Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Deer Season’s Opening Weekend

By Spider Rybaak

Scott Timmerman and sons (l to r) Logan and Brandon pose with his monster 8-pointer, taken in the southern zone, just east of NY 3.
The Southern Zone’s Deer season dawned on Oswego County in spectacular fashion. The beasts were plentiful; hunters were, too; and the weather was as deer-hunter-friendly as you could hope for.

As in the past, areas containing a good mix of farmland, forest and marsh were most productive.

The NY 3 corridor was especially so.

The reason: “Last winter’s mild weather was gentle on the local deer population,” says David Ouellette, part-owner of Deer Creek Motel and Pheasant Shooting Preserve (315) 298-3730. 

“In addition, our close proximity to Lake Ontario gives us a lot of moisture, which translated into good crop growth on local farms last summer. Finally, we have a lot of state parks in the area where gun hunting for deer ain’t legal; and numerous wildlife management areas loaded with dynamite deer habitat. Combine these factors and you come up with one of the best deer hunting areas in the state,” he adds.

Two guests of Deer Creek Motel and Pheasant Hunting Preserve had the carcasses to prove it.

On opening day, Roger Babeu dropped a nice buck on property leased by the motel in the southern zone, near Grindstone Creek. The farmland he was hunting is gently rolling. What’s more, it’s a short distance from Selkirk Shores State Park, a spot notorious for ideal deer habitat.

Pete Surette, on the other hand, took a nice four-pointer right behind the motel, in the northern zone. The area he was hunting was also gently rolling and watered by Deer Creek.

But Oswego County ain’t just for opening day. Scott Timmerman proved it by shooting a massive eight-pointer on Sunday, the morning after, when deer that survived the first day are notoriously super paranoid.

That’s another plus Oswego County has going for it. You see, world class fisheries like the Salmon River and Grindstone Creek draw lots of anglers. The same goes for spectacularly scenic Selkirk Shores State Park which gets loads of campers, picnickers and hikers. 

As a result, our deer are a lot more comfortable with human scent wafting through the woods than they are in other regions of the state and that makes them a little more careless…often just enough to help a competent hunter fill the freezer with delicious, corn-fed venison.
Roger Babeu, Groveland, MA, with a nice buck he took with a 7 mm last Saturday.
Pete Surette of Middleton, MA with a crotch-horn he took behind Deer Creek Motel on Opening day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Oswego’s Rapids Carpeted in Golden Brown

By Spider Rybaak

Alex Korol, a SUNY Oswego student, holds one he landed while float-fishing a bead with a centerpin rig

This month all of New York is blanketed in the fading reds and golds of an aging autumn. But there’s still a lot of brilliance and vibrancy out there if you know where to look. And one of the best places to feast your eyes on the year’s last moments of splendid beauty is the city of Oswego.

But don’t look on shore. You see, the river running through the city is loaded with mature brown trout. Vying for mates, they’re decked out in their finest colors: dark brown backs fading into rich golden sides glimmering with red spots. There’s so many trout, in fact, the stream throbs with all the life traveling through it.

OK, that might be stretching things a bit. Still, there’s more brown trout in the deep tailrace stretching from the north end of the power dam to the tail-out where the heavy current breaks into whitewater than anyone can remember.

And it’s not like great quantities of salmonids is something new to the spot, either. Indeed, Pacific salmon pile into the tailrace in such numbers in October, the high wall seems to lean under the weight of all the anglers.

What’s unusual right now is the incredible number of trophy browns…big ones, up to 20 pounds.

No one was more surprised to see so many fish than I. Kwame Belle, a journalism major at SUNY Oswego, is doing an assignment on a “Bucket List” of stuff to do in the city of Oswego, and felt fishing should be included. I agreed.

Well, the salmon runs are over, so I called driftboat /charterboat  operator Captain Andy Bliss, (315) 591-4578, my favorite source for fishing information on the Oswego River, for suggestions.

“Browns are easy to get right now off the wall below the powerhouse,” he answered. “There’s a lot of ‘em because the water’s been so low, they’re milling around waiting for it to rise before running up to the dam.”

He wasn’t kidding. In the two hours or so Kwame and I fished, I personally saw 20 browns and five steelhead landed, and at least that many lost. (Kwame and I got zilch—so it goes, I guess.) The guys were bottom bouncing: casting out, letting the bait sink to bottom and walking it downstream. Most were using beads.

Browns are traditionally available in the river until late December.  This weekend, however, promises to be one of the year’s most propitious for a trophy: the weather’s supposed to be clear, water low and opening day of deer season should move half the anglers off the wall and into the woods, reducing competition considerably.
Kyle Buck of Hammondsport with one of his browns.
Bob from Colorado comes up to Oswego each year in November for the splendid fishing.

Kwame Belle, a SUNY Oswego student, tackles his "Bucket List" on the Oswego River.

Belle may have left fish-less, but the smile says it all!