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New York Eagle Count Approaches Record

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With an annual mid-winter survey near completion, preliminary results indicate that the bald eagle population in New York State may be at an all-time high since the state began its repopulation efforts more than 30 years ago, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.

New York has conducted annual surveys since 1979 and the highest official winter count occurred in 2008 with 573 bald eagles spotted. DEC’s preliminary results for 2010 indicate that sightings may exceed this number as regions of the state continue to provide favorable wintering habitat for both New York resident eagles and for Canadian visitors. As of Jan. 31, 459 eagles had been sighted, a pace well ahead of the 2008 record. New York’s survey efforts are part of a national initiative that monitors the locations and numbers of bald eagles wintering in the lower 48 states.

The number of wintering and breeding eagles in New York reached its nadir in 1975 when the state could document only one, unproductive pair of eagles due to the ravages of habitat loss, indiscriminant killing and DDT contamination. That year, DEC launched its effort to restore bald eagles to New York. The aggressive program led by DEC biologist Peter Nye included years of collecting bald eagles from Alaska and transporting and releasing the young birds to carefully selected habitats around the state. Nye and other DEC staff continue to monitor New York’s growing population and their work has since been emulated by many other states. The state’s Endangered Species Act has also played an essential role in the recovery of bald eagles, as well as other vulnerable species by enabling DEC to protect critical breeding, foraging and migratory habitat.

“The resurgence of the bald eagle has been one of New York’s most amazing environmental success stories,” Commissioner Grannis said. “This has been due to the tremendous commitment of many DEC staff over the past three decades and the ongoing cooperation of individuals and communities that recognize the importance of protecting essential habitat bald eagles need to thrive.”

Bald eagles generally require and seek out open water where they find their preferred food – fish or waterfowl. Several areas of New York with essential open-water wintering habitats host hundreds of eagles each winter, many coming from northern Canadian Provinces. By early January, the birds have arrived at their annual wintering grounds, providing a good opportunity to track how the overall population is faring.

At the start of the survey in early January, DEC works with the New York State Police Aviation Unit to conduct aerial observations of the state’s largest known wintering habitats. This information is supplemented with reports from dozens of volunteers throughout the state who are on-the-ground and report their observations to DEC.

During last month’s aerial survey, 101 eagles were identified along the St. Lawrence River (a record), 30 along Lake Champlain, 277 in Southeast New York (the Hudson River and Delaware River basins), and 51 in western New York (Allegheny River and Lake Erie basins). This winter’s count is expected to be higher than previous years because of prolonged periods of cold weather and extensive ice conditions – factors which can draw more eagles in from Canada and concentrate them within a few suitable wintering habitats in New York. Additional eagle reports will be added to these totals as the volunteers’ ground-counts are reviewed.

For the past several years, as many as 15,000 bald eagles annually were counted across the nation, with the Northeast region seeing the greatest increase in overall numbers of wintering eagles since 1986. The 2010 survey was especially important as it marked the next scheduled update for a comprehensive 25-year national and regional trend analysis.

The good news in winter eagle numbers comes on the heels of another record-breaking breeding season for bald eagles in New York. In 2009, 173 breeding pairs were confirmed to have successfully raised (fledged) 223 young.

More information about bald eagles in New York State can be found at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7068.html.

Contact:
Maureen Wren (518) 402-8000

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Bowhunting News

How to Shoot a Compound Bow Properly – Ultimate Guide

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Shooting a compound bow might seem as simple as picking up the bow, drawing the string with an arrow, and releasing it. If that’s how you think it works, then you’re dead wrong. It takes a world of knowledge and practice to learn how to properly shoot a compound bow. Luckily for you, we’re going to teach you how to do it with this compound bow shooting tutorial.

Preparing the Bow

Your compound bow should use high-quality strings that aren’t worn or heavily used. Your bow should be in good shape and properly maintained. You should be aware of how much draw pressure your bow can handle. If possible, use a compound bow that you’ve used before and that you’re familiar with, or use a compound bow that an expert archer has provided. Ideally, you should learn how to shoot a compound bow from someone who has a lot of experience shooting such a bow successfully.

Stance

You should face the target at about a 45-degree angle. Your feet should be parallel to one another and about 17-25 inches apart. Your toes should be directly facing the target. If you use such a stance you’ll have a much easier time drawing your bow and you’ll have a better chance of hitting your target dead-on.

Grip

Use a firm but relaxed grip with your bow-holding hand. If your grip is too tight on the bow then you won’t have as much accuracy on your shot. Try using a wrist sling if you are unable to master the art of a firm yet comfortable grip. Don’t be ashamed because the main point is accuracy and whatever you can do to attain the perfect shot is fine. Never, and I repeat NEVER, shoot with an open hand. You don’t ever want to grab the bow with your drawing hand during a shot – this is undoubtedly the worst mistake you can make when shooting a compound bow because it can lead to fatal errors.

Anchor

When you draw the string, you should be locking your string hand against the side of your face. This is what’s known as the “anchor” position. The string and your hand will be on the right side of your face, and vice versa if you are left-handed. You can achieve the highest level of archery accuracy by anchoring the string at the corner of your mouth – or under your chin.

Draw

You should extend your bow arm directly toward your target with the string gripped firmly between your fingers… or by using a mechanical release device, if you prefer. Point the bow at the target and pull the string smoothly and firmly. Extend the bow all the way, pull the string back to its maximum point of a full draw, and resist the urge to move the compound bow forward. Make sure that you use a bow that is suited for you because a bow with a draw that is too heavy will destroy your accuracy.

Aim

If you’re using a bow that is equipped with a sight then aiming will be easier, but it still won’t be perfect. Bow sights are good for average shooters, especially if a laser sight is involved. The key to natural aiming is practice. The best archers usually aim slightly above the target (depending on wind conditions) so they can aim while still looking directly at the target.

Release

Your release can determine whether or not your shot hits the mark. You need a smooth release, and you need to relax all of your fingers completely before you release the string for the shot. Even the slightest amount of finger tension can disrupt your aim. If you have a mechanical release aid the shot will be easier because all you have to do is draw, aim, and pull the release trigger for the compound bow. This type of mechanism can fail you, however… if you slap the trigger then the arrow will go astray.

Follow-Through

Just as in golf, the follow-through is extremely important in archery. Why? The arrow has already been released, right? You need to keep aiming until your arrow hits the target. The follow-through is largely a mental thing. You need to see your arrow hitting the target while you are steadily holding your bow. Never lower your bow after the arrow has been released. Stay in formation and hold your position until the arrow hits the target.

Practice

If you want to become an expert at shooting a compound bow then you need to practice. The saying “practice makes perfect” isn’t really true. You need to invoke the saying of “perfect practice makes perfect” because practicing something the wrong way will get you nowhere. When your target of choice is out of season then you shouldn’t lay back and watch TV until it’s time to hunt again. Set up targets and keep a compound bow in your hands as much as you can.

Conclusion

After reading this article there’s no excuse for becoming an expert compound bow shooter. From choosing the right equipment to shooting correctly there is an equation to correctly shooting a compound bow. Do you have any tips on shooting a compound bow? If so, we’d love to hear from you in the Comments section below.

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NYS DEC Misses the Mark with New Regulations

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New changes are heading our way for the 2015 deer season in New York. For those of us hunting in Westchester County and a few other WMUs that have historically had an overpopulation of deer we now have a newly created 2-week long antlerless-only season – the only problem is that it’s the first 2-weeks of bow season.

For some, that’s not an issue, but to others, it just crushed their chances of killing that buck they’ve been patterning since the season ended in 2014. Why? Because those first 2-weeks also happen to be the last few days you can catch a buck on its summer pattern.

The DEC says that management goals are not being met in these WMUs which is why we need the antlerless-only season. Well, I can tell you changing the first two weeks to antlerless-only is going to have a minimal impact, if any, on the antlerless harvest. The guys that want to shoot bucks will be spending their time in NJ or CT and the rest of us, well, we kill does all season long so it’s business as usual for us.

If the DEC really wanted to increase the antlerless harvest we could have looked to our neighbors over in CT and simply extended the hunting season for another month by starting in September, extending into January or both.

We also are still a 2-buck state (1 Regular Season buck tag, 1 Either Sex archery tag). If we dropped one of the tags, like most of the ‘big-buck’ states, and became a 1-buck state I think you’d also see the antlerless harvest go up…not to mention we’d probably have a few more decent bucks running around.

Time will tell how these new regulations end up working, but I think we already know, this isn’t going to work.

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Bowhunting News

NYS DEC Misses the Mark with New Regulations

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First meeting of 2014 for the WCBA

The Westchester County Bowhunters Association will hold its winter meeting on January 21,2014 at 7:00 p.m. at the Teatown Lake Reservation Ossining, NY.

One of the hot topics for discussion I’m sure will be the plans that Teatown has for using sharpshooters to cull 75 deer from the reservation property. Why Teatown isn’t using a free resource like Westchester County’s own bowhunters and is choosing to use taxpayer money to hire sharp shooters is beyond me. Hopefully, we get some answers on this Tuesday night.

About the WCBA: Since 1979, the Westchester County Bowhunters Association has worked at expanding the knowledge of local non-hunters in order that they understand the importance of sound wildlife conservation, and by that we mean effectively controlling Westchester County’s deer populations through Bow hunting.

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