Big game seasons end soon
by Ron Kolodziej

For those of you who await the end of the season as much as the beginning, as of today there are only four days remaining in the northern zone regular big game season and only 11 left in the southern zone regular season. The northern zone regular season closes at sunset Sunday, Dec. 4, but a late muzzleloader season opens in peripheral portions of the North Country Monday, Dec. 5, and closes Sunday, Dec. 11.

Conversely, the southern zone regular season closes Sunday, Dec. 11, then the late muzzleloader and archery seasons open in that zone Monday, Dec. 12, and close at sunset Tuesday, Dec. 20. Check your 2011-2012 Hunting & Trapping Guide for particulars and boundaries on these seasons.

DONATE VENISON

 Many of you will be - or have been - fortunate enough to bag a deer and have meat in your freezer, but many other New Yorkers may be going hungry. That’s where you come in.

The Venison Donation Coalition has been highly successful in its goal to feed the hungry since 1999. It has processed over 827,000 pounds of highly nutritious venison - the equivalent of over three million meals - and this year anticipates breaking the four millionth meal mark.

They need your help to continue the growth of this program by donating your deer at a participating processor, if you’re able to do so.

OR DONATE MONEY

If you can, you can also make a financial donation; even $1 will help feed four people. These financial donations are also very much appreciated by the Coalition and are tax deductible. For every dollar donated, 95 cents is used toward the costs of processing the venison.

Donations can be made at your town clerk’s office or anywhere hunting and fishing licenses are sold. Just tell the license-issuing agent you wish to make a donation to the Venison Donation Coalition and that person will take care of it and send it on.

The Venison Donation Coalition is a non-profit organization that coordinates and funds the efforts of venison processing to feed the hungry throughout New York state. It’s a good cause. If you’d like to learn more call 1-866-862-3337 toll-free.

BACK TO FERAL HOGS

The Discovery Channel and the Arts & Entertainment Channel both ran interesting series of shows a few weeks ago on the question of feral hogs. While all the shows concentrated on various methods of removing problem hogs, the series on the Arts & Entertainment Channel was the most interesting. It also went into greater depth on the problems facing various states, as well as a historical perspective on the spread of feral hogs.

Portions of the shows were filmed in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Hawaii, all of which are having increasing problems with these porcine transplants, but several other states were covered as well.

BLAME COLUMBUS

One thing I didn’t know but learned from the series was that the spread of feral hogs in the U.S. commenced with a half dozen pigs that were allegedly brought on one of Christopher Columbus’ ships in the 1490s, primarily to be raised as food. Some of those pigs escaped or were released and, being prolific breeders, their populations increased dramatically and they were able to adapt to their surroundings very well.

Over the years that population, and the gene pool, has been supplemented by oinkers that have escaped or been released by hunting lodges, private owners, etc. until we arrived at what is now a substantial hog and increasingly vicious critter.

For some unknown reason the populations of hogs have spread considerably the past dozen or so years and they’re now found in areas where they were never been seen before, and they’ve gotten bigger and meaner in the process.

HERE IN NEW YORK

At last report there are even breeding populations in several counties here in New York state, including Tioga, Cortland and Onondaga, but they’ve also been sighted in Washington County and a few other areas.

Considering that a feral hog population can triple in one year, they could spell trouble for farmers, residents and even deer in those areas. Hogs will eat anything including domestic livestock, deer and even family pets.

Check your local TV listings and if you see one of these shows advertised plan on watching it. They’re all interesting, and even frightening in a way.