Like hundreds of other sportsmen in the area, Ward was taking advantage of the sporting opportunities that caused “Outdoor Life” magazine to list Gloversville as one of the top 200 places in the U.S. for sportsmen.
On Tuesday, Ward spoke about his hunting plans for Thursday. He said he didn’t have to go far to hunt wild turkeys locally.
“I’ll just be up behind Kane Mountain,” Ward said. “They’re all over this year.”
Ken Holliday of Caroga Lake also was off to hunt turkey Thursday. He was making a ten-day event of the hunt.
“We’ll be up in Oppenheim,” Holliday said. “Then we’ll cross over into Fairfield [Herkimer County].”
Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Wally Hart said it was an honor to be chosen by “Outdoor Life” and gave credit to tourism director Alison Swartz for touting the sporting life locally.
Swartz said ESPN contacted her about having a bass fishing contest on the Great Sacandaga Lake last year and it was a success.
“We’ve always promoted the outdoors here,” she said. “Fishing and hunting have always been popular here.”
Swartz said based on the tourist register at the visitor center in Vail Mills, 15 percent to 20 percent of visitors come because of hunting and fishing and other sporting recreation locally.
“So we felt, let’s see what we can do to increase hunting and fishing,” she said.
Swartz credited other enthusiasts like Bob’s Taxidermy owner Bob Kazmierski who opened the Wildlife Sports and Educational Museum in the former Grand Union at Vail Mills.
“Ambassadors like him help bring more people to the area in that [outdoor sports] niche market,” she said.
“We opened the museum in July of 2006,” Kazmierski said Thursday. “We’ve had people from downstate stop by and say they think it’s a great area up here and they might retire here.”
Kazmierski said he is trying to educate people about hunting and fishing in the area and would like to see more people, especially school groups, come to the museum. He said his museum will be open from May 23 to the end of August seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Our over 100 trophy deer heads collection is one of the best in the northeast,” he said. “Our 14,000 square feet of displays covers all aspects of hunting, fishing, hiking and trapping with displays of changes in equipment through the years.”
Another ambassador is Mike Hauser who runs Twin City Sports Promotions whose Adirondack Outdoorsman’s Show at the Johnstown Moose Club in February and upcoming show in September at the Concordia Club brought many sporting enthusiasts to the area.
Hauser said he felt the proximity to the Great Sacandaga Lake was a big part of Gloversville’s high ranking for hunting and fishing.
“We have tremendous resources within a half-hour for whitetail deer and small game,” Hauser said.
He also said the world record for a northern pike was from the Great Sacandaga Lake in 1940.
“The angler, Peter Dubuc, ate the fish instead of mounting it,” Hauser said.
According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Web site: In 1940, Dubuc caught a 42-pound, 2-ounce northern pike from the Great Sacandaga Lake, setting a new world record and putting New York on the map as a trophy pike state. While the Dubuc fish has since been knocked into second place by a 50-pound fish caught in Germany, New York remains a top location for anglers seeking trophy pike.
Hauser has had baseball card shows for the past 10 years, but when he calculated there were 10 times as many hunting and fishing enthusiasts as baseball card collectors, he decided to start outdoor sportsman’s shows.
“Don Williams was my elementary school principal and I asked him to be my first speaker,” Hauser said. “I figured if he liked the idea, it would fly.”
Hauser said his main sports interest was fishing for walleye pike in the Sacandaga where he trolls with “bottom bouncers” and worms.
“Arietta and Benson have trophy-sized whitetail deer,” Hauser said. “Montgomery County has a great quantity of whitetail deer.”
“I went to see Sue Casey at Beacon Wearhouse to get some camouflage clothing to wear at the booth in February,” Swartz said with a laugh. “It wasn’t something I was used to, but the show got a great reception with people coming from down state and New Jersey.”
As if on cue, Swartz received a call of inquiry from a caller in Hardwick, N.J., inquiring about the bass fishing contest to be at the Sacandaga in June.
At Adirondack Sports Center in Johnstown Tuesday, Bob Jackson was checking out fishing rods and said he will be attending a fly-tying class at the St. Patrick’s Masonic Lodge in Johnstown Wednesdays.
“We have a men’s breakfast there Wednesdays,” Jackson said. “Herb Frank is leading the group.”
Jackson acknowledged he has always been an avid fisherman, although now he says he is often just putting on bait for his grandchildren.
At the recently opened Fly Shack on West Fulton Street in Gloversville, owner Mike Bokan said some of the best fly-fishing in the world can be found in this area.
“The Capital District in general is fantastic for outdoors,” Bokan said Wednesday. “West Canada Creek, the Battenkill and Ausable Chasm are all great for fly fishing. And the Catskills are the birthplace of fly fishing.”
Bokan said his business started on the Internet, where he expects most of it still will continue. But by having a retail outlet, he said he will be able to carry some high-end products he wouldn’t otherwise be able to stock.
Jeff Chamberlaine has run the Adirondack Sports Center for more than 30 years, but said the “big box stores” are too much competition for small, local retailers.
“A lot of the older generation are dying out and the next generation are too involved in computers, cell phones and video games to get outdoors,” he said.
In spite of Chamberlaine’s thoughts on the next generation, Swartz and others locally see sportsmen and sportswomen as a viable force for the local economy.
“On Tuesday, I’ll be part of the planning for a waterfest at Trail Station Park this summer,” she said. “People don’t realize how clean the Cayadutta Creek is and that there are fish in it.”
At the Adirondack Wildlife Studio in Caroga Lake, Michael Vickerson was working on his taxidermy. He said there were many reasons why “Outdoor Life” saw the area as a good sporting area.
“We have an abundance of public and state land and open recreation areas,” Vickerson said. “Going on public land is free and no permission is needed.”
Vickerson also cited low crime in the area and the general good things that go with a rural setting.
“I sometimes forget to lock my doors at night,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve left my keys in my truck. You wouldn’t do that in the big city.”
Part of the “Outdoor Life” criteria for best sporting places included “world class hunting and fishing, easy access to public land and water, and vibrant economies that remain affordable and hospitable.”
The magazine also mentioned that in such towns a “hunters’ breakfast” was often on the menu.
The magazine’s Web site (http://www.outdoorlife.com) also stated sporting opportunities were balanced with data on the growth rate of the economy, unemployment rate, tax burdens, commuting time to work, crime rate, housing prices, median income and cultural opportunities within driving distance.
The sporting data regarding Gloversville noted the population is 15,175. It also stated there were six species of animals to hunt in the area, seven species for fishing and on a scale of one to 10 there is a trophy potential of five.
The article gave a rating of seven for access to public land and a 4.7 out of 10 for year-round opportunities.
Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Leader-Herald/Richard Nilsen
Bob Jackson checks out a fishing rod at Adirondack Sport Center Tuesday.