From the Chair
I hope this newsletter finds everyone healthy as we put 2020 in the rearview mirror and give our full attention to 2021. I also hope everyone had a successful hunting season by whatever measure you use. It’s hard to believe hunting season is already behind us and the hard water season is upon us. Where I come from “hard water” had a totally different meaning, who knew one could actually walk on water, drill a hole through it, and drop a line...Crazy!
The New York chapter is committed to giving new hunters a place to learn solid hunting/fishing ethics, edict, and a place to network with fellow hunters and anglers. We are excited to begin offering more Virtual Learn to Hunt events this year. We understand that diversity is a key element to any successful organization, and society for that matter, and are committed to cultivating the mindset that realizes everyone has something to offer and we should all be willing to learn from one another!
We here in New York are very blessed to have many opportunities to hunt and fish on public lands. These opportunities are a great privilege that we enjoy much like our friends out west, albeit maybe not to their scale. We remind everyone to please take care of our public lands and waters and remember the golden rule, if you pack it in, pack it out! We continue to challenge you to take it a step further and pack it out even if you did not pack it in!
Stay up to date with our events at New York Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and follow us on Facebook New York Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Public Group and Instagram @newyorkbha • Instagram photos and videos. Please feel free to contact me by email at [email protected]. It may take me a day or two (or three) to respond, but I will.
-Glen Stratton, NY BHA Chairman
NYBHA volunteers shared their stories on Instagram as to why they joined BHA. Here is NYBHA Board Member Christa Whiteman’s #whyBHA story:
I believe hunting is what makes us human. The stories we tell that connect us, the food we eat that nourishes and sustains us, the skills & fitness we develop to pursue wild game, and the connection to our home - the land that sustains us - all of these aspects of hunting make us better as humans.
For me the most meaningful part is the connection to the land. When everything else has felt scary, unsettled, or insecure, a simple walk in nature has always reminded me of the truth: the land provides for us all. We all feed one another in our turn. To hunt is to take communion with the land around me.
I’m lucky to have found early on in what is my fashionably-late arrival to hunting, an organization, a community of folks who also value that land. Through @backcountryhunters, I’ve found a group of people fighting for and advocating for our public lands (and waters) - the lands that all of us as citizens of the U.S. own. To me, this is what makes America great -- that any person can have access to the abundant provision of the land. I joined BHA to be part of the community advocating for our public land and access to them so that we - and our future generations as well - can all take part in the rich traditions of hunting, fishing and sustaining ourselves upon the land.
Look at our Instagram page, and #whybha to see other volunteers and hear their motivation to be a part of this organization and community!
Photos of the Month
Delicious things come in small packages, like this trophy squirrel Ryan Monaghan harvested on a 22,000 acre piece of public land just 45 minutes from his NYC apartment.
A dream come true! Nate Kennedy took this Finger Lakes buck on November 1, on a small piece of ground with a large conservation legacy.
Muster In The Mountains Planning Update
The New York chapter is forging ahead with planning the 2021 Muster in the Mountains (MITM) event! This will be the major BHA event in the Eastern US this year. MITM will be held at Westkill Brewing in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, and will include special guest speakers, archery contests, a Hike To Hunt on surrounding public lands, a fly fishing seminar, youth activities, great food and drink, and much more! Stay tuned for more information.
NY Chapter Virtual Learn to Hunt Series Success - More to Come in 2021!
The Virtual Learn to Hunt (VLTH) series continues with a list of exciting topics! VLTH kicks off 2021 with Storytelling and Lessons Learned from the 2020 season, followed by Ice Fishing, Fly Tying, and more. If you miss the live sessions, you can find all VLTH videos on our YouTube channel at New York Backcountry Hunters & Anglers! Have a topic you’d like to see? Shoot us a message or an email and let us know!
NY Chapter Appoints New Board Members for 2021
The New York Chapter welcomes new board members Mike Barcone, John Barone, Brian Bird, Kelly Buchta, and Christa Whiteman! We look forward to their guidance and collaboration in the year to come.
Denn Knife Giveaway - Winner Winner!
@newyorkbha started a membership incentive last fall where new or renewing members were entered for a chance to win this beautiful knife set by our sponsor, Denn Handmade Knives! Made right here in NY, with local resources, Dan created these knives special for us and incorporated the BHA colors of green, white, and orange into the handle. On December 1, 2020 the winner was drawn - congrats Nate Kennedy! And big thanks to Denn Handmade Knives.
DEC Announces Release of Draft Sunfish, Crappie Management Plan
The plan proposes changes to statewide fishing regulations, aimed at providing unique opportunities and managing for larger-sized crappie and sunfish in certain waters. Public comments accepted through February 15. Check out the link below for details.
DEC Accepting Applications for Annual Pheasant Release Program
Cooperative Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program will accept applications through March 25. Visit the NYSDEC Websitefor full details and more information.
Ice Fishing Creel Survey on Lake Champlain
NYSDEC to conduct Ice Fishing Creel Survey on Lake Champlian now through March 2021. Data collected will serve as a baseline for DEC Fisheries biologists to better understand angler use and expectations, and to inform future management actions.
Next Up In NY
Even with winter upon us there are still some hunting and angling opportunities to be found! Here are some dates to keep in mind:
- Some waterfowl seasons remain open in certain parts of the state. Follow this link for more details: Summary of 2020-21 New York State Hunting Seasons
- Bowhunting for deer is open in Suffolk Country through 1/31/2021.
- Rabbit season is open through 2/28/21 in the southern zone, and 3/21/21 in the northern zone.
- Varying Hare season is open through January, February, or March 21st, depending on which zone of the state you are hunting in. See seasons and zones here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/huntsummary2020.pdf
- Pheasant season is open through 2/28/21, but only in certain zones.
- Ruffed Grouse season is open through 2/28/21 in most of the state.
- Squirrel season is open through 2/28/21.
- Various fur trapping seasons remain open through the winter months. https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/huntsummary2020.pdf
- Many ice fishing opportunities are available throughout the state.
Feature Story of the Month
Grouse Hunting on New York’s Public Land
We had great weather for the day’s grouse hunting - it was early October, partly sunny with light wind, and near-peak foliage. We were exploring public land in upstate New York. I took Autumn for the morning hunt at a new spot where I had found grouse with Willow earlier in the week. We were hunting only a few minutes when Autumn started tracking in the evergreen hollow below the abandoned woods road I walked on. As we approached a stream, she tracked up towards the road again and pointed a few yards back from the road edge on my right. Almost immediately, the grouse exploded from the left edge of the road, giving me a right crossing chance. I saw it fall at the first barrel, landing halfway up a steep bank. I sent Autumn with "dead bird" and after a minute of searching, she had her grouse. We paused to admire her bird, and to be grateful for the wild places where grouse live.
We continued hunting around a swamp where we had found birds on the previous hunt. As we approached the swamp, Autumn found scent, and in another minute pointed. I was barely able to approach her before the grouse went out, staying behind cover, more noise than sight, with no chance for a shot. That’s the way many birds go out this time of year, before the leaves have fallen. It appeared to be headed across the swamp, so we looped around to the other side, but did not find it. We hunted up the stream beyond the swamp but moved no more birds, even though the cover looked good. We looped back, moving no more birds, and headed back to camp to prepare for the afternoon hunt.
For the afternoon hunt, Diane came to take photos as we hunted Willow and Autumn together. We walked old logging roads to provide photo opportunities. Willow worked the sides nicely and was soon tracking a grouse in thick brush and young evergreens. I heard her bell stop abruptly, indicating a point, followed by Autumn going on point too. I couldn't see either dog in the dense cover but I surmised that Autumn was honoring Willow’s point. I walked into the brushy cover, seeing a weedy logging trail that would provide a clear view and a fast way to approach Willow. I only had to punch through a few yards of thick spruce. While I was handcuffed in the spruce, the grouse went out, flying right down the logging road and right across my view. I couldn't even begin to swing my gun in the young spruce. Note to self, burst through those spruce thickets as quickly as possible when approaching a point.
Willow continued to work the same side and was soon onto another track. I heard her point by the silence of her bell, began moving to her, and was not able to enter the thick cover before I heard a flush. I strained to hear the direction it was taking and realized it was quartering towards the road. I swung and mounted my gun towards the sound as the grouse burst from cover at full afterburner, quartering left and away. It dropped to my first barrel. "Did you get it!" I heard Diane say behind me, as I watched the bird run into cover on two good legs. I sent both dogs with "dead bird". Willow took off down the hill. I took my cap off and placed it on the ground to mark where the bird had fallen, and glanced at my watch - Willow was on point 74 yards out. She was down a slope that was so steep, Diane and I needed to use our hands to get down. I finally got to Willow, finding her on point almost at the bottom of the slope. As I approached, the grouse ran out, and after a short chase, Willow had her bird. Diane was making her way down the slope to us and I shouted up to her, "Willow has her bird!". We all paused to admire the bird and Diane took photos of Willow and her relieved man. It was not a perfect shot, and not the ideal situation, but it happens to all bird hunters and it highlights the important contribution a dog can make after the shot. We climbed back up the steep ban of the creek bottom, found my hat, and continued hunting. After a long track, Autumn went on point in sparse cover. Diane got some photos of me approaching her point, and we heard the grouse flush, so far in the distance we could not see it. On the way back the dogs cooled off in a spring fed stream, and back at the truck we took more photos to remember the day before getting on our way.
There were grouse and points for both dogs, and time well spent on some of New York’s wild public lands with Diane and the dogs. How do you cap off a day like this? With dinner and beers on the patio of the local craft brewery, then back to camp for a fire. It doesn't get much better than that.
Want to go but not sure where to start? The New York DEC has an interactive mapping app that shows all of the NY public lands m
anaged by the DEC. The map is called the “DECInfo Locator” and is located at https://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/109457.html. There are some great resources online for new upland hunters, and it seems like new ones are springing up all the time. For example, Project Upland has partnered with BHA on projects such as the #publicgrouse documentary. Their website, https://projectupland.com, is loaded with content and much of it geared towards new hunters. Upland hunting podcasts have gone from almost none, to a lot in recent years. Google upland hunting podcast or bird hunting podcast and you will get dozens of hits.
NYBHA Sponsor Shoutouts
Email [email protected] For information to become a sponsor of New York BHA.