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Last glimpse of spring, by Mel Hunt

“Gun” season for whitetail deer starts Saturday Novmeber 18


New regulations allow for expanding shooting hours and safety concerns

Legal shooting time is now a half hour prior to sunrise until a half hour after sunset

By Andrew Harris, photo by Chuck Wiser

Opening day of the regular big game hunting season, primarily whitetail deer, is tomorrow. Thousands of hunters are descending on the rural southern tier to partake in the annual tradition.

Things have changed dramatically over the decades, with both the hunter and the prey. As professional whitetail hunter and historian Oak Duke will tell you, the population has exploded since the post World War II era. Back when the Duke was a young buck, the herd was a fraction of the gross overpopulation of today. Finding, let along harvesting a classic “8-point,” was a rare event.

Tomorrow as the main hunt of the season begins, thousands of deer will be killed. Unlike the days of old, when black powder and twelve-gauge shotguns were the weapon of choice for most, high powered rifles are now commonplace. Military style loads like the common .223 and cousins the .243 or .22-250 allow hunters longer range capability. According to Ruger these bullets can fly for miles:

“Really good rifle bullets can travel as far asĀ 4.5 miles. A typical 223 Rem can travel about 3 miles.”

Some of the bullets used are considered “full metal jacket,” or capable of piercing light armor. The combination of the weapons range, and the nature of the bullets they fire should be of concern to hunters and the general public. Two basic safety precautions can spare someone a nightmare:

1- Wear blaze/safety orange whenever in the field

2- Be certain of your target and the trajectory of the bullet. Be certain of your “backstop” before you fire.

New regulations in New York State should create an additional safety concern. Regulators have added an additional hour to legal hunting time. Hunters may now take shots at deer both thirty minutes prior to sunrise, and thirty minutes after sunset.

Tomorrow it is legal to start shooting at 6:37am. That new reality, mixed with high-powered rifles, is hard to understand. On a cloudy, dreary morning, you can’t see safety orange and certainly not well into the distance. Deer are mere shadows, even on a bright morning.

The logic behind the changes are hard to understand but the risks are not. This will result in more hunting accidents, wounded deer, and accidental shooting of domestic animals.

I hope I am wrong, please be safe this weekend.

Enjoy this interesting read on the history of the upstate NY deer season and population from the

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