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September 27, 2013

Remember to play it safe this hunting season

The Daily Star

---- — It’s hard to believe that bow season starts next week, on the first of October.

I’m not sure what the hurry seems to be. Heck, on Tuesday I saw a small buck standing along one of the county roads that was still in velvet. Last week, a friend of mine watched five nice bucks still running together in a bachelor group. But as I think about it, it would be nice to have some fresh venison on the grill.

Right now, the deer are feeding in the apples — and there are plenty of them this year. I was on my hill yesterday and noticed that the ground beneath several apple trees was trampled into mud. Every apple that the deer could reach — even the ones they had to stand on their hind legs to get — was stripped from the branches.

By placing a tree stand along any of the trails leading to that feeding area, a hunter could be very successful. I think these feeding zones still will be heavily used come Columbus Day weekend, when the DEC holds its Junior Hunter Mentoring Program or Youth Hunt.

This year’s Youth Hunt runs Oct. 12-14. Junior hunters ages 14-15 with youth licenses can take a deer during that hunt, when accompanied by a licensed adult.

When they first started this program, many hunters questioned the DEC about the timing of the hunt. After all, it’s right during the archery season. Many bow hunters were concerned with having others in the woods with guns.

My feeling was, “What difference does it make?” Small game hunters are in the woods with guns. I actually think the timing is perfect. It gets kids out hunting and happens well before the rut kicks in.

Personally, I won’t do much bow hunting until the week of Halloween. To me, that’s prime time to hunt.

Sure there are some huge bucks out there, but the chances of a kid harvesting one of them isn’t very good. A junior hunter will be very happy with any buck, or even a doe for that matter.

I applaud the DEC for holding youth hunts for deer and turkeys because kids are the future of hunting.

Last fall, I took my grandson hunting on opening day of the regular gun season. He passed up a small buck twice that first morning because he wanted to take a bigger one. Later in the season, he harvested a small doe. It may not have been the deer he was hoping for, but he was happy.

There’s one other point I feel must be addressed: Climbing up trees into tree stands without a proper safety system is dangerous.

A woman I know just fell while setting up her stand and broke her back. She’s going to be OK, but she was really lucky. A fall like that could have left her paralyzed or even dead. So use your safety harnesses, know your target and be safe while in the woods.

Have a great and safe hunting season.

Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at