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Outdoor guides rendezvous

March 20, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS, For The Leader-Herald

Rendezvous time is approaching again and we are looking forward to the 30th gathering of the New York State Outdoor Guides Association. The annual Rendezvous, carrying on the tradition established by the Adirondack Guides Association in 1891 and the later, Browns Tract Guides Association in 1898, will return to Lake Placid, the site of the first NYSOGA Rendezvous held in 1981. The annual Rendezvous of New York's guides is a time of renewing old friendships, making new friendships, swapping stories and songs, attending outdoor seminars, catching up on regulations and legislative issues, and just having a good time with good people.

Guiding in New York state experienced a resurgence in recent years with more than 1,000 people taking the tests and obtaining a state guide's license in one of the five categories. The economy, much like most endeavors today, has had an effect on guiding and the association membership numbers are down. At this writing, 164 guides are active in the association. And, in my estimation, it is as important as ever to maintain a strong membership association to keep track of pending legislation, maintain a clearing house, advertise at outdoor shows, offer member benefits and take advantage of the day-to-day guide marketing techniques.

New York's guides have a long history. In the early 19th century, there evolved a new profession called "guiding." Surveyors, prospectors and sportsmen needed help in traversing the wild sections of upstate New York. Old woodsmen including Sabael Benedict, Alvah Dunning, and Mitchell Sabattis turned their hands to the task. Many of the early guides were trappers, hunters or loggers who provided their services to occasional visitors to earn extra cash. As tourism flourished, guiding became a full-time profession with many guides employed by hotels and private camps.

The Annual Winter Rendezvous 2011 is scheduled at the newly-renovated High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid for Thursday through March 27. (Guides can make reservations by phone at (518) 523-4411 - the Lake Placid Rendezvous sells out fast.) There is always something for everyone at the annual gatherings. Professional licensed guides for fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, rafting, canoeing, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, charter boating, and photography are invited to take part in the three-days sessions. The state testing for the guide's license usually takes place during this event. Those interested can apply at the Department of Environmental Conservation.

NYSOGA participates on a regular basis with the scheduled outdoor shows. Those interested in meeting and speaking with outdoor guides will find them at this year's shows at The Garden State Outdoor Sportsmen's Show at Edison, N.J., the Springfield Sportsmen's Show, at the World Fishing and Outdoor Exposition at Suffern, and The Adirondack Sports and Fitness Summer Expo in Saratoga Springs, among others. The shows provide an opportunity for clients to partner with the guides for their outdoor adventure.

More than 100 years ago, a Wallace Adirondack Guidebook recorded some wisdom: "A respectful protest against the practice of penetrating these wilds unaccompanied by a guide, who is really indispensable to those who visit the Adirondacks." IME, a good thought that should be considered today.



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