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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


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