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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, October 22, 2014

Northern Zone deer season opens with high hopes

The first orange light appears on the southeastern horizon as the sun rises and its soft light filters through the barren branches of the trees along a hillside. A hunter snuggles into his jacket to protect against the early morning chill while watching the gray shadows along what he hopes will be a route for a whitetail buck. As the forest comes alive with the sound of birds, squirrels and other creatures, the anticipation, excitement and hope build.
The weather forecast for this weekend seems good, unlike the past week or 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 red or orange clad 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.
The fact that northern woods have less deer per square mile, bigger territory and less hunters afield means that success is lower. But 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.This does not mean that there is a deer behind every tree or that they will be easy to get. These are big woods and deer will use their many keen senses to avoid hunters. Your best bet is to find escape routes or funnels and let others move deer past you or hunt the popular food sources. There doesn’t seem to be many beechnuts or even apples in the north country this year but in areas of oak trees there is a good crop of acorns.
Of course many of us who hunt the northern zone do because we like to. There may be less deer than in many areas of the southern zone but we like the challenge and experience. Your odds of getting a deer in the northern zone are perhaps half of what they will be in the southern zone but most hunters like the big woods, the variety of wildlife they often see and the challenge of testing your skills as a hunter.
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 hunting is the ability to look into a patch of woods and not see out the other side!
Hunters have their own favorite methods of hunting including sitting on watch, driving or still-hunting. One thing you should definitely not do is wander aimlessly through the woods or fields, expecting a deer to pop up in front of you and stand there.
Remember that deer have great senses of smell, hearing, and sight and they will easily detect and avoid anybody just out for a stroll.
Sitting on watch may be more productive 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.
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.
Deer Hides Wanted: This weekend with the opening of Northern Zone Season should see a lot 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.
Adirondack Railroad Comments: The DEC and DOT have announced that they will be holding public hearings and accepting comment on the future of the Adirondack Railroad and the travel corridor. As reported recently, there are some of the extremists who want to tear up the track and make a “super highway” trail for hikers and bikers. The cost of this would be more than the cost of rehabilitating the tracks.
Make your opinions known by attending the meeting next Tuesday, October 28 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the State Office Building in Utica. You can also send e-mail to until December 15. Don’t let some of the wealthy elitists keep the average tourist or sportsman out of much of the Adirondacks by replacing the tracks with an expensive hiking trail that won’t get much usage.
Adirondack Outdoors: The fall issue of Adirondack Outdoors features a trophy buck on the cover and that is no accident. The special hunting edition has lots of articles on deer hunting, including some important tips that can be used anywhere. One feature article focuses on local hunting legend, Jim Massett, and his traditional methods of hunting.
There are also articles on fall fishing, hiking, photography and paddling. This publication is now available at many major newsstands throughout the area or you can check out the digital edition and other information at Meanwhile complimentary copies are available at Hanifin Tires & Service Center and at Sweet Temptations Café.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur Harvesters of Central NY will hold a work day on Sunday, October 26 to start repairs on the clubhouse. The next regular meeting will be November 13 at the clubhouse with food served at 5 p.m. and meeting at 6 p.m. There are still raffle tickets left for the bear hunt so call 682-2050 if you need tickets.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fourth annual youth goose hunt a success

The Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Oneida County, Region 6 Environmental Conservation Officers, National Wild Turkey Federation, Oneida County Sherriff’s Dept. and the NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame, as well as some interested sportsmen, recently teamed up to hold the fourth Annual Youth Goose Hunt. There was a total of 24 youths signed up from Herkimer, Oneida and Madison Counties to participate in this year’s hunt.
The 24 youths and their parents attended a Safety Day at the Cassety Hollow Rod and Gun Club in Oriskany Falls where safety and regulations presentation was given by ECO Steve Lakeman on goose hunting. Lakeman also put on a presentation on setting up decoys in the field.
That afternoon, each youth was set up in a lay down blind and shot at clay targets to get the sensation of what hunting would be like the following day. This was under the instruction of ECO Mike Dangler, a certified Firearms Instructor for ECOs.
Each youth group was partnered up with the ECOs and mentors from their area. They discussed their equipment that they had and what they might need and each youth hunter was registered with their HIP number.
The next morning the ECOs and mentors took the 24 youths out goose hunting. Each group had at least three youths and four mentors. A total of seven groups took to the fields that morning to hunt Canada geese. All groups had flocks of geese come in to their decoys but some groups were better than others in getting the geese close enough to shoot at. A total of 103 geese were harvested that morning.
The Oneida County Federation and the Committee would like to give a big thank you to the New York Conservation Officer Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Gander Mountain of New Hartford for their donations for this year’s hunt. They would also like to give a big thank you to the ECOs and the sportsmen and women mentors that took the time out of their schedule to take a kid out hunting.
Thanks also go to the cooks for the event, Brian Day and Larry Chandler, and to the Cassetty Hollow Club members for the use of their club for Safety Day and the day of the hunt. It was a successful day in introducing youngsters to the sport of goose hunting.
Canoe & Kayak Storage
For a lot of people, next weekend represents the end of canoe and kayak trips. If you are getting ready to store your canoe or kayak for the winter there are some things you should keep in mind. Scott Locorini of Adirondack Exposure offers the following tips.
If at all possible, store them inside a building since ultraviolet light will cause the colors to fade. Canoes can be stored upside down hanging from the ceiling of a garage or shed since the gunwales or edges are the strongest part of the canoe. However kayaks should not be stored that way since they will take a permanent bend or “set.”
The strongest part of a kayak is the bow or the stern so ideally you should stand them on end inside the building. However, most of us do not have the luxury of a building with a high ceiling, etc. so the best way is to store them on the edge.
One way is to loop two straps through strong eye bolts on the side of the garage or shed and suspend the kayak. That way the bottom will be flush against the wall and the straps will be supporting the side, which is the stronger part.
Scott also suggests putting mothballs or fabric softener sheets inside the boat to keep rodents away and prevent them from damaging the outfitting, which could be costly. He also recommends putting 303 on the gaskets of the dry top and your dry suits.
It is also a good time to get odor out of paddling clothing or footwear. There are many commercial products but Scott says “Sink the Stink” works well to eliminate stubborn odors. Hunter Specialty Scent-Away clothes soap works well with washing clothing items.
If the ferrules on your paddles have been sticking, pull them apart and sand them with Emory paper. Wash off the dust, let them dry thoroughly and apply spray silicone so you will start off the next season with ease.
Throughout the winter months Scott will be operating a variety of paddling trips with camping or lodge accommodations in various locations in Florida or Costa Rica. Contact him at 315-335-1681 for more information.
Finger Lakes: My wife and I closed out our camping for the season with a week in the Finger Lakes. This year we stayed at Cayuga Lake State Park, a very nice park at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls. Most of the days were very pleasant and we enjoyed visiting the wineries at harvest time, having lunch at vineyard restaurants, hiking at locations like Taughannock Falls and some fishing.
Unfortunately the bass fishing was slow. Despite its reputation, the fishing recently has been tough. A group of 12 from a bass club near Pittsburgh was spending several days there and they spent a lot of time and covered most of the 41 miles of lake with little to show for it. But bass fishing has been very tough all year from the Finger Lakes to the Adirondacks, the St. Lawrence River and tributaries of Lake Ontario. Some theories are that the cold spring meant that the bass never really schooled up and inhabited the areas they normally would.
Fishing for lake trout at the lower end of Cayuga Lake was better, at least for lake trout fishermen. Shore anglers fishing from Taughannock State Park were casting egg sacks or alewives off the Taughannock Bar and catching some nice lakers.
Rush TV Challenge: A couple years ago, John Lenox - one of the organizers of the NY Sportsmen Expo in Syracuse and owner of Rush TV Productions from Rochester - came up with the idea of a good-natured challenge. The crew of Rush TV would field of anglers and challenge a team of fishermen from the NYS Outdoor Writers’ Association (NYSOWA) for bragging rights.
As a side effect, the event would be filmed to publicize the area and it would be used to benefit charities. Last year the event was held on Lake Ontario out of Point Breeze and NYSOWA won. John and his team had a good time kidding us and saying that they would get revenge this year.
The 2014 Challenge was held last weekend in Cape Vincent and we fished the St. Lawrence River for walleye, pike and bass. The two boats were operated by captains Adam and Erik Swenson, two charter boat operators out of Cape Vincent. Things did not look good for the NYSOWA team much of the day and we knew that the Rush TV Boat had a slim edge.
But I didn’t lose faith since I had chosen two skilled anglers, Sue Bookhout and Mike Seymour, to be on my team. With 10 minutes to go Mike hooked a nice northern pike and five minutes after that Sue landed an even bigger one. NYSOWA wins again!
Most importantly we all had a good time, enjoyed a nice lunch at the Cape Vincent Park and learned more about the area. It is a great fishery and a beautiful area. Captain Erik Swenson, who is married to former local resident Julie Carmola, and his brother Adam operate very successful charter boats out of the Cape and fish for lake trout, northern pike, walleye, bass and muskie. Contact Erik at Lori-J Charters, PO Box 256, Cape Vincent, NY 13618.
We will have more information about Cape Vincent and its attractions and fishery later. But it was a fun and pleasant way to wrap up fishing adventures for the year.
VNSP Fall Hours: Vernon National Shooting Preserve announces its fall hours will be Tuesday noon to dusk, Wednesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Members have access all day, every day. They have re-set the stations to two traps per station. There will still be five stations for the Tower Shoot. Tower Shoot participants get exclusive pheasant preserve hunting the day following the Tower Shoot.