It seems the older I get, the more I am able to keep things in perspective. Take hunting for example. There was a time when nothing could get me out of a treestand from mid-October until the first of December. Lately, though, I have been spending more time on the ground than in the tree during the fall.
This is not to say that I have lost my love for hunting with stick and string, but I have also rediscovered some new joys once the leaves begin to fall.
Taking to the woods to chase fall turkeys can be a lot of fun and a good experience for young and old alike. There is nothing better in the fall than to start the holiday season off with that ultimate boss hen.
Earlier this week I was able to take a break from archery hunting and spend some time in a duck blind. For whatever reason, I have found a new love in chasing fall waterfowl. The excitement of getting up in the morning and hooking the duck boat filled with decoys to the truck and heading to the lake has once again become enjoyable to me.
Fortunately, I have a couple of good friends who also enjoy duck hunting. The wide variety of waterfowl hunting we have here in Chautauqua County is great. While we may not have the most green heads or geese, our area offers some well-rounded hunting.
Probably the part I enjoy the most about fall waterfowl hunting is the companionship. Spending time in a duck blind can be a lot of fun when the birds are flying, but often times that is not the case. Hence, it's always good to have somebody to pass the time with.
During this hunt it wasn't long before we started seeing some birds and were able to work them. Of course, the first couple of groups didn't quite offer us the shots we wanted, but we had fun just having the opportunity to work the group together.
With the stories, steel and feathers flying, we both began to realize how fortunate we are to live in Chautauqua County. Waterfowl hunters have the opportunity to get in some great action during the regular waterfowl season. The regular duck season in the Western Zone, which includes Chautauqua County, runs from Oct. 27 through Dec.11 .
With liberal bag limits and a long season that spans different kinds of fall weather, waterfowl hunters in Chautauqua County truly have a great opportunity to experience some great hunting.
Chautauqua Lake offers some great public access at both Prendergast Point and Tom's Point. With permission, hunters can also gain access to some lake-front properties.
If you enjoy the idea of working hard-to-hunt places, but are not up to walking, then the Conewango River may be more to your liking. Floating or canoeing on the Conewango River is better during the late season.
If the challenge of hunting big waters is in your plans this season, then Lake Erie is just a short 30-minute drive from Chautauqua Lake.
Dunkirk offers a public launch in Dunkirk Harbor. The power plant keeps the water in the harbor from freezing for most of the winter. The breakwall at the mouth of the harbor is always a super spot to get in some late-season action.
As always, make sure to check the New York State DEC waterfowl handbook for limits and dates before heading into the field.
Hunting during the regular season for ducks and geese is a welcome change from other forms of hunting, is well worth the time and is also a lot of fun.
Saturday marks the opening of 2012 gun season for Chautauqua County big-game deer hunters.
This next week will find hunters fine-tuning their gun of choice and their other equipment. I'd like to take this opportunity to remind hunters who plan on spending time in treestands about safety. A hunter's safety should be at the top of his mind before he heads to the branches in search of his next trophy.
Always wear an approved safety harness, but remember that the majority of hunting mishaps happen from the time we take the first step off the ground until we step foot on the stand. Using some type of climbing safety rope will keep you safe to hunt another day.
Good luck, and always remember to handle your gun safely. And, most importantly, know your target and what lays beyond.