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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, 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 or
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.
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 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 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 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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cross country ski opportunities abound

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