Rochelle LeClaire | Mossy Oak ProStaff
I didn’t take my first deer until I was 17. Up until that time I’d hunted with my grandfather, my dad and my brother with a muzzleloader, a rifle and a bow – all of which I still use today. My dad, is the president of our local gun club. I have met a couple of ladies from the gun club, but for some reason, there aren’t many lady hunters in our area.
Over the last three years, I've primarily hunted by myself because my husband and I have to take turns caring for our young son, Colton, who is 3 years old, and now our 1-year-old daughter Skyler. On the weekends, my mother-in-law will come over and take care of the children, so my husband and I can hunt together. I’m in a stand by myself, and he’s in a stand by himself. I also hunt with my father and my brother as well. We have about 80 acres behind my grandfather’s house that he doesn’t own, but that we can hunt. My dad has about 50 acres he owns. Then we have another 100-acre plot that a friend of mine allows my husband and I to hunt. We also have a 300-acre lease that I don’t get to hunt very often, since its well away from home.
I prefer to hunt with a bow, but if I don’t take a deer with my bow, I don’t hesitate to hunt with a rifle. I took a doe with my rifle on opening day of New York’s 2017 gun deer season, which usually comes in the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I legally can take four deer here in New York. My bow deer tag is for either sex. I can take two does with any weapon on my doe-management permit. If I don’t fill my bow tag, I can use it for either-sex deer during muzzleloader or rifle season.
The biggest bucks I took in our region were two 8-pointers that would score around 115 each, which were pretty good bucks for our area. I belong to a Facebook group where I can see a lot of hunters posting pictures of the deer they have taken in New York, and I look at those bucks, and I say, “Oh my gosh, those bucks are huge.”
Why We Have Little Bucks in My Section of New York
There’s a lot of hunting pressure in the part of New York – the far eastern section of the state - where I live, and our hunters generally will take any buck they see. I must admit when I first started hunting I was taking spikes, 3-pointers and 4-pointers - like everyone else did. But now, I may go several years without taking a buck, because I am looking for a bigger and better buck than I've harvested in the past.
I know that during doe season I can take a doe or two for the freezer, and my family loves deer meat. So, I don’t have to shoot a small buck to get meat for my freezer. I have and will continue to look for a better buck each season.
Another Mossy Oak ProStaffer, Frank Miskey, enjoys hunting New York and also offers insight into hunting the state of New York.
Rochelle LeClaire lives in Schaghticoke, New York, in eastern New York, and has been a member of the Mossy Oak ProStaff for five years. She hunted with her dad, grandfather and brother, until she was old enough to get a hunting license. Although married and with two small children, Rachelle hunts as often as possible and enjoys preparing and eating wild game.