The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) estimates that around 70,000 hunters will enter WNY woods during the first weekend of big game season, with more than 500,000 going hunting statewide.
Saturday November 17th is the start of the regular firearms hunting season for deer and bear in NYS.
As hunters prepare, they are being reminded by the NYSDEC to take the proper safety precautions and follow the rules.
In addition, cold and snowy weather means hunters will have to dress properly to avoid problems.
More information about hunting regulations can be found on the NYSDEC website: https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28182.html
For stores like Aurora Outfitters in East Aurora and Cabela's in Cheektowaga, it is one of the busiest times of the year as hunters gear up.
Those stores recommend the following:
-Dress in layers and move slowly to avoid sweating (which will make you feel colder).
-The more high-visibility orange (hunter orange) that you wear, the safer you will be. Camouflage clothing can make it difficult for hunters to tell you apart from an animal.
-Follow proper safety rules with your gun (see the NYSDEC website for more info).
-The snowy weather will make tree stand use hazardous. Exercise caution and use safety harnesses.
-Many forested hunting areas have cell phone dead zones. Bring a long range walkie-talkie with extra batteries as a backup.
-Bring reflective items to help keep track of your route into and out of the forest. Snow and leaves will make it hard this year to see your path.
-Remember that hunting hours only run from sunrise to sunset as listed by the National Weather Service. It does not mean when you can first see and last see outside.
NYSDEC also supplied us with this information about a deer check station in Holland:
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) encourages hunters to visit a deer and bear check station during the upcoming opening weekend of the regular big game season.
DEC's Region 9 check station, located on Route 16, in Holland, Erie County (northbound about one mile south of the town of Holland), will operate Saturday, Nov. 17 from noon until 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Participation is voluntary and helps DEC gather valuable data to assess the status of the area's big game population.
"While stopping at our check station is voluntary, reporting a harvest within seven days of take is not only a legal obligation, it's also essential to proper wildlife management. This fall, please remember to Take It, Tag It, Report It!" said DEC Regional Wildlife Manager Ken Baginski.
Hunters are encouraged to bring their deer to the check station where DEC staff will determine deer age and collect other important biological and harvest information. With black bear season opening the same day as deer season, wildlife staff will also check harvested bears to collect weight and sex information, along with pulling a premolar tooth to determine the bear's age.
Technicians from State Department of Health (DOH) will also be present at the check station to examine deer for ticks and collect samples to test for Lyme disease.
As in previous years, hunters wishing to donate their harvest to "Hunters Helping the Hungry" sponsored by the Venison Donation Coalition, may drop off a deer at the Holland check station during days of operation before 6 p.m.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his attached report.