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Deer season opens with decent harvest, mostly does

Long Island’s big game archery season opened on Tuesday and, despite unseasonably warm temperatures in the mid-70s, plenty of bowhunters took to the woods. Initial reports from a variety of sources including local deer butchers and taxidermists suggest many met with success, although the majority of deer harvested were does.

Traditionally, the first few days of deer season see a lot of action in our area. After a summer during which few people enter the woods for fear of ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes and other pests, the whitetails aren’t as sharp as they tend to be later in the year.

That will change quickly once hunters start heading to their tree stands on a regular basis. With sharp eyesight, a super-sensitive nose, excellent hearing and a quick flight response to any situation perceived as dangerous, both does and bucks grow more challenging to hunt with each passing day.

Right now there’s still plenty of vegetation for local whitetails to munch on in woodlots, fields and farm areas. That means they will likely be using the entirety of their available living area. As the leaves begin to change color with the advance of fall, the deer need to focus more on locations with available food such as field edges and grassy patches that border woodlots.

As they begin to transition, they’ll also rely on acorns to help build fat reserves. Hunters can key on this last aspect by concentrating their effort around clusters of mature oak trees, especially those found in areas dominated by pines. Another option is to set up near a vernal pond, as deer require a water source on a regular basis.

No matter where you decide to hunt, make sure to protect yourself against ticks and, this year especially, mosquitoes. The latter can transmit eastern equine encephalitis (Triple E), Nile virus and other diseases. Other than your face, leave no skin uncovered. A DEET-based repellent will ward off both ticks and mosquitoes.

I FISH NY fishing festival

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) I FISH NY Program’s annual Fall Family Fishing Festival will be held Oct. 19 at Hempstead Lake State Park from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. One of Long Island’s most popular freshwater fishing events, the free festival combines fishing with a variety of fun children’s activities.

No fishing license is required for this event, and parking is free. A total of 1,600 trout will be stocked in South and McDonald ponds. DEC will provide loaner rods, free bait and even fish-cleaning services to those who need it while organizations like Trout Unlimited will provide displays and casting instruction.

There will also be a kid’s “Casting for Pumpkins” contest in which young anglers can “catch” a pumpkin and “hook” a prize. Casting contest prizes are provided by I FISH NY, State Parks, The Fisherman Magazine, Knights of Columbus of Seaford, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

For more information about the festival or weather concerns, call the DEC’s I FISH NY Program at 631-444-0283, or Hempstead Lake State Park at 516-766-1029. Note that there is no rain date for this event.

New York Sports