State environmental officials should be releasing deer harvest figures for 2009 any day now, but indications are that northern zone totals could be down by as much as 20 percent.
DEC Wildlife Biologist Ed Reed said he's been told by Albany staff to expect deer take results "in early February."
If the indications ring true, the overall northern zone take could be in the neighborhood of 27,000-29,000 deer, down from 33,938 in 2008 and 31,797 in 2007.
Nevertheless, the DEC believes statewide totals will remain fairly flat from 2008, or slightly below the 222,979 deer taken during the 2008 season. That compares to 219,141 taken in 2007, and 189,108 in 2006. The highest total came in 2002 when hunters took 308,216 deer, 128,292 of which were bucks.
Reed attributed the poor northern zone take to difficult weather conditions, saying the deer simply weren't moving as much during daylight hours.
From my personal experience, that certainly was the case, although some areas that got hit hardest by harsh conditions last winter seemed to have less deer this season than usual.
Near my home in Westport, however, the deer are out in force. I counted 37 merrily feeding away in one field a few evenings ago. It doesn't appear as if last winter had much of an effect on the herd there.
Meanwhile, Dick Johndrow, AKA "Silver Bullet," sent me a photo of a massive 20-pointer he scored for a 41-year-old hunter from Long Island.
It is pictured above.
Johndrow serves as measurer chairman for the New York State Big Buck Club. The 20-pointer, taken with a bow on Oct. 26, 2009 by Bjorn Holubar, scored a net Boone & Crockett 202 and 5/8 inches, making it the number two non-typical buck killed with a bow in the state.
The deer weighed 210 pounds, had 10 non-typical points including a unique drop tine and had an inside spread of 20 and 3/8 inches.
The deer was dropped at 43 yards with a Bowtech Mighty Mite Bow and a 100-grain Muzzy broadhead. Bjorn, according to Johndrow, hunted a total of 60 days last fall.
The Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club will host the 26th annual Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby the weekend of March 6-7. The derby starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. each day.
Contestants can pre-register for the derby at the Blue Line Sports Shop in Saranac Lake, or on derby days at the Lake Colby beach house across from the Adirondack Medical Center on Route 86. Derby day registration begins at 6:45 a.m. each day.
The registration fee is $7 per adult for both days. Youths under 16 years of age can register for $3 per day or $5 for both days.
Contestants will be eligible to win prizes in the trout, salmon, perch and northern pike categories with separate prizes awarded to adults and youths. The tournament grand prize is a charter-fishing trip for two with Fish Doctor Charters of Mexico, NY. Door prizes and raffles will also be awarded.
Fifteen tagged fish will also be stocked in Lake Colby by the DEC. A $100 prize will be awarded to anyone who catches a tagged fish.
For information call derby chairman Cecilia Martin at 201-4009 or co-chairman Patrick Ferrell at 891-3319.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.