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Hunting in Orleans at a crossroads for long-term sustainability

Posted 23 December 2016 at 9:06 am

Editor:

While wrapping up another Whitetail Hunting Season in Orleans County, I had occasion recently to chew on some controversial issues associated with private property hunting in our fair county.

Why was I lingering on my stand these last days? My buddies and I had a very successful season, highlighted by camaraderie in the lodge, challenge in the field and the gratitude we felt in our surroundings. I lingered because I enjoy hunter habitat and experience as well as eating stew and antler shopping. This reflective time is invaluable to me, invariably leading to pondering the instinct of hunting enjoyment, time in nature and habitat, habitat, habit. You get it if you’ve been there.

Wildlife Management class in college and any subsequent discussion of the future of hunting involves primarily the enhancement and preservation of habitat and dynamics (i.e. travel corridors) in constantly changing cover types. Change in private property management has left Orleans hunters in a crunch for hunting rights and quality hunting experience opportunity. Either pay taxes, lease, post up and police your piece or travel to state land and take your chances who’s trespassing on your land back home. Long way from knocking on someone’s door (be careful anymore) asking for permission and having 90% of the people you ask say hey, or even a resounding OK.

My opinion (everybody has one) is there is more to be lost than gained in allowing center fire rifle hunting for Whitetails at this time. My concern isn’t with safety so much. (Thank God we haven’t had a shooting fatality while hunting county wide in a long time).

Mike VanDurme’s expertise in ballistics and firearm safety speaks for itself. (Published author on subject.) He incidentally represents the last and most proactive thing D.E.C has ever accomplished in Orleans County by busting the Albion landfill operator with the aid of a birdhouse camera in a hedgerow. How ironic!

Dedicated hunters who form clubs have earned their stripes through safe, ethical hunting and positive interaction with private woodlot owners, and corporate farmers alike. Anything that an ordinance approves applies to all hunters. It seems at this time more emphasis should be on fence mending, habitat improvement and rekindling the residual commonality that hunters, private property owners and corporate farmers share.

If this ordinance is approved at this time, we must be mindful of the responsibility and vigilance that another freedom entails. The D.E.C. hotline (although an effective tool) is dependent on heads up public scrutiny and is burdened by the bureaucratic nature of the agency itself. Are we as ethical sportsmen prepared to be “fun cops” for out of area or out of poaching option road hunters that have no vested interest in our county? More responsibility must then fall on overburdened D.E.C.

The future of this sport in our county is in defining the resource (or nuisance) as it exists and moving forward cooperatively with local, state and federal agencies. An eagle nest in a hedgerow represents not so coincidentally another perfect dynamic for our county to make a statement about what our “freedom” priorities should be in coveting this National symbol of the very same.

Anyone in Orleans in it to make our county more independently ours? Orleans County is at a crossroads in resource management sustainability. From our fish, forests, and farms – even to the keeping of your young hunters. How we effect the stewardship of our habit is of utmost priority now. (See N.Y. Sportsman November Issue, The 11th Commandment)

Still in it for the Hunt,

Kevin Kent

Albion