A head count has yet to be set for trophy-class big-game animals area hunters have harvested this fall, but some sizeable heads and hat racks will be adorning walls around Western New York when taxidermists can complete these massive mounts.
An earlier column on a trip to Newfoundland about folks met along the way prompted moose hunters off to Canada and Maine to send along reports of their successes.
While moose hunters headed north to bag big bulls, Braden Colby, 14 of East Amherst went to Lockport for a hunt with dad, Scott, on family property during the Youth Big Game Hunt on Oct. 12 during that Columbus Day weekend event.
At 5 p.m. a big buck came into shooting range and Braden, on his first deer hunt, took a 60-yard shot and dropped the deer. Many hunters harvest an 8-point buck and some deer develop hefty sizes well before they sport 10 or more points, but Braden’s buck was exceptional.
This 8-pointer was estimated to be well above 300 pounds, a weight comparable with bucks taken in Kansas or Saskatchewan. When placed on a scale, the actual weight went to 285 pounds, nearly doubling the average weight of an 8-point buck typically taken in the area.
A year before Braden was born, Robert “Bob” Bennett of Getzville first applied for a moose license draw in Maine and was rejected for 14 years before finally obtaining a tag this fall with son, Trevor, 20.
On Oct. 13, the Bennett’s traveled to the Van Buren area north of Caribou, Maine on the New Brunswick border to hunt with Smoldering Creek Outfitters. Dad finally got a shot with his 7 MM Mag rifle on Oct. 15 and found his monster moose the next day.
“It was getting near the end of the rut and moose weren’t as easy to call in and see,” Bob said of his trophy take, a 14-point palmated rack with a 50-inch span.
Two weeks earlier, groups of Western New York hunters headed to Newfoundland and all but one moose tag was filled for a total of 11 hunters.
A North Tonawanda trio took a helicopter trip some 38 miles into Grey River Lodge to hunt with outfitter Tony Tuck. Carl Stiles, retired police chief, Richard Andres, retired police officer, and Barry Taft, retired postal worker, all filled tags with what Stiles called “great palmated bulls.” All three had their bulls by noon of the second day and saw more bulls after they had finished hunting.
For the record, Stiles took a 14-pointer with a 45-inch spread; Andres got a 12-pointer with a 36-inch spread. Taft had a 13-pointer with a 36-inch spread. Stiles praised Grey River Lodge for excellent accommodations and home-cooked meals while back in the bush.
A crew of eight hunters under the leadership of Al Johnson at Johnson’s Country Store in Lockport headed to Millertown, Newfoundland that same week and hunted at Hayward and Shirley White’s Lake Douglas Outfitters for outings that were enjoyable for all. But one hunter passed on smaller bulls and did not fill a tag. Johnson did not mention who did not bag a bull.
Along with Johnson, the crew consisted of Steve and Mike Kowalczyk, Ron and Steve Braunscheidel, Ron Brogan, Mike Lingman and Shawn Flack. Johnson rated Lake Douglas Outfitters as excellent for its guides, food and accommodations. Like the North Tonawanda trio, these crew members will be returning for another hat-rack hunt soon.