Hamilton County Outdoors -- 02/19/2014

Area trapper has his own axe to grind

There has been a huge uproar among gun owners since Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act into law, including protest rallies and lawsuits. The most widely known lawsuit is the one initiated by the NYS Rifle and Pistol Association.

But without a bit of publicity, Mayfield trapper Doug Kampher has also been fighting to have the controversial gun law declared unconstitutional. Unlike the NYSRPA that is challenging the SAFE Act on constitutional grounds, Kampher filed his lawsuit as a "common citizen" under the Second Amendment.

That isn't the only difference. Before initiating the action, Kampher applied for and received -- by nature of a court hearing -- "Poor Person Status" and to date has spent less than $300 on his complaint, compared to the more than $426,000 the NYSRPA and its co-plaintiffs has incurred.

However, much like the NYSRPA that lost the first round of its lawsuit in Buffalo when Western New York Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny declared all but the seven-round provision of the law constitutional, Kampher too lost his first bout, when Northern Chief U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharp ruled the same way.

Not surprisingly Kampher faults Judge Skretny's decision, saying in not so many ways that Judge Sharp probably didn't want to cross swords with one of his contemporaries.

Although Kampher refers to himself as a "hillbilly trapper" he is highly educated. He studied criminal law for six years and worked as a paralegal before deciding to live off the land in a fashion more suited to Grizzly Adams than Perry Mason. He runs a 1,000 set trap line from October through mid-January that stretches from Cobleskill to Speculator, a lifestyle that provides him with a great deal of satisfaction but little in the way of money when you consider the amount of time he spends checking his traps.

But he loves what he is doing, and said he has a freezer full of venison and beaver meat to last him through the winter. And he isn't ashamed to say some of that venison has come by way of road kills, sometimes delivered by the sheriff's department. "I salvage whatever I can to eat, and use the remaining portion for bait in my coyote traps," Kampher said, adding that he took 43 coyotes during the season.

His "Poor Person Status" doesn't allow the Mayfield mountain man to solicit donations. He can, however, fund his lawsuit by accepting returnable bottles and cans, and in that regard he is seeking help.

Despite the fact that court costs are minimal under the status he was granted, the costs of mailing, paper and the number of copies needed to proceed is expensive.

When asked why he filed his action Kampher said, "Unlike many politicians, I believe in the U.S. Constitution and even though I don't own an AR-15 or other so-called assault rifle, I may want to purchase one someday, and under the SAFE Act I wouldn't be able to." He believes that if he loses his case it will set a precedent across the country, and every state in the nation would be able to do what Gov. Cuomo has done.

Anyone who would like to help Kampher off-set that cost by providing him with returnable cans and bottles (he cannot accept money) can call him at (518) 661-6055 and he will pick them up.


In the meantime, Remington Chairman and CEO George Kollitides and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley announced Monday the recruitment of Remington Outdoor Company to Huntsville, where ROC is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs within the next 10 years.

With nary a mention of the Remington Arms plant in Illion, Kollitides said, “This additional capacity is essential to fulfill demand and introduce new products... With demand for our products at an historic high and more new product launches planned for 2014 than ever before in our 200-year history, we are investing in the future.”

Remington is expected to begin operations in Alabama within the next 18 months.


The Fish House Rod and Gun Club held its annual Ice Fishing Contest on Great Sacandaga Lake Feb. 8. With a top prize of $500 walleye had the highest bounty, and when it was over it went to Avery Mussen of Broadalbin with a 4 pound, 1-1/2 ounce marbleye. Nick Scavia of Amsterdam took second place and $250 in this division with a 2 pound, 12-1/2 ounce doreé, (pardon my French) while Jay Flickenger of Galway picked up a $100 for third.

In the northern pike division, Pat McVey of Walden was tops with 20 pounds, winning $250; Jessie Smith of Broadalbin placed second with an 11-pounder, winning $150; and Justin Glinski finished third and collected $100.

Perch rounded out the tri-fish contest with Broadalbin's Scott Porter winning $250 with a 1 lb., 14 oz. fish, while Broadalbin taxidermist Ira Cromling nailed second with a 1.11 pound perch and collected $150. In a contest where the winners are decided by ounces, Jack Douglas of Galway finished third with a 1 lb., 10-1/2 oz. perch winning $100.


Results for the seventh annual Federation Sportsman's Clubs of Sullivan County statewide coyote hunt came in and, from all accounts, the number of participants (557) was down, but the number of registered coyotes was up. Hunters representing 32 counties and four states registered 53 coyotes (33 males and 20 females).

According to federation President Jack Danchak, 36 of those kills were taken using dogs, three by still hunting, 10 with the use of electronic calls and four over bait. None of the hunters used a mouth call. The average weight was 36.08 pounds. Forty-nine were taken during the day and four at night, and 15 hunters had multiple kills.

The largest animal was a 49.30 pound male taken in Delaware County by Charles Wacha of Walton. Using an electronic call, Wacha lured the animal into range before dropping it with a .22 mag loaded with a 40 grain bullet. Along with winning the $2,000 grand prize he collected an additional $200 for registering the heaviest coyote the first day of the three-day event.

Other daily prizewinners are Charlie Avery of Honedale, Pa. (45.05 lb.) and Nick Utter of Delhi (45 lb.). Ariel Shaul of Cobleskill picked up $100 for the 42.65 pound dog in the Female Division. And, for the first time since 2010, there was no youth entry.


According to the National Review, a bi-monthly print and on-line publication, gun manufactures have answered the call to arms by coming up with a new design for the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that eliminates all features that have been banned under the NY SAFE Act. In other words, a simple change to its aesthetic features makes owning an AR-15 legal under the controversial law.

The new AR-15 design did away with adjustable stocks, pistol grips and flash suppressors, giving it an odd, paintball gun look. The stock is fixed as well, but it does allow gun owners to legally own an AR-15. From what I read, prototypes for the new AR-15 are hitting gun shops across the state as machinists have designed a rifle that complies with the anti-gun law.

Dropping anchor 'til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson with an event, club news or to send a photograph email: dnelsonrecorder@aol.com or outdoors@recordernews.com. 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 what the photo entails.


Feb. 22 -- Speculator - Lake Pleasant - Piseco Fish & Game Club 12th Annual Lake Pleasant Ice Fishing Contest. Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Register at The Inn at Speculator 5-8 p.m. Friday and 5-9 a.m. Saturday. Includes a buffet at The Inn. Four categories: trout, pickerel, perch and walleye. Cash prizes totaling $2,000. Payouts every hour for perch. Weigh in at LP Marine. For more details call 518-548-5283 pr visit: speculatorchamber.com.

March 1 -- Adult Child Fishing Derby, Long Lake. Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fish any of the waters of Long Lake, Lake Eaton or South Pond. Cash prizes for pike, perch and trout. Sponsored by the Long Lake Fish and Game Club. No entry fee. Registration starts at Town Hall at 8:30 a.m. (518) 624-2145 for more.

March 1-2 -- Schroon Lake Fish and Game Club's 21st Annual Ice Fishing Derby. Hours: 6 a.m. March 1 through 4 p.m. March 2. Three categories: trout, salmon and northern pike. There will also be a cash prize for the heaviest pickerel and perch. Pre-registration $12 through Feb. 23, $15 after. For more call (518) 532-7953.

March 8 - New York State Conservation Council Legislative Meeting, Herkimer County Community College, 100 Reservoir Rd., Herkimer. (315) 894-3302.