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Swan Lake taxidermist Paulo Neves took down this massive 604-pound black bear Nov. 11. Shot during the early bow hunting season, the bruin was killed in the Bethel area of Sullivan County.


Hamilton County Outdoors 12/11/2013 By Dick Nelson

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - Updated: 2:18 PM

Deerless hunters who had no luck this year will have to spend the winter grubbing venison from some of their more successful friends, hoping those pals are generous enough to give them a cut of meat other than the shank. You can include yours truly on that moocher list. In any event, should you happen to nail one during the late bowhunting or muzzleloading season, which runs through Dec. 15 in the Northern Zone and Dec.17 in the Southern Tier, be sure to have it scored by a New York State Big Buck Club official scorer.

That goes for black bear as well. As of Nov. 25, hunters had taken six bears out of Fulton County: three with the bow and three with the gun. No bears were harvested in Montgomery County, but so far the statewide kill is 822, with 257 hauled out of the Northern Zone. One of those statewide bears was a 604-pound bruiser taken Nov. 11 in the Bethel area of Sullivan County by Paulo Neves of Swan Lake.

Even if the bear or buck isn't large enough to surpass the state record, it could score high enough to earn you a spot in the Big Buck Record Book ( Updated every two years, the book publishes the scores of deer and bear taken by gun, bow and muzzleloader. There is even a section that categorizes the county of kill, and another devoted to sheds. There is also information on the club itself, along with scoring instructions and a county-by-county list of official scorers.

According to DEC spokesperson Lori Severino, between Nov. 16 and Dec. 3 there were 58,643 deer harvest reports statewide, compared to 61,169 reports through that same time frame last year.

While on the subject of deer, Lou Stutzke of Fuel n’ Food in Mayfield reports that Ron Springstead of Northville took over the lead in the “Longest Brow Tines” category with a 10-point buck that was every bit as good as any deer he has seen; not so much for the 6-1/2 inch size of the tines as it was for the thickness of them. Stutzke also reminds hunters entered in the pool that the annual game dinner will be held at Mayfield Grill, 8 School Street, Mayfield Dec. 21, beginning at 1 p.m. As usual there will be a large variety of game meat, including Australian ostrich. The game dinner includes a four-hour open bar.

The buck pool at Tumans Tavern in Amsterdam got its first entry last week, a five-point buck taken by Mike Auriemma of Amsterdam. According to Frank Szyjkwsi, the 100-pound deer was shot in the Town of Hope. Szyjkwsi didn’t say exactly where in Hope, but I wouldn’t be surprise if it were near Hard Scrabble Road. I had a one-room hunting camp on that road about 20 years ago and shot two deer while sitting on the porch; talk about easy hunting.


Since I haven’t been having much luck deer hunting, I had planned on switching hats and concentrating my efforts on trout fishing. Steelhead trout that is, and where better to catch these hard-fighting fish than along the Salmon River? But it looks as though I or anyone else who may have been thinking about heading to Pulaski this week will have to work as hard for steelhead as they have for deer. According to Randy Ryan at Whitaker’s Sport Shop in Pulaski -- (315) 298-6162 -- water discharge at the Brookfield Renewable Power's Lighthouse Hill Dam in Altmar had the river running at 750 cubic feet per second Thursday and most of the anglers who fished the upper end of the river reported having a slow day.

The lower end was a bit better with anglers doing the best-covered lots of water while fishing with egg sacs or beads. Those fly fishing got into fish on black stoneflies and pale colored egg patterns. Anglers who were bottom bouncing or float fishing reported success on blue egg sacs and pale colored beads. Just a reminder -- the Upper Fly Zone is now closed and will reopen in April.

Karen Ashley at Woody’s Tackle shop, “Bubbles” as she is affectingly called, echoed Ryan’s remarks, adding that the fish are scattered throughout the river and while anglers are reporting a number of hits they haven’t been able to keep them on the hook.


Conditions along the smaller tributaries such as Trout Brook and Orwell Creek are pretty much the same as the Salmon River, but they too will improve as water levels rise.

Considered to be one of the top producers of wild steelhead on Lake Ontario, the state owns a half-mile of public fishing rights along the last leg of Trout Brook, from the access site at the Centerville Road Bridge to its mouth. Parking is available along the shoulder; just be careful getting to the water, as you have to navigate down a small but steep hill.

To reach Orwell Brook from Altmar, head north on County Route 52 for about two miles to Tubbs Road. The brook is just beyond the intersection. And, since I’m steering you in that direction, here is a list of other popular Salmon River fishing holes and access sites, beginning with the Douglaston Run, a private, pay-to-play area limited to 350 anglers.

The run stretches 2.5 miles from the estuary to the Village of Pulaski. Permits are $50 daily or $300 for a seasonal steelhead pass. Seasonal permits can be purchased by credit card by calling (315) 298-6672. Daily passes are sold at the parking area on County Route 5 (Lake Street) on the river’s north bank.

Pools include Lower Clay Hole, Meadow Run, Clay Hole, Joss’s Hole, the Little Black Hole and others. For details and fishing conditions call (315) 298-3531.


Other popular locations include the following.

Black Hole: Located on the west end of Pulaski, this is the biggest, deepest hole on the river. The south bank is part of the Douglaston Salmon Run. The north bank is public. Park on Riverview Drive or Bridge Street.

Long Bridge or Staircase Pool is located upriver, near the center of Pulaski. Access is available via a small parking area on Forest Drive, at the end of James Street. The “staircase” downstream of the bridge offers an exciting series of pools and drops.

Short Bridge or Town Pool is just below the U.S. Route 11 Bridge in Pulaski. You can park in the Dunbar Field on Lewis Street.

Dunbar Field or Ball Field Pool is a nice section of riffs, pools and undercut banks in the channel between the mainland and an island. Here too you can park in the Dunbar Field lot on Lewis Street or along the bank.

Haldane Community Center: Access to a series of riffs and small pools is available on the north bank. Park in the Haldane Center lot on Maple Avenue Extension.

Interstate 81 Pool: Anglers can access the north bank from the Community Center Complex; and the south bank by parking behind Fat Nancy’s Tackle Shop on Route 13 and walk several hundred yards down an ATV trail to the bridge.

The Railroad Bridge, Paper Mill Pool is east of Pulaski on County Route 2A. Park roadside near the railroad crossing and follow the railroad path to the trestle. The Paper Mill Pool is upriver and the Railroad Pool is downstream.

The Compactor Pool: Access to this pool is just below the County Route 2A Bridge, from the paved, public fishing access site near the solid waste transfer station. This site has a paved launch ramp for drift boats and kayaks.

Sportsman’s Pool is a half-mile upriver from the above site. This hole is straddled by fishing access sites; the southern site is off Route 13, the other is off Centerville Road.

Pineville Pool is in the hamlet of Pineville at the County Route 48 Bridge. Parking is available in the paved public parking area on the north bank off Sheepskin Rd. This spot also has a paved ramp for drift boats and kayaks.

Trestle Pool is downriver from the mouth of Orwell Creek. You can access this pool on the south side from the parking area on Route 13 and from the north by taking Sheepskin Road out of Pineville for about a half-mile and turning south on the hard surface access road.

Ellis Cove is downriver from Altmar on County Route 52. A paved public parking area provides streamside access to a stretch of the river that offers deep runs, an undercut bank and a couple holes. Looking upriver from the parking area you’ll see two sets of cables crossing the Wire Hole.

Schoolhouse Pool is downriver of the Village of Altmar. Access is available from the northwestern corner of the County Route 52 Bridge. A second fishing access site, across the road on the other end of the bridge, has a paved ramp and parking and is reserved for vehicles with drift boat trailers.


Of course the fly guys and gals have their own spots including the river’s lower fly-fishing section from the County Route 52 Bridge in the Village of Altmar to a marked boundary at Beaverdam Brook, about a quarter of a mile. This section remains open through May 15, 2014. Anglers having the most success are covering lots of water while fishing egg pattern flies, black stone flies, or float fishing with egg sacs (blue or hot pink mesh) and trout beads.

The upper fly-fishing section begins just above the Salmon River Fish Hatchery and continues to a marked boundary roughly 0.6 mile upstream. It has two fishing access sites with parking for about 12 cars each. They’re on County Route 22, roughly 0.7 and one mile, respectively, from the fish hatchery. Unfortunately, this section closed last Tuesday. The Pineville Bridge has been removed and there is a detour in that area. It reopens April 1.

Steelhead hit on all types of things such as flies, trout beads, egg sacs, artificial lures, rubber worms, real worms, single artificial eggs, etc. so it's best to have an arsenal of baits to choose from and to be diverse. If you're strictly fly only, you can increase your catch rate by adding some Smelly Jelly -- a gel-based fish attractant that stays on baits and lures.

And while speaking of baits and lures, the most popular natural bait used when fishing for steelhead in the tributaries is trout or salmon eggs. They should be tied up in sacks about the size of a dime. Other suggested patterns include: Estaz eggs in chartreuse, pink, blue, purple or orange in size 10 and Glo bugs in chartreuse, pink, blue, cheese, clown or orange, again in size 10.


New York State Conservation Council President Chuck Parker replaced long-time sportsmen’s advocate Howard Cushing with Ray Merlotto of Patterson (Putman County) as the council’s representative to the NYS Conservation Fund Advisory Board. “In making the announcement, Parker said, “Howard’s long service as representative to CFAB for the NYSCC is valued and greatly appreciated,” adding that the change was brought about as an opportunity to present a fresh face and perspective of the NYSCC to the Conservation Fund Advisory Board.

But should the truth be known, Cushing has been a thorn in the DEC’s side since he has been on the board, and he has gotten under the skin of several board members, most particularly Region 5 rep and chairman Jason Kemper and NYS Fish and Wildlife Management Board rep Bill Connors.

Cushing was never the easiest guy to get along with. Even as NYSCC president his leadership behavior was often criticized. But his dedication to sportsmen’s issues has always been his top priority, and I don’t know too many people as committed to making sure sportsmen were getting a fair shake than him.

While some, including DEC Fish and Wildlife personnel, are glad to see him go, sportsmen have lost a combative advocate.

As for Merlotto, Parker said he is a long-time NYSCC member with a current seat on its board of directors and, like Connors, serves on the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board. He is an advocate for Hudson River Access, and is active in Putman County sportsmen clubs as well as the Putman County Sportsmen’s Federation.


• County sportsmen federations around the state should follow the Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Ulster County’s lead and start peppering pro-gun owners lawns with Repeal the SAFE Act signs. Along with the federation’s logo the signs have the words “Defend Your Rights” and the website. The signs are two colors printed on both sides with a wire stand. The club is selling them to affiliated clubs and members for $5 each, with profits going toward funding the cost of repealing the SAFE Act. To find out where the FSCUC purchased the signs and at what cost contact FSCUC president Joe Liuni at (845) 853-3142.

• If you’re a woman with a passion for hunting the Conlin Company is looking for you. The Los Angeles based company ( specializes in casting and development for reality television and is currently in the development stages for programming around the diversity of women, including hunting. In its press release the company says it is looking for dynamic, passionate and skilled women hunters. If you think you fill the bill contact Tim Ferretti at or by phone at (310) 313-9100. You can also view CastingFlyer_WomenHunters_Forest.pdf.

• For those of you who enjoy the solitude and peacefulness that accompanies snowshoeing and cross-country skiing the DEC recently announced the four trails leading from the Adirondack Interpretive Center, 5922 State Route 28N, Newcomb, ( is open every day from dawn to dusk. Comprising nearly four miles of the 236-acre property, these trails go through diverse habitats, including lakeshore, river, mixed forest and wetland ecosystems. A winter trail map can be viewed and downloaded from the AIC website at

Dropping anchor ‘til next time…

To contact Dick Nelson with an event or club news or to send a photograph email: or Events should include the what, where, when and cost (if any). Photographs should include name of subject(s), town of residency and a brief description of the photo.


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