Outdoor writers’ meeting showcases importance of passing on our outdoor heritage
Passing on our outdoor traditions are important, whether it is to the next generation of outdoors enthusiasts, family and friends who are close to us, or just someone who is interested in finding out what hunting and fishing is all about who happen to cross our path. The importance was never more evident than during New York’s recent Outdoor Writers Association conference held in Saratoga/Capital District Sept. 30-Oct. 3. Thanks to Dan Ladd, Outdoor News editor in the Empire State, who chaired the conference.
On Friday morning, despite opening day in the Southern Zone for the early archery season, an impressive contingent of Department of Environmental Conservation staff presented information on new hunting and fishing regulations and programs, allowed for questions (and answers) on various topics, and let us know that they need the help of the state’s outdoor writers to help get the message out about so many different things, especially as it relates to passing on our outdoor traditions.
The controversial holiday hunt, a new deer season between Christmas and New Year’s Day, was not designed as a management tool to help control deer populations. The focus was centered around families, be it college students returning home for the holidays, junior hunters being available from high school (and middle school); parents, grandparents or other mentors/guardians being available to spend special time in the outdoors as they bond through big game hunting. Remember, this late hunt is only for the Southern Zone and only with primitive tools such as bows, crossbows and muzzleloaders.
The biggest opposition of the December hunt is from the snowmobiling community. Hopefully common sense will win out relating to a new proposal to allow counties to opt out of the holiday hunt. DEC insists that this opt out would only be for this new regulation. Public comment will end Nov. 14 and one of three options will take place – adopt the proposal and allow for opting out; modify the proposal; or withdraw the proposal completely and simply go with the holiday hunt as planned. Make sure your voice is heard.
The “opt in” plan for individual counties relating to 12- and 13-year-olds for deer hunting should send a sound message to the state legislature that this is something that it not only wanted, but it is needed to help promote the future of hunting. Every viable county in upstate New York had approved the measure except for Erie and Rockland counties. Erie County’s legislature pass the law, but it had not been signed by the County Executive.
The new trout stream management plan is another great example of trying to get more people out on the water and taking advantage of the state’s incredible natural resources. Starting Oct. 16, a new inland trout catch and release season in the streams, artificial lures only, will allow anglers to target trout year-round. It is important to note that this is for streams, not inland lakes, and ponds. For instance, if you want to fish a favorite Adirondack pond for brook trout, you will have to wait until April 1, 2022. There are some exceptions so be sure to check the regulations guide or the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov.
Another tool to use when hunting or fishing in the state is the DECinfo Locator, an interactive map that lets you access DEC documents, including outdoor recreation destinations and information. Check it out at https://www.dec.ny.gov/pubs/109457.html.
Later that same day, writer attendees were treated to a tour of the Capital District Sportsman Center in Grafton. The not-for-profit group that was formed earlier this year and currently leases the former Grafton Elementary School. It is an excellent space to allow this group to “pass it on” in so many ways. Co-founded by Brian Canzeri and P.J. Hyde, their focus is on the next generation of sportsmen and women interested in hunting and fishing. From hunting to hunter education, from a youth fishing derby to trapper education, from butchering a deer to fundraising events to help keep the program growing, this is a perfect example of how a community can unite to get the job done when it comes to passing on the outdoor tradition. Check out www.cdsc.education for updates and more information.
On Saturday, after hunting and fishing opportunities in the Capital District area, we visited the 4-H Youth Shooting Sports Center in Ballston Spa. It is an outstanding program with a focus on the future. Last year, NYSOWA honored two of this area’s outstanding leaders involved with the 4-H program – Bill Schwerd of Middle Grove and Kenyon Simpson of Bolton Landing – with a coveted “Pass it On” award. It was satisfying that we were visiting to see the facilities that they incorporated into a shooting sports program they have both served for over 50 years.
Later that same night at the NYSOWA Awards Banquet, the 2021 “Pass it On” recipient was Deb Brosen of Kinderhook, NY. Brosen is an award-winning artist who utilizes her artistic talents to help others both in and out of the outdoors community. She is always donating her works of art for the common good of the outdoors to numerous organizations. She is also a champion of women’s involvement in the outdoors. She has mentored both women and young people in the field and is eager to both share her knowledge and learn from others. Her participation in the Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop will no doubt be an asset to all who meet her.
Passing it on doesn’t need to focus on the next generation of participants. Take this as a challenge to take a son or daughter, grandson, or granddaughter or any of your family members on the water or in the woods. Take someone camping, on a hike, or canoeing to a secluded spot and expose them to the joys of nature. It may create a spark that will ignite into something much bigger.