Curmudgeon

Grumblings 4F, 7M & 7P

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Some thoughts on what I have been hearing lately. Some of you know I have a Christmas tree farm. One of the benefits is talking to many local hunters during and immediately after rifle season. I've probably spoken to 60-70 local hunters so far. I'm near the junction of units 4F, 7M and 7P. Customers come from nearby parts of those units. Almost everyone I speak to is unhappy with the season this year - including me.  People haven't been seeing deer as they are used to. I know there is no lack of deer around me. I attribute the lack of universal success to multiple factors, some very local, some regional.

In my immediate neighborhood, land use changes around me seem to have had a dramatic impact. About 60 acres was heavily logged on my north side this year. 22 sets of tracks went into that property just before dawn the second Sunday of rifle season. I could get close to deer down there when the snow was quiet but the logging slash made it impossible to get clear shots.

Further evidence of good deer numbers were the 17 grazing in the open across the road the second week of rifle in what I call the local deer sanctuary. Another day, a rack buck was grazing over there in broad daylight. On my south side, 10 acres of abandoned pasture was reclaimed. Deer cover became short grass with a herd of cows.

Opening weekend here was quiet in regards to shooting. However, the walking was really loud. Crunchy snow and bitter, single-digit cold made for a difficult and uncomfortable weekend. There was less shooting than I ever remember. Some people didn't go out, especially some older guys I know. Late Sunday I walked around about 150 acres on my neighbor to the west and found no human tracks. No one was moving deer down there.

There was considerable bow hunting pressure south of me through the season, and some across the road where hunting is permitted. I don't know if that pressure contributed but many of my does and fawns went nocturnal in mid-October. A collection of maybe a half dozen little bucks stopped showing up on the cameras around the same time. It coincided with the mature bucks starting to show up at night.

People are telling me they saw few deer during bow season. Some say the usual deer runs were not used. A skilled hunter who hunts bow and rifle told me he has not seen a mature buck while hunting all fall.

There are the regular complaints about the Amish, especially in the Unadilla Valley.  One guy showed me a night photo from one of his cameras with Amish with a rifle. He complained to DEC about the night hunting. An ECO patrolling the area found some at night with a loaded rifle in the buggy and a spotlight. They claimed to be coyote hunting. I hear it is not illegal to have a loaded rifle in a buggy since it is not a motor vehicle.

Just some random thoughts on what for us was the worst season since I moved to this property in 1982.

 

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I work in your area and hear constant complaints about the Amish. I know two co-workers who relinquished their leases last year because they believe new Amish neighbors eradicated all the dear. They are definitely a concern of mine as I look for a lease in that area.

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I had good luck in 7p stateland this year saw atleast 1 everytime.  I do understand the amish issue thats one reason i think hunting in my lease in 7m is tough and its one of the reasons i want be hunting it next year. I know they shoot alot up there. I also think hunting is tough during gun because theres just not enough guys moving them around so they can sit tight and stay out of sight.

Edited by Swamp_bucks
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9 hours ago, Swamp_bucks said:

I also think hunting is tough during gun because theres just not enough guys moving them around so they can sit tight and stay out of sight.

Agreed!  This seems to be statewide.  Definitely less hunters and everyone seems more inclined to sit in one spot.  

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My season was/is about average. I focus on bowhunting for the most part,i have only been out a few times with the gun. It does seem there are less people out and about on my hill than in previous years. And conditions have been not great for still hunting,only a few weekdays were good for that,my favorite way to hunt.

I only saw three bucks during that time,a fourpoint,a spike and another bigger one that got a haircut from me. I nicked him,so i am not going to pursue a career in that field.

So buck sightings were down for me,i usually see more.

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Great year for me so far in 4F, 10 point with bow, 2 does with gun and hoping for one more with the ML. let a few smaller bucks walk, see more bucks on their feet in daylight compared to previous years ( i contribute that to last couple years we are taking more does out of the heard). All in all a decent year so far, seen deer on almost every sit.

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I hunt not far from Curmudgeon's Christmas tree farm.  I have been lucky to always see a lot of deer on my land.  But, I've always seen few bucks as compared to does; and even fewer mature bucks.  This year, I saw fewer deer in general, and no mature bucks at all.  I did have considerably more hunting pressure on adjacent properties this year than in the past.  My neighbors were doing drives and firing quite a bit on opening day- they typically don't hunt the adjacent property much early in the season.  By Sunday of opening weekend, sightings were much less frequent.  Thanksgiving week, even less.  My general impression is that the deer were very quick to become nocturnal; and I did not see much evidence at all of an active rut this year.  Hoping this year was an anomaly and not the beginning of a trend.

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I had a terrible year. I hunt in the 9r region. Wasn't seeing deer during archery or rifle season. Luckily I was able to get some venison but it was a terrible year. We didn't have no where near the shots you hear on opening day. It seemed as if no one was hunting. I think we have decided were planting food plots on some of the old logging roads to try and hold the deer on the lease. We know they are bedding on the side hill but are leaving before sunrise and going to unknown locations. 

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I've hunted Coshocton County in central Ohio for the past 20+ years. Coshocton always had the highest deer kill in the state, now you hardly hear a shot. We always had deer hanging during gun season. Since the amish community has grown the deer are almost non existent. The law doesn't apply to them

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You left out one huge affect on this.  Standing corn.  It is my understanding that bc the corn was put in late due to excessive rain that it didn’t mature until late.  In addition the same farmer told me the moisture content was still too high to harvest until just recently and if notice much is still up. 

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12 minutes ago, nybuckboy said:

You left out one huge affect on this.  Standing corn.  It is my understanding that bc the corn was put in late due to excessive rain that it didn’t mature until late.  In addition the same farmer told me the moisture content was still too high to harvest until just recently and if notice much is still up. 

They just started combining the corn behind me yesterday.  They've been laying up in there all day and coming out into the fields after dark.  Every morning there were piles of fresh tracks in and out of the corn from the night before.


Happiness is cupped wings.

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7 hours ago, nybuckboy said:

You left out one huge affect on this.  Standing corn.  It is my understanding that bc the corn was put in late due to excessive rain that it didn’t mature until late.  In addition the same farmer told me the moisture content was still too high to harvest until just recently and if notice much is still up. 

You are absolutely correct. I've been hearing that but it slipped my mind. 


 

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I was fortunate.  I saw only real  nice 41/2 yo on cam that got shot by a youth. Pretty much bummed me out but happy for the kid. Never saw much happening mature buck wise until the 9th and then got a decent 8 with bow same one I saw on 9th. Then on Nov 30 scored on another much nicer 8. Overall sighting were down on both buck and doe most of the season.  


A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still

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NO LACK OF DEER SINCE BOW PASSED MANY BUCKS  THIS ONE WAS TAKEN IN DAVONPORT. 21 POINTER WENT TO PICK UP MEAT AND MY BUTCHER CAN"T TAKE ANYMORE DEER PLENTY OF 8 -10 POINTERS I AM TRYING TO POST A 13 POINTER BUT FOR SOME REASON AM UNABLE TO.THE 13 WAS TAKEN NEAR NEW BERLIN SCHOOL ...IT IS  ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE

21 pointer.jpg

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On 12/14/2019 at 8:00 PM, hunterman7956 said:

NO LACK OF DEER SINCE BOW PASSED MANY BUCKS  THIS ONE WAS TAKEN IN DAVONPORT. 21 POINTER WENT TO PICK UP MEAT AND MY BUTCHER CAN"T TAKE ANYMORE DEER PLENTY OF 8 -10 POINTERS I AM TRYING TO POST A 13 POINTER BUT FOR SOME REASON AM UNABLE TO.THE 13 WAS TAKEN NEAR NEW BERLIN SCHOOL ...IT IS  ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE

 

Several things here:

1 - What you said is not inconsistent with what I'm hearing. Success rates have been low, with many people doing poorly opening weekend of rifle. However, the bucks that were harvested seem to include a pretty high percentage of older deer. Why, in my unscientific sample, we should be seeing increasing buck ages is interesting. Is this do to less overall hunting pressure? These are not AR units I'm discussing. Or, are the individuals and various groups of cooperating neighbors who are voluntarily passing on young bucks making a difference? 

2 - That your butcher can't handle more deer could easily be due to that crook in South Edmeston being banned from cutting deer. He was the biggest processor in a large region. The hundreds of deer he did each season went somewhere.

3 - The Davenport buck is both an aberration, and in a Delaware County an AR unit. My data may be unscientific but one buck is one data point.

While on the topic of older bucks, the largest buck in living memory in my neighborhood was taken within a stone's throw of Virgil's cabin this season. It was killed by one of the large group that conducts drives around here. With 25 or 30 hunters, there is a much better chance of moving a deer like that out of it daytime haunt. It's likely someone had to almost step on it to move it. A common concern is that too few hunters are moving deer. Those large drives move deer but can be a blessing or a curse.

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Here my take on it.... I hunt 7m, this year exclusively. I did not fill a tag, my choice. I passed on alot of doe, and 2 buck that needed a couple more years. Targeted 1 mature 10 point (second year search) he one.... again. The complaints I have noticed boil down to management tactics... Population is high... Dec issues alot of DMPs... I belive this was year 4. 7m offers ALOT of state land with reasonable access. So the past 4 years pressure and take on these areas was very high... Deer aren't dumb... they move deeper, or low pressure private, so now the easy pickings are no longer there. Get off the beaten path, move to the fringes, and the deer were there. Just my take.

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'life is hard, its harder when your stupid' John Wayne

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My observations:  I hunt 4G/4R and belong to a club where guys hunt 4F as well. Its all northern Catskills type land...mountains/hills/woodland bordering agriculture (hay, corn, cattle, etc).  We had 19 guns out on Opening Day and only 1 spike was taken by a youth hunter. I was told by others in the area that it was the quietest opening day weekend in recent memory, and I also heard a handful of distant shots early Saturday morning and that was all for the rest of the weekend.  After opening day, a few deer were taken by our club, but not in the numbers of prior years. I took a nice 8 over Thanksgiving weekend that happened to be following a doe around while she was eating some acorns.  Just dumb luck really as they were the only 2 deer I saw in 4 days of rifle hunting.

I think several things may have affected this.  On my cameras, I had a lot of activity at night and during foul weather in early November/late bow season. The activity in rain and wind surprised me. I hunted a couple of those late bow days that were clear and saw only 2 deer but did not have a shot at them. I did not see much activity on my camera the week after Opening Day.  I'm not sure when the timing of the rut was but to those saying the rutting activity wasn't there, that's false. It is there every year in November, like clockwork. It always happens whether or not you see it is a different story.  The timing varies by a few days and there are different stages of the rut, so it all depends on when you're in the woods. I think the buck I got may have been following a doe as she got closer to her second estrous. So perhaps the first estrous was in the first week of November.

The late spring may have kept some deer in the ag fields longer versus in the woods on typical runs and working scrapes.  As others said, some corn was still standing late into the fall.  Also, there were acorns all over the place this year.  So deer did not have to travel much for food, even in the later season.  I also think there may be fewer hunters out there in general, at least in my part of the state.  By watching YouTube videos and reading this forum, there are stark differences between the size and number of deer in the western vs eastern part of NYS and the way they are hunted too. I think due to the ARs in most of the catskills and the relative few DMPs issued, you are just seeing fewer people walking through the woods pushing deer around.  That said, when I have seen bucks, they've usually been 2.5-3.5 year old 6 or 8 pointers....different than the spikes and forks we saw all over the place 5-10 years ago. So in a way that's a positive, but I do think the ARs while having some benefit, may be keeping the casual downstate/city guy from making a day or weekend trip up to the mountains pushing deer around. 

So I feel given the abundance of food (a positive thing for the herd) and fewer walking hunters, deer just didn't have to move very far.  When they don't move, we don't see them.

 

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My hope is, this was a peculiar year. That it was temporary. That the extreme cold and noisy snow reduced hunter movement opening weekend - the best 2 days of the year for kills. That food sources were unusual. That things will be normal next year.  

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It's funny to listen to all the theories about why there are so many deer or so few deer. Most of them sound fairly credible because we all have had the same thoughts at one time or another. 

The one observation that I keep encountering is the shrinking numbers of hunters. Fewer and fewer people pushing deer around during daylight hours. And yet there are just enough to keep the deer reminded that a deer season is in progress so that they stay in their survival mode.

The other thing to remember is that all deer hunting is local. I have heard differing opinions between hunters that are on next-door properties. We can't be everywhere at once, so the guy on the other side of town has as valid and opinion and observations as anyone else. And they may both be right.

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