Scattershot: Outdoors news & notes - The Buffalo News
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Scattershot: Outdoors news & notes

Opening Weekend Deer Check on Par with 2015

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

With apologies to Charles Dickens, New York big game hunters prepared for the opening day of the regular season in the Southern Zone in near-record-high temperatures on Thursday and Friday preceding the kick-off. Even the morning of opening day offered mild temperatures. Reports of little deer or bear movement seemed to coincide with the “best” weather. Before the first day of the regular season was over, winter storm Argos was blowing in much colder temperatures, rain and snow. It went from one extreme to the other in a matter of hours, offering up some of the worst conditions that opening weekend hunters had ever experienced by Sunday.

One gauge of hunting success during opening weekend is the Deer Check Stations operated by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). According to Ken Baginski, Region 9 Wildlife Manager for DEC, a total of 58 deer were checked at the Holland site along Route 16 on Saturday; 76 deer were checked on Sunday. When you factor in the three deer checked at Cabela’s in Cheektowaga, check stations were up one from the 136 checked in 2015. Based on early deer reports across the state, harvest numbers are down roughly 13 percent so far.

As far as black bear numbers go, a total of 12 were taken opening weekend and recorded at the check stations. There have also been 40 documented for Region 9 during the early archery season. Statewide, bruin numbers are down 20 percent so far this fall.

Meanwhile, across the border in Pennsylvania during its four-day firearms season for black bear, Keystone State hunters are halfway home. After two days, 1,893 black bears have been checked in so far. The season ends on Nov. 23 and we’ll give you a report next week as to the estimated harvest. The state’s regular deer season opens on Nov. 28.

DEC Looks for Feedback on Wildlife Regulations

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is inviting hunters, as well as the general public, to review and comment on several proposals that are currently under consideration for 2017. The five issues currently being discussed include:

• Prohibiting feeding wild whitetailed deer.
• Issuing permits for 4-Poster Tickicide TM and 4-Poster TM deer treatment devices.
• Strengthening measures to protect New York deer from Chronic Wasting Disease.
• Eliminating the special permit for hunting and trapping bobcats in the Harvest Expansion Area.
• Closing the season for take of diamondback terrapin.

These are not formal proposals currently. If you would like to see complete details on these issues and provide feedback, go to http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/104785.html.

Learn About Bears at Next TU Meeting 

Dr. Jim Budny will be giving a talk on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at the next WNY Chapter of Trout Unlimited meeting entitled “Bears: What Every Trout Bum Should Know.” With the increase in black bear numbers in the state, he will give some important advice should you encounter a bruin on the water. The meeting will be held at the Donovan American Legion Post, 3210 Genesee St., Cheektowaga, starting at 7:30 p.m. Fly-tying starts at 6 p.m. Bring your own black or brown thread for tying the Egg Sucking Leech. The evening activities are open to the public. However, there is a membership drive going on and the group now offers family memberships. It would make a great Christmas gift!

For the Birds!

There will be two birding events this weekend courtesy of Buffalo Audubon, a perfect opportunity to learn more about the Niagara River Corridor and its designation as an Important Bird Area. On Friday, Nov. 25, Naturalist Tom Kerr will be leading a hike through Buckhorn Island State Park on Grand Island from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The focus will be on migrating waterfowl through the area. Meet at the Woods Creek Canoe Launch parking lot.

Saturday, Nov. 26, Kerr will lead a morning walk on Goat Island in Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara Falls from 10 a.m. to noon. This is an excellent vantage point to see winter gulls and waterfowl, especially along the rapids. Meet in parking lot No. 3. Preregistration is required for both sessions by calling 585-457-3228. The group’s website is www.buffaloaudubon.org.

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