From the Chair
On a recent trip to the Saranac Lake region I noticed that there was some color in the mountains and the mornings were crisp. Yes, it’s getting to be that time of year when we start shifting gears into the most wonderful time of year. That’s right, hunting season! I hope your scouting trips have proven productive, your weapon is tuned up, your personal fitness is in order and your “to-do” list is cleared.
I would like to extend a personal thanks to all of the folks that helped plan and execute an awesome Muster in the Mountains, and especially thank those that attended or contributed in any way. It would not have been a success without you. As a result, this month NY BHA was selected as Chapter of the month. Congratulations and thank you!
Our chapter is growing not only in membership but in reputation as well. In an effort to keep the pace up and continue our growth, we are going to be sending out an email in the coming weeks to recruit new board members and team members. I can’t stress enough the importance of our teams. The regional event coordinators are crucial to our success. In a nutshell, this team helps members plan and implement events. Speaking of events, if you would like to host one but don’t know where to start, send me an email and I’ll steer you in the right direction. The communications team is responsible for keeping members informed though all communication channels. The policy team keeps the finger on the pulse so to speak, and I hope you have found their “policy primers” useful. We look forward to hearing from you.
As you head afield this season, please enjoy the moment. If you’re on public land, relish in the privilege. Before you send your projectile downrange, know what you are aiming at and more importantly, what is beyond your target. Hope everyone has a SAFE and successful season!
Stay up to date with events that we are planning at https://www.backcountryhunters.org/new_york and follow us on social media; Facebook and instagram @newyorkbha. Please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. It may take me a day or two (or three) to respond but I will respond.
And last, but not least, please Join Us as a member of BHA. We have a lot of work to do and we need you with us.
— Glen Stratton, NY BHA Chairman
This month’s #whyBHA is from NY BHA Board Member Gary Maerz:
Hei Alle! I’m @germanikangler. I joined BHA in March 2019, became a Regional Event Coordinator for Region 1 (Long Island), and am currently a BHA Life Member and member of the NY BHA Board. I am also on the Muster in the Mountains planning team.
I'm 37 yrs old and have been a multi-species angler since I was three. I spent a great deal of time outdoors in my youth due to the good fortune of being in a scouting (BSA) family and my parents buying a trailer in the Poconos Mountains when I was nine.
Time in the woods and on the water eventually gave way to high school sports. My college years were marked by a tremendous amount of time studying with the occasional Friday night out; so Saturday mornings were hard to come by. I fished occasionally but overall was inside more than a decade.
When life settled down (just a bit) I dedicated more free time to the outdoors, initially as an angler and then as a fashionably late hunter (Shameless Plug: see "Fashionably Late" at @hunttoeat ).
When I decided to pursue hunting, I became familiar with Steven Rinella, the MeatEater crew, and @backcountryhunters I had incorrectly assumed it was a Western organization until I came across the NY BHA Facebook group and the @eastwesthuntpodcast
I was immediately drawn to the energy BHA brought to the conservation arena and was greeted by an open-minded, helpful, and welcoming community. Few organizations will ever "get" who I am so completely. And while we may not have the same issues with public land as they have out west, we have our own issues and public land stewardship is the only way to ensure future generations can enjoy the splendor of our land.
I joined BHA because Conservation is more than a hashtag.
— Check out our Instagram page, and #whybha to see other volunteers and hear their motivation to be a part of this organization and community!
Photo of the Month
Kelley Stratton enjoying the beauty of Rock Pond in the High Peaks Wilderness.
Habitat Projects with DEC at Hi Tor and Jersey Hills
In May, Region 8 volunteers partnered with NYSDEC at High Tor Wildlife Management Area for a tree planting project that included removal of invasive species. DEC’s Young Forest Initiative is taking New York’s public lands in the right direction for wildlife and hunting, and the Region 8 staff was a lot of fun to work alongside.
In the same month, chapter volunteers partnered with NYSDEC’s Land and Forests Division to improve wildlife habitat on a recent timber harvest in the Jersey Hill State Forest. Brush piles were created, seedlings were planted, and brush cages were created to protect seedlings.
Great work by both of these teams!
NYSDEC Region 8 Forester Emily Bonk planting trees at High Tor WMA (NYSDEC Photo)
Teamwork at High Tor WMA (NYSDEC Photo)
Hunting Mentorship for BIPOC Would-Be Hunters
NY BHA has been working with Hunters of Color, The Nature Conservancy, and National Deer Association to create a visionary hunting mentorship program for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) aspiring hunters in New York State. Across the U.S., non-white citizens account for only 7% of license sales. It’s imperative to our sporting future that the demographics of the hunting community more closely reflect the demographics of the country at large, so there are more voices to speak up for and protect our public lands and our sporting heritage.
This mentorship opportunity will be based on NDA’s proven Field to Fork program, that not only gets new adult hunters in the field with the help of local mentors, but connects them regionally and through local food. Establishing this relationship helps bring new hunters in not just for a single hunt, but support them through the whole process, from hunter safety and license buying to butchering and cooking their first animal, helping bring them into the hunting community for we hope will be years to come.
Through this program as well and our partnership with The Nature Conservancy, we have the opportunity to showcase the very best attributes of our hunting community and build relationships that will hopefully open some new opportunities for Capital-region and NY hunters at large.
BHA has been specifically tasked with providing mentors for our new hunters. We are proud that our membership is viewed by these organizations as models of safe, respectful, conservation- and community-minded hunters. The first year of this program, we will be accepting 8-10 new hunters in the field for the opening weekend of crossbow season outside of Albany. (Matthews has generously donated crossbows for use by our new hunters.) NY BHA leadership has secured mentor commitments for most of our mentors, but if this is an opportunity that you are passionate about and would like to volunteer as a mentor, please reach out to us [email protected].
If you know new hunters who would like to participate, please have them apply through Hunters of Color (on IG at @huntersofcolor and huntersofcolor.org) Application deadline for new hunters to participate is September 15.
Legislative Outreach on Lead Ammo Ban
On Tuesday, June 1, the NYS Assembly placed a bill that would ban use of lead ammo on state lands, as well as NYC DEP watershed lands, just two votes away from the Governor's Desk. The NY Chapter sent out an action alert, with many members contacting their state representatives, to urge alternate solutions. The following is a summary of the NY Board’s statement and position regarding the lead ammo ban:
While BHA shares the goal of transitioning away from lead ammunition, our experiences in other states show that high-percentage compliance in that transition is best achieved through hunter education. If you want to change behavior, you're going to need buy-in from the people affected, and in this case, that's the hunting community. Education is a key component of compliance.
A ban would also likely hurt rural communities most, where access to non-lead alternatives is minimal, and comes at a premium price-point. There is an increase in cost between budget lead ammo and non-lead alternatives, and this might affect many of us out there hunting for our own food, and may affect the numbers of us that head afield.
In addition, and as an important facet to the discussion, a DEC work group is currently engaged on this very topic, and should be allowed to finish their findings prior to any statutory enactment, so that any policy decisions are based in science. We've compiled a list of constructive options to work with policy makers within our action alert. Through cooperative and constructive dialogue in which all interests are considered, we can work towards broad adoption of non-lead ammunition without the need for a ban. Let's speak up and present the hunting community with a leadership opportunity to showcase our commitment to the wildlife on our public lands and the resources we all share.
NYS Releases Final Deer Management Plan
NYSDEC recently released the final draft of its latest NYS Deer Management Plan. The plan “aligns public values for deer with ecological data to advance management decisions that benefit deer, deer habitats, and New Yorkers”, according to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
Key elements of the plan include strategies for disease prevention, increased hunter opportunity, community based deer management, and understanding public values.
Proposed regulation changes include:
- Strategically increasing antlerless harvest where necessary by establishing a 9-day season for antlerless deer beginning the 2nd Saturday in September with firearms in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A, and 9F, and with bows in WMUS 1C, 3S, 4J, and 8C;
- Reinstating either-sex deer harvest opportunity during the early muzzleloader season in WMUs 6A, 6F, and 6J;
- Extending the legal hunting hours for deer and bear to begin 30 minutes before meteorological sunrise and end 30 minutes after meteorological sunset, consistent with legal hunting hours in most other states; and
- Increasing hunter safety by requiring all hunters pursuing deer or bear with a firearm, or anyone accompanying them, to wear a solid or patterned fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat or vest or jacket.
For more information please visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/press/123167.html.
Next Up In NY
Fall hunting seasons are right around the corner! Here are a few highlights of what is coming up next in NY:
Waterfowl & Small Game:
- September 1: Canada Geese Early Season
- September 1: Crow
- September 1: Squirrel (Nov 1 on Long Island)
- September 20: Northern Zone Ruffed Grouse
- October 1: Southern Zone Ruffed Grouse
- October 1: Woodcock
- October 1: Cottontail Rabbit & Varying Hare (Nov 1 on Long Island)
- Ducks: Varied - See Link
- Pheasants: Varied - See Link
- September 27: Northern Zone Early Bowhunting
- October 1: Southern Zone Early Bowhunting
- October 1: Westchester County and Suffolk County Bowhunting
- See all 2021 Big Game Seasons Here: Deer and Bear Hunting Seasons - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
- October 1: Northern Zone Fall Turkey
- October 16: Southern Zone Fall Turkey
- See Fall Turkey season details here: Turkey Hunting Seasons - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Feature of the Month: Muster in the Mountains
Congrats y'all - you did it! The NY Chapter pulled off a successful 2021 Muster in the Mountains event. This gathering of like minded conservationists is the biggest and baddest of BHA events for us East Coasters, and you all knocked it out of the park!
I was unable to make it, and I’m still feeling the FOMO. That said, I was able to watch from afar as you all celebrated our public lands and showed out in support of all things BHA. I caught up with Land Tawney after the weekend too, and he was definitely riding high on the wave that was his awesome trip to Westkill. From the conservation dinner to the friendly Catskill locals, his remarks about this adventure in New York State makes me think it will not be his last!
We owe a huge shout out to the NY chapter leadership, the MITM planning team, Mike and the Westkill Brewing staff, the BHA staff, and each and every person who showed love and support for this event. We would also like to thank Northhill Outdoors for their generous support of the event, Dette Flies for putting on the fly casting workshop, and Adirondack Mountain & Stream Guide Service for donating guided trips for our fundraising events.
Teamwork really does make the dream work!
— Nate Kennedy
Chef Manny Rogue of Lis Bar prepares lamb barbacoa, the main course at the Conservation Dinner, cooked the traditional way, wrapped in agave leaves and slow cooked in a pit buried in the ground. (Photo: Mike Poulopolous)
All of the food at the Conservation Dinner was incredible. (Photo: Mike Poulopolous)
Land Tawney chats with Westkill Brewing owner Michael Barcone, and Chef Manny Rogue of Lis Bar. (Photo: Mike Poulopolous)
Craig Buckbee, instructor and guide from Dette Flies, demonstrates fly casting. (Photo: Brian Bird)
Taking aim on the Muster 3D archery course. (Photo: Brian Bird)
NYBHA Sponsor Shoutouts
Check out our sponsors on Instagram:
Email [email protected] For information to become a sponsor of New York BHA.