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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cross country ski opportunities abound


For most of January there was not much snow and cross country ski enthusiast were complaining about the lack of snow for cross country skiing. February more than made up for that but the sub zero temperatures and wind chill factors kept most people inside for the past month. With the abundance of snow everywhere and the apparent return of more moderate temperatures, many people are looking forward to making up for lost time and getting in some Nordic skiing.
Among the many reasons for the popularity of cross country skiing is the fact that you can do it almost anywhere. Whether it is the field behind your house or some groomed trails in the Adirondacks, there are countless opportunities.
You can do it at your own pace. Some like to shuffle along and explore the scenery and nature at a slow pace, while others like to “burn it” and get lots of exercise and conditioning on an outing. It can be a few hours of fun and exercise or an all day expedition.
Some people like the competitive nature of the sport, while others prefer a quiet day alone on the trail with only the local wildlife punctuating the scenery. It is a chance to get outdoors, get exercise at whatever skill level or amount that you desire and enjoy nature while you are at it.
Equipment in cross country skiing has changed and evolved, just like it has it most sports. But at heart it remains a simple sport. Long skinny skis with boots attached at the toe are the essence of the equipment. The kick and glide remains the basic move and locking the heels allows a degree of control while gliding downhill.
There are several new designs of skis that give some slight advantages in performance. But unless you are a racer or an advanced skier the difference is insignificant. Don’t be intimidated by the various designs or variations. Check with a reputable ski shop when choosing the right skis for you.
Binding have generally evolved from the three pin, which clamped the boot at the toe, to the “kick” style which grips the toe area of the boot by a special bar. Again, don’t be too concerned. If you are buying used skis, either type works just fine. If you are buying new ones, the ski shop will mark and mount the bindings for you.
Clothing will depend on the type of activity that you will be engaged in. If you are going to be going at a steady pace then you will need lighter clothing to avoid heavy perspiration and overheating. For slower paces, or frequently stopping to admire the scenery, especially in open country, you will need warmer clothing.
A good idea is to carry a light backpack or belt pack to carry snacks, water, an extra sweater and gloves and other necessary items. Be sure to take a compass, an extra tip for the poles and simple tool kit for any lengthy trips.
The abundance of open country in the areas around here lends itself to great ski trips. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of interesting short trips across the nearby fields and through the adjoining woods. Most of the area farms have log roads through the forests that make great ski trails.
State land at Stony Pond has a series of nested ski trails of different lengths. Brookfield State Forest contains many miles of unplowed roads as well as some challenging hills. The property of Verona Beach State Park on the east side of Route 13 has a variety of trails to explore.
All around the area there are countless old farm roads or abandoned dirt roads that invite winter travel by ski or snowmobile. The roads around Florence or “46 Corners” lend themselves to great day trips by dropping off a second vehicle at your destination.
For those who prefer groomed and set tracks with a warming hut and hot coffee at the end of the trail, there are always commercial cross country ski centers. The Osceola Tug Hill X-C Ski Center (599-7377) offers trails, rentals of equipment and facilities. The Salmon Hills Resort (599-4003) on County Route 2 and Noble Shores just beyond Redfield offers similar services and “yurts” for rental accommodations.
The Black River Environmental Association (BREA) is a private foundation that grooms ski paths from the Boonville Town Barn to Pixley Falls State Park. Here is network of interesting trails and all are free of charge. You can access them along Route 46 or in Boonville.
The Town of Inlet maintains several miles of cross country trails that are groomed and set over a variety of ability levels and interesting venues.  Access is at Fern Park and there is no fee for their use. There is even a loop that is lighted for night skiing. They also groom trails at the Inlet Golf Course and Limekiln State Campground. Rentals or services are available at the nearby Pedals & Petals Shop in Inlet.
For those who want to strike out on their own and try some new territory, nearby Oswego County has lots of snow and lots of cross country trails as well. The best known are the trails used for the annual Tourathon east of Sandy Creek. Other areas are the Chateaugay State forest east of Orwell or the Littlejohn Wildlife Management Area beyond Redfield.
So whatever your preference of area or style of skiing, there are plenty of opportunities for you in central New York. Again this year nature is dumping an abundance of snow upon us.  Why not take advantage of it and enjoy cross country skiing opportunities that we have.
SHORT CASTS
State of Lake Ontario Meetings: The public will have the opportunity to learn about the State of Lake Ontario fisheries at public meetings held in March. Locally a meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the DEC Training Academy, 24 County Route 2A, Pulaski (the former Portly Angler Motel).
DEC, and other organizations will make a number of presentations, including updates on the status of trout and salmon fisheries, forage fish and stocking programs. The meetings will provide ample time at the end of the scheduled program for the audience to interact with the presenters.
A statewide angler survey estimated more than 2.6 million angler days were spent on Lake Ontario and major tributaries.  The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $112 million annually to the local New York economy.
Camping and RV Show: The Central NY RV and Camping show will be held at the NYS Fairgrounds this weekend, March 5 – 8. There will be all types of vendors with camping equipment, RVs, accessories and more. Hours will be Thursday noon – 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Call 487-7711 for more information.
Oneida County Mentor Program Women’s Hunt: The Oneida County Sportsmen’s Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation and other groups are joining together to give women a great experience during the regular turkey season. Women who sign up will have the opportunity for turkey hunting with a mentor on May 9.
During the weekend of April 11, women will learn from experienced mentors the basics of turkey hunting and practice their marksmanship at a shooting range under the supervision of certified instructors.
Women who are interested will need to have completed their hunter safety course by that date. They must complete an application and submit it to address below by April 1, 2015 or by email to sfcf@tds.net.  
Contact: Women’s Turkey Hunt, C/O Mr. Scott Faulkner, 3720 Wells Gifford Rd, Vernon Center, NY 13477. Phone 315-829-3588

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snowshoes: A Versatile and Handy Tool For Winter Sportsmen


Due to the frigid temperatures, dangerous wind-chills and heavy snows, many people have not ventured outside very much this winter. Last weekend saw more normal conditions and snowmobilers and cross-country and downhill skiers all eagerly took part in their favorite sports. Other people decided to get out even if was just hiking and getting fresh air.
With the deep snow, it was difficult moving unless you had cross-country skis or snowshoes on. Large drifts and heavily packed snow make travelling any further than your back yard a major undertaking. A lot of people were using snowshoes to get their destination or just for the fun of it.
In recent years there has been an increase in the popularity of snowshoes. For several years now the number of sales of snowshoes has increased dramatically, according to sports shop owners.
There are many reasons for the increased popularity of snowshoes. For many people it is easier than cross-country skiing, especially those who have a fear of keeping their balance while gliding or cruising down slopes. Snowshoes are steadier and give you more control. For moving along at a slower pace such as hunting or photography they are ideal. And if you are moving through heavily wooded areas and uneven terrain, the snowshoes are easier to use.
Snowshoeing is relatively low cost because all you need are pair of snowshoes and you can wear your regular winter clothing. Anyone can do it. You can adjust the distance and activity to suit your ability and energy level. There are lots of areas nearby that you can use snowshoes. It is excellent exercise and can be combined with other sports.
Although some may tell you that it just as easy to travel on snowshoes as walking normally, don’t believe them completely. It does take a slight adjustment in your leg swing or gait and it will require more effort. Just remember not to overdo it when you start out; you also have to walk back.
On the other hand, snowshoeing is not as strenuous or as difficult as some people think. With a little practice you can move along without thinking every step about stepping on your other snowshoe. Making it easier is the fact that many of the newer designs and materials are lighter and easier to walk with.
Traditional snowshoes fall into three basic types: Alaskan, Maine or bearpaw. The Alaskan or pickerel are long narrow types made for traversing open country trails and the upturned toe is made for plowing through deep powder and drifts. The Maine or Michigan styles are shorter, and wider with a trailer or “tail” for stability. These are best for general use in a variety of situations.
The bearpaw has always been popular with rabbit hunters and others who traveled through thick evergreens or timber where a lot of turning or uneven terrain was encountered. These are the smallest and are basically oval shaped. Two variations are the modified bearpaw, which is slightly longer and has a slightly upturned toe. The Green Mountain style is another modification of the bearpaw and is slightly longer and narrower. This is very popular with beginners because it is light and easy to use under most conditions.
Today there are the newer models made of polyethylene, aluminum frames and nylon or other synthetic covers to replace the webbing. These contribute greatly to the popularity of snowshoeing because they are lightweight, narrow for easy walking and support a greater amount of weight for their smaller size. They often have crampons or “creepers” that help grip the surface while climbing uphill.
Most of the new synthetic snowshoes are in the Green Mountain style and come in various sizes to accommodate different weights. Generally you need more surface area to support greater weight. Manufacturers will list the recommended weights for different sizes.
If you are going to buy a pair, try out several styles and types before you purchase. What kind do I have? One pair of each! The traditional snowshoes are still made of white ash although neoprene webbing is replacing the rawhide on many brands. I also have two the Green Mountain style in plastic and aluminum frames with neoprene “platforms.”
Because of the increasing popularity of snowshoeing, many places are now renting snowshoes. Up in the central Adirondacks you can rent snowshoes at Moose River Company in Old Forge, Inlet Pedals and Petals, or Mountainman Outdoor Supply in Old Forge. The Osceola-Tug Hill rents snowshoes as well as cross-country skis. Beaver Lake Nature Center or Highland Forest rent snowshoes. Great Swamp Conservancy often has guided wildlife walks on snowshoes.
There is a tremendous amount and variety of areas to try out snowshoes for hiking, photography and nature walks. Just remember as a matter of common courtesy to stay off cross-country ski trails. Wear sensible clothing, but don’t overdress. If you are going to new territory carry a map and compass along with water and snacks. Finally remember the advice that a ranger gave me a year ago when I was hiking in the state of Washington: “It is five miles out, but ten miles coming back.”
SHORT CASTS
Oneida County Sportsmen’s Mentor Program Annual Youth Hunt: The Oneida County Sportsmen’s Federation and National Wild Turkey Federation are teaming up with the assistance of Environmental Conservation Officers again this year to give youngsters a great experience during the Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend, April 25 and 26. Youngsters eligible for the youth hunt and who do not have the opportunity to learn from, or hunt with a family member or an adult mentor will have the opportunity to go turkey hunting with a mentor.
During the weekend of April 11, youngsters will learn from experienced mentors the basics of turkey hunting and practice their marksmanship at a shooting range under the supervision of certified instructors.
Eligible hunters are youths 12-15 years of age holding a junior hunting license and a turkey permit. Youths 12-13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or relative over 21 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian. Youths 14-15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or an adult over 18 years of age with written permission.
Youngsters who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity will need to have completed their hunter safety course by that time, have the permission of a parent or guardian and meet the above criteria. Youngsters must complete the application and submit it to address below or by email sfcf@tds.net by April 1,. Those chosen for this program will be notified.
Contact Youth Turkey Hunt, C/O Mr. Scott Faulkner, 3720 Wells Gifford Rd., Vernon Center, NY 13477. Phone 315-829-3588.
State of Lake Ontario Meetings: The public will have the opportunity to learn about the State of Lake Ontario fisheries at public meetings held in March. Locally a meeting will be held Tuesday, March 10 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the DEC Training Academy, 24 County Route 2A, Pulaski (the former Portly Angler Motel).
DEC and others will make a number of presentations, including updates on the status of trout and salmon fisheries, forage fish, and stocking programs. The meetings will provide ample time at the end of the scheduled program for the audience to interact with the presenters.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Winter weather harsh on wildlife


When the snow piles up outside and the temperatures plummet during a nasty winter, humans can adapt and dress properly. If all else fails we stay inside and throw another log on the fire. One of the questions or concerns that many people have is how will all the snow and cold affect the wildlife.
Many birds migrate south for the winter. Birds like chickadees, goldfinches, tufted titmice and others that feed on seeds will congregate in areas that offer shelter and food nearby, including our backyard feeders.
Probably most visible, and perhaps most affected by deep snow, are deer. Many have commented that they have not seen many deer in the past few weeks as the snow piled up. When the snow reaches a depth of about 15 inches deer have difficulty travelling and they move to find their deer yards. These are areas of conifer trees, such as white cedar, that provide food and shelter.
Typically a deer’s winter food supply is white cedar, hemlock or maple buds and stems. Deer will have paths through the snow where they feed on the browse in relatively sheltered conditions. When the snow gets deep it restricts their movement and consequently the food intake. Deer need about five to seven pounds of food per day. Cold weather puts further demands on their metabolism to use their body fat to survive.
The deep snow will limit the deer’s mobility and ability to get to food when they need it the most. The key is whether the snow settles and packs and forms a crust that allows them to move around. If not, they are likely to be in trouble.
Another key will be whether or not there is much additional snow, especially as we get into March. Deep snow in late spring will usually mean widespread starvation since their body’s fat reserves have been depleted.
Some animals hibernate or go into a deep sleep for much of the winter. Raccoons, skunks, chipmunks and others will also sleep away much of the winter although a prolonged thaw or warm period may awaken them. Squirrels also sleep during the most extreme periods of cold weather although they will be actively seeking seeds or nuts during much of the winter.
In areas of deep snow, the turkeys will have trouble moving about to feed on the buds of shrubs or low branches that is their main winter food supply. If the snow settles and packs, the turkeys will usually be alright. But when there are prolonged periods of deep fluffy snow, the big birds could be in trouble.
Other birds and mammals have developed adaptations that help them to survive in harsh winter conditions. Grouse have feathered feet that act as snowshoes that help them walk on snow. In most cases they feed on the buds of aspen trees and seek protection from the elements and predators in the cover of nearby evergreens. In extremely cold weather grouse will dive into soft snow and remain buried there overnight in their own little snow cave.
Some animals such as the short-tailed weasel or snowshoe hare change their winter coat to white. This change in fur is caused by decreasing amounts of sunlight reaching their eye and has nothing to do with snow cover. But it does help them blend in with their surroundings and it is warmer than their normal fur.
As the snow settles, the predators like foxes can travel about on top of the snow since they don’t weigh very much. If you are checking tracks that resemble the pattern of a fox, you will not see any distinctive pad marks. That is because the bottom of their feet is mostly covered with fur for warmth and any tracks, no matter how fresh, will appear fuzzy.
Coyotes are larger predators that have longer legs to travel deep snow and their relatively large paws keep them from sinking into the snow too deeply once it has settled or become packed by the wind. Since much of their smaller prey like mice is hidden deep beneath the snow and rabbits aren’t traveling far from cover, coyotes may concentrate even more on deer for food. Deer trapped in the deep snow will have trouble escaping from a pair or pack of coyotes.
Deep beneath the snow the various mice, voles and other tiny critters will be living in their network of tunnels relatively free from predators like foxes, hawks or owls. If you follow the tracks of a fox or coyote you may see where they pounced into the snow prompted by the sound of rodents scurrying underneath. Deep snow hinders their ability to catch mice and other rodents.
Throughout the winter the life and death struggle of wildlife continues. It is always a tough time and many will not make it. But in nature not everything has a happy ending and when there is higher than normal snowfall and severe wind chills, more creatures than usual will suffer. But most of the wildlife have evolved adaptations that allow them to survive even a harsh winter.
SHORT CASTS
Safe Hunting in 2014: Last year was the second safest year for hunting since records were kept following the introduction of Hunter Safety Education in the 1960s. Incidents per 100,000 hunters have fallen by 75 percent since the 1960s. The average for the past five years is down to 4.3 incidents per 100,000 compared to 19 incidents in the 1960s.
There were 22 total incidents in 2014, including one fatality while hunting small game. Of that total, eight were self inflicted, 11 were involved with the same hunting party and only three where the victim and the shooter did not know each other. There were none in the spring turkey season. This is a testament to the hard work and skill of the 2,500 volunteer Sportsman Education instructors who put in many hours conducting classes in safe and ethical hunting.
Deer Season Law Enforcement: Region 6 which encompasses St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida and Herkimer Counties reported 353 related law enforcement actions involving 228 individuals during the 2014 deer season. While this may seem like a lot, consider that of the thousands of hunters afield in this region it is really a very small percentage. There were 172 misdemeanors and 181 violations for lesser charges.
There were 60 incidents of illegally taking big game, 71 of having a loaded gun in the car or shooting from a vehicle and five hunting with bait. Tagging, reporting and licensing violations totaled 103. There were 38 cases of trespass and four of taking a deer with an artificial light. Other incidents involved carrying a light with a bow or gun in the vehicle, feeding deer or bear within 300 feet of the road or carrying a bow or rifle during muzzleloader season.
Oneida County Mentor Program Women’s & Youth Hunts: The Oneida County Sportsmen’s Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation and other groups are joining together to give women a great experience during the regular turkey season. Women who sign up will have the opportunity for turkey hunting with a mentor on May 9.
Some women may want to learn or participate in turkey hunting but do not have family members or others who are experienced turkey hunters to learn from. During the weekend of April 11 prior to the hunt, women will learn from experienced mentors the basics of turkey hunting and practice their marksmanship at a shooting range under the supervision of certified instructors.
Women who are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity will need to have completed their hunter safety course by that date. They must complete an application and submit it to address below by April 1 or by e-mail to sfcf@tds.net.
Contact: Women’s Turkey Hunt, C/O Mr. Scott Faulkner, 3720 Wells Gifford Rd, Vernon Center, NY 13477. Phone 315-829-3588.
The Annual Youth Hunt will take place on April 25 and 26. Ages 12 – 15 with parental permission are eligible. The learning day and contact person are the same. More details available next week.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cures for cabin fever this weekend


Even for people used to winter weather and looking forward to winter sports, this has been a tough winter. Extremely cold temperatures and wind chill have kept a lot of people inside this winter. By this time many people are getting cabin fever. The solution is to get out and about this weekend. In addition to the usual winter sports there are some special events going on that will help improve your mood.
Great Swamp Conservancy’s Winter Hibernation Festival in Canastota will be held on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.. Activities include the annual Medallion Hunt, Boy Scouts igloo build, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, sledding on the new overlook, sled races, tug of war, snow painting and snow sculpture.
There will also be the guided trail walk, toasting marshmallows and indoor fun with nature games, inter-active and environmental exhibits about winter wildlife and crafts. For more information call 697-2950.
For Camp Santanoni Winter Weekend the New York DEC will open this historic Adirondack property to the public for recreational opportunities on President’s Day holiday weekend, February 14-15. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will have access to the historic Great Camp properties located in the town of Newcomb in Essex County to rest and view interpretative displays.
During the Winter Weekend events, cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be able to visit both the Gate Lodge and Main Lodge of Camp Santanoni, view displays about the great camp and take interpretive tours with Adirondack Architectural Heritage staff. The Adirondack Interpretive Center will provide snowshoes to lend to visitors at the Gate Lodge.
A 9.8-mile round trip cross-country ski or snowshoe excursion traverses from Camp Santanoni’s Gate House complex to the remote lakeside main lodge complex. The trip provides a moderate physical activity and a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. The trails are open year around but the buildings are only open three weekends in the winter.
The Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic in Utica combines kid’s activities, seminars and special sales. Seminars on both Saturday and Sunday are Electronics to Improve Fishing Success at 11 a.m., Understanding Seasonal Movements of Baitfish at 2 p.m. and Kayak Fishing Strategies at 4 p.m. While you are checking out the fishing and boating gear there are interesting activities for the kids. “Next Generation” free programs from noon until 5 p.m. include magazine cover style photos with replica fish, craft activities, the casting challenge and kids fishing workshops at 2:30 and 4:40.
The Adirondack Outdoorsman Show returns to Johnstown on Saturday and Sunday. It will be held at the Johnstown Moose Club, 109 South Comrie Ave (Rte 30A North), just five minutes from Thruway Exit 28. Hours are 10 a.m to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The popular show has an Adirondack theme and is completely outdoor related. Vendors and exhibits include hunting, fishing, archery, trapping, boating, camping, taxidermy, guides and charter services, collectable knives, firearms and antique hunting and fishing equipment. There will also be seminars, wildlife art and books and industry and outdoors experts.
A special presentation on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. will include a presentation commemorating Peter Dubuc into the Fulton County Hall of Fame. Dubuc was the angler who caught the world record 46-pound northern pike in Great Sacandaga Lake. His family will be there with photos, stories and a replica mount of the fish that is still the North American record.
If you go on Saturday it is worth the short side trip to the nearby Wildlife Sports Education Museum, a world class exhibit of mounts and sporting equipment. The same building also houses the NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame. They are located at the intersection of Rte 30 and 29 in Vails Mills. Both exhibits are closed on Sundays during the winter.
SHORT CASTS
CNY Show Success: Congratulations and thank you to Teri Maciag and the committee from Holy Cross Academy for putting on another successful CNY Sportsman’s Show last weekend. A large crowd enjoyed the nice variety of exhibits ranging from charters and hunting and fishing suppliers to conservation and sporting organizations. It continues to be a great service to the community to bring these together to promote local businesses and provide outdoorsmen the opportunity to interact with so many useful exhibits. It continues to be a great asset to the community.
CNY Sportsman of the Year Award to Paul Miller: At the conclusion of the Central New York Sportsman Show, the Sportsman of the Year Award was presented to Paul Miller of Blossvale. Miller has been active in local conservation clubs and sportsman’s causes, including Trout Unlimited, Trout in the classroom program at Camden Central School and he also serves on the Tug Hill Commission. He was inducted into the NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in 2014.
He has been the main leader of the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club in its efforts to restore Atlantic salmon to CNY streams, serving as president for many years. He led fund raising efforts to obtain money to buy Atlantic salmon fry to stock for many years. They raised fry from eggs hatched at various facilities and Paul was often the person who drove the truck to Vermont to obtain eggs or fry. Eventually the club built their own hatchery near Ava and later constructed a new hatchery in McConnellsville.
Today the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club annually organizes successful stocking efforts in East and West Branches of Fish Creek and its tributaries. Throughout these many years Paul Miller has been active in efforts to keep organization financially stable, maintain the hatchery and daily care of eggs. He has helped publicize the effort, encourages catch and release, and the return of information to the club. Today these magnificent fish swim in their native waters in Central New York thanks to the efforts of Paul Miller and the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club.
Great Backyard Bird Count: This year’s Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored by Cornell University Lab of Ornithology will be Feb. 14–17. It is easy to participate; all you have to do is count the different species of birds in your backyard or other area on a given day and report it to the Cornell website. It can be a fun, family friendly way to discover and help the birds in your community. The data collected will be used to monitor trends and can be useful in various types of research. Visit the website www.birdcount.org to learn more about this event.
Safe Hunting in 2014: Last year was the second safest year for hunting since records were kept following the introduction of Hunter Safety Education in the 1960s. Incidents per 100,000 hunters have fallen by 75 percent since the 1960s. The average for the past five years is down to 4.3 incidents per 100,000 compared to 19 incidents in the 1960s.
There were 22 total incidents in 2014, including one fatality while hunting small game. Of that total, eight were self inflicted, 11 were involved with the same hunting party, and only three where the victim and the shooter did not know each other. There were none in the spring turkey season. This is a testament to the hard work and skill of the 2,500 volunteer Sportsman Education instructors who put in many hours conducting classes in safe and ethical hunting.
Deer and Snow: After a mild snowfall early in the winter, the past few weeks have seen significant accumulation in many areas, especially in the north country. Several feet of snow on the ground in the areas north of Oneida Lake can mean trouble for deer if cold temperatures linger into late March. Once the snow cover hits about 15 inches, the deer yard up in areas of conifers. But cold weather depletes their fat reserve and if they remain confined in these areas for several weeks there could be a considerable loss of life due to malnutrition or starvation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

CNY Sportsman’s Show Offers Fun For Entire Family

The popular Central New York Sportsman’s Show returns to the Oneida Kallet Civic Center on Saturday, offering a chance to escape the winter doldrums, take advantage of bargains in sporting goods and have a chance to learn more about your favorite sports.
This is your chance to support a local school as well as many local businesses. Vendors range from tackle shops, clothing, game calls, cooking supplies, and more. Whether you are a hunter, fisherman, paddler or photographer, there will be something to see, learn or purchase.
Meet and learn about many of the conservation organizations that work to preserve hunting and fishing opportunities in upstate New York, including Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club, NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame, Trout Unlimited and CNY Wildfowlers.
Once again the show will offer visitors the opportunity to meet with guides covering Lake Ontario and other popular inland waters such as Otisco Lake, as well as Adirondack adventures. Even if you don’t sign up for a charter on Saturday you should stop and visit and find out the details of fishing and what the expectations are. Later you can discuss this with family or friends and make reservations for an exciting and productive trip.
Deer hunters can talk to renowned Adirondack deer hunters Tony and Pat Salerno who have been featured in North American Whitetail and Adirondack Outdoors magazines. You will also have the opportunity to visit with author of deer hunting books, Bob Elinskas, and legendary deer hunters and trackers Jim Massett and Joe DiNitto. Have your racks scored and learn more about the NYS Big Buck Club.
Seminars include crossbow fundamentals at 9:45 a.m., birds of prey at 10:15, Utica Zoo at 11:15, Wild About Cooking (game and fish) at noon, goose hunting at 12:45 p.m, summer salmon patterns at 1:45 and muzzleloading A–Z at 2:30.
The author’s table will allow you to meet and obtained signed copies of books by Bob Elinskas, Jay O’Hern, Nancy Best, Spider Rybaak, Michael Kelly, Eric Dresser, Sue Kiesel and Rob Streeter. These topics cover everything from fishing and hunting to wildlife photography and cooking.
If turkey hunting is your sport you should not miss the opportunity to learn from experts like Gary Campanie or Shawn Fox at their respective booths and purchase some of their quality products. Stop by the Adirondack Outdoors booth, pick up free samples and say hello.
Be sure to visit the NYS Sturgeons for Tomorrow booth to find out about these potential monster fish that are making a comeback in Oneida Lake. Tom Lenweaver’s wildlife art is a must stop if you enjoy fine art and outdoor subjects. Sample some of Dennis Dedek’s great offerings on the grill and take home a supply of Iron Skillet seasonings.
Hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. As always the key to the success of the show is the variety of exhibits and vendors and the fact that all booths are outdoor-related. The Show will culminate at 4 p.m. with the presentation of the CNY Sportsman of the Year Award. See you at the Show!
Staying Warm in Winter
Earlier this week I was talking with my friend Joe about snowshoeing. But we agreed with the temperature well below zero that morning it not only made it unpleasant to be outside, it was even dangerous if you weren’t prepared.
Much of this winter there has been a lack of snow for traditional winter sports. But even in the areas north of here where there has been a little bit more snow, the frigid temperatures and wind chill have made many people hesitant to venture forth for very long.
Ice fishermen and downhill skiers have been out pursuing their sports but they are typically skilled at staying warm in extreme conditions. It is possible to enjoy sports like cross country skiing, snowshoeing or rabbit hunting but it takes knowledge and proper gear to stay warm in winter.
One of the considerations when the temperature gets this cold is always the danger of frostbite. Exposed flesh can suffer frostbite or at least frostnip when the temperature drops this low. Even other extremities such as hands and feet are in danger because the body constricts it circulation when it gets this cold so make sure they are warm as well as covered.
The old saying “if your hands and feet are cold, put on your hat” is still as valid as ever. Up to one half of the body’s heat can be lost through the top of the head so wearing a hat is important in winter. Since the bodily extremities like hands and feet are the first to feel the cold (due to body constricting blood vessels to conserve the heat) they need to be protected.
Wearing good gloves or mittens and footgear is vital in winter. The newer synthetics like Thinsulate gloves also come in gore-tex or similar breathable fabrics that allow moisture to escape. Mittens are even warmer than gloves. Inserting hand or foot warmers can be helpful in frigid weather.
Footgear is vital since it not only keeps you comfortable but also prevents serious problems like frostbite. Make sure your boots have felt liners or synthetic insulation. Wearing too many socks can be dangerous because that can restrict the circulation and cause heat loss.
Dressing warm means starting with clothing that provides warmth and wicks away moisture from the body since damp clothing will rob the body of heat. Synthetics such as Under Armor fit snugly for warmth yet keep you dry even if you are engaged in strenuous physical activity. Adding layers of wool, fleece or insulated garments will help preserve the temperature of the core of your body.
Your outer garments should be wool or some synthetic material that repels moisture. Wool will keep you warm even if it gets wet, although it becomes heavy and getting wet in winter is definitely not recommended. The newer jackets or pants have synthetic down or other types of insulation that will help keep you warm without adding bulk or weight.
Fuel the furnace before going outside. Although we may need to watch our calories in order to shed pounds gained over the holidays, the day you spend outside in the cold is not one of them. Fuel your furnace with a hearty breakfast or lunch. Complex carbohydrates will help produce heat and energy. Carry high energy snacks or granola bars to periodically give yourself an energy boost. Coffee isn’t really goof for winter warm ups, although it may feel good going down. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels making it more difficult for your body to keep the circulation going. It also is a diuretic, which may leave you thirsty and slightly dehydrated also having a negative effect on circulation. You should drink lots of water, since dehydration and lower blood volume will impair your body’s ability to circulate blood and heat.
Ice Fishing
The bitter cold temperatures have helped form several more inches of ice but they have also kept a lot of ice fishermen home. Several snowstorms in the north country have also hampered access to the ice. Snow has covered local lakes so ice fishermen should be careful of pressure cracks on the ice when heading out.
Those fishermen that have ventured on Oneida Lake report that they have been starting to pick up some walleye. Panfish and perch have been biting in the sheltered areas like Big Bay. Up on Sandy Pond pike have been hitting but the perch fishing has been slow. Other anglers have been going to Lake Delta for walleye or to Piseco Lake in search of lake trout.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hypothermia a threat to outdoorsmen

Earlier this winter when the wind chill temperatures hovered at minus 29, it reminded me of the stories of the Yukon by Robert Service that I faithfully read when I was young. In those stories such as “To Build a Fire” or “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” men ended up freezing to death. Today they say people die of hypothermia.
But few people think about this danger except in extreme temperatures or when someone gets wet. But hypothermia is a constant danger if you have an accident or are not properly prepared for conditions.
Hypothermia does not only occur when people are stranded in remote area under extremely frigid conditions. In fact hypothermia occurs most frequently at temperatures of 32-50 degrees. It presents a danger to hunters, ice fishermen, skiers, hikers or anyone who fails to take precautions and use common sense. Getting wet from a fall in water, clothing soaked by snow or rain or even perspiration can be unpleasant in many cases. When the temperatures or wind chill are severe enough it can be fatal.
It is a very real danger to hikers and skiers who overestimate their ability or underestimate the elements. Hunters or others who get lost or stray too deep into the woods without being properly prepared are vulnerable. Improper clothing, over-exertion and perspiration, accidentally getting wet or unexpected changes in the weather all hold potential for disaster.
Hypothermia is simply the loss of body heat faster than the body can produce heat, until the core body temperature has dropped below 80 degrees, at which time death occurs. Cold temperatures are aggravated by wetness, wind and exhaustion. Proper preparation includes having the type of clothing so that you can dress for the varying conditions that you may meet, considering both moisture and temperature. Gloves, hat and proper footwear are essential in winter or other cold conditions.
Clothing should be layered, so that it can be removed for heavy activity, or added to for light activity. Don’t wait until you start to sweat before you start removing layers. By that time, inner layers are wet, and evaporation can turn your moist underwear into a refrigeration unit. When you stop activity, add a layer before you start to chill.
Wear proper clothing. Cotton and blue jeans are just not suitable cold weather equipment because cotton speeds the cooling process by acting as a wick to draw off heat. Wool, on the other hand, retains heat even when wet. New synthetics such as polypropylene, thermax, etc. all have the ability to keep you warm yet are light in weight.
Your energy comes from foods you eat, so take along enough to fully recover your needs. Carbohydrates are quick energy foods. The good old peanut butter sandwich or chocolate bars are good to take along as energy rations to heat you up on a cold day.
Drink proper liquids to keep your body fluids up. Coffee acts as a diuretic so it does not replenish lost fluids. Contrary to popular opinion, alcohol does not “warm you up.” Alcohol slows down the circulation of blood and thus tends to cool down the body.
Early detection of symptoms is important in preventing hypothermia. As a victim slips into the first stage, his thinking becomes dull. It is easy not to recognize these symptoms in yourself. People in a group should be alert for these symptoms in others.
Early symptoms include exhaustion and an inability to go on, even after resting. There is often drowsiness, lapses of memory, slurred slow speech, and stumbling when trying to proceed.
At first, the extremities like hands and feet feel the cold. Then the body makes involuntary adjustments to preserve temperature in vital organs by intense shivering. As body temperature continues to drop, the shivering becomes violent, slurred speech develop, and there is drowsiness and fumbling hands.
If there is not treatment, when the body temperature drops between 90 and 86 degrees, there will be muscular rigidity, irrationality and stupor. Finally unconsciousness and death will result.
If symptoms occur, get the victim out of the wind and wet, into dry clothes, feed warm drinks and high energy foods. If possible, build a fire or put the victim into a sleeping bag with skin-to-skin contact with a “heat donor.”
Naturally the best solution is prevention of the conditions that can lead to hypothermia. Wear proper clothing and carry extra clothing, matches and emergency like a space blanket. Eat and drink properly and carry emergency rations.
Pay close attention to weather conditions, don’t get lost, and do not push yourself beyond your ability. Avoid getting wet from perspiration, rain, or falling through ice. Tumbling into a shallow stream in late spring can be unpleasant; in winter it can be fatal.
Hypothermia is known as the killer of the unprepared. With a little preparation and common sense your winter outing can be a safe and pleasant one.
SHORT CASTS
CNY Sportsman’s Show: The popular CNY Sportsman’s Show returns to the Kallet Civic Center on Saturday, Feb. 7. It is your chance to find out information and plan a fishing charter; become involved with worthwhile organizations like Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club, NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame and more; find bargains in fishing tackle and sporting goods and meet fellow sportsmen who are looking for a cure for cabin fever.
A full lineup of vendors and exhibits, including many new ones, will appeal to all outdoor interests. Hunters, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts will find much to browse and purchase including fishing tackle, game calls, archery equipment and hunting accessories. There will be a full range of seminars with schedules announced next week.
Even those who are not hunters or anglers will find treasures among the artists and photographers on exhibit. Popular artist Tom Lenweaver will return with his wide array of original art or prints. You will have a chance to see and purchase the outstanding wildlife photography of Sue Kiesel whose work has been featured in Adirondack Outdoors magazine as well as her book on the snowy owl.
The popular author’s section will return with a variety of topics and books to choose from and get signed copies. Among those featured will be Bob Elinskas, author of books on Adirondack deer hunting, Mike Kelly former outdoor columnist for the Post Standard with several of his books, and Spider Rybaak with his guides to Fishing Eastern or Western New York with complete information, maps, etc. Also featured will be Rob Streeter with his book on fly fishing and his DVD on fishing for smallmouth bass; Nancy Best, author of two Adirondack cookbooks and Jay O’Hern who has written many books on Adirondack characters or tales.
You will also have the opportunity to visit directly with experts like Jim Massett and Joe DiNitto on Adirondack deer hunting at their meet and greet booth, and talk with the well known Adirondack deer hunters Pat and Tony Salerno while admiring their amazing collection of mounts.
Check out the custom made turkey calls from NWTF award-winning call maker Gary Campanie. Shawn Fox will be there to demonstrate and sell his array of quality calls for waterfowl, turkeys and more.
If you haven’t sent in your nomination for CNY Sportsman of the Year, be sure to send to Teri Maciag at Holy Cross Academy by this weekend. This person should be a well-rounded, ethical sportsman who has done much to contribute to our outdoor sports. The award will be presented at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
See you at the Show!
Great Backyard Bird Count: This year’s Great Backyard Bird Count organized by the Audubon society will be Feb. 13–16. Spend as little as 15 minutes or as much time as you want and report the results. It is easy, fun, free and it’s important. Anyone can participate. Check the website www.birdcount.org. for details.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Deer season over; Holiday season in full swing


The regular deer seasons ended last Sunday, although there is a post-season muzzle loading and archery season in the southern zone and a few select areas of the northern zone. Nasty weather in the middle of this week made it difficult to keep your powder dry if you were a muzzleloader hunter and not many hunters were out.
It’s too early to accurately assess the results of the season and the DEC report will not be available for many weeks. It’s safe to say that your opinion and assessment of the season depended on your experience. If you were one of the 1 in 10 hunters who statistically got a buck, it was good. If you were in the majority, it wasn’t so good.
More hunters than usual reported seeing fewer deer this year. Whether this is an indication of less deer, a result of less hunters afield or deer being even more nocturnal than normal is unclear. We will have some reports and statistics in a special column after the holidays.
At any time of year, but especially now with the end of hunting season and the onset of the holiday season, it is appropriate to remember the landowners who let you use their property with some gift. Some small gift will show your appreciation for them letting you hunt or fish on their property. It also helps mark you as a considerate and responsible sportsman and may go a long way towards getting permission to hunt or fish there again next year.
For the deer hunters who have been successful and are wondering what to do with the hide, Jim Ward of Oneida Trap Supply is again buying hides. Call Jim at 363-2913 for information and hours.
With the end of the season there is a tendency to toss all the gear out of the way and deal with it later. Avoid the temptation to do this with your guns. You have a sizable investment in your guns and they should be given good care as soon as possible. Make sure they are dry, cleaned and oiled before putting them away.
It is also a good time to have any repairs done or any special care. If you are not confident of giving them a thorough cleaning, you should have a professional like Gunworks of CNY do it. Gary Donovan and his staff perform any repairs or cleaning necessary. Autoloaders are especially in need of a periodic cleaning of the gas system that ejects and loads cartridges. Call 363-7041 or see www.cnygunworks.com for more information.
Congratulations to all those who got a deer. We are still looking for interesting stories of success or adventure. Remember as Dick Cooper always says, “Scouting for next season begins next week.”
Holiday Shopping
You buy a wide variety of quality products for the outdoors that are made in the USA and many of them are made here in New York State. Here is a small sample.
I have always stressed shopping locally whenever possible. Local merchants and craftsmen are the ones who support our community and deserve your support, especially at this time of year. Shop at your local sport shop, marina, archery shop or gun shop. In many cases, you can buy directly from the craftsmen or producers. There is great quality and variety available and gifts to fit every budget.
If you are looking for an ultra light pack canoe that you can carry into the backcountry with one hand, consider the canoes produced by Lake Placid Boatworks. Slipstream Watercraft is another Adirondack company that manufactures lightweight canoes and kayaks. If you are looking for a workhouse canoe, consider the Marathon boat company which makes the successor to the famous Grumman aluminum canoe. For paddles for your kayak or pack canoe, check out Fox paddles which makes quality paddles in the southern tier.
For the fisherman in your family there are the famous Cortland fly rods and fly lines. If you are looking for walleye rods or the new innovation of rods for Center Spin steelhead fishing, you can’t go wrong with Bart’s Rods which are made locally. Bass and walleye fishermen are certain to be pleased with jigs made by Billy Alexander (www.billysmtolures.com) based on his tournament winning experience. Northern King lures are another NY product and have long been a favorite of Lake Ontario anglers.
Shawn Fox of Camden (www.foxscustomcalls.com) makes great hand crafted turkey, duck, goose and locator calls. Lou Pulverenti is a local call maker noted for his excellent diaphragm or slate and pencil turkey calls under the Boss Tom label. Gary Campanie of Oneida has won numerous national awards for his decorative turkey calls which are also effective working calls. Quaker Boy Company is based in western New York and makes a variety of waterfowl, deer and turkey calls as well as hunting accessories.
For gun cleaning accessories, one of the bright stories of business success is Otis Technology in Lyons Falls. Despite the move of some of their other firearms production to Alabama, Remington guns, including the iconic model 870 shotgun are still made in Ilion. Crosman BB guns and their newer air rifles are standards of quality that are made in western New York.
Havlick Snowshoes have changed ownership but they are resuming making a great product in nearby Mayfield. Peter Rickard Lures not only makes the lures popular with trappers and deer hunters, but has other related accessories.
A gift basked of seasonings and rubs from Iron Skillet makes a great addition to any kitchen. Dennis Dedek (www.ironskilletseasonings.com) makes over 30 products locally that provide great flavor for a variety of fish and game dishes. Check Joe’s Jerky on Route 5 in Sherrill for great jerky, a variety of other foods and rubs and marinades that are great with venison. Consider gift baskets with excellent New York State wines, cheese, maple syrup or similar food items.
These ideas only scratch the surface but they are designed to make you think that there is a great variety of gifts for every budget. But the main thing is that you put some thought into gift giving. Making it special and coming from you does not have to be expensive. Help make it a special holiday season for everyone and do not lose sight of the real meaning of the holidays.
Personal Preferences
I am often asked for suggestions for gift ideas or my preferences in outdoor gear. Based on my experiences and activities, here are some of my favorites that I might suggest for others.
Olympia RG850 flashlight. Everybody needs a good light and this is one of the best with its rugged, high intensity LEDs that produce 850 lumens. It has five modes, non-slip grip, USB re-chargeable port and is waterproof and impact resistant. [OlympiaProducts.com]
I put on a lot of miles during the hiking and hunting seasons and I need quality footwear. Wolverine boots are among the very best. My favorite (I have six pair) is the King Caribou III in Realtree camo and with lightweight rubber lugsoles. They provide great traction, arch support and are made with Gore-Tex and 800 grams of Thinsulate for cold weather hunting. [Wolverine.com]
Even outdoorsmen are increasingly reliant on electronic devices and there is always the problem of running out of power in remote locations. For camping, travelling, etc. the answer can be the Solar Pad 3000. The compact lightweight (8.7 oz) solar panel charges at camp, in car window, etc. and stores the energy for charging your electronic devices.  [SecurProducts.com]
Quality socks are essential for comfort and warmth. Merino Compression socks are made with merino wool and synthetics that keep you warm despite their minimal thickness. They wick away moisture and the snug fit around the calf is designed to improve blood circulation and reduce muscle strain.  [CEP Sportswear]