by Mark Daul
Outdoors in Niagara
Whitetail deer are pretty smart critters and seem to know just when hunting season begins; they make themselves scarce immediately. They seem to head for parks, cemeteries, anyplace that has posted signs up, or by fleeing the country.
I am not a deer hunter myself, but I stay with it as I have many friends that are. My freezer is hardly ever without venison in it. I love the stuff and my friends know it.
Around Niagara County, there is an abundance of deer and the county rates up high on the deer harvest yearly count. In 2011, for the towns of Porter and Lewiston combined, hunters registered 230 deer total for the season. The Town of Royalton alone registered a total take of 662 with 238 being bucks. All of Niagara County in 2011 registered 2,923 deer harvested for the season, a mere pittance to Steuben County's total take of 11,030. Niagara still faired better than a lot of counties throughout the state.
Shotgun season ends this weekend. The 2012 census won't be out for several months, so stay tuned.
However, there is one deer that won't be counted in the 2012 census. That's the one seen fleeing for Canada from just 50 or so yards downstream from the Lewiston landing. Fisherman and hunter Don Supon reported watching a whitetail deer parting the United States heading toward Canada one morning, and he assumed it had no passport or other identifiable papers in its possession. As he watched it, the current was taking it downstream and when it landed, Supon said it looked like it only lost about 150 yards during the swim. He said there were lots of fishing boats out, but only three of them watched its passage.
Deer are known to be strong swimmers despite their size and their cloven hoofs, as seen in the photo. Sailboater Ed Rogers told me a couple of short years ago that he and his buddy spotted a pair of deer crossing from Canada at Niagara-on-the-Lake headed for Fort Niagara. They safely made that passage in all that Niagara River current.
There was a report a while back that a couple of fishermen spotted an antlered deer about 2 1/2 miles out of the port at Mississauga, Ontario, taking off across Lake Ontario to the U.S., and they spent the better part of an hour trying to convince it to head back to its homeland. The deer refused, and they finally had to lasso it by the antlers and drag it back to shore. They said it stood still on shore recuperating until it finally got its bearings and walked away.
Last summer, there was a report of two deer trying the same escapade off the shore of Niagara County, headed to Canada until they were spotted. Only one was saved by a fishing boat.
I can only wonder how many times deer have decided to go for a swim that we don't know about. Especially the ones that flee into Canada, swimming the upper river off Grand Island over to Navy Island where they consider it a safe haven, or the swimmers that make passage to Canada their destination by entering via the lower Niagara.
What many people don't know about sportsmen, and in this case, in particular, deer hunters, is that they can donate dollars when purchasing their hunting licenses for families in need through the New York state deer license outlet, online, or instead of dollars, they can donate a whole deer to the Venison Donation Coalition, a coalition set up to feed those in need. This is a nationwide effort, and it is reported that many states have dropped severely in expected donations this year. It's suspected that many hunters are taking care of their own families first, because of the increased demands on paychecks. You can learn about the coalition by visiting its website at www.venisondonation.com or, better yet, Natures Way Taxidermy in Sanborn will take your deer for the Coalition, and handle all the processing and paperwork involved, free. Contact Youngstown native Bill Joseph at Natures Way by calling 716-731-4215.
Following the squirrel story a couple of weeks ago in the Sentinel, a reader emailed me and said she read an article about these bushy tailed critters saying, "In Romney, W.V., there is an annual squirrel fest held in November for the past 13 years." Romney's population is about that of Youngstown (2,000.) She also said "Brunswick stew originated in 1828 in Brunswick County, Va. It was made up of four squirrels, onions, stale bread, and cooked together in a pot." The more modern version calls for ground pork, ground beef, cubed chicken, celery, onions, barbecue sauce, etc.
Don't forget to "Take a Kid Fishing!" Fishing reports and other local outdoor information can be seen on http://www.OutdoorsNiagara.com.