The Columbus Day weekend youth deer hunt turned out to be quite a success according to reports from the field, as many of the junior hunters were able to learn about New York State's rich deer hunting tradition under the watchful eyes of their mentors.
"The youth deer hunt is a great opportunity for the next generation of New York hunters and is an important step in preserving our hunting heritage while maintaining our ability to manage deer through hunting in the future," New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said. "We received enthusiastic feedback from parents and excited young hunters who took part in the Columbus Day weekend. These experiences demonstrate the great value of providing this unique opportunity for junior hunters."
The youth deer hunt which I am referring to, allowed junior hunters ages 14-15 with a big game license, the opportunity to take one deer of either sex with a firearm when properly accompanied by a licensed experienced adult.
OBSERVER?Photo by Gene Pauszek
Deer, like this one, were the target of youth across New York over the Columbus Day weekend, as they took to the woods with experienced hunters. Deer season has opened for all hunters in Chautauqua County and across the rest of New York.
The number of Junior Hunting license holders who were eligible to participate at least one day during the three-day weekend was calculated at 12,753. As of Oct. 11, the junior hunters who reported taking a deer during the special hunt was calculated at 486 and the DEC estimates that number may be higher as the hunters have seven days to report their kill.
Not everyone was in favor of the proposed youth deer hunt, as concerns that were printed in the OBSERVER 'Commentary' section were also voiced prior to the hunt. However, according to the news release, the DEC Environmental Conservation officers and wildlife staff were afield throughout the weekend monitoring the hunter activity and talking with bowhunters, small game and turkey hunters as well as junior hunters about their experience during the youth deer hunt. The reports from the junior hunters was overwhelmingly positive.
The other hunters reported their hunting was not affected by the ongoing youth deer hunt. Obviously not all hunters initially supported the idea of the youth hunt when it first was proposed, but those who had the opportunity to witness first-hand the positive experience it was for so many kids, soon changed their minds.
Once again, New York State's junior hunters demonstrated that mentored youth have the greatest safety record of all hunters across the nation. No hunting-related shooting accidents were reported during the youth hunt. That is awesome, and a credit to the NYS hunting safety instructors and the mentors who took the time out to be with the kids.
To showcase the success of junior hunters, the DEC encourages parents to submit a picture to the DEC's big-game hunting photo gallery (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/54055.html).
While we are on the hunting subject, I thought that you should know that Assemblyman Andy Goodell has attended several of our Federation of Sportsmen meetings and promised to continue to lobby in the best interest of the sportsmen (hunters/trappers, etc.) if re-elected. The National Rifle Association has given him an 'A' ranking. His opponent has not been at any meetings and reportedly has proposed a 72 acre "no hunting zone" around every house in Chautauqua County, which would make hunting in our county difficult, if not impossible. I just thought you might want to know that information.
Ken Hollander and Willie Fedrick teach free fly-tying clinics on Monday evenings at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club starting at 6 p.m. All equipment, vises and materials are provided FREE.
The Westfield Fish & Game Club will host turkey shoots at its club located on Ogden Road on Sunday, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4. The events will start at noon and last until they're finished. These events will be held rain or shine. The public is welcome. All legal centerfire firearms are permitted. Ammunition will be provided for birdshot and deer slugs only. There will be .22 caliber shoots on the indoor range. Bring your own ammo.
If your club is holding a similar event contact the OBSERVER at 366-3000 ext. 5 after 5 p.m.
The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club will resume its annual Hunters Helping the Hungry program. On Tuesdays Con Club members are urged to bring a non-perishable food item with them. All donations will be distributed to the needy in the community through the efforts of the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Youth Organization during the Christmas season.
The Bear Lake Rod & Gun Club has scheduled a two-day trapping course on Oct. 18 & 19 from 6-10 p.m. You must pre-register by phone by calling Roger Witt at 595-3418.
Fly tying classes have resumed on Monday evenings from 6-8 p.m., at the Sinclairville Free Library. Classes will continue until May. All tools and materials are provided free. For more information, call 962-3635 or 485-3919 or log on www.countrykidsonthefly.blogspot.com.
The Gowanda Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual Fall Fishing Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 20, in Cattaraugus Creek. Sign-in gets under way at 5 a.m. at the Gowanda Moose Club, located on Aldrich Street. The tournament begins at sunrise and is a catch-and-release event following DEC rules and regulations, with tournament personnel on site to measure and weigh-in the catch. There will be awards, door prizes and food for the participants at the Moose Club after 3:30 p.m. For more information, log on to www.gowandanychamber.org, or call 532-2834 or 532-2288.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.