Peck’s Lake once again big winner for writers

When Schenectady’s famous NBA player and coach Pat Riley coined the phrase “three-peat,” he was refe

When Schenectady’s famous NBA player and coach Pat Riley coined the phrase “three-peat,” he was referring to his team’s three successive NBA championships.

The phrase could also be used by the 15 New York State Outdoor Writers who were guests of Fulton County Tourism and Peck’s Lake last month.

It was our third time in Fulton County, and it was definitely a winner. The group was there for a safari in 2010 and then our 2011 annual conference.

As in our previous safaris, our base camp was on Peck’s Lake and marina (, where we all were assigned cabins on the water, which included use of a boat.

Located in the southern Adirondacks, the 1,369-acre lake is not only pretty, but we found out, very “fishy.”

Peck’s Lake dates back 125 years. The lakeside marina and campgrounds are run by Albert (Alby) Peck and his grandson assistant, Clarence “Peanut” Chamberlin. Both Alby and Peanut were major planners and coordinators of the safari.

Unlike our annual conferences, which are a bit more business-like, these safaris are meant to give the participants more outdoor than indoor activity, and if there’s one thing Fulton County has, it’s a variety of outdoor fun.

This year’s activities included turkey hunting and several fishing and hiking opportunities, all guided by local outdoorsmen.

The fun began Thursday evening with a “meet and greet” sponsored by the Fulton County Tourism at Pine Lake Park, where we met the event sponsors and Fulton County Tourism director Gina Dabiere-Gibbs.

The actual itinerary was a joint effort of Peck’s, Fulton County chamber and Dan Ladd, the NYSOWA safari coordinator. The activities included visits to local businesses offering outdoors products and a hands-on crossbow demonstration at the Pine Tree Rifle Club.

The mornings, Friday and Saturday, were reserved for the “Outdoors.” The turkey hunter’s morning began with a 2:30 a.m. wake up, while the anglers got to stay in bed an extra couple of hours but were on the water at sunup.

Speaking of sunup, the view out that cabin window over looking the lake at sunup is awesome.

As a turkey hunter, I knew I should have gone to bed early, but my cabin mate and friend Wayne Brewer, former director of law enforcement for the Department of Environmental Conservation, and I only get to hunt and fish together at these outings, and our “catching up” evening conversions allowed us no more than two hours of sleep each night.

The evening before the hunt, I met my guide, 16-year-old Zak Frazier of Gloversville, who had roosted a half-dozen toms the preceeding evening up on top of a hill.

Early the next morning, Ladd, Leon Archer and I were following Zak up the hill in the dark. It wasn’t long before I realized that 70-year-old legs and lungs couldn’t keep up with those of a 16-year-old.

I’m sure he and Dan were already set up on top when I finally caught up with Leon in a large field.

We separated several hundred yards apart just as the sun began to peak through the trees and I heard my first gobble.

The toms were there and talking, but they would not leave their harems. Back at Peck’s Lake shortly after noon, we found out the other turkey hunters had had similar experiences.

There was one hunter who on Saturday, the last day of the turkey hunting season, had a jake within five yards of the end of his shotgun barrel, and foolishly let it walk … me.

The anglers’ two days on the water were full of rod-bending action on both Peck’s Lake and the Great Sacandaga Lake. Alby Peck’s group caught numerous panfish, pickerel, small and largemouth bass and even a nice trout.

On the Sacandaga, Steve George (All Water Guide Service) and Rob Javerone put their writer’s mark on plenty of walleye, pike and nice tail walking smallmouths.

Fulton County has 44 lakes within its boundaries, and I bet Peck’s and Sacandaga lakes are at the top of the NYSOWA’s good fishing list.

Our first afternoon luncheon (Friday), at the Wildlife Sports & Educational Museum in Amsterdam, was hosted by Frank’s Gun and Tackle Shop.

The museum is definitely a place all outdoors men/women and children should visit.

Inside, you’ll find over 100 whitetail mounts including many of the most famous bucks ever taken. There are also many other animal, bird and fish mounts, historical and modern firearms and fishing gear and a separate room which is the new home of the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame, which includes a number of NYSOWA members.

Teddy Roosevelt is also one of the inductees in the NYSOHOF.

Ladd surprised the writers when he unveiled a NYSOWA display case donated by the museum.

From there, it was a short ride to Gloversville, where we toured Taylor Made, the biggest aftermarket supplier of boating products. As a boater and fisherman, I have and use a number of their products, and it was very interesting to actually see how their buoys, boat covers, etc., are actually made.

One thing that I have to mention — we ate well.

It began with a Friday evening potluck dinner with food brought by the writers, and included Peanut’s elk chili.

The following night, the feasting continued with the main course being a pig roast, courtesy of Mike Hauser, founder and producer of the Adirondack Sportsman Show, and the generosity of our new supporting member, Easton View Outfitters, which gave us a 90 percent discount on the boar.

And the end of the wonderful safari was quite appropriate. I’m sponsoring Alby’s mom, Alice Peck, 98, to become the first Fulton County female outdoor writer.

Alice has already authored two books, “Peck’s Lake in the Adirondacks” and “Sacandaga Park Gem of the Adirondacks,” and has started her third.

Thank you, Fulton County!

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