Big game season opens Saturday
New York’s Southern Zone big game season for deer and bear opens on Saturday at sunrise. Safety should be number one on everyone’s check list when it comes to this popular season, a time frame that sees nearly a half-million hunters take to the fields and forests of the Empire State. Here are a few safety tips to consider:
• Always point your firearm in a safe direction and treat every gun as if it were loaded;
• Be sure of your target before taking the safety off and putting your finger on the trigger;
• Never shoot at sound or movement without first identifying the target; look beyond your intended target, too, making sure it’s safe.
• If you are hunting from a tree stand, unload your gun first before climbing up into the stand;
• Hunter orange is not mandatory, but it’s always a good idea to wear some when hunting. Stay safe out there!
Deer check on opening weekend
If you are traveling opening weekend along the Route 16 corridor, remember that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will be operating a deer and bear check station just north of the Village of Holland.
The station will operate from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. While it is not mandatory to stop in, it does help wildlife biologists collect important data in evaluating New York’s deer and bear populations. The check station is also a drop off location for "Hunters Helping the Hungry" coordinated by the Venison Donation Coalition. Deer may be dropped off any time before 6 p.m. either day.
If you can’t drop your deer off for donation purposes at the check station, there are 85 processors around the state that work with the non-profit organization. Check out the website at www.venisondonation.com for a processor in your county.
In a late announcement, Cabela’s, 2003 Walden Ave., Cheektowaga, has been named a deer and bear check for opening day of the Regular Southern Zone Big Game Season on Saturday. The station will be open from noon until 7 p.m. DEC staff will be on hand to collect data.
Report your harvest
If you are successful this hunting season, remember that hunters are required to report to DEC via phone or online within seven days. If you don’t report your harvest, you are in violation of Environmental Conservation Law. Call 1-866-GAME-RPT or visit www.dec.ny.gov. The direct link is https://decals.dec.ny.gov/DECALSCitizenWeb/citizenhome.htm. Cooperation allows the state to better manage wildlife populations in New York.
Pre-Ice Derby opens Saturday
Steve Hawkins at Captain Bob’s in Clarence sends word that the shop’s Pre-Ice Derby (especially this year) is from Saturday to Dec. 17. The contest will have four divisions – Steelhead, Brown Trout, Perch and Rudd. Trout will have a catch-and- release option.
To document your catch, measure the length and take a picture. You will also need a witness to the catch. Perch and rudd must be weighed in at the store. Entry fee is only $10 and the prize structure will offer 100 percent payback. Call 407-3021 for more information. The winter derby kicks off on Jan. 2, 2017.
Pennsylvania bear season could be epic
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are predicting an "epic" season of sorts for the state’s upcoming black bear seasons. Wildlife biologists estimate that the bruin population in the Keystone State has jumped to an estimated 20,000 animals.
The number of hunters buying bear licenses is on pace to break the previous record. And, red-oak acorn crop is huge this year. Everything is falling into place for hunters to break the 2011 record harvest of 4,350 bears. Archery season is currently underway, a five day hunt that closes on Friday, Nov. 18. The opening of the regular bear season kicks off on Nov. 19, closes on Sunday and reopens from Nov. 21-23. We’ll keep you posted.