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Outdoors notebook: Bear, not deer, is Kenmore teenager’s first-day trophy

Christopher Cairns, 14, of Kenmore got off to a good start on opening weekend of big-game hunting season.

Hunting with dad, David Cairns, on family property in Zoar Valley on Nov. 22, the first Sunday of the big-game season, Christopher took the same hunting blind in which his dad and grandfather hunted during past seasons. He was using a 12-gauge Ithaca Deerslayer shotgun his grandfather and dad had hunted with during previous seasons.

At 8 a.m. a doe came through for a clean shot at 65 yards. Dad, hunting nearby, set things up for a possible shot at a buck and at 11 a.m. a trophy appeared, not a buck but a 200-pound boar bear for a clear shot at 70 yards.

Dad said with pride and astonishment, “I’m 51 and I’ve hunted that property all my life without seeing a bear,” adding that Christopher’s trophy will be done in a half mount.

Harvest reporting

The Department of Environmental Conservation is receiving considerable criticism for its abrupt introduction of antlerless regulations for the start and end of the deer season in areas of Western New York this year, but accolades are in order for improvements in the required call-in procedure for reporting deer kills.

Launched this year, when a hunter’s data is unclear or inaccurate during a call, a prompt goes to a live data collector who helps to finish the harvest report. Previously, callers had to repeat information or restart by calling again.

Also, the report now includes antler-count information for both buck and doe harvests. Some doe deer have countable antlers. In recent years, the automated system simply identified the deer’s sex. Collection of antler counts should help in making antler-restriction decisions in the future.

Deer data

Quality Deer Management Association produced its “2013 Whitetail Report” rating all deer-hunting states and New York fared poorly overall. The reports assessed deer dynamics in general and are not critical indictments of state, federal or other agency management practices.

The report lists the major threat to hunting as a lack of land access for hunters, doubling other problems such as land/habitat changes, politics, loss of hunter numbers and diseases, all difficulties that hamper deer management.

The report surveyed key factors in rating each state and province’s open land, harvest numbers, trophy deer, hunting pressure and other factors. Pennsylvania ranked higher than New York on all counts. Even hunting pressure was higher in the Keystone State. New York ranked high in hunters per square mile at 15, but Pennsylvania logged 20 deer hunters in that category.

In the final count, New York ranked No. 1 as the worst state for deer hunting based on a high density of hunters, a 54 percent of yearling bucks harvested that year, the highest average snowfall in the nation and a “hostile political climate,” according to the report.

This extensive report summarizes factors statewide and nationally. Its contents include tips on everything from winterizing a chainsaw to planting food-plot perennials. To view the complete study, visit qdma.com/uploads/pdf/WR2013.pdf.

Keystone bear facts

Bear harvests in Pennsylvania are impressive this year. Following the four-day season last week, a total of 2,693 bruins were brought into check stations, 249 more than the 2014 count. The gun-season total does not include bears taken during early archery seasons.

Bears were reported in 54 counties and the top 10 by live weight all passed the 600-pound mark. Two bears tied for first place at 713 pounds.

Forestry workshop

Tree experts with the Department of Environmental Conservation Urban Forestry, WNY ReLeaf, NYS Urban Forestry Council and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County will present an Urban Forestry Workshop from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday in the Cheektowaga Emergency Services Training & Operations Center at 3359 Broadway.

The workshop welcomes professional arborists, landscapers, and forestry and tree enthusiasts interested in safety concerns for removing damaged ash trees and for planning future tree-planting programs.

A registration fee of $35 includes lunch. For registration details, check with DEC forester Patrick Marren at 851-7046.

email: odrswill@gmail.com