The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Rick Brockway

September 21, 2012

Columbus Day youth hunt is worth a shot

Last week, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced the Columbus Day Weekend Youth Deer Hunt will run Oct. 6-8.

The event is for youths ages 14-15 as the DEC hopes to “engage more young people in nature and outdoor recreation.”

This is great, but let me jump in with both feet and stir up the pot just a little.

Earlier in the year, there was a long discussion regarding the best time to offer a youth deer hunt. There was a vast difference of opinion on the proper timing of this hunt.

At that time, the idea was tabled. Now just a couple of weeks away, the announcement comes down from Albany.

Oct. 1 is the opening day of small-game season, fall-turkey season and archery season for deer in this area. That makes Columbus Day Weekend the opening weekend for these activities.

My first thought was the possible danger of having kids with guns hunting deer while bow hunters are in their tree stands and turkey hunters are hiding in the brush, dressed in complete camouflage with no blaze orange.

Yes, these kids have to be accompanied by a licensed adult while hunting, but there is a concern for safety. Basically, we are putting a lot of faith and trust into these adults. But let’s put that aside. After all, small-game and turkey hunters also will be out there with firearms.

I’ve heard from several archery hunters in the area and their biggest problem with this hunt is timing. The big, old mature bucks are in the meadows eating every evening without a concern in the world. It’s been nine or 10 months since they’ve been hunted.

Normally by the time archery season starts, they change their feeding habits because of man’s intrusion into their territory and become more nocturnal. So it’s going to be far easier for these kids to harvest a good, large-antlered buck. All they have to do is sit along some meadow where a big buck is feeding before nightfall and shoot that deer with a rifle from 300 yards away.

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Rick Brockway

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