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Bill Hilts Jr: Chance encounters result in trophy harvests

Big game hunters are starting to look at the calendar, trying to figure out when they can get out again before the regular season closes on Dec. 11, especially with a pending winter storm on the horizon. If they can’t make it out between now and then, there is one last option – the muzzleloader and late archery season in the Southern Zone Dec. 12-20.

After earlier reports of harvest numbers being down following the first week of regular season action, it didn’t take long for deer numbers to catch up as expected. Compared with the 2015 take during this same point in time, after the first nine days the overall numbers in Region 9 were down just 2.2 percent from last year – after being down 11 percent following opening weekend.

While not fully analyzed for the entire state, deer harvest numbers overall appear to be about two percent behind last year’s progress. It makes sense that the reported buck take is up slightly from last year, especially since the Department of Environmental Conservation issued 15 percent fewer Deer Management Permits statewide in 2016. An overall decline in doe harvest would also be expected.

Larry Broad.

Larry Broad of West Seneca was hunting in Elma when he scored this 9-point buck just before sunset.

Big Erie County buck

There’s no question that some big bomber bucks have been taken so far this year and a few have been highlighted on The News Outdoor pages. One monster Erie County buck worthy of mention was taken by Larry Broad of West Seneca on Nov. 28 while hunting in Elma. It’s a true “buck of a lifetime” that will ultimately score in the 160-inch class. He had no prior knowledge of that particular buck in the area, never showing up on any trail cameras or chance encounters afield.

Sitting in a tree stand near an adjacent open field, Broad watched the 9-pointer step into that field with a doe by his side 250 yards away. With the sun starting to set, he knew that he had to close the distance quickly if he wanted to get a shot. He knew that he would be putting Scent Crusher to the test.

Scent Crusher, a new ozone scent elimination system, removed his odor and allowed him to get with 120 yards for a last minute shot. His shotgun slug found its mark and dropped the deer in its tracks. It field dressed out at 165 pounds – the biggest deer (rack-wise) of his life.

Chad Beyer buck

Chad Beyer of Tonawanda was fortunate in that he, too, connected on the biggest buck of his lifetime in early November. While hunting in the Cherry Creek area, Beyer arrowed a dandy 15-pointer with his crossbow just prior to the regular season. He was using a Mission MXB Crossbow and found the mark at 30 yards. The rack will score just over 150 inches,

This guy's buck

Chad Beyer had been aware this buck was patrolling an area of Cherry Creek.

weighing in around 150 pounds. Unlike Broad’s buck, Beyer knew this big boy was around – collecting over 100 trail camera pictures from July until the day he shot him in a Whitetail Institute food plot. It was an interesting set of antlers with three beams, the middle one standing at 8-3/4 inches.

Wyoming County Black Bear

Black bears have been expanding their range in New York. After the first two-thirds of the bear season in Region 9, 80 bears have been checked in so far. When one thinks of connecting with a bruin, they think of Steuben, Allegany and Cattaraugus counties in Western New York. For 20-year-old Ricky Gorczyca of Lackawanna, shooting a bear was the furthest thing from his mind when he was hunting on Nov. 27 in the Gainesville area of Wyoming County. That’s because they’ve never seen a bear on their property before. Ricky was in his tree stand hunting deer and it was around 4 p.m. when he called his father, Rick from Elma.

“Hey Dad, is bear season open?”

“Yes it is. Why are you asking?”

“Because there’s a bear about 90 yards away in the food plot!”

“Are you sure it’s not a coyote or something else?”

“Yes, I’m sure. It looks pretty big!”

Ricky took an 85-yard shot with this Savage .308 rifle at the chunky bruin and downed the brute – his first bear ever in an unlikely area. The animal weighed in at 180 pounds at Buck Stops Here in North Tonawanda, where the taxidermist will be performing a full body mount.


The Fishing Beat (Dec. 7)

Scattershot: Outdoors news & notes


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