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Watershed moments for duck hunters

Duck season reopened today one-half hour before sunrise. Hunters have ideal conditions for the start of the second half of duck season in Western New York.

The upper Niagara River watershed not only provides anglers some great perch fishing, but hunters have a diverse variety of ducks that can be hunted from assigned blinds sites around Beaver Island State Park.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation conducts daily lottery drawings for the second half of waterfowl hunting season at the park. Drawings will be held in the Grand Island Community Center within the Nike Base Park at 3278 Whitehaven Road. Doors open daily at 5 a.m. and the drawings begin at 5:30 a.m. each day of the hunt, with one exception: The draw for Saturday will be held on Friday this week. A boat is required to be on site "at the ready" for use in retrieving or rescue as needed.

Again this season hunters have the option of a DEC Universal Access Blind located on East River Road at Spicer Creek Wildlife Management Area (north of the cemetery). Waterfowl hunting is restricted to this wooden Universal Blind structure only.

To enter lottery drawings, hunters must be present and show a valid NYS Small Game Hunting license with a signed duck stamp, proof of completion of a Waterfowl ID course, and proof of registration in the Harvest Information Program (HIP).

Duck season in the Western Zone of New York State continues to Jan. 9.

For more details on drawings, call the park office (773-3271) weekdays, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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Gun decision

An ongoing bear-hunting brouhaha is not the only contentious item growing in New Jersey, known as the Garden State.

While gun-ownership and permit issuance varies in Western New York counties, another guns-are-not-just-a-hunting issue met with some resolution last week.

According to a Fox News report, Brian Aitken, 27, residing in Hoboken, N.J., had returned from Colorado with guns legally purchased while living there.

Aitken, with no previous criminal record and after checking with New Jersey State Police, brought his two guns into the state. According to his lawyer, Aitken was transporting the handguns during a move from his parents' home in Mount Laurel to Hoboken when he was arrested for possession of these firearms in January 2009. He did not have a carry permit and his arrest led to a conviction and seven-year sentence for that gun possession.

His parents, relatives, and several gun-rights organizations appealed to state officials and on Monday Gov. Chris Christie commuted the rest of Aitken's sentence.

Aitken did not testify in his defense. His lawyer, Evan Nappen, commented that this is just another case of inconsistent gun-related laws and regulations varying between towns, municipalities, cities, and states when interpreting Second Amendment Rights and enacting laws. Nappen called it a wide patchwork of gun laws that result in decisions such as the Aiken case.

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Sportsmen Awareness Day

The Erie County Chapter of SCOPE will be providing bus transportation to Albany on Jan. 25 for the second annual Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day.

For details, check with chapter president Gerry Cumbo at 983-1629.

e-mail: odrswill@gmail.com

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