Hunter’s Corner: Fall is the most wonderful time of the year

Hunter’s Corner
Published: 10/2/2019 10:54:21 PM

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, fall.

When Ranee and I were newlyweds living in Southern California we experienced two distinct seasons, 10½ months of summer and 1 months of blah, no fall at all. We moved back to the east coast in November, 1971. We arrived at my folk’s place in upstate New York two days before Thanksgiving. The next day was an Indian summer day extraordinaire and we had a great time raking leaves. That night it started snowing and didn’t stop until later the next evening. Welcome home.

Cool nights and warm days highlight our fall. Bright colors and farm harvests are but the frosting on the cake. Normally, our fall rains begin around Sept. 21. It didn’t happen this year as September was a relatively dry month. This suggests that the fall colors will be very bright but for a very short time period.

Oct. 1 is the opening day of the small game season and not a moment too soon. The No. 1 small game species is the Ruffed Grouse (partridge). No surprise here. Nothing beats the excitement of a flushed partridge. I can still remember my first partridge. I was 15 and had recently purchased from my brother an Ithaca Model 37 Featherweight, which I still have only my son has taken a fondness for it. We were hunting in Dunbar Hollow and this partridge exploded skyward. I fired and in disbelief the bird tumbled down. I was one proud young hunter. The day was capped with my mother baking the partridge for a delightful meal.

My favorite partridge shotgun now is an over/under 20 gauge. It weighs 5½ pounds and is a joy to carry and shoot. My No. 2 favorite small game is woodcock. There are two different types of woodcock, those who nest locally and flight birds. Locals can be flushed at most times during the early part of the season. The flight birds come through during a narrow window in November migrating to Cape May, New Jersey where they will wait until favorable winds to transit the Delaware Bay. The bag limits for woodcock are a daily limit of three and a possession limit of nine. The daily limit for partridge is four with no possession limit.

Two factors limit the success or failure of a partridge season. The first limiting factor is habitat. Timber harvesting is key to good partridge habitat. No cutting, no habitat which is why you have to go north for good partridge hunting. The second factor is whether or not we had a wet spring or not. A wet spring does a number on partridge chicks. Partridge will have a second hatch but not as many as if the first hatch had survived.

My third favorite is to hunt pheasant release sites. Pheasant fool many a hunter on their flush with their wings flapping as if they are flying at mock 2 when in fact it is a slow but deliberate assent. There is a two-day limit and a ten-possession limit. Fish and Game will release approximately 11,500 pheasants at 60-plus release sites.

Oct. 2 marks the opening of the waterfowl season in the northern, inland and Connecticut River zones. Oct. 3 marks the opening in the coastal zone. The daily bag limit for ducks is six with a possession of 18. The daily limit is further restricted by type; no harlequin, two mallards (one of which may be a hen), two black ducks, three wood ducks, one pintail, two canvasbacks, two red heads, two scaup, no more than four scoters, four eiders, or four long-tailed (old squaw) ducks. In addition to the six-duck limit, you can take five mergansers but since mergansers are fish eaters, I wouldn’t waste a shot on one.

The Canada goose daily limit is two with a possession limit of six. This is new this year owing to a poor nesting season.

The fall turkey season runs from Oct. 14-20. The limit is one turkey of either sex. The shotgun season for turkeys is statewide except for WMU’s A, B, C 2, C1, D 1, E and F where it is prohibited. A small game license does not allow for hunting turkeys. The reason for the exclusion of certain WMU’s is that turkeys have not reached the habitat capacity that has been experienced in other WMU’s. Right now, turkeys are feeding on grasshoppers and crickets and acorns. More likely they will be found in open fields feeding.

The hunting opportunities in October are many. It is a most wonderful time of the year. Take some time to enjoy it. If you are a non-hunter enjoying the shared outdoors please remember to wear blaze orange. As you go into the woods you will notice most hunters are wearing blaze orange because they want to be seen by other hunters and so should you.


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