What if … ?

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If the holiday-week hunting season that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had proposed earlier this fall had come to fruition, it’s interesting to see how it might have transpired.

It would’ve taken place Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

The holiday hunt – suggested to allow families to hunt together during the holidays with archery (including crossbows) gear and muzzleloaders, and only in the Southern Zone – is not happening this year. But it is included as a proposal in DEC’s latest deer management plan.

So, how would it have gone, had it taken place? Well, as in most cases with hunting, that likely would’ve come down to the weather.

New York is a big state and the Southern Zone stretches west-to-east, end-to-end, so it depends on where you are hunting. Things would’ve surely been difficult in much of the southern tier if the warm and rainy weather around Christmas hadn’t melted a good portion of the snow that had fallen exactly a week earlier.

Where I live in Washington County, just a few miles from the Northern/Southern Zone boundary, what was 24 inches of snow on Dec. 18 was reduced to 2 or 3 inches at best. A quick glance at the National Weather Service’s snow accumulation map shows only a few areas in New York with snowfall totals over 12 inches, many are half of that. New Year’s weekend storms would only affect the very tail end of the hunt.

The question of how the holiday-week hunt would’ve gone popped into my mind while driving around the countryside the day after Christmas. This would’ve been the first day of the hunt, and, at least in my area, it would’ve been a comfortable hunting day. For the most part, temperatures during the holiday week have been near the freezing mark; in some cases higher. It has also been windy.

With that, it may be safe to surmise that the weather for the last week of 2020 would not be not much different than during the mid-December late muzzleloading/archery hunt. But every year is different.

Had that snow stuck around conditions would’ve been better for snowmobiling, an activity that could be impacted if the holiday-week hunt is ever realized. And what about the deer? Would they be trying to lay low in large groups near feeding areas only to be fish in a barrel and thus be easy targets for hunters willing to trudge though the deep snow? That didn’t happen this year, but the potential is there during another.

As primarily a Northern Zone hunter, I really don’t have a dog in the fight in what could be an interesting discussion should the proposal for a holiday-week hunt stay on the table. But as the Editor of this publication I certainly take an interest in it.

This year’s hunt might have seemed like nothing more than an extension of the late hunting season. If it is to be considered for the future, however, we’ll need to look at the overall bigger picture and how it would affect hunters, non-hunters and whitetails.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Dan Ladd

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