Outdoors Journal: Fulton County ideal conference spot for scribes

In the spring of 2010, 15 of the writers successfully sampled the fishing and hunting opportunities

Two weeks ago, Fulton County, the Land of 44 Lakes and one of the best well-kept secrets in the Adirondacks, hosted 22 members of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association for their annual four-day conference.

In the spring of 2010, 15 of the writers successfully sampled the fishing and hunting opportunities offered by Fulton County, an outing which led to NYSOWA choosing the location for this year’s conference.

Spearheaded by Terry Swierzowski, Fulton County’s director of tourism, along with Alby Peck and his grandson, Clarence Chamberlain, of Peck’s Lake Enterprises, they put together a number of outdoor activities and story ideas that were enjoyable and educational for all. The three co-chairmen, Ron Kolodziej of Fonda, Dan Ladd of West Fort Ann and I, have all enjoyed hunting and fishing in Fulton County, and we were eager to share these opportunities with our fellow scribes.


For me, the conference began at 7 the morning of the day the writers would be arriving. I met Clarence for a pre-conference game-scouting ride through the rural area farms, state lands and fishing lakes that the writers would be hunting/fishing. Several of the hunters had chosen to bowhunt for deer, turkey and pheasant on Friday, and then on Saturday, the opening of the Northern Zone muzzleloading season. One week prior to the conference, Dan and I did a bit of scouting of both the Peck’s Lake woods and the adjoining state lands for the hunters who were going to use a muzzleloader on the opening day of the season.

It was raining when we left Peck’s Lake, heading for Ephratah to check out the public pheasant hunting area DEC stocks annually in late September. We hadn’t gone far in on the dirt road when we spotted a cock bird on the edge of the road, and shortly thereafter, we flushed another. We hoped these birds and a few more would be there for the hunters on Friday, one of which would be me.

We covered a number of fields I’m quite familiar with, but we didn’t locate any turkey flocks in the fields. But both Clarence and I knew the birds were there in the surrounding woodlots and could be found for hunting on Friday and Saturday.

That evening at the Fulton County welcoming reception at the Johns­town-Gloversville Holiday Inn, the writers were introduced to the conference sponsors, chamber members and their volunteer hunting and fishing guides and, lastly, the evening’s guest speaker.

It isn’t often that a Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner attends our conference, but newly appointed Joe Martens did, and we were all eager to hear what he had to say. With Martens was Michael Bopp, the assistant director of commun­ications for DEC, and four of the region’s Env­ironmental Conserv­ation Officers.

The commissioner gave a brief presentation on things happening now and planned for the future, praised the ECOs for their dedic­ation and their tireless efforts during the floods, and then turned it over to us for questions.

I think it was an education for both the writers and the commissioner as they quizzed him on getting timely DEC information requests for stories, contacting individuals in the various DEC offices, the elimination of marine fishing license fees and its loss of funds, use of Conservation Funds and one of my favorites, the current ridiculous crossbow hunting regul­ations.


It was 9 a.m. when I met my guide, Boo Vanalstyne of Fultonville, at the Ephratah pheasant hunting site and his 5-year-old yellow lab, Tanner, was as eager as I was to get started. I noticed the dog’s right eye was permanently shut, and every so often, he would rub it with his paw. Boo assumed it had been caused by bushes on a prev­ious hunt. But that bad eye didn’t interfere with Tanner’s enthusiasm and his keen nose. This is truly the only way to hunt pheasants.

Knowing that this area had been heavily hunted after being stocked with pheasants in late September, I was expecting a tough hunt, but I don’t think we went more than 100 yards before Boo said, “He’s getting a birdie, get right up there next to him.”

What surprised me is that Tanner actually locked up into a beaut­iful point. Labs are usually flushers, not pointers. I didn’t know whether I wanted to shoot the bird or photo­graph the dog. When Boo gave the command to “get him,” he dove into the hedgerow. I got my shot, and my cock pheasant, quickly retrieved by Tanner, was dropped at my feet.

We spent the next hour doing as much talking as hunting as we made our way around the property. We didn’t flush anything, at least that we know of. I had my one bird and a great pheasant recipe Boo called his “Buffalo Pheasant Riggis,” and that was enough for me. You can check out the recipe and a photo of Tanner, me and the pheasant on my blog by clicking here.

While we were chasing pheasants, Clarence was out with NYSOWA president Glenn Sapir of Putnam Valley and Bill Hollister of Valatie, looking for turkeys, and about 9:30 a.m., they found a flock of seven or eight feeding in a field. The hunters put a hill between themselves and the birds and started their half-mile sneak to woodlot that would lead them to the turkeys. Moving within 150 yards or so of the birds, they set up behind a knoll blocking the turkey’s view to them, and Bill began to make soft calls on his Quaker Boy Mini-Boat Paddle. It didn’t take long for this veteran turkey hunter to get their attention. I believe they came on the run, and Bill was able to get one at 20 yards. His adult hen weighed a plump 12 pounds.

When I got back to the hotel, I found out the anglers all caught fish at the three locations. At Peck’s Lake, Frank Tennity of Honeoye displayed his largemouth bass-fishing talents, using a variety of different colored wacky worms, while Mike Seymour of Canton wielded the best stick, hooking up with and releasing a 17-plus-inch bass and several pickerel, all on a spinner, at the Great Sacandaga Lake. Unfortunately, the Mayfield Lake anglers ran into bad luck — not fishing, but weather — as the heavy rains and wind forced them to abandon ship (canoe).

That afternoon, Frank’s Gun Shop and the Adirondack Outdoorsman Show made sure we ate well at the breakout day at the Pine Tree Rifle Club. The highlight of this event was a muzzleloading presentation by National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association master trainer Kenyon Simpson of Bolton Landing. I learned more about muzzleloading at the seminar than I ever thought I could, and his presentation had everyone laughing and learning.

Simpson’s muzzleloading training and his many award-winning years of educating the younger generation in hunting and shooting safety is very impressive, and I intend on covering it all in a future story.

Later that afternoon, we all visited Bob Kazmierski’s Wildlife Sports & Educational Museum and ended our evening with an outstanding dinner at Lanzi’s Restaurant overlooking the Great Sacanadaga Lake.


Another good day of eating with a breakfast sponsored by ADK Realty, afternoon lunch at Peck’s Lake Campground and a National Shooting Sports Foundation banquet at the Nick Stoner Inn. The food is good in Fulton County.

Saturday’s outdoors activities included more pheasant hunting, a handful of muzzleloaders hunting on Fulton County private and state lands and anglers returning to Peck’s and the Great Sacandaga lakes. The pheasant hunters flushed birds, but were unable to shoot; two of the muzzleloaders spooked a deer, but were unable to shoot; and the anglers all caught fish.

At dinner that evening, Don Will­iams, an Adirondack author and story teller, entertained the group with his amazing knowledge of the North Country.

The remainder of the evening was dedicated to a number of NYSOWA awards. These included the “Best in Craft” writing awards, photo awards and several special recognition awards.

Locally, Bill Hollister became only the sixth person to receive the Pass It On Award sponsored by Bass Pro Shops. This award is given to the NYSOWA member who has done an outstanding job through writing, mentoring programs or some other means of passing on the concept to those people who might not have otherwise been introduced to outdoor activities.

I would like to say thanks to some very generous supporting members and sponsors who donated products and fishing/ hunting trips for the NYSOWA college scholarship awards, which will soon be named the Bob McNitt Scholarship Award in honor of our recently departed member. Bob had been a mainstay of the NYSOWA organization since 1982 and one of my very good friends.

Categories: Sports

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