Plenty to find on the outdoors calendar

Here are a few more important items to add to your already sizable calendar of coming events. On Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12 and 13, an Arms Fair and Gun Show will be held at the Saratoga Springs City Center. This event is being sponsored by the New East Coast Arms Collectors Association and the regular admission fees are $8 for adults, $7 for Senior Citizens and free for youngsters under 14 years of age when accompanied by an adult who has paid the regular admission fee. Show hours on Saturday are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The annual ice fishing derby sponsored and conducted by the Reid Hill Fish and Game Club will be held on Saturday, February 16, at Wally's Driftwood Park Marina on Great Sacandaga Lake. Contest fishing hours will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the entry fee will be $15 for early registrations, or $20 the day of the event. Three prizes each will be awarded in the walleye, northern pike, yellow perch and trout divisions, with the dollar amount of each prize dependent upon the number of paid entrants in the event. There will be an 80/20 percent split in the prize money, with 80 percent of the income divided up among the winners and 20 percent reserved for use in defraying the expenses of the annual Kid's Fishing Derby.

Incidentally, that annual Kid's Fishing Derby sponsored by the Reid Hill Fish and Game Club in cooperation with the Perthshire, has been scheduled for Sunday, May 19, at the Perthshire Pond. Last year -- and every year -- this event attracts some 200 youngsters - and it's all free. This annual Kid's Fishing Derby is provided as a public service for area youngsters by the Reid Hill Fish & Game Club, in cooperation with the Perthshire, and is funded totally by donations, raffles and various other fund-raising events conducted by the club throughout the year. There's never a charge to the youngsters, or to the adults who accompany them.

I'll have additional details on the above events in future columns.

The very next item on our docket is the Fuel N' Food Banquet and Big Buck awards presentation which is being held this afternoon at the Mayfield Grill. The festivities begin with libations at around noon and the food will make an appearance at 2 p.m. The prizes in the event will be distributed at 4 p.m. Prizes will be presented for the following categories: Early bow, early muzzleloader, longest spikehorn, buck with the most points, widest spread, longest brow tine, heaviest doe, heaviest buck, lightest buck and heaviest bear.

On Saturday, Jan. 5, you can attend the awards ceremony for the Second Annual Fulton Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Big Buck Contest. That presentation and banquet will be held beginning at 1 p.m. at Tuman's Tavern on Forest Avenue in Amsterdam. It too will consist of a variety of wild game dishes prepared and supervised by Tom Georgia. Frank Szyjkowski, proprietor of Tuman's Tavern, says he expects a good crows at the event.

Then, on Jan. 12, beginning at 9:45 a.m., the Ray Mills Youth Center at the Sacandaga Bible Conference on Lakeview Road in Broadalbin will be the scene of the fourth annual Sacandaga Sportsmen's Show. This is a full-day event which will feature seminars and workshops for hunters, anglers and bowhunters as well as displays, vendors, a silent auction and dozens of door prizes, including several firearms. In addition there will be a sportsmen's buffet featuring dishes made with wild boar, bison, venison and locally raised elk. The special guest speaker at this event will be Paige Patterson, an acclaimed big game hunter whose trophies include a giraffe, zebra, lion, leopard and buffalo.

The admission fee for this event is $20 and tickets can be purchased at the camp office at 191 Lakeview Road or by calling 518-883-3713. You can also email your request to sbc@nycap.rr.com. For more information you can also go to www.sacandagabibleconference.com.

That about covers everything happening in the next month or so. Later in January there'll be the big Walleye Challenge contest as well as the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation contest, both being held on Saturday, Jan. 26, but I'll cover those and other upcoming events in more detail in a future column.

BUCK TAKERS

We have a few more buck takers to add to our list: Skip Walsh -- 111-pound spikehorn; Mark Lavigna -- 135-pound 7-pointer; and Ryan Ruback -- 170-pound 9-pointer.

In next week's column I should have the names of the winners in at least one of our local contests.

CROSSBOW BILL

Last week, word was released that the Governor has vetoed Assembly Bill 10583A. This bill would have continued crossbow use restricted to gun seasons but prevented the DEC from scheduling a youth gun hunt during the archery season. It was a compromise bill created late during the legislative session -- with some major flaws.

This upcoming legislative session may present an opportunity for permanent measures to be taken to see that the crossbow is classified as a legal hunting implement and to have the DEC determine where it should be used, which could include the archery season. Time will tell. Have an opinion either way? If you do, contact your legislators.

CABELA'S

Cabela's Inc.. a sporting goods firm I'm certain you're familiar with, recently announced plans to open a store in Louisville, Ky. next spring. That store is expected to employ some 200 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees when it opens. This 88,000-foot facility is the firm's first store in Kentucky and it will join the firm's 40 other retail stores currently open around the country, not to mention that they plan to open an additional dozen by the end of 2014, as well as nine more in 2013.

But what about New York State? Apparently, our economy is good enough that we don't need any more jobs, or is it that New York State might be unfriendly to such a large sporting goods retailer? Of course, we have several Gander Mountain stores statewide, as well as one mid-sized Bass Pro Shop, but a mega-sporting goods store would also be welcome, at least from my perspective. I've visited the Cabela's store in Connecticut and it's a joy to browse through.

Several years ago, there were rumors that the firm hoped to build a new store near the Albany Airport, but after extensive negotiations the deal fell through. Other sites the firm looked at included Coxsackie, East Greenbush, Schodack and Queensbury, among others. There's no question that the firm would like to build a store in New York State, but where? The Albany location was near ideal because it was close to the area's population centers, was easy to get to, and would have been a convenient stop for travelers heading up the Northway into the Adirondacks.

I'm not privy to what happened but the deal never went through as planned and I guess the idea was dropped, at least for now.

We're fortunate in having a relative abundance of local sporting goods stores available to us in this area but a mega-store would be welcome as well, and would not likely have any negative impact on those local stores. People, especially sportsmen, do like and prefer the personalized approach these local emporiums offer but being able to go to a large store with a multitude of comparable items would also be nice. Maybe someday Cabela's will return to NYS and begin its search again, or perhaps Bass Pro Shops will consider an area location for another store, but that's unlikely at this point. Incidentally, Bass Pro will be opening their first Alaskan store in Anchorage in the spring of 2013.

Who knows? Perhaps someday we'll have one of Cabela's 60-plus stores in the state or perhaps a Bass Pro store in the Albany area.

UTICA FERAL HOGS

There's no further news on the feral hog killed by Utica police officers last month except that a second, larger one has also been sighted and is apparently roaming in or around the city. I understand the nearest breeding population of feral hogs in just west of there, near the Onondaga County border, but no one knows if these are from that area or were merely released or escaped from a local farm.

In any event, I've seen photos of the larger, more recent hog sighted and it's mean looking, has impressive cutters (tusks) and would probably weigh at least 250 pounds. I hope Utica residents are keeping an eye on their pets. Any cat or dog that comes within reach of a critter like that is fair game and will likely suffer mightily from the encounter - from injury or perhaps disease. As I mentioned in an earlier column, to date, the presence of feral hogs has been documented in at least 39 counties, with breeding populations existing in six of those counties. The nearest breeding population close to Utica is located on the border of Onondaga and Cortland Counties. Not all that far away and only about 70 miles from this area as well.

DOOM AND GLOOM

There were all sorts of doom and gloom warnings circulating for yesterday, Dec, 21, but we're all here reading this column so I guess nothing untoward happened. Let's be thankful for that.

My very best wishes to all of you for a very joyous and Merry Christmas. I hope Santa is exceptionally good to you.