Photo submitted Standing near the certified scale at Ryan Mitchel's Bait and Tackle Shop in Rochester, James VanArsdall of West Henrietta holds the new state record Sheepshead he caught on a crankbait while fishing Irondequoit Bay (Lake Ontario) on June 14. The fish measured 33.5 inches and weighed 26 pounds, nine ounces, breaking the previous state record by more than two pounds.
By DICK NELSON
Ever since the passage of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE Act), Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been bending over backwards trying to gain favor with gunowners and other sportsmen. And while he has taken credit for much more than he deserves -- the most recent being the new state record freshwater drum or sheepshead as it is more commonly referred - he has signed off on a number of pro-sportsmen issues.
Caught by James VanArsdall from Lake Ontario's Irondequoit Bay (Monroe County) on June 14, the sheepshead measured 33.5 inches and weighed 26 pounds 9 ounces, breaking the previous state record by more than 2 pounds. And, as always Cuomo was credited for VanArsdall's success.
"This latest state record is another great example of how New York continues to provide excellent fishing opportunities and they continue to grow under Gov. Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens in a prepared statement. As if the West Henrietta angler wouldn't have caught the fish if Cuomo wasn't governor. As actor/comedian Billy Crystal use to say when mimicking actor Fernando Lamas, "Marvelous, absolutely marvelous."
So what you ask has Cuomo done to help sportsmen. For one thing he has increased hunting and fishing access at various locations across the state, reduced license fees, streamlined hunting and fishing licensing and, through a backdoor approached that no doubt raised the blood pressure of more than one anti-crossbow zealot, gave the DEC authority to regulate hunting with crossbows. He also created additional recreational opportunities in the Essex Chain Lakes Complex, by constructing 13 new primitive tent sites along the shores of lakes and ponds in the area. The sites are available at no charge through a permit system administered by DEC and the Adirondack Ecological Center.
Now that doesn't mean sportsmen have given him a vote of confidence. On the contrary. One only needs to look at the thousands of signs propped up on people's lawns calling for the repeal of the SAFE Act, some of which include the words "Cuomo Gotta Go."
Then there are the billboards much like the one the Pine Tree Rifle Club of Johnstown has on state Highway 30 in Perth. While the message is aimed at getting gunowners and others to register and vote in the November election, the 12 x 24 foot sign includes a circle with the words NY SAFE ACT and the symbolic slash across the middle of it.
In addition, hundreds of meetings have been held across the state addressing the issue, such as the one scheduled at the
Town of Webb Park Avenue Office Building 183 Park Avenue, Old Forge on August 5th, at 7 p.m.
Formerly known as the CCD center, the meeting is open to the public and admission is free. For more information call Patrick Morse at 315-317-4380 or visit: www.ncf2a.com.
I bring this to your attention because Cuomo recently took a rafting trip along the Hudson River Gorge and as his custom to promote himself during and after an event, it was followed with an announcement of providing funds for multiple projects that will expand and improve outdoor recreational opportunities in the Adirondack Park - including $750,000 to upgrade the Abanakee Dam on the Indian River and $250,000 for the development of new equestrian facilities and trails in Essex and Hamilton Counties.
The announcement was praised by local officials and environmental group leaders such as North Hudson Supervisor Ron Moore; Town of Minerva Supervisor Steve McNally; Town of Long Lake Supervisor Clark Seaman; Town of Newcomb Deputy Supervisor Wes Miga; Neil Woodworth, Executive Director of the Adirondack Mountain Club and John F. Sheehan, Director of Communications for the Adirondack Council.
But not everyone was pleased with the announcement, one of which was long-time sportsmen's advocate and activist Don Sage of Paradox Lake.
"This is just more propaganda to buy local officials. Sportsmen are still being denied access to and use of the Essex Chain of Lakes and surrounding areas. All roads over 30 miles will still be closed; access to the lakes/ponds for fishermen and their boats will not be available; hunters won't have access to this back country nor will access be available for our disabled veterans, handicapped, elderly and others less than physically fit," said Sage, who for many years served as Region 5 delegate on the Conservation Fund Advisory Board.
"These lands and waters will still be closed to all the people and remain the private playground of the eco-terrorists and anti-sportsmen, anti Second Amendment crowd," he continued; ending his comments with "Cuomo's Gotta Go."
DEP Newsletter contains acres of information
It may be a bit removed for some, but most hunters, fishermen and adventure seekers don't mind traveling to take advantage of something new. In that regard, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced the release of its annual Watershed Recreation Newsletter -- a guide for people who enjoy outdoor activities on City-owned land across the upstate watersheds. The 2014 edition includes information about a new canoe/kayak rental program, new hiking trails opened in partnership with nonprofit organizations, and information about licensed guides now permitted to provide hiking, fishing, hunting and other professional tours on City-owned properties in the Catskills.
Currently there are 118,000 acres of City-owned land open for recreation in the watersheds, including 84,100 acres of land, and reservoirs that comprise 33,900 acres. Of that, 60,000 acres of land are in public access areas that are open to recreation without a DEP permit. To read the new publication visit: www.nyc.gov/html/dep/pdf/recreation/2014_summer_newsletter.pdf.
In a related matter, The DEC announced on Tuesday the opening of the OK Slip Falls trail. Located in the Hudson Gorge Wilderness area, the three-mile hike leads to an overlook that provides a scenic view of the complete falls, considered one of the highest falls in the Adirondacks.
The falls are located on the 2,780-acre OK Slip Falls Tract which the state purchased from The Nature Conservancy in 2013.
Trailhead parking is located on the south side of Route 28, about 7.5 miles east of the Village of Indian Lake.
raffle off guided elk hunt
Big game hunters who would like to apply for one of the 108 Pennsylvania elk hunting licenses have only until July 31 to do so. Online applications can be submitted at www.pgc.state.pa.us. The non-refundable application fee is $10.70. Non-residents lucky enough to be drawn would then have to purchase a $250 elk license as well as a $101.70 general hunting license.
Another alternative would be to purchase a raffle ticket in the Keystone State's first-ever Elk Conservation Raffle for a Bull Elk. Scheduled from Sept. 1 - Nov. 8, the winner will also receive a 6-day fully guided hunt with Elk County Outfitters that includes meals and lodging.
Held in conjunction with the annual Elk Expo on August 16-17 at the Elk Country Visitor Center, the drawing will be held on August 17th at 1 p.m.
Raffle tickets are $25 each or six for $100 and may be purchased on line with credit card by midnight August 15, at www.experienceelkcountry.com/elktag. The winner will still have to purchase a non-resident general hunting license. The winner is also subject to a background check prior to being awarded the license by the PGC. Pennsylvania elk population is estimated to be 1,100 animals. For more information call 814-787-5170 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local hunter to be featured on Sportsmen's Channel
Be sure to tune in to the Sportsmen's Channel on Wednesday, July 30, at 10 p.m. Seen on Big Deer TV, the Buck Men of the Adirondacks segment will feature John Havlick of Frank's Gun and Tackle Shop in Mayfield, as producer Mike Hanback and a dozen or so production staffers set out to film an authentic Adirondack hunt at Havlick's Speculator hunting camp.
The filming took place last November and, as it often happens in the big woods; neither Havlick nor his hunting buddies tagged a deer. But the show should be interesting and according to Havlick, George Clooney doesn't have anything to be nervous about.
He is however thinking about having some promotional headshots made up just in case he gets a call from some Hollywood bigwig and if you stop by the 3549 State Highway 30 store in Gloversville he just may autograph a copy for you.
During our conversation, he told me that a lot of the anglers coming into his place have been reporting excellent catches of walleye, trout and smallmouth bass, so you may want to pick up some bait as well.
On the move
New York is the only state gun manufacturers are abandoning. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., recently announced it will move its manufacturing capabilities from its existing location in Accokeek, Maryland to a new production facility in Gallatin, Tennessee.
The decision follows the so-called "Free State" passage of the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 - a law modeled after the NY SAFE Act.
"While we had originally planned to use the Tennessee facility for new equipment and for production of new product lines only, we have decided that it is more prudent from the point of view of our future welfare to move our the Maryland production lines in their entirety to the new Tennessee facility," stated Jeff Cooper, General Manager for Beretta U.S.A. Corp. Adding, "production of the U.S. Armed Forces M9 9mm pistol will continue at the Accokeek facility until all current orders from the U.S. Armed Forces have been filled."
The Tennessee facility will involve $45 million investment in building and equipment and will employ around 300 people during the next five years. The company's administrative and executive support functions will remain in Accokeek.