State to stiff bowhunters out of 7 prime days March 11, 2008 6:00 AM Fall archery season for deer is several months off, but when it arrives, hunters in the Hudson Valley will come up short. That's because the 2008 archery season is seven days shorter than the 2007 season. In an era when people are challenged enough to find time to hunt, a shorter season is not good. And now is the time to get this issue fixed, not when the season opens in October. This shortened season is due primarily to moving the traditional opening day of big-game season from Monday to the prior Saturday. So when the fall archery season opens on Oct. 19, it will offer 28 days of hunting, instead of the 35 days during 2007. In a recent letter to state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Pete Grannis, New York Bowhunters president Gary Socola offered a few of his own choice observations. "It was agreed that in exchange for NYB's support to open the regular firearms season on a Saturday, early season bowhunters would be compensated for the loss of this very valuable weekend of hunting opportunity during the prime 'rut' hunting time with added weekend opportunity on the front end of the season in early October. NYB upheld their end of the agreement but the DEC not only reneged, they took hunting time away from the early season bowhunter," Socola wrote. Apparently, whatever agreement the bowhunters had with the DEC did withstand the test of time. According to Socola, the "DEC never engaged NYB in openly discussing any of our alternate suggestions, resulting in the implementation of the current season structure despite the huge volume of letters and correspondence in opposition." Kevin Armstrong, NYB's current secretary and former president, recalled that the DEC had certainly made a promise to amend the season to make up for the lost days. "Early versions of the DEC's proposal included the early opening date for archery-only season," he said. "Before the season restructuring was complete, the DEC went back on their word to bowhunters. They got their way. Bowhunters got diddly squat." Armstrong maintained that the agreement was reached with the DEC's Gerry Barnhardt and assistant commissioner Lynette Start, neither of whom remains at the DEC. Of course, they only gave a verbal agreement to the NYB, at any rate. A large part of the problem, as even NYB admitted, is not enough action by individual bowhunters. The only way issues such as this are resolved in the political arena is to have an overwhelming request for change by the bowhunting community. That would be you, if you bowhunt. Fortunately, NYB has made it easy to have your voice heard. Go to its Web site at newyorkbowhunters.com. Check out the "current news" section for a list of key DEC people to send the pre-formatted letter to. If every bowhunter takes action on this, good things can happen. Without that effort, things will remain as they are.