2018 deer season was much improved from previous year

OBSERVER Photo by Gene Pauszek 2018 deer season showed improvement from 2017.

So how was your deer season last year? Despite what the bean counters in the Department of Environmental Conservation report annually, most hunters gauge the deer population by how many deer they tagged, or at least how many shooting opportunities they had. Most local hunters will agree that 2018 was better than last year. The weather, especially during high hunting pressure days like Opening Day and Thanksgiving, plays a role in overall success, and the weather was a lot better last year compared to 2017.

The recently released deer harvest reports indicate that 2018 was better than the year before by 12 percent. New York State hunters harvested an estimated 227,787 deer last year, according to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. There were more bucks harvested last year with the total take estimated at 113,385 antlered bucks, compared to 114,402 antlerless deer. Statewide, the antlerless deer harvest was up by 20 percent and a 5 percent increase in the buck harvest from 2017. 2017 had a below average antlerless harvest in 2017. Regionally, hunters took 28,642 deer in the Northern Zone, while the Southern Zone recorded 199,145 deer. The DEC also estimates that better than 60 percent of the bucks harvested were 2 1/2 years of age or older.

Commissioner Seggos said, “Whether through organized deer hunting co-operatives or due to personal decisions, it’s exciting to see how the voluntary choice of hunters to ‘Let Young Bucks Go and Watch them Grow’ is shifting our buck harvest.” On the plus side, too, is the report that hunters increased the rate at which they reported their harvest in 2018, for the second year in a row. It’s a state law to report your harvest, but in the last decade, less than 45 percent of the hunters complied. In 2017, that figure increased to 50 percent and last year the figure rose to 51 percent. The DEC has made the reporting process easier for hunters by utilizing phone, internet and mobile app options. Harvest reports are vital for monitoring deer harvests so hunters are encouraged to continue to Take it-Tag it-Report it.

The most important report was that there was no evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease found with more than 2,000 deer being tested. More figures indicate that muzzleloaders harvested 18,131 deer last year, compared to 15,288 in 2017. Bow hunters were about the same, with 43,832 deer last year, compared with 43,708. Cross bow kills were down last year with 10,829, compared to 11,758 in 2017. The Youth Hunt was also better last year with 1,005 compared to 935. The best place to hunt last year by the numbers was Wildlife Management Unit 8R and the lowest was a three way tie WMUs 5F, 6F and 6J. Judging by the number of deer that made it through the relatively mild winter, 2019 could also be another banner year.

Calendar: There is a gun show today at Ashtabula County Fairgrounds (Ashtabula County Expo Center Building), 127 North Elm Street, Jefferson, Ohio. Show hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. Call Larry at 792-9972 for information or go to LRsportingEvents.com.

The NYS Youth Wild Turkey Hunting weekend is April 20-21.

The Chautauqua County Sportsmen Federation Banquet will be held on Monday April 22 at Lake Wood Rod & Gun Club For tickets or information call 640-2776 or 499-8346.

The Greater Lewiston Smelt Festival will be held on May 3, at the Lewiston Landing starting at 5 p.m. Go to www.niagarariverregion.com for details.

On May 5, The Chautauqua Lake Walleye OPEN Tournament, Chautauqua Bassmasters at Long Point Park. Contact Mike Russo at (716) 640-6915 for details.

On May 11, Bison City Tackle Swap-flea Market from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Contact Willie Sieber at 626-0660 for details.

May 18 is The Southtowns Walleye Association Perch Tournament from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. Must be a member. Call 649-8202 for details.

May 19 is the Crappie Team OPEN at Chautauqua Lake. Contact Mike Russo at 640-6915 for info.

From May 10-19, Lake Ontario Counties (LOC) Spring Trout and Salmon Derby. Info call 1-888-REEL-2-IN. or www.loc.org.

Free Monday night fly tying instruction is held at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club, located at Mullet Street in Dunkirk. Classes are for all levels of fly tying, but especially for beginners. No equipment is necessary. All participants get to keep their productions. Classes are from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The classes are open to the public. Sometimes they even have homemade cookies! Note that The Children of the Stream Youth Fly Fishing Program have changed the dates to their program to Mondays from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Costello Community Room (P84) in the new addition to the Rockefeller Arts Center at SUNY Fredonia. This program is in its 18th year of providing weekly free fly tying and fly fishing classes to both youths and adults in our area. You do not need any prior experience to attend these classes, and the course is geared towards ages 10 and older. For more information contact Alberto Rey at 410-7003 or alberto@albertorey.com.

If your club or organization is holding a hunter safety training/trapping course or a turkey shoot or any other outdoors event, and would like to see it posted in the calendar, send information to the OBSERVER, 10 East Second Street, Dunkirk, NY 14048, or call the sports department at 366-3000 ext. 5 after 6 p.m.

Note: If you have a big game fishing or trapping success story you would like to share, call 366-1772, or 467-2079 and leave a name, phone number and a time you can be reached. You can also call 366-3000, ext. 5, after 6 p.m. or email sports@observertoday.com.