Big game hunters bear down as harvest tops 1,350


New York bear hunters took 1,358 black bears during the 2013 hunting seasons, making last year's kill the second highest on record. Most of those bruins were pulled out of the Southeastern Range as hunters took a record 636 - up from the 442 taken in 2012.

Of those 636, bowhunters took 201 and muzzleloaders killed four. Percentage wise the male/female ratio was 57-43 respectively.

Since bear hunting is prohibited in Montgomery County no bruins were killed in that neck of the woods -- at least not legally anyway. On the other hand, 10 were killed in Fulton County with two during the early hunt (Bleecker and Johnstown) and two during the bow season (Stratford). In total kill, Bleecker accounted for 3, as did Oppenhein. One was taken in Ephratah. In neighboring Schoharie and Otsego counties hunters took 17 and 8 respectively.

It was a whole different story in Hamilton County where hunters dragged 60 bruins from out of the big woods, with Long Lake leading the way with 12 - two during the early season and two during the Muzzleloading season. This was followed by Arietta and Wells with 11 each; Indian Lake 7; Benson, Lake Pleasant and Morehouse with 5 each. The township of Hope rounded out the Hamilton County kill with 4 -- all taken during the early hunt. Of the 60 total, 8 were killed during the early hunt, Robin Hoods took 1 and Davy Crockett's put the muzzle on 9.

Of course if your serious about shooting a bear this fall, you may want to think about hunting in Sullivan or Ulster counties. A quarter of the Southeastern area kill was taken from these two counties - 133 in Sullivan (49 with bow), 132 in Ulster (27 with bow). You can narrow your search down even further by looking for a spot in the towns of Rockland, Thompson and Forestburgh in Sullivan County and Denning, Shandaken and Wawarsing in Ulster County. Those townships gave up 120 bruins between them.

With a kill of 109, Delaware County is another hotspot, and with all the property the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has purchased and opened up for hunting during the last several years there is no shortage of land to hunt. Just look for the Blue/White DEP signs and walk in. Hancock and Colchester would be a good place to start, keeping in mind that ATV's and other motor vehicles are prohibited on all DEP lands.

A record 77 were dragged out of Greene County, 16 by archers, 1 during the late muzzleloading season and 60 during the regular firearms season. Of the 11 townships, Lexington was tops with 21, followed by Hunter with 17; Prattsville, 8; Windham, 6; Catskill and Jewett, 5; Ashland, Cairo and Durham 4; Halcott 2 and New Baltimore 1.

One of those Lexington bears was taken by Harry Feinies -- a 250-pound boar that wore a couple of New Jersey tags in its ears. Seems the nuisance bear was relocated from one New Jersey site to another the previous June and traveled 107 miles before Feinies ended its journey. The bear must have been eating pretty good along the way because it had gained 132 pounds by the time it made the mistake of stepping into Feinies' sights..

Of the other Southeastern Zone counties, seven were taken in Albany County; 13 in Broome County; 2 in Chenango County; 11 in Columbia County; 9 in Dutchess County; 85 in Orange County; 1 in Putnam County; 14 in Rensselaer County; and 18 in Washington County.

Taking a more through look at the Adirondack Range, a total of 380 bruins were tagged -- 84 during the early season, 15 during the bowhunting season, 35, during the muzzleloader season, and the remaining 246 dying from lead poisoning.

That was way short of the 606 taken in 2012, but as wildlife biologists pointed out, the Adirondack bear harvest is the tale of two seasons. Bear harvest during the mid-September through mid-October early season, is strongly influenced by availability of soft mast such as apples, cherries and berries and last year there was an abundance of each. Because of it, the bruins didn't move around very much, and unless a hunter was sneaking around their bailiwick, the bears were safer than a hibernating woodchuck. In any event, the early season only accounted for 84 bears compared to 386 the year before.

Of the 12 counties that make up the region, St. Lawrence County was tops with 77, followed by Hamilton County with 60; Lewis County, 49; Herkimer County, 31; Warren County, 30; Clinton and Franklin counties 28 each; Essex County 22; Jefferson, 21; Saratoga 14, with hunters in Fulton and Oneida counties each tagging 10.

The Central-Western bear hunting area accounted for 342 more which was the second highest kill in that region.

Several of those statewide bears dressed out at more then 500 pounds -- large animals by any standard -- but small when compared to Pennsylvania where a half-dozen bears weighed more than 600 pounds with one tipping the scale at 772 pounds.

But even those Pennsy bruins were dwarfed by the 829.5-pound black bear taken in New Jersey in 2011. That bruin established a new Garden State record, and now stands guard at the Pequest trout hatchery - all 6 foot 11 inches of it.

Incidentally, Pennsylvania hunters harvested a total of 3,510 bears in 2013. What's even more remarkable about that kill is the season is only 8 days long -- four-day archery and four-day gun.

That said, all New York hunters who reported their harvest and submit a tooth, 680 hunters in 2013, the DEC provides a NYS Black Bear Cooperator Patch and a letter informing them of their bear's age. The agency is still processing tooth submissions from 2013, and by September, all successful bear hunters will have received a patch - some more than one, since during the first couple of weeks of the early season, hunters could have taken one on their 2012 tag.

New outdoors book

covers it all

This is hardly the time to be reading a book what with trout doing the backstroke in area streams, striped bass making their way up the Hudson River, walleye and Northern pike wishing the first Saturday in May wasn't so early this year and turkey hunting season just a gobble away. But the "Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia" is no ordinary book. It's more of a full color how-to outdoor guide covering every aspect of the outdoors, including hunting and shooting, sweet and saltwater fishing and boating and camping.

Other sections include game animals and birds, gamefish and how to catch and cook them. Archery and bowhunting, wilderness survival, all terrain vehicles, GPS and sporting dogs are also covered. There are even specialty sections on fly-fishing, sporting clays and backpacking. Fact is, if it's the least bit connected with the outdoors, it is - as the people who make Ragu spaghetti and pasta sauce say - "in there."

I know, who needs books when you can download all the information you want from the Internet, and in some regards I have to agree. But what you won't get off the Internet is the more than 60 years of experience the author brings to the books 640 pages, not to mention all the money you'll be saving on ink.

Written by Outdoor Life editor emeritus Vin T. Sparano, the book is a revision of the authors mid-1970's version and in my humble opinion, a much better publication. For one thing the single source four-pound soft-cover tome is published on triple-layered high quality coated paper, making the text easier to read and bringing the more than 1,300 full color photographs and 1,000 diagrams and illustrations to life.

Published by Universe Publishing, the Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia is available for $35 at book stores or online from Barnes and Noble or

Help Wanted

Responsive Management (RM) is seeking input from hunters, shooters and anglers for its 2016 National Survey. Held in conjunction with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Archery Trade Association, and the American Sportfishing Association, RM needs to know what would make the National Survey more valuable to its users. Make sure your opinion is represented -- visit our online forum at and leave a comment telling us what the National Survey needs to be for you.

The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation is widely recognized as the most comprehensive ongoing measurement of participation rates and associated economic data for these activities. To participate visit:

Some anglers still having an ice time, others head south for trout

Ice fishing has slowed down quite a bit, although some anglers continue to drill holes in Fawns Lake. More popular in summer for its sandy beach and easily accessed backcountry campsites, Fawn Lake is also noted for its population of wild brook trout, which is why many of Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton County anglers have been drilling holes in it since the start of trout season; but even that is beginning to slow down. Fishing at the impoundment in all likelihood will pick up again when the lake sheds its winter coat and wild brookies can be caught from shore near deep water areas.

In the meantime, many area trout fishers have been fishing the Rock City Falls section of the Kayaderosseras Creek, and for good reason -- the trout have been cooperative.

Gov. Cuomo allocates $4 Million for state hatchery repairs

The DEC recently announced that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has allocated $4 million to address critical infrastructure repair needs in the state's fish hatchery system. Specifically, DEC will make repairs to hatcheries, including boiler replacements at Chautauqua Hatchery in Western New York and Oneida Hatchery in the Mohawk Valley, and rearing pond (raceway) repairs at several DEC hatcheries. Building repair and improvement projects are also in the works for Caledonia Hatchery in the Finger Lakes. In addition, DEC plans to purchase 16 new fish stocking trucks with fish life support systems that are essential for the safe delivery of stocked fish.

According to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens the work will be funded through NY Works III - a program designed to improve and better preserve the state's infrastructure in order to guard against the need for more costly, in-depth construction. Now while I applaud Gov. Cuomo's efforts on this; repairs to state hatcheries could, and should have been done years ago.

There is about $50 million sitting in the Conservation Fund but for some reason the DEC hasn't been able to touch it. That's one of the reasons why the cost of sporting licenses have been reduced.

Now comes news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will distribute nearly $1.1 billion in excise tax revenues paid by sportsmen and sportswomen to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies to fund fish and wildlife conservation and recreation projects across the nation.

The FWS apportions the funds to all 50 states and territories through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration programs. Revenues come from excise taxes generated by the sale of sporting firearms, ammunition, archery equipment, fishing equipment and tackle, and electric outboard motors. Recreational boaters also contribute to the program through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

The FWS reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of each eligible project, while state fish and wildlife agencies contribute a minimum of 25 percent, generally using hunting and fishing license revenues as the required non-federal match. Funding is paid by manufacturers, producers and importers and is distributed by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program to each state and territory. New York's appropriation is $28,467,902.

For more information on the program and for individual state, commonwealth, and territorial funding allocations visit


Several weeks ago I mentioned that the Reid Hill Fish and Game Club, posthumously recognized two of its deceased members - Dan Mazur and Jerry Koller, presenting the families of each with the Frank Bubniak Award. RHFGC president Clem DaBiere recently told me that Mazur's first name was Dave, not Dan as previously published. Also the club's kids fishing derby will be held on Sunday, May 18, not the 19.

Dropping anchor 'til next time.


To contact Dick Nelson with an event, club news or to send a photograph email: or Events should include the what, where, when and cost (if any). Photographs should include name of subject(s), town of residency and a brief description of what the photo entails.