Photo submitted Members of the Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation pose for a group photo during the chapter's fifth annual turkey contest. Held at the home of Mike and Michele Auriemma on April 26 Ð the first day of the Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend Ð the event drew 45 young guns, along with callers and family members.
Photo submitted Pictured here with caller Tim Longo, James Rumbaugh, holds up the tail of the 22. 3 pound gobbler he shot during the fifth annual Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation turkey contest. The tom had a 5-3/4 inch beard (broken off from frost damage) and 1-1/8 inch spurs.
Dick Nelson/For The Recorder Capt. Chuck Graham of Angler Charters with a near record striped bass he caught from the Hudson River estuary several years ago. A fish of similar size was caught last week and the migration run has yet to reach its peak.
By DICK NELSON
New York's spring turkey hunting season opened on Thursday, but it was the young guns that had first crack at the big chested birds. I don't know how many wild turkeys junior hunters killed statewide during the April 26-27 Youth Turkey Hunting Weekend and since the DEC's calculating wheels are usually set in low gear, we probably won't know until the agency announces the start of the 2015 season.
Last year we didn't get the results of the 2012 spring hunting season until April 24, 2013, which should tell you something about how slow those wheels turn. But I can tell you this, if the number of successful youngsters who participated in the Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation Turkey Hunting Contest is any indication on how many birds were plucked out of the woods, there may not have been enough birds on hand when the big boys took afield.
Not that it mattered. While I'm sure there were plenty of camouflaged hunters staked out long before the sun come up on the opener, you can be sure more of them were hiding in a hedge row or sitting with their back up against a tree this morning. And, even if they filled one of their two turkey tags today, it's a pretty good bet they'll be out again Sunday morning to fill the other.
Turkey hunters can kill two birds during the spring campaign, but unlike the fall only the Toms (males) are legal and they can't be taken on the same day.
While on the subject of the fall hunt, one of my most reliable sources in Albany told me there is a better than good chance fall turkey hunters will be limited to one bird. The reason he said is because the population has steadily gone down over the past five years and since fall turkey hunters can take a bird of either sex, limiting the kill to one bird will increase the number of hens available for breeding in 2015.
That makes sense to me. Giving up one hen will definitely increase nesting and I'd rather give up a hen in the fall then see the population decline any more than it has.
On average a hen will lay a dozen eggs, and since most hunters see more hens than Toms or jakes it's safe to assume most hatches lean heavily on the female side.
According to a study conducted by DEC wildlife biologists about 60-70 percent of hens nest successfully under good conditions and only about 40 percent of a clutch survive in poor conditions -- that being cold temperatures and abnormally wet weather. Those same poor conditions can have a high mortality rate (about 50 percent) on poults.
The study concluded that in years with violent storms the poult mortality can reach 70 percent, especially among birds around 10-20 weeks of age. That's the age when young birds are too large for the hen to effectively brood them.
In any event, Mike Auriemma reports 45 young guns took part in the Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter Fifth Annual Kids Spring Turkey Hunting contest with James Rumbaugh, toppling the largest bird -- a 22-pound 3-ounce tom wearing a 5-3/4-inch beard and sporting 1-1/8-inch spurs. The bird was called in by Timmy Longo.
Andrew Weldon, 15, was second with a 21.3-pound tom sporting 9-inch whiskers and 1-1/8-inch spurs. Jarrod Villa and Andy DelliVeneri were the callers. Ralph Fiorillo III was third with a 21.2-ounce Tom with a 6-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs (caller Ralph Fiorillo II); Conner Hogan, was fourth with 20.14 pounds, 8-1/2 inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs (caller Todd Hogan) Emmalee Baker, 14, was fifth with 19.13 pounds, 8 3/4-inch beard 3/4-inch spurs (caller Marc Baker); Scott Moore, 15, was sixth with 17.4 pounds, 9-3/4-inch beard, 7/8-inch spurs (caller Rick Delos); Baighly Sanders, was seventh with a 13.4-pound jake with a 3-1/2-inch beard (caller Charles Perrino) and Liam Viscosi, 13, was eighth with 12.7-pound jake with a 3-1/4-inch beard (caller Don Rheinhart).
According to Dick Andrews, participants came from across Montgomery County, including the Fort Plain and Canajoharie areas and from Little Falls and Schenectady. There were lots of stories about close encounters with turkeys and several with missed shots. He also said, each of the winners received a cash prize and every youth who attended the barbecue and awards ceremony received at least three door prizes.
Winners were determined by the NWTF scoring measurement system which includes weight, beard length and size of spurs.
All the Toms, hens and jakes at the Mohawk Valley Sharp Spurs Chapter want to give a huge gobble of thanks to everyone that helped make the fifth annual a success including: Daves Bait & Tackle, Franks Gun Shop, Pet Zone, Cappies Drive Inn, Louie's Food-N-Fuel, George Albert of All Seasons Charters, Deadly Dose Game calls (Jerry Lanmen by Brandon Oathout), Dick Andrews, Sue Knapik, Steve Masters, Tim Brisley, Patricia Countryman, Garrett Deacon, Don Rheinhart, Jeff Trojan, TJ Sala, Joe Pasquirello with a special thank you to Mike and Michele Auriemma who hosted the event and all the parents and callers that encourage their children to respect and participate in this sport.
Migrating striped bass providing
The walleye, pike and pickerel season opened today but if you want to get in on some reel action, you should include at least one trip to the Hudson River estuary for striped bass. You have until March 2015 to hook into a walleye or pike, but striped bass are a seasonal species and are only in the Hudson River estuary for a short period of time with the next three weeks being prime.
These fish are showing up in greater numbers right now, with fish running between 25 and 30 pounds, and just this past week, one shore angler landed a 50 pound linesider on chunk bait while fishing somewhere between Albany and Coxsackie.
As with most fishermen, he would say exactly where.
In addition, Capt. Chuck Graham of Angler Charters (518-965-3718) told me he's been hitting them pretty good with most within the 28-30 pound range.
A schooling species, striped bass move about in small groups during the first two years of life and feeding and migrating in large schools. Seven or eight narrow stripes extending lengthwise from back of the head to the base of the tail form the most easily recognized characteristic of this species, hence the old Indian and colonial moniker of "linesider".
Depending on water temperature, striped bass enter rivers and brackish areas of estuaries to spawn. Along the Hudson River that can happen anytime between late April and early June, and usually occurs between Poughkeepsie and Catskill, with the greatest activity occurring when the water warms to about 65 degrees.
The number of eggs produced by female striped bass is directly related to the size of its body. For instance, a 12 pound female may produce about 850,000 eggs, while a 45 pound female can produce more than 4 million eggs. The eggs drift in currents until they hatch after being fertilized. Usually from 1 1/2 to 3 days.
These fish can live up to 40 years and can reach weights greater than 100 pounds, although individuals larger than 50 pounds are rare. Females reach significantly greater sizes than males, with most bass over 30 pounds being female.
From a recreational viewpoint, anything in the 25 to 30-pound range is considered an extremely good fish, with bass weighing 40 pounds or more considered a trophy.
The New York State inland striped bass record is 55 pounds, 6 ounces. It was taken on May 9, 2007 while trolling a minnow-like plug near the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge.
That's a huge fish by any standard, but it dwarfs the record 46-pound, 2-ounce Northern pike pulled out of Sacandaga Lake in 1940. What's even more remarkable, that record Northern, has stood the test of time for 74 years, whereas the Inland striped bass record has been broken three times over the past 10 years.
During a decent day of fishing an angler can catch 15 to 25 fish. However, the daily limit along the Hudson from the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Federal Dam in Troy remains at one fish 18 inches or longer, and they can be caught with live bloodworms, live or cut herring or eels. They can also be caught trolling artificial lures such as Rapala's, Yo-Zuris, Striper Swipers, Bombers and bucktails, and you don't need a boat to catch them. Shore fishermen on both sides of the river are doing almost as well as boaters, the difference being boaters can cover more water.
Little buggers are ticking me off
Old Man Winter didn't do much in the way of killing off ticks -- those small arachnids that suck the blood out of you without your knowledge, often causing damage to joints, heart and nervous system are back and they are as active as ever.
You would think a winter as severe as this last one would have killed most of them off, but it seems all the snow we had served as a blanket protecting the little buggers from becoming extinct.
An article published in the Poughkeepsie Journal in February was the focus of a 2012 study co-authored by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Disease Ecologist Rick Ostfeld who had examined the probability of tick mortality in winter conditions in Millbrook and Syracuse.
Located in Millbrook, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem is a private, not-for-profit environmental research and education organization.
Quoting Ostfeld, the article reported: "The study found that exposure to subzero temperatures increased mortality slightly. However, the increased death rate only occurred at super-cold temperatures and it wasn't a clear die-off, just an increased probability of dying. Indeed, more than 80 percent of the ticks survived at both sites, regardless of the winter conditions."
That alone should be enough for concern, and unless a turkey hunter, or anyone else that spends any amount of time in the out-of-doors wants to end up with Lyme disease, the best thing they can do is spray their clothing with insect repellent -- preferably one that contains permethrin -- keeping in mind not to spray the chemical directly on your skin.
You can however use a repellent that contains Deet on your skin, and studies have shown that as long as concentrations are 30 percent or less the chemical is safe for children and women who are pregnant. It is however recommended to keep it away from your eyes, regardless of the concentration.
DEC bans the hunting or trapping of wild boars
Maybe I'm being a bit contemptuous, but when the DEC recently announced the ban on the hunting or trapping of free-ranging Eurasian boars, there was nary a mention it was part of Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state.
The DEC formally adopted the regulation to ensure maximum effectiveness of the agency's statewide eradication efforts.
"Enacting a statewide regulation was important to support DEC's ongoing work to remove this invasive species from the state and to ensure that it does not become established in the wild anywhere in New York," said Commissioner Martens. "Eurasian boars are a great threat to natural resources, agricultural interests, and private property and public safety wherever they occur and DEC will continue to work to protect these resources and remove wild boars from the state."
In 2013, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation which immediately prohibited the importation, breeding or introduction to the wild of any Eurasian boars. In addition to prohibiting the take of free-ranging swine by hunters, the new regulation prohibits anyone from disturbing traps set for wild boars or otherwise interfering with Eurasian boar eradication activities. Hunting wild boar is still allowed at enclosed hunting preserves until September 1, 2015.
Anyone who observes a Eurasian boar (dead or alive) in the wild in New York should report it as soon as possible to the nearest DEC regional wildlife office or to: email@example.com and include "Eurasian boar" in the subject line.
Because it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a domestic pig, pot belly pig or Eurasian boar based solely on a description, reporting of all free-roaming swine is encouraged. Please report the number of animals seen, whether any of them were piglets, the date, and the exact location (county, town, distance and direction from an intersection, nearest landmark, etc.). Photographs of the animals are especially helpful, so please try to get a picture and include it with your report.
Full text of the regulation can be viewed at: on DEC's Weekly Environmental Notice Bulletin for April 23, 2014, available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/95072.html.
Aside from merit badges, Boy Scouts of America Councils that take up the challenge to develop or expand their activities in target shooting and marksmanship can receive a portion of $50,000 in grant funds provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Now in its fourth year, NSSF is making challenge grants available to qualifying BSA Councils. Target-shooting programs, which rank among Scouting's most popular activities, teach marksmanship skills, firearm and range safety and teamwork. BSA Councils applying for a grant must specifically use the funds for shooting sports programs and provide matching funds at least equal to the grant request. NSSF will provide funding to the first 25 qualifying applicants up to a maximum of $2,000 in matching support.
Councils must use awarded funds toward the purchase of equipment and supplies for their shooting sports activities from a NSSF member retailer, a list of which is available at nssf.org/retailers/find. Examples of qualifying purchases are ammunition, eye and ear protection, firearms, targets and shooting vests.
Applicants may view NSSF BSA Council Challenge Grant guidelines and application procedures at nssf.org/bsagrant. For more information contact Melissa Schilling at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NSSF is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry.
Dropping anchor 'til next time.
To contact Dick Nelson email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.