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Hamilton County Outdoors -- 07/16/2014 Sometimes we miss what's right in front of us By Dick Nelson

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - Updated: 7:43 PM

Having lived in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn during my pre-teen years, I had a picture-perfect view of the Statue of Liberty from my bedroom window. However, as a youngster, I never truly appreciated the significance of Lady Liberty or the impact it had on immigrants who viewed her for the first time as the ship that brought them to America entered the New York Harbor.

I mention this only because as often as I looked at the historic statue, I never made the trip to the island on which she stands. That got me wondering about how many attractions - historic or otherwise - people live relatively close too and have yet to visit.

The Wildlife Sports and Education Museum in Vail Mills is one example. Located at 3747 Route 30, hundreds, if not thousands, of people pass by the museum on a regular basis. I'm willing to bet more than half have yet to pull into the parking lot.

That is a shame because the museum has one of the most spectacular collections of taxidermied game and non-game animals in the state, if not the entire Northeast.

An inspiration of curator Bob Kazamierski -- who spent years collecting many of the showcase mounts -- the semi-retired taxidermist always dreamed of opening a wildlife museum for educational purposes. In 2006 -- following the purchase and renovation of the former Grand Union supermarket building - that dream became a reality.

For sure the museum has the most comprehensive collection of whitetail deer mounts in the country up to and including replicas of the Milo Hanson world record typical buck and the No. 2 non-typical Hole-in-the-Horn.

But whitetail deer mounts (there are 140 in all) aren't the only species that fill the walls and floor in the 14,000-square-foot building. There are scores of full-body mounts of lions, tigers and bears - the latter of every description mounted in a variety of positions.

Actually there is an extensive collection of African animals, with many of the mounts displayed in a predator / prey setting.

But there is more to this museum than just animals. There is a display of fish too numerous to mention including the rods, reels and lures used to catch them dating back to the early development of each.

The same can be said for rifles, shotguns and bows, including early crossbows that have to be seen to be believed. There is even a display of arrowheads. Various shotgun shells are displayed behind glass and perhaps even more interesting, the boxes they came in.

Trappers too are represented as there is a whole aisle dedicated to traps, fur stretchers, baskets and snowshoes.

Every species of waterfowl is on display and birders will appreciate the exhibit dedicated to our feathered friends. And, anyone fond of old outboard motors and canoes won't be disappointed either. Even the gift shop is an exhibit in its own right, and I can pretty much guarantee you'll find something hard to resist.

The room behind the gift shop is dedicated to the men and women who have been honored with a plaque in the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame. You may even recognize some of the names.

Kazamierski is in the process of clearing the adjacent land and has the blueprint for an additional 12,000-square-foot building. He has written and called DEC Commissioner Joe Martens' office, wanting to speak to him about the possibility of getting some monetary assistance from the Wildlife Restoration Program, money the state receives from excise taxes on sporting equipment such as firearms, ammunition, bows, arrows, fishing rods and reels and other related equipment.

Those taxes, which are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are distributed to the states, with New York's annual share amounting to more than $20 million.

The state uses the funds to support public use and access to wildlife resources, hunter education and development and management of shooting ranges.

The museum is a not-for-profit educational institution. Its mission is to promote public understanding and appreciation of the traditional outdoor sports of hunting, fishing and trapping and to preserve the art, artifacts and memorabilia associated with those traditions for future generations.

Kazamierski believes - and I agree - that the museum certainly falls under the definition of education, but to date the commissioner hasn't had the decency to acknowledge him, much less talk to him. "I'll get it done one way or another, but it would be a lot easier and quicker with help from the state," Kazamierski said.

The Wildlife Sports and Education Museum is open seven days a week during June, July and August from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $5 youngsters age 15 and under, free for tots. Group rates are available upon request.

For more information call (518) 762-7925 or visit


Last week Target Interim CEO John Mulligan released a statement requesting that customers leave their firearms at home. The decision came following a petition from the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The petition reportedly resulted from several instances of "open carry" in or near Target stores, which the gun control group claimed to be disruptive and threatening to other customers.

Mulligan said the issue was a complex one for Target's leadership team, but the company ultimately decided firearms are "at odds" with its family-friendly environment.

The statement prompted a flood of responses on social media, including both support and criticism for the new policy. The comments from Second Amendment advocates have largely been negative, expressing disappointment and even betrayal from an organization some have previously seen as pro-gun.

In a follow-up statement Mulligan pointed out that this is only a request and not an official ban on firearms in Target stores.


According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Trends in Duck Breeding Populations 2014 report, duck populations have increased in overall abundance over last year and their habitat conditions have improved. The survey -- which encompasses more than 2 million square miles of waterfowl habitat across Alaska, north-central and northeastern U.S. states, and south-central, eastern and northern Canada -- estimate the total duck population at 49.2 million birds. That's an 8 percent increase over last year's estimate of 45.6 million birds and 43 percent above the long-term average.

The report also provides abundance estimates for individual duck species, including mallard, blue-winged teal, northern pintail, American wigeon, lesser and greater scaup, and canvasback, all of which are similar to or slightly above last year's totals. Most species' populations, such as mallard and blue-winged teal, remain significantly above the long-term average, while others, including scaup and pintail are still below.

Estimated mallard abundance was 10.9 million birds, similar to last year's estimate of 10.4 million birds and 42 percent above the long-term average. Blue-winged teal estimated abundance is 8.5 million, which is 10 percent above the 2013 estimate of 7.7 million, and 75 percent above the long-term average.

The northern pintail estimate of 3.2 million was similar to last year's estimate of 3.3 million, and remains 20 percent below the long-term average. American wigeon were 18 percent above the 2013 estimate and 20 percent above the long-term average.

The combined (lesser and greater) scaup estimate of 4.6 million was similar to 2013 and 8 percent below the long-term average of 5 million. The canvasback estimate of 685 thousand was slightly lower than the 2013 estimate of 787 thousand, but was 18 percent above the long-term average.

Habitat conditions assessed during the survey were mostly improved or similar to last year as a result of average to above-average annual precipitation. The total pond estimate (prairie Canada and U.S. combined) was 7.2 million ponds -- 40 percent above the long-term average.


Featuring a pair of canvasbacks by Adam Grimm of Burbank, S.D., the 2014-2015 Federal Migratory Bird Stamp or "duck stamp" as it is more commonly referred is currently available at post offices and most major sporting goods and large chain stores that sell hunting and fishing licenses. Mandatory for all waterfowl hunters age 16 or older since 1935, the cost of the stamp remains at $15 of which the federal government retains $14.70 for wetlands acquisition and conservation. An electronic version of the stamp is available online at


Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell recently announced $43.38 million would be distributed from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to all 50 states, the territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects.

Established by Congress in 1964 to ensure access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands, the money -- which comes from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf -- has over the past 50 years helped fund over 40,000 local conservation and outdoor recreation projects nationwide.

New York's 2014 apportionment is $2,012,943. Since 1965 New York has received a total of $237,801,298, second only to California which received $299,600,094 during the same time frame.

Dropping anchor 'til next time.

To contact Dick Nelson email


July 19 -- Exhibition shooter Tim Bradley will demonstrate his prowess with a scattergun at the Austerlitz Club, 634 Dugway Road, Chatham (Columbia County) beginning at 1 p.m. A pro staff member of Benelli USA, Bradley is a trick shot artist extraordinaire, equally proficient with a .22 scoped rifle and .22 centerfire pistol as he is with a shotgun, and he does it right- or left-handed. Admission is $10 adults and free youngsters age 15 and under.

Aug. 17 -- All-You-Can-Eat Pancake, Egg and Sausage Breakfast and 3-D Archery Shoot, Fish House Fish and Game Club, 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Open to the public, breakfast is $8 adults, $4 children ages 12 and under. Archery Shoot entry fee: $10 adults, $5 youngsters under 12. The club is at 478 Fayville Road, Providence. For more information visit or call Ray Dyer Jr. at (518) 882-6778.

Aug. 28-30 -- The 2014 New York State Trappers Association Convention and Sportsman Show, Herkimer County Fairgrounds, Frankfort. Grounds and dealer buildings will be open Thursday from 12-6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. More than 80 venders and some two dozen seminars will take place from noon Thursday through 4 p.m. Sunday and be immediately followed by the NYSTA membership meeting at 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for the entire weekend and free to anyone age 15 and under. RV Camping is $18 per night (electric included); primitive camping is $10 per night or $18 with electric hook-up; tailgating is $55 per spot. For Mapquest directions use 135 Cemetery St., Frankfort NY 13340. For more information and / or reservations contact Wayne Jones at (716) 772-1059 or by email at


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