Big game hunters logged respectable numbers, tagging one of the highest bear harvests and increased deer takes across the state, during the 2012 hunting season, according to recently released Department of Environmental Conservation harvest results.

The Adirondack Region saw the greatest increase in bear totals for 2011 and 2012, 275 to 606. The Central-Western Region dipped from 353 to 289, but the numbers were well above the five-year average of 197 bruins reported.

Deer grand totals moved up well (228,359 to 242,957), with the greatest increase in the percentage for adult males (110,002 to 118,993). Both the bowhunting and crossbow numbers dropped slightly, but bow hunters still took numbers well above the previous five-year average. For a complete rundown of deer harvests, go to

Erie bass high class

Bassmaster Magazine held its second annual ranking of the best bass lakes in the country and Lake St. Clair in the Great Lakes chain topped the list. Lake Erie ranked fifth in the standings, with accolades to waters of all states bordering the lake.

Lake St. Clair feeds into Lake Erie through the Detroit River and the best bass reefs, shoals and rocky shorelines can be found both at the Western Basin in northwest Ohio and the Eastern Basin in Buffalo and at the headwaters of the Niagara River. To check out all bass lakes in the survey, look for the May issue of Bassmaster Magazine.

Access agonies

Both hunters and anglers cited access loss as a factor in their outings this past year. A Southwick Associates on-line survey showed nearly a quarter of hunters experienced access restrictions; 23 percent had either been restricted or refused access to places they had previously hunted.

Anglers said they canceled fishing trips for lack of access to ocean, lake and stream waters: 71 percent were freshwater areas; 24 percent of losses involved saltwater pursuits in 2012. Nonetheless, 22 percent of these anglers said they fished more in 2012 than in 2011.

For a complete report on these access losses, go to and