Had the Adirondack Region harvest been anywhere near the 2003 record kill of 1,370 it would have established a new state record. But with only 84 bears taken during the early season (15 during bow hunting season, 35 during muzzleloader season) the Adirondack Range got off to a slow start, and pretty much remained that way right on through the regular gun season as only 246 others died of lead poisoning.
That brought the total region kill to 380, way short of the 606 taken the previous year. In 2012, early season bear hunters harvested 386 bruins, a substantial difference.
But as a wildlife biologist pointed out, the Adirondack bear harvest is a tale of two seasons. The mid-September through mid-October early season is strongly influenced by availability of soft mast such as apples, cherries and berries, and last year there was an abundance of each. Because of it, the bruins didn’t move around very much, and unless a hunter was sneaking around their bailiwick, the bears were safer than a hibernating woodchuck.
Here in Hamilton County hunters dragged 60 bruins out of the big woods with Long Lake leading the way – two during the early bow hunting season and two during the muzzleloading season. This was followed by Arietta and Wells with 11 each; Indian Lake 7; and Benson, Lake Pleasant and Morehouse with five each. The township of Hope rounded out the Hamilton County kill with four, all taken during the early hunt. Of the 60 total, eight were killed during the early hunt, Robin Hoods took one and Davy Crocketts put the muzzle on nine.
Of the other counties that make up the region, St. Lawrence was tops with 77, followed by Hamilton with 60; Lewis, 49; Herkimer, 31; Warren, 30; Clinton and Franklin 28 each; Essex, 22; Jefferson, 21; Saratoga 14; and hunters in Fulton and Oneida counties each tagging 10.
Since bear hunting is prohibited in Montgomery County no bruins were killed in that neck of the woods, at least not legally. On the other hand, 10 were killed in Fulton County with two during the early hunt (Bleecker and Johnstown) and two during the bow season (Stratford). In total kill, Bleecker accounted for three, as did Oppenheim. One was taken in Ephratah. In neighboring Schoharie and Otsego counties hunters took 17 and eight respectively.
If you are serious about shooting a bear this fall, you may want to think about hunting in Sullivan or Ulster counties. A quarter of the Southeastern area kill was taken from these two counties – 133 in Sullivan (49 with bow), 132 in Ulster (27 with bow). You can narrow your search down even further by looking for a spot in the towns of Rockland, Thompson and Forestburgh in Sullivan County and Denning, Shandaken and Wawarsing in Ulster County. Those townships gave up 120 bruins between them.
With a kill of 109 Delaware County is another hot spot, and with all the property the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has purchased and opened up for hunting during the last several years there is no shortage of land to hunt. Just look for the Blue/White DEP signs and walk in. Hancock and Colchester would be a good place to start, keeping in mind that ATVs and other motor vehicles are prohibited on all DEP lands.
A record 77 were dragged out of Greene County, 16 by archers, one during the late muzzleloading season and 60 during the regular firearms season. Of the 11 townships, Lexington was tops with 21, followed by Hunter with 17; Prattsville, 8; Windham, 6; Catskill and Jewett, five; Ashland, Cairo and Durham four; Halcott two and New Baltimore one.
One of those Lexington bears was taken by Harry Feinies, a 250-pound boar with a couple of New Jersey tags in its ears. Seems the nuisance bear was relocated from one New Jersey site to another the previous June and traveled 107 miles before Feinies ended its journey. The bear must have been eating pretty good along the way because it had gained 132 pounds by the time it made the mistake of stepping into Feinies’ sights.
Of the other Southeastern Zone counties, seven were taken in Albany County; 13 in Broome County; two in Chenango County; 11 in Columbia County; nine in Dutchess County; 85 in Orange County; one in Putnam County; 14 in Rensselaer County; and 18 in Washington County.
The Central-Western bear hunting area accounted for 342 more, which was the second highest kill in that region.
Several of those statewide bears dressed out at more then 500 pounds – large animals by any standard -- but small when compared to Pennsylvania, where a half-dozen bears weighed more than 600 pounds with one tipping the scale at 772 pounds.
But even those Pennsy bruins were dwarfed by the 829.5-pound black bear taken in New Jersey in 2011. That bruin established a new Garden State record, and now stands guard at the Pequest trout hatchery – all 6 foot, 11 inches of it.
Incidentally, Pennsylvania hunters harvested 3,510 bears in 2013. What’s even more remarkable about that kill is the season is only eight days long – four days for archery and four for guns.
That said, all New York hunters who reported their harvest and submit a tooth, 680 hunters in 2013, receive a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch and a letter informing them of their bear's age from the DEC. The agency is still processing tooth submissions from 2013, and by September, all successful bear hunters will have received their patches.
NEW OUTDOORS BOOK COVERS IT ALL
This is hardly the time to be reading a book, what with trout doing the backstroke in area streams, striped bass making their way up the Hudson River, walleye and northern pike wishing the first Saturday in May wasn’t so early this year and turkey hunting season just a gobble away. But the “Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia” is no ordinary book. It’s more a full-color how-to outdoor guide covering every aspect of the outdoors, including hunting and shooting, sweet and saltwater fishing and boating and camping. Other sections include game animals and birds, game fish and how to catch and cook them. Archery and bow hunting, wilderness survival, all terrain vehicles, GPS and sporting dogs are also covered. There are even specialty sections on fly-fishing, sporting clays and backpacking. Fact is, if it’s the least bit connected with the outdoors, it is – as the people who make Ragu spaghetti and pasta sauce say – “in there.”
I know, who needs books when you can download all the information you want from the Internet, and in some regards I have to agree. But what you won’t get off the Internet is the more than 60 years of experience the author brings to the book’s 640 pages, not to mention all the money you’ll be saving on ink.
Written by Outdoor Life editor emeritus Vin T. Sparano, the book is a revision of the author’s mid-1970s version and in my humble opinion, a much better publication. For one thing the single source, four-pound, soft-cover tome is published on triple-layered high quality coated paper, making the text easier to read and bringing the more than 1,300 full color photographs and 1,000 diagrams and illustrations to life.
Published by Universe Publishing, “Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia” is available for $35 at book stores or online from Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com.
Responsive Management (RM) is seeking input from hunters, shooters and anglers for its 2016 National Survey. Held in conjunction with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Archery Trade Association, and the American Sportfishing Association, RM needs to know what would make the National Survey more valuable to its users. Make sure your opinion is represented; visit the online forum and leave a comment saying what the National Survey needs to be for you.
The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation is widely recognized as the most comprehensive ongoing measurement of participation rates and associated economic data for these activities. To participate visit www.improvingthenationalsurvey.com/.
SOME ANGLERS STILL HAVING AN ICE TIME, OTHERS HEAD SOUTH FOR TROUT
Ice fishing has slown down quite a bit, although some anglers continue to drill holes in Fawn Lake in the Town of Lake Pleasant. More popular in summer for its sandy beach and easily accessed backcountry campsites, Fawn Lake is also noted for its population of wild brook trout, which is why many Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton county anglers have been drilling holes in it since the start of trout season, but even that is beginning to slow down. Fishing at the impoundment in all likelihood will pick up again when the lake sheds its winter coat and wild brookies can be caught from shore near deepwater areas.
In the meantime, many area trout fishers have been fishing the Rock City Falls section of the Kayaderosseras Creek, and for good reason -- the trout have been cooperative.
$4M FOR STATE HATCHERY REPAIRS
The DEC recently announced Gov. Andrew Cuomo has allocated $4 million to address critical infrastructure repair needs in the state’s fish hatchery system. Specifically, DEC will make repairs to hatcheries, including boiler replacements at Chautauqua Hatchery in Western New York and Oneida Hatchery in the Mohawk Valley, and rearing pond (raceway) repairs at several DEC hatcheries. Building repair and improvement projects are also in the works for Caledonia Hatchery in the Finger Lakes. In addition, DEC plans to purchase 16 new fish stocking trucks with fish life support systems that are essential for the safe delivery of stocked fish.
According to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens the work will be funded through NY Works III – a program designed to improve and better preserve the state’s infrastructure in order to guard against the need for more costly, in-depth construction. Now while I applaud Gov. Cuomo’s efforts on this, repairs to state hatcheries should have been done years ago.
There is about $50 million sitting in the Conservation Fund but for some reason the DEC hasn’t been able to touch it. That’s one of the reasons why the cost of sporting licenses has been reduced.
Now comes news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will distribute nearly $1.1 billion in excise tax revenues paid by sportsmen and sportswomen to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation.
The FWS apportions the funds to all 50 states and territories through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs. Revenues come from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.
The FWS reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project, while state fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 percent, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-federal match. Funding is paid by manufacturers, producers and importers and is distributed by the Wildlife and Sport Fish restoration programs to each state and territory. New York’s appropriation is $28,467,902. For more information on the program and for individual state, commonwealth, and territorial funding allocations visit wsfrprograms.fws.gov.
Dropping anchor ‘til next time.
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April 12-13 – Syracuse Gun Show, Center of Progress Building, NYS Fairgrounds Expo Center. Over 1,000 tables. Hours: Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Admission: $6 each, with children under age 12 admitted free with an adult.
April 19 – Shot Heard Around New York. Similar to the first, this symbolic protest against the SAFE Act urges every gun owner with access to a safe environment to fire one or more rounds at exactly high noon.
April 26 -- Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Fifth Annual Kids Spring Turkey Hunting Contest. After the hunt door prizes and awards for the biggest toms taken will be presented, with everyone who registers and participates awarded a prize. An awards ceremony and barbecue will follow the official weigh-in at Mike Auriemma's residence, 197 Truax Road, Amsterdam from 12-2 p.m. All licensed junior hunters are welcome. Register by April 25 at 7 p.m. For more contact Auriemma at 518-843-2432, Michele Auriemma at 518-588-9252 or Dick Andrews at 518-843-9086.
April 26 – New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame annual banquet and induction, Rusty Rail Restaurant, 3231 Seneca Turnpike, Canastota. Registration and social hour 5 p.m., dinner 6 p.m. For reservations call 315-363-3896 or 315-829-3588 by April 19.
April 27 -- Fish House Fish and Game Club 3-D Archery Shoot. 7 a.m.-12 p.m. (Alternate date July 20). $10 per archer / $5 under age 12. An all-you-can-eat pancake, eggs sausage and potato breakfast will be available from 7–11 a.m. at $8 each / $4 children. Open to the public, the club is located at 478 Fayville Road (between Sleezer and Hans Creek Rd) in Providence. For more information call Ray Dyer Jr. 518-882-6778 or visit www.fishhousefishandgame.com
May 1 – Turkey hunting season opener.
May 3 -- Walleye, northern pike and pickerel opener.