2019 FL Youth Deer Hunt

Pictured are the youth deer hunters, parents, and mentors from the 2019 event. Seventeen of the 20 youngsters that hunted last year harvested their first deer.

The Finger Lakes Regional Youth Deer Hunt often serves as a youth hunter’s first opportunity to land a trophy.

The dates are out for this year’s Seneca County-based event.

A pre-hunt Safety Workshop and rifle range session are set for 4-7 p.m. Oct. 9 at Deer Haven Park in Romulus. The youth hunt itself is slated for Oct. 10-11.

Youth must be 14 or 15 years old and possess a valid state hunting license to participate.

The Finger Lakes Regional Youth Deer Hunt started in 2015, and it has grown ever since. The 2020 hunt will feature 20 youngsters.

Last year, 17 of the 20 youth hunters that participated harvested their first deer.

The event is free. Space is limited and registration is required!

For more information, contact: state Department of Environmental Conservation Lt. Matt Lochner at (315) 836-6137 or matthew.lochner@dec.ny.gov, of DEC Officer Tony Drahms at)315) 209-9399 or anthony.drahms@dec.ny.gov

The event is made possible through numerous volunteers and sponsors. If you would like to be a partner of future Finger Lakes Regional Youth Deer Hunts, contact Lochner or Drahms.

Squirrels be gone

As I gaze out the window, admiring my squirrel-proof bird feeders, I noticed something gray in the late summer foliage. Its gray all right …as in an eastern gray squirrel. It is probably the young of year because it has no fear. Then again, it could be any one of my overly aggressive population.

None of them seem afraid.

I put my feeders away this summer because of raccoons living under my deck. I figured no seeds, no rodents — and it worked. The raccoons wandered deep into my woods; however, I know they’ll be back. I put some small chicken wire around the bottom of the deck.

Back to the new, improved birdseed dispensers.

The squirrels climb the pole to the tube feeder over by the wood pile. I don’t care because I have a new feeding station that is touted as “Squirrel be-gone.” The new feeder was tucked away among many other fancy-pants feeding dispensers at the local hardware store. They have stickers attached, all professing that this product will keep out squirrels.

Take it from a longtime bird feeder, none of them keep out the rodents. Maybe, though, there is hope with my new piece of plastic. I’m going to rig it so the only rodent gaining access would be a flying squirrel, and I don’t have any in my woods.

I decide “Squirrel be-gone” will hang from the well-placed Kenyon Rodent Elimination Feeding Station. We will call it KREFS for short.

The following process is not patented, so feel free to use my plan.

I used my 19-gauge galvanized wire for starters. You cannot hang any feeder from rope because the little buggers will gnaw it in half very quickly.

Now, I needed two anchor points to fasten my wire. I used a current rod that held a feeder that is empty — empty because I got sick and tired of filling it with seeds, only to see my plentiful pests gobble the entire feeder. And that one has a baffle, which (ha ha ha) I found out is just a bump in the road for the squirrel’s journey to the free seeds.

For my other rod, I moved another pole that used to hold the feeder which the rodents chewed apart, leaving plastic remnants on the ground. I threw that feeder in the garbage.

So, we now have two iron rods which will be spaced 10 feet apart. I attached the new “Squirrel be-gone” feeder in the middle, secured to the wire. Before I tied off each end of the wire, I took two plastic bottles and poked holes in the end. Then I ran the wire through the bottles so they would spin free.

My thought process was if the stupid little beasts could manage the wire, they certainly couldn’t walk past a spinning bottle.

If you want to take a break from this story and grab a cup of coffee, feel free. I don’t blame you one bit.

Back to the KREFS project. I tightened the wire, which according to the spool would hold 50 pounds. That’s good. If I notice any bears around my woods, I’ll take the device down anyway. However, no squirrel in my woods weighs 50 pounds, albeit they are getting close because of their diet filled with my expensive black-oil sunflower seeds.

I filled the brand-new feeder and it sunk. The weight of the seeds didn’t snap the 50-pound test line, but the new device now bounced around 2 feet above ground.

I can fix this situation, I though. Remembering what my mother used on the sagging clothesline, I searched the garage for a clothesline prop. My older readers will know what the heck I’m talking about. The weight of wet clothes made the line sag almost to the ground, so you propped it up with a pole.

The KREFS was slumping and needed to be fixed. I had PVC pipe, so I measured it, cut the plastic to length, and sawed little slots in the top where the wire would fit.

“Perfect stuff,” I said, pretty darn happy with my design.

I propped the wire high and waited for the circus act to start. I did not place a safety net under the high wire because I really didn’t want to save anybody … if you get my drift.

Now I wait, Sadly, I really don’t have much confidence in the KREFS because squirrels at my house always win.

Hatcheries & herons

DEC’s nine cold-water fish hatcheries collectively produce more than 6.4 million fish annually. Unfortunately, a significant number of these trout and salmon are lost to a variety of predators in search of a “free meal.”

One predator that causes major fish loss is the great blue heron. At the Caledonia Hatchery it is not uncommon to have upwards of 40 great blue herons surrounding the ponds during the spring.

Over the years a host of methods have been employed to deter herons from preying on hatchery fish: sound cannons, balloons, dancing “tube men,” decoys — even a watch dog to chase them off the property. The only way to effectively prevent fish loss from predation is to totally enclose the ponds within a structure.

The Rome Hatchery, and more recently the Bath Hatchery, have built pole barn-style buildings over some of their outdoor ponds. Not surprisingly, both have reduced fish loss significantly. Bath went from about 8% fish loss down to less than 1%.

Besides essentially eliminating fish losses, the pond enclosures also:

Reduce algae growth in the ponds.

Keep water temperatures down.

Keep leaves out of the ponds in the fall.

Prevent fish diseases.

Make the working environment safer for hatchery staff.

Chris Kenyon’s “Outdoors” appears every other Sunday. Contact Chris at (315) 879-1341 or ckenyonrun@gmail.com.

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