Archers and gun hunters brought in some big bruins and whitetails during the start of big-game seasons this year.
Jim Snider, recently retired senior wildlife biologist, had time to get out with his bow this archery season and bring home a bruiser of a buck taken near home in North Collins.
Dale John, deer farm manager in Brant, reported Snider's buck weighed in at 199 pounds after field dressing. At age 3 1/2 years, the eight-pointer has an 18-inch inside spread. John green scores its antlers at about 132-plus.
Snider, always a modest, low-key guy, hunted during the first day of deer-check station work. His gun-season successes will have to be part of a later report.
Dave Miller gets nice deer, seven typical or non-typical Pope and Young bucks with his bow among his 45 kills so far. But this season he did some spectacular scoring with a big buck taken near home in Clarence.
This big boy scores both as a 13-point typical and a 16-point non-typical, depending on how the score sequence goes on its antler configuration, which could dry score to somewhere in the high 170s.
Ed Radder of North Tonawanda, a steady hand with a bow when aiming at deer, had a shaky situation this past archery season. "This big bear had my heart racing," he wrote of his bow hunt in Belfast with 15-year-old son, Justin.
A clear shot at 22 yards resulted in a solid hit, but it became too dark for tracking that evening. The next morning, Bob Hageman of Deer Search arrived with a tracking dog and found the bear within 80 yards of the hunt site. Hageman said Radder wisely chose not to track the bear, despite the solid hit and apparent quick demise.
Lakeview residents Mike Brehm and stepson Cory Roeder needed only until 8:15 a.m. of opening Saturday to fill their buck tags, plus one doe.
Cory took a big doe at 7:30 a.m. and shortly after dad called him to say he shot a nine-point buck. A few minutes later, a bigger buck passed dad and headed toward Cory. That deer will probably score just over 140, Brehm said. "Cory is fairly new to hunting," he wrote, but this season should add some incentive.
>Deer check stats
Things went well at the Holland DEC deer check station, with the better numbers showing on Sunday.
"We expected to see more deer come in on Sunday with snow falling in the Southern Tier," Tim Spierto, senior wildlife biologist in charge of deer management, said after a relatively slow start on Saturday afternoon and evening.
Saturday's count went to just 72, but Sunday saw numbers increase to 222, which Spierto pegs as at or just above average for the opener.
"Deer numbers should be up slightly, and harvest numbers at the start show it," he said.
Reduced permit numbers resulted in 37 deer taken at Allegany State Park during the opener, slightly below last year's take. Chautauqua County meat lockers on opening weekend drew 100 carcasses, above the usual count at the start of the season.
Standing at the check station Saturday afternoon and early evening became more of a lesson in deer biology than a trophy-take report.
With Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) found in parts of New York State and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) moving north into areas of the state, DEC deer managers have to perform testing tasks while handling deer carcasses.
Ironically, the first deer that went into a relatively new style of body bag was a nice 2 1/2 -year-old eight-point buck that showed signs of rabies rather than CWD or EHD symptoms.
Dr. Wayne Gall, doing Board of Health studies on ticks and other insect life on deer, headed a crew of workers who gathered samples of these critters from deer brought into the station. Gall's work does not include rabies testing; that animal was bagged for later lab tests.
Another nice eight-point buck was the first donation to the WNY Food Bank. A hunter from Eden brought in the healthy beast and said his wife "wanted a smaller deer for eating."
A four-pointer showed some sizable polyps on its chest. Spierto identified them as "cutaneous fibroma," a purely dermal condition that does not affect meat quality.
"Most deer have them and just shake them off, but some stick on the skin," said Garry Klock, a wildlife technician who arrived later on Saturday. Klock's son Jacob, 16, got his first deer that morning, a nice doe near home in Cuba.
Jerry Colosimo of Holland brought in a mature monster eight-pointer, which Gary Eckert aged at 2 1/2 years.
John Polley of Niagara Falls has taken many deer over the years, but his 4 1/2 -year-old nine-pointer was "the biggest deer I ever shot," he said while it was being checked.
Deer and bear are still great table fare and seasons for both continue until Dec. 9 for areas open to big-game hunting in Western New York.