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Hooks and Antlers
By Mike Seymour
Johnson Newspapers
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Hooks and Antlers

Hooks and Antlers: Adirondack bear-harvest total from 2013 down 37 percent

First published: April 13, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: April 12, 2014 at 6:51 pm

The Department of Environmental Conservation released its bear-harvest figures for the 2013 season this past week, and the statewide take of 1,358 bears was a 21-bear increase over the 2012 harvest.

Despite the slight upswing in the statewide total, Adirondack hunters took 37 percent fewer bears in 2013 than in 2012.

This year’s Adirondack kill was 380 bears or 226 fewer bears than the previous year’s take of 606 bears.

Adirondack Take

Adirondack hunters took 84 bears or 22 percent of the harvest during the early bear season, 15 bears or 4 percent of the harvest during archery season, 35 bears or 9 percent of the harvest during muzzleloader season, and 246 bears or 65 percent of the harvest during the regular season.

The 84-bear take in early season was a major decrease from the 2012 early season kill of 386 bears while the regular season take of 246 bears was a significant increase from the 2012 regular season harvest of 132 bears.

A likely explanation for the early season decline is the vast amount of soft mast available last fall while the regular season surge can be attributed to the mild weather during that season.

Adirondack County, Town TAKE

Of the 12-county Adirondack region, St. Lawrence led the way with a take of 77 bears while Hamilton County had 60 kills, and Lewis County saw a harvest of 49 bears.

The respective takes of the other counties were Herkimer (31), Warren (30), Franklin (28), Clinton (28), Essex (22), Jefferson (21), Saratoga (14), Oneida (10) and Fulton (10).

Forty-one percent of the bears taken in 2013 were females while 59 percent were males. The age figures for 2013 have yet to be calculated, but in 2012, the harvested male bears averaged more than four years of age, and the females averaged more than six years.

In St. Lawrence County, the towns of Colton and Fine saw 11 bears taken while 10 were shot in Hopkinton, nine in Clare and eight in Fowler.

In Lewis County, the towns of Diana and Greig each produced 11 bears. The other top-producing townships were Lyonsdale (nine), Watson (eight) and Croghan (five).

The towns that yielded bear kills in Jefferson County were Wilna (nine), Antwerp (five), LeRay (four) and Philadelphia (three).

The top-three townships in Franklin County were Santa Clara (five), Brandon (five) and Waverly (four).

Statewide Bear Take

The 2013 statewide bear take of 1,358 marked the third highest harvest in the past 20 years,

The Central-Western bear hunting area saw a harvest of 342 black bears, the second highest in that area’s history, while the Southeastern bear hunting area had a 2013 record kill of 636.

In contrast to the Adirondack bear hunting area with 15 bow kills, archery hunters accounted for a significant number of kills in the Central-Western and Southeastern areas where bow hunters harvested 116 and 201 bears, respectively. Like the Adirondack area, though, the rest of the state saw the majority of harvests take place during the regular season.

Youth Turkey Weekend

The Youth Wild Turkey Hunt is scheduled for April 26-27. Junior hunters (ages 12-15) must be accompanied by an adult hunter, and both the junior hunter and adult hunter are required to have a small game license and a turkey permit.

Adults are not allowed to possess a firearm, bow or to harvest a turkey while accompanying the junior hunter.

The limit for the youth hunt is one bearded turkey; otherwise, that spring turkey hunting rules apply.

Kids Fishing

Spring is a great time to take youths fishing because of the abundant shore-fishing opportunities throughout the area.

This is a time of year when bullheads, yellow perch and other pan-fish migrate to shorelines for feeding and spawning purposes.

Outdoors Calendar

Today: Syracuse Gun Show at NYS Fairgrounds.

Saturday: SLC Trapper Association’s Annual Dinner (212-0283).

April 26: Seaway Valley QDMA Benoit Brothers Seminar at Gouverneur High School (287-4968).

April 26-27: Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

May 1: Spring Turkey Season opens in New York State.

May 3: Seasons open for northern pike and walleyes.

May 3: SLRWA Opening Day Walleye Derby (www.stlawrenceriverwalleyeassociation.com).

May 3: SLVSC hosts annual Walleye Derby (393-7506).

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Hooks and Antlers: Proper preparation keys successful turkey opener

First published: April 06, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: April 05, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Hunters have three weeks remaining to do their scouting for the May 1 turkey opener, and preseason scouting often spells the difference between harvesting a tom and a “birdless” start to the season.

Scouting

Ideally, scouting ventures will reveal roosting, feeding and strutting areas. By discovering the behavior patterns of birds in a particular area, the hunter significantly increases his odds of putting the bead on a tom.

Seasoned hunters know that turkeys modify their patterns throughout the season so “patterning” birds requires in-season attention.

Common mistakes on scouting ventures are being too intrusive and doing too much calling. Such behaviors tend to quickly educate birds, and turkeys that have been exposed to preseason human intrusions and “overcalling” are generally quite wary by the time opening day arrives. Most experts suggest scouting from a distance with binoculars and using locator calls rather than actual turkey calls.

Calling

Proficient calling is more important in turkey hunting than in most other types of hunting, and now is the time for hunters to practice their calling.

With so many affordable and easy-to-use calls available today, an individual can easily find several types to suit one’s calling needs. The important thing is to practice, practice and practice. As a courtesy to others, it is best to practice when others are out of hearing range. At a minimum, develop the confidence to call loudly and softly with at least two different types of calls.

Shot Patterning

Another aspect of preparation, one often overlooked by hunters, is shooting one’s gun and learning which loads perform best.

As a general rule, hunters are advised to try several shot sizes and to shoot at varying distances (20-40 yards) because most turkey shotguns seem to “prefer” one load above the others. Finding the proper load allows the hunter to know the limits of his gun, and it gives confidence in knowing what shot to take and what shot to pass up when a gobbler appears on the scene.

Conditioning

In preparing for the season, a person should consider his or her physical conditioning. A regular routine of walking or whatever will go a long way toward making days afield enjoyable ones.

A level of fitness along with a routine of going to bed early is an excellent way to deal with those early hour wakeups during turkey season.

Vest Packing

Turkey hunters use a fair amount of paraphernalia so stuffing one’s vest is part of preparation.

While specific needs vary, items frequently found in vests are shells, license and tags, pen, knife, insect repellant, map, compass, orange hat, decoy, calls, head net, seat cushion, flashlight, water bottle, gloves, snack and pruning shears. The last item is particularly helpful in assuring the set-up site is quiet and comfortable for those long sits.

Communicating

The most important communication involves talking to the landowner and getting his permission before scouting and actually hunting on private land. Landowners also often have knowledge of turkey roosting, strutting and feeding areas on the property.

When possible, it’s also advisable to communicate with other hunters in the area. Such communication has a high safety value, builds camaraderie and provides information that might lead to a successful hunt.

Regulations

The Spring Wild Turkey Season in New York state runs from May 1 to May 31, and hunting hours are from a half-hour before sunrise until noon. Hunters must possess a valid hunting license and a turkey permit. The season limit is two bearded turkeys, and only one bird may be taken per day.

Hunters who take birds must report the take within seven days. For more details on regulations, see pages 46-49 of the current Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide.

Outdoors Calendar

Today: 1000 Islands Spring Boat Show at Clayton Arena.

Today: Massena R&G Club’s Annual Sportsman’s Expo at Massena Arena.

Monday-Tuesday: Bowhunter Education Course at St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club (393-3775).

Saturday: Sportsman’s Show at Golden Dome in Ogdensburg (393-3620).

April 12-13: Syracuse Gun Show at NYS Fairgrounds.

April 19: SLC Trapper Association’s Annual Dinner (212-0283).

April 26: Seaway Valley QDMA Benoit Brothers Seminar at Gouverneur High School (287-4968).

April 26-27: Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

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Hooks and Antlers: Sportsmen should remain busy in April

First published: March 30, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: March 29, 2014 at 7:33 pm

April is a transitional month for sportsmen and women as winter seasons come to a close and spring seasons are yet to get under way.

Though this month does not feature a menu of on-the-water and in-the-woods activities, there are plenty of things to do, and today’s column presents an overview of some of the possibilities.

Club Membership

Now is the time to join a local club or to renew your memberships. Sporting clubs offer camaraderie through outdoor-related activities, tournaments, fundraising for worthwhile projects, youth activities, habitat projects, seminars and more.

Both new and current club members should consider taking an active role in their clubs as active members give energy to any organization and its undertakings.

Clayton Boat Show

The 1000 Islands-Clayton Spring Boat Show will take place Friday through Sunday at the Cerow Recreation Park Area.

The show provides opportunities to talk to dealers, see the latest trends, get ideas for upgrading the features of a user’s current boat, check out boating related products and other trends.

Friday show hours are 1-7 p.m. while the Saturday session goes from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and the Sunday hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for youths, and free for those 8 and under.

Massena Sportsman’s Expo

Sponsored by the Massena Rod and Gun Club, the Sportsman’s Expo ranks high in popularity among area sportsmen and women.

The Expo offers an abundance of opportunities to check out product and to talk with experts in turkey calling, St. Lawrence River walleyes, trap shooting, deer hunting, Lake Ontario fishing, lure making, DEC activities, fly tying, water trapping, fishing lures, guns and more.

Saturday show hours extend from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. while the Sunday hours go from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Massena Arena. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for 16 and under and free for those under 5. For more information, call 769-3205.

Ogdensburg Sportsman’s Show

Sponsored by the Greater Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce, the Sportsman’s Show will take place at the Golden Dome on April 12 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $12 for families, $3 with military ID and free for those under 10.

Growing in popularity each year, this show has an array of vendors including boats, ATVs, sporting equipment, fishing gear, decoys, game calls, outdoor-related crafts, refreshments, and more. For more information, contact the Chamber at 393-3620.

Sportsmen Recognition Dinner

Sponsored by the St. Lawrence County Trappers Association, the Sportsmen Recognition Dinner is set for April 19 at the Quality of Life Building on the Arnold-Wagner Road, Ogdensburg.

The evening begins at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m. There will be an auction and the awarding of numerous door prizes, and proceeds from the annual event will be used to send youths to Conservation Camp.

Tickets ($12 for adults and $6 for those under 12) are available by calling 212-0238 or 389-5096) by April 9.

Benoit Seminar

The Seaway Valley Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is hosting a Benoit Brothers seminar on April 26 at the Gouverneur High School auditorium at 5 p.m.

Lanny and Shane Benoit began their hunting careers in Vermont, and the two have harvested more than 150 bucks weighing more than 200 pounds on public lands in Canada, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

At the Gouverneur seminar, the brothers will share their hunting secrets for taking big bucks and will answer questions from the audience. Tickets for the seminar cost $10, and the door prizes include two Moultrie deer cameras. For more information, contact Darrell Whitton at 287-4968 or darrelwhitton@yahoo.com.

More April Activities

Among the other activities that merit attention at this time of the year and that don’t actually take place on the water or in the woods are properly storing the ice fishing gear, putting new line on fishing reels, preparing gear for the spring turkey season, getting the boat out of storage, readying equipment for the coming walleye and pike seasons, visiting local shops and stores to purchase “needed” items, and making regular trips to check on water conditions at your spots for spring bullhead, perch and trout fishing.

Outdoors Calendar

Today: Great Outdoor Expo at YMCA Fairgrounds Fitness Center.

Today: Big East Camping and Outdoor Sport Show at Turning Stone in Verona.

Today: Coyote season closes in NYS.

Tuesday: Trout season opens in NYS waters.

Friday-Sunday: 1000 Islands Spring Boat Show at Clayton Arena.

Saturday-Sunday: Massena R&G Club’s Annual Sportsman’s Expo at Massena Arena.

April 7-8: Bowhunter Education Course at St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club (393-3775).

April 12: Sportsman’s Show at Golden Dome in Ogdensburg (393-3620).

April 12-13: Syracuse Gun Show at NYS Fairgrounds.

April 19: SLC Trapper Association’s Annual Dinner (212-0283).

April 26: Seaway Valley QDMA Benoit Brothers Seminar at Gouverneur High School (287-4968).

April 26-27: Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Weekend.

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Benoit Brothers to offer hunting secrets seminar

First published: March 16, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: March 16, 2014 at 12:21 am

The Seaway Valley Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is hosting a Benoit Brothers seminar at 5 p.m. April 26 at the Gouverneur High School auditorium.

Lanny and Shane Benoit began their hunting careers in Vermont, and the two have harvested over 150 bucks, weighing more than 200 pounds on public lands in Canada, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

At the Gouverneur seminar, the brothers will share their hunting secrets for taking big bucks and will answer questions from the audience.

In addition to sharing their expertise via seminars, the Benoit’s have co-written two books and produced five videos.

For more information on the Benoits, visit their web site at www.benoitsbigbucks.com.

Tickets for the seminar cost $10, and the door prizes include two Moultrie deer cameras. For more information, contact Darrell Whitton at 287-4968 or darrelwhitton@yahoo.com.

Seaway Valley Activities

As part of its mission, the Seaway Valley QDMA Branch strives to get youth involved in outdoor activities and to educate the public on the concepts of quality deer management. Hosting deer-hunting seminars is one activity the group undertakes to achieve its goals.

Too, the local QDMA Branch has donated a flat screen television for use in hunter education courses, and the group hosts bow hunter education courses where lunch is provided. Also, prizes are donated for the Trout Lake Family Fishing Derby and the Oxbow Fire Department Fishing Derby. The organization has also donated over $600 to assist an 18-year-old in his expenses for cancer treatment.

DEC Education Courses

DEC has modified its web site in regard to upcoming education courses for hunting, bow-hunting, and trapping. By going to the web site (www.dec.ny.gov) and following the appropriate links, individuals can find details about upcoming classes. Among those details is information on whether or not the class is full. The page also notes how many openings are left in a class if it is not full, and students can actually register online for many of the classes.

Bassmasters Popularity

The Bassmasters television show ranks high among viewers of outdoors programming. For the second time in three years, The Bassmasters won the Outdoor Channel’s Golden Moose Award as the Best Fishing Show in the “Fan Favorites” category.

The Bassmasters covers the Bassmaster Elite Series circuit, so the St. Lawrence River Showdown at Waddington last August played a part in the prestigious award.

Tommy Sanders, emcee of The Bassmasters, accepted the award on behalf of the producer, JM Associates. JM also produced Zona’s Awesome Fishing, a show that was selected as the “Best Fishing Show” by a panel of judges in the Golden Moose Awards program.

This month, The Bassmaster began its 30th year of production, and the show airs on ESPN2 and the Outdoor Channel.

Miss Kansas

I’ve been writing the “Hooks and Antlers” column for over 25 years now, and I don’t recall ever mentioning a Miss America. Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas 2013, deserves recognition though as she is a hunter. She was introduced to hunting by her dad when she was 7 years old, and in an interview for the January issue of “Deer and Deer Hunting” magazine she said, “I enjoy deer hunting and squirrel hunting. It’s just fun. With deer, you have to be quiet and not move. For squirrels, you can walk around, talk, and enjoy the day in a different kind of way. I prefer to bow-hunt with my Hoyt Vixen, but if my dad’s going to an area that’s better for gun-hunting, then I’ll do that.”

Vail finished in the top 10 of the Miss America pageant, and her current reign comes to an end in June. Having been bullied in her youth, Miss Kansas has used her position to visit schools and make presentations on how to recognize bullying and how to deal with it. Even when Vail passes the crown on to the next Miss Kansas, the hunter said she would continue to visit schools and speak out against bullying.

Outdoors Calendar

March 16: Seasons close in Northern Zone for cottontail rabbits and varying hares.

March 28-30: Great Outdoor Expo at YMCA Fairgrounds Fitness Center.

March 30: Coyote season closes in NYS.

April 1: Trout season opens in NYS waters.

April 5-6: Massena R&G Club’s Annual Sportsman’s Expo at Massena Arena.

April 7-8: Bowhunter Education Course at St. Lawrence Valley Sportsmen’s Club (393-3775).

April 12: Sportsman’s Show at Golden Dome in Ogdensburg (393-3620).

April 19: SLC Trapper Association”s Annual Dinner (212-0283).

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Hooks & Antlers column: Perch provide golden days of late ice-fishing season

First published: March 09, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: March 08, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Unlike some hunting seasons when wary game seems to disappear from the woods near season’s end, late-season ice fishing means an increase in yellow perch numbers in ice-covered bays, making this one of the best times of the year to pursue panfish “gold.”

Not only are perch numbers high at late ice, but the fish are also feeding aggressively, and this combination translates to fishing fun for anglers.

In addition to the fun of catching fish is the reward of delicious fillets at day’s end. Late ice means also warmer temperatures, a real plus when bare hands are required for adjusting rigs and unhooking fish.

Locating Perch

In late winter, yellow perch school in large bays and near tributary mouths where they will move to the shallows to spawn shortly after ice-out. Such locations are traditional spots and well-known by local anglers, and these spots are easily identified by concentrations of ice anglers in March.

Since perch are roamers, they are on the move in any given location during the day so anglers should be on the move in search of their quarry.

Locations worth checking out are shallow flats, drop-offs, and deep water adjacent to the flat.

The best flats and edges will have weeds present or changes in bottom composition, and deep flats are significantly better bets than shallow ones.

Yellow perch are a bottom-oriented species, but the most active fish are often a few feet off the bottom.

Strategies

A traditional perch-fishing strategy sees the angler drilling a large number of holes in a given area. As the angler does on any ice fishing outing, he does not drill these holes blindly. He drills with a plan. Then he jigs the first hole for several minutes.

If there is no perch action, he moves to the next hole. After trying all of the holes, he re-works the productive ones. If fishing is too slow, the angler moves to a new area, and begins the process of drilling a new set of holes.

The modern pan-fisherman typically drills a pair of holes, opens up his one-person shelter, and jigs both holes. When the action slows, he picks up shop and repeats the process.

During the outing, the angler returns to those areas and holes that were productive earlier. Sonar units and underwater cameras have become fundamental equipment for serious pan-fishermen. Such anglers develop skills in locating fish, identifying their feeding preferences and getting the fish to bite.

Rigging

The most basic rig consists of a bell sinker on the bottom with a pair of baited hooks above. Such rigs offer the advantages of finding bottom quickly and of offering two different baits. This rig works best when perch are feeding aggressively.

A better bet for non-aggressive fish is to place split shot above the baited hooks, but then it takes a bit more angler effort to position the baits near bottom.

Another popular rigging includes a tiny jig or spoon suspended below a bobber. This technique works well in shallow water, and offers the opportunity to tip the jig or spoon with a live minnow, live grubs, or plastic tail, and bobber movement offers visual contact with feeding fish.

Unless some type of slip bobber is used, the angler must bring the line in hand over hand in deep-water conditions.

The most popular rigging consists of only the artificial lure at line’s end, but that lure must have enough weight to settle the offering near bottom. Smaller jigs and spoons work fine in shallow water, but heavier lures like the Swedish Pimple work best in deeper water.

For the most part, tipped jigs and spoons will out-produce non-tipped ones. A strike indicator at rod’s end is also a good idea for detecting delicate bites.

Safety

Finally, be sure to put safety first as late winter, despite the improved perch fishing, is a time of deteriorating ice, especially near shorelines and around any objects on or just under the ice.

Outdoors Calendar

Tuesday: Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of SLC meet at Canton BOCES at 7 p.m.

Saturday: Parishville Sportsman Club’s 29th annual Rabbit Hunt (265-2922).

Saturday: Northern pike and walleye seasons close until the first Saturday in May.

Saturday: Ice shanties must be removed from New York state waters.

Sunday: Seasons close in Northern Zone for cottontail rabbits and varying hares.

March 28-30: Great Outdoor Expo at YMCA Fairgrounds Fitness Center.

March 30: Coyote season closes in NYS.

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Classic’s best know St. Lawrence

First published: March 02, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: March 01, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Three of the top four finishers at last weekend’s Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville in Birmingham, Ala., fished in the St. Lawrence River Showdown at Waddington this past August. Those anglers are Randy Howell, Edwin Evers, and Ott DeFoe.

Classic Champion

Despite being in 11th place and nine pounds behind the leader going into the final day, Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., emerged as the 2014 Classic Champion thanks to a five-fish limit weighing 29 pounds, 2 ounces. Howell said, “It was the best day I’ve ever had in 21 years of professional bass fishing, a day of a lifetime.” The angler lost track of how many bass he culled, but at one point he was swapping 4- to 5-pounders for even larger bass.

“I caught my first one on my second or third cast,” he said. “I caught one almost every cast or two and had a limit in the first 10 or 15 minutes. It was quick. It would have been quicker if I hadn’t had to retie every time because of the rocks.” Those rocks were a bridge causeway on Spring Creek.

Howell’s three-day catch of 15 bass weighed 67 pounds, 8 ounces and earned the angler $300,000 and the coveted title. Weighing an average of 4.5 pounds, Howell’s bass mirrored Brandon Palaniuk’s winning catch at Waddington as those bass had an average weight of 4.44 pounds.

Howell finished 44th on the St. Lawrence River this summer, but the angler qualified for the Classic by winning the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open.

Last weekend marked Howell’s 12th Classic appearance and his first victory. The Alabama angler became only the second one to win the Classic in his home state. Howell relied on crayfish imitation lures for his winning catch.

Second Place

Paul Mueller of Naugatuck, Conn., finished second at the Classic, just one pound behind the winner, and he earned $45,000 for his 66-8 total of bass.

On Day 2 of the competition, Mueller set a new one-day Classic weight record of 32 pounds, 3 ounces, so his five bass that day weighed an average of 6.4 pounds.

Mueller qualified for the Classic through B.A.S.S. Nation, and the appearance of Northeast anglers in the Classic is an uncommon occurrence, so Mueller’s accomplishments are praiseworthy.

With 15 Classic appearances and the 2003 Classic Championship, Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., is the angler who best represents the Northeast at the national level.

Third-through-Fifth Places

Third-place honors went to Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla. Evers was the second-day leader, and he earned $42,500 for his Classic catch of 65-11. This angler finished 25th at the Waddington Elite Series Tournament.

Ott DeFoe of Knoxville, Tenn., placed fourth with a three-day, 15-fish limit that weighed 63-6 and earned the angler $30,000. DeFoe caught an 8-pound, 4-ounce bass on Day 3 of the competition. The angler’s fourth-place finish matched his fourth-place finish at the Waddington showdown.

The fifth-place prize money of $27,500 went to Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla. Tharp was the Day One leader, and he finished with a 62-12 catch. He did not compete at Waddington.

Biggest Bass

Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., caught a 9-pound, 11-ounce largemouth on Day One of the Classic, and that fish turned out to be the largest of the tournament, earning the angler the Carhartt Big Bass Award of $1,000 plus $1,500 for wearing Carhartt clothing. Roumbanis placed 21st in the Classic and 61st at the St. Lawrence River Showdown.

Top Showdown Anglers

Brandon Palaniuk, Jonathan VanDam, Ott DeFoe, Cliff Pirch, and Aaron Martens were the top five finishers at the 2013 Waddington Showdown. Pirch did not qualify for the 2014 Classic, but the other four anglers had solid performances there. Palaniuk of Idaho placed 14th, VanDam of Michigan finished 16th, DeFoe placed 4th, and Martens finished 13th.

Fan favorite Kevin VanDam of Michigan, who placed 14th at the St. Lawrence River this summer, finished in the 26th spot at the Classic. VanDam has four Classic wins in 24 appearances.

Outdoors Calendar

March 8-9: Racquette Valley F&G Club’s Gun and Knife Show at 233 Cold Brook Drive, South Colton.

March 9: Daylight savings time begins.

March 15: Parishville Sportsman Club’s 29th Annual Rabbit Hunt (265-2922).

March 15: Northern pike and walleye seasons close until the first Saturday in May.

March 15: Ice shanties must be removed from NYS waters.

March 16: Seasons close in Northern Zone for cottontail rabbits and varying hares.

March 28-30: Great Outdoor Expo at YMCA Fairgrounds Fitness Center.

March 30: Coyote season closes in NYS.

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Hooks & Antlers: ‘Whitetails: From Ground to Gun’ an entertaining, enlightening book

First published: February 23, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: February 22, 2014 at 6:52 pm
MIKE SEYMOUR N JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS
Neil Dougherty of North Country Whitetails discusses the quality of natural vegetation on property owned by Jack Zeh in the town of Canton.

When an individual reads a good book, he or she typically recommends the book to others. Well, I recently read “Whitetails: From Ground to Gun” by Neil and Craig Dougherty, and I’m recommending the work to fellow deer hunters.

The Dougherty book is a guide to growing and hunting mature bucks. Although “Whitetails: From Ground to Gun” is designed for property owners, even non-property owners will gain a wealth of whitetail knowledge that should make them more efficient hunters.

The book has 12 chapters, but today’s column gives a glimpse of the book by focusing on Chapter 2: “What Deer Need” and those needs are food, cover, and security. In the words of the authors, a deer needs “habitat, habitat, and habitat.”

Food

Food dominates a whitetail’s life, and unless the creature is running or bedded down, he is eating. The average deer eats 6 pounds of food per day or one ton of food per year, and he eats every 4-6 hours or so.

Deer eat a variety of items, but those foods and browse fall under the 6-foot rule, which says all that a deer eats is at a height of 6 feet or under. One way to the determine food quality of your hunting area is to assess the percentage of property that contains such low growth.

Because of a deer’s need for low-growing foods, the authors say, “A chain saw is a deer’s best friend.”

Using a chain saw to cut mature timber allows sunlight to reach the ground to spur new growth. A chain saw can also release fruit trees and berry patches whose growth has been stunted by standing timber. Removing mature trees results in “naturally occurring food plots.”

To illustrate the importance of low-growth areas versus timber stands, the average woodland in our area typically yields 200-300 pounds of browse per year while a weedy field can yield 2,000 pounds of forage per year. A weedy field offers up to 10 times the volume of food that a woodland of similar size allows.

The importance of native vegetation can’t be overstated. This point is evident when the authors write, “Studies show that even in areas of high agricultural productions, roughly 60 percentage of what a deer eats is comprised of native vegetation.”

Cover

In addition to their need for food, deer need cover. Food and cover are quite synonymous because that 6-foot-and -under growth also provides concealment. The chain saw becomes a deer’s best friend as timber cuts open up ground to sunlight and the resulting growth of berry patches, young sapling, and assorted types of thickets.

Tops left on the ground also provide excellent cover. The current practice of chipping tops during timber operations makes for clean forest land, but a clean woodlot is not deer friendly.

In contrast, “messy” woodland provides deer the cover they need, and such dense cover is critical to conceal fawns from black bears and other predators.

Security

Since whitetail deer are prey creatures, they seek locations that provide security from predation, and at no time is security more important than during the hunting season.

The accepted method of providing security is to establish a sanctuary or sanctuaries on a given property. A sanctuary is a place where people are not allowed.

To illustrate the importance of sanctuaries, consider this Dougherty statement, “We keep almost 80 percent of our 500 acres off limits to humans. Some of our sanctuaries have been entered no more than once or twice in 25 years. Now that’s a real sanctuary. Other off-limits places are entered on occasion, maybe to call a turkey or to do some habitat work, but they are never disturbed anytime near the hunting season.”

Chapter Summary

“Food, cover, and security vary greatly from property to property. Properties that offer all three generally have good deer populations and good hunting.

Properties lacking one or more suffer accordingly. The good news is you can generally affect all three and turn a mediocre property into a pretty good one by providing deer with what they need.”

The Authors

Neil and Craig Dougherty have been managing their 500-acre property in New York state for the past 25 years. The duo is recognized as among the leading deer property managers in the country. For more information or to order a copy of “Whitetails: From Ground to Gun,” visit www.NorthCountryWhitetails.com.

Outdoors Calendar

Friday: Seasons close for gray squirrels, ruffed grouse, and pheasants.

Saturday and March 2: Annual Colby Classic Ice Fishing Derby at Lake Colby in Saranac Lake (518) 891-5989).

March 9: Daylight savings time begins.

March 15: Parishville Sportsman Club’s 29th annual Rabbit Hunt (265-2922).

March 15: Northern pike and walleye seasons close until the first Saturday in May.

March 15: Ice shanties must be removed from NYS waters.

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Hooks and Antlers: Bassmaster Classic starts Friday

First published: February 16, 2014 at 1:03 am
Last modified: February 16, 2014 at 1:03 am

Because of the presence of the Bassmaster Elite Series at Waddington this past summer, the upcoming 2014 Bassmaster Classic will likely attract significant attention from angling fans across the north country. This year’s Classic is set for this Friday through Sunday at Lake Guntersville, Ala., where anglers will compete for a one million dollar purse, including $300,000 for the winner.

Among the 56 anglers from 23 states competing in the 2014 Classic is Brandon Palaniuk of Idaho who qualified via winning the St. Lawrence River Showdown at Waddington. Today’s column takes a look at some of Palaniuk’s competitors in the 44th annual Super Bowl of bass fishing.

Cliff Pace

Cliff Pace of Mississippi was the 2013 Classic Champion, but even though he qualified for this year’s Classic, he won’t be competing because of a late January accident. While bow hunting for deer, Pace fell as he climbed down from his tree stand, and he broke his leg in two places and tore his ACL.

Despite the bad news, there are two positives in Pace’s case. One is that BASS officials deferred the angler’s Classic qualification until the 2015 Classic. Too, Pace and his wife, Brana, had their first child two months ago so the angler will be able to spend more time at home with his new daughter, Jordan Baylee Pace.

CHAMPION ANGLERS

A number of former champion anglers will be competing for the million dollar prize money at Lake Guntersville. Among that number are seven former Classic winners and those individuals are Mark Davis, Mike Iaconelli, Alton Jones, Chris Lane, Takahiro Omori, Skeet Reese, and Kevin VanDam.

Also, eight anglers who have won the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title will be competing. Those individuals are Brent Chapman, Gary Klein, Aaron Martens, Gerald Swindle, Davis, Iaconelli, Reese, and VanDam.

VETERAN ANGLERS

When Gary Klein qualified for the current Classic, it marked his 30th overall and first in three years. Klein’s first appearance was at the age of 21 at the 1979 Classic. Since that time, he has earned two Angler of the Year titles, but a Classic win has eluded him. Kevin VanDam will be appearing in his 24th consecutive Classic, and the popular angler is a four-time Classic champ and seven-time Angler of the Year.

Klein and VanDam are the most experienced participants at the 2014 Classic, but there are 13 other anglers with at least 10 Classic qualifications under their belts. Rick Clunn won’t be competing at Lake Guntersville; however, he holds the all-time Classic record with 32 appearances.

YOUNG AND OLD ANGLERS

At age 58, Mark Dove is the oldest Classic contender. Dove qualified through the B.A.S.S. Nation, and this marks his second consecutive Classic and his third overall. If Dove were to win, he would be the oldest champion in history, surpassing Woo Daves who was 54 when he won the 2000 Classic. Daves’s record would also be broken if Gary Klein or Tommy Biffle were to win this March.

On the younger side, 14 Classic rookies will compete in Alabama. Three of those first-timers qualified through the Bassmaster Elite Series while five qualified through the B.A.S.S. Nation, four qualified through the Bassmaster Opens, and two qualified through the College Series and the Bassmaster Weekend Series.

HOMETOWN FAVORITES

Nine Alabama residents will be the home favorites in the 2014 Classic. Of the nine, Chris Lane has to be the overall favorite as he actually lives on Lake Guntersville. Still, Alabama’s Boyd Duckett in 2007 is the only angler to win the Classic in his home state.

Outdoors Calendar

Feb. 21: Public comment period closes on DEC Black Bear Management Plan.

Feb. 22: St. Lawrence River Walleye Association’s 8th annual Northern Pike Challenge (384-3450).

Feb. 22: Gouverneur Fire Department’s Open-Boundary Ice Fishing Tournament.

Feb. 28: Seasons close for gray squirrels, ruffed grouse, and pheasants.

March 15: Parishville Sportsman Club’s 29th annual Rabbit Hunt (265-2922).

March 15: Walleye season closes until the first Saturday in May.

March 15: Ice shanties must be removed from NYS waters.

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SLRWA preps for eighth annual derby

First published: February 09, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: February 09, 2014 at 12:13 am

Ranked among the most celebrated north country fishing derbies, the St. Lawrence River Walleye Association’s (SLRWA) eighth annual Northern Pike Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22. Among the special features of the 2014 Challenge are its catch-and-release nature and the awarding of five $1,000 cash door prizes.

Participating anglers are restricted to fishing the Waddington waters of Fobare’s Pond from the train trestle to Route 37, Cole’s Creek Marina and Bay, Wilson Hill, and Brandy Brook. Fishing hours for the event run from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Prizes

In addition to the top door prizes the Challenge features $1,000 payout per hour for the three largest northern pike, including $500 for first, $300 for second, and $200 for third. This payout is based on a registration of 1,000 anglers. Also, $100 cash will be awarded for the day’s largest pike and $100 for the biggest walleye. Three River’s Taxidermy in Lisbon is awarding a free mount for the largest pike of the day. The Youth Division (age 15 and under) features 100 percent payback of entry fees, and prizes will be awarded based on the largest yellow perch. Too, prizes will be awarded for the wackiest hat in both the Adult and Youth divisions.

Organizers note that they will be awarding “tons” of door prizes, and all prizes will be awarded at Sandy Beach at 4 p.m.

Registration

Entry fees are $30 for Adult Division when registering by Feb. 15 and $35 after that date. Registration for the Youth Division is $10, although youths may also enter the adult competition for the adult registration fee. Registration sites include Chapman’s Sport Shop (Black Lake), Green Machine Bait and Tackle (Irish Settlement Rd., Waddington), American Legion (East Orvis St., Massena), Northwoods Outfitters (Potsdam), and Uppstrom’s Bait and Tackle (Waddington).

Registration closes at these locations on Feb. 20. Individuals can also register by visiting www.stlawrenceriverwalleyeassociation.com and printing out a mail-in registration form. A last-chance registration will take place at the Louisville Fire Station #2 on the morning of the event. This registration begins at 3 a.m. and closes promptly at 7 a.m.

Prior to fishing, all entrants must sign in on the day of the event at the Louisville Fire Station #2 located on Route 37 (approximately five miles east of Coles Creek and approximately three miles west of Massena) between 3-7 a.m. Each angler will receive a registration number for the door-prize drawings. No exceptions will be made to the sign-in hours.

Catch-and-Release Event

In an effort to protect the St. Lawrence River pike fishery, the Northern Pike Challenge is a catch-and-release event. To facilitate the successful release of fish, anglers must bring their catch to the weigh scales in a container (bucket, fish bag, cooler, etc.) with water so that the head and gills of the fish are submerged in water. Only live fish will be accepted for entry at the on-site, weigh-in stations, and all entries become the property of SLRWA. Anglers are required to enter a fish during the hour that it was caught.

Fun Day

Sponsored by Subway, Budweiser, and Twinleaf Stores, the 2014 Challenge is a true celebration of ice fishing, and proceeds from the event aid the SLRWA in its walleye stocking and conservation programs. Participants are reminded to follow all angling, conservation, ATV, and snow-sled regulations and to behave in a respectful manner regarding the environment and fellow anglers.

For more information, including a complete set of rules, visit the Web site listed above or call Mike at 384-3450.

Outdoors Calendar

Feb. 15: Wheathouse Bay Battle of the Bay Ice Fishing Derby (393-3669).

Feb. 15: Clayton FD and K of C’s 9th Annual Catch and Release Ice Fishing Derby (771-3533).

Feb. 15: Plessis Annual Luck of the Draw Ice Fishing Derby.

Feb. 15: Hunting seasons close for bobcats and fox.

Feb. 21: Public Comment Period closes on DEC Black Bear Management Plan.

Feb. 22: St. Lawrence River Walleye Association’s 8th Annual Northern Pike Challenge (384-3450).

Feb. 22: Gouverneur Fire Department’s Open-Boundary Ice Fishing Tournament.

Feb. 28: Seasons close for gray squirrels, ruffed grouse, and pheasants.

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Hooks and Antlers: Ice fishing derbies abound in February

First published: February 02, 2014 at 12:30 am
Last modified: February 01, 2014 at 7:56 pm

February is the area’s most popular month for ice fishing derbies, and today’s column gives the run down on seven derbies on tap for the next two weekends.

Chippewa Bay Derby

The Chippewa Bay F&G Club’s Annual Open-Boundary Ice Fishing Derby will take place on Saturday with fishing hours from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Anglers can preregister ($10 for adults and $5 for youths) at the clubhouse on Friday from 5 p.m. through the evening at which time Bad Husbands Club will provide music. Anglers can also register at the clubhouse on the morning of the event.

Divisions include Adult Northern Pike, Youth Northern Pike, and Catch-and-Release Pike. For pike to qualify in the various divisions, the fish must measure a minimum of 24 inches.

A unique feature of the Chippewa Derby is that all prizes will be awarded via a lottery system. Top prize in the Adult Pike Division is a $1,000 gift certificate donated by Route 37 Building Supply and Wellesley Island Building Supply.

Youth prizes include $250 donated by Felder’s Roofing, half-day fishing charter donated by Captain Dave Gascon of Fun-2-Fish Charters, and $100 donated by Gerald Umstead. Prizes in the Catch-and-Release Division (pike must be caught in Chippewa Bay) include $900 gas grill donated by Garlock Lumber, a gas auger donated by CPR, and $50 by Craig McLear of Butternut Cottages.

Waddington Derby

The Waddington Sons of the American Legion are hosting the 13th annual Ice Fishing Derby at Coles Creek on Saturday.

Fishing boundaries extend from Iroquois Dam to Coles Creek, and anglers can pre-register ($25 for adults and free for youths under 16) at the American Legion Post on Fenton Street, Green Machine Bait and Tackle, Upstrom’s Bait and Tackle on Rookey Road, or at the weigh-in station at Coles Creek Marina.

Among the $2,000 in cash and prizes to be awarded are $500 for the largest northern pike, $200 for second biggest pike, $100 for third largest pike, $50 for the heaviest walleye, $50 for the biggest perch, and $50 for the best decorated ice shack. For more information, call 250-5252.

Millens Bay Derby

The Chaumont Knights of Columbus is hosting its First Annual Ice Fishing Tournament on Saturday at Millens Bay Inn and Millens Bay Marina. The event has open boundaries, and fishing hours run from dawn to 4 p.m. Adult registration is $10 while youths can fish for free. Top prizes for the heaviest pike or walleye in the adult division are $250 cash, $150 cash, and $100 in merchandise.

Top prizes for the heaviest perch in the youth division are $100 cash, $75 cash, and $50 in merchandise. Door prizes will also be awarded at Millens Bay Inn at 4 p.m. For more information, call 783-2244.

Sackets Harbor Derby

The Sackets Harbor Sons of the American Legion are sponsoring their fifth annual Northern Pike Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday with fishing hours beginning at dawn. The event has both adult and youth divisions with prizes being awarded for the three largest fish in each division.

Anglers can register ($10) and get more information at the Sackets Harbor American Legion, Sackets Harbor Country Mart, or Chaumont Hardware.

Clayton Derby

The Clayton Fire Department and Knights of Columbus 350 are teaming up for the ninth annual Catch-and-Release Clayton Fishing Derby on Feb. 15.

The event has open boundaries, and fishing hours run from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Anglers can register ($10 for adults and $5 for under 12)) at the Knights of Columbus on Feb. 14 from 4 p.m. until closing and at the Clayton Fire Department on Saturday from 5-10 a.m. The Fire Department will also serve as the awards site at 5 p.m.

In the Pike Division, luck-of-the-draw prizes will be awarded for fish measuring 26 inches and longer.

Prizes will be also awarded in the Youth Perch Division. Among the prizes is a drawing for an ice auger donated by Don’s Prop Shop. For more information, call 771-3533 or 767-4497.

Wheathouse Bay Derby

Howie’s and FISHCAP are teaming up for the Battle at the Bay Derby in Ogdensburg’s Wheathouse Bay on Feb. 15 with fishing hours extending from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Proceeds from the event will benefit Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures and Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad.

The adult registration fee is $25 before Feb. 9 and $30 after that date. Youth registration for those 15 and under is $10. First, second, and third prizes will be awarded hourly, and the amount of those cash prizes will be based on number of entrants.

In addition, $500 will be awarded for the biggest walleye and $500 for the largest pike. Major sponsors include Cappione Inc. and Blevins Brothers RV Center. Prizes will be awarded at 5 p.m. at Howie’s. For more information, call 393-3669.

Plessis Derby

The Plessis Annual Fishing Derby will also take place on Feb. 15, and this derby is a ”Luck of the Draw” event with open boundaries.

Registration fee is $10 for adults and $5 for youths. Pike in the adult division ($500 first-place prize) must measure a minimum of 24 inches while pike in the youth division ($350 prize) must measure a minimum of 22 inches. The Plessis Fire Hall will serve as derby headquarters.

Outdoors Calendar

Saturday: Annual Chippewa Bay Ice Fishing Derby.

Saturday: Waddington Sons of American Legion’s 13th Annual Ice Fishing Derby (250-5252).

Saturday: Chaumont K of C’s First Annual Ice Fishing Derby (783-2244).

Saturday: Sackets Harbor Sons of American Legion Derby.

Feb. 15: Wheathouse Bay Battle of the Bay Ice Fishing Derby (393-3669).

Feb. 15: Clayton FD and K of C’s 9th Annual Catch and Release Ice Fishing Derby (771-3533).

Feb. 15: Plessis Annual Luck of the Draw Ice Fishing Derby.

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