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New York Nears Record Bear Harvest Record

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Bear harvest numbers in 2009 were the second-highest ever recorded in New York State, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today. Last fall’s harvest was only exceeded by 2003’s record total.

“With bear population numbers growing in New York, it’s no surprise that bear harvest numbers grew last hunting season,” said Commissioner Grannis. “DEC is committed to working with our many partners to help manage the bear population in a way that is beneficial for recreation, while also protective of communities.”

Statewide, hunters took 1,487 black bears in 2009 – a 15 percent increase from the 1,295 taken in 2008. The 2009 increase is principally due to a strong surge in bear harvest in the Adirondack region, where the 814 bears taken in 2009 was a 40 percent increase over 2008. In 2003, 1,864 bears were harvested statewide.

While overall population size plays the largest role in the annual harvest, take numbers are also strongly influenced by environmental factors that affect bear movements and the timing of bear denning, such as food availability and snowfall. The 2009 early bear season proved to be the most productive time for hunters in the Adirondacks, accounting for more than 50 percent of the bear take. Bears were more active during the early season due to poor production of soft mast (cherries and berries), and their increased activity were a benefit for hunters.

Harvest numbers ran high in New York’s other two bear hunting regions as well: 494 bears were taken in the Southeastern bear area and 179 in the Central-Western bear area. The totals represented the second biggest harvest for each region. These numbers are consistent with bear population growth trends in recent years. Bowhunters are especially important in these areas, accounting for more than one-third of the bear take in the Southeastern area and almost 50 percent in the Central-Western bear hunting area. In general, favorable weather conditions and a relatively good food supply kept bears from denning early and led to plenty of opportunities for hunters.

(Note: In recent years, DEC has expanded the number of areas open to bear hunting in several areas. As a result, in 2009, DEC changed the designations of the bear hunting regions historically known as “Allegany” and “Catskills” to “Central-Western” and “Southeastern,” respectively.)

Hunters play a pivotal role in the state’s bear management by reporting bear harvests and submitting tooth samples which enable DEC to determine the age of harvested animals. To encourage participation in the voluntary tooth sampling program, DEC issues a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch to all hunters who report their harvest and submit a tooth. More than 750 patches will be distributed for the 2009 hunting season, with eligible hunters receiving their patch in late summer 2010 when all the age data has been processed.

In addition to harvest totals, DEC uses a variety of indices to measure bear populations. Taxidermists and DEC wildlife personnel collect age and sex information from harvested bears, as well as movement data from tagged bears. This information, along with data from incidents of bear-human conflicts, is used to help determine whether bear populations are increasing or decreasing, and if bears are expanding their range. The information helps DEC biologists manage bear populations and establish future hunting regulations to assure the management of black bears in New York State is at a level that is both sustainable and compatible with human interests.

The 2009 bear harvests by county, town, and Wildlife Management Unit, with comparisons to previous years’ bear harvests, are available on the DEC website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42232.html. Historical bear harvest data is available at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/42238.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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Bowhunting News

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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