Choosy hunter, weather may have hurt deer harvest
I hope Santa was good to all my readers. I know taping my letter to Mr. Claus on the refrigerator worked for me.
As for my New York state deer season, it could’ve been better, but I enjoy being out in the woods with good friends “almost” as much as getting a deer.
I’ve become rather fussy about what I shoot, which is why I passed on quite a few deer, but that had a lot to do with shooting a twilight spike, four-point or doe when I knew I would be dressing it out with a flashlight in my teeth in bitter cold weather, then having to drag it to my truck. In terms of weather, I believe, as a half- and all-day sitter hunter, it was the worst weather I’ve been out in. My wife, and some of my friends, tell me to act my age, and I tell them, “I am.”
With the exception of the Westchester and Suffolk counties’ “bowhunting-only” season that ends Tuesday, and Suffolk County’s “weekdays and by-permit-only” firearms season, Jan. 6-31, the rest of the state’s big-game season is over.
I’ll be quite interested to see the Department of Environmental Conservation’s deer harvest report for 2013. Last year’s total harvest of 242,957, 118,993 of which were bucks, was above average, but based on the decline in my Buck Tales, I’m wondering how good or bad the season really was.
I was most surprised that I only received 21 bowhunters’ tales. I know in the seven counties The Daily Gazette is sold, there were more than 21 successful bowhunters, and I know there were quite a few more successful firearms deer hunters than those I had in this year’s Buck Tales.
What really disappointed me was lack of the youth hunting reports. I’m sure there are a lot of successful youth hunters who would like to be recognized. Remember, they’re the next generation who’ll be carrying on the hunting sport. If you have a young deer hunter who was successful, email me the details and I’ll publish it a final Buck Tales column.
With the big-game season ending, there’s one thing I want to remind all readers to do — clean your rifle, shotgun and especially muzzleloader. I’m no different than most — after that last day in the deer woods, I don’t necessarily clean my gun when I get home. I usually do it the next day, which is OK, but I know there are those who shoot their guns one or more times and don’t clean them.
This spring during the turkey season, while cleaning my shotgun, I realized all the “stuff” I had for cleaning, all those rods etc., and I decided to find something easier.
That evening, I went to the Otis Technology website and found a better way. It’s called the Elite Cleaning System, and everything I’ll ever need to clean any of my firearms is all in a 151⁄4 x 83⁄4 x 41⁄2-inch, zippered nylon case I can easily take to the range and clean my guns there before going home.
Forget those long metal rods. This kit includes six Memory Flex cables to handle varying lengths of all firearms, and they allow cleaning a gun the proper way — from breech to muzzle — and keep that junk out of the action. Also included are 22 bronze bore brushes, all calibers labeled, in plastic containers, obstruction removal tools, precision tools for breaking down and fine-cleaning of critical and hard-to-get places, and optics cleaning gear (www.otistec.com).
Usually around this time, we start to look back on the year about to end for some of its good, bad and ugly happenings. For firearms owners, what could be “badder” or uglier than when on Jan. 15, Gov. Andrew
M. Cuomo signed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, better known as the NY SAFE Act?
According to this act, New York is going to create a statewide license and record database, through which records could be checked in order to determine whether or not a particular applicant or licensee is or remains qualified to possess a firearm, or to register an assault weapon. This database is to be maintained by the state police in 2014.
Here are just a few of the regulations in the act many of us will have to deal with. The following information is taken from the “Guide to The New York Safe Act for Members of the Division of State Police.” (http://www.nypdcea.org/pdfs/NYSP_Safe_Act_Field_Guide.pdf).
Those who have assault weapons as redefined by the act and owned before the enactment must register the firearm by April 15, 2014. The registration is free, and can be conducted over the internet.
Just remember, you can keep the weapon for life, but may not transfer it to another person unless it’s to a person exempt from the law. There are exceptions.
The registration process will run checks through federal and state databases to ensure the person attempting to register isn’t prohibited from possessing a weapon.
Should there be a denial of the owner, a law enforcement agency with jurisdiction will secure the weapon(s) for safekeeping until that person has made arrangements to dispose of the weapon legally. If the owner has been convicted as a felon, the weapon will be destroyed and arrests may be made.
Private sales also have become quite a bit more complicated. The NICS check (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is now required for private sales. Selling a shotgun or rifle to your buddy must be done through a licensed importer, manufacturer, or federal firearms licensed (FFL) dealer who will do an NICS check on him/her before you can sell/give them the gun. The FFL dealer may charge up to $10.
I’ve talked with quite a few FFL dealers who will not be doing these transfers for that minimal amount of money. There are exceptions for family transfers.
According to the act, all New York pistol permit holders will be required to renew or be recertified every five years, beginning in January, using a quick, free process. Failure to recertify will automatically act as a revocation of the license.
This process will check to ensure that you are still qualified to possess a pistol. If not, your license will be revoked and you’ll be required to surrender your license and all firearms (pistols, rifles and shotguns). As of now, this procedure is still in the development stages.
Another regulation, supposed to take effect Jan. 15, is the requirement that all ammunition sellers register with the state and perform background checks.
Sellers are also required to keep key information on the buyers, including names, amount of bullets purchased, addresses and occupations. I believe this is being delayed until the state police can develop the database for this regulation.
The two other regulations dealing with firearms magazine capacity and mental hygiene laws are rather complicated, and I suggest all firearms owners go to the previously mentioned internet link and read them and all the specific NY Safe Act regulations.
The hearing and trial to place an injunction/stay on the implementation of the Safe Act will be heard Jan. 16 at 9:30 a.m. in front of Judge Diane Devlin in Buffalo. We should all be interested in it, and I am sure firearms owners from the western part of the state will be well represented in that courtroom.
I know who my representatives in our legislative system are and how they voted on the NY SAFE Act. Come election time, I’ll remember who they are.
No Crossbow Hunting
I’m still receiving emails and phone calls on the use of crossbows for hunting here in New York. I also hear we’ll eventually get it.
I’m 69 years old and “eventually” is not what I and thousands of other senior bowhunters who can no longer draw a regular compound bow want to hear. We would like to continue to enjoy the generous and mild bowhunting season that begins on Oct. 1 using a crossbow.
I’ve tried and can’t get a sensible and accurate reason from those few individuals who are stopping the use of a crossbow for hunting. All hunters, not just bowhunters, must continue to support the New York Crossbow Coalition and flood our State Capitol with letters and telephone calls, and let DEC, which is the most competent, set this reg-ulation. It’s a shame I have to go to another state (Pennsylvania) to hunt with a crossbow.
And speaking of DEC, beginning today, the public WILL NOT be able to purchase hunting, fishing or trapping licenses, or secure a recreational marine fishing registration or report their harvested game.
The blackout period, due to a transition that DEC will undergo from a computerized licensing system to a newly developed system, is expected to last one to two weeks.