EAST REGIONAL

A Place for the Canadas in New York, Easy access to ducks in New Jersey, Where to spend time in Massachusetts and more.

Outdoor Life Online Editor

A Place for the Canadas
Get a late-season advantage on cooperative hunting land
NEW YORK This year's addition of a 23-day Canada goose late season and the increase to a two-bird bag limit are good signs that the Canada goose population is recovering thanks to good sub-population management. A great place to take advantage of this new season and hunt Canadas in December and January is Cayuga-Tompkins Cooperative Hunting Area.

Situated on the east side of Cayuga Lake, between the towns of Aurora and King Ferry, this cooperative hunting area offers up to 35 field sites and 6 water sites to hunt waterfowl. The co-op is made up primarily of private lands managed by the state. A daily permit is required to hunt the co-op and hunting parties choose their hunting location on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations can be made by telephoning the check station between 1 and 4 p.m., and cannot be made earlier than one day prior to the hunt. The permit station is located just west of King Ferry on Route 90. Here you can obtain maps and a list of rules for the hunting area.

Field hunters should use layout tactics with large decoy spreads. Flagging works well this time of year. The water sites are located on the east shore of Cayuga Lake, and these will produce ducks as well as geese. A mixed spread of diver, puddle and goose decoys works best here. The second-half split for ducks in this area runs December 27 to January 7 and the Canada goose late season runs from December 27 to January 18.

Contact: Cayuga-Tompkins Cooperative Hunting Area station (315-364-7777); DEC Region 7 (607-753-3095, ext. 247; www.dec.state.ny.us). -T.R. Hendrick

River Refuge
Easy access to ducks and geese
NEW JERSEY Any licensed and stamped hunter is eligible to hunt for waterfowl on the Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. The 4,500-acre parcel is accessible by foot or via the Wallkill River only. Good numbers of Canada geese, black ducks, wood ducks, mallards and teal arrive in winter. Hunters must apply for a refuge permit ($10) from the refuge office. Permits come with a map of the refuge as well as a description of all applicable restrictions.

Contact: Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge office (973-702-7266). -Oliver Shapiro

Go Deep
A firearms hunters' haven
PENNSYLVANIA To get away from the crowd during the rifle deer season, check out the rugged region crossed by Route 44 along the Clinton/Lycoming county border. Two huge state forests (Tiadaghton and Sproul) sprawl across half a million acres. The limited hunting pressure here occurs close to roads and trails mostly. So you can have large sections of the woods all to yourself by taking the time to hike into one of the area's roadless tracts, most of which are located on high plateaus situated 1,500 feet above the Pine Creek and Susquehanna River valleys. Pack a small portable tree stand and hunt over one of the mountain laurel patches that typify the region. When conditions are damp or windy, still-hunting also works well. Antlerless tag holders will have top opportunites to take a good doe.

Contact: Pennsylvania Game Commission, north-central region (P.O. Box 5038, Jersey Shore, PA 17740; 877-877-7674). -Jon Farley

The "Top Ten"
Where to spend December
MASSACHUSETTS If you are a serious deer hunter, then most of your December is bookended by the shotgun season and the muzzleloader season. And Deer Management Zone 10, which includes all of the metropolitan Boston area and the North Shore, is a good place to invest your time. Hunters here are finding nice bucks and abundant deer herds. In fact, DMZ 10 produced the second highest deer-kill last year of all zones in the state.

On private farmland and forests in DMZ 10, polite inquirieso hunt are often met with approval. But there is also a surprisingly large swath of public hunting land along and between the Parker and Ipswich rivers. Four large state forests allow deer hunting in this area: Harold Parker (3,500 acres) and Boxford (1,000 acres), both east of Andover, and Georgetown- Rowley (1,124 acres) and Willowdale (1,250 acres), west of Ipswich. Also, three WMAs add substantially to the total: Crane Pond (2,122 acres), Martin H. Burns (1,555 acres) and William Forward (2,083 acres).

Contact: Bill Woytek, deer project leader, MassWildlife (One Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581; 508-792-7270). -Tom Fuller

Strip-Mine Grouse
Ruffs find cover in reclaimed timber growth
WEST VIRGINIA Within the blight that is West Virginia's abandoned or poorly reclaimed strip mines is an odd boon, as numerous old mines have become some of the few reliable hot spots that wing-shooters have for grouse hunting. The state's grouse population has declined overall, but strip mines have remained steady producers of the great game birds.

The state's southwestern region contains the best strip-mine sites. Topographic maps of Boone, Logan, McDowell and Mingo counties show dozens of potential hunting spots; take a close look around the Pond Fork below Madison in Boone. Old strip mines show up as purple areas that follow contour lines.

Look for mines that closed 15 to 20 years ago, as those are just starting to reclaim the timber growth that grouse need. You can often follow a strip mine in a circle, returning to your access point at the end. Flush rates of 25 grouse a day are uncommon in most of West Virginia, but can occur often on strip mines.

Contact: West Virginia Division of Wildlife Resources, District Five (304-675-0871). -John McCoy

Classic Waterfowling
This tidal marsh offers an array of hunting opportunities
MARYLAND Check out Cedar Island, 2,900 acres of tidal marsh detached from the mainland at the tip of Somerset County. The marshy Cedar Island WMA usually attracts hordes of mallards, scaup and buffleheads during the late season. Cedar Island is also one of the Eastern Shore's best spots for black ducks. Only one black duck may be taken daily, and the bag limit for all ducks is five plus one additional teal. The WMA is accessible from the water only, so hunting pressure is kept in check. Take Route 413 to Crisfield.

Contact: Wellington wildlife office (410-543-8223). -J.F.

Connecticut
Natchaug Whitetails: If you're into muzzleloading you can find good hunting in Natchaug State Forest, which harbors significant densities of deer. Hunt the large main forest in Chaplin and Eastford, or smaller plots of woods adjacent to private land in Ashford. Contact: Howard Kilpatrick, deer project leader, Franklin WMA (860-642-7239).

Triple Ducks: Three WMAs at the mouths of the state's major rivers offer perfect setups to intercept ducks. For the Housatonic River, go to the Charles E. Wheeler WMA (Nells Island). For the Connecticut River, head to the Great Island WMA. And just east of the Thames River is the Barn Island WMA. Contact: Min Huang, duck project leader (860-642-7239).

More Bow: Bowhunters might have an extra month of hunting this season: January 2003, in Deer Management Zones 11 and 12, Fairfield County and the shoreline. Deer-project leader Howard Kilpatrick hopes to initiate the change this season. However, check the Web site (www.dep.state.ct.us) for notification of final approval.

Key Dates
November 30-December 10: Shotgun deer "B" seasons and no-lottery season.
December 11-24: Deer muzzleloader season.
January 11: Ruffed grouse and pheasant seasons close.
January 11: Late duck season in North Zone closes.
January 25: Late duck season in South Zone closes.

Delaware
Augustine's Ducks: Mark on your map the Augustine Wildlife Area near Port Penn. Covering more than 2,500 acres along the Delaware River estuary, Augustine's wetlands attract a wide variety of dabblers in the winter. Hunters must apply for one of the 25 blinds in a lottery held each morning one hour before shooting time. Contact: Augustine Wildlife Area (302-834-8433).

December Stripers: You can find access points near Lewes and Cape Henlopen for a shot at some fantastic late striper fishing. Fishing from shore can be productive if you work the jetties, piers and rocks. Brightly colored bucktail jigs or live eels work well. Fly-rodders should use #4 or #6 Deceivers or Clouser Minnows. Contact: DDFW (302-739-4403).

Quick Check: A new system for Delaware hunters allows deer to be checked by phone or via the Internet. Instead of lugging a deer to one of the 39 check stations scattered across the state, the process can now be taken care of simply by calling 800-WETLAND or visiting www.dnrec.state.de.us/fw.

Key Dates
December 14-21: Special shotgun season for antlerless deer.
January 17: Duck and migratory Canada goose seasons close.
January 18-25: Late shotgun season.
January 31: Archery season closes.

Maine
Ocean Grouse: Check out Waldo County for plenty of ruffs in the superb cover, especially the uplands adjacent to Penobscot Bay. The ocean effect keeps the shoreline somewhat mild, making scenting conditions for dogs much better. A southwest wind behind a cold front is ideal. Contact: Information Center, MDIFW (207-287-8000; www.state.me.us/ifw).

Down-East Ducks: With interior freshwater lakes and swamps freezing, you should head for the Southern migratory bird zone, especially in Washington County down east. Large flocks of black ducks, goldeneyes and mallards stage in the rivers and estuaries from Cobscook Bay to the Machias River and Bay and the Narraguagus River. Contact: Information Center, MDIFW (207-287-8000; www.state.me.us/ifw).

Outdoors Lottery: Maine is one of only three states with an instant lottery ticket game that funds fisheries, wildlife and conservation programs. The Outdoor Heritage program has raised $9.4 million to date and awarded $500,000 to state outdoors funds this past year (the first of two yearly installments). Among other expenditures, 4,242 acres of land were acquired on Big Spencer Mountain in Piscataquis with lottery money.

Key Dates
December 9: Northern migratory bird zone duck season closes.
December 23: Southern migratory bird zone duck season closes.
December 31: Ruffed grouse season closes.
January 1: General icefishing season for salmon, trout, togue and bass opens.

Maryland
uth Zone closes.

Delaware
Augustine's Ducks: Mark on your map the Augustine Wildlife Area near Port Penn. Covering more than 2,500 acres along the Delaware River estuary, Augustine's wetlands attract a wide variety of dabblers in the winter. Hunters must apply for one of the 25 blinds in a lottery held each morning one hour before shooting time. Contact: Augustine Wildlife Area (302-834-8433).

December Stripers: You can find access points near Lewes and Cape Henlopen for a shot at some fantastic late striper fishing. Fishing from shore can be productive if you work the jetties, piers and rocks. Brightly colored bucktail jigs or live eels work well. Fly-rodders should use #4 or #6 Deceivers or Clouser Minnows. Contact: DDFW (302-739-4403).

Quick Check: A new system for Delaware hunters allows deer to be checked by phone or via the Internet. Instead of lugging a deer to one of the 39 check stations scattered across the state, the process can now be taken care of simply by calling 800-WETLAND or visiting www.dnrec.state.de.us/fw.

Key Dates
December 14-21: Special shotgun season for antlerless deer.
January 17: Duck and migratory Canada goose seasons close.
January 18-25: Late shotgun season.
January 31: Archery season closes.

Maine
Ocean Grouse: Check out Waldo County for plenty of ruffs in the superb cover, especially the uplands adjacent to Penobscot Bay. The ocean effect keeps the shoreline somewhat mild, making scenting conditions for dogs much better. A southwest wind behind a cold front is ideal. Contact: Information Center, MDIFW (207-287-8000; www.state.me.us/ifw).

Down-East Ducks: With interior freshwater lakes and swamps freezing, you should head for the Southern migratory bird zone, especially in Washington County down east. Large flocks of black ducks, goldeneyes and mallards stage in the rivers and estuaries from Cobscook Bay to the Machias River and Bay and the Narraguagus River. Contact: Information Center, MDIFW (207-287-8000; www.state.me.us/ifw).

Outdoors Lottery: Maine is one of only three states with an instant lottery ticket game that funds fisheries, wildlife and conservation programs. The Outdoor Heritage program has raised $9.4 million to date and awarded $500,000 to state outdoors funds this past year (the first of two yearly installments). Among other expenditures, 4,242 acres of land were acquired on Big Spencer Mountain in Piscataquis with lottery money.

Key Dates
December 9: Northern migratory bird zone duck season closes.
December 23: Southern migratory bird zone duck season closes.
December 31: Ruffed grouse season closes.
January 1: General icefishing season for salmon, trout, togue and bass opens.

Maryland