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Hamilton County Outdoors -- 03/19/2014 SAFE Act repeal trumps crossbows By Dick Nelson

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - Updated: 11:21 AM

I received an email the other day from a reader who wanted to know how I compared the NY SAFE Act with the New York Bowhunters opposition to the crossbow, and of the two which I think is more extreme.

The question is a no-brainier, since the SAFE Act infringes on our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, while NYB opposition to the crossbow is more a social issue that deprives hunters of a perfectly legal implement.

But as I wrote back to the reader and will say now, as small as this band of not-so-merry-men are (less than 3,000 members) the NYB have been a lot more vocal in their effort to keep the crossbow out of the hands of hunters than the vast majority of legislators were when Gov. Cuomo steamrolled the controversial SAFE Act through the state Legislature.

However there is a common denominator between the two, inasmuch as the same people who rally for repeal of the SAFE Act stand together in support of legalizing the crossbow -- and that includes every conservation organization and sportsmen's group in the state.

The DEC is among those that would like to see the crossbow legalized for hunting and, during his State of the State message in January, Gov. Cuomo basically said the same thing, going as far as including language in his budget proposal that would legalize the crossbow as a hunting implement and turn regulatory authority for its use over to the DEC.

The question now is who will prevail? The New York Bowhunters and their in-our-quiver Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, who has vowed to never let any pro-crossbow bill reach the floor for a vote; or the governor, who could leave Sweeney out a limb should the Long Island assemblyman seek something that would benefit his constituents?

My guess is the governor, even though the Assembly pulled it from its budget on March 13. According to one insider, that didn't come as a surprise, but he was quick to point out that the Senate and the governor reportedly won't yield and there is going to be a lot of negotiating going on over the next two weeks on many issues, so the crossbow is still in the picture, adding that at the end of the day what Andrew wants he usually gets and he wants to be viewed as pro-sportsman to mitigate some of the SAFE Act damage.

But nothing is a given, which is why New York Crossbow Coalition President Rick McDermott is urging everyone who would like to see crossbows become a legal hunting implement to call, write and email lawmakers, including Sweeney, and urge them to support granting regulatory authority for crossbow to the DEC.


April 1 is the date Shooter's Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) President Steve Aldstadt chose for the next SAFE Act protest rally, and the event is beginning to gain momentum.

To date more than two-dozen sportsmen's clubs and/or county federations have arranged for bus transportation, some hiring more than one. It will be held at Albany's Capitol Park West Mall (back side of the Capitol Building) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Emceed by radio talk show host Melody Burns with music by Madison Rising --said to be America's most patriotic rock band -- guest speakers include in no particular order gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino, former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, "Black Man with a Gun" author Ken Blanchard, Pastor Adam Jensen, Ray Bevis of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League and of course Aldstadt.

For more information on the rally contact SCOPE at 716-941-3286.


The DEC recently released a list of 50 proposed new outdoor access point projects that will open 380,000 acres of untapped state-owned lands, allowing for more than $6 million in proposed projects that include additional hunting access, boat launches, fishing platforms and hiking trails, improved access to existing recreational trails, additional parking areas, trail maps, signage and kiosks. Many of the projects will make trails and boat launches available to people with disabilities for the first time. 

There are four areas in Region 5 including two in Hamilton County -- $50,000 to open Public Recreation Use Area to provide access to Barker Pond via O'Neil road and hunting/camping on an adjacent Forest Preserve parcel in Indian Lake and $125,000 for public fishing and boating access for new accessible parking areas at various locations, with some access trails to fishing Brook Bog, Fishing Brook, Branch River, County Line Flow, Palmer Pond, English Brook, Archer Vly and Cedar River in the Blue Ridge, Township 20, Township 33, Somerville Road and Lake Desolation Tract conservation easements.

To view the entire statewide list of projects and the funding for them visit:


The DEC recently announced that youngsters ages 11-13 will be able to enjoy an additional week of summer camp at Camp Pack Forest in Warrensburg. Held the week of Aug. 17-23, it's all part of the new Outdoor Skills Adventure Week that will focus on outdoor recreation and developing life-long skills such as fishing, hunting and trapping techniques; wildlife observation; camping skills and more, all taught by highly trained camp staff, DEC environmental conservation officers, DEC forest rangers, fishing instructors, sportsman educators and fish and wildlife biologists.

Areas of instruction and demonstration will include a fishing seminar, turkey calling, a muzzleloading demonstration, field archery, wildlife identification, fly casting, casting competition, a hunting dog demonstration, electronic wildlife tracking, a field dressing demonstration, night-time animal tracking, fur handling and preparation, orienteering, Global Positioning System cache searching, demonstration and safe use of fire arms and environmental conservation officer and forest ranger career explorations.

Parents may register campers through DEC's online registration system and pay by credit card, e-check or with a sponsor code. Fees for the 2014 camp season remain $350 per one-week session per camper. Summer camp and a link to the online registration system are posted on DEC's website Families without Internet access can call (518) 402-8014 for information on how to register for camp alternatively.

For more information visit "NYS DEC Summer Camps" on Facebook or write to DEC Camps, 4th Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany NY 12233-4500.


Turkey hunters, even the most successful, are always looking for information on how to knock a big gobbler sideways. In that regard, the folks at Montana Decoy have a free booklet that details what kind of turkey decoys to use, how to set them up, and calling tips and input from Steve Hickoff, author of "Turkey Calls and Calling: Guide to Improving Your Turkey - Talking Skills," and Jerry McPherson and other professional turkey hunters.

Called Turkey Decoy Setup Guide, the pamphlet features five proven turkey decoy setups that correlate with specific times of the season. Developed to help hunters build a solid decoy strategy all season long, the guide provides the when, where, why and how to decoy turkeys throughout five distinct phases of the season. Copies of the guide can be downloaded at


March 29 -- The second annual Women's Concealed Carry Fashion Show will be held at Birch Hill, One Celebration Way in Schodack. Sponsored by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the fashion show will demonstrate the various types of holsters available specifically for women and how to wear them and draw from them. Guest speakers include two-time contestant on the TV series "Top Shot" and Olympian Gabby Franco and Carrie Lightfoot, founder of The Well Armed Woman. Doors open with a cash bar at 3 p.m. The program starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 in advance and can be purchased on line at Registration includes dinner, door prizes and the show. For more information call Trish Cutler at (518) 755-1819 or by email at Those interested in participating can visit

March 31 -- The Adirondack Chapter of Trout Unlimited is hosting a "Fishmas Eve" party at the Parting Glass, 40 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, from 7-10 p.m. Held in celebration of cold-water fisheries, the evening will include appetizers, demonstrations, door prizes, raffles and tales of trout. Donation is $10 or $5 and three "killer" flies or lures that will be used for door prizes.

April 1 -- NY SAFE Act Rally, Albany's Capitol Park West, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sponsored by the Shooter's Committee on Political Education. For more information call Aldstadt at (716) 941-3286.

April 1 -- Statewide opening of trout fishing season.

April 19 -- Shot Heard Around New York. Similar to the first, this symbolic protest against the SAFE Act urges every gun owner with access to a safe environment to fire one or more rounds of ammunition at exactly high noon.


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