Rod, Gun and Game: Local archery groups offer realistic big game practice
In preparation for the archery opener, local sportsmen’s clubs are offering weekly shoots to help hunters gain practice time in the field, shooting at life-size targets of elk, deer, bear, turkey and other replica animals. The animals are shown in various sizes, at unmarked distances from 10 – 40 yards.
Larger replicas can make the shooter think that the target is smaller and closer than it appears, causing an arrow to be shot short and drop over the longer distance, to miss the mark. Conversely, closer, smaller targets can confuse the archer into thinking the animal is larger than it is, but is farther away, potentially causing an untrained shooter to aim above the target. Arrows drop by virtue of their weight, relative speed and the forces of gravity.
Hunters shooting arrows instead of bullets need to be as precise as possible, to become more accurate in terms of estimating distance to the target. This is why pre-season 3D archery shoots are so important in the development of younger archers. Everyone needs to practice.
More and more older hunters report that they missed a shot or hit a deer, but couldn’t find the animal. While nothing goes to waste in the wild, because coyotes and other scavengers will consume lost deer, a better shot would have ensured a successful harvest and helped the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation achieve its management objectives for that specific Wildlife Management Unit.
Good hunters also need to control their nerves. It is exciting to see a big game animal approaching from a distance. The hunter needs to draw the bow string without being detected and stop the animal or pick a moment to take a good shot without shaking. There are 3D archery shoots to help with this component.
Knowing that he or she can hit the bull’s-eye at 10, 20 and 30 yards adds to the control a hunter has, when it really matters.
Several 3D archery shoots are sponsored each week across Western New York. There are experts on hand to help with bow tuning, arrow selection, target advice and skill advancement.
The West Falls Conservation Society may offer the most challenging terrain, with its realistic 15 station, 25 target course that is laid out on the steeply-rising hills north of Kissing Bridge Ski Resort. At the society, located at 55 Bridge St. off Route 240 in West Falls, Mike Cummins and Dave Schroeder lead the weekly shoot every Thursday from 4 p.m. – dusk. The cost is $5 for members and $8 for non-members, but if you start early, there is no limit to the number of times you can run the course. Cummins has earned a reputation for his famous, all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatball dinner, complete with bread, salad and iced tea, that is available after the course for anyone in attendance. Call 655-5030 for more details.
The East Aurora Fish and Game Club, under the leadership of archery Chairperson Nadine Fulle, offers a brand new, 15-station 3D archery course with multiple targets on a less challenging hill climb. I like this course because I don’t work up a sweat walking from station to station but, on courses where I do, it is a good reminder that none of us can store fitness. We need to work out to stay fit and get in shape for hunting season.
This course is located at 1016 Luther Road in East Aurora. Follow the signs from the main gate to reach the course location. This shoot takes place every Thursday. It costs $3 for members and $4 for non-members. Kids are free. Call 579-5547 for more details.
The Evans Rod and Gun Club, located at 864 Cain Road in Angola, offers a weekly 3D shoot every Wednesday afternoon, beginning at 4 p.m. and running through dusk. Members are $5 and non-members are $10. Kids 14 and younger shoot free. Food and drink are available after the shoot.
The Evans Rod & Gun Club will host a larger, 30-target “Funanza Shoot” on Sept. 9 from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information, call Ray at 866-5072 or Jerry at 698-3008.
There are many other 3D archery shoots that take place in WNY each week. Try one of the courses above or find a weekly shoot close to your home location, then start your practice sessions and work to attain top shooting form before the early start on Oct. 1.
Lake Erie fish report
While most walleye action cooled off in areas near Buffalo last week, charter captains out of Barcelona are still often catching the daily walleye limits.
Trollers out of Sturgeon Point reported that catches have diminished to two or three fish per trip on their fishing trips near the international line in 60 – 65 feet of water. Worm harnesses and stickbaits run near the bottom continue to be the best bait. Trollers out of Dunkirk and Barcelona are catching their fish in 85 – 110 feet of water, with bigger fish schools feeding on alewives 75 – 85 feet down from the surface. Steelhead and brown trout action has been mixed in with daily walleye catches.
Anglers fishing off Myer’s Reef are reporting modest yellow perch catches in 45 – 50 feet of water while fishing out of Buffalo or Sturgeon Point. Evangola Beach perch anglers fishing in 55 – 70 feet of water reported similar results, with 50 fish catch limits on “good days.” Many are using standard two-hook rigs with emerald shiners fished near the bottom.
North Forest Ladies
Shoot N’ Hoot
The North Forest Rod and Gun Club is offering an opportunity to ladies of all ages to give shooting a try. The event is open to the public. Lessons will be given by certified instructors and experienced shooters. Shotguns will be provided for those who do not have their own. The event will be followed by a dinner and basket raffle. There is a $25 for adults and a $20 fee for attendees 12 – 17 years old. For more information, call Colleen at 439-1464 or email Cghummingbird7@gmail.com.
on sale now
Hunting and fishing licenses for New York state are on sale now at local license outlets.
Visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30409.html for the availability of deer management permits and the probability of selection. This page shows which wildlife management units will have deer management permits (doe tags) and what hunters’ odds are for being selected for a DMP. For 2012 deer season forecasts, view regional reports by wildlife management unit at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/37304.html.
The “New York State 2012-2013 Hunting and Trapping Guide,” with current hunting regulations, season dates and bag limits, sunrise/sunset charts and a number of wildlife- and hunting-related articles, can be viewed or downloaded at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/37136.html.
Hunter numbers up
The number of licensed sportsmen has increased, both within Erie County and across the United States. According to preliminary figures released last week by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Department of the Interior, the number of hunters age 16 and older in the United States increased 9 percent between 2006 and 2011, reversing a previous downward trend.
Figures showed an increase from 12.5 million hunters in 2006 to 13.7 million in 2011. Hunters, as a group, spent $34 billion on trips, firearms, equipment, licenses and other items to support their hunting activities in 2011. Final data will be included in the upcoming USFWS 2011 National Survey Report.
The USFWS conducts a national survey every five years, the last being in 2006.
The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved the 2013 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill, which includes $7.5 million for the expanding and enhancing of access for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands.
Securing this funding has been a priority for the National Shooting Sports Foundation®, along with its partner organizations the Boone and Crockett Club, the National Rifle Association, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and others.
If it is included in the final appropriations measure, the funding will allow the Forest Service and BLM to acquire rights-of-way and other land interests from willing-seller landowners to open access to existing federal lands for hunting and fishing where it is closed or significantly restricted.
The biggest challenge hunters and shooters face is diminishing access to public lands. This appropriations provision addresses this challenge head-on.
Association of America president passes away
Mike Walker, 64, a friend of the outdoor industry, passed away last week. Walker was the president of his self-founded public relations agency, The Walker Agency, which serviced many clients in the outdoor industry, and had been an award-winning outdoor radio producer and host.
He served as president of the Outdoor Writers Association of America 2012 – 2013. I will miss “Mr. Mike.”
Mountain lion sightings
For several years, NYS hunters have reported that mountain lions are back in the state.
I know of two cases of official denial from DEC sources, but there may be some truth to the claim that these lions pass through New York, at times.
Scientists have found that cougars, or American mountain lions, are re-emerging in areas of the United States, reversing 100 years of decline. The research, published in The Journal of Wildlife Management, raises new conservation questions, such as how humans can live alongside the returning predators.
“The cougar population declined dramatically from 1900, due to both hunting and a lack of prey, leaving the remaining population isolated to the American west,” said author Dr. Michelle LaRue of the University of Minnesota.
Three main cougar populations exist in the Midwest, centered around the Black Hills in South Dakota, but cougars are now venturing far outside this range. According to several sources, one male cougar from the Black Hills was found to have traveled 2,900 kilometers through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, before ending up in Connecticut.
Aug. 23 – 26: Bassmaster Elite Series Ramada Championship at Oneida Lake. On-water demos. Visit www.bassmaster.com/attend-2012-oneida-championship.
Aug. 25: Ladies Shoot ‘N Hoot, North Forest Rod & Gun Club, 6257 Old Niagara Road, Lockport, 2 p.m. Call 439-1464 for more information.
Aug. 25: NYS crossbow coalition demonstration day and fundraiser, with picnic. Open to the public. Albion Fish and Game, 2770 Route 13, Altmar, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visit nycrossbowcoalition.com for more information.
Aug. 25: Gun raffle, Double T Archery Club, held at Shawnee Fire Company, 3747 Lockport Road, Sanborn, from 1 – 5 p.m. Visit www.ttarchery.org for more information.
Aug. 25: Niagara River Anglers Association Lower Niagara River Walleye contest, best two fish by weight, Lewiston Landing. Visit www.niagarariveranglers.com for more information.
Sept. 9: 3D 30-target “funanza shoot” for all ages, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Evans Rod & Gun Club, 864 Cain Road, Angola. Call 866-5072 or 698-3008 for more information.
Sept. 19: Fly-fishing course with Ray Marks, Lake Shore Community Education. Six-week session, 6:30 – 9 p.m. Call 926-2210 or 549-1977 to register.
Sept. 12 and 13: Cystic Fibrosis Cast for a Cure Steelhead Challenge. Raises money for CF. Call 1-800-344-4823 for more information.
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