The town’s Deer & Tick Committee held a special meeting last week for local hunters, but only two — Beau Payne and Bruce Raheb — showed up.
Mike Scheibel, the committee’s chairman, and Police Chief Jim Read, who runs the Island’s deer management program, both said they hadn’t expected many hunters to participate at a mid-May meeting when the hunting season is still months away. But it would be a good time to sum up programs and initiatives and the word would spread to the hunting community.
The main take away from the May 13 meeting was that incentives to hunters to get out into the field worked last season. The incentives are gift cards for sporting equipment based on a raffle system for participating hunters who have taken deer on town-owned property, since the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation forbids outright bounties on deer. The town spent about $2,000 for the gift cards. Mr. Raheb also suggested that the raffle program include deer killed on private property.
Recorded deer kills — it’s assumed more went unreported — rose from 293 in 2013 to 370 for the 2014 season.
Mr. Raheb suggested the town pay hunters for some equipment, noting that every arrow he shoots during bow hunting season costs him $25. Chief Read said he didn’t see a problem of allocating some funds for equipment. Josh Stiller, a wild life biologist with the DEC who attended the meeting, said it was probable cash reimbursements would be legal under state statutes.
Several suggestions made at last September’s hunters meting, which packed the Town Hall meeting room, had been incorporated into the deer management program, Chief Read said. Among these were extending the bow season into January, placing ads in the Reporter asking landowners to open their properties to hunting and holding hunter safety courses.
Another suggestion from Mr. Raheb was that deer killed be taken directly to butchers for gutting. Currently, hunters are responsible for gutting the deer they kill. If that program was in place “we could spend more time in the woods,” Mr. Raheb said.
Chief Read said a pilot program to involve butchers was a possibility.
Initially, Mr. Scheibel expressed reservations, but then said it was an idea worth considering.