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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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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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