Hunters saw fewer deer but took some trophy-sized bucks while bear hunters saw and harvested bigger bruins this past season.
Official scorings of deer, bear and assorted other big-game animals require a 60-day curing period before scores of “green” measurements can be entered as certified, record-book entries.
Niagara Outdoors in North Tonawanda sets aside the first or second Saturday 60 days after the last Western New York big-game season closing as a time to measure those trophies.
New York State Big Buck Club official scorers Pete Labushesky, Don Haseley and Dave Muir will be on hand to measure any and all critters brought in on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Labushesky noted that his number of green scorings is down considerably this past season. He looks forward to seeing better results on Saturday.
Snack food and refreshments will be provided. For more details on this gathering, call 695-5873 or visit niagaraoutdoors.com.
If you cannot make it to this measuring session, the Big Buck trio will hold another gathering at S&S Taxidermy in Springville on March 26.
DEC deer statistics have harvest numbers for the past season. They’re down some 11 percent in the Southern Zone that includes Western New York and about 13 percent in the northern climes.
Many trophy takers saw and took fewer deer, heard fewer shots opening and Thanksgiving day and reported less venison in their freezers.
Part of that could be attributed to weather conditions. At first, some hunters considered the opening of rifle hunting in new areas might have reduced the shot count. But hunters in Genesee County and Southern Tier areas allowing rifles saw about the same drop-off in numbers as shotgun-only areas. Deer just did not seem to be moving around during the warm archery and early gun season.
Our nonscientific stats come from the setting of three trail cameras behind our digs, which include part of a 500-acre swamp area that serves as a security zone for whitetail deer.
As with all other hunters, we heard fewer shots opening day, and frames on the cameras were void of even the odd doe and fawn as soon as the gun season started in the area. We think deer just headed to the swamps and high hardwoods.
That dearth of deer presence continued for more than a month, and then it happened. Late in January and in early February, deer started showing in frames. A couple bucks appeared along with does and fawns. Curiously, not only are we seeing more and more bucks, but all were sporting both sides of their antlers that should be dropping now.
Hunters reported finding freshly shed antlers with remnants of hair, blood and tissue before Ash Wednesday. But our camera frames from the first week in February captured views of as many as five bucks with headgear intact, including an 8- and a 9-pointer no hunters saw during the gun season. Deer harvests might be better next season.
Cabin fever shoot
Bow shooters have indoor shoots and leagues, but the long winter can slow outdoors archery activity until spring warmth. Double T Archery at 1120 North French Road in Amherst can warm up things for shooters of long bows and recurve gear with its 12th annual Cabin Fever Shoot this coming weekend.
Shooting starts at 8 a.m. each morning, with a venison lunch on Saturday and a championship shoot-off held after lunch. On Sunday, a camper’s breakfast will be served starting at 9:30 a.m. Shooters can warm up between rounds next to a roaring bonfire.
Participants receive collectible buttons and the gathering offers a chance to buy, sell or trade archery gear. Hearty campers can arrange for free overnight accommodations. For details on the shoot and camping options, call Mark Moslow at 545-8636.
Cornell Cooperative Extension presents its 24th annual Rural Landowner Workshop at Pioneer Central School in Yorkshire on March 5. Landowners can learn more about measuring woodlots, managing woodland pools, water quality, wildlife watching and care, and land stewardship in general.
A $30 fee includes lunch, instruction and handouts. The early-bird registration deadline is set for Friday. For more details, call the Allegany County office at (585) 268-7644.