NCCC?holds annual rabit hunt contest

The annual rabbit contest held by the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club for members and guests was a success with close to 30 contestants signed up for this year’s event.

These small-avenue events are never about the money or the thrill of a blood sport. Rather it’s a chance to get together with friends who share a passion for the outdoors. Not all the hunters opt to use dogs in their rabbit quest, but the thrill of listening to a good dog hot on the trail of its prey is music to a hunter’s ears.

You don’t have to use dogs to hunt rabbits. Jumping on a brush pile or walking along a hedge row on a sunny winter day can be just as productive. A shotgun loaded with low brass size (6-8 size shot) will get the job done. Hunting rabbits is a good primer for deer hunting, especially for young hunters.

Rabbits and deer both blend into their surroundings with uncanny camouflaging ability and have a habit of waiting until you just about step on them before bursting from cover with heart-attack abruptness. Both are fast, taste good when properly prepared and both are herbivores. Both species have a fondness for backyard gardens and, if left unchecked, would overpopulate in staggering numbers. From numerous reports, the rabbit population is in very good shape.

The winners of this year’s contest was the Pete Shareno crew, which took all three top places by weight at 3.46, 3.35 and 2.88 pounds. The Shareno crew reportedly had three hunters and four dogs and weighed in four rabbits. There were a total of 23 rabbits weighed in. Jim Kubasik got the lightest rabbit at 1.63 pounds.

Just a reminder: The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club is hosting their famous end of February chicken barbecue next Sunday, Feb. 24. The cost is $8.50 per dinner pre-sale, or $9 at the door. The proceeds go to the Con Club Take-A-Kid Fishing Day, which will be held in June.

A tip of the hat to Lake Erie Bird Watchers Club members Thomas and Joanne Goetz. They sent an observation about the unusually large amount of waterfowl seen lately in the Dunkirk harbor. They, and other members, have seen large numbers of red head ducks, canvasbacks, 14 ruddy ducks near the Dunkirk Yacht Club, good amounts of hooded mergansers, greater scaup (blue bills), bufflelheads, common mergansers, 17 great blue herons and black-crowned night herons (immature) by the yacht club. And usually at least one bald eagle. The Dunkirk Harbor is a great place to bring some binoculars and watch for waterfowl, for young and old alike.

Calendar:

The Northern Chautauqua Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold their annual Fundraiser membership banquet on Saturday, March 9, at the Dunkirk Moose Lodge located at 296 Lake Shore Drive West, in Dunkirk. Doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. Auctions will be held after dinner. Call Steve at 410-4848 or Chris at 672-2498 for tickets or information.

Waterfowl hunters should be advised that the Department of Environmental Conservation has re-opened the snow goose season effective until April 15 in Upstate New York. For more information, log on to “http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50514.html”>www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50514.html.

There will be a “Gun Owners’ March on Albany” bus trip which will depart from the New York State Thruway Exit 49 (Depew) park-and-drive area Feb. 28. Participants will travel to the Empire State Plaza’s Legislative Office Building. Departure is 4:30 a.m., with arrival time expected to be 10 a.m. The cost is $25 per passenger. Departure from Albany is scheduled for 3 p.m., and arrival back at the Depew parking area around 8:30 p.m. For reservations, call Rich at 510-7952 or email rich@weloveoutdoors.org. This event is co-sponsored by the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen.

Willie Fedrick, Ken Hollandar, Monte Kennedy, Jeffrey Rasmus and the rest of the fly tying group are back again on Monday evenings (6-8 p.m.) at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club. The Con Club Fly Tyers have all the equipment you will need to learn how to tie your own flies. No matter what level you are at – from beginner to advanced – you can come and have a good time free of charge. They will provide the vises, hooks and fly tying material. Youngsters accompanied by a parent or guardian are most certainly welcome.

The Sportsman’s Show at the Seneca Allegany Events Center (I-86- Exit 20) will continue today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go to www.yorkpennshows.com for more information. Reports on Saturday’s show stated it was packed!

NYS Ice Pro-Am Tournament Series: There are three main tournament events – if the ice cooperates. The first was on Tupper Lake Jan. 4-6. The second was on Chautauqua Lake Feb. 15-17. This event was cancelled due to unsafe ice conditions. The final event is on Sodus Bay Feb. 22-24. There are three divisions: professional, amateur and open. Professional, which is 1-2 anglers per team, has a $160 entry fee. The Amateur Division, which is also open to singles and pairs, has a $90 entry fee. The Open Division, which is for single anglers only, has an entry fee of $40. Check the official tournament website at www.NYSiceproam.com. The official Tournament email address is info@FK sportfishing.com.

The Jamestown Rifle Club will hold Pistol classes Feb. 24, March 24 and April 28. You must be 21 years old and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m., and last around four hours each. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.

Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to sports@observertoday.com.