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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, November 11, 2015

Cold, wet weather demands proper gun care

At this time of the year we are more likely to be out hunting in nasty weather. It’s prime hunting time and the weather is typically cold and rainy or snowy. We are usually clad in gear that keeps us fairly warm and dry but our guns are exposed to the elements.
If we are out hunting in cold and wet weather it is natural that when we get home we want to change into warm, dry clothing and take care of our gear later. But don’t put off giving your gun basic care.
Never put away a damp, or even cold, gun into a carrying case and leave it in the closet. Moisture will cause rust which will destroy the bluing and even pit the metal. At the very least, make sure the gun is room temperature and dry it before putting it in the case. Guns are prone to corrosion and rust in storage as well as in the field.
Your gun is more likely to be damaged from abuse and neglect than overuse. Care for it properly when you are finished and be sure that it is stored correctly. Guns that have been fired should be cleaned prior to storage. This involves cleaning the bore and the action with cleaner and lubricant.
My personal choices for gun care products are Shooter’s Choice by Venco. Many years ago I was at an outdoor show gathering of sportsmen and there was a demonstration of gun cleaning. A shotgun had been fired several times and then cleaned with a popular brand of cleaner until it appeared to be clean. Then it was cleaned again with Shooter’s Choice and we were amazed at the fouling that was removed. Needless to say this made a believer out of me and I have used these products ever since.
A lot of people know that the gun should be cleaned but put the chore off and manage to forget about it. Fouling will quickly cause pitting that will eat away at the smooth inside bore of your shotgun or the rifling grooves of your rifle. It may not be obvious but there will be a smooth residue of burnt powder, copper and lead inside of your barrel.
Whenever possible, clean the gun by pushing from receiver end to muzzle to minimize the possibility of residue getting into the action. On double barrel shotguns etc., just open the breech. For bolt action guns, just remove the bolt. On many shotguns such as pumps you can remove the barrel for cleaning.
Insert the patch soaked in solvent like MC 7 Bore Cleaner and push from the receiver end towards the muzzle whenever possible, to force solvent out the muzzle. Remove the brush or patch before making the next pass. Wipe the rod after each pass to remove gritty residue. Once the inside of the bore is thoroughly saturated, use the brush to remove dirt and residue in a straight motion.
Keep using fresh patches to remove all residues until the patches pass through and emerge clean. When the barrel is clean and dry, lubricate it using gun oil or Shooter’s Choice FP 10 on a clean patch. Then use spray lubricant such as Rust Prevent on the inside of the barrel and all metal parts.
For shotguns one of the handiest ways is to use a 5/8ths inch thick wooden dowel to push the patch through. Use the same procedure of pushing solvent through, then removing it with clean patches. If you use the wooden dowel, you can use an absorbent paper towel folded and rolled to bore filling diameter as a cleaning patch.
Use a rest to hold the firearm steady while working a cleaning rod through it. The rest should be padded to protect the gun’s finish and it should be designed so that the muzzle is lower than the receiver, which allows solvent to drain out through the muzzle.
The action should be cleaned using an old toothbrush and cleaner then sprayed with a de-greaser such as Quick Scrub III. Give it a coating of the FP 10 lubricant to reduce friction and wear as well as protecting it from rust and corrosion. The action and all the metal should be sprayed with a water-displacing lubricant such as Rust Prevent. Spray it again an hour later and wipe it down before storing.
For the complete line of Shooter’s Choice products like MC 7 Bore Cleaner, FP 10 lubricant, and Rust Prevent, and their uses see the website You can also use it to find distributors. There is a complete four-step guide to gun cleaning that you can download or print for easy reference.
If rust has formed on the surface of the finish or in some hard to reach spots like the sights, etc., put a few drops of solvent on a toothbrush or use an old hard rubber typewriter eraser to remove the rust.
Do not leave paper towels, rags, etc. stuffed in the muzzle of the gun while storing. It can be dangerous if you forget it is there. At the very least it will probably attract and keep moisture which will eventually cause rust.
So whether for greater accuracy, protecting your investment or just rewarding a faithful friend, take good care of your guns, including a thorough cleaning.
Fishing Report: Although the majority of sportsmen have been big game hunting the past few weeks there has been some exciting “big game fishing” in the Salmon River. Last week there were a lot of big brown trout, steelhead and even some late run king salmon in the Salmon River. Most of the fish, and consequently most of the fishermen, were found in the upper portion of the river between Pineville and Altmar.
According to Jim Button of Salmon River Sports Shop the fish were being taken on beads, egg sacks and power bait worms. Lighter colors of egg sacks were working best. Whitakers Sports Shop said that a variety of flies, including estaz eggs and Wooly Buggers, were working well for fly fishermen.
During the mild weather over the weekend the steelhead trout were resting in the deep pools but feeding on the edges of the fast water. The best bite occurred during the warmer afternoons. Fish the bait or flies along the edges of the fast water or just out of the strongest current. Use just enough weight to give the bait a natural presentation.
Joe’s Jerky: With deer hunting seasons well under way, many local residents have a fresh supply of venison in their freezer. Several people have asked me about having products made from their venison such as jerky, summer sausage and other products. One of the best places for this type of processing is Joe’s Jerky in Sherrill. Joe Robinson is a veteran meat cutter who makes a variety of great products.
I have had summer sausage and Italian sausage made from venison and they are excellent. He makes either hot or sweet sausage by mixing the venison with pork butt and I can highly recommend all his products. Call 367-0237 for more information.
Joe also has excellent regular cuts of meat such as beef and pork for sale. He makes seven flavors of beef jerky that he sells at his store on State St. in Sherrill and all are tasty and high quality. His store is a local outlet for several Pride of New York items such as local maple syrup, cheeses, sauces and seasonings such as Iron Skillet Seasonings.
YPOD: One small but handy device that I recently acquired is the YPOD. This is a small “Y” shaped device to rest the fore-end of your rifle in while shooting from a tree stand. It can also be used to support your gun on a bench while sighting in your gun.
Most ladder style tree stands have a safety rail in front of the seat but naturally it is designed for the bowhunter. Rifle hunters who want to rest their hand or forearm on the rail for stability have to hunch over to line up the sights or use the scope. The YPOD fits on the shooting rail and easily screws up to the desired height to provide the hunter with a more comfortable position.
It also comes in handy on the shooting range where a hunter can set it on the table, adjust the height, and rest the front stock in the “Y” for stability so you can accurately tell where the gun is shooting. It is light, adjustable, durable and fits into a cargo pocket while traveling. Check out

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Northern Zone deer season opens with mixed results

Sunrise was bright and beautiful on Saturday morning, the opening day of the Northern Zone Deer Season. The day turned out to be a good day for weather, although the results in many areas were definitely not as high as the expectations. Sunday was a different story as a steady rain, often accompanied by high winds made it unpleasant or downright miserable to be afield.
Generally the number of deer taken was not very high. Some hunters had success and there were some impressive bucks taken according to reports from various areas. This is not really surprising because statistics show that opening weekend success is about the same as other weekends in the Northern Zone. The number of deer shot in the north is usually evenly spread out through the entire season.
Sunday it was predictable that numbers would be down since the wet nasty weather made for tough hunting and a lot of hunters called it quits by mid day. Of course the deer do not have that option and some hunters found success by sticking it out. Bob Hamner told me that one of his hunting party was successful in bagging a nice 9-point buck early Sunday afternoon.
Most of the deer that I’ve heard about were taken on deer drives. This is also predictable since Sunday was a miserable day to sit on watch and the deer were not moving on their own. Of course in the Northern Zone it is not a popular method to sit on watch because the deer are primarily nocturnal or on the move mainly in hours around dawn and dusk. And when you consider that in the north country a “deer run” can be one half-mile wide, you see that your odds are not great.
Some people hear the term “deer drives” and think it is unsportsmanlike or that deer do not have a chance. They may visualize the huge numbers of hunters over large areas that characterized Adirondack hunting a century ago. Today the number of participants is much smaller and the tactics have changed.
First of all you have to realize that it is difficult to drive cattle where you want them to go, much less deer. The term is more accurately called pushing or bumping where some hunters still hunt through a likely area and other hunters are posted at likely escape routes. But wind, vision and a deer’s particular preference will determine where they go. The hope is that deer will move in a careful fashion near where other hunters are posted, or quietly try to sneak back past the drivers.
Hunters with patience, a knowledge of local deer habits, and lots of time can be successful sitting on watch in the north woods. Scouting and trail cameras help narrow the odds by giving hunters a good idea of the best spots to watch. Keep in mind that deer are not always going to follow the same routes as they may do in the southern tier in areas of less cover.
My buddy Tom VanPelt uses his trail cameras to find out what bucks may frequent an area and what their common routes may be. Tom was laughing that his trail cam shows that the best time to see a big buck is about midnight until 2 a.m. Although he did see some pictures of nice bucks near Big Moose his camera also recorded the travels of several big bear and a moose.
Whatever your favorite methods are, remember that it is a long season and there are many good hunting days ahead. But don’t waste any good days watching TV when you could be out hunting. You are not going to get a buck while sitting in your living room and the season will slip by before you know it.
Bear Facts: Ken Cronn spent the opening weekend of the muzzleloader season hunting the area around Long Lake with some of his friends. They did not see many deer but on the Saturday opener Ken spotted a bear running through the woods. He took aim and fired and when the smoke had cleared he saw that he had hit the bear but it took off running. On the advice of one of his friends, they waited for a while before trying to find the bear. The trail became increasingly difficult to follow but with the aid of friends they were able to find the bear about a quarter of a mile away. The bear had to be bought across the lake by boat. Ken is planning on having a wall rug made from his first bear.
Close But: Bowhunters are the most serious of deer hunters. They pay great attention to the wind, go to great lengths to keep scent free, and place themselves in position for a close shot with their bow. Often they will see a good number of deer but they will be out of range or the shot will be blocked by branches, etc.
Such was the case for Terry Yardley earlier this week. Terry told me that he was hunting a spot other than his regular ones so he was positioned on the ground rather than in a tree stand. He was excited, yet frustrated because he had 16 deer parade past him yet was unable to get a shot!
Some of the deer were moving too rapidly to get a good shot while others passed or paused in areas where he could not get a clear shot at a vital area. One buck passed within three yards of him but he was unable to get in position for a shot! As he waited for the buck to pass by and get a shot, another buck appeared and spotted him, and Terry was unable to get a shot at either one.
Bowhunters have lots of these stories, but usually not as close or as many as Terry had in one day.
Deer–Car Collisions: This is the time of year when deer hunting gets underway with the opening of bowhunting in the southern zone and regular firearms in the northern zone. But it is also the time when deer are in the news in another less popular way – deer-car collisions.
There are close to 57,000 deer-car collisions in New York State annually and the majority of them occur in October and November. Not only is this a significant economic loss in automobile damage, it is a serious threat to human injury or even fatalities. Those of us who live in Central New York are aware of this threat. However there are ways we can minimize this threat.
Most deer travel in groups so when you see one, be alert for others that may follow. Many times the first one may be aware of you while it crosses the road, but the others rush to catch up and are more likely to dash heedlessly into the path of your car. If it appears that you are going to hit a deer, resist the urge to swerve. That could turn a potential property damage accident into a possible fatal rollover.
Whenever possible drive with your lights on high beam. Be especially alert in areas where deer are frequently seen. Certainly you should not be texting or some other asinine activity when you need to devote full attention to your driving.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

High hopes for Northern Zone opener

The gray light of dawn starts to illuminate the shadows of the northern forests and creatures start to stir. A deer hunter waits at his chosen spot, hoping to spot a deer moving in the early morning light. This will be the scene all across the northern zone as hunters clad in orange or red and black plaid jackets will be afield for the northern zone deer season opener. For many it is the anticipation of a yearly drama, much like the feeling we experienced as kids on Christmas morning.
The weather forecast for this weekend seems good, unlike last weekend. Cool clear weather will be a welcome change and make for a pleasant weekend in the woods or fields instead of the rain and chill that characterized the week of muzzleloading season.
Calendars have been marked for weeks. Hours of scouting resulting in plans have been made and revised. On Saturday thousands of hunters will be afield at daybreak eagerly watching for America’s number one big game animal – the whitetail deer.
The traditional Northern Zone deer season opener is still a magic moment even though it has lost some of the significance since the advent of the popular bow hunting and muzzleloading seasons. It is still a big event for those who enjoy hunting the big woods and carrying on tradition.
For those who hunt the northern zone there is a special feeling that can’t be described or easily put into words. Of course there is the eagerness and hope that we will be successful in bagging a deer, but it is the special feeling of being in the woods, the challenge of trying to outwit one of nature’s noblest animals and a feeling that we have several weeks of fun and adventure ahead of us.
Opening day in the Northern Zone is more of a time of excitement and anticipation than it is a time of increased success. Unlike the southern zone where over 40 percent of the bucks taken are shot on opening day, success throughout the northern zone is evenly spaced throughout the season. Thus the odds this weekend are no better, but the excitement is greater. Nevertheless there never will be more deer in the woods than there will be this weekend.
Despite the fact that northern woods have less deer per square mile, bigger territory and lower success rate it is a special time for many of us. The challenge of hunting these wily animals, the excitement and the chance for a big buck keeps many hunters going. The tradition of deer camps or testing your skill and woodsmanship in the big woods is a magnet for many people regardless of success ratio.
These are big woods and deer will use their many keen senses to avoid hunters. Just because you don’t see deer or fresh sign does not mean that there are no deer around. A deer will have a range of one square mile or more and they may be in the high country now. Deer may have also changed their habits or areas due to hunter activity.
You feel like you are hunting because you typically have lots of area to try your favorite tactics. If the deer are not in the location you anticipate you often have the room and ability to move elsewhere. You are not hemmed into a small patch, hoping that deer pass through, as in many areas of the southern zone. A part of the appeal of northern zone is hunting is the ability to look into a patch of woods and not see out the other side!
Sitting on watch may be more productive in certain locations this weekend because there will be more hunters than normal in some areas and they may move deer around. Normally early morning or just before sunset are the periods when deer are on the move. Keep in mind that most big bucks are nocturnal by nature.
Since there are fewer hunters these days and consequently smaller groups of hunters, many opt for having some hunters sitting a likely spots while one or two others still hunt towards them. The key is to move slowly and have the watchers at likely escape routes or funnels. Consider wind direction when placing watchers or planning the route of the hunters on the move. When moved, deer will normally quickly cover about 200 yards then veer left or right and often circle back behind the hunter.
Of course safety should be a concern in any method we use. Be sure of your target and beyond. Always treat every gun as if it is loaded, and be certain to keep it under control. Unload your gun while climbing tree stands, stone walls, etc. Wear orange or red for your own safety. Remember that blaze orange is most visible, especially in periods of low light.
Good luck to everyone. Remember that any buck is a trophy, regardless of size. And even if you don’t have any action on opening weekend keep in mind that it is a long season for a reason. Enjoy the experience because the season will be over before you know it.
Woman Rescued by Drift Boat Guide:  Many people read about the dramatic rescue of a woman angler from the Oswego River a week ago, but in case you missed it the story is worth re-telling. A female angler fell into the Oswego River in downtown Oswego and was being swept downstream. She was on the verge of being pulled by the strong current into the river’s deep, dangerous section behind the Brookfield powerhouse.
Guide Chris Mulpagano, a former local resident, who operates a charter service on the Oswego and Salmon Rivers was fishing with some clients and saw her being swept downstream. Chris maneuvered his drift boat into position and they grabbed the woman with the net. They were able to pull her over to shallow water near the wall where she was able to stand up.
The woman was extremely grateful to say the least. Other anglers saw and videotaped the incident. Later Chris and his clients were rewarded with a pretty good day of salmon fishing.
Deer Hides Wanted:  The bow season has been open for three weeks and the northern zone rifle season opens next Saturday so there should be an increasing number of deer harvested. 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.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Muzzleloader season opens Saturday

Saturday is the opening of the special muzzleloader season in the northern zone. This is a special one-week season for the privilege of those purchasing the muzzleloader tag in addition to their regular hunting season. It allows those hunters to take an additional deer of either sex in most management units.
An increasing number of northern zone hunters are enthusiastically taking advantage of this opportunity. However, this year’s opener may pose problems for hunters keeping their powder dry. The weather forecast earlier in the week calls for a cold and rainy weekend. Obviously this does cause problems for muzzleloaders in keeping the black powder or pyrodex pellets dry under those conditions.
The blackpowder seasons in New York are an outgrowth of the popularity of shooting primitive, muzzleloading firearms such as flintlock or percussion cap rifles that fire a single bullet propelled with black powder. During the bicentennial celebration in 1976, Bill Lloyd of Newport organized a group from Herkimer County to re-enact the march of the Tryon County Militia to relieve the siege of Fort Stanwix and the ensuing Battle of Oriskany.
This event led to the formation of the New York State Muzzleloaders Association. This organization and others successfully lobbied for the extra season privilege of those holding the muzzleloader tag. In the southern zone, this season is held at the close of the regular firearms season in December.
There are several reasons for the attraction and popularity of the muzzleloading season. One big reason is the opportunity and enjoyment of being out deer hunting while the weather is usually milder and the deer are relatively undisturbed. It provides a good opportunity to hunt by traditional methods such as still hunting.
There is also the challenge of bagging a whitetail with only one shot which places a premium on getting close and accuracy of shooting. It gives hunters an extra week to pursue their sport, and of course a chance at possibly taking an extra deer.
Originally, most of the shooting was done with reproductions of percussion cap rifles which were similar to weapons of the Civil War era. Today most hunters use the in-line muzzleloaders which use shotgun 209 primers and superficially resemble modern rifles. However they are still propelled by black powder or pyrodex pellets and shoot a single lead ball or bullet. They must be loaded from the muzzle and powder and ammunition tamped into place by a ramrod.
These rifles are very accurate, although the range is considerably less than most modern rifles. There is still the premium placed on one single, accurate shot. As improvements are made in equipment and more people discover the fun and challenge of muzzleloader hunting, an increasing number of hunters are taking up the sport. Recent deer take reports by the DEC show a significant number of deer taken by muzzleloaders.
In making plans with my hunting partners earlier in the week, there was the usual excitement and anticipation. Some were also encouraged that there might be some snow for the Saturday opener. Now all we have to do is meet the challenge of keeping our powder dry.
Joe’s Jerky: With deer hunting season is swinging into high gear with archery season and the opening of the northern zone muzzleloader season this weekend, we should see an increase in the number of deer harvested. Several people have asked me about having products made from their venison such as jerky, summer sausage and other products. One of the best places for this type of processing is Joe’s Jerky in Sherrill. Joe Robinson is a veteran meat cutter who makes a variety of great products.
I have had summer sausage and Italian sausage made from venison and they are excellent. He makes either hot or sweet sausage by mixing the venison with pork butt and I can highly recommend all his products. Call 367-0237 for more information.
The name and the inspiration for the store come from his daughter Jodie, due the popularity of the jerky Joe has made for commercial customers as well as sending it overseas to the troops. He makes seven flavors of beef jerky that he sells at his store on State St. in Sherrill and all are tasty and high quality. They also have a nice program of sending jerky to the troops overseas that customers can assist with.
Incidentally if you haven’t gotten your deer yet or are looking for a change from wild game he also has excellent regular cuts of meat such as beef and pork for sale. His store is a local outlet for several Pride of New York items such as local maple syrup, cheeses, sauces and seasonings.
One of my personal favorites is the line of Iron Skillet Seasonings. These are packets of great rubs and seasonings for all types of game and fish ranging from fish to venison, turkey and other items. Check the line of Iron Skillet Seasonings and other items at Joe’s Jerky. Support local business and a good cause at the same time.
Salmon Report: The long anticipated salmon run on the Lake Ontario tributaries still has not occurred as of early this week. Last week’s rain was expected to trigger a run of salmon up the lake but relatively few entered the Salmon River or other streams. Last weekend there were a decent number of fish that entered the lower Salmon River but most stayed down in the estuary or the area of the Douglaston Run.
Fishing pressure in the upper river was heavy with lots of anglers but relatively few fish last weekend. Still, some anglers were having success. Dr. John Costello and his sons John and Patrick, along with his grandchildren went fishing and caught six good sized kings. They chartered two boats guided by Chris Mulpagano and his son Nick and enjoyed the experience as well as having more success than most anglers.
Earlier this week I checked with Whitakers Sport Shop in Pulaski who reported the same situation. There were plenty of anglers but relatively few were enjoying success. This was mainly due to the low number of fish in the upper areas of the river. Those that were catching fish had luck fly fishing with Wooly Buggers, Comets and estaz egg flies.
There were many theories on why the run has been disappointing, including water temperature or low water levels. Indications are that there are still a lot of fish staging off the mouth of the Salmon River as well as other streams like the Oswego River. Whenever the run does start, either because of water conditions or the biological clock of the fish, it will probably result in some wild fishing.
Mike Kelly’s Latest Book: “Trout Streams of Central New York” by J. Michael Kelly, a former outdoor columnist, will be released next week. Like his earlier books and award-winning columns, This book is based on Kelly’s actual experience and extensive fishing skill. I was fortunate to have an advance copy and believe that all serious trout fishermen should have this on their bookshelf.
Section One covers the area from Central New York to Rochester and the Southern Tier by sections and describes over 100 trout streams and rivers. Each stream has the location, a rating for fishing quality, the best times to fish it, and descriptions of access. There are descriptions of the water, fish found there, and lots of tips and techniques.
This is not one of those “dictionary” type fishing guides where an author simply compiles a listing of advice from DEC personnel or local tackle shop owners. It is an up-to-date guide based on Kelly’s experience. Nor is it a dry listing of statistics and lures. It is written in an informative, interesting style that illustrates why Kelly won so many awards for his writing.
Section Two contains nine chapters of special tactics ranging from bait fishing and fly fishing to ethics. There are illustrations on popular flies, a chart of fly hatches, and changes in the fisheries. The book is generously supplied with photos and maps.
The book will be available Oct. 23 at book stores, online book retailers, and tackle shops, as well as from the publisher Burford Books at

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Salmon fishing offers fun, excitement

Sunlight filters through the gold and red leaves bordering the river as an angler casts repeatedly to the deep water along the far shore. Suddenly there is an eruption of water as a huge fish leaps clear of the water and starts a powerful run downstream. The reel screams as the salmon peels a hundred yards of line in a single run while the angler desperately tries to slow the mighty fish before it breaks clear.
Welcome to the sport of salmon fishing. Scenes like this will soon be common for another few weeks along the Salmon River, the Oswego River, smaller tributaries, and streams all along the Lake Ontario shoreline. It is world class fishing right in our backyard and once you have experienced it, it is difficult to forget about it.
Veteran anglers are eager for the run to start in earnest but so far only a few salmon are entering the river. Warm temperatures and low water levels have delayed the spawning run so far. Usually a cold rain will trigger the movement of salmon from the areas of the lake in front of the tributaries to head up river.
However, once their biological clock indicates that the time for spawning has come, the fish will head upriver regardless of water levels or temperatures. So the best bet is to have your gear ready and check with reliable sources like Jim Dence’s All Seasons Sports Shop in Pulaski for conditions on the salmon run.
Once the run starts in earnest you can bet that anglers from all over the area will be heading for the Salmon River or other tributaries of Lake Ontario. The bigger holes like the Sportsman’s Hole or Trestle Pool and areas near the bridges will see lots of anglers lining the banks. Be courteous and pull your line or get out of the way when some other angler yells “fish on” and starts running along the bank trying to keep up with the fish on the end of his line.
The best way to avoid crowds is to fish in the middle of the week and fish early or late in the day. The first and last hours of the day are the best time to fish anyway since that is when the salmon are moving upstream. Be prepared to walk a bit to get away from the crowds. Stop at the hatchery in Altmar or at All Seasons Sports Shop on Route 13 in Pulaski to get a map of the river with convenient access points.
Although salmon do not feed when they enter the tributaries to spawn, they can be coaxed into striking out of aggression or instinct. Large flies such as Wooly Buggers, estaz egg patterns, or Comets, single hook lures or egg sacks are all common ways of taking salmon in the river. Salmon tend to hit egg sacks or artificial eggs and flies that imitate eggs. The theory is that they want to remove any competition to their own spawn.
Chinook salmon tend to travel in deep water and stay near the river bottom as they migrate upstream. Thus your bait, fly or lure should pass just off the bottom since the fish do not move up in the water column to strike. Concentrate on the heads or tails of pools, deep runs along the banks or behind the boulders, etc. that break the current. You want your bait or lure to move naturally just over the bottom. Add or subtract split shot to a dropper line to keep your lure at proper depth.
While battling salmon is definitely not a job for ultralight tackle, neither do you want the 50-pound test line and broomstick rods that some bass fishermen tend to use. Long rods help you fight the fish and also aid in keeping line off the water, preventing drag on your bait in the presentation. Most fly fishermen prefer 9-foot rods for 8- or 9-weight line. Spin fishermen commonly use a medium action 8- or 9-foot rod. Both call for quality reels with good drags and lots of capacity. The main line should be 12-pound test with a four-foot leader of six-pound test. Some anglers opt for heavier line but the key is to let the rod do the work and tire the fish.
If you have never fished for salmon in the streams you might want to consider hiring a guide to show you how as well as where. Former local resident Chris Mulpagano (387-2623) is one of the best and uses his driftboat to cover lots of river. His son Nicholas (897-0737) is following in the family footsteps and is also an experienced  guide. Jay Peck (585-233-0436) is also one of the best and is familiar with many streams along the lake.
If you don’t have all the tackle you can check for anything you need, including Korkers for wading the slippery Salmon River bottom, at All Seasons Sports on Route 13 in Pulaski. Owner Jim Dence is a local resident who is familiar with conditions on the river and can outfit you with the proper equipment as well as advice. Call 315-298-6433 for more information.
You do not need to spend $5,000 or more for a fishing trip in Alaska to experience the great excitement and fun of salmon fishing. You can do it right in our own backyard. But beware: once you catch salmon fever it is hard to get rid of it.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur harvesters of Central New York are selling tickets on a bear hunt for the club’s biggest fundraiser. Call 750-5227 to reserve yours. The Club will be attending the Carpenter’s Brook Sportsmans Days on September 26 and 27. They will also have a Trapper Training Class on October 3 at the Pompey Rod & Gun Club.
Turkey Season: Because of declining numbers of turkeys the past few years, the DEC has shortened the fall turkey season to two weeks in both zones. Northern Zone season is October 1–14 and the Southern Zone season is October 17–30. Bag limit has been reduced to one bird. One note of encouragement is that many people have been seeing decent sized groups or flocks of young birds despite the cold wet weather last spring. Perhaps the turkeys in this part of the state are hardier and tougher, just like the people who live here.
Deer Management Permits: The DEC reminded hunters to apply for deer management permits (DMPs) this week, ahead of the October 1 deadline. Unfortunately many of the licensing agencies cannot handle the changes to a new computerized system and have given up selling licenses or other transactions.
DEC’s computerized licensing system allows hunters to immediately learn the outcome of their permit application. The likelihood that a hunter will be selected for a permit is largely based on the number of deer management permits to be issued in a Wildlife Management Area and the number of hunters that historically apply.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Be a stand-up marksman

Hunting season really isn’t that far away. It will be here before we know it and many sportsmen will be thinking that they should have practiced their shooting more. Ideally we should shoot a lot and practice our marksmanship most of the year. Realistically most of us do not. A few others go out for a day or two just before the season, fire a few rounds, and say “close enough.” Probably the majority of hunters do a little plinking during the summer and then get serious about practicing during September and October.
The first thing you have to do is sight in your gun. Have a bench rest or other steady area to eliminate gun movement. Fire enough rounds of the ammunition you will be hunting with to make sure that the gun will hit where you aim it. Make any adjustments to the telescopic or open sights that you need to.
Next you face the reality that you won’t be having a bench rest out in the woods while you are hunting. Practice shooting from different positions, especially the ones that you will be using most while hunting. Shooting from a prone position is the steadiest but the one we are less likely to use unless we are stalking game at long distances out west.
Sitting and resting the gun on your knee is much steadier but we are not likely to use that except while sitting on watch for deer or possibly calling in predators. Today most of us still shoot offhand from a standing position, while sitting on a stump or from a tree stand.
The least steady, but most commonly used shot is the standing or offhand shot. The reason for this is that we are often standing while waiting for deer, walking, still-hunting or stalking. Deer, coyote or squirrels are not going to stand there and watch us while we sit down, get comfortable and draw a bead on them.
Pat Salerno, the noted Adirondack deer hunter, stresses that he usually carries his gun at “port arms” or held in front of his chest to be ready for a quick but steady shot when he sees a deer. He may only have a few seconds and having the gun ready will give him time to properly mount the gun and take a careful aim.
Many of us may think that because we have the gun sighted in, it will be alright. There is, however, a lot more to it. Our form, getting the proper sight picture and steadying the gun all are important factors. Holding the gun steady is an overlooked factor, especially as we “add a few years” our muscles aren’t what they used to be and our aim is not as steady.
If you have any doubt, give yourself this test. Crank up the power on your rifle scope, use your telephoto lens on the camera at high power or just use a high power binocular and try to hold it steady on some distant object. A lot of people will see the object bounce around in their lens or even disappear from view. Imagine that you are now firing your gun during this small movement and you will see how your bullet can miss completely.
Some time ago David Petzal of Field & Stream had an article that said shooting while standing is by far the most difficult of all the positions. It requires exponentially more practice than any other simply to be competent, never mind good. He emphasized that it is still absolutely necessary to master unless you enjoy papering the walls of your home with unpunched licenses.
According to Petzal, the secret to shooting offhand is to accept that no one can hold a rifle steady while standing. So don’t try to eliminate muzzle movement; instead, control it. Develop the finesse to make the end of the barrel move in a circle and to make that circle smaller and smaller as you aim. Then, the instant the crosshairs are on any part of the bull’s-eye, pull the trigger. Crude as this approach may seem, a great many of your shots will land in the center of the bull anyway.
You must be able to shoot fast because bucks won’t stand around waiting for you. An aimed offhand shot should take you no more than five seconds, and three is better. The longer you wait, the more things will go wrong.
Start practicing by using a .22 rimfire that is as close to your centerfire rifle as possible. Get a package of 100 NRA A-17 paper targets, each of which has 11 black bull’s-eyes about the size of a silver dollar.
Set your scope at 4X and start from 20 feet. Shoot strings of five rounds per bull; a hit anywhere in the black counts. Your initial efforts are likely to be very bad
As you improve, move back to 25 yards. Once you are shooting mostly fours and fives, switch to your centerfire rifle and shoot from 100 yards at a 50-yard pistol target with an 8-inch bull’s-eye. Shoot no more than 20 rounds per session, and try to get all of them in the black. Very few shooters can do this; if you can get 18 or 19 into the 10-ring, you’ve done very well.
Practicing offhand is logistically easier, cheaper, and more valuable to real hunters than practicing at long range will ever be. Second, shooting is a sport of muscle memory, repetition and concentration, so shoot lots.
Of course, if the opportunity presents you should also use a handy tree or something similar, to brace your forward hand against. Just remember not to rest the barrel of the rifle on the tree or post, etc. You can also drop to a kneeling position, if possible, which takes but a moment and steadies the shot considerably.
Ladies & Youth Day VNSP: Ladies of all ages and boys and girls ages 12–16 are invited to a day of adventure, fun and learning skills provided free thanks to grants by the local Friends of NRA. The day will be Saturday, Sept. 19, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Vernon National Shooting Preserve on Burns Road, Vernon Center. Activities include a pheasant hunt with guides, personal instruction in shotgun skills with certified instructors, and shooting trap and sporting clays.
Meals include a light breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages throughout the day. Participants need to bring a shotgun. Ammunition (12 and 20 gauge) will be provided. A Hunter Safety Course certificate is required for all youths shooting and for ladies to hunt pheasants. The event is limited to 50 participants. Reserve your spot early by calling Ralph Meyer (264-1087) or Lynne Pletl (527-4016).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Striking facts about lightning

Many years ago, Tom Van Pelt and I were fishing for bullheads after dark in the remote southeast bay of Big Moose Lake. Bullheads were biting and we ignored the distant rumble of thunder and flashes of lightning on the northern horizon. A few minutes later the rain came down in buckets and the sky lit up like a July 4 fireworks display. Thunder echoed off the nearby mountains and it seemed like one continuous explosion.
Sitting in that aluminum boat with only a 2 ½ hp motor and the lightning cracking all around us, I was sure that we were going to be “toast” at any minute. But miraculously we escaped and the storm rapidly moved on. We escaped being a statistic that day but we have had a healthy respect for thunderstorms ever since.
Actuaries and statisticians will tell you that an average of 51 people per year are killed by lightning in the United States. They point out that many other common occurrences are more likely to kill you. That may be true but why tempt fate and become one of the unlucky ones?
Millions of lightning strikes bombard the USA every year. Although cloud to ground strikes are only about 25 percent of the total strikes, a typical lightning storm produces three or more strikes to earth per minute.
An average of 20,000 people in the world are hit by lightning each year. The amazing thing is that 90 percent of the people hit by lightning survive. They were evidently not in the main path of the electrical charge. Survivors often suffer severe injury to their internal organs and central nervous system.
Fishermen or boaters are the group in the USA that is far more likely to be hit by lightning than any other. Not only are they vulnerable by being a boat with fishing rods, antennae, etc. out in the middle of a body of water, they are often caught in a storm. Many fishermen will venture too far out on a large lake in search of fish and be unable to safely return to land before the fast moving storm hits. We also know some fishermen who stubbornly refuse to quit fishing and hope that the storm will pass around them.
Lightning is caused by an electrical build up of negative charges, usually on the bottom of a fast moving cloud. This negative charge travels to another positively charged area in another cloud or the ground. This huge spark of electricity follows the path of least resistance so tall buildings, trees, or the highest object in any area are likely to provide that route.
We all know that standing under a tall tree or being in a boat out in the middle of the lake are things that you want to avoid. You should also avoid unsafe buildings, carports, pavilions, tents or golf shelters. The electrical charge can also pass near or even through you in those areas.
Cars or enclosed shelters are the safest place to be during an electrical storm. Stay away from electrical wires, phone lines, water pipes and open doors or windows. If you are caught out in the open you should crouch low but do not kneel, sit or lie on the ground.
Despite the old saying, lightning does strike twice in the same place. Contrary to popular opinion you can be struck by lightning miles ahead of the storm. Lightning can strike 10 miles outward so if you can see it or hear the thunder you are already in danger.
This doesn’t mean that you should spend all season in your house with the windows shut and the air conditioning on! It does mean that you should be aware of conditions and storm warnings and not venture out too far from shore in your boat on those days. Wherever you are you can keep an eye and an ear tuned for storms approaching and seek safe shelter in a timely manner. With precautions and common sense (and luck) you can avoid being a statistic.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur harvesters of Central New York held its August meeting with lengthy discussion of the club’s future. Members are urged to sell tickets on the bear hunt because this is the club’s biggest fundraiser. They will be attending the Carpenter’s Brook Sportsmans Days on Sept. 26 and 27. They will also have a Trapper Training Class on Oct. 3 at the Pompey Rod and Gun Club. The next meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 10 with food served at 5:30 p.m. and meeting at 6.
Youth Goose Hunt: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and ECOs are again teaming up to offer a special youth goose hunt to youngsters who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go goose hunting. Youngsters must have completed their hunter safety course beforehand.
There will be a meeting with parents, ECOs and hunter mentors; target practice and other preparation for the next day’s hunt. This year’s hunt will take place on the weekend of Sept. 19 and 20. Youngsters will have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for goose hunting and then actually experience it with the guidance of an ECO or hunter mentor in the field.
The program is open to youths ages 12–17. A small game license and an HIP number is necessary for all youngsters. Youths ages 16-17 will also need a federal wildfowl stamp. Interested participants should contact Scott Faulkner (225-0192), ECO Steve Lakeman (734-0648) or ECO Ric Grisolini (240-6966) for an application for this program. Space in the program is limited so be sure to register early.
Ladies and Youth Day VNSP: Ladies of all ages and youths ages 12–16 (boys and girls) are invited to a day of adventure, fun and learning skills provided free thanks to grants by the local Friends of NRA. The day will be Saturday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Vernon National Shooting Preserve on Burns Road, Vernon Center. Activities include a pheasant hunt with guides, personal instruction in shotgun skills with certified instructors and shooting trap and sporting clays.
Meals include a light breakfast, lunch and snacks and beverages throughout the day. Participants need to bring a shotgun. Ammunition (12 and 20 gauge) will be provided. A Hunter Safety Course certificate is required for all youth shooting and for ladies to hunt pheasants. The event is limited to 50 participants. Reserve your spot early by calling Ralph Meyer (264-1087) or Lynne Pletl (527-4016).
DEC Pilot Project To Improve Public Input On Deer Populations: There will be an increased opportunity for public input in deer management decision-making under a pilot project launched by the state DEC. This new project will incorporate modern technology and gather input directly from a broader cross-section of New Yorkers.
DEC is initiating this pilot effort in Central New York and has selected a 1,325-square-mile group of three WMUs (7H, 8J and 8S). The pilot project will include embarking on a broad-scale education effort this fall to develop public understanding of the process, share results of the survey and convey information to the public regarding deer impacts, management issues and challenges in general.
Solicitation of input will be more far-reaching and representative than collecting opinions on a limited one-on-one basis. DEC biologists will base final objectives for deer population change on whether the public recommendation is compatible with existing levels of deer impacts on forests. Results of the process will be shared with the public, serving as an audit on the pilot system, and providing feedback for improving the process before expanding it to other WMU aggregates in the future.
The original process involved the selection of a relatively small group of citizens, usually 8 to 12 individuals, each representing a particular stake in the deer population level in a WMU. Members included farmers, hunters, motorists, foresters, landowners and others having an interest in the size of a unit’s deer herd. The group, as a whole then debated the merits of the various positions and settled on one collective recommendation to the DEC on which direction the local deer population should go and by how much.