At the New York Region 9 Environmental Conservation meeting on Jan. 13, various attendees gave reports on given areas.
Ken Zolnowski, the Region 9 representative for the New York State Conservation Council Waterfowl committee, gave a report on 2012 Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge waterfowl hunting. The refuge allows a limited number of hunters draw for the opportunity to hunt out of assigned blinds. There are 34 regular stands available and two handicap stands. This year, there were only eight hunt days due to the way the season was set up. Hunting at the NWR was from Oct. 27 until Nov. 15 and on select days only.
There were 403 hunters which averaged out to over 47 hunters per day. Those 403 hunters harvested 851 waterfowl, averaging 2.11 birds per hunter. There were 11 participants in the Youth Hunting Days with birds harvested during that period.
Duck populations were recorded as relatively high for 2012 according to various reports.
Muskrat pelts and other furs have been going up in value recently.
When compared with previous years, 2012 wasn't bad with 2002 the best year with 1,589 birds harvested followed by 1,381 birds harvested in 2011. Note that 2011 had 12 days of hunting the NWR compared with eight for 2012. So, in a shortened opportunity, the hunters did pretty good. There were good numbers of birds reported both on the State lands as well as the Federal areas. Zolnowski reported that at the Tonawanda Wildlife Management area, water was diverted to the Cinnamon Marsh area to allow canoe access. There was heavy use of the Tonawanda WMA area in late November and early December.
Zolnowski and his hunting partners also noted that they saw wood ducks in some areas well into the month of December.
Also it was noted during the various reports that two duck blinds were closed on the Niagara River area due to nesting Bald eagles.
While we are talking about ducks, happy anniversary Ducks Unlimited! D.U. is celebrating their 75th year of preserving wetlands for now and future generations. Waterfowlers may be interested to learn that California artist Robert Steiner won the Federal Duck Stamp Contest and his acrylic painting of a common Golden Eye duck will be featured on the 2013-14 federal duck stamp.
Here is a little duck trivia for you waterfowl watchers: True or false, The drake (male) canvasback is the only North American duck with bright red eyes? The answer is false. The drake wood duck, red breasted mergansers and cinnamon teal also have red eyes. By the way, cinnamon teal and Ruddy ducks are the only two duck species that breed in North and South America.
Waterfowl hunters should be advised that the Department of Environmental Conservation has re-opened the snow goose season effective now until April 15 in Upstate New York. For more information, log on to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50514.html.
There will be a "Gun Owners March on Albany" bus trip which will depart from the NYS Thruway Exit 49 (Depew) park and drive area on Feb. 28. Departure will be at 4:30 a.m. You will travel to the Empire State Plaza's Legislative Office Building. Arrival time is at 10 a.m. The cost is $25 per passenger. Departure is 3 p.m., and arrive back at the Depew parking area around 8:30 p.m. For reservations, call Rich at 510-7952 or email email@example.com. This event is co-sponsored by the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen.
Willie Fedrick, Ken Hollandar, Monte Kennedy, Jeffrey Rasmus and the rest of the fly tying group are back again on Monday evenings (6 to 8 p.m.) at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club. The Con Club Fly Tyers have all the equipment you will need to learn how to tie your own flies. No matter what level you are at - from beginner to advanced - you can come and have a good time - and it's all FREE. They will provide the vises, hooks and fly tying material. Youngsters accompanied by a parent or guardian are most certainly welcome.
The Sportsman's Show at the Seneca Allegany Events Center (I-86- Exit 20) will be Feb. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Go to www.yorkpennshows.com for more information.
The local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Lake Shore Longbeards, will meet again on Monday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m., at Liberty Vineyards, located on Route 20 in Sheridan. The agenda will include finalizing preparations for the banquet, which will be Feb. 9, at the Kosciuszko Club in Dunkirk. Tickets for the banquet can be purchased at the meeting, or by calling Bob and Judi Turk at 934-4538. Note: The deadline for Early Bird Prize consideration is Feb. 4. Paid tickets can be dropped off at the meeting.
Note: The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club will hold a rabbit contest for members and guests on Saturday Feb. 16. Weigh-in will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Entry fee is $5. Prizes awarded for the heaviest three entries. Sign up at the club. Food and prizes after the weigh-in.
Announcing the NYS Ice Pro-Am Tournament Series: There are three main tournament events scheduled - if the ice cooperates. The first was on Tupper Lake, from Jan. 4-6. The second is on Chautauqua Lake, and is scheduled for Feb. 15-17. The final event is on Sodus Bay, from Feb. 22-24. There are three divisions, including Professional, Amateur and Open. Professional, which is 1-2 anglers per team, has a $160 per team entry fee. The Amateur Division, which will be for singles or pairs, has a $90 entry fee. The Open Division, which is for single anglers, has an entry fee of $40. Check the official tournament website at www.NYSiceproam.com. The official Tournament email address is info@FKsportfishing.com.
The Jamestown Rifle club will hold Pistol classes Feb. 24, March 24 and April 28. You must be 21-years old and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m., and last around four hours. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.