This weekend, and for the next three weeks, it won’t be unusual to see folks in camouflage and orange who are toting shotguns and rifles walking down back roads.
Regular big game season begins Saturday and ends Dec. 9. In that time, hunters will be scattered throughout our region’s woods and fields in search of a trophy buck or a large doe to provide plenty of meat for the year.
And the state Department of Environmental Conservation is expecting that hunters will see plenty of deer this year.
“With an exceptionally mild winter throughout the state and a slight increase in Deer Management Permits (‘doe tags’), hunters should have good prospects to see and hopefully take a few more deer this year,” the DEC stated on its website.
The benefits of hunting are many.
Without hunting, the deer population would be out of control. It is not unusual to see deer crossing at a stop light or a doe and her fawns having a mid-morning snack of residents’ shrubs where hunting is restricted. The fewer deer in the fields mean fewer deer crossing the roads, lessening the chance of being hit by motorists.
Out-of-town hunters also benefit us all, by spending money on rooms, foods, gas and hunting gear locally.
And the venison harvested from the hunt often feeds local families all year. For those who have excess meat, there is a great resource where the meat won’t go to waste. For more than a decade, the Venison Donation Program of Delaware and Otsego Counties has donated harvested meat and purchased beef to local food pantries.
And with the recent addition of an early hunting season for youth hunters, we hope the tradition of hunting grows locally.
Most of all, our hunters need to be safe.
No. 1 is wearing blaze orange. Other hunters need to be able to see you, and the deer, which are color blind, won’t.
Also, especially if you are hunting alone, make sure you let someone know where you will be hunting, and when you are expected to come back. Bring a cellphone or walkie-talkies if you are in range.
Hunters also need to know what is around them, and beyond them, if they are pulling the trigger. Make sure there aren’t other hunters behind your target and that you can see where your bullet will land if you miss.
If you are using a tree stand, make sure you use it safely. Falling out of stands cause numerous injuries — and several fatalities — across the nation.
We wish all of the hunters out there a safe and productive season.