April 13th: 9th Annual Ms. Wheelchair Colorado Pageant & Benefit Car Show
April 13th: Outdoor Buddies Fundraiser Banquet @ the Wildlife Experience
May 10th: Kiowa Creek Sporting Club. Clay shoot for Craig Rehab
June 8th: Get Outdoors Colorado Denver City Park, Colorado
June 8th: Wild on Wheels Lakewood, Colorado
July 18-20th: Barta Boys and Girls Club Billfish Tournament Beaufort, NC
August 8-11th: No Barriers USA Summit in Telluride, Colorado
1985 The Southampton Press, Unique Challenge Purists Say Bows, Not Guns Make for the Fairest Hunting
Purists Say Bows, Not Guns Make for the Fairest Hunting
The scene is set. A bowhunter, poised to shoot, stands motionless, perched in an eight-foot high tree stand amidst acres of quiet woods, while cool December winds cut through the air. The only element missing is the prized target-a whitetail deer.
For hunters all over the East End, the sport of bowhunting has become a personal obsession. Besides bringing along a bow and arrow, the hunter must also come with the right frame of mind. That always means plenty of patience.
“I just like being by myself, and being outdoors, “said 27 year-old Steve Griffiths, a carpenter from East Hampton. “The cold gets to you once in a while, butyou just put up with it. Three or four layers of clothing and you’re okay. Being outdoors gives you a chance to think.”
In Suffolk County, the big game bowhunting season, which ended nine days ago, runs from the first Monday in December to the last day of the month. Small game season, which includes pheasant, squirrel and rabbit, opens each year on November 1. All bird hunting ends on the 31st day of December, but the squirrel and rabbit hunting continues through February.
For East End bowhunters in search of big game, December is a month filled with many anxious moments.
“I can’t hunt during the week because of my job, but on the weekends, from sunup to sundown, I’m out hunting,” said Griffiths, who sometimes teams with Joe Iannone, a 58 year-old carpenter, also from East Hampton. “I really like the solitude. I think Joe’s out here pretty much for the scenery and the exercise. He’s not into shooting that much anymore.”
“It’s demanding, “agreed Iannone, who grew up in Flushing and began his hunting days 40 years ago in Westchester County. “You stand motionless for hours and you may not see anything for weeks on end. That’s why you have to be able to enjoy your surroundings. I’m out there now for the sheer enjoyment of being out all day in the woods, regardless of whether or not I’ve been able to get a shot off.”
Both bow hunters and shotgun hunters are limited to killing just one deer, buck or doe, per season. The shotgun season runs for 10 weekdays each year, from January 6 to10, and again from January 13 to 17, and statistics show that most go home empty handed.
“The majority of hunters don’t go overboard killing deer, “said Griffiths. “More deer are killed by cars each year than by hunters.”
According to Harry Knoch, the Regional Wildlife Manager for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), there are 107,000 licensed bow hunters in the state, with between 30,000 and 50,000 big game hunters residing in Suffolk County. According to last year’s figures reported at check-in stations where hunters bring their kills, only 18 deer were reported killed with a bow and arrow in the county, compared to 257 that were killed with a shotgun. The Quogue Wildlife Refuge is the nearest check-in station for most Southampton town residents.
In 11 years as a bow hunter, Steve Griffiths has killed just one doe.
“It was upstate two years ago, in Millbrook,” said Griffiths. “The doe weighed in at about 100 pounds. We got some good venison out of it.”
One of the most experienced bowhunters in this area is Tred Barta of Hampton Bays, a 33 year-old aircraft salesman at Suffolk County Airport in Westhampton.
Barta, who has hunted big game all over the world, and who holds 10 big game hunting world records, will be going to Africa later this year to bow hunt for the ‘big five’-elephant, leopard, lion, rhinoceros and buffalo. The 17-year hunting veteran offered a couple of reasons why whitetail deer and Long Island hunting grounds are a perfect combination for bowhunters.
“More people hunt deer than any other animal in the world,” said Barta. “Financially, deer are the easiest animals to hunt. They’re found near big cities…so they’re accessible to more people. We have prime habitat for deer here with corn, rye, barley, and we have a large enough winter range for animals to feed all year. Long Island has the food, the good range and small enough acreage for access to them.
Barta, who killed a caribou last August with a well-placed arrow in northern Quebec, prefers hunting with a bow over a gun any day.
“I’ve hunted with both, but I prefer a bow,” said Barta. “It’s more of a challenge. Shooting with a bow is 50 times harder than shooting with a gun. I think that a seasoned bowhunter is 10 times the hunter than a gun hunter will ever be. The skill required, the execution, the knowledge of the area in order to get close enough to the animal, it’s just incredible.
“I think hunting big game with a rifle is a joke,” Barta continued. “I fail to see the sport in it or the challenge.”
Through trial and error, man has devised several means of gaining the upper hand when dealing with the elusive whitetail deer. One of the ways that bowhunters use to counter the deer’s uncanny sense of smell is tree stands, which usually rest about 8 feet off the ground. Perched on one of these, the hunter’s scent does not reach the deer so readily. Moreover, deer have a tendency to look for danger on their own level or below them, not from above.
Portable tree stands are becoming more popular. They can be moved easily, put up easily and taken down so as not to give away one’s favorite spot to a fellow hunter. In addition, portable tree stands are a plus with environmentalists and individual landowners because they don’t hurt the tree and they don’t remain as eyesores.
“It really helps,” said Griffiths of a tree stand that his 29 year-old brother Dave, a hunter and a member of the East Hampton Village Highway Department, had recently built. “Deer smell you. Deer can hear you. This tree stand is centrally located between where the deer sleep and where the deer feed, so the hope is that you’ll find one that’s going between the two spots.”
For four weekends, Steve Griffiths saw little, if any, movement in the woods of East Hampton. Though he didn’t connect, he was able to get off a couple of shots this past season.
Other bowhunters’ tricks include applying animal scents to their own clothing in an attempt to disguise human scent. Many bowhunters sprinkle bottled fox or doe urine and even vanilla extract on their clothing and around the base of the tree in which they’re positioned. Also, hunters place ‘Deer Lure’, a doe gland extract, on their footgear before walking to the tree stand. The scent stimulates the trail of a doe. Supposedly, the bucks love it.
Camouflage clothing, face paint and even pullover head nets are also commonly worn by the serious bowhunter. The head nets are worn to keep the glare of the sun form shining off the hunter’s face. Deer are color blind, but can easily note abnormal contrasts and movements. Outlines of humans are usually a dead giveaway.
What characteristics should a successful bowhunter possess?
“Tremendous patience, a certain amount of born skill and a lot of dedication,” said Tred Barta. “A seasoned bowhunter shoots all the time, maybe as much as three or four times a week.”
Is it safe?
“You hear of very few, if any, accidents in bowhunting,” said Barta. “It’s a very, very safe sport because it’s always at close range and it doesn’t make any noise.”
Wooded areas throughout Southampton Township are considered prime locations for deer hunting. Every one of the hunters interviewed, however, asked that the specific locations of their tree stands or hunting grounds not be disclosed for fear of overcrowding those particular spots.