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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Turkey season opens next week


Just over a week from today, May 1, will be the opening of the spring turkey season. Hunters have been eagerly awaiting this day for some time. Practicing calling, patterning the shotgun and checking out our gear has been an important activity for most of us. Spotting the flocks and observing them with binoculars is one part of scouting. Another important aspect will be locating the roosting areas of the tom turkeys. Cruising the back roads or hiking the ridge trails before dawn and listening to the sounds of gobbling is the usual method of pin-pointing toms.
Avoid temptation and leave the regular calls at home. The last thing that you want to do is call in a tom with yelps, etc. and then “educate” or spook the bird. Even in their tiny brain the idea that a hen calling is a fake makes a big impression.
Once you find the roost, look for strutting areas. These are usually clearings in the woods or old pastures where toms will parade in full strut to attract and impress the hens. Consider possible locations to set up between the roost and strutting areas for calling. Especially on rainy days the turkeys like to be in the open. Woods clearings, secluded fields or log roads are common places they frequent during rainy periods. Look for signs like feathers or droppings to find evidence of turkeys or their travel routes.
Check for good calling locations as well as alternates. Look for a large tree that you can sit against and is wide enough to protect and cover your back. This is important for safety to protect you against unethical or unsafe hunters who may carelessly shoot in your direction. It also helps protect against the infernal coyote or bobcat that may come into the calls and pounce from behind when they see a movement.
Is there adequate open space ahead of you to see and shoot a turkey? You do not want to be in too thick cover because it will hinder you from pointing the gun in different directions. Remember that the birds do not usually come from the direction that you think they will.
Think about where you will place your decoy if you plan on using one. It should visible to an approaching tom and hopefully draw him into an area where you can get a shot. Take time to measure the distance of a possible shot.
Consider all the things that may cause a tom turkey to “hang up” and not come in to your call.  Are there potential obstacles like small streams, stone walls, fences, etc. between you and the route of the bird? Remember that even though the bird could easily clear these obstacles they rarely ever will. After all, you are dealing with a creature with a brain the size of a small walnut.
Consider routes that will lead you to the area in the darkness. Remember that even in the gray light of pre-dawn a turkey perched high in some hardwood tree can see a camouflaged hunter making its way across an open field. Get there in darkness and hopefully under cover of trees and brush.
Have alternate spots. Not only might the turkeys move their area but you might find some other hunter in the area when you get there on opening morning. Be safe and ethical and go somewhere else.
Check out your gear and start lining up your jackets and vests with the essentials you will need. There are always lots of little things to get ready but now is the time to start. Doing your homework now and paying attention to little details may pay big dividends later.
SHORT CASTS
Walleye and Pike Season Near: May 2 will be the opening of the walleye, pike and pickerel season, and local anglers are eagerly anticipating that weekend. Local Environmental Conservation Officers have been enforcing the ban on fishing certain tributaries before the season and have made several arrests on poachers who have caught walleye during the closed season. Next week’s column will feature advice from some of our local experts on where to go and tips on fishing.
Cicero Lions Club Walleye Derby: The Cicero-Mattydale Lions Club will hold its 37th annual walleye derby on opening weekend of the season on Oneida Lake and the lower tributaries. Dates are May 2 and 3 with fishing from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday. There will be over $3,500 in cash prizes for the top 25 fish based on length. There will also be daily draw tickets and tagged fish prizes.
All entries must be weighed in between the hours listed above and fish must be live. For complete rules and details, as well as weigh stations, check the website www.chittenangolions.org/Walleye_Derby or e-mail lionswalleyederby@gmail.com.
Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend: This weekend, April 25 and 26, is the Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend which allows youngsters age 12 – 15 who have a junior hunting license and a turkey permit, and have the permission of a parent or guardian, to hunt with a mentor as described below.
Youth 12 to 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. Youth 14 to 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or an adult over 18 years of age with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
Bear Harvest: Recently the DEC released the statistics on the past bear season. A total of 1628 bears were taken, exceeding the previous season by nearly 300. In the 2013 season 1,358 bears were taken which was slightly above the five year average of 1301 for the state. These numbers reflect the increasing population of bears throughout much of New York State and the revised regulations which now hold an open season in most areas.
The Northern Zone/Adirondacks had a total of 518 bear taken compared to 2013. The last five years average was 519 and the historical average is 515. In the southern zone 1,110 bears were killed compared to 978 the previous year and the five year average of 782.
Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail: After a successful year in 2014, the Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail has big plans for 2015. They have announced that there will be four tournaments this year on May 17, June 28, July 26 and August 23. We will have details as the dates approach. For more information check the website at www.oneidawalleyes.com.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fine tune your calling for turkey season


“Turkey Hunting Ain’t a Sport; It’s a Disease!”
-Ben Rogers Lee

The above quotation by the legendary turkey hunter and one of the first professional call makers, Ben Rogers Lee, realistically sums up the feeling that many of us who have become addicted to turkey hunting have. The sport really grows on you. There are few things that can compare to being in the woods as the first rays of light come over the eastern horizon and the forest resonates with the gobble of a big tom turkey about a hundred yards away.
There are a lot of factors that determine the difference between success and failure in turkey hunting and calling is only one of them. Nevertheless it is an important one. Spring turkey seasons opens on May 1, a mere two weeks away. Veteran turkey hunters have marked the calendars and are checking their gear.
Even though many of them are quite proficient at calling in turkeys, they will still be practicing their calls. The point is that we don’t practice to achieve perfection. We practice to achieve realism and have the confidence that we will make the proper calls easily when the time comes.
In the real world the gobblers will sound off and the receptive hens will come to the gobbler. But hunters have to change the equation and sound like an eager hen that refuses to come and finally gets the lovesick gobbler to come to the call. Often in the early season the hens are not quite ready to breed but the toms are fired up and will respond to effective calling. This is especially true with the less dominant or satellite toms.
The basic calls that a hunter will make during the spring season are the yelp, cutt, cluck, purr and occasionally the cackle. These can be made with a box call, slate and pencil or diaphragm (mouth) call. Each has its advantages. The box call is the easiest to use and has the greatest volume. Many hunters feel the slate and pencil call is most realistic. Diaphragm calls leave the hands free and can be made without movement even though they are initially harder to learn to use.
The yelp is the most common call and sounds roughly like a two syllable “yee-awk.” If you are using the slate and pencil you make a small “c” or fishhook shaped movement on the slate pot in the area between the perimeter and the center of the pot. There are different methods of holding the pencil but it should be done lightly and it will produce a sharp, realistic sound.
With a box call you need to practice to make a consistent call with the proper amount of pressure, speed and swing. Give the paddle a full swing across the edge of the box and don’t lift the paddle off the box. The motion should be easy and done consistently, although you will want to vary the calls when you are in the field.
Experts suggest making the “cutt” (a short, sharp call) by holding your hand around the call and using your thumb to hold the paddle against the rail. Then pop the paddle gently with the fingers of the other hand. To make a purr hold the call horizontally and edge the paddle gently across the side of the box, lifting it sharply at the end.
Although you want to make realistic calls, the more important thing is to know the cadence and know when to make the calls. For example while the tom is on the roost, you should make a few soft tree yelps to let him know where you are. But don’t overcall. Wait until he flies down before you start your regular yelps.
Start with a few (three or four) yelps or purrs and then gradually extend the sequence and volume. When the gobbler responds but fails to come towards your calls you might want to try a cackle or change the pace of your calling. If a gobbler does start to come in to your calls, make a few soft purrs and stop calling. He knows where the calls came from and will circle around trying to find the hen that he thinks made them.
Don’t be discouraged if your calls do not sound like the instructional video or tape of calls. My friend and mentor, the late Ward Coe used to say that some of the worst calls that he ever heard came from a real hen.
This is also a good time to check your shotgun and see where your gun shoots and how it patterns. If you are using a different gun or a different load you will want to know if your gun centers the pattern, or if it shoots high, etc. at the point of aim. This is necessary to put the greatest concentration of pellets in a small area around the head and neck area of the bird.
Different guns, brands of ammunition, and different loads shoot differently. Use a large piece of butcher paper with a 40 diameter inch circle and see how many pellets and where they are concentrated in the smaller circles at different shots. You want to have 60 pellets in a 15 inch circle to be effective at killing a turkey.
Number 5 shot is a good compromise with good density and penetration/energy at 50 yards. Many hunters like the newer Hevi Shot which gives both density and energy at 55 yards or more but it is expensive. At a cost of $35 or more for a box of five shells, practicing can get expensive in a hurry!
Practice your calls and your shooting and be ready when the season arrives.
SHORT CASTS
Learn to Speak Fly Fishing: Despite its recent resurgence in popularity, a lot of people shy away from fly fishing because they’re afraid it will be too expensive or too difficult to learn. Let’s face it. If a total beginner walks into a fly shop and asks what’s needed to get started, the reply could scare anyone away:
“You’ll want a 9 foot 5 weight rod, a matching 5 weight disc drag reel, 50 yards of Dacron backing, a weight forward floating line, matched to rod, with a 9 to 12 foot tapered leader with a 4X tippet. Try working the edges of the stream with a black wooly bugger or you could dead drift a size 12 beaded prince nymph. If the fish are feeding on dries, you might want to try a size 14 Adams.”
Holy cow! There’s no denying that’s a whole lot of information to swallow for someone who is unfamiliar with the sport. Perhaps the lingo and the seemingly limitless amount of gear on the market is partially to blame for fly fishing’s notorious reputation.
In its upcoming class, titled, “Learn the Sport of Fly Fishing,” Madison County Trout Unlimited Chapter 680 seeks to de-mystify the sport so that beginners are better equipped to start fly fishing on their own. Participants will learn the basics, including the different kinds of fly rods available and how to choose the right one for this area. They will also learn about fly fishing flies and how to tie the essential fly fishing knots. Finally, the class will cover how to cast a fly rod and where to find fish in our local waters.
“Madison County and the surrounding area have so many opportunities for fly fishing,” said TU680 President Shaun LaVancher. “We want to make it easier for more men and women try it and hopefully get involved in Trout Unlimited.”
This four-week class will be held each Wednesday in May from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Fenner Conservation Club, five miles east of Cazenovia at 3479 Cody Rd., Cazenovia, NY 13035. The cost of the class is $60. All the gear needed for the class will be provided. As an added bonus, all participants will receive a one-year membership in Trout Unlimited and a copy of the book, Fly Fishing Tactics.
The class is limited to 12 students, so those interested are encouraged to register early. To sign up, call Shaun LaVancher at 315-436-9432 or visit tu680.org.
BPS Turkey Hunting Seminars: Bass pro Shops in Utica will hold Turkey Hunting Seminars on April 18 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  At 1:00 p.m. Lucas Diperna will host a seminar on “Spring Turkey Calling, Tips for Success. Learn how to select the right call and use it for a successful hunt. At 2:00 p.m. Mike Olsen will hold a seminar entitled “Selecting the Right Decoys. Mike will help you make the right choice in a turkey decoy and offer placement tips to bag a trophy turkey. Representatives from Hevi Shot will be available from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to answer any questions you might have about their product.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New York Conservation Officers Association to be honored


The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame (NYSOHOF) is an organization dedicated to conservation and preserving the tradition of outdoor sports. Its main function is to induct men and women who have devoted many years to enhancing the outdoor sports or major accomplishments. In addition, the NYSOHOF periodically recognizes outstanding effort and achievement through their special awards. These are distinct from induction into the Hall of Fame but are considered prestigious recognition for some outstanding job. One such honor is the Extra Mile Award.
Conservation and law enforcement professionals do an important job in protecting the state’s resources ranging from fish and wildlife to the health of the environment. They regularly enforce the laws protecting fish and wildlife, monitor pollution and at times, they even put their lives on the line. Yet even with all of these responsibilities many of them go beyond the call of duty to help educate the public or create a new generation of ethical sportsmen and stewards of our natural resources. This “extra mile” that they often go can take many forms.
The NYSOHOF recognizes the importance of efforts such as those that the conservation and law enforcement professionals do regularly without fanfare. The NYSOHOF wants to publicly recognize these men and women and will annually select deserving candidates for the Extra Mile Award and honor them at the annual banquet. This year’s award goes to the New York Conservation Officers Association.
The New York Conservation Officers Association (NYCOA) was started in 1986 and its members include both active and retired officers. Each year this association raises money through raffles and golf tournaments to help support its members and to sponsor hunting, fishing and trapping events for our youth. They sponsor kids to DEC camp each year and award college scholarships.
This organization has donated a substantial amount of money each year to help other groups sponsor youth hunting, fishing and trapping events all across the state. In addition many of the officers help them connect with the local sportsmen’s organization in their area and often donate their personal time as well.
The NYCOA held golf tournaments to raise money for the “Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation Inc.” and have donated over $50,000 to the “Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation” from these events. Each year NYCOA supports fishing clinics for children and the disabled, women’s outdoor education clinics, youth duck, goose, turkey and pheasant hunts, and firearms safety and marksmanship classes with financial aid and mentoring.
Because of their time and effort spent beyond their required duties and for promoting worthwhile causes in the field of conservation and outdoor sports, the NYSOHOF has selected the New York Conservation Officers Association for the Extra Mile Award for 2015.
NYCOA will be honored at the Annual Banquet to be held Saturday, April 25 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. That same evening Teri Maciag will receive the Sportsperson of the Year as reported last week. Among the regular inductees will be Dave Simmons who has been active in Madison County Friends of NRA among other organizations. Friends, family and the public are invited. Registration and social hour will begin at 4:30 p.m. with dinner served at 5:30 p.m. Reservations may be made by April 18 by calling (315) 363-3896 or (315) 829-3588.
SHORT CASTS
IFHCNY: Independent Fur Harvesters of Central New York will hold its next meeting on Sunday, April 12. Food served at 1:30 p.m. with meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. On April 18 there will be a Trapper Training Class. Call Rich Palmer at 720-5227 if you can help with this class. The Annual Spring Banquet will be April 19 at Empire Buffet in Dewitt,
Turkey Season: Spring turkey hunting season is less than a month away so many hunters are getting eager. With the milder weather and disappearance of most of the snow cover, flocks of turkey have been spotted in fields throughout the area. Remember that they are searching for available food and this may not be the spot that you will find them in when the season opens in May. When scouting remember to view them from afar with binoculars to avoid spooking them. Make sure that you leave the calls at home and avoid the temptation since you don’t need to “educate” these already wary birds. Youth hunting weekend will be April 25 and 26 when youngsters get the opportunity to hunt under the supervision of an adult family member.
Cicero Lions Club Walleye Derby: The Cicero-Mattydale Lions Club will hold its 37th annual walleye derby on opening weekend of the season on Oneida Lake and the lower tributaries. Dates are May 2 and 3 with fishing from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday. There will be over $3,500 in cash prizes for the top 25 fish based on length. There will also be daily draw tickets and tagged fish prizes.
All entries must be weighed in between the hours listed above and fish must be live. For complete rules and details, as well as weigh stations, check the website www.chittenangolions.org/Walleye_Derby or e-mail lionswalleyederby@gmail.com.
Learn the Sport of Fly Fishing: Learn about fly rods, lines, leaders, how to tie knots, how to cast and where to find fish. The cost of this four session class is only $60. Everything you need will be provided. As an added bonus all attendees will receive a one year membership in Trout Unlimited (a $35 value), plus a copy of the book Fly Fishing Tactics (a $7.50 value).
The class will be held every Wednesday in May (May 6, 13, 20, 27) from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 pm at the Fenner conservation club, 3479 Cody Road, Cazenovia. For more information or to sign up, call Steve LaVancher at 436-9432 or visit the website at www.tu680.org.
Madison County FNRA Banquet: The Madison County Friends of NRA will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, May 16 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. From 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. there will be cash bar, games and silent auctions. At 6:00 p.m. will be a buffet dinner followed by live auction. Proceeds will benefit central NY projects such as local shooting sports, youth education programs, firearms safety programs, range improvement and conservation programs in NY State.
Table reservations with bonus tickets in a variety of options are available by mail, phone or website www.friendsofnra.org. Deadline for banquet reservations is May 1. Call Ralph Meyers at 264-1087 for tickets or information.
VNSP Events: Vernon National Shooting Preserve announces that the full range course is now ready for sporting clays. The Ruffed Grouse Society Shoot will be April 18. A NYS Hunter Safety Course will be held April 18 and 19. Call 796-4587 to register or for more information.
VNSP will conduct two Novice Shooter Clinics on Saturday, May 2 and Saturday May 9. Learn the Fundamentals of Gun Safety, Introduction to gun maintenance and basics of shooting including topics like grip, stance, lining up your sights, loading and unloading your new firearm. Instruction by professional, certified instructors will cover pistol, rifle and clay pigeon shooting with your shotgun.
Register for one of the two dates. Cost is $25 for two to three hours, dependent on class size. Expect to shoot 50 rounds of ammunition (not included). Clinic size limited to 10 new learners. Preregistration required. Call 315-829-2529, leave name and date you want to attend or email Jason@vernonnational.com.
Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail: After a successful year in 2014, the Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail has big plans for 2015. They have announced that there will be four tournaments this year on May 17, June 28, July 26 and August 23. We will have details as the dates approach. For more information check the website at www.oneidawalleyes.com.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Teri Maciag recognized as Sportsperson of the Year

The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame is an organization dedicated to conservation and preserving the tradition of outdoor sports. Its main function is to induct men and women who have devoted many years to enhancing the outdoor sports or major accomplishments. In addition, the NYSOHOF periodically recognizes outstanding effort and achievement through their special awards. These are distinct from induction into the Hall of Fame but are considered prestigious recognition for some outstanding job. One such honor is being named statewide Sportsperson of the Year.
This year the NYSOHOF has named Teri Maciag of Oneida as Sportsperson of the Year for 2015. This is in recognition of the outstanding job she has done in starting and continuing the Central New York Sportsman Show and its contribution to the sportsmen and women of central New York.
For 11 years she has organized the CNY Sportsman’s Show that benefitted sportsmen and organizations throughout the central New York region. This event does benefit Holy Cross Academy with a modest fund raiser but it does not reflect the energy and time that she puts into it. And the benefit to others goes far beyond supporting a good cause.
The Show provides a great deal of recreational and educational opportunity for sportsmen and women in the central region. People regularly come from Syracuse, Rome, Camden, Morrisville and beyond to attend.  The average attendance of over 1,000 visitors is a testament to the popularity of the show. People regularly come because they know that it is a true outdoor show with a variety of interests and exhibits.
Sportsmen have the opportunity to purchase outdoor gear, learn from seminars, meet book authors for signed copies, learn of important developments and meet with a variety of conservation and sporting organizations. Seminars appeal to all audiences and include a wide variety of topics from hunting and fishing to Second Amendment Rights, crossbow regulations, cooking, photography skills and much more.
The Show gives local businesses and shops an opportunity to reach a wider audience and sell or get exposure at minimal cost. It has proven to be a great contact for both businesses and conservation and sporting organizations. Under Teri Maciag’s leadership the show charges a low rate for deserving non-profit sportsmen’s or conservation groups. The exposure and the chance to raise funds at minimal expense has been a great benefit to many groups such as Trout Unlimited, the Fish Creek Atlantic Salmon Club, Camden Rod & Gun Club, Madison County Friends of the NRA, NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame and many others. Book authors of various sporting and outdoor books have the opportunity to meet people and sell their books at a special author’s section at no charge to the authors.
Each year at the CNY Sportsman’s Show there is a Central New York Sportsman of the Year award given to a person who has been a role model and contributed much to outdoor sports or conservation in Central New York. The award was the brainchild of Teri Maciag and she works hard to publicize this recognition for deserving role models.
This year this modest person has won an even greater recognition for her hard work, dedication and vision. The NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame considers her worthy of this special recognition for making this show a model for sports shows that benefits so many different groups and all area sportsmen and women.
Maciag will be honored at the Annual Banquet to be held Saturday, April 25 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. Registration and social hour will begin at 4:30 p.m. with dinner served at 5:30 p.m. Reservations may be made by April 18 by calling 363-3896. The public is invited to share in his honor for a deserving person.
SHORT CASTS
NYCOA Recognized: The NYS Hall of Fame will also recognize the NY Conservation Officers Association for its outstanding efforts with the “Extra Mile Award” at the Annual Banquet on April 25. Details will be in next week’s column.
Cicero Lions Club Walleye Derby: The Cicero-Mattydale Lions Club will hold its 37th annual walleye derby on opening weekend of the season on Oneida Lake and the lower tributaries. Dates are May 2 and 3 with fishing from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday. There will be over $3,500 in cash prizes for the top 25 fish based on length. There will also be daily draw tickets and tagged fish prizes.
All entries must be weighed in between the hours listed above and fish must be live. For complete rules and details, as well as weigh stations, check the website www.chittenangolions.org/Walleye_Derby or e-mail lionswalleyederby@gmail.com.
Learn the Sport of Fly Fishing: Learn about fly rods, lines, leaders, how to tie knots, how to cast and where to find fish. The cost of this four session class is only $60. Everything you need will be provided. As an added bonus all attendees will receive a one year membership in Trout Unlimited (a $35 value), plus a copy of the book Fly Fishing Tactics (a $7.50 value).
The class will be held every Wednesday in May (May 6, 13, 20, 27) from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at the Fenner conservation club, 3479 Cody Road, Cazenovia. For more information or to sign up, call Steve LaVancher at 436-9432 or visit the website at www.tu680.org.
Madison County FNRA Banquet: The Madison County Friends of NRA will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, May 16 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. From 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. will be cash bar, games and silent auctions. At 6:00 p.m. will be a buffet dinner followed by live auction. Proceeds will benefit central New York projects such as local shooting sports, youth education programs, firearms safety programs, range improvement and conservation programs in New York State.
Table reservations with bonus tickets in a variety of options are available by mail, phone, or website www.friendsofnra.org. Deadline for banquet reservations is May 1. Call Ralph Meyers at 264-1087 for tickets or information.
VNSP Novice Shooter Clinics: Vernon National Shooting Preserve will conduct two Novice Shooter Clinics on Saturday, May 2 and Saturday May 9. Know Your Gun! Learning how to handle your new firearm. New to shooting? Come learn the Fundamentals of Gun Safety, Introduction to gun maintenance and basics of shooting including topics like grip, stance, lining up your sights, loading and unloading your new firearm. Instruction will cover pistol, rifle, and clay pigeon shooting with your shotgun.
Experience recreational shooting sports in an organized safe environment with professional, certified instructors.  Want to learn about those flying orange discs? Want to experience long range shooting with and without scopes? These clinics are designed for those beginners wanting to gain familiarity with their gun learning basic fundamentals of safety, how your firearm functions, and how to shoot it safely!
The clinics are offered two dates May 2 and May 9 – register for one of the two dates. Cost is $25 for 2 - 3 hours, dependent on class size. Expect to shoot 50 rounds of ammunition (not included). Clinic size limited to 10 new learners. Preregistration required. Call 315-829-2529, leave name and date you want to attend or email Jason@vernonnational.com. NYS Pistol Permit mandatory for the Beginner Pistol Clinic. Shotguns of all styles available for rent as needed. Please call for rental reservation. Class starts at 9:00 a.m.
Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail: After a successful year in 2014 the Oneida Lake Team Walleye Trail has big plans for 2015. They have announced that there will be four tournaments this year on May 17, June 28, July 26, and August 23. We will have details as the dates approach. For more information check the website at www.oneidawalleyes.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame inducts 12


The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame proudly announces that it has inducted 12 new members, including two posthumously in the Pioneer Category. These inductees represent all areas of the state and many fields of endeavor. The NYSOHOF is an organization dedicated to honoring those individuals who have spent many years preserving our outdoor heritage, working for conservation or enhancing our outdoor sports for future generations.
Gordon Batcheller of Rensselaer County has been a wildlife biologist with the DEC and is currently chief of the bureau of wildlife. He played a key role in supporting legislative efforts to provide special youth hunts for turkey, waterfowl and deer. As a member of international wildlife organizations, he was able to negotiate agreements that advanced the techniques of trappers and staved off trade actions that threatened fur harvests and markets.
Bill Lansley of Onondaga County has been an important volunteer in countless activities ranging from fishing programs at Carpenters Brook Hatchery, Lions Camp Hickory and Take a Soldier Fishing. The successful Pheasant Raising Program at Jamesville Correctional Facility and Sportsman’s Days at Carpenters Brook hatchery along with the Onondaga County Federation’s Women In Nature program are some of his major accomplishments.
Frank Miskey, Jr. from Erie County has been involved with the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen for many years in many roles. He has also been a master Hunter Safety instructor conducting class in hunting, trapping, bowhunting and waterfowl. He frequently serves as mentor in youth hunts and assists in the wounded warrior program.
Chuck Parker of Oswego County has spent a lifetime involved in regional sportsmen’s organizations, including the Oswego County Sportsmen’s Foundation, hunter safety education, Region 7 Fish & Wildlife Management Board and the Oswego County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs. Since 2001 he has been involved with the NYS Conservation Council and currently serves as president.
Al Reigle of Erie County has been the spokesman and public image of trapping in western New York in many ways including being a long time mentor and instructor for trapping education. He has organized the trapper booth at the Erie County Fair Conservation Building and represents Erie County Trapper’s Association at National Hunting Fishing Day events.
Leo Roth of Monroe County is the outdoor editor of the Rochester Democrat Chronicle who has promoted outdoor sports, unique stories of sportsmen and programs such as kids fishing. He has also been a strong advocate of preserving the Seneca White Deer, Casting for Kids (Red Cross Benefit) and catch and release for steelhead on streams in the local area.
Dave Simmons from Oswego County has been active as a leader of local sporting organizations throughout central New York, including the Onondaga County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs. He has been a major fundraiser for many organizations and personally sponsors many youth groups involved in hunting and conservation. Among the many groups he is involved in as an instructor are Women In Nature and Sportsmen’s Days at Carpenter Brook Hatchery.
Larry Steiner of Otsego County has been a quiet, driving force behind the scenes at the Adirondack-Catskill Chapter of the Safari Club and dozens of major projects owe their success to his time, financial and physical support. These include Hunters Against Hunger, Safari Wheels (wheelchairs for handicapped sportsmen), Venison Donation and National Archery in Schools Program. He has also sponsored many youth and handicapped special hunts as well as sending women and youngsters to SCI leadership education camps.
Bill Wilbur of Oswego County has devoted many years to the National Wild Turkey Foundation (NWTF), especially the JAKES (youth) and Wheels (handicapped) programs of area chapters. He has presented many programs to schools, serves as mentor to young hunters and currently serves as president the NYS Chapter of NWTF. In addition he has been chair of the board of Oswego County Federation of Sportsmen and involved with hunts for handicapped sportsmen.
Joan Wulff of Sullivan County has been a major contributor to the popularity of fly fishing, especially for women and children. She established the Lee Wulff Award in memory of her late husband to recognize individuals who help preserve wild game fish habitat and promote educational programs for youngsters. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center Museum and devotes considerable time and resources to its operation.
In the Pioneer Category the NYSOHOF has inducted the late Joe Jemiolo of Erie County and the late Lee Wulff of Sullivan County. Jemiolo was actively involved with the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen, the Erie County Fisheries Advisory Board, North Chautauqua Conservation Club and many other conservation groups. Wulff was a familiar face on the American Sportsman TV show helping to popularize fly fishing and catch and release. The Lee Wulff Fly Fishing School in the Catskills has been a major supporter of youth fishing and conservation.
The new inductees will be honored at the annual banquet and will have their plaques displayed at the NYSOHOF Museum in Vail Mills. These inductees will be formally inducted at the annual banquet on Saturday, April 25 at the Rusty Rail in Canastot. The public is invited to join in this evening of celebration. Registration will begin at 4:30 p.m. with dinner at 5:30 p.m. followed by the presentations. Reservations must be made by April 18 by calling (315) 363-3896 or (315) 829-3588 or by e-mail at lmalone1@twcny.rr.com or sfcf@tds.net.
SHORT CASTS
Trout Season Opener: Next Thursday, April 1 is the opening of trout season. Many serious anglers believe that there is a reason that this opens on April Fool’s Day. Spring weather in central New York is very unpredictable but the odds are good that there will still be significant snow cover and streams will be cold. Those anglers venturing forth will be advised to fish the deep pools where the trout hang out during the winter. Fish slow and deep and use natural baits for your best chances.
If we get warming temperatures and rains to melt the remaining snow then the streams will be high and roily. Your best bet will be to fish small to medium streams where conditions will not be as severe. Fish the bottom of deeper pools where the temperature is milder and the current is less. Fishing eddies or areas where fish can hide from the current and heavy silt can be productive. Favorite baits and lures for early season will be worms, nightcrawlers, salted minnows, salmon eggs, Mepps spinners and Wooly Buggers.
IFHCNY Events: The Independent Fur Harvesters of Central NY will hold their monthly meeting on Sunday, April 12. Lunch will be served at 1:30 p.m. and the meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m.
There will be a Trapper Training Class held on April 18. Helped is needed so call the officers if you can assist. The Spring Banquet will be held Sunday, April 19 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Empire Buffet.
VNSP Events: Vernon National Shooting Preserve will be opening as soon as the snow melts. In the meantime some events to put on the calendar include the Ruffed Grouse Society Side by Side Shoot on April 11. Call 240-9996 or see the website for more information. There will be a Hunter Safety Course on Saturday, April 18 from 9 a.m. – 4p.m. and Sunday, April 19 from 9 a.m. until finished. You must pre-register by calling Mike Graham at 750-8415.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Get your fishing tackle ready for trout season


Trout season is less than two weeks away. Even though the milder weather is finally taking away some of the snow pack the past week or so, fishing is not really on the minds of most people. But we all know that unpredictable weather at this time of year can quickly change conditions. It is time to get your tackle ready. Besides, it will help the time pass more quickly during this time of limited outdoor activity.
Check your rods to make sure that the guides are not loose or there are no rough spots to wear your line. Pull a scrap of nylon through the guides to check for burrs or rough spots. You can clean any cork handles with some warm water and mild dish detergent.
Reels take a little more attention. Check the bail springs to see that they are tight and that there are no rough spots or nicks on the bail to cause your line to fray. Make sure you have the owners manual to reference the parts and what lubricant to use in the right place.
If there is an accumulation of lots of dirty grease in the gear area, they should be cleaned with a solvent like Quik Scrub III to remove it. Clean them thoroughly and lubricate with a proper lubricant.
Avoid water-displacing lubricants like WD-40 since the chemicals can actually dissolve the protective grease needed. At first the reel may seem to operate smoothly but when the lubricant is gone the parts will be rubbing against each other. Generally you should use grease for parts that mesh like gears and use oil on parts that may rub.
If your reel has an accumulation of grease and dirt and you are not handy at cleaning it and replacing parts, have a professional do it. This is especially true with bait casting reels which are very complex mechanisms. If you are missing screws or have a damaged bail, etc. now is the time to get it taken care of.
Discard all the old monofilament on your reels and spare spools and replace it with new line. Line is the vital connection to you and that fish, so don’t risk having old, brittle line. Monofilament line deteriorates with ultraviolet light, ozone, etc. so it should be replaced at least once a year.
It also becomes stiff and takes a set curl when it becomes wet and exposed to sun so it pays to change line frequently. Many people change their lines two or three times per season. Any line that you purchased last year and is still on the spool, kept in the cellar away from light will be alright to use.
Choice of line can be difficult. Different lines have special qualities such as abrasion resistance, limpness, low visibility, etc. These qualities are often exclusive, i.e. you can’t have one line with all of them. In a separate column we will discuss some of the considerations. You probably have several reels or spare spools for some of the reels, so buying large bulk spools of line can save you money. On the other hand having your local tackle shop fill your reels with line from their bulk winder can save you a lot of time and effort.
Typically in early season we often use salted minnows, salmon eggs or small spinners in addition to worms. Check your supply and make sure that you have enough for a few excursions in early season. Take an inventory of your lures and accessories and take advantage of sales at your favorite local sports shop and stock up before the season opens.  And do me a favor - shop locally. The local sports shops are the ones that support your community with paying taxes, donating to charities, volunteering to coach kids, teams, etc. Whether it is in this area or the shops in the areas you fish or camp, they deserve your support
If the lures have rusty hooks, replace them now. Sharpen all the hooks. A small hone or inexpensive device will quickly put a good point on the hooks. A diamond groove makes it easy to put a sharp point on your hook with just a few strokes.
If some of your spoons are tarnished, clean them up with silver polish or toothpaste. Some lures might need repainting. Make sure that all your plugs have eyes; it really does make a difference.
Take an inventory of all the little tools and accessories. Do you have pliers or hemostats, knife, penlight and similar tools? A few needle threaders come in handy for tying on flies, especially during periods of low light. Clippers, hook sharpeners and polarized sunglasses are essential.
Check waders or hip boots now for leaks and patch or replace them if they are too far gone. Some people use a flashlight inserted in the waders while turning off the room lights to find cracks or holes. A more reliable way is to fill the tub with water, put on your waders and kneel in the tub.
Depending on our specialty such as fly fishing, lake trolling, etc. we all have lots of other gear or supplies that we need to check. But the important thing is to start it now. It will mean that you won’t waste valuable time later when you could be out fishing.
SHORT CASTS
VNSP Events: Vernon National Shooting Preserve will be opening soon as the snow melts. In the meantime some events to put on the calendar include the Ruffed Grouse Society Side by Side Shoot on April 11. Call 240-9996 or see the website for more information. There will be a Hunter Safety Course on Saturday, April 18 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, April 19 from 9 a.m. until finished. You must pre-register by calling Mike Graham at 750-8415.
Mute Swans: The DEC has revised its management plan on controlling mute swans, an invasive and destructive species. The new plan focuses on protecting wetlands. Swans will be allowed to remain in urban parks and other controlled areas. Essentially the DEC caved in under pressure from “bunny huggers”, animal rights activists like HSUS and the threat of downstate legislators. Their revised goal is focused on minimizing swan impacts rather than eliminating all free flying swans. They can be kept at parks and full consideration will be given to non-lethal techniques of control. You can see the full report on the DEC website and the public can comment until April 24.
Walleye: Although Oneida Lake is better known for numbers than size of walleye, there are occasionally some lunkers taken. Ernie Waterman of Blossvale was ice fishing recently on Oneida Lake when he caught this 9 lb., 28 inch walleye.
NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame: The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame has selected 12 new inductees for the Hall of Fame for 2015. These will be featured in next week’s column but in the meantime you can see the complete listing at www.nysohof.org. These individuals and other local recipients of special yearly awards will be honored April 25 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. The public is invited and details will be given in next week’s column.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Despite milder weather spring isn’t here yet


This week has seen milder weather which has been a welcome respite from the sub zero temperatures that have haunted us for several weeks. The temperatures in the 40s were very pleasant and encouraged many people to get outdoors. But despite the relatively pleasant weather, it is not spring yet. In fact there are lots of winter sports to enjoy but you have to exercise a different type of caution.
In most cases there is plenty of snow for snowmobiling. However if you are running cross country through fields or woods be careful of some areas of deep snow where you can easily get bogged down. Most trails around the local area or in the north country have a good base but there has been little or no fresh snow for covering the trails.
Downhill skiing has been consistent most of the winter but the temperatures are a lot more pleasant now than the days when there was a minus 20 degree windchill factor on top of the slopes. Check the snow conditions on the web or broadcasts for your favorite ski resort but skiing conditions should be very good all throughout the area.
Cross country skiing might present a different challenge. When people have gotten out in the past week or two they found that many of the fields or open areas had hard packed snow from the wind. Now with the milder temperatures some of the snow is settling and skiers might find themselves sinking deeper in the snow in some areas. You will still be able to ski but you might find the going a bit tougher or slower than you expect.
Another factor that might slow you down will be the wet snow. In some cases, it might be sticky or decrease your speed. If you are using waxable skis, be sure to have the proper wax on. Most people will be using the no-wax skis but even they can use some glide wax in these conditions. Put a thin coat of glide wax over the glide areas of your skis to prevent sticking and get smoother and better glide as you go along.
Even snowshoes have been sinking in the snow in some areas where there were fresh drifts or the snow had not settled much. Walking through the deep wet snow has made for somewhat more difficult conditions. It requires a bit more effort so take that into consideration when planning the distance of your hike.
Normally this time of year would be prime time for steelhead fishing. However the deep snow around the banks of the Salmon River or other tributaries has hampered access. Slush ice has been a problem on the Salmon River while others have been frozen over. The cold temperatures have caused ice to form on most waters and the melting snow keeps the water temperatures cold.
All of this means that fishing conditions are tough and the fish are not biting. However as the temperatures continue to improve and the water warms slightly, look for the fishing action to pick up in the next week or two. It will probably be a year like last year when the fishing was good in late March and throughout most of the month of April.
If you haven’t tried steelhead fishing, make this the year you get involved with this exciting sport. Warm waders and wading spikes or corkers are a must. But don’t think that you need to get out deep in the water. In fact if you are wading much above your ankles, you are probably wading where the fish are.
A long limber rod of eight or nine feet will help with casting, make it easier to keep the line off the water, and will really come in handy when it comes to fighting one of these powerful spectacular fish. Although some use tiny stone flies or wooly buggers with their 7 weight fly rods, others prefer to float egg sacks or trout beads. If you are lacking supplies or need advice, the best spot for both is All Seasons Sports on Route 13 in Pulaski. Owner Jim Dence is a local sportsman who is a licensed guide and understands the river and fishing conditions.
Whenever you are beginning a new sport it is always a good idea to hire a guide to learn the techniques while you are actually fishing. Unquestionably the best guide on the Salmon River and other tributaries is Chris Mulpagano. Chris is a former local resident who knows the river like most of us know our own living room and has spent a lifetime studying the habits of steelhead and salmon. Call Chris at 387-2623 and book a trip today.
Whatever your activity in the next few days or coming weeks, be sure to dress properly. Over-dressing can lead to heavy perspiration that can cause serious problems with loss of body heat. Thinking that it is spring and dressing too lightly can pose a serious problem, especially if the breeze picks up or the temperature drops.
Not only can these conditions make you uncomfortably cold, they can lead to hypothermia. In fact most cases of hypothermia come when the temperature is milder, rather than severely cold. Dress sensibly in layers and be prepared for changes in weather.
Whatever your choice of sport is, get out and enjoy the more seasonable weather. Just be reasonable in your expectations and prepare properly. Spring may be on the way but it isn’t here yet.
DEC’S Annual Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale: Landowners Can Take Advantage of Low-Cost Native Plants. More than 45 species of trees and shrubs from the New York State DEC Saratoga Tree Nursery are now available to public and private landowners and schools.
“The trees and shrubs from our Saratoga Tree Nursery can provide homeowners, municipalities and schools with great environmental benefits,” DEC Commissioner Martens said. “In addition to the aesthetic beauty they add to local landscapes, planting trees and shrubs improves air quality, provides wildlife with additional habitat and helps prevent soil erosion and supplies shade in the hot summer months.”
The Saratoga Tree Nursery sells primarily bare-root stock for direct plantings but a few species are available as containerized stock. Landowners can receive planting advice from their nearest DEC forestry office or private forestry consultant. The 2015 Tree and Shrub brochure can be found on the DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9395 or by calling (518) 581-1439.
To order seedlings by phone, contact the nursery on weekdays between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at (518) 587-1120. Mail orders are also accepted and can be sent to the NYSDEC Saratoga Tree Nursery, 2369 Route 50, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Orders may be placed through mid-May. Seedlings are shipped from mid-April to mid-May.
Oneida County Sportsmen’s Mentor Program Annual Youth Hunt: The Oneida County Sportsmen’s Federation and National Wild Turkey Federation are teaming up with 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.
Youngsters 12 – 15 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 be accompanied by parent, guardian or adult with written permission from a parent. 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.