Oswego County’s 2011 Big Game Season Off to a Good Start

By Spider Rybaak

Kevin Marshall with his spikehorn.

It took me 50-something years to figure out there’s only a couple things in life I’m absolutely sure of: you can’t fool Mother Nature, and I make mistakes–a lot of ‘em, usually fooling myself by thinking I can get over on Mother Nature.

A good case in point is my decision to change my favorite deer hunting spot this season. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s forecast for the 2011 season states that “Wildlife Management Unit 6G (the eastern Lake Ontario Plains area I love) “produced several years of high antlerless harvest…With take of adult female deer exceeding take of adult male deer for the last two years, hunters should expect to find a slightly smaller deer herd and a lower buck take in 2011.”

Since opening day is a once-a-year hunting opportunity, and my favorite spot is in WMU 7A, practically on the southern border of WMU 6G, I was caught in a dilemma: do I believe the experts or stay with my instincts and trust Mother Nature would provide. I went with the experts and spent opening day in another county, in a WMU the authorities predicted would be better than it’s been in the recent past.

Bad move! I didn’t see anything.

That night, I get a call from my hunting buddy Stan Ouellette, owner of Deer Creek Outfitters (315-298-3730), asking me how I did.

“Nothing,” I replied. “Heard some rustling and snorting, but didn’t see any flags. How’d you do?”

“We got a nice 10-pointer. If you want some photos, you gotta come up by Monday because we’re gonna skin it.”

You guessed it, Stan’s operation straddles WMU 6G and WMU 7A, right off NY 3. He cultivates several sprawling properties in the area for “quality deer management.”

So I get up there Monday night prepared to photograph a deer. When I enter the Quonset hut he uses for storage, bucks are hanging everywhere; Stan’s clients got two more since the phone call..

That was enough to convince me to change my hunting plans for the rest of the season to what they were before I began believing forecasts. The last weekend of the season will see me still-hunting in the woods on the eastern Lake Ontario plains in the morning, fishing the Salmon River for steelies in the afternoon, and returning to the nearby woods to hunt until dark.

The nice thing about accepting that you make mistakes is that you can learn from each of them. That’s the best way I know of going forward, even if it means going back.

Brian Barna, Lansdale, PA, with a 10-pointer, his first buck.
Roger Baleu, Groveland, MA, and his 8-pointer.