Hunting with an airgun presents new challenges

As a small-game hunter, I was quite impressed
Bubba Damiano, 7, of Saratoga Springs shows one of the bass he caught at Saratoga Lake.
Bubba Damiano, 7, of Saratoga Springs shows one of the bass he caught at Saratoga Lake.

Several months ago, I read about a new GAMO Swarm Maxxim .177- and .22-caliber break-barrel pellet air rifle that allow the shooter to no longer have to hand-load each pellet after every shot. Instead, you load 10 pellets into a circ­ular clip that holds, and click it into the barrel. When you shoot, just cock the barrel and the pellet is there ready for firing. Also on the clip, it has numbers one through 10 that tell you how many shots were taken.

As a small-game hunter, I was quite impressed with not only the 10-shot clip, but some of the other added features. These include a Whisper noise reduction system, shock wave absorber recoil pad, a newly added gas piston that requires only 30 pounds to cock and a two-stage trigger action for more accuracy. Also included is a special 3-9x40mm airgun scope. Speed is also important, especially for those of us that want to hunt small game with an airgun. 

About the Swarm’s speed (feet per second): Using the lead-free light ammo, the .177 caliber leaves the barrel at 1,300 feet per second, and 975 feet per second for the .22 caliber.

I read about the Swarm last Friday morning and ordered it that afternoon and I am patiently waiting for its arrival because today is the opening of our squirrel hunting season. As soon as it arrives, I will head for the range, sight it in and then for the woods. If you’re looking for an enjoyable small-game hunting challenge, try it with an airgun. The New York state rules for air gun hunting are very simple. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s definition of an air gun is, “A firearm that uses spring or compressed air [not gunpowder] to propel a single projectile that is .17 caliber or larger and produces a muzzle velocity of at least 600 feet per second.”

Don’t forget, you will also need a current NYS hunting license. For full hunting regulations go to


Thirteen-year-old Cainan Hutchings of Glenville has caught several other big bass and recently caught his biggest: A six-pound largemouth fishing off the public dock on Ballston Lake. He was fishing the weeds with a Whopper Plopper. He also recently caught several other lunkers fishing on a private pond in Charlton, where he caught a five-pound largemouth, and the other was while fishing from a kayak on Collins Lake, where he caught another good-sized largemouth.

Last Saturday, my Saratoga Springs friends Neil Hopkins, Dominic Damiano and Dam­iano’s 7-year-old son Bubba went to Saratoga Lake for an early morning (6 a.m.) fishing trip. The fishing was a bit slow for about the first hour, but when we moved into the creek area down by the Fish Creek Bridge the bite began.

Dominic Damiano, who said he wasn’t a fisherman, wasted no time in learning how to fish the wacky worm and hauled in a three-pound largemouth. But Bubba was not far behind when he hooked up with his first bass of the morning, and it wasn’t his last. Actually all of us caught bass, but I believe Bubba caught the most. I am sure that he will be a wacky worm fisherman forever. And before we finished fishing, Bubba even showed us how well his flotation vest under his jacket worked.

I spend a lot of time on the water and I continue to see too many youngsters in a boat without their lifejackets on. The New York state law states that qny youth under the age of 12 on boats 65 feet or less in length must wear a securely fastened U.S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device of appropriate size. It does not apply if the youth is in a fully enclosed cabin.


Speaking of Ballston Lake, 14 anglers held their Singleman Tournament there last month. Tim Longo of Rotterdam was the winner with a five-bass limit totaling 14.05 pounds. In second place was Jerry Rosenbarker of Scotia with 13.05 pounds (he also had the biggest bass, a 3.14- pound smallmouth). Third place went to Larry Andrews of Alplaus with 11.12 pounds. First through third place returned $400, $200, $100 and the lunker was $70.

This past week, the 15 teams that qualified for the Saratoga Tackle Bass Challenge held their Tournament of Champions on Saratoga Lake. This year’s champions were Mike Croll of Troy and Heath Clayson of Ballston Spa with a five-bass limit of 15.78 pounds that was worth $800. Second place and $475 were Saratoga Sorings anglers Dave Munger and John Jenkins with 14.01 pounds. They also received an additional $340 for their 4.85-pound largemouth big bass. Third place ($325) was Indian Lake anglers Tim Paraso and Matt Belmore with 12.66 pounds. After the tournament, there was a barbeque in Lee’s Campground, and Tim Blodgett announced that he will be doing the tournament again next year.

This Saturday, the Washington County Bassmasters will host the Shriners Open Partners Tournament on Saratoga Lake, which will launch and weigh in at Lee’s Park. The entry fee is $100 and lunker is $10. Tournament hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. To get an application go to

Reach Gazette outdoor columnist Ed Noonan at [email protected].

Categories: Sports

Leave a Reply