Tag Archives: Leon Archer

Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: September 22, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

As the price of gas continues to march onward and upward on the flimsiest of excuses used by oil companies and speculators in order to continue to gouge us, I begin to wonder what effect prices will have on hunting and fishing.

Already I am beginning to weigh just how much I want to travel around the state to kill a few ducks against the cost involved. I know that hunting for small game, even turkeys, is not cost effective if one has to drive very far. However, deer hunting is a slightly different story, but even then, the price per pound for venison can be a more than one would like to think.

I understand that it’s not entirely possible to put an exact price on hunting or fishing because there are so many variables, but nevertheless, I think it is not unrealistic to believe that if the intangible rewards were not factored in, then the cost to benefit ratio would be an unfavorable one.

The intangible rewards are not to be discounted; for indeed, they may often be of greater value to the sportsman than the resulting fish or game.

Time in the woods or on the water with good friends can flavor a relationship for a lifetime. The time fishing or being afield with a spouse or child is precious indeed, and a grandparent can impart a mountain of love and instruction to a grandchild while that child thinks they are merely hunting or fishing.

So I will not entirely abandon going farther afield than my own back yard or fishing streams other than just the river running through Fulton, but I will still seek out areas closer to home.

This year for the first time ever, I applied for and received a deer management permit right here in Oswego County. I certainly can save some gas plus get a little more sleep than I have in the past. And if anyone has a good squirrel woods on their property, and wouldn’t mind allowing someone to shoot a few of their bushy tails, I’m your guy, just let me know.

While I’m back on the subject of squirrels, hunting them might be cost effective. They are so wide spread that no one ever has to travel very far to find a huntable population.

To read the rest of the column, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: Sept. 15, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

I haven’t been hearing much shooting so far during this goose season; either the geese are too far away for me to hear the shots of people hunting them, or they are not getting much pressure.

I haven’t heard a lot of geese flying over my house this year either. I talked with the farmer who owns the small pond and pasture where Jack and I hunt geese, and he told me that so far this fall there hadn’t been any geese dropping in.  The season is about half over and I haven’t even been out yet. I must be slowing down.

On the other hand, the salmon are starting to run and I haven’t been out for them either. Over the years, after catching plenty of fall salmon, I have become more of a watcher than a partaker when the run gets going.

I do like observing the fishermen in Oswego, or even the fishermen in Pulaski if I happen to be going through the area. They have a lot more fun catching the fish than I would.

All the same, I plan to stop down and see what the action is like in the raceway below the powerhouse in Oswego this weekend.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: September 8, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

There were few things in my adolescent life that I looked forward to with greater anticipation than the day when I could begin hunting.

By the time I was 13, I already had years of fishing experience under my belt and I had just started finding girls interesting, but my hunting experience was composed of harassing starlings and English sparrows with my Daisy BB gun and following my brother around while he was hunting.

I got to carry the game he shot and I jumped on the brush piles to scare out rabbits for him. It was all great fun, but man, how I yearned for the day when I could carry something besides a BB gun.

The time finally came in 1955. I got my hunter training, which took about two hours, and I purchased my junior hunting license. I did pretty well on rabbits, but grouse had the odds on their side.

The one game animal that I could harvest nearly at will was the grey squirrel. Squirrels were plentiful and once they were treed, they were in great peril. I sometimes hunted them with a 22 caliber rifle, but usually I had a shotgun in my hands instead. In either case, squirrels were not hard to bring down out of the tree tops.

My daily bag often consisted of one or two cotton tail rabbits, three or four squirrels, and on a good day, an unlucky grouse.

I had grown to love my mother’s southern fried rabbit and squirrel and by the time I started hunting, my brother was in college, so I became the major provider of game for the family table.

During the fall and winter, it would have been unusual not to have a game dinner once a week and of all the small game my mother cooked, squirrel was far and away my favorite, even if the pieces were smaller.

By the time I was 18, I had become much more proficient at locating grouse with a load of number 6’s, rabbits were not much challenge since I had my beagle, Hy-flyte Lindy, and squirrels had become mere targets of opportunity.

I had taken a good friend and trapping buddy, Larry Smith, under my hunting wing. His dad was not a hunter, so I sort of became a mentor for Larry and he got the opportunity to bring down most of the squirrels as we scoured the outdoors for game.

I enjoyed those hours we had together in the field immensely. Even today I count Larry as one of my closer friends.

I know that there are a lot of people — mostly non hunters —  who don’t consider squirrels as anything but a cute little critter that raids their bird feeder and gets squashed on city streets almost as often as ‘possums, but they are so much more.

Squirrels fed our distant ancestors when other food was scarce and in colonial Kentucky, gun makers created the highly accurate squirrel rifle.

Squirrels have planted whole forests as they buried and then lost track of uncounted acorns and other nuts. The squirrel may not have been as impressive as the buffalo, but their numbers were much greater throughout the history of our country.

Today, in America, praise the Lord, we seldom face starvation or want and we don’t need the squirrel to take the edge off our hunger, but he still remains a very popular game animal.

 To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of the Valley News at our office or at one of several locations throughout the City. For Subscriptions call 598-6397.
Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: September 1, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

Do you ever wonder if the people we elect to serve us in Albany have any common sense or care at all about the citizens of our state?

I certainly do at times.

I’ll give you a couple of examples of what really rankles me and they should at least leave you scratching your head.

We don’t often think about it up here in Oswego County, but a big chunk of New York borders on the Atlantic Ocean and it provides jobs for a lot of New Yorkers and income for the state coffers.

Sport fishing is a big thing there, much bigger than it is on Lake Ontario. And like Ontario, its fisheries and beaches draw folks from a lot of other states.

There are two species that arguably draw the most fishermen to Long Island Sound and the south shore of Long Island; they are flounder and striped bass.

I have been to the island a couple of times to fish for them. Those species are managed up and down the east coast by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Basically, this group assesses the stock of each species, and sets a benchmark that will be used to decide how many and what size fish may be taken by sport fishermen and commercial fishermen in all the Atlantic Coast states.

Representatives from each state meet with ASMFC to give their input. In early August, this group met in Philadelphia to make decisions about striped bass that will determine how they will be managed for the next five to 10 years. Can you guess what state wasn’t represented?

I got an e-mail from a member of the Coastal Conservation Association, who is a good friend and an avid sport fisherman, informing me that New York State wasn’t represented at the meeting.

New York was supposed to send three people: Andy Kahnle from the Hudson River Unit, who, incidentally, sits on ASMFC’s Striped Bass Technical Committee; a woman from DEC’s Marine Bureau, who addresses coastal striped bass management issues; and Cathy Hattala, who deals with striped bass on the Hudson River. ASMFC would have paid all their travel expenses.

So what went wrong? Why did we lose our voice at this very important meeting?

Well sometimes common sense, or even just good sense, goes out the window when our government is involved.

Governor Cuomo wanted to save the state some money – good idea – and he put a travel restriction on government employees – which saves a drop in the bucket.

(I notice that he travels where ever he wants to – like the State Fair).

But even if the travel restriction saved some money somewhere, it didn’t save a penny by keeping these people in question from doing their job.

They could have attended at no cost to the state. ASMFC was going to cover their expenses. Let me tell you, it will cost our state’s fishermen, both recreational and commercial, dearly in the years down the road.

I want to quote one paragraph from my friend’s e-mail, because he summed this up so well. “One would think that a meeting discussing the future management of a fish as important to New York’s anglers as striped bass, should have been important enough for Cuomo’s office to permit travel, particularly when the costs of such travel will be picked up by ASMFC – and particularly when New York’s Hudson River hosts the second-largest spawning population of striped bass on the coast. However, that was not the case. Instead, New York anglers and New York’s striped bass fishery were effectively unrepresented.”

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of the Valley News at our office or at one of several locations throughout the City. For Subscriptions call 598-6397.

Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: August 25, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

Well, it’s happened. We’ve worked and played our way through another summer and fall is just over the horizon.

New licenses are available and it’s time to get them and apply for our deer management permits. Goose season starts next week and don’t forget to get your new duck stamp. You can hunt in September on last year’s license, but not the old duck stamp.

Hunters new to goose hunting may wonder after cooking and eating their first goose, if they should bother to continue to hunt these birds. They can range from tasty and tender to tough and sort of gamey.

I have found that birds of the year are almost always good on the table, but the adults are a mixed bag. Even a prehistoric velociraptor might have had a difficult time ripping and chewing up an old goose.

Many people, even veteran waterfowlers, are often unaware of just how long geese can live. The average life span of Canada geese is between 10 to 25 years; although, some tagged wild geese have been known to live longer than 30 years, and some captive pairs have lived for nearly 45 years.

Probably the average age of geese depends to a large extent on the amount of hunting pressure they receive, and lighter hunting pressure would insure more geese reaching senility.

So the hunter who happens to bag a goose that has raised 20 families of goslings, is going to find it just a tad less than tender.

The average adult Canada goose weighs around 10 pounds with young birds somewhat less, but don’t figure you’ve got a young tender bird just because it is smaller than the others, especially later in the season when the northern migrants start arriving. There are 11 subspecies of Canada geese, a number of which we will probably never see in New York State, but our geese can still range in weight from 3 up to 23 pounds.

Our early season resident geese are a lot more homogeneous species wise, so the odds are good that a small goose will be young of the year, especially if it has a shorter neck than bigger birds. These young birds will be tender if they are not over cooked.

When one stops to consider the factors that will toughen up a goose breast, other than age alone, it’s a wonder that they don’t all have to be run through a meat grinder.

They daily have to lift an average of 11 pounds off the ground or water and fly miles to feeding areas. Some fly hundreds, even a thousand or more miles in migration, and they may reach heights over 9000 feet. The main purpose of that big breast is to provide the power for their great wings. If we exercised our arms like they do their wings, we would have muscles like stone too.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: August 18, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

Nothing ever stays the same. The outdoorsman’s world is no exception. Sometimes the change is a fast one, but more often it’s slow enough that we don’t even realize it’s taking place until the day we start remembering the way things used to be.

I’m not thinking climate change here. I’m thinking more about smaller changes, ones that affect us here and now. Some changes I lament, others I like or can live with.

There are natural changes, man made changes and government, or regulatory changes. In most cases, those changes that affect the sportsman’s world come from a combination of all three. Probably the number one change in New York State is land use (including farming practices of course) and it never stops.

When I was a kid, the majority of farms were dairy and ranged from 15 or 20 cows up to large herds of a 100 or so.

Other than hay, corn was the main crop and a lot of that went into silage for the cows. Ringed neck pheasants had been introduced (man made change) and they nested successfully in the hay fields along with many song birds.

A boy could walk through the fields and find scores of leopard frogs while meadowlarks, bobolinks, and countless sparrows took wing at his approach.

In the fall, the pheasants provided a couple weeks of fantastic hunting, and enough of them always survived the winter to produce a new crop the following year.

Over the years, that picture all changed. As a boy, I worked for farmers doing their haying after school was out. Pheasants and song birds had all hatched and departed the fields prior to that activity, but almost unnoticed the change was taking place. Methods and equipment were developed to make hay long before it had started to mature and turn color, and unfortunately, also before hen pheasants and song birds were off their nests with their young.

Then farmers began making grass silage, cutting the fields even earlier and several times during the spring and summer. Hens were killed and nests destroyed. The demise of the naturally reproduced pheasant was underway in much of New York State.

Another change came in the number and size of farms and that had its effect on wildlife as well. The small dairy farm wasn’t completely doomed, but it had a hard time competing with farms of 500 to over 1,000 a head.

The price of milk came down and small farms started to become marginalized. As I drive around these days, I have no problem identifying former farms with their brush choked fields, decrepit barns, or a silo sentinel guarding nonexistent cows.

There were a lot of effects from the emergence of the macro-farms and decline of the small family farm.

Some farmland slowly went back to brush and then on to forest, neither of which brought back the pheasants, but it did make a lot of cover for deer, small game and the newly arrived turkeys.

Since I was a kid, New York deer populations have absolutely boomed. As a sportsman, I’d have to say that change wasn’t too distasteful; however, all farmland did not revert to game habitat.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: August 4, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

Sweet Thing and I just returned from visiting our son, Brett, and his family in Two Harbors, Minn., spending two weeks including travel time. That’s why I missed you last week; I just ran out of time.

We did give our car top camper a good workout, not just on the way out and back, but camping for three nights with the family in Freemont, Wisc.

The Jelly Stone Park in Fremont is about 25 miles away from Oshkosh and Brett and I spent two days at the Oshkosh Air Show while the gals spent the days taking it easy at the pool. What a blast!

If anyone is connected to aviation, they know about the Oshkosh show. It’s the king of all air shows in North America and draws people from around the world. Temperatures were well above 90, but Brett and I ignored the heat and soaked up the sights.

Regular readers of this column are probably aware that I have mentioned my interest in flying and ultra lights from time to time over the past five years. Well, there comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to either fish or cut bait and last month I started ultra light flying lessons. I went to Oshkosh a week after my first lesson.

While at Oshkosh, I joined the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) and spent a fair amount of time looking at ultra light and light sport aircraft.

Now I need to join the local chapter of the EAA. There are some types of ultra lights that I have absolutely no desire to go up in, but I did see some at the show that left me drooling.

It turns out that, unbeknownst to me, Brett also has latent desires to fly as well. He has his eyes set on a light sport aircraft. We spent a while getting a close look at the Sonex, the bird of his dreams. We talked with the designer and came away with Brett feeling it was doable.

At present, I have no plans to buy an ultra light, but who knows what the future might hold?

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397

Leon Archer

The Sportsman’s World: July 14, 2012

Leon Archer

by Leon Archer

When we left the Nushagak River and the city of Dillingham behind us, the number of returning king salmon was way under the minimum escapement requirement for the river — and the limits had been lowered.

The red salmon run was also well below the numbers that Fish & Game wanted to see. By last weekend, the king numbers had started to come up enough that it was projected that the minimum number would be reached, and by mid-week at least 70,000 kings were in the river with more coming. That’s really good news.

This year, most rivers in Alaska were shut down for king salmon, because the runs were so weak. That led to a lot more fishermen showing up on the Nushagak. Famed rivers such as the Kenai were not even open to catch and release as a measure to protect the returning stocks. There is growing concern about what is happening to king salmon and to a slightly lesser degree over the other salmon.

There was a two-page article in the Anchorage newspaper while we were in Alaska that delved into the developing problem and possible causes. It was interesting to me that none of the causes posed as a reason for disappointing runs was sport fishing.

Probably the reason sport fishing was not listed as a culprit is that sport fishing is the most easily controlled and monitored consumptive activity affecting the salmon stocks.

Conversely, controlling sport fishing has the least effect on the number of salmon reaching the spawning grounds each year.

Cut out all sport fishing and unless the run is extremely emaciated, the numbers reaching the spawning grounds would not  look much different. Clamping down on sport fishing is a last resort to protect what’s left of lagging run.

Beyond the hand wringing and bewilderment, there are some things to look at. According to the newspaper article, there are indications, or perhaps guesses, that ocean conditions may be a big factor in the poor salmon showing all over Alaska.

That includes ocean temperatures that have changed on feeding grounds, affecting the number and type of prey species, and also stressing the metabolisms of the salmon.

The article also mentioned that the cod and Pollack trawlers were destroying ever increasing numbers of high seas salmon. A few years ago, the numbers caught in the trawlers was 30,000 to 40,000, but according to the article, this past year the number was 130,000 thousand salmon wasted as by-catch.

You see, it is illegal for the trawlers to keep salmon even though they are dead, but there is no way to keep them from being scooped up in the huge dragging nets used for cod and Pollack.

All those salmon are discarded, dead, as by-catch. There is a movement to limit the total by-catch of salmon by the trawling fleet to not more than fifty thousand fish, or perhaps an even lower number.

Once they have reached that number, the cod and Pollack fishing season would end.

To read the rest of the column, subscribe to The Valley News by calling 315-598-6397