For hunters, the resident goose early season began on September 1 and ends on September 30. Squirrel season also opened on September 1 and runs through February 28. Squirrel hunting has attracted many young people to the sport of hunting, and this is a great time to be in the woods.
Pheasant hunting was “the thing” when I was a kid and my dad and I ate a lot of those popular birds. They were beautiful birds, cunning, easy to clean and excellent to eat. There were many of them in the past even though they were not a native bird. They could be hunted with a dog or simply thrown by the hunter in the field. We always had good Springer Spaniels to find and clean the birds for us. So the land was more open to public hunting and it seemed like everyone hunted.
Today the pheasant has basically disappeared from our rural areas. The growth of large-scale agriculture led to the removal of much of its habitat: hedgerows and fallow fields. Their food sources dried up and there was little cover to protect them from predators.
As the pheasant population declined, their numbers were bolstered by birds raised by the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s four game farms and by individuals, including children in 4-H. I myself raised about 600 birds in 4-H. DEC’s White Game Farm in Alabama provided plenty of birds for local hunters and day old chicks for 4-H kids to raise, until it and two other DEC pheasant farms closed years ago. Now, there is only one such farm in New York, Reynolds Game Farm near Ithaca, which has been in operation since 1927. It distributes adult pheasants throughout the state before and during the fall pheasant hunting season from late September. until mid-November. and their Day-Old Chick program is for 4-H’ers, as well as people who want to raise them.
These farmed birds are not the same as the wild pheasants that many of us knew many years ago. They are not “very smart” and with a lack of good cover and smaller crop fields, they are exposed to many predators on the ground and in the air. Those that spend the hunting season rarely survive the winter.
Season for this once-popular game bird begins in our area on October 15 and runs through December 31 for males only, and is limited to two per day.
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The ruffed grouse season began Oct. 1 and runs through Feb. 28 with a four-bag daily limit. Like the pheasant, the grouse is not an abundant bird in this area and is more likely to be found in the Southern Tier.
The cottontail season, another species that prompted our youngsters to hunt, runs from October 1 to February 28 with a daily bag limit of six. Rabbits seem very abundant this year, so those who enjoy hunting them should have a great year. They can be hunted with dogs or just “jump shot” and they are also very easy to clean and are just plain delicious.
Early deer season, when only antlerless deer could be taken with a firearm, bow or crossbow, has come and gone in this area. Many hunters have mixed feelings about the start of the season, as it is very hot and deer do not recover quickly, plus it puts deer on high alert ahead of the early season, which started on October 1 and lasts through October 18. of November. The regular gun season begins on November 19 and ends on December 11.
There are a lot of “special” seasons for muzzleloaders, bows, and crossbows, so you really should check them out in the State Hunting and Trapping Guide.
Duck season began Oct. 1-2 for juniors; the regular general season begins on October 15 and temporarily ends on November 15; the second half runs from November 26 to January 1. Bag limit is six per day, but no more than three wood ducks, two black ducks, or one reddish duck per day. Also, only two redheads, two canvases, one scaup, or four sea ducks can be included in the bag limit. (Note that two scaups can be taken during the special scaup season which runs from December 13 to January 1.)
Regular goose season runs from October 22 to November 6 and December 9 to January 1 with a daily limit of one bag in Region 8 (8A, 8G, and 8C). In Region 9 (9A, 9F, 9C and 9H) the season runs from October 22 to November 5 and November 26 to January 15 with a daily limit of five bags.
Turkey season (the type of bird!) opens October 15 and runs through October 28 with a seasonal bag limit of one bird, which can be a hen or a tom.
And, hey, let’s not forget those ravens. You can go after those black demons from September 1 to March 31, but only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. What’s with that? I’ve never had one, but I bet it tasted like turkey vulture.
I’m starting to think I might need a lawyer to figure out all these different seasons and baggage limits, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see law firm ads on TV soon, you know, like they are for Round Up and Camp Lejeune. .
Doug Domedon, an outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at 585-798-4022 or woodduck2020@yahoo.