Now is the time of the deer season when serious hunters hunker down and try targeting a tag-worthy buck or doe.
The late Thanksgiving weekend is history, the rut phase is on the wane, hunter numbers have dwindled and deer that survived opening day and week pressures are wary and a bit wiser.
Nonetheless, late archery season and opening week saw some spectacular sizes and numbers for deer takes around Western New York. From farm fields along Lake Ontario to foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, hunters have tagged some nice whitetails so far.
As always, true trophies are measured more by the successful, quick, clean kills as much or more than weights and measures. A first-time buck or doe taken by the youngest or eldest in hunter ranks qualifies as a trophy-class take.
By the numbers, an opening day buck Sam Sciascia of Charlotte took on his property at 8:30 a.m. could be some kind of score record for the current gun season.
Hunting with a 30-30 rifle with iron sights, Sciascia and his friend Richard Snyder hunted opposite sides of a wood lot. Snyder saw a big deer running with two smaller bucks. “The smaller bucks were an 8-pointer and a 10-pointer,” Snyder said. He took a shot which turned the deer in the direction of Sciascia.
While sitting in his treestand, Sciascia could see only the big deer when he shot and dropped it. He later told Snyder, “I could have shot the 10-pointer. It stood about 10 yards from my treestand.”
Snyder guessed Sciascia’s kill shot was more than 100 yards. Brian Noody, taxidermist at West Wind Archery Green, scored this 16-point trophy at 160 to 170 points.
For personal trophies, Mason Michalski, 12, of Orchard Park ranks high with his first deer harvest. Mason took his deer with a recurve bow on Nov. 12.
Families did well opening day and week.
Trapper and fur handler Chris “Hoot” Gerling typically logs his and his dad’s deer kills early each season, but this year the accolades went mostly to the Gerling girls.
Daughter Kathie Gerling, 24, used dad’s .243 Remington 700 opening day and scored on a 10-point buck at 2:15 p.m. Kathie’s deer sported an 18-inch inside antler spread.
Her older sister Mary Janik of Collins Center went out for her first day of deer hunting on opening day and got a doe at 9 a.m. Hubby Jay Janek continued hunting that week and finally took a 6-point buck on Wednesday in Randolph.
For sheer numbers, the Borkowski family scored impressive firsts on opening morning of the firearms season.
Jim and Kate Borkowski of West Seneca have hunted together with daughter Robyn Alpsan of Williamsville for years. Dad hunts archery season elsewhere, but the family drove to Medina for the gun opener.
Robyn got into her treestand early and started things with a 6-pointer taken at about 7:20 a.m. “I wasn’t sure if I hit it well so I didn’t leave the treestand,” she said. Good thing. Her mom Kate, hunting nearby, took a 4-pointer at about 7:40 a.m. and did the same thing, just held still in her treestand.
Less than a half hour later, a doe and button buck moved through and mom had tags for both. She took those deer at about 8:15 a.m.
Dad Jim got a shot and dropped a 6-point buck at 9 a.m. The Borkowskis have been hunting together for about 20 years but mom did not get her first deer until three seasons ago. This year, she had all three of her tags filled less than two hours after the season opener.
The family trio did some work dragging deer back to their truck that morning, but Robyn saw it as a pure plus. “We didn’t have a chance to get cold,” she said.
Late season hunters may not see the trophy- and total-numbers taken earlier in the season, but a mild previous winter and productive crop-growing season this past year has produced good numbers of healthy, sizeable deer across Western New York.
Hunt closer cover, check for remaining deer food staples, keep an eye on possible late-rut activity and enjoy this more typical, snow-covered deer-hunting season.
Gun season continues to Dec. 8, followed with a late bow and muzzleloader season on Dec. 9-17.|