By Fred Stabbert III
KAUNEONGA LAKE January 14, 2005 Sullivan Countys largest sportsmens federation unanimously opposed any changes to the length of the 2005 big game hunting seasons at its monthly meeting Wednesday night at the Kauneonga Lake firehouse.
The group also told New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials in attendance that they would like to see antler restrictions implemented across the state, the same as Pennsylvania has done in recent years, and also lift the deer feeding ban.
Lengthening of the Deer Season
Before a standing-room-only crowd of 100 people, speaker after speaker cautioned sportsmen that increasing the duration of the hunting seasons would put too great a pressure on an already diminishing deer herd.
Big Game Chairman Tom Yager of Grahamsville said, Ive hunted 57 years in the woods around here and I have never seen the deer herd as bad as now. Its out of hand for many reasons the mishandling of doe permits and nuisance permits and the herd has suffered.
Yager said that the increased presence of predators, namely black bears and coyotes, has also hurt the deer herd.
According to studies done in Pennsylvania, black bears reportedly feast on newborn fawns during the early spring, using their keen sense of smell to find them.
If we keep going, well turn into the Adironacks. I dont want that, he said.
Bill Fraser of Hankins, former big game chairman of the Federation, said, Weve fought this battle a long time.
Fraser noted that hunters rarely harvest the DEC projected goal of bucks per square mile.
Any proposals to increase hunting opportunity should be voted down, he said.
Under the DEC proposal for restructuring the 2005 deer season, several changes would happen, namely:
- A two-week early archery season (Oct. 1 - 14);
- An Early Muzzleloading Season for anterless deer (Oct. 15 - Oct. 21);
- Early archery season (Oct. 22 - Nov. 18);
- Regular Season (Nov. 19 - Dec. 11); and
- Late Archery and Muzzleloader Seasons (Dec. 12 - Dec. 18).
Bill Smith, president of the Ulster County Sportsmens Federation, said, Hunting deer for 10 weeks is ludicrous. Our main focus should be getting money for the DEC so they can do their job right.
Fifty-seven delegates, representing hunting clubs from Westbrookville to Long Eddy and Roscoe to Tusten, passed a motion which read in part, The Sullivan County Federation of Sportsmen strongly opposed in total the restructuring proposal set forth by the DEC regarding the 2005 deer season
Region 3 DEC representative Ted Kerpez gave an overview of why the DEC was pushing for increased hunting days.
Its a statewide thing, he said. Some areas of our region as well as some areas of the state are not complaining about too few deer.
Kerpez said deer management was complicated and the best theories for Sullivan Countys poor 2004 deer season harvest might be poor weather for deer to be moving about plus the deer population being down.
The DEC and the region certainly recognizes the deer population is down in Sullivan County and for longer than just this season, Kerpez said. We have reduced doe permits significantly cut them in half. We do hear you and do agree, but it takes more than one year for them to respond.
Kerpez said the DEC will be sponsoring a series of public meetings across the state in February regarding the regulation changes.
Two of the meetings will be in Region 3, he said.
Region 3 consists of Sullivan, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.
Federation Supports Antler Restriction
A more contentious discussion surrounded the consideration of supporting restrictions on the size of buck shot in New York State.
A majority of the sportsmen in attendance wanted the DEC to implement regulations which would make it illegal for hunters to shoot deer with less than three points per side.
Currently many clubs across Sullivan County have imposed voluntary restrictions on shooting buck. They include a club in Callicoon which imposes a $100 fine if bucks dont have a 12-inch spread on the rack and clubs in Highland which recommend four points or better on each side.
Allan Schadt, president of the Excelsior Hunting Club in Highland, said that a handful of clubs have been practicing similar deer management principles for several years on 28,000 to 30,000 acres of their land.
The racks have increased tremendously, he said. As well as the size of the deer.
Schadt said the average buck has increased in size from 90 to 110-120 pounds and the average doe from 60 to 90-100 pounds (dressed).
Jerry Shepherd said, Its just common sense, you will have bigger and better bucks (if you let the yearlings grow another year).
Several Federation members said they were against antler restrictions because they wanted to make sure young hunters had every opportunity to harvest a buck and they enjoy hunting and are not interested in trophy whitetails.
On a motion by Yager and second by Leonard Lowe, the Federation passed a motion to request the DEC to implement antler restriction within the county and across the state.
Deer Feeding Woes
Responding to recent tickets issued by the DEC for feeding whitetail deer, Legislator Kathy LaBuda wrote a letter to the Federation asking for their support in repealing the feeding ban.
Originally implemented several years ago, the ban was designed to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, a parasite which can be lethal to animals and is usually spread when animals share the same feeding area.
A Highland sportsman was recently ticketed by a DEC officer and a Bethel outdoorsman was warned for feeding the whitetails.
The Federation unanimously voted in favor of repealing the ban on deer feeding.