By RON KOLODZIEJ
For the Recorder
Sorry for not getting this to you sooner but I just learned of it. Assemblyman Marc Butler and NYS Rifle and Pistol Association President and NRA Board Member Tom King will host informational sessions in Fulton and Herkimer Counties on Governor Cuomo's new gun control law. The Fulton County session will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Pine Tree Rifle Club in Gloversville and the Herkimer County event will be held on Wednesday, February 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Salisbury Ridgerunners Club in Salisbury.
These meetings are designed to inform the public about the new law in an effort to prevent accidental non-compliance. Additionally, Assemblyman Butler will seek input and support for repeal of the law since he says it will infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding New Yorkers and threatens the economic stability of the Mohawk Valley.
You can bet that the President is carefully watching what happens here in New York State, because an unfavorable response, from his perspective, will rindicate the possibility of similar problems with his parallel legislation as well. As a matter of fact, I have the gnawing suspicion that was one of the primary reasons our Governor hastily ramrodded his legislation through a day earlier than the President. In advertising parlance it's called "running it up the flagpole to see who salutes."
So far, no one seems to be saluting except the Governor and his sycophants. I can think of several glaring problems with the gun bill, but I'll leave them for a future column.
Remember that in addition to Monday's gathering at the Pine Tree Rifle Club there will also be a pro-gun rally at the Well of the Legislative Office Building in Albany at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28. Both sessions are free and open to the public.
A RECORD SAFE SEASON
The 2012 New York hunting season had the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents on record according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. As the tradition of hunting continues, with numerous and expanding opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen to go afield, hunting in New York continues to be safely enjoyed.
DEC Environmental Conservation Officers conduct professional investigations into each hunting-related shooting incident. The 2012 season included 24 such incidents with just over half being self-inflicted. Most unfortunate were two fatalities that occurred during the deer season in which the individuals were shot by members of their own hunting group. Incidents involving two or more individuals stress the importance of one of hunting's basic tenets: Identifying your target and what lies beyond. On the plus side, there were no hunting-related shooting incidents reported during the first youth hunt for deer that took place tlast Columbus Day weekend.
Our cadre of trained instructors certified by DEC can take much of the credit for that hunter safety record. They teach safe, responsible and ethical outdoors practices and the important role of hunters and trappers in conservation. New York has an extremely safety-conscious generation of hunters, thanks largely to more than 60 years of dedicated efforts of more than 2,500 volunteer Sportsman Education Instructors. All first-time hunters and bowhunters must successfully complete a hunter safety course and pass the final exam before being eligible to purchase a hunting license. All courses are offered free of charge.
Though the number of hunters is declining in the state, the hunting incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) is falling much faster. Since the 1960s, the number of hunters has declined about 20 percent, while the incident rate has plunged more than 70 percent. The past five-year average is 5.3 incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the 1960s.
While hunting is safer than ever, accidents do happen and it is important to remember that every hunting related shooting incident is preventable. Many, if not all of these incidents could have been prevented, if only the shooter and/or victim had followed the primary rules of hunter safety. That's the type of accident prevention taught very effectively in Hunter Education Courses.
HUNTER SAFETY COURSES
While we're on that subject, the Galway Fish & Game Club has two hunter education courses scheduled so if you'll be needing one for the upcoming 2013 seasons, now is the time to enroll in one or both.
The Hunter Education Course is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Thursday, April 11 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; and Saturday, April 13 from 8 a.m. to noon.
The Bowhunter Education Course is scheduled for Saturday, April 20 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In order to qualify for the completion certificate, enrollees must attend all sections of their respective classes. Pre-registration is required for these courses but you can do that easily by calling Charles Saul at 887-5729.
If you'll need one of these courses, enroll now since there may be a limited number of courses available later, as the seasons approach.
We're finally beginning to wind down our list of coming events that are of interest to local and area sportsmen. Just a few more weeks left and then we'll revert to more topical news items again. Incidentally, do you realize the ice fishing season ends March 15, just one month from today?
Today, the Reid Hill Fish & Game Club's Third Annual Ice Fishing Contest is being held on Great Sacandaga Lake. This event is headquartered at Wally's Driftwood Park Marina and the and there will be an 80 percent payback in prize money, with 20 percent of the entry pool going toward the club's expenses involved in conducting the popular annual Kid's Fishing Derby at the Perthshire every May.
The ice fishing contest hours will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and prizes will be awarded for the largest trout, northern pike, walleye and perch. The number of prizes and the dollar value of each one will depend upon the number of persons registered. I'll have the results of this event for you in next week's column.
Today and Sunday, you can also attend the two-day 8th Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show at the Johnstown Moose Club on Route 30A. Admission fees are $5 for adults and $1 for youngsters 15 and under. Show hours today are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Fifth Annual Fuel 'N Food Weekend-Long Ice Fishing Contest, one of the premiere ice fishing events on Great Sacandaga opens at 4 pm on Friday, March 1, and runs until 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 3. The entry fee is $20 per angler and includes a pig roast. All fish will be measured at Wally's Driftwood Park Marina and prizes will be distributed at Fuel & Food after 4 pm on Sunday. Drawings for other prizes and a power auger will take place after that.
There will be six prizes awarded for the longest fish in each of four divisions: walleyes -- $600, $400, $200, $100, $50 and $25; northern pike -- $500, $300, $200, $100, $50 and $25; trout -- $300, $200, $100, $75, $50, and $25; and perch -- $150, $125, $100, $75, $50 and $25. A special prize of $100 will also be awarded for the longest mud puppy entered as well as $50 for the longest non-game fish entered.
Ross' Bait Shop will also be holding their sixth annual ice fishing contest on Saturday, March 2 but I haven't received any information on that event yet. However, I understand the rules and regs will be much the same as last year. Judging will be by length and the entry fee is $20 per person, if pre-registered, or $22 the day of the contest up to 9 a.m. Prizes will be given in the walleye, northern pike, trout and perch divisions and there will be a 100 percent return in prize money. The number of prizes and the dollar amount of each will depend upon the number of persons participating in the contest. Entry forms and additional information can be obtained at Ross' Bait Shop in Hagaman, Fuel-N-Food in Mayfield and Frank's Gun Shop in Broadalbin.
There are still a number of other shows and dinners remaining between now and mid-March but I'll cover those in more detail in a future column.
Incidentally, I made a small error in last week's column regarding the annual banquet of the Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter of the NWTF. The date and details were correct but I said it would be held on Thursday, March 16. In reality, that should be Saturday, March 16.
NATIONAL HUNTING AND FISHING DAY
Saturday, Sept. 28 we'll celebrate NHF Day, though I can't imagine how much of a celebration it will be when one considers all that's going on. In any event, it will be a special day set aside to recognize the contributions made by sportsmen and sportswomen to conservation and the environment. This year's Honorary Chairman of NHF Day will be legendary angler and TV host Bill Dance. He joins other luminaries such as Tony Stewart, Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Tracy Byrd, Jeff Foxworthy, Jay Novacek, Robert Urich, Wade Boggs, Ward Burton, Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, the Olympic Shooting Team, and many others, all who have served as Honorary Chairmen in the past.
I'll have more on NHF Day in a few months.