The second part of the split migratory game bird season, often refered to as "duck season", re-opened in the western zone on Dec. 28 and lasts until Jan. 12. Duck season dates will never please everybody, but for many duck hunters the second season this year has been productive.
How the season will pan out depends a lot upon the weather. If the weather is too nice, it seems the birds don't fly. The first day of the split will usually see a lot of birds being taken, but they smarten up pretty quick and tend to sit out on open water if it's nice or head for the fields to feed. It is when the day is overcast, with enough wind to rough things up, that the birds seem to fly for longer periods of time.
Throw in some snow or rain, along with the cold, and you have classic duck hunting weather. Too much of a good thing can be counter productive as the cold temperature can freeze up equipment, create ice shoves and numb the hunter's body until fingers feel and move like frozen bananas.
OBSERVER Photos by Gene Pauszek
Pictured at left is Mat King, standing and Larry King, from Mayville, who were in the retrieval boat while their partner Barry Hohmann was in the layout boat in the Dunkirk harbor, on Sunday, Dec. 29. The trio took 15 ducks on Saturday.
Setting up dozens of decoys in the dark under frigid conditions is also an adventure. Decoys are placed with care, not willy nilly for optimum results. Then at the end of a long cold day they have to be picked up and usually thawed out for use the next time.
Duck hunters are a special breed who pay extra for the chance to chase those feathered fastballs. Beyond camouflage clothing including marsh and snow patterns, waders, calls, decoys, boat, dog hunting licenses (optional), and gun, duck hunters are required to purchase a migratory bird stamp, register for HIP and use non-toxic shot shells, which are pricey and not always readily available. They have to plug their guns, limiting themselves to no more than 3 shots at a time and they have to know their quarry and be able to identify it on the fly, often in low-light situations. It's a labor of love and not for everybody, including some hunters with a touch of gray.
Several of the hunters I interviewed or heard about did well this year with big flocks of diver ducks landing in the Dunkirk Harbor this season, including red head, canvas back and blue bills. Limits of ducks are usually six per hunter, per day, with limits on mallards (including hens), black ducks, wood duck, pintail, red heads, scaup, cans, scoters and hooded mergansers. Governor Andrew Cuomo has been pushing for tourism in New York state and opening up access to more duck hunting might be an untapped bonanza. One bird watcher accounted for a flock of at least 300 scaup and another similar flock of red heads. Add countless flocks of Canada geese and you get the picture. Now if only we can get A&E and the Robertson family to visit our area.
The Monday night Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club Fly Tyers will break for the holidays. The tyers will resume on Monday, Jan. 5, at 6 p.m.
Gun Owners are asked to participate in the "Fire One Shot at Noon!"on Jan. 11, 2014 in protest of the NYS Safe Gun Act. Organizers of the event, the Springville Field & Stream Club are urging legal gun owners to participate in a safe and legal manner and to spread the word on the event. Go to www.facebook.com/events/456320794486823
Chautauqua County Snowmobile Trails officially opened Dec. 18, . For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Southtowns Walleye Association located at 5895 Southwestern Blvd. Hamburg will host a Used Fishing and Hunting equipment sale (no guns or ammo) on Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tables are limited and will cost $20. There will be free parking and entry.
Raw fur pickup schedule: North American Fur Auctions (NAFA) location is Lucky Lanes bowling alley on Route 60, in Fredonia. Time is 4:30 p.m., on , March 9 and April 28. The agent is Ernest Mosher and he can be reached by calling his cell phone 315-868-6275. Note: The fur must be put up and dried. No green pelts will be accepted. First auction dates are Feb. 17-23.
Fur Harvesters Auction pick-ups will be at the old Tops Market parking lot off I -90. Take exit 59. Time of the pickup is 6-6:30 a.m. Pick-up dates will be, Jan. 19 and March 23. The agent is Toby Edwards. He can be contacted by calling his cellphone at 518-848-0217. Only dried pelts will be accepted. The first auction date is Jan. 7, while the second dates are March 13 and March 14.
There will also be a raw fur auction on Jan. 18 at the Hinsdale Fire Hall, in Hinsdale. No furs will be checked before 7:30 a.m. There will be fox, raccoon, muskrat, mink, beaver, as well as deer hides up for auction. The auction starts at 10 a.m., and will go until all furs sold. For more information, call Andy Smith at 492-0432 or Dale at 763-3416.
If your club is hosting a shooting event, or training course (turkey shoot, etc.), drop a line and I will be glad to place an announcement in the calendar.
The Federation of Sportsmen from Sullivan County are hosting a three-day Coyote hunt from Feb. 7-9. They offer a $2,000 grand prize for the heaviest coyote weighed-in for the three-day hunt, a $200 daily prize for the heaviest coyote in each of the three days of the hunt, a $100 prize for the heaviest coyote taken by a youth (12-15 years old) and a $100 prize for the heaviest coyote taken by a female hunter during the three-day event. $100 will be awarded for all other coyotes weighed in during the three-day event. Early registration, post marked by Jan. 27, will be $30 per hunter, which will include the three-day hunt, a weigh-in dinner held at the White Sulphur Springs Fire House, located on Route 52 (exit 100 off Route 17). After Jan. 27, the entry fee is $40 with the deadline of 7 p.m. sharp on Feb. 3. For details, visit the website at www.sullivancountysportsmensfederationny.com.
The New York State Ice Pro-Am is scheduled for Chautauqua Lake on Jan. 18 and Jan. 19, weather permitting. For more information go to www.NYSiceproam.com.
Gun Shows: The Ashtabula County Sportsman's Gun Show in Jefferson Ohio will be on Jan. 18-19 at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds located at 127 N. Elm, For more information call 569-6810.
The Chautauqua county Sportman's Show will be held on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 at the Chautauqua Lake Auction Center located at 2118 Magnolia Avenue, in Ashville.
The Sportsman's Show at the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, which is located off I-86 at Exit 20, 777 Seneca Allegany Blvd., in Salamanca, NY will be on Feb. 22 and 23. Call 569-6810 or log on to www.yorkpennshows.com.
The Frewsburg Gun Show at the Frewsburg Firemans Rec Hall located at 25 Hazzard St., in Frewsburg. The show will be held on March 8 and 9.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to email@example.com.