was getting dad Joe into position to finally get a clean, clear shot that offered the real story. Peter wrote: "Being with your nearly 77-year-old father when he downs a 54-inch bull moose -- priceless!"

In Franklinville, some family land took on trophy-territory status for Alan Hoerl on opening weekend of the 2006 gun season for whitetail. Hunting at the Kowalski family camp on land the grandfather purchased in 1956, Hoerl, using a muzzleloader, shot a 10-point buck that dressed out at 213 pounds. His buck green scored at about 148.

Ric Kowalski had taken a 10-pointer earlier, on opening day, at the family camp.

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Wildlife rehab test

A Wildlife Rehabilitator Exam, offered only once a year, will be given April 13.

Department of Environmental Conservation officials encourage applicants, 16 years and older, to work with a mentor as an assistant before taking the test.

For details, write to: NYSDEC Special Licenses Unit, 625 Broadway, Albany, N.Y. 12233-1016.

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Youth hunt

Kids ages 12 to 15 will be able to go on a special Youth Hunt, set for the last full weekend before the opening of regular pheasant hunting season this coming fall.

A proposal to adopt this youth hunt passed earlier this month.

Youths possessing a small-game license, and accompanied by a licensed adult hunter, can take a daily limit of two birds.

e-mail: willodrs@gmail.com

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