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One Outdoor Writer's impression of the 2015 Opener


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Regarding whether Lisenbee was out hunting or not, I started wondering where he would have gotten a wider and more accurate opinion of how things really went on that opening day. Would he have had a more credible opinion if he had spent the day sitting at the base of a tree, or by driving around the area talking to different hunters in different locations. I suspect there is a lot that can be learned strictly from looking at state land parking lots, and the usual places where hunters park along roadsides. Perhaps spending time on the phone talking to those who had been out hunting is more valuable than just sitting in the middle of the woods somewhere imagining what is going on.

 

I have no idea how credible his observations are. I only know that his procedure for gathering info is a whole lot more likely to be closer to the truth than mine would be from a rather isolated spot in the middle of the hill. Of course the real poll or survey will be accumulated in Albany when they massage the harvest numbers, but I have a feeling that what he indicated in this article will likely be supported by the harvest numbers. Certainly there will be pockets where various factors will show completely different results, but I have a feeling that his area-wide survey is telling a pretty accurate story of what is happening to hunting.

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Regarding whether Lisenbee was out hunting or not, I started wondering where he would have gotten a wider and more accurate opinion of how things really went on that opening day. Would he have had a more credible opinion if he had spent the day sitting at the base of a tree, or by driving around the area talking to different hunters in different locations. I suspect there is a lot that can be learned strictly from looking at state land parking lots, and the usual places where hunters park along roadsides. Perhaps spending time on the phone talking to those who had been out hunting is more valuable than just sitting in the middle of the woods somewhere imagining what is going on.

 

I have no idea how credible his observations are. I only know that his procedure for gathering info is a whole lot more likely to be closer to the truth than mine would be from a rather isolated spot in the middle of the hill. Of course the real poll or survey will be accumulated in Albany when they massage the harvest numbers, but I have a feeling that what he indicated in this article will likely be supported by the harvest numbers. Certainly there will be pockets where various factors will show completely different results, but I have a feeling that his area-wide survey is telling a pretty accurate story of what is happening to hunting.

He would have gotten a "different" opinion had he been the guy that killed the biggest buck of his life in that area and saw numerous doe... the writer's opinion is based on his experience which is a valid opinion based on "his" experience. There are many factors involved in why hunters are or are not seeing deer. All opinions are strictly relative to any hunters personal experience in the woods. I'll bet you could find many hunters that would claim the opposite as the writer based on their hunting experience thus far. I'm not saying you're overrun with deer... but I'll bet it isn't as bleak as some might think

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He would have gotten a "different" opinion had he been the guy that killed the biggest buck of his life in that area and saw numerous doe... the writer's opinion is based on his experience which is a valid opinion based on "his" experience. There are many factors involved in why hunters are or are not seeing deer. All opinions are strictly relative to any hunters personal experience in the woods. I'll bet you could find many hunters that would claim the opposite as the writer based on their hunting experience thus far. I'm not saying you're overrun with deer... but I'll bet it isn't as bleak as some might think

thats true as far as sightings but seeing half the hunters he's used to seeing is cause for concern
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Can't speak to the number of hunters, other than the lack of shooting compared to what was typical in the past. Hell, think I only heard one pre-dawn shot in my neck of the woods.

 

Have talked to numerous hunters and overheard many other conversations, general consensus is there has been a lack of deer movement & sightings so far this season. Can't verify any DEC advertised over-population, but even up until the time I pulled my trail cams (~Nov 12th), most activity was during the darkness. Assuming that still holds true.

 

So...warmer, southerly weather pattern, full moon effects, less hunters afield, nocturnal deer, hunter motivational issues - you decide! I'm betting the 2015 harvest #s will be down from past years.

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id imagine most of this is true. i dont hunt 8n much anymore but i do drive through Bristol,Naples and middlesex nearly everyday to and from work, ill take different routes during the rut just cruising for deer. and i have noticed the deer sightings seem lower in recent years, nothing like what i used to see in my travels. But i think thats everywhere, not just 8N.. I do hunt my buddies place in Potter once in awhile. 

 

I also believe and think that a lot of hunters are being more selective in their harvests when it comes to bucks. 

 

My place in 8P has been very quiet for few years now on opening weekend, but a bunch of us practice a decent management program across a lot of our surrounding properties and on separate hills around us. 

My place is in 8P as well. Although we did a bang up job on the deer opening day deer sightings were down at bow season. On opening day we took 4 nice bucks and a doe. The bucks were all chasing two hot does so that kind of skews opening day. I had a decent amount of deer on my cams late summer early fall then it fell off drastically. It has been unusually warm this year.

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He would have gotten a "different" opinion had he been the guy that killed the biggest buck of his life in that area and saw numerous doe... the writer's opinion is based on his experience which is a valid opinion based on "his" experience. There are many factors involved in why hunters are or are not seeing deer. All opinions are strictly relative to any hunters personal experience in the woods. I'll bet you could find many hunters that would claim the opposite as the writer based on their hunting experience thus far. I'm not saying you're overrun with deer... but I'll bet it isn't as bleak as some might think

That is true his opinion would have been much brighter, but then it would still be only his opinion (one data point) Instead it sounds like he spent his day canvassing the area and getting many combined opinions and many observations in more than one location. That is the problem, we each judge the day only based on what we individually observe in our hunting spot and then imagine that that is representative of a much larger area. This guy at least got away from his stand and tried to look area wide at what he and many others were seeing. I guess as outdoor editor, that is probably part of his job.

 

I know that you will find individual differences in opinions, but this is the only attempt that I am aware of where someone actually tried to go out and gather observations from many parts of 8N and compile an area-wide report.

 

I'll be honest, I have no idea whether this guy's observations, contacts, and conclusions are correct, but I will say that his article has a lot better chance of having it right than your opinion or mine. I did not spend the day traveling miles and interviewing many hunters throughout the WMU as he apparently did. Probably none of us did either. For what it's worth, my wife's report of the near empty state parking lots on her way to town does tend to agree with what he was saying.

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That is true his opinion would have been much brighter, but then it would still be only his opinion (one data point) Instead it sounds like he spent his day canvassing the area and getting many combined opinions and many observations in more than one location. That is the problem, we each judge the day only based on what we individually observe in our hunting spot and then imagine that that is representative of a much larger area. This guy at least got away from his stand and tried to look area wide at what he and many others were seeing. I guess as outdoor editor, that is probably part of his job.

 

I know that you will find individual differences in opinions, but this is the only attempt that I am aware of where someone actually tried to go out and gather observations from many parts of 8N and compile an area-wide report.

 

I'll be honest, I have no idea whether this guy's observations, contacts, and conclusions are correct, but I will say that his article has a lot better chance of having it right than your opinion or mine. I did not spend the day traveling miles and interviewing many hunters throughout the WMU as he apparently did. Probably none of us did either. For what it's worth, my wife's report of the near empty state parking lots on her way to town does tend to agree with what he was saying.

I read an article in Peterson's Hunting called "The Great Deer Decline"... It just happened to catch my eye because of all the same narratives going around about how the deer numbers are declining. The author talks about the "end of the good old days". The truth is that the deer "sightings" are declining which is a much different thing. I do agree that the amount of actual hunters out hunting seems to be dropping. Deer are not being pushed and are content with laying nice and cozy all day long without being interrupted by wandering hunters. I still believe that it all is more about how hunters are hunting than it is about deer numbers... add to that the decline in the number of deer hunters and it pretty much explains what is going on. Still no excuse for the DEC's doe only rule imposed this year... that's one I'm not sure any of us understand totally. I certainly don't see NY as overrun with deer.
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I agree it's more about less hunters and those that are hunting are sitting in stands all day , while the deer bed in cover all day . A Mexican stand off in the deer woods .

This years nice weather made it easy for guys to sit longer , making it even worse for deer sightings .

Edited by Larry302
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I read an article in Peterson's Hunting called "The Great Deer Decline"... It just happened to catch my eye because of all the same narratives going around about how the deer numbers are declining. The author talks about the "end of the good old days". The truth is that the deer "sightings" are declining which is a much different thing. I do agree that the amount of actual hunters out hunting seems to be dropping. Deer are not being pushed and are content with laying nice and cozy all day long without being interrupted by wandering hunters. I still believe that it all is more about how hunters are hunting than it is about deer numbers... add to that the decline in the number of deer hunters and it pretty much explains what is going on. Still no excuse for the DEC's doe only rule imposed this year... that's one I'm not sure any of us understand totally. I certainly don't see NY as overrun with deer.

I tend to agree, and I think that was the main focus of Lisenbee's article. He talked more about hunter decline than deer decline. From what I have been seeing for about the last decade, in our area it looks like a couple of things at work.

 

First of all there seems to be a significant reduction in over-all hunter numbers.

 

Also, it appears that everyone is sold on sitting in one place all the time they are out there. This has been exacerbated by technology improvements in warmer clothing.

 

There also seems to be a huge downward spiral in the enthusiasm, dedication and stick-to-it attitudes of hunters. Even major hunting days like the opener, many of the hunters are 1/2 day hunters. I also think that for a lot of them, deer season is only for the one day.

 

So the bottom line is that we have fewer hunters that are logging much fewer hours apiece, and not really willing to move around a whole lot while they are out there. That leaves a bunch of deer hunkering down through the daylight hours and not being put on their feet throughout the day.

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hunted 7j and it was the quietest opener excluding the very rainy one we had 5 years ago or so. The normal gang that pushes the flats was absent. I don't know if there truly is less people interested in hunting, or is it that more hunters are sick of the hassle in finding good land, the constant changing regulations and stipulations put on them, or are our kids not getting brought into the sport?

 

I understand we are a busy people. There is never enough time for anything it seems, and many could argue hunting is a very time consuming activity without any financial gain or arguments to be made against the nagging spouse.

 

However, I truly believe it should be a sport where you can walk into the woods with a little bit of regulatory knowledge and hunt a deer. However, it takes an expert to understand what you can and cannot hunt and with what and when. The DEC has made a recreational activity a full time job if you want to be successful. Throw in the work or money required just to find land and I think a lot of guys have just given up.

 

Selfish bowhunters like myself love an empty woods. There's nothing worse to a bowhunter than other hunters except maybe loss of habitat. But when I switch out my bow for my gun, my fellow neighbor can be my best friend. I hunted 3 straight days in 8F after the opener and only had a shot the last day at a 6 and spike. Completely voided the other 2 and that's extremely rare. The last 2 days of bow I counted over a dozen deer including a wall mounter 8.

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I tend to agree, and I think that was the main focus of Lisenbee's article. He talked more about hunter decline than deer decline. From what I have been seeing for about the last decade, in our area it looks like a couple of things at work.

 

First of all there seems to be a significant reduction in over-all hunter numbers.

 

Also, it appears that everyone is sold on sitting in one place all the time they are out there. This has been exacerbated by technology improvements in warmer clothing.

 

There also seems to be a huge downward spiral in the enthusiasm, dedication and stick-to-it attitudes of hunters. Even major hunting days like the opener, many of the hunters are 1/2 day hunters. I also think that for a lot of them, deer season is only for the one day.

 

So the bottom line is that we have fewer hunters that are logging much fewer hours apiece, and not really willing to move around a whole lot while they are out there. That leaves a bunch of deer hunkering down through the daylight hours and not being put on their feet throughout the day.

My feelings exactly... much different than when some of us started hunting... the hunting culture is just not the same... I think access has a lot to do with creating that culture

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Our group hunts in 8P and just as everyone else has stated, it was a very quiet opening day regarding shots. My personal beliefs are that a combination of less hunters per square mile and selective harvest intentions are the reason for this. We Lease over 1000 acres (small woodlots & fields) and we only had 5 guys hunting, it's our preference to not over hunt areas and try and allow the deer to remain on somewhat a normal routine rather than being pressured. We just sit, we do not do drives or bother bedding areas. Being that Rifles are allowed in our area, it's a safety thing as well to be spread out. For the season, we have only taken 1 Buck (120" 8pt with the Bow) and 8 Does. Everyone of us could have Tagged out on a Buck and a Doe by the second day if we had wanted to however, our preference is to take the does for meat (we are fortunate to have a plentiful herd of doe) and trophy Bucks. In our area, the herd appears to be just fine and if anything larger than last year. One thing I am wondering is why we didn't see more 120" plus Bucks on our Lease? Was it the hard Winter last year? Is it possible that rumored Poaching is more prevalent than we have witnessed? Are all the Mature Bucks Nocturnal? The anticipation was high for this year as last year there seemed to be an abundance of 2-1/2 YO Bucks we passed on.

 

One thing to note, a majority of our neighbors (not all) do not have a lot of foot traffic on their property and are selective with the Bucks they harvest as well so, we typically don't hear a lot of shots. The neighbors that we know have the "if it's brown, it's down" philosophy, they certainly didn't experience a lack of deer either from the shots we heard from their direction...LOL 

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One thing is for sure, we are loosing more hunters every year and we are not getting the recruits like we use to.  Add in DEC regulations, restrictions and old age of many hunters can cause them to abandon hunting all together.

 

Video games, phones, computers and TV cause our society to become inverted homebodies.  We need more survival courses in schools which include hunting, trapping and fishing.  We need something to get the younger generation out of the house!

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My feelings exactly... much different than when some of us started hunting... the hunting culture is just not the same... I think access has a lot to do with creating that culture

 

Access is a critical change. When I first started hunting, in the 80's, I tried state land and it was absolutely crazy packed with hunters and bandits. You saw deer but it also felt like you got shot at, I never went again, until 2012 and I saw one lone hunter all day. Of course, the meat head was looking for a spot to sit 30 minutes before dark 1.3 miles off the nearest trail.  

 

I used to hunt in 8 N, near Rushville and it was nothing for us to get 30-35 deer off 160 acre overgrown farm land. I have not been down there since 2010 when we lost the land to the almighty $$ and the group of us that hunted it could not justify the $250-300,000 the land was going for. Finding access from local farmers used to be easy. Now they have a group that "monitors it for us and you'll need to check with them"  So as expected they want all 1200 acres to themselves and I don't blame them, I wouldn't want just anybody screwing up my hunting area.  So getting permission isn't easy, at all.  Now, there's a group of about 20 of us that are all busted up, hunting our own little areas. 

 

 

The  as well as the change in hunter behavior. I was always the guy that sat in a spot for a long time. I especially never moved from 10 AM to 2 PM on opening day. When I did move it was just from one stand to another. As the season progressed we'd leave some areas alone for a week and push it. Not drive with cans and rocks and noise makers but slow, easy walks that usually produced deer.

 

Now, everyone sits and sees nothing and its for lack of deer? No, its a combination of lack of hunters and lack of movement. Deer are not stupid, right now they're nocturnal. I've never hit a damn deer with my vehicle, until this year, at night. 2 accidents and $10,000 in damage.

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8g was far slower than usual or before- two bad winters killed more does than the even albany could hope... Numbers are down and decreasing. Hopefully most are smart enough to regulate their take on what they see no what they're told

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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After missing last years NY deer season for the first time since I was 16 years old, I made a solemn vow not to let it happen again. Working long clinic hours and covering for others to take their vacations, I carefully planed then executed at no small expense a trip back from Alaska. The trip was meant for my wife and I to spend Thanksgiving with our family, and for me to hunt deer on the 180 acres we have owned since 1991. 


 


I did sadly miss opening morning because of travel and jet lag, but was in my stand in the afternoon. Since opening afternoon I have been in the woods every day, with the exception of Thanksgiving Day's afternoon. I know every crack, crevice, and deer hiding spot of this property, so I know where to be to be successful taking a deer and have taken deer every year while letting many walk past, buck and doe. This year however holds the distinction for the most hours, no, days on stand without even seeing a deer let alone one in range. With the exception of one fleeting small buck that bounded across the top of the hill skyline I have seen no other bucks and only a very few does. There is without question many fewer deer on my hill this year. 


 


I'm not sure what last winter did or did not do to the deer population, because I was not here last winter. I do know however that the situation has taken a toll even on me.The other morning I got up and peered out into the darkness at the clear starry night, knowing the bright sunny morning that would follow. Yet, instead of the usual excitement to get out there to sit in the cold to experience the thrill of deer hunting, after so much time on stand seeing nothing, I thought to myself "why bother" and went back to bed. 


 


Maybe the deer are really still out there and just not being moved by hunters. Forty years has past since my first deer season and much has changed, deer hunting has changed, my family has changed, my life has changed, and judging from the aching knees and back, my body has definitely changed. In fact I feel as weathered as my old wooden deer stand I built in the big lone cherry tree at the top of my hill, a stand that produced many bucks since 1991. With my main hunting partner now 85 years old, Uncle Bill does not go anymore. With my son now a grown man pursuing his chosen career in Boston, he is no longer traipsing along by my side with wide eyed excitement and wonder. All my other hunting buddies too drifted away one by one getting caught up in their lives.


 


So again, maybe it’s less about hard winters and poor deer management, and really more about hunters. Hunters like me who like me who one day finally looked out their doors into the morning darkness and thought the same, "why bother”, and returned to bed! 


 


 


Edited by New York Hillbilly
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Indeed. For example, you might blame the lack of deer sightings on a hunter's willingness to stay put, and you might be right most of the time, but opening morning everybody sits for a few hours. And that's typically when WWIII breaks out in the woods. Except that it doesn't any more. So, what's the deal? We can't blame that lack of shooting THAT PARTICULAR MORNING on folks not pushing deer around. Unless there really are less folks in the woods. Or less access to prime habitat.

 

I know that my group is part of that problem...we lease, we don't push, and we don't shoot small bucks. And IMHO there were far fewer shots the past couple of years than normal. Seems like lots of folks saying the same thing. The only question is why? Environmental or cultural? Or a combination of both?

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Seems like lots of folks saying the same thing. The only question is why? Environmental or cultural? Or a combination of both?

Hunting is on the decline. Some of it involves the pressured and hurried lives we all lead with so many more distractions than we have time for. Some of it involves expectations of instant rewards that cannot be met by hunting. Some of it involves attitudes as to what constitutes success. Some of it is tied in with less access. Some of it has to do with the complexities of modern day hunting methods, and attitudes that are being pumped into our heads in a constant fashion. I think Saturday morning TV hunting programs with unrealistic expectations. Also, hunting is boring to the younger recruits who are much more enamored with the latest techno-gadget than freezing their butts off in the woods somewhere. And on and on and on. Let's face it hunting is just not cool anymore and there is a culture-wide turn-off in progress. Those that continue to hunt are slowly but surely putting their hunting on the back-burner in terms of priority. I believe that a lot of hunters still buy their license every year, but when it comes time to actually crawl out of bed, they just don't. I believe that a lot of those out there get overwhelmingly bored when in the first couple hours, that 200" buck does not stroll by like they see on TV, and they cut their hunt short. I think it sounds like a lot better idea than the experience turns out for them.

 

I don't think you really should ignore the constant drumbeat of all the well financed anti-hunting organizations either. I do believe they are taking their toll in terms of public attitudes toward hunting as a viable activity of recreation.

 

Yeah, I'll bet some very interesting studies and books could be written on the subject. And perhaps someday, historians will write such a book.

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This one could not be more true. I almost flipped when I heard my daughter, then six tell me what she learned in school, how hunters are hurting mother nature. I was so pissed!!!! Instead of causing a scene at school, I explained how hunting helps the animals people love to see in the wild and she went back to school to tell all her friends. Teach them what they need to know not your opinions!!!!

 

We've had this discussion before. In the school where Mrs. Curmudgeon teaches, this is absolutely not true. There may be individual teachers in that school that are out of touch with the tradition rural attitudes of the community, but as a whole, this rural school is supportive of the hunting tradition.

 

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Speaking to some DEC R4 contacts, Delaware County deer numbers are quite low. Otsego numbers are better and actually good in some areas. My crew saw fewer deer this opener than in the past but the numbers are still above carrying capacity. I counted 25 together the week before the season. I photographed at least 15 bucks on 80 acres. Some were one time appearances during the rut.

 

Did I mention counting 64 shots before the legal shooting time?

Edited by Curmudgeon
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