With the 2012-13 licenses going on sale and small game season under way, one has a tendency to think about to crisp fall mornings and tracking in snow. Along with all the excitement comes the responsibility all hunters need to understand.
There are many things that sportsmen need to consider when they purchase their tags. Knowing your equipment, being accurate with weapons, safety, knowledge of the land your hunting and as much information about the game that one is pursuing is key, just to name a few. But, today's sportsmen are knowledgeable. They use all the information they can get their hands on.
In the world of the hunting and fishing, there are few things that will start heated conversations more than discussing proper wildlife management. Some folks feel that taking does is a waste of the resource. Others are convinced that feeding wildlife during the harsh winter months is the right way to do things. Then are those that feel taking only mature males will keep the herds or flocks in check. And of course there are some that feel that Mother Nature will take care of herself and the critters that roam the woodlots.
I have long believed that two of the best ways to manage the deer herd and turkey flock is to control habitat and harvest an equal or greater number of females.
For those that remember the old days of deer hunting with the 3-on-1 doe permits, today's system is liberal to say the least. Once the state decided that year in and year out the same successful hunters harvest more deer and turkey, getting the permits in the hands of the sportsmen that will use them has done more for keeping the deer herd check then other single management tool that the state has issued in the history of the agency.
The last few years has seen hunters getting more and more permits each season. This and last season are going to be different.
While I often don't totally agree with the way the state runs or sees things, it's my feeling that in the case of managing the deer population they have a good handle on it. While there are many things I would like see change, it took years to get the program to the point we are now.
Taking it one step further will take some time, but if the present system is any indication, there is hope for new changes. Having hunted other states that have check-in systems I have seen first hand their program works and what makes it successful.
In a prefect world I and others of like mind would like a system that rewards successful hunters and does an equally good job of management. A check-in system that would include one tag that would include a three-deer-one buck and two-does multi tags available to hunters. The three-deer system would work like this:
A hunter would be allowed three deer, two of which must be does and other must be a buck. Hunters could shoot one buck if ]desired, but to purchase another tag he would have to shoot two does. The deer could be taken in any order.
With this system successful hunters would basically be in charge of how the herd is managed. It also wouldn't upset those that like the old system of taking one buck, but will also allow those that want to shoot does have to harvest bucks.
While this may be a pie-in-the-sky approach, it's not original. States such as Ohio and Illinois have had great success with this system.
To take the program one more step, a minimum antler width, like our friends in the Keystone State have, would take our management program to the next level.
If you want to see bucks and have big bucks in the future, we have to change the we hunt. Harvesting does will keep the herd in check and will increase the odds of having bigger bucks in the future.
The same could be done with done with the turkey population. Chautauqua County spring and fall turkey hunters traditionally harvest more birds than any other county in the state. Being the No. 1 county in the state means we have some of the finest turkey hunters around, but it also means we have some of the smartest birds in the state.
With the fall turkey season just around the corner in Chautauqua County, it's important that we all do our part in keeping the local flocks in check with harvesting mature hens.
If you've hunted spring turkeys for any time, you no doubt have been cut off by a mature boss hen. With only bearded birds allowed during the spring season, it's up to those that hunt the fall season to harvest the mature hens. While I know everybody wants to harvest a mature gobbler, it's important for the future that we harvest hens in the fall.
While current regulations state that either sex can be taken in the fall, it's important that we choose to harvest hens during the fall.
While the introduction of the wild turkey into New York and the success of the program has been well documented, it's time we as sportsmen do our part by taking a mature hen in the fall.
Whichever side of the fence you stand on, it's important to know that it's the sportsmen that are the ones that make final decision just before they pull the trigger or release that arrow.