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Hamilton County Outdoors -- 04/30/2014 Northern Zone deer harvest went up By Dick Nelson

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - Updated: 2:40 PM

Unlike the disappointedly low Northern Zone bear kill, the 2013 deer harvest of 32,369 was up by 3,253 whitetails last season, with gun hunters taking the bulk of them (14,268) during the regular big game season.

Bow hunters arrowed another 2,340 and muzzleloader hunters shot 8,258 during their special season. The remaining 2,135 were taken with deer management assistance permits (DMAP). Of that total, 21,158 were bucks (19,538 adult, 1,620 fawns) and 11,211 doe (9,763 adult, 1,148 fawns).

Surprisingly, the Columbus Day Weekend Youth Deer Hunt was down by 136 from the previous year; 1,275 compared to 1,411 the year before.

Hamilton County hunters turned a total of 1,179 deer -- including 1,000 antlered bucks -- into steaks and chops and that was higher than the 2012 respective total of 1,022 and 867.

We can attribute that increase to one of two things: the deer population is larger or Hamilton County hunters are becoming better shots. Either way, Wells led the county with 238/188 followed by Indian Lake with 223/189. Long Lake was next with 197/169 followed by Lake Pleasant with 155/130; Arietta, 128/118; Hope, 67/56; Morehouse, 62/55; Benson, 56/47 and Inlet, 53/48.

In case you're wondering, St. Lawrence County led the region with 5,349 total (3,452 bucks).

Hunters dragged 1,384 from Futon County of which 904 were antlered bucks. They pulled 1,378 from Montgomery County, including 820 bucks.

Looking further south, the Southern Tier, as usual, accounted for most of the statewide total (208,325) with Chautauqua County leading the way. But it's the Catskill Region that draws most area hunters, and in that regard the total Catskill kill was 16,397 with Delaware County on top with 5,755; Sullivan County with 4,352; Ulster County 4,315; and Greene County 1,975.


It's going to be difficult for anyone who enjoys spending time in woods and on water to decide whether to spend this weekend hunting or fishing, what with area streams having been stocked with trout, the May 1 opener of New York's spring turkey hunting season and the walleye, pike, pickerel and tiger muskie season opening May 3.

Of course the decision will be a lot easier for the guys and gals that will have already filled their two turkey tags, but for anyone who hasn't it means choosing between rod and gun, at least until high noon. The spring turkey hunting season runs through May 31. The two-bird bag limit is restricted to one per day, so it is possible to kill a bird early and -- should you be so lucky - catch a five-fish limit of tasty walleye while they're still in the shallows.

Since many of these fish are still in the spawning stage, the first drop-off, hump, point, or weed edge outside a spawning tributary or shoal would be a good place to start. Just remember walleye need to be at least 15 inches long to keep.

Nightcrawlers and/or minnows suspended under a float generally work well for shore fishermen, while bottom bouncing a jig head for boaters.

Actually there is a variety of baits, lures and methods walleye fisherman use to catch these fish and just about everyone reading this is familiar with each of them. If not, I'm sure the local bait and tackle shop can set you up with everything you need.

As for turkey hunting, the five essentials for a successful hunt are scouting, patterning your shotgun, proper camo clothing (a color pattern that blends in with your background), sitting still and patience -- in that order.

The most enjoyable part of the spring turkey hunt is the interaction with the birds. There's no better feeling than watching a big gobbler strut into your call. It is always fascinating to watch a bird react to soft clucks and purrs, and to see a long-beard sneak through the woods, stop, and go into a full strut with a booming gobble.

Anti-hunters are of the opinion that we hunt for the kill, and a small number of hunters do. But shooting a gobbler isn't why I hunt them. I chase these long-spurred birds because I marvel at seeing a snowball-white head bobbing through the woods or across a field as it comes to my call. And, I've been known to let the bird come in, look for the hen and wander off, just for the gratification of watching a gobbler up close.


Much the same as it was during a wintry day in January, the April 19 turnout for the second "Shot Heard Round the United States" at the Pine Tree Rifle Club in Johnstown was nothing short of spectacular. Held as a symbolic protest against the NY SAFE Act, the event, organized by the Shooter's Committee on Political Education (SCOPE), called for every gun owner across the state to fire off at least one round of ammunition at noon.

According to club President Paul Catucci, the event drew more than 200 patriots, including 21st Congressional District Republican candidate Matt Doheny.


DEC Commissioner Joe Martens recently announced the application period for the 2014 Shooting Range Small Grants Program is now open. Managed in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Saratoga County, the grants are part of an effort to improve the operations of shooting ranges.

Funding comes from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, a federal excise tax on firearms and ammunition that is made available to state fish and wildlife agencies to conduct sportsman education activities. Of the $1.1 billion the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute this year New York's share is $28,467,902._

However, this is a matching grant program, so each successful applicant will be responsible for providing a match of at least 25 percent of the total project cost. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate five years of successful range operation and be willing to provide a publicly accessible place for hunters, shooters and archers to practice and improve their skills.

Depending on available funds and number of applications received, projects will be selected through a competitive grant process, with allocations ranging from $1,000 to $15,000.

To learn more about the goals and eligible projects within the program and to obtain the program guidelines and application packet, visit the Shooting Range Small Grants Program page on DEC's website at The application period will remain open to May 15. For more information regarding the program contact Cornell Cooperative Extension's Melissa Bailey at or (315) 793-2515.

Dropping anchor 'til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson with event or club news or to send a photograph email or Events should include the what, where, when and cost (if any). Photographs should include name of subject(s), town of residency and a brief description of the photo.


May 3: Walleye, northern pike, tiger muskie and pickerel opener.

May 20: Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation meeting, Fish House Fish and Game Club, 478 Fayville Rd., Providence, 7 p.m.


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