By RON KOLODZIEJ
For the Recorder
This could be merely a form of appeasement after the foolish and unnecessary introduction of the SAFE Act, but because it relates to seasons and license costs I'll pass it along to you for your review.
It seems that Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced the "NY Open For Fishing and Hunting" plan to streamline hunting and fishing licenses and reduce license fees to support tourism opportunities. It's designed to reduce fees for anglers, hunters and trappers while maintaining support for the state's fish and wildlife programs. It would also reduce the number of licenses offered and lower many fees for both residents and non-residents, as well as making permanent the free marine fishing licenses registration that was due to expire at the end of this year.
In effect, it would reduce by 11 the number of licenses available while still maintaining all current hunting and fishing privileges and opportunities. It would reduce the price of a hunting license from $29 to $22; a fishing license from $29 to $25; make fishing licenses valid for one tear from the date of purchase; combine small game and big game licenses into one license; have all hunting licenses run from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 of the following year; fold trapping privileges into the hunting license for no additional fee for certified trappers; maintain Junior Trapper and Trapper Mentor opportunities; reduce fees for non-resident hunting and fishing licenses to attract more out-of-state participants; reduce the annual muzzleloader licenses from $21 to $11; and retain discounted licenses for youth, seniors, military disabled and Native Americans. Generally, there are a lot of attractive ideas in there and I applaud the Governor for his foresight -- this time.
In reality however, there will be little decrease if any for persons who normally buy Sportsman or Super Sportsman licenses. They'll be discontinued and the reduced fees for those license equivalents and extra privileges will be $47 and $88 respectively. Where's the decrease? I wonder, what will happen to my Lifetime License?
Fees for licenses for out-of-state residents would be reduced thusly: Annual fishing licenses from $70 to $50; annual hunting license from $140 to $100; annual bowhunting licenses from $140 to $40; annual muzzleloader license from $140 to $30; one-day turkey hunting stamp from $50 to $20; and one-day fishing license from $15 to $10.
There are some other refinements as well but perhaps we can discuss them in a future column.
On a somewhat sarcastic note I see this as a potential financial boon as well. Many -- most -- hunters come to New York State from other states that have a much more reasonable view of firearms and may not be aware of all the stumbling blocks the SAFE Act is attempting to foist on sportsmen and sportswomen. Does this "NY Open For Fishing and Hunting" plan contain a blanket exemption for all those out-of-staters or will they be arrested, charged and fined if any of them have one extra shell in their firearm's magazine or perhaps even show up here with the wrong type of weapon? After all, don't they have to abide by the same rules our governor feels we should?
FISH HOUSE F&G CLUB CONTEST
The annual ice fishing contest sponsored and conducted by the Fish House Fish & Game Club was held on Great Sacandaga Lake on Saturday, Feb. 9. The event attracted 198 entrants and the following anglers won prizes in the event:
Walleye: 1. "Goose" Hupkes, 4 pounds 9 1/2 ounces; 2. Sean Montgomery, 3 pounds; and 3. Nate Bunker, 2 pounds 4 ounces.
Northern Pike : 1. Chris Sartin, 16 pounds 3 ounces; 2. Matt Manzer, 12 pounds; 3. William Edwards, 8 pounds.
Perch: 1. Jim McNamara, 2 pounds 4 ounces; 2. Shaun Hime, 1 pound 13 1/2 ounces; and 3. Jim McNamara, 1 pound 8 ounces.
Jim Ferguson of the Fish House F&G Club officiated at the event. Everyone enjoyed hot coffee and venison chili throughout the contest.
The fifth annual Fuel 'N Food Weekend-Long Ice Fishing Contest on GSL began Friday at 4 p.m. and runs until 4 p.m. Sunday. All fish will be measured at Wally"s Driftwood Park Marina and prizes will be distributed at Fuel & Food after 4 p.m. on Sunday. Drawings for a power auger and other prizes will take place after that.
The 7th Annual Ross' Bait Shop contest also began at 4 p.m. Friday, but ends today, at 4 p.m. There will be a 100 percent return in prize money and the number of prizes and the dollar amount of each will depend upon the number of persons participating in the contest. Wally's Driftwood Park Marina will also serve as the headquarters for this event.
I'll have the results of both these contests for you in next Saturday's column.
That will do it for this winter's round of ice fishing contests, which is just as well because we're running out of time. In just a few weeks the statewide walleye, northern pike, pickerel and tiger muskie seasons close on March 15 and, as a reminder, all shanties must be off the ice by that day as well. After a few sportsmen's dinners, annual meetings and other events we'll be on track for our next big event which will be the opening day of the statewide trout season on April 1.
COYOTE HUNT A SUCCESS
The big sixth annual Coyote Contest sponsored by the Sportsmen's Clubs of Sullivan County, held Feb. 8, 9 and 10 was a resounding success with 715 hunters participating and they brought in a total of 48 coyotes. The largest was a 55 1/2-pounder taken in Schoharie County. Of the 48 coyotes bagged, 25 were taken using dogs, eight were taken using electronic calls, seven over bait, three using mouth calls and three using other calls.. Sullivan County gave up 14 coyotes, Delaware County eight, Ulster County five, Schoharie County five, Columbia County two, Madison County two, Broome County two, and Orange and Greene Counties one each. The average weight of the coyotes taken was 37.28 pounds.
Today also marks the day you can attend the annual Venison Dinner sponsored by the Wildlife Sports and Educational Museum. That event is being held at the Moose Club in Johnstown and begins at 5 p.m. It will feature a delicious wild game dinner, a rack scoring contest with prizes, door prize drawings, auctions and a presentation by Carl Rust on his moose hunt last year.
On Saturday, March 9 you can attend the 18th annual Sportsman's Dinner at the Wells Central School. This event is cosponsored by the Adirondack Bible Church, North Country Bible Fellowship, Speculator/Lake Pleasant Methodist Churches and the Wells Wesleyan Church. Registration starts at 1 p.m. that day and seminars will begin at 2 p.m. Seminar topics will include fly fishing, big woods whitetail hunting, archery, small game hunting, wilderness survival, family emergency preparedness and much more. The main speaker will be Steve Rockey, giving a presentation on Hunting Big Whitetails. A wild game dinner will be served beginning at 4:30 p.m., following the seminars. There is no charge for this event though donations will be accepted and are encouraged, to help cover incidental costs. There will also be a number of door prizes including a rifle, sporting prints and more. You must be at least 10 years of age to attend this afternoon activity. For more information you an call Tim Abbott at 518-924-2781.
An Anti-SAFE Act Rally was held in Albany on Thursday, Feb. 28, but I'll have to leave coverage of that gathering for next week's column. Suffice it to say that the number attending that gathering will likely be downplayed by the broadcast media but I'll give you my observations as I saw them.
LATE BREAKING NEWS
Here's a surprising but welcome piece of good news. BASS Pro Shops has announced it will be opening a new 65,000-square foot store in Utica -- the second in New York State, joining the other store in Auburn. Scheduled to open late this year, the new store will be located in the Riverside Center, near the intersections of I-90 and Route 5. By comparison, the firm's Auburn store boasts 85,000 square feet and it's about a 2 1/2-hour drive from here.
As in all other BASS Pro stores, this new emporium will offer a full range of outdoor sports products from backpacking and hiking gear to hunting, camping, clothing, fishing equipment and more.
The nearby Gander Mountain Store in New Hartford is a tad smaller at about 50,000 square feet, but offers pretty much the same types of products. Gander Mountain has about 116 stores in 23 states, including, I believe, eight in New York State.
Each year, Bass Pro stores have over 120 million visitors in their 77 stores and marine centers across the US and Canada. According to surveys, the average customer stays 2 1/2 hours in the stores they visit and drives an average distance of 50 miles to get there.
The presence of a new Bass Pro Store just 60 miles away is not likely to adversely impact our dwindling number of local and area sporting goods establishments. It's still easier to drive 10 or 20 miles than 60 miles unless you plan on spending the better part of a morning or afternoon there. Still, it is another attractive diversion and opportunity for sportsmen and sportswomen.