Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Cold start but warm end for holiday hunt in New York

Steve McIntyre, of Akron, shot this 150-pound, 9-pointer with a 17 1/4-inch spread with his muzzleloader during the holiday week hunt near Royalton, Niagara County, Dec. 28. The antlers scored 127 (gross). (Contributed photo)

Buffalo, N.Y. — Following a veto from Gov. Kathy Hochul of legislation that would’ve allowed counties to opt of out of New York’s second holiday-week hunt, the week-long deer season in the Southern Zone came off as planned, and for the most part the weather cooperated.

The hunt aside, however, much attention weather-wise was focused on western New York where the Christmas weekend blizzard took nearly 40 lives and left the region buried in snow for days. National Guard troops went door-to-door following the storm to check up on people and some roads were not cleared and re-opened until nearly a week later.

RELATED COMMENTARY: A fine and pleasant holiday-week hunt in New York

The storm brought high winds and cold temperatures to most of New York for the holiday weekend, but a post-holiday warm-up gradually worked its way into most of state, and like 2021, allowed hunters taking advantage of the new season first implemented last year to enjoy fall-like conditions in places.

Across New York, social media platforms showcased hunters taking advantage of the season. One hunter on the NYS Hunters Only Facebook page talked of scoring on a doe on the last minute of the last day (Jan. 1) of the holiday hunt. Another hunter, in WMU 8H, posted a photo of a pair of antlerless deer taken the same morning.

While several successful hunters of anterless deer mentioned “putting meat in their freezers” there were some bucks taken as well.

In Erie County despite the snow, a hunter posted a photo of his wife with a wide-racked 6-pointer. This was just one of the dozens of holiday-week hunt bucks showcased on the popular New York Antler Outdoors website and Facebook page.

In Niagara County, Steve McIntyre, who is the Best Buck Weekly Winner in this issue of NYODN (see Page 18) tagged a dandy 9-pointer during a mid-week (Dec. 28) muzzleloading hunt. And NYODN is currently following up on what is rumored to be a potential record book muzzleloading buck taken in Mohawk Valley during the hunt.

BEST BUCK ENTRY. Brea Crane, of Seminole, Fla., shot this 153-pound, 8-pointer with a 15 1⁄2-inch inside spread near Canister, Steuben County, Nov. 21.

Other hunters, meanwhile, just posted photos from their tree stands or pictures of themselves and family and friends enjoying hunting together.

DEC implemented the holiday-week hunt in 2021 after soliciting public comments, which it said were mostly favorable toward the hunt. Although DEC found few instances and locations of regular snow accumulations in most of the state, some New York counties where snowmobiling is popular balked at the hunt and supported the legislation recently vetoed by the governor.

While snowmobiling is not allowed during the big game rifle and shotgun seasons in New York, clubs are welcome to open their trails during the late muzzleloading seasons. Still, many wait until all big game hunting has ended before opening up their trails as a courtesy to hunters.

Deer season continues in New York on Long Island where the shotgun, muzzleloading and archery season takes place in Suffolk County through Jan. 31. DEC Managed Land Access permits are required for hunting on all DEC-managed areas on Long Island, except when a daily access permit is required. Permission is required on private lands.

Learn more about Long Island deer hunting at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8373.html

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