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The regular Canada goose season opened quietly on Nov. 15, the day before the opening day of shotgun deer season in Western New York.

Goose season dates are about the same as last year, but an important change has been made in the boundary along the southwest New York area. This year, the area south of the Thruway has been moved west and follows state route 98 south of Batavia.

This change opens hunting in the Darien area, where migrant geese have settled in heavy numbers in previous years.

Hunters who missed the early-season "nuisance" goose hunt in September and have not geared up for the hunt in a limited area of southwestern New York now must obtain a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number along with a current state hunting license and Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation stamp. Obtaining your 10-digit HIP number is simple. Call toll free 1-888-427-5447 (24 hours, any day) and answer a few basic questions about your waterfowl harvesting activity. You will immediately receive your number for the 1998-99 hunting year and be ready to hunt geese in the designated open areas, including all of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and parts of Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Steuben and Chemung counties.

Serious goose hunters enjoy the solitude of a goose season which begins during deer season. Early field reports indicate heavy numbers of birds and light hunting pressure. The southwest NYS goose season continues until Jan. 23, with hunters allowed a two-bird daily limit and four birds in possession. Shooting hours, as for all waterfowl, are from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset daily.

Deer data

The three big hunting times (opening Monday and Saturday and Thanksgiving morning) have passed and the quieter hunting times begin. Serious, day-long hunters who have either not seen the deer they want or passed up shots in search of a trophy now take the field until the shotgun finale on Dec. 8.

Pennsylvania rifle season opens statewide on Monday. Early archery reports into Harrisburg indicate better results in both size and numbers of deer come from the lower, farmed area than in the higher mountain areas, similar to reports from New York hunters.

Buffalo firefighter Rick Zarbo got a nice 8-pointer behind his home, but the main point of his harvest is a challenge he and his circle of firefighters have put forth for the past seven years. Zarbo will be donating most of his big buck to the Food Bank of WNY. His group has donated about 700 pounds of venison in past years and, with the harvest of heavy deer this year, should go well past an 800-pound total this year, Zarbo said. Hunters wishing to donate all or part of their kill can call the Food Bank for details (852-1305).

Norb Gregoire left his Hamburg home to hunt at Ashford on opening day and brought home what his sons dubbed his retirement buck. Gregoire, now 65, used his Ithaca Model 25, a shotgun he bought when he turned 16, to down the buck of his lifetime, a 4 1/2 -year-old, 9-pointer somewhere in the 130 class. His sons are having the head mounted as a Christmas/retirement gift.

Bob Repka of Lancaster took a massive 8-pointer in the North Java-Bliss area. This buck tipped the scale at 183 pounds and sported one of the largest antler-base diameters measured at the DEC check station at Holland.

Vince Merlin of Middleport got off to a colorful start with his first buck, a piebald 5-pointer he took at Hornell.

Canadian firearms

The National Instant Criminal background check system begins on firearms purchasers on Monday in the U.S. and Canada begins its first phase of the Firearms Act on Tuesday. Guns possessed on and after Tuesday will have to be registered with the Canadian Firearms Centre. After Jan. 1, 2001, residents will need a transport license to carry a gun in and out of Canada. The most recent report did not indicate regulations of U.S. citizens transporting guns into and out of Canada.

For updated information about the CFC, call 1-800-731-4000; visit their website:; or e-mail:

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