There was a time when the only people that came in contact with Eastern coyotes were hunters and trappers. The thought that one of these varmints would come close to a home and snatch a pooch from the backyard was practically non-existent.
That’s no longer the case. One needn't live or play in the deep woods to hear the spine-tingling howls or the barking sounds these canines make as they prey and scavenge for food. Howls and barking can be heard in practically every corner of the state, and while much of the predation takes place during the darkness of night, there have been numerous reports of these critters -- which have become more brazen over the years -- running off with the family dog or cat during the day.
For the most part though, coyotes are nocturnal and are most active in early evening and just before dawn. They are especially vocal in late winter, during their breeding season, which occurs in February and March. Their howls and short, high-pitched yelps can sometimes be heard as far as three miles away.
A kissing cousin to wolves, coyotes are much lighter and smaller. They generally run four to five feet long (including tail), stand 15-20 inches high at the shoulder and weigh between 35 and 45 pounds. While their preferred food is rabbits and mice, coyotes have been known to eat just about anything they can find and/or kill, including deer.
It’s interesting it took the DEC almost 20 years to acknowledge that coyotes are indeed killing deer, although to this day they question the impact these animals have on the overall population. But back in the mid- to late-1980s, when deer hunters and trappers were complaining about coyotes to the DEC, the agency wasn't paying much attention.
The Adirondacks were hardest hit. So much so, hunters -- particularly deer hunters -- began going elsewhere, and areas such as Indian Lake, Long Lake, Tupper Lake and other Northern Zone villages that depended on hunters for much of their seasonal income saw a big drop-off in business.
THE AVERY PRESERVE
Nowhere in the Adirondacks was the coyote’s presence more noticeable than at the late Bob Avery’s deer preserve in Arietta, a 500-acre fenced in area in which he fed a captive herd of deer. While the preserve has ceased operation, it was a place the one-time New York state black bear record holder spent a great deal of his time.
In 1961 Avery, a professional guide at the time, killed a 650-pound black bear near Piseco Lake, establishing a new state record. But the deer raised on his farm were for his own enjoyment. Hunting with gun or bow was never permitted, although many of the photographs that graced the covers of outdoor magazines were taken at Avery’s farm, and he had some extremely big-racked bucks on the property.
In fact many of the magnificent bucks featured in award-winning photographer Charlie Alzheimer’s books were taken at Avery’s farm. But one year, sometime in the early 1990s, coyotes killed more than 60 percent of Avery’s herd, which at one time numbered 120.
I mention this because many hunters would like to see the coyote season open year-round, although I'm not sure how much of an impact it would have on the population. Even coyote contests haven't put much of a dent in the population.
The largest of these events is the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, and while 755 hunters participated in 2013 only 55 coyotes were registered. That should tell you how difficult these animals are to hunt.
At any rate, the three-day event, which will be Feb. 7-9, has a daily prize of $200 for the heaviest coyote and a grand prize of $2,000 for the overall heaviest. A digital hanging scale will be used to weigh the entries, and prize money will be split in the event of a tie.
Last year’s overall heaviest was 55.5 pounds. It was taken in Schoharie County. In addition $100 is awarded for every coyote registered. There are also two $100 “extra prizes” –- one for the heaviest coyote of the three-day hunt brought in by a youngster age 12–15; the other for the heaviest coyote taken by a woman.
The entry fee for this hunting only contest is $30 per hunter ($35 after Jan. 30) and you can hunt anywhere in the state. The entry fee includes a roast beef dinner Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at the WSS Firehouse, Rt. 52, White Sulphur Springs; and a $5 ticket for an opportunity to win a gun. For more information contact Kay or Jack Danchak at (845) 482-4987 or Linda Loughrey at 482-4985. Registration forms and contest rules are also available on the federation’s web site at www.sullivancountysportsmensfederationny.com.
But you don't have to wait until February to take aim at Wile Coyote. The Canajoharie Forest Fish and Game Club will hold its 9th annual Coyote Hunt Saturday, Jan. 18. Participants can sign up Friday, Jan. 17, from 4-8 p.m., and/or the day of the event from 5-8 a.m. According to CFFGC Secretary / Treasurer Pam Hayes, the entry fee is $20 and participants must be registered before the hunt begins. Cash prizes based on total entries will be awarded for the heaviest male and female coyotes taken by gun or trap in accordance with DEC regulations on a 60/40 percent basis. The event includes a gun raffle, 50/50 drawing and table raffles. Food will be available. The club is at 149 Fish and Game Club Road, Canajoharie. For additional information call (518) 672-2389.
If you didn’t win anything at this one, you have another shot at picking up some cash during the Jan. 27 - Feb. 2 Twin Tiers Predator Hunt. Organized by the Danby Pirates Club, 1248 Fisher Settlement Road, Spencer, the entry fee is $25 for those age 16 and older and $5 for junior hunters and trappers. Cash prizes will be awarded in two divisions, calling/trapping and taken with the use of hounds. Contact Darrick Johnson at (607) 727-1996.
THE CONSERVATION FUND
Meanwhile, hunters, anglers and trappers should be happy to hear the state Conservation Fund ended the year with a surplus of $44 million.
The DEC’s December report covers all the accounts, which include the Fish and Game Trust Fund ($52.19 million) –- a dedicated fund acquired from the sale of lifetime hunting, fishing, trapping, archery and muzzle-loading licenses pursuant to Section 11-0702 of Environmental Conservation Law; The Migratory Bird Account ($208,329) -- revenue and interest received by the department from the sale of voluntary migratory bird stamps and art prints. The statute governing this law states that after payment of administrative costs for preparation and sale of voluntary stamps and art prints, 50 percent of these monies shall be available to the department, pursuant to appropriation, exclusively for acquisition, preservation, improvement and development of wetlands and development and maintenance of access sites within the state.
It falls under Section 71-1929 of the ECL.
What’s interesting about this account is the DEC no longer has a voluntary duck stamp, nor does it print or sell the Migratory Bird and Conservation print or the accompanying pin programs. The 17-year program ended in 2002, which makes me wonder about the purpose of this account?
Then there is the $255,430 Habitat Account. Created in 2002, revenues derived from the voluntary purchase of habitat / access stamps and accompanying pins are supposedly used exclusively for fish and wildlife habitat management, protection and restoration, and the improvement and development of public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation and study. I say supposedly because in 2007 the agency gave New York City Audubon $10,700 to take kids for a boat ride around Manhattan Island.
Actually the term “habitat stamp” -- which is available for a $5 donation wherever sporting licenses are sold -- is an oxymoron since there has never been an actual stamp and the accompanying pins introduced to stimulate sales were only available for three of the 12 years. When the agency stopped issuing the pins in 2008 the sale of Habitat / Access stamps dropped considerably.
The Venison Donation Account ($20,367). Under ECL Subdivision 18 of Section 11-0305, moneys, revenues and interest are made available by the DEC to an appropriate nonprofit organization for implementation of a venison donation program, the recipient of which is the Venison Donation Coalition (www.venisondonation.com/)
There is also a Guides License Account ($46,743). This is dedicated to and available by appropriation only for the administration of and purposes set forth in ECL Section 11-0533.
While it may be of little interest to sportsmen north of the Tappen Zee Bridge, both the Marine Resources Account ($1.760 million) and the Surf / Clam Ocean Quahog Account ($146,555) is used for the care, management, protection and enlargement of marine fish and shellfish resources. These accounts also fund contracts for such purposes with a New York state institution of higher education involved in local marine research.
THE SAFE ACT RULING
To paraphrase President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 speech on Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor: Wednesday, Jan 15, is a date which will live in infamy -- for it was on that date in 2013 that New York state gun owners were suddenly and deliberately attacked by their governor and Legislature. It is the date the New York State Legislature passed –-in the dead of night -- the NY SAFE Act, which within minutes was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The law, which many feel infringes on their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, was recently deemed constitutional by Chief U.S. District Judge William Skretny.
However in his ruling Judge Skretny determined the section of the law limiting rifle and pistol magazines to seven bullets was “arbitrary,” so gun owners can now load 10 rounds into a firearm without fear of being taken away in handcuffs. Last week the NYS Sheriffs' Association advised its members to not enforce a law limiting a firearm magazine to seven bullets and on Monday, during a discussion on the controversial law, Gov. Cuomo acknowledged as much, saying, "The law is what a court says it is until it's appealed and another court says differently."
Cuomo is exactly right, and attorneys for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and 10 other co-complainants have already filed an appeal on Judge Skretny’s decision and have vowed to take it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. To date it has cost the NYSRPA more than $425,000 and it’s almost certain that cost will double before it all ends.
Gov. Cuomo only gave the SAFE Act a cursory mention during his 2014 State of the State address Jan. 8, but lawmakers and others attending the event had to see at least one of the five billboards the Shooter’s Committee on Political Education (SCOPE) had rented along each of the major highways leading to the Capitol, all of which reference the repeal of the SAFE Act. To view the billboards visit www.scopeny.org/new-pics-of-our-billboard/.
During his SOS Cuomo did announce support to legalize crossbow use for hunting purposes and to give regulatory authority for its use to the DEC. To read the entire SOS visit: www.governor.ny.gov/assets/documents/2014-SOS-Book.pdf.
What wasn't declared unconstitutional is the provision regarding online ammunition purchases. The SAFE Act requires ammunition purchases be made face-to-face, along with a required background check; so essentially all online purchases end Jan. 15.
GREAT SACANDAGA FISHING
The ice on Great Sacandaga Lake is about a foot thick and according to reports walleye are providing anglers with much of the action. So much so, Jim Johnson of Jim's Bait Shop in Mayfield hopes there will be enough marble eyes swimming around for the Food n’ Fuel’s Sixth Annual Walleye Challenge.
A good many of those walleye have been taken at the 20-foot range, mostly before the sun comes up and just before dark.
Dave Allen of Dave’s Bait and Tackle in Northville didn’t say what time of day Northville’s Pete Beck caught a 26.5-inch walleye or when Mike Himes pulled a 38.5-inch northern pike through the ice, but he did say both fish were caught on medium shiners. He also told me one of his customers drove out on the big lake in his brandy new half-ton pickup, plow and all.
On the other hand Cindy Ross of Ross Bait Shop reports that along with shiners and icicles icemen have been turning to hunts, now that they are available.
Dropping anchor ‘til next time.
To contact Dick Nelson with event or club news or to send a photograph email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Calendar of Events
Jan. 11 -- Fifth annual Sacandaga Sportsmen's Day, Sacandaga Bible Conference, 191 Lakeview Road, Broadalbin. Registration is $20 at the Ray Mills Youth Center at 9:45 a.m. Tickets are $20, which includes seminars, access to vendors and the sportsmen's game buffet of wild boar, rabbit, duck, elk, bison and perch. Tickets are available at the door. For more information, call 883-3713, email email@example.com or go to www.sacandagabibleconference.com.
Jan. 11-12 – 31st annual New EastCoast Arms Collectors Associates Gun Show, Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga. Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission: $8 ($7 for seniors) and free to youngsters age 14 and under when accompanied by an adult. Call 518-664-9743.
Jan. 17-19 -- Fly Fishing Show, Royal Plaza, Marlborough, MA. Hours: Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Admission is $15 ($10 active military), $25 for two-day pass and $35 for three-day pass and $2 for children under 12. For information call 866-481-2393. Web site: www.flyfishingshow.com.
Jan. 17-19 -- 22nd Annual Yankee Sportsmen’s Classic, Champlain Valley Exposition Center, Essex Junction, VT. More than 175 exhibitors, including outfitters, hunting and fishing supplies, boats, RV’s, ATVs, Snowmobiles and more than 45 free seminars on fly-fishing, ice-fishing, deer, waterfowl, turkey, bear, elk/moose, hunting/calling, dog training, wild game cooking and wildlife management. Hours: Friday, noon- 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults (3-day pass $15) and $3 for children age 4 and older. For information call 802-877-0033. Web site: www.yankeeclassic.net.
Jan. 19 – Coffee Shop Inaugural Ice Fishing Derby, Caroga Lake, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Entry fee for this 100 percent payback event is $15 or $20 on derby day. Prizes awarded in four “catch and release” categories – trout, perch, pickerel and crappie. According to Mark Hawley, judging will be by length and there will be two measuring stations on each side of the two-tier lake. Awards will take place at the Outlet Restaurant on Route 10. Coffee Shop is located at 2090 Route 10. Call Hawley at 518-835-5016.
Jan. 24-26 -- The 20th annual Fly-Fishing Show, Garden State Exhibit Center, Somerset, NJ. Many celebrity anglers. Hours: Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Admission is $18 ($10 active military), $28 for two-day pass and $38 for three-day pass and $2 for children ages 5-12. For information call 866-481-2393. Web site: www.flyfishingshow.com.
Jan. 25 -- Fuel n’ Food 6th Annual Walleye Challenge Ice Fishing Derby, Great Sacandaga Lake. Registration closed with 1,750 entries.
Jan. 25 -- Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation Ice Fishing Derby, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Registration is $20, ($25 day of contest until 10 a.m. only). Contact Randy Gardinier at 518-848-7248
Jan. 25 – Wells Fish and Game Club, annual Sportsman’s Swap Meet, Wells Community Center, 1438 Route 30, Wells from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Buy, sell, barter or trade. Tables ($15) available. Admission is $2 with children admitted free. Refreshments will be available. Contact Nancy Lewis at 518- 924-2110.
Jan. 25 -- The Almost Annual NYS Crappie Ice Fishing Derby, Dorchester Park, Whitney Point. Entry fee is $2 for those over 12 years, and free 12 and under. Cancelled in 2012 for unsafe ice, the 2011 purse was $13,500. Contact Dave Hughes at 607-692-3263, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: www.crappiederby.com/ .
Jan 25-26 -- Albany Gun Show, Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany. With more than 400 tables of modern and antique guns, knives and memorabilia dating back to the Civil War, this is by far the largest gun show in the region. Hours: Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults ($5 seniors) and free to children under age 12 when accompanied by an adult. Call 607-748-1010.
Jan. 27 - Feb. 2 -- Twin Tiers Predator Hunt, Danby Pirates Club, 1248 Fisher Settlement Road, Spencer. Entry fee: $25 for participants age 16 and older and $5 for junior hunters and trappers. Cash awards in two divisions calling/trapping and hounds. Contact Darrick Johnson at 607-727-1996.
Feb. 1-9 -- Great American Outdoor Show, State Farm Show Complex, 2300 N Cameron St, Harrisburg, PA. Produced by the National Rifle Association this show is without a doubt the largest consumer event of its kind in the northeast. If you plan to visit this show, plan on spending at least two days. Show hours: Weekdays 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday’s 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday’s 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 seniors, $6 for children ages 6-12. A two-day pass $20, group (10 or more) $10. For information call 1-800-672-4868. Web site: www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.
Feb. 7-9 -- Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County 7th annual statewide Coyote Hunt Contest (hunting only). Entry fee $30 ($40 after Jan. 27). Along with a $2,000 grand prize and $200 daily prizes the entry fee includes a banquet dinner on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. at the WSS Firehouse, Rte 52, White Sulphur Springs and a free $5 gun raffle ticket. Registration applications available online at: www.sullivancountysportsmensfederationny.com . Contact Kay or Jack Danchak at 845-482-4987 or Linda Loughrey at 845-482-4985.
Feb. 8 – Fish House Fish and Game Club Walleye Ice Fishing Contest, Great Sacandaga Lake, 6 a.m. – 4 p.m. Registration $20 prior to Feb. 7, $25 on the day of the event. Flyers at area bait shops. Contact Tom Ferguson at (518) 883-6533 or visit: www.fishhousefishandgame.com.
Feb. 15 -- Reid Hill Fish and Game Club Third Annual Ice Fishing Derby, Wally’s Driftwood Park, Mayfield, 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Contact Clem DaBiere at 518-843-2063 or Ray Fyfe at 518-843-3451.
Feb. 15-16 – Ninth Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show, Johnstown Moose Family Center, 109 S. Comrie Ave (Route 30A North), Johnstown. Hours: Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission: $5 for adults and $1 for children age 15 and under. Contact: Mike Hauser, 518-725-5565; email email@example.com. Website: www.adkshow.com.
Feb. 20-23 -- 31st Annual Springfield Sportsmen and Boat Show, Big E Exposition Center, Springfield, MA. Hours: Thursday 3-9 p.m.; Friday noon-8 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, and free to youngsters age 5 and under. Contact 413-467-2171. Website: www.osegsportsmens.com.
Feb. 27-Mar. 2 -- 37th Annual World Fishing and Outdoor Exposition, Rockland County Community College, Suffern, NY. Hours: Thursday, 2-8 p.m., Friday, 1-8 p.m., Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $3 for children under 12, with children under age five admitted free. Directions: New York Thruway, Exit 14B, Airmont Road and follow signs. For information call 603-431-4315. Web site: www.sportshows.com.