November 23, 2009
Hunters take to the woods
Spafford Ladies Auxiliary serves annual first-day breakfast
SPAFFORD — Deer hunting in the hills and ridges around Skaneateles Lake is not good and people should not bother to try, Spafford resident Dave Kittlaus said Saturday as he ate breakfast at the Spafford Fire Department station.
Across the table, his son, Chad, said the hunting was amazingly good.
They both smiled, because the truth was somewhere in between.
The first day of shotgun season in the state’s Southern Zone was gray and misty Saturday morning, but calm and fairly warm. The season ends Dec. 13.
The fire department’s Ladies Auxiliary hosted its annual breakfast from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the fire station on Route 41. By 10:45 a.m., the group had sold 67 breakfasts consisting of options: eggs, pancakes, sausage, french toast, juice and coffee. There were three prices for breakfasts.
Auxiliary members who were cooking said the number was up from the last couple of years. They felt there were more hunters out seeking deer, possibly because, with the poor economy, people in the area need food.
“The price of meat is way up,” said Debbie Brown, the auxiliary’s vice president and member of the fire commission.
The Kittlauses said they had hunted around Spafford and Scott for years. Chad, who lives in DeWitt, said he has shot his share of deer there.
Next to them, their friend Aaron Judd of Chittenango said he was glad to have shot a 4-point buck already, at about 7:30 a.m.
He planned to take the carcass to Dave’s Archery in the town of Homer, to have it butchered into pieces of venison. Then he would be babysitting his children while his wife went to work.
“I can butcher it myself but I don’t have as much time now, with a family,” he said. “Dave’s Archery does a good job.”
Judd said he had hunted in the area for the past three years. He and Chad Kittlaus are friends who work together at Crest Cadillac, a Syracuse auto dealership. Kittlaus is a salesperson and Judd is an auto technician.
At the next table over, Bob Thayer of Mexico and Marshall Swain of Cobleskill said they had not been in the woods yet but planned to go. They were staying at Thayer’s hunting camp on Cold Brook Road.
“I’ve a lot of luck hunting around here,” said Thayer, who has owned his camp since 1991.
The two men used to work together at one of the Nine Mile Point nuclear power plants in Oswego County. They are both retired now.
Mickey and Jill Shoemaker of Marcellus said they were hoping to have success.
“I grew up here and I’ve hunted here for years,” said Mickey Shoemaker. “My parents live across the road.”
He said he hunts in the Marcellus area more, but comes to the annual Spafford breakfast for the social aspect. People kept greeting him as he ate.
“I don’t hunt — he kills it, I cook it, that’s the deal,” said Jill Shoemaker.
“Our two daughters are 21 and 19,” Mickey Shoemaker said, “and they hunt. Our older daughter shot two bucks two years ago. Some people never get one buck,”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation had sold 591,022 hunting licenses as of Oct. 27, for $25 million in fees. The state usually sells about 1 million licenses by the time hunting seasons are finished in December.
Down at Dave’s Archery, at the intersection of Route 11 and Little York Crossing, owner Dave Metzger and his staff were doing brisk business in butchering deer carcasses.
By 11:45 a.m., he had about 24 carcasses “and it’s just starting.” He also offers taxidermy services for hunters who want a head mounted.
“Bow hunting season ended yesterday and the numbers were good from that,” Metzger said. “Sometimes we get 75 to 80 deer on opening day of shotgun season. Last year we processed 452 deer, plus people brought venison to be smoked.”
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