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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.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sportsmen lose in the political arena

Someone, I believe that it was Mark Twain, once said that it is probably a good thing that Americans do not know what goes into their sausage or politics. Today things are a bit more transparent but that doesn’t mean that they are any better.

The most obvious recent example of this was the passage of a crossbow bill in the closing days of the New York State Legislature. The bill was a victory for New York Bowhunters, Inc. (NYB) and a defeat and a major slap in the face to the rest of the sportsmen in New York. The bill essentially extended the current bill for two years but actually added some restrictions.

The bill which also restricts the DEC from developing any youth hunting days except for archery is actually less favorable than the bill that was amended into its meaningless form last year. All of the provisions have the stamp of the agenda of NYB, a well-organized group of 2,000 bowhunters.

Meanwhile the wishes of thousands of sportsmen who wrote and called their legislators, as well as Safari Club International, Conservation Alliance, Farm Bureau, and the NYS Conservation Council which represents more than 300,000 organized sportsmen were ignored. This was primarily the work of Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, a legislator from Long Island, who pushed his own abominable bill through the rules committee in the final days of the legislative session. It was co-sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellino, a long time opponent of crossbows, and this was passed instead of the one favored by sportsmen which would allow crossbows in archery season.
Sportsmen who called Sweeney’s office were answered by an arrogant aide who parroted the position and misinformation spread by NYB. Obviously the influence of NYB over Sweeney and Marcellino was strong enough to overcome majority wishes and scientific evidence. Many blatantly false statements about range and advantages of crossbows were used to justify the opposition of Sweeney, Marcellino and NYB.

And their influence was enough to get this sham bill passed by a majority of both houses. Reportedly a majority of the Assembly Committee actually favored the earlier Senate version and this is why it did not come before the committee.

According to the Crossbow Coalition and CFAB representative Dave Corr, all legislators of Region 6 in both parties would have voted for the bill allowing crossbows in the archery season. It probably would have passed the legislature if it reached the floor according to pronouncements of many legislators who said that they were in favor of a meaningful crossbow bill. But two key legislators under the influence of NYB thwarted the wishes of a majority of sportsmen!

It’s not only the NYS Legislature that ignores the voices of the sportsmen. Two years ago there were DEC hearings over the management plan for the Moose River Plains Recreation Area. Sportsmen wrote and spoke at the hearings in favor of keeping it classified as Wild Forest which was open to limited access for sportsmen.

The various Adirondack preservationist groups, commonly referred to as “tree huggers” or ‘eco-fascists” wanted a sizable chunk of it classified as Wilderness, which severely restricts access for sportsmen. These eco-fascists are well organized and have considerable funds at their disposal, in addition to having many affluent and influential members.

An overwhelming majority wanted to keep it Wild Forest so sportsmen could use it. Guess which side won? Yes, the tree huggers got a sizable portion taken away by the DEC and re-classified as Wilderness to “protect” it. No one ever said why, or from whom. Maybe to keep out Somali Pirates?
Of course sportsmen are not blameless. On many, many other issues they sit around the coffee shops and complain and raise the question “what are the clubs, the NYS Conservation Council, the outdoor writers, etc., etc. going to do about it?” Yet they fail to write or show their support.

A good case in point is the issue of archery hunting in Green Lakes State Park a few years ago. There is an overpopulation of deer damaging the ecology of the park and surrounding areas. Archery was a safe and effective method suggested as a way of dealing with the population.

Yet only a handful of letters supporting that idea were written by sportsmen. By contrast the “bunny huggers,” anti-hunters, and people who got their ideas of wildlife management or basic biology from the back of box of Fruit Loops overwhelmed the Parks Dept. with illogical letters against hunting.

And finally as one former DEC Commissioner commented to me, “sportsmen must be terrible poker players. They always show their hand before they play it.” But that is a story for another column.


If you are a NYS resident 62 or older on any weekday (except holidays) you can obtain free vehicle access to state parks and arboreteums. Simply present your current valid NYS Driver’s License. This policy applies both to Office of Parks and Recreation and DEC facilities.

BILLY ALEXANDER JIGS: Many area residents are aware that Bill Alexander of Sylvan Beach is a very successful fisherman. His win in the Team Walleye Tournament held recently on Oneida Lake called attention that he can catch walleyes along with being a very successful fisherman in competitive bass tournaments. Sine 1981 when he started fishing competitively he has either won or finished in the top three in several Bassmaster tournaments.

But what many do not realize is that part of the secret to Bill’s success is the fact that he designs and makes his own jigs. Bill understands bass and walleye habitat, their feeding habits, and other behavior and fine-tunes his lures to take advantage of this. He also believes in using quality components, whether there is money on the line, or just fishing for fun.

Bill also sells his successful line of jigs with a variety of styles. Check his web site The website gives background, illustration, and even tips for using the various types. Of course the name comes from “Made To Order” since all of the lures are individually poured, painted and tied with hair or other material. He has a lot of them, especially the more popular ones, in stock. But otherwise you may have to wait a little bit for customized jigs during the bass fishing season!

Check out the site for useful information and the amazing variety available. Support a local person. And at the same time your fishing success may increase.
THERMACELL: Little things can ruin a summer day or evening. In this case we are talking about disgusting insects like black flies or mosquitoes. The black fly season is over but mosquitoes remain a persistent problem, especially in the evening.

One of the things that I have found that really works is the Thermacell Mosquito Repellent. I have used the hand held model successfully for two years and it provides silent, odorless, and long-lasting protection for a 15 foot radius. It utilizes a butane cartridge that heats a pad and gives off a synthetic copy of natural insecticides. Whether it is in the turkey woods, trout fishing, or sitting around the campfire I find it really works.

Now Thermacell has an outdoor lantern that combines the same insect repellent with a lantern using eight LEDs for ambient lighting at your campsite or back deck. It is lightweight, can be hung or set on a stand, and gives you hours of protection. A simple switch lights the butane while another operates the led lights separately. See or check local sporting goods stores.

Wildlife Sports Museum: You should make plans in your summer activities to include a trip to the Wildlife Sports Educational Museum in Vails Mills this summer. Located conveniently at the intersections of main routes 29 and 30 near Johnstown and just south of Great Sacandaga Lake, is this world class museum with an amazing collection of wildlife mounts. Hundreds of lifelike animals, fish, and birds are on display. There are many display cases showing the evolution of sporting equipment in firearms, fishing tackle, decoys, and more. The building is also home to the NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame in a separate room.


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