Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

CWD year’s top story

By Steve

New York Outdoor News had plenty of news to bring its readers in

That’s not likely to change in 2006.

In fact, some of the top news stories of the past year will
undoubtedly remain on our front page during the new year.

No better example than that is New York Outdoor News’ top news
story of 2005 — the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in the
state’s wild deer herd.

Initially found in five captive deer in Oneida County, it was
confirmed in a pair of wild whitetails this spring, and its
discovery triggered a wave of public meetings, new regulations and
a massive CWD testing effort which, at this point, has turned up no
additional cases.

DEC officials have vowed to continue its extensive monitoring
for the neurological disease that’s always fatal to whitetails.
Since New York’s cases, CWD has also been found in wild deer in
West Virginia, not far from the Pennsylvania border.

New York’s ongoing monitoring program and tightened regulations
regarding deer feeding and the movement of deer — both live and
harvested — in and out of the state assure that the CWD story will
have several more chapters.

Following CWD, here are the remaining Top 10 New York Outdoor
News stories of 2005:

Southern Zone changes

It was a deer season like no other in the Southern Zone this
fall, with the longtime Monday opener replaced by what DEC leaders
are confident will be a traditional Saturday opening day. Early
indications are the move, designed to give younger hunters a
greater opportunity to participate in the sport, was at the very
least a non-factor and, in a best-case scenario, served its purpose

But there was more. Several Southern Tier counties allowed the
use of rifles, bucking the longstanding shotgun-only tradition
following legislative passage of a bill that opened the doors to
rifle use. The question now is whether other counties will seek to
follow suit, or whether some counties will opt-out of that

The Saturday opener also altered the archery deer season,
notably knocking off the final weekend of hunting. That move
angered many bowhunters who in the past have enjoyed hunting the
whitetail rut.

Deer harvest decline

DEC officials announced early this year the statewide deer
harvest declined by about 18 percent — just over 208,000
whitetails, down from 253,000 in 2003.

The lower harvest numbers, fueled largely by back-to-back tough
winters throughout the state, prompted DEC to reduce Deer
Management Permit numbers by about 40 percent statewide for the
2005 season.

Bass reg changes

DEC’s proposal to create a general regulation allowing for a
year-round bass season — catch-and-release angling from Dec. 1
until the traditional third-Saturday-in-June opener — is on the
table and set for approval in 2006.

DEC biologists focused heavily on the impact of fishing during
the spawning and nest-guarding periods, determining that
catch-and-release fishing poses no undo threat to the fishery. Some
waters, however, will remain closed except during the traditional

The regulations change, if approved, will preserve Lake Erie’s
popular May trophy season, with a one-fish, 20-inch minimum size

Southern Zone proposal

While there was considerable change to the Southern Zone deer
hunting season, it was an initial proposal that was ultimately
scrapped that generated the loudest roar from hunters —
particularly bowhunters.

DEC had at first proposed an Oct. 1 archery opener, as well as
an early-season, weeklong muzzleloading season.

Both were scrapped following passionate pleas from New York
Bowhunters, and the plan prompted sometimes-heated debate among

AR and QDM

A couple of acronyms sportsmen will be getting used to in 2006
are AR (Antler Restrictions) and QDM (Quality Deer Management).

A pair of Wildlife Management Units in Ulster County, in fact,
held their first season with antler restrictions, with hunters
limited to harvesting deer with at least three antler points on one

QDM, in fact, has become an ongoing discussion in New York, with
a Central New York group of landowners calling for an
antlers-outside-the-ear-tips restriction in several WMUs. Whether
that goes to DEC for consideration remains to be seen, but the QDM
debate continues to percolate among deer hunters.

Saltwater regulations

With a fairly significant overhaul of the state’s saltwater
regulations on the table, 2006 promises to keep saltwater in the

Earlier in 2005, some tightened winter flounder regulations were
put in place.

The new proposal impacts winter flounder again, as well as black
sea bass, Atlantic cod and haddock and scup.

Blaze orange bill

A topic that’s always a lightning rod among hunters,
particularly those in the Adirondacks, was resurrected late this
year when a legislator introduced another bill that would mandate
the wearing of blaze orange while hunting most species.

Previous attempts to set a blaze orange law have been stymied,
including by a Gov. George Pataki veto. The bill is expected to
make its way through the legislative process in 2006, and New York
Outdoor News will keep you posted on the developments.

State record brook trout

New York’s state record brook trout, a mark vacated due to
concerns over previous records involving recently stocked hatchery
breeders, continued to edge upward toward five pounds. The current
record was set twice in 2005, and stands now at 4 pounds, 11
ounces, caught by Rich O’Brien of Fulton, N.Y., in the
Ha-De-Ron-Dah Wilderness Area of the Adirondacks.

The state record freshwater drum mark also fell in 2005, when
Greg Netto of Watertown banged a 24.5-pounder in Chaumont Bay.

Ithaca Gun Co. closes

It probably came as no surprise to sportsmen; Ithaca Gun Co. had
limped through several bankruptcies in recent years. But the
official closing of the longtime gunmaker marked the end of an era
in New York State. All that remains are memories — and thousands of
Ithaca’s legendary Deerslayer shotguns.

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