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Archive for October, 2008

The pilot antler restriction program in the Southern Catskills has been expanded and now includes WMUs 3C, 3H, 3J&3K.

Important: Hunters under 17 years of age are exempt from the three point requirement.

Why is this change being made?

For nearly 100 years, a “legal buck” has been a deer with at least one antler that is 3 inches long or longer. However, in recent years, other states have experimented with programs to change the age structure of bucks. In simple terms, these programs produce bucks that live longer. These programs have been well received in other locations, and we are now examining this form of deer management in New York State.

The pilot program was initiated in 2005 in WMUs 3C and 3J. Based upon strong local support, the antler restriction pilot has been expanded to include WMUs 3H and 3K in 2006. It will provide important information for both hunters and the DEC, and the results will be widely shared when they are available.

With 2005 being the first year of antler restrictions in WMUs 3C and 3J, buck harvests were down 65% in WMU 3C and 40% in WMU 3J. This was an expected decline, but DEC predicts that buck takes will return toward normal levels in 2006 and 2007 with a larger number of older bucks seen and taken by hunters. A similar trend is predicted for WMUs 3H and 3K with a reduction in buck take in 2006 followed by steady increases toward normal buck harvests in subsequent years.

Taken from DEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/27663.html

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I recently learned of a project in Missouri that mounted wireless camera’s to deer to give researchers a “Deer-Eye view” of daily events to get a clearer understanding of how deer move and interact in the wild. The research started on a 10 acre field with 11 captive deer – 2 bucks and a doe. The plan is to bring this technology to the wild and mount wireless cameras on free range deer.

I am fascinated with the idea that we could get a real time view from a deers perspective. This would help answer a lot of questions that hunters ask like “Is it too windy for the deer to move?”, “How long after the rain stops are the deer going to get up and move?” or the ever popular “Are the deer chasing yet?”. While doing some research I was unable to find a website with the video footage (If anyone knows where this is, please tell me) but I did find a few cool sites with wireless cameras pointed at feeders or fields (http://www.rd-hc.com/rdhc_deer_cam.htm).

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Date: 10/25/2008
Location: Pound Ridge, NY
Hours Hunted: Sunrise 11am
Temperature: 50s
Wind: mild
Weather: Overcast
Moon Phase: 5% full
Deer Sighted: 1

 

I got into the stand very early (1.25 hr before sun-up). I decided to throw a few grunts out at first light to see if I can stir anything up. I continued for the next 2hours, in 20 minute increments, soft blind grunts. During the last few grunts a 4 pointer trotted up the hill and bed down 20 yards from me. He wasn’t a shooter but I was glad to finally see a buck this season (been very slow so far). After about a 1/2 hour he got up and made a small rub on a sapling. He came off the hill and presented a 10 yard broadside shot for me but I had already decided to let him pass. He started to walk off the back of the property so I grunted a few more times to keep him around. It worked! He turned and came back onto the property. One of the other hunters with me seen him but he did not present a shot to anyone. If he makes it the season he should be a pretty nice buck next year.

 I had a nice fox come up to me late morning. Since the season was open Saturday I decided to take it. I always wanted a fox and he was a nice one. It was a long shot (40 yards) but I am confident at that distance since I practice alot so I decided to take the shot. Clean kill. He went 5 yards dropped within a few seconds.

My first fox!

My first fox!

 Date: 10/26/2008
Location: Pound Ridge, NY
Hours Hunted: Sunrise 11am
Temperature: Low 60s
Wind: mild
Weather: Warm
Moon Phase: 2% full
Deer Sighted: 0

 I was sure Sunday would be better after the storm. There were heavy winds overnight and I thought that would get the deer moving in the morning. Turns out that it was just too warm! I didn’t see one deer all day.

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Commissioner Christopher O. Ward, announced that the City’s first bow hunting program in 30 years on selected watershed lands this fall was a great success and that bow hunters responded enthusiastically to opportunities to pursue the sport. Bow hunting season this year ran from October 15 to November 17 and from December 11 to December 15, coinciding with the State bow seasons for deer in the Southern region.

Commissioner Ward said, “This year’s opening of selected locations to bow hunting for deer for the first time in 30 years on New York City Water Supply lands was initially planned as an exploratory effort and somewhat limited in scope. However, its obvious success is an incentive for DEP to consider further expansion of bow hunting to other City-owned watershed lands in future seasons.

This year, 200 bow hunters with proper New York State and DEP permits had access to three of the City’s 41 deer hunting areas. The three selected areas were the Horse Pound Brook Unit in the Town of Kent (Putnam County), Flynn Brook in the towns of Andes and Colchester (Delaware County) and Murphy Hill, also in the towns of Andes and Colchester. Two hundred bow hunters were selected in a random drawing from over 1000 bow hunting applications. The large number of bow applications received – nearly one-third of all applications submitted to DEP – is an indication of the popularity of bow hunting.

“We’re very pleased to see the City allowing some bow hunting”, said John LaPadura, of the Westchester County Bow Hunters Association. “We’ve talked to the City for years about it and hope that this will lead to further expansion of hunting opportunities on City land.” LaPadura pointed out that some City-owned hunting areas were hunted by local community members for generations prior to the City’s stewardship. “We see the opening of bow hunting as an indication that the City is taking its commitments to local communities seriously,” he said.

In considering the opening of more areas to bow hunting, DEP will conduct detailed reviews of properties that include consultation with local municipalities, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the regional Sporting Advisory Committees.

The City allows deer hunting under the DEP Public Access Permit system in part to fulfill its commitments to watershed communities in the 1997 Memorandum of Agreement. Hunting is also a significant land management tool, helping to curtail the negative water quality impacts of overbrowsing by deer. Overbrowsing by deer limits regeneration of trees in watershed forests, which in turn results in poor forest health, reduced water filtration capacity, and increased potential for erosion of soils.

Further information on hunting, public access and recreation on City-owned watershed lands is available at the DEP watershed recreation website (nyc.gov/watershedrecreation) or by calling 1-800-575-LAND.

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This picture was sent to me today. It is of a buck taken in Pound Ridge Thursday morning. I will not mention his name because I haven’t asked of permission but I will post this picture. This buck was taken while stalking on the ground. The buck was alone when taken.

4 Point Pound Ridge

Pound Ridge 4 Pointer

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I am not sure how many of you believe the theory that moon phase is the actual trigger of the rut. Of course photoperiod is the driving force (less light, shorter days) but the “starting pistol” is believed to be the full moon.


For those of you that believe the stages of the Rut are governed by the Moon, both Charles Alsheimer and R.G. Bernier who have conducted extensive studies, believe that the Breeding Phase of the Rut will begin between November 17th and the 19th this year and last for 14 days accounting for 70% of adult does being bred.

R.G. Bernier:

“This fall, 2008 we have a November 14 second full moon. Because it comes at the middle of the month, breeding will begin much closer to the 14th. The seeking stage will begin about November 9th. Chasing will start on the 14th with breeding coming between the 17th and 19th of November. By December 1, the recovery stage will begin. Providing we have temperatures relevant to this time of year, I expect to see an intense rut with lots of build-up.

Each of the four phases of the rut is a separate stage that overlaps each other. The initial stage that sets things in motion is the seeking phase. This is when the bucks begin to seek out does. This phase last approximately 5-days. The second stage is the chasing phase, which also lasts approximately 5-days. Next comes the all-important breeding stage where 70% of the adult doe population will be bred during its 14-day duration. The final stage is called the recovery phase where the buck population crashes. Depending on how stressed the male becomes will dictate the length of his recovery. Usually this phase lasts between 3-to-5 days.”

Charles Alsheimer:
(from “Touched by Light”)

A northern doe’s estrogen level peaks around November 1st, as does a buck’s sperm count. With both sexes poised to breed, it stands to reason a mechanism must be in place if the doe is to enter estrous and be bred under the darker phases of the moon, which are the third through the first quarters. That mechanism in the North (north of about the 35th latitude) is usually the second full moon after the autumnal equinox, which we call the rutting moon.
When the rutting moon arrives after November 13-14, we’ve found that the rut progresses more rapidly than when the rutting moon arrives earlier in the month.

Basically, the data show that when the rutting moon arrives late, the seeking begins three or four days before the full moon, just as we’ve always predicted. However, we’ve discovered that once the full moon occurs, the chasing is frenzied and the breeding kicks in within a day or two of the full moon’s appearance rather than a week after its arrival, as it does in years when the rutting moon appears in early November.

As a quick recap, keep in mind that the seeking, chasing and breeding phases of the northern whitetail rut will occur as follows:

When the second full moon after the autumnal equinox falls between late October and November 12th, the seeking phase of the rut will start approximately three to four days before the full moon and run three to four days after it. The chasing phase will kick in a couple days after the full moon and be intense for about ten days following the full moon. The breeding phase will begin about seven days after the full moon and last about fourteen days thereafter if the herd is fine-tuned (meaning it has good nutrition, good habitat, a good sex ratio, and a well represented mature buck population). Note that the phases will overlap somewhat.
When the second full moon after the autumnal equinox occurs November 13th or later, the seeking phase will begin approximately three days before the full moon. However, the chasing phase will begin a little earlier than normal, and the breeding phase will occur from the full moon to fourteen days thereafter in fine-tuned herds. So, when the rutting moon appears late, the breeding phase takes place a little sooner than when it appears in early November.

***The 35th parallel north, in the USA, defines the southern border of Tennessee, and the border between North Carolina and Georgia.

2008 Phases of the Moon

New Moon First Quarter Full Moon Last Quarter
Sep 29 7 15 22
Oct 28 7 14 21
Nov 27 6 13 19
Dec 27 5 12 19

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So let me set the stage……. My name is Wayne. Hunting is pretty much how I spend my fall/winter seasons. Bowhunting is my primary method, though I do occasionally hunt with a gun. Bows are where it’s at with me. I like the challenge and there is nothing like a big deer standing 10 yards away from you.

I mostly hunt with the same group of people. Mark is by brother. We live close to each other and we do a lot of hunting together. Tommy is a good friend of mine. We hunt, fish and just plain hang out a lot. Carmelo is another friend of ours. Mike (or Rambo, PZ or any other name we can come up with) pops in and out of the group. These are the main people I share my time in the woods with.

We have access to some great hunting property in Pound Ridge, Bedford and Yorktown (Westchester County, NY). There has been plenty of action in years past so I am sure this year will be no different. I started keeping a Hunting log this year in a Word document so the details aren’t great so far. I decided to just post the notes I have taken so far. (See below).

I would love some feedback from other hunters in Westchester County and the surrounding areas (CT and Putnam) as to how thier season is going so far. Commenting on deer movement, chasing, breeding and tending activities may help create some sort of pattern. My main goal is to create a colloration between moon phases, photoperiod and our hunting area (Westchester County).

Westchester is known for its trophy bucks. Since this is a bow only county, bucks get to grow big. You wouldn’t think that such a suburban area can hold such great deer but so much of Upper Westchester is private estates and large plots of land that are clear of hunting pressure. I jsut read an article tonight about someone harvesting a 16 year old doe. It was a collared deer and the transmitter was dated 1992. That is what you call staying alive. She had 1 tooth left and the “toes” grew so long that they were overlapping.

OK, enough babble. Below are my notes from the first few days of the season.

Opening Day

Date: 10/18/2008
Location: Pound Ridge, NY
Hours Hunted: Sunrise – Sunset – Break from 11-1pm
Temperature: 50s
Wind: mild
Weather: Sunny
Moon Phase: Mostly Full
Deer Sighted: 0

 

Morning Hunt – Pound Ridge Town Property

Nice cold front came in the night before. I was psyched! Got into the stand by 6:15am. SEEN NOTHING – NOTHING! Not one deer moving. Will try again in the afternoon

 

Afternoon – Pound Ridge Town Property

In the stand by 1:30. Out at dark. Seen NOTHING AGAIN! The property was dead. No one seen anything all day. We are going to try again tomorrow.

 

Sunday October 19th


Location: Pound Ridge, NY
Hours Hunted: Sunrise – 10:30am
Temperature: 50s
Wind: breezy
Weather: Sunny
Moon Phase: Mostly Full
Deer Sighted: 0 


Morning Hunt – PR Town Property

Cold stayed around but the wind picked up. I was in the stand by 6:15am. Out at 10:30. Seen nothing AGAIN. Carmelo got frustrated around 9am and decided to walk the property to see if he can kick something up. He didn’t see anything. Going home!

 

Monday October 20th

 


Location: Pound Ridge, NY
Hours Hunted: Sunrise – Sunset (break from 10-2pm)
Temperature: 50s
Wind: breezy
Weather: Sunny
Moon Phase: Mostly Full
Deer Sighted: 7 Doe, 2 Unknown (dark) and a coyote 

Morning Hunt – Mark’s Pound Ridge Property


Cold stayed around and the wind dropped way down. Good weather for hunting. I was in the stand by 6am. 7:15am First set of YOY doe came from behind me out f the “sanctuary” to feed. Met up with another YOY and trotted off. Few minutes later a doe (1 ½ maybe) and a fawn came up the main trail up the hill. Fawn went with the other YOYs. Doe came to me – as close as 10 yards. Shot offhand side 23 yards. Caught the lungs and the bottom of the heart. She trotted 30 yards to the “sanctuary” opening in the rock wall, stopped and dropped immediately. Tommy “slapped” a YOY with a stray arrow. He may have hit a branch. I heard the deer “bark” and run off. I caught the noise on the camera while filming the tracking of the doe. The YOYs hung out under my stand all morning.


 

Afternoon Hunt – Mark’s PR Property

Back in the stand at 2:30pm. YOYs were still lingering around all afternoon. Seen a big doe and fawn over by the house going down the hill (to the car area). Walking out at dark I kicked up 2 big deer. May have been bucks. I couldn’t see too well. While waiting for Tommy at the opening in the rock wall a coyote ran right at me. I was 5ft from the opening and it ran on my side of the wall and went through the opening. I had to stomp my feet to get the thing moving again.

 

Tuesday October 21st



Location: Pound Ridge, NY
Hours Hunted: Sunrise – 10:30am
Temperature: 50s
Wind: calm
Weather: Sunny
Moon Phase: 60% Full
Deer Sighted: 0 

 

Morning Hunt – PR Town Property


Cold weather was consistant for the last few days. Overnight in the low 30s and mid 50s during the day. I was in the stand by 6:15am. Out at 10:45am. Seen NOTHING AGAIN! MY best guess is that the deer are targeting food and the property isn’t very food rich so they are probably hitting it at night. I walked the bottom and found an old rub line on the lower main trail with some new rubs in it (small saplings). Looks like alot of traffic on the bottom tall grass but nothing moving during the day.  

 

10-22-08 – Observations

I freshened up the scrape in my backyard. Usually by now I start to see a lot of deer killed on the side of the road. I correlate this to the chasing phase. This supports my theory that the deer are still in the pre-rut/beginning of the seeking phase.  I will check the mock scrape in PR over the weekend to see if I am getting any action. If I don’t see any scrape activity be the weekend I will switch tactics to using Horn Lure and some Ticks #69 instead of Tink’s Trophy Buck lure.

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