New York – Bill Hilts Jr

Ding Darling Refuge a great destination

It was four degrees on the thermometer with a wind chill that dipped below zero – a rare occurrence so far this winter. As I sat in front of the fireplace drinking a cup of hot coffee and surfing the television channels for something of interest, I was hooked by the CBS “Morning Show” with the traditional closing scene of…

Park plans face state hurdle

Joseph Davis State Park in the Town of Lewiston (Niagara County) has long been considered a diamond in the rough. This picturesque piece of real estate, encompassing some 350-plus acres, was once a vibrant public hangout. In the last 20 years, however, the park fell into a state of disrepair and slashed budgets on the state level all but forgot…

New York’s monster muskies

  My first musky was a memorable catch, as it should be. I was a junior at Starpoint Central School in Pendleton, finding my niche with other fishermen on the baseball team. Senior Paul Kennedy knew I loved fishing and suggested that we skip one afternoon to hike down into the Niagara Gorge to cast lures from shore for a…

Peck’s a great pick

Peck’s Lake, located just outside Gloversville on the fringe of the great Adirondack Park, was a hidden jewel of sorts that I had the brief opportunity to explore in October. The “excuse” for visiting was the Annual New York State Outdoor Writers Association Conference in Fulton County Oct. 13-16. This manmade creation stretches out 1,370 acres – five miles long…

Iowa hosts Great Lakes writers

What does Iowa have in common with New York and the other Great Lakes states? Plenty of outdoor opportunities! The Hawkeye State had an opportunity to show off those outdoor resources when the state hosted the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) in September for its 55th Annual Conference held at Honey Creek Resort State Park on Rathbun Lake….

Catching a cure

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Western New York has found a way to use fishing as an important part of their fundraising effort, a near-perfect marriage as both individuals and companies work together to catch a cure for this debilitating disease. It started with the Greater Niagara BassEye competitions, spearheaded by Bob Rich, Jr., of Buffalo (and Rich Products) 10…

Rob Ray: A nice guy – off the ice

Rob Ray, retired National Hockey League tough guy who played many years with the Buffalo Sabres (and a short stint with the Ottawa Senators), had a reputation of being hard-nosed and tough. If anybody took a cheap shot at one of his teammates, he was the enforcer to set the record straight. Off the ice, though, he’s a great guy…

Three cheers for three rods?

Freshwater anglers are now entitled to use three rods per person thanks to legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Is this good news? The bill was designed to favorably impact a fisherman’s experience by increasing the probability of catching a fish. According to the new law, catching a fish is the primary determining factor in whether a…

N.Y. angler takes his title shot

Everyone loves an underdog. Darrin Schwenkbeck of Varysburg (Wyoming County) is all of that as he competes for the Forrest Wood Cup Aug. 11-14 on Lake Ouachita. All the action for this world championship of bass fishing will be taking place out of Hot Springs, Ark., — 116 of the top bass fishermen on the planet, with half of them…

Underwater viewing out West

As I stood in the Bradford Island Visitors Center of the Bonneville Lock and Dam in Oregon, I looked out through windows portraying surging waters. I wondered if it was an aquarium. Almost immediately, I saw a fish swim by. A steelhead! Within the next 60 seconds, I witnessed another dozen fish swimming by. There were several windows on the…

Experiencing the Bird in Utah

Utah gave me The Bird – and that was a good thing. I’m sitting here in my room at the Cliff Lodge of Snowbird Resort – The Bird – located in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. I’m a half-hour ride from Salt Lake City and the 84th Annual Conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America is underway. Looking out my…

On the water with the coach

Life is funny sometimes. Julie O’Neill, a friend from Pendleton Center United Methodist Church, asked me for a favor. Would I consider being part of a Christmas present to her new boss, University of Buffalo head football coach Jeff Quinn? That’s never happened before – me as a present. O’Neill had stumbled across that Quinn was a fishing nut and…

Mad dash to Memorial weekend

Memorial Day weekend is a time to kick back, relax and enjoy some camping with family and friends. Our church, the Pendleton Center United Methodist Church, offers us some great fellowship opportunities and we have gravitated to several families that enjoy the great outdoors. Nearly every major holiday, we pick a spot someplace in the state to share an outdoor…

Women important to the future

Score another one for the ladies. Christa Saunderson of Ransomville showed up the guys during the spring edition of the 2011 Lake Ontario Counties Trout and Salmon Derby when she kicked butt on a 27-pound, 14-ounce lake trout while fishing on the Niagara Bar with her boyfriend, Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Youngstown and Wet Net Charters. Sure, she may have…

Getting there not always easy

The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers held its Spring Cast and Blast in the Lake Barkley Region in Western Kentucky April 19-21. My original plan was to drive the 12-hour trip, affording me the opportunity to take the necessary hunting and fishing gear. As luck would have it, an important last-minute meeting with DEC forced me to make alternate…

Spring arrives, Niagara style, with a boom!

The sun was out but there was a distinct chill in the air. On the Niagara frontier, things can change overnight quite literally thanks to a manmade anomaly known as the ice boom. This controversial piece of equipment serves a few functions, one of which is becoming a flexible barrier to hold back Lake Erie ice – unless the winds…

Remembering Rick Martin

I grew up watching Buffalo Sabres hockey legend Rick Martin – on television and in Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo. He was amazing. It was the 1970s and hockey was growing by leaps and bounds in Western New York. I was playing for the Niagara Falls Mang’s Sharks in the New York-Penn Junior Hockey league when I first met the sharpshooter,…

Showing off

Yes, it’s sport show season. As I write this, I have just completed my third day working the 26th Annual Allegheny Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show at the Monroeville Convention Center just outside Pittsburgh. Two days left, but they will be long ones. Saturday is 12 hours; Sunday will be longer as I check out and head back home at…

What’s the big deal about crossbows?

Back in 1990, I was invited to participate in an outdoor writer media event in Ohio to sample the much-maligned crossbow – the Devil’s tool. Or so I thought. After a couple shots at a target, I turned to my father, Bill Hilts, Sr., and said, “These things are fun to shoot. I think our misconceptions of these things aren’t…

Getting ’em started

As we struggle to conjure up resolutions for this new year – at least ones that we will adhere to and not let fall by the wayside – one good suggestion for veteran sportsmen and women is to expose the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts to our great natural resources. Give them a taste of what’s available. A recent reminder…

Canadian king stockings to continue

I have to say that I’m excited about this blog thing  – an outlet that will give me free rein to pass along pertinent outdoor information, share some of my feelings and thoughts about the outdoor issues and share a little bit about who I am and what I do. It should be both fun and rewarding.Having just returned from a combination…