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Dampness, predation reduce ringnecks
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Stocked pheasants will be scarcer than usual this year in Syracuse-area fields, thanks to propagation problems at the state hatchery near Ithaca and the Jamesville Correctional Facility, where the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs does its ringneck-rearing.

The Department of Environmental Conservation recently announced that the Reynolds Game Farm in Tompkins County has managed to produce about 23,400 adult roosters and hens this summer - roughly 1,600 below its annual average output.

Consequently, each of the eight DEC regions in which pheasant hunting is allowed will receive 100 fewer pheasants than anticipated.


State biologists blamed the relatively high mortality rate at the game farm on the year's exceptionally wet weather.

Heavy rain impacted the flock that was under the care of local rod-and-gun club members at Jamesville, too, but predators also wreaked havoc before the Federation finished erecting an electric fence around the bird yard.

Carpenter's Brook Fish Hatchery boss Walt Zelie, who coordinated the pheasant project on a voluntary basis this year, said unknown animals killed at least 500 chicks.

Zelie said only about 1,800 of the 4,000 pheasant chicks that the Federation received from the DEC this spring made it through the summer. About 1,000 of the survivors have already been released and the rest will be stocked prior to Oct. 18.

Not that Pennsylvania necessarily does things better than we do, but readers might be interested to know that our neighboring state's Game Commission plans to release more than 200,000 pheasants during the Commonwealth's small-game season.

If not for a last blast of foul weather courtesy of Hurricane Ivan, state officials estimate Pennsy hunters would have had another 10,000 ringnecks to chase around this fall.

Tracking ducks online

Duck season opened Saturday in the state's Southeastern waterfowling zone, and the Oct. 23 opener in the Western zone will be here before we know it.

Hunters can track the progress of the fall migration by periodically eyeballing a map on the Web site. The constantly changing map is a joint project of and Ducks Unlimited, the international waterfowl conservation organization.

The information on the Web site comes from more than 100,000 hunters and sky-watchers who provide zip-code-based field reports.

"'s Migration Map is a magical experience for any passionate waterfowl hunter," said Darin Sakas, the site's webmaster. "It allows users to stay in touch with what's going on in the field even when they are trapped behind their desks at work."

Last year, waterfowlers in the United States spent 7.4 million days in their blinds and bagged more than 13.4 million ducks.

In the Atlantic Flyway alone, hunters shot 1.6 million quackers, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Sodus Bay yields bass

Club president Mike Cusano of Clay won the Salt City Bassmasters' Sept. 26 tournament at Sodus Bay by reeling in five largemouths with a combined weight of 13 pounds and 1 ounce.

Cusano's catch included the lunker prize winner, a 4-pound, 2-ounce bigmouth. All his fish were fooled by tube jigs twitched through deep weeds in 8 to 11 feet of water.

Richard Dodge of Utica was the runner-up, with an 11-pound, 11-ounce limit landed on Senko stickbaits or jig-and-pig combos.

Bob Mabee Jr. of Liverpool used "wacky-rigged" Senkos to assemble a third-place catch totaling 11 pounds, 3 ounces; and Bob Rudeau of Memphis wound up fourth with a 10-pound, 15-ounce catch recorded on Senkos and jig-and-pigs.

Conditions were almost perfect, with sunny skies, a light north-northeast breeze and temperatures climbing from the 50s to the low 70s during the day.

Trout available for ponds

Got a trout pond in need of replenishing? Morrisville State College has its annual Fall Fish Sale from 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 22 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 23.

Brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout - crosses between browns and brookies - are available. The little ones will sell for between 75 cents and $1.75 each, depending on species.

Delivery fees are $1 per mile.

For details, call the college's Aquaculture Center at 684-6423.

© 2004 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.

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