Hamilton County Outdoors -- 04/23/14
Youth turkey hunt is just a gobble away
By Dick Nelson

Love is in the air; or at least it was one day last week as I listened to a couple of tom turkeys gobble their fool heads off. If nothing else it was a welcome reminder that New York’s spring turkey hunting season opens May 1, and sooner if you are 12-15 years of age and participate in the DEC’s 13th annual Youth Wild Turkey Hunting Weekend April 26-27. If it’s anything like last spring about 800 gobblers won’t live to see the start of the regular month-long season.

According to DEC statistics, almost 7,100 youngsters took part in last year’s youth hunt. Given the number of kids who have already taken or have pre-registered for the mandatory 10-hour hunter education class, I wouldn’t be surprise if 10,000 junior license holders aren’t sitting in the woods before the sun comes up this time around.

This doesn’t mean the young guns will be out there on their own. An adult with a valid hunting license and turkey permit must accompany each young hunter. The mentors can help in a variety of ways including calling, but are not permitted to carry a firearm, longbow or crossbow or kill or even attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt.


Based on brood surveys during the past two years and a relatively mild winter throughout much of 2012, the 2014 spring turkey harvest will likely be similar to last year, in which 21,515 were plucked, stuffed and consumed. Hamilton County hunters killed 96 toms in 2013, 34 more than the previous year. Fulton County hunters took 177, up from 109 the year before and Montgomery County hunters rolled 290 compared to 268 in 2013. The kill was also up in Schoharie County, but not by much – 367 compared to 359.

If you’re looking to hunt in the county that supports the highest population of birds you’ll need to travel to Chautauqua County. Over the past 10 years Chautauqua County has had the highest spring harvest in the state, last year registering 1,071.

Of course knowing where the majority of birds are is one thing, but unless you spend time scouting your chance of bagging a bird diminishes, especially if you’re looking to tag an older tom. Your chance of success gets even better if you line up multiple locations.

Learning several areas where gobblers are strutting is helpful in determining the best in-season set-up. This requires as much early-morning, pre-season scouting you can get in, but it pays off in drumsticks.

As for using turkey calls to locate gobblers prior to the season, the jury is still out on that one. Most experts will tell you it’s not a good idea. They say it educates the birds and causes them to be less inclined to respond to the early-morning calls when the season opens. But I had a bird respond to a pre-season call last year, and all it took was a couple of soft early morning opening day clucks to bring him in close enough to shoot.


New York Bowhunter Inc. President Richard Kirschner would make a great politician. In his official statement about crossbows becoming legal during the last 14 days of the Southern Zone bow hunting season and the last 10 days of the Northern Zone bow hunting season Kirschner wrote, “Contrary to what has been perpetuated by some, NYB does not exist to be an anti-crossbow organization.”

How’s that for a Harry Reid moment?

I don’t know how long Kirschner has been a member of the New York Bowhunters, but I joined when it was formed in 1991 and quit two years later when it vigorously came out against crossbows. In fact it is because of the not-so-merry men’s position against the horizontal bow that it has taken this long for hunters to be able to legally use it, so spare me the hypocritical rhetoric.

At the end of his statement Kirschner wrote, “With the crossbow issue resolved and behind us, NYB looks forward to devoting more time to our many successful programs, and to the continued promotion of bowhuntings’ storied heritage.”

While I commend him and the group for redirecting their energy on the many worthwhile programs they have initiated over the years, such as its Youth Archery Camps, Scholarship and Camo to Camo programs, the crossbow issue is far from being resolved and won’t be until it can be used throughout the entire bow-hunting season.

In that regard, if NYB wants to rid itself of the dark shadow hanging over its head -- a shadow of its own creation -- it should stop flinging arrows and accept the crossbow as a legitimate hunting implement. In any event you can read Kirschner’s entire position statement on the NYB website at: www.newyorkbowhunters.com/news.html.


Anyone who was waiting for area waters to be stocked with trout needn’t wait any longer. According to DEC regional fisheries biologist Rod Fiorentino, Crum Creek, Hans Creek, Kennyetto Creek, Hale Creek, Middle Sprite Creek and Zimmerman Creek received their allotment of trout last week, and by now all Fulton County streams will have been stocked, with lakes and ponds getting fish May 1.

According to John Fieroh -- Fiorentino’s counterpart in the Ray Brook office -- no dates have been set for Hamilton County waters, but he did say the people at the Rome Hatchery are anxious to move the fish out as soon as conditions become more conducive.


Speaking of fishing, Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation will host its 17th Annual Spring Fishing Contest Saturday, May 3, opening day of the statewide walleye, pickerel, tiger muskie and northern pike seasons. Headquartered at Lanzi’s Lakeside Tavern on Woods Hollow Road in Mayfield, fishing hours will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Prizes of $300, $200, $150 and $50 will be awarded in four categories: walleye, pickerel, tiger muskie and northern pike. Winners will be determined by length.

Registration is $20 by May 2 or $25 the day of the event. Either way, youngsters age 12 and under enter free. In addition, six trout are wearing orange tags each valued at $750. Tagged fish are for GSLFF members only and can only be redeemed the day of the contest ($10 memberships available on site).

Contest applications are available at Ross' Bait Shop in Hagaman, Dave's Bait & Tackle Shop in Mayfield, LaPort's Bait Shop in Edinburg, Jim's Bait Shop in Mayfield, Frank's Bait Shop in Vails Mills, Fuel & Food in Mayfield and online at www.gslff.com For more information contact Randy Gardinier at (518) 848-7248 or Jack Smith at 863-1062 or email to chairman@gslff.com. 


Remington Arms recently announced a voluntary recall of Model 700 and Model Seven rifles with X-Mark Pro triggers, manufactured from May 1, 2006 to April 9, 2014. Remington engineers determined that some Model 700 and Model Seven rifles with XMP triggers could, under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge.

For safety reasons Remington strongly encourages you to immediately stop using the rifle and contact them for inspection and repair. To participate visit the Remington Recall Center at xmprecall.remington.com or call the toll-free XMP-Recall Hotline Mondays through Fridays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 1-800-243-9700 (pressing 3 and then 1). You will be asked to provide your name, address, telephone number and rifle serial number. The serial number is located where the barrel meets the receiver.

Should you own a rifle subject to recall, Remington will provide shipping, inspection, specialty cleaning and return at no cost.?

As for Ruger, a potentially serious flaw has been found in its SR-556VT or Varmint Target model SR-556 rifles. Affected rifles fall into the serial number range 590-32501 through 591-18704. The SR-556VT features a non-standard two-stage trigger with a faulty disconnector, making it susceptible to wear with use.

A worn disconnector -- which only affects certain Varmint Target rifles, not the entire SR-556 line-up -- can lead to a problem where pulling the trigger does not immediately release the hammer and fails to catch the hammer after cycling a round, causing double-fires.

Even though no problems or injuries have been reported, if you own one of these SR-556VT rifles you should contact Ruger immediately for factory servicing. Owners of these rifles may call Ruger’s customer service department at (603) 865-2442 or email to recall@ruger.com. Ruger will send you shipping materials, including a packing container, at no cost. Users will not have to pay for shipping. Turnaround time on servicing will be within two weeks of receiving the rifle.


While on the subject of guns, the 2014 edition of The Official Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices is available, all 1,320 pages of it. No matter what the brand name or the year it was manufactured the book apprises the gun’s value from new-in-the-box to poor condition. Each of the 15,000 guns is indexed within the first 15 pages, making every model easy to find.

The only fault -- if you can call it that -- is the print is small. Then again, if it weren’t the book would have twice as many pages. As it is the book weighs about two pounds. A must-have resource for anyone buying, selling or trading firearms, The Official Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices (Krause Publications, $25.99) is available at bookstores, some gun shops and most box stores that sell firearms and ammunition. It can also be purchased on-line.

Dropping anchor ’til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson with event or 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 the photo.


April 26 – New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame annual banquet and induction, Rusty Rail Restaurant, 3231 Seneca Turnpike, Canastota. Registration and social hour 5 p.m., dinner 6 p.m. Tickets available at the door. For information call Leo Maloney at (315) 363-3896 or 829-3588.