New York bowhunters facing shortest season ever

Oak Duke

Many things in our modern, quickly changing lives are exasperating and puzzling.

And it is easy to give my stock answer, "And they wonder why I like to go off in the woods with my bow and arrow."

But because of a structural anomaly, a statistical hiccup, the time in the woods for New York state's archers is being severely restricted this year.

It's really nobody's fault. We can't blame anybody.

Maybe the guy at fault who we should blame is a Calabrian doctor named Aloysius Lilius who supposedly invented the Gregorian calendar back in 1582. We still use it today, despite its problems.

What it all boils down to is that we are losing time, no matter how it is counted. We are losing a whole week. But the DEC can fix it by adding back the seven days, and yet not disrupting their new (2005) formula for determining the start of the archery season.

It would take just a little bit of manual tinkering to make things right. That would be great.

The reason that the DEC should add seven days to the upcoming 2008 New York state archery season is because this year's bow season is a week shorter than it was last year or will be for the next few years.

We only get 28 days this year, not the normal 35 days. We lose seven days -- exactly one week of hunting.

Not five days, not eight days, one seven-day week.

Why doesn't the DEC simply start it a week sooner? For the life of me, I can't understand why.

I mean, we are talking about a whole week of hunting here, not just a few days. This is a big deal.

But evidently, it is not important to the DEC.

Depending on how you figure, archers are losing 20 percent of precious time afield with our bows, including a weekend.

Almost since archery season began in New York state in the 1950s, the opening day began Oct. 15, (which came from hard and effective lobbying from the New York State Field Archers in the 1960s).

So who took away the week of archery season? And why?

We know who did it: the faceless, nameless pencil pushers and paper shufflers who hide behind the anonymity of the folds and deep layers within the infinite matrix formally called the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, that's who.

Don't expect any of these bureaucratic minions to say anything other than "the Department's" lockstep mantra.

"Can't shake the matrix with any discordant concepts." "Must be a team player."

Well, it's absurd and outrageous when our hunting heritage has come to this.

Most people don't understand. Even a lot of other hunters don't seem to get it.

The majority of bow hunters count down the days and wait all year for this time, this archery season, what some of us even call a magical time to be in the deer woods. It is a time for venison, and time for our annual spiritual quest.

And maybe we’re feeling like that is not too popular or fashionable any more in our desensitized urban-controlled, unnatural and image-saturated world, seemingly controlled by robotic responses, computer overrides, and continual automatic downloads.

Bowhunting is not a "lite" sport, like dunking a worm off a dock or putting a little white ball into a hole in the lawn. Archery is taken very seriously.

During our quest during the bow season, we have to bear down and give it our all to be successful.

This arbitrary chopping off of a week from the normal New York state bow season is a serious mistake. The shortening of the New York state archery season appears as just another example of blind state mandates, concocted and dreamed up by a government with at the very least a skewed and blurred vision and at the most an ignorance of where it is headed.

This same pattern exists in business, big business. We call it euphemistically a "Corporate Mandate."

And therefore, it’s beyond reason, beyond commonsense, and most of all, tragically beyond our control.

We are supposed to be used to it. The formula for changing the start of the 2008 bow season in the Southern Zone was set up in 2005. As it is now, the opening day for the bow season is Oct. 18, and ends Friday, Nov. 14, a day before the regular gun season opens (Nov. 15, 2008.)

Normally, the bow season would have opened on Oct. 15. So why not open the archery season on Saturday, Oct. 11? That would give the bow hunters the same number of days in the season as we had last year and are supposed to have next year (and yet spring gobbler season still opens May 1 no matter what day it falls on. So much for consistency of the Saturday opener.)

The only other season that opens Oct. 11 is one small game season, pheasant season. All the rest of the small game seasons are already open and bow hunting for deer has less imagined impact or conflict with pheasant hunting than it does grouse, squirrel or any other small game woodland species' season.

"And they wonder why I like to go off in the woods with my bow and arrow."

Oak Duke, publisher of the Wellsville Daily Reporter writes a weekly outdoor column. E-mail him at: publisher@wellsvilledaily.com