Noonan: Don’t add unnecessary risks to turkey hunting

Use of silhouettes can be dangerous
Ed Noonan displays the channel catfish he caught in the Hudson River.
Ed Noonan displays the channel catfish he caught in the Hudson River.

I was recently asked what I thought about the practice of hunting turkeys behind a large silhouette of a tom turkey and calling and/or crawling toward a real tom. 

I have watched many of the videos and to me, it would be like dressing in brown and wearing antlers on your head during deer season. I also have read about several accidental shooting of hunters who have used the silhouettes. Here are two examples: 

Two hunters received wounds to their faces and upper bodies after a fellow hunter mistakenly shot at the decoy they were hiding behind.

Another example was a hunter who shot and ran toward what he thought was a dead wild turkey gobbler that he had been calling and watching. What he actually found was his wounded brother and friend that were both shot in the face. So, my opinion is — don’t be a turkey; this is dangerous.

Mike Galcik of Schuylerville, who took a big tom the opening morning of the spring turkey hunting season, didn’t waste any time in filling his second tag. Hunting in Saratoga County, he called in a 24-pound tom that was carrying a 10-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs.

Last week, I accepted an invitation from Ed Skorupski of Stillwater to fish with him for Hudson River stripers. This is an invitation I never decline. 

We started out around 6 a.m. catching blue-back herring for bait, which we caught with a Sabiki Rig. Regulations allow only 10 herring per day, and the Hudson is loaded with them right now. 

It did not take us long to get our bait and soon one of our reels was squealing and I was reeling in what I thought was a small striper. No, it was a nice shad. And before we left the water, we had caught and released several more shad.

It wasn’t too long after that I caught my first catfish, which are fun to catch. This was not the only cat of the day, and they were all in the eight- to 10-pound range But the big bite came around 11 a.m. when we hooked a big striper. I had him almost to the boat, but unfortunately, the line broke.

Before leaving, we spoke to a number of other striper anglers and very few had hooked up with any stripers. That’s fishing, and it is still fun. Thanks, Ed.

From my recent ride around Saratoga Lake and a drive through of the boat launch site, I noticed that the majority of the trailers were for bass boats.

That tells me one thing; the bass are spawning and the bass are biting. I like to call it the CPR (catch, photograph and release season) because your chances of hooking up with a trophy largemouth or smallmouth are very good. So I would like to refresh your memory on the proper way to catch and release.

During this catch-and-release season, only artificial lures are permitted. No live bait may be used. During the regular season, all lures and live bait are permitted, and there is a daily limit of five bass 12 inches or bigger.

As a bass tournament angler for quite some time, I am very familiar with catching and releasing bass, and keeping the bass alive is important.

However, catching bass during the spawning period requires a bit of extra care both when boating and releasing them. Here are a few things that should be practiced during this fragile season for the bass:

Hook size is very important and a single hook absolutely gives the fish the best chance for survival. If you are going to use a crank bait or top-water bait, replace the treble hook with a single hook. My favorite is the circle hook. It almost always hooks the fish in the corner of the mouth. Another option is to pinch the barb down on the hooks. This will make it much easier and quicker to release.

If you plan on having a reproduction mount of the big bass you catch, you should take several color photos and measure its length and girth. This is all your taxidermist needs to reproduce your trophy. Just don’t forget to use the fisherman’s ruler, which allows you to add a few inches to the measurements. Do this all quickly, and then gently lower the fish back into the water.

To insure the survival of the bass when fishing for largemouth or smallmouth during the catch-and-release season or anytime you are going to release your catch, bring the fish to the boat as quickly as you can without exhausting it. An exhausted fish may swim away, but can also die later due to the buildup of lactic acid in its system. Do not use ultra-lite tackle and light line. Also, be very careful not to stick your fingers in the gills. Keep the fish in the water as much as possible and always handle them gently. I will see you out there.

Today, I will be heading to Oswego County for the NYS Outdoor Writers Association’s 2018 Spring Saf­ari. We will be staying at the Selkirk Shores State Park. As for activities, there are many. I have chosen turkey hunting and a guided brown trout fishing day on Lake Ontario. I am sure when I return, I will have several fins and feathers stories to tell.

Reach Gazette outdoor columnist Ed Noonan at [email protected]

Categories: Sports

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