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Rabbit Derby set to go Saturday

Rabbit hunters and hounds will be hopping down the bunny trail during the Fourth Annual Frank Privitere Memorial Rabbit Hunting Derby on Saturday.

Registered bunny hunters can work good briar and brush patches anywhere in Western New York that day and bring in entries for weigh-in at 5:30-6:30 p.m. at American Legion Post No. 63, 144 Kirby Avenue in Lackawanna.

A $20 entry fee includes dinner. Cash and trophy awards go to the top three rabbits taken that day. For complete details on this derby, check with Rick Giermata at 602-5017.

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Banquet board

The dead of winter becomes lively with outdoors organizations holding banquets and fundraisers in February, March and April.

For many groups these gatherings constitute the main source of revenue to cover costs of the many volunteer-driven programs and projects conducted to improve awareness and enhance outdoors resources.

Here are a few of the leading banquets for which to plan:

*Southtowns Walleye Association Harry A. Smith Installation Dinner/Dance, Lucarelli's Banquet Center, 1830 Abbott Road, Lackawanna, 7 p.m., Feb. 12. Call the office (649-8202), Herb Gluszak (627-0147), or Sue Guenther (827-8908) after 6 p.m.

*Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs Annual Banquet and Awards Dinner, Father Justin Knights of Columbus Hall, 2735 Union Road, Cheektowaga, March 5. Call Dan Tone (655-0975).

*Niagara County Federation of Conservation Clubs Awards Banquet, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 4487 Lake Avenue, Lockport, 5:30-9:30 p.m., March 19. Call Douglas Walck (282-0625).

*WNY Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Lucarelli's Banquet Center, 1830 Abbott Road, Lackawanna, 7 p.m., March 26. Call Len Bigaj (826-4178).

*Niagara Frontier Friends of NRA, Salvatore's Italian Gardens, Depew, April 2. Call 434-5224.

If your outdoors group has a fundraising/banquet gathering planned for this winter or early spring, e-mail details to: odrswill@gmail.com.

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Turkey tally time

Want to help put a head count on wild turkey toms, hens, jakes (young males), and jennies (young female turkeys)? The DEC has begun its Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey for 2011.

This survey, begun in 2005, helps to monitor trends in wild bird populations during the January to March period. DEC officials can better assess affects of snow and cold temperatures on turkeys, especially the young jakes and jennies.

Western New York has an abundant population of wild turkeys. Results of previous surveys show DEC Region 9 leads in turkey abundance. In 2010, Region 9 observers recorded 5,353 sightings, more than double the next closest -- (Region 4 the Capitol area) -- with 2,091 birds seen. Region 9 consists of Allegany, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Niagara, and Wyoming counties.

All observers with access to areas of New York State where wild turkeys can be seen can obtain a survey form and begin keeping records of sightings. For a printable, PDF version of the survey form and further instructions, go to: dec.ny.gov/animals/48756.html.

To review survey results for 2005-2010, go to: dec.ny.gov/animals/66526.html.

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Hunter safety stats

Hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSI) were higher than average in 2010. Hunter numbers declined last year, but the rate of incidents per 100,000 hunters is falling much faster than the reduced number of hunters.

Four fatalities statewide, three during big-game hunting season and two of the four self-inflicted deaths, were above the 3.2 five-year average. Non-fatal injuries at 36 incidents also topped the 29.8 reported HRSIs averaged for the past five years.

Despite the slight increase in HRSI reports this past year, Sportsman Education programs, with more than 3,000 volunteers assisting, have reduced overall averages. Ken Baginski, DEC Region 9 Sportsmen Education Program coordinator, pointed out that during the 1960s the HRSI rate was 19 per 100,000 hunters. Since 2000, that rate has dropped to an average of 6.4 incidents per 100,000 hunters per year.

For complete stats and details on shooting incidents, go to dec.ny.gov/doc/wildlife_pdf/hrsiflyer2002.pdf.

e-mail: odrswill@gmail.com

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