by Leon Archer
The first time I ever visited Niagara Falls was when Sweet Thing and I went there for our honeymoon way back in 1961. To say I was impressed and enjoyed myself immensely would be a huge understatement and the falls were nice, too, when we spent time enough to look at them.
Sweet Thing will probably whack me up alongside my head when she reads this, but it is true that we were too much in love and too lost in each other to really appreciate the beauty and magnitude of one of New York’s greater natural wonders.
So it was with great pleasure that we visited Niagara Falls again last month from Oct. 18-21 for the Annual New York State Outdoor Writers Association Conference.
Other than the NYSOWA board meeting, awards banquet, and annual membership meeting Sunday that always closes our fall meeting, we were free to enjoy the offerings of our western jewel pretty much at our leisure. Our hotel room was fantastic — a far cry from the dinky room Sweet Thing and I stayed in back in 1961, which was on the third floor above a wax museum in a building I believe has long since disappeared.
This trip we were very comfortably ensconced in the Four Points Niagara Hotel (in New York, not the one by the same name across the river in Ontario, Canada). The accommodations were luxurious, the kind of room where Sweet Thing is so comfortable that she sort of hates to leave it. But leave it we both did each morning, she to explore the sights and boutiques with some of the other spouses of outdoor communicators, and I with those communicators to sample what the area had to offer for sportsmen.
If one was lazy or only had a few minutes to kill, it was possible to step out of the rear of the hotel, out onto the large dock on the Niagara River, and cast for willing bass, but mostly we hearty writers rose early and went in various directions to partake in fishing and hunting adventures.
Other than the fun that comes with each pursuit, we hunt and fish that we might soak in and assimilate the essence of each area we visit, in order to be better able to convey the picture of the outdoor offerings in various sections of our state awaiting our readers.
Some of our members hunted deer with a bow a couple mornings. There are plenty of deer in the farmlands and woods not far from Niagara Falls, and the hunters saw some, but nothing that came by was able to fill the bill for them. I guess they were looking for a great buck, not just venison for the freezer.
Some hunters went to the Feathers and Tails hunting preserve to watch bird dogs work the tall grass and goldenrod as their noses searched the air and ground for the heady odor of pheasant.
Yours truly did that one morning and I shot two beautiful roosters which I enjoyed a second time as they completed their journey on our dinner table.
Feathers and tails is located in Newfane, N.Y., about 40 minutes from Niagara Falls. Because of the quality of the cover and the walking required to find birds in front of the dogs, the experience reminded me of hunting the Three Rivers Area in Baldwinsville. Every hunter from our group who went for pheasants got at least one.
Most of the other writers fished at least one morning for bass or muskies; although, some were happy to drive north the short distance to Lewiston to fish for salmon, steelhead, brown trout and lake trout that were moving into the river from Lake Ontario.
The fishing was a big hit with the writers. Bass and trout were plentiful, but the crowning achievement came on Saturday morning when three writers fished the Upper Niagara and hooked four muskies, three of which they got to the boat for pictures before releasing them to fight another day. The largest fish was about 25 pounds. That’s a great day of fishing in anyone’s book.
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