Dale Taylor pulled back the strings of his compound bow Saturday morning, held for a few seconds and then released, sending an arrow into a makeshift target of a tree stump.
The dull thud of the arrow hitting the stump was the only sound heard around Taylor’s Virgil home just across from Greek Peak Mountain Resort.
“I’m surprised,” he said about the silence, given Saturday was the opening day for the regular deer hunting season in most of Central and Western New York.
The season allows for the use of bows, crossbows, muzzleloaders, handguns, shotguns and rifles, said Lori Severino, a public information officer for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
With the coronavirus pandemic, the DEC recommends that hunters stay local and hunt only with people they have been in contact with for the past two weeks. Additionally, masks should be worn when hunters can’t socially distance themselves from each other.
The DEC predicts this season to have about the same or slightly more deer population across the state, because a mild winter meant more deer survived.
The start of deer hunting season though also means a risk of car-deer collisions, according to a release by the American Auto Association of Western and Central New York.
AAA analyzed New York crash data and found that October, November and December are by far the peak months for animal crashes, notably deer. November is typically the most active month of all because it is the height of deer mating season.
In terms of crashes, there were 36,445 animal-related crashes statewide in 2019, a 10% increase from 2018.
“Drivers should always be on the lookout for hazards on the road, but the danger of deer increases every fall,” Michael Treantis, the director of insurance at American Auto Association of Western and Central New York. “Cardeer collisions can be both deadly and costly. Drivers should pay close attention, avoid distractions and scan the road for deer to reduce the damage from an animal collision.”
Most crashes occur in the two hours before sunrise and after sunset each day.
Taylor initially said he wouldn’t go bow hunting Saturday as the first day tends to be busy, noting there might be more hunters out Saturday as hunting season previously began on a Monday, so more families with children could go hunting.
Pointing out the lack of gunshots near his home, he said he might change his mind and go later, toward evening.
This deer hunting season, he also thought more people might go hunting as it is a safe way to socially distance during the pandemic without fear of contracting the virus.
But perhaps the biggest reason he thought more hunters might be out this year is the desire for people to have fresh food, mostly venison.
“I think there are people who have not thought much of venison in years past,” he said. “It’s a nice lean meat and people have gotten more in tune to natural food.”