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Fins, feathers and fur: Spring opportunities

Tour of the Bay of Fundy Canadian National Park with Buckaroo, our guide. (Photo courtesy of Stephen George)

Spring time is special here in the northeast because it’s when hunting and fishing season collide after the long winter. Despite the absolutely crappy weather we have been dealing with, there have been breaks in the clouds, and with good rain gear, to allow some fun.

In late April, I went with Pine Tree Rifle Club members Harold Achzet, Paul Giardino and Bob Johnson up to Lake Ontario to take advantage of the fishing out of Oswego Harbor.

Paul had booked a charter with Capt. Ernie Lantiegne who operates “Fish Doctor Charters.” He is considered the best of the best on the big lake so we were confident the day would be a good one. The goal was to fish shallow water for brown trout but a little “birdie,” (Todd Rogers), told me that the king salmon were in shallow too and they had hammered them a few days earlier.

Capt. Ernie had us on the water at first light and despite wind and rain we were dry and comfortable in his 28-foot boat. Planer boards, downriggers and lead-core lines were deployed and within a few minutes the first of many brown trout were landed. The browns were in the four to six pound range which is good, but when 20 pound kings are roaming, it wasn’t hard to convince the captain to slide out to 50 feet of depth water in search of bigger fish.

On the first pass, a rod bent over and the reel screamed as a giant 18 pound king salmon attacked the rig. The cold spring water has these fish jacked up taking 100 yards off the reel on the first run. At one point we had a triple of king salmon on and it was chaos trying to keep lines from getting tangled and getting fish into the net.

The New Brunswick beast. (Photo courtesy of Stephen George)

Within three hours we had our limit of 12 fish, that included brown trout, king salmon (all 15 to 20 pounds), and a 15 pound lake trout. A small, Atlantic land-locked salmon was caught and released. If you’re looking for an epic day on the water with one of the most experienced and fun captains, give Ernie a call at (315) 532-4792. There are plenty of lodging and dining opportunities in Oswego and it’s only a two-hour drive from Johnstown.

Another turkey season is in the books and I cannot complain, despite the weather we had to endure. On opening day, I hunted with my hunting buddy from Ticonderoga, Bruce Bruce, yup that’s his name. We roosted a few birds the night before and got set up on them early in the morning. They had hens so our calls were not convincing enough to get the tom’s to break up with their girlfriends.

After they flew down, they headed off and followed a ridge down the hill we had just climbed. To add insult to injury, we could see the three gobblers and the hens headed to the old log landing we had parked at. Sure enough, they walked into the landing and the gobblers were literally strutting within three feet of the parked truck! “I mean, c’mon guys we just parked there and climbed this big mountain to get to you and now you’re practically leaning on the truck showing off for the ladies,” I thought.

We slowly made our way down off the mountain and set up in a position to intercept the birds, if possible.

After a two-hour stand-off the hens departed, leaving the toms behind. Now, we had their attention and after another half-hour, a bird made his way slowly in our direction. As the bird wound his way through the slash left behind from the loggers, I could see the fanned out tail and red head. The big tom soon stepped into a clearing at 15 yards and the Remington 870 Super Mag did its job.

The old tom that made my late morning hunt worth sleeping in for. (Photo courtesy of Stephen George)

Later in the month, I had an opportunity to hit the woods between 11 a.m. and noon one day, and since I had my gear with me, it was an easy decision.

I had recently picked up a strutting tom decoy at Running’s and I was anxious to see how it would work. I set up the strutter and a hen decoy in the corner of the field and found a big tree to get up against.

After a series of yelps, I settled in and starting answering work e-mails on my phone. After a few minutes I hit the box call and I could hear a gobble off in the distance. One hundred yards away, I saw the big tom cross through a hedgerow and begin to display. His pace was slow and I was thinking “I only have ’til noon so I hope he steps it up.” As soon as a light breeze hit the fanned out decoy and spun it, the ol’ tom, still 100 yards away, saw that and came running while in full strut all the way to the decoys. It was comical to watch the bird run while fanned out, like someone running with their pants down around their ankles. As the ol’ bird strutted round the hen decoy and challenged the fake rival, the gun roared and the hunt was over by 11:20 a.m.

Last week, I returned to Oak Mountain Outfitters in Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada for another spring bear archery hunt.

Once again, we were greeted by Clarence “Buckaroo” LeBlanc at the lodge with warm enthusiasm as we are “family” to him.

Our limit of king salmon and lake trout from Oswego with Fish Doctor Charters. (Photo courtesy of Stephen George)

We quickly settled into the lodge and sighted in our bows and crossbows. On the first night, Harvey Williams from Schenectady saw 12 bear and took a fine four-year old bear that sported a gorgeous white chevron (white ‘V’ on the chest) with his crossbow.

Tom Cooper saw four bears and passed on them in hopes of a true New Brunswick giant, and I saw two bears and two coyotes on the first night.

The rain precluded us from hunting on the second day so we went into the town of Alma on the Bay of Fundy for some seafood and to tour the park. It’s truly a beautiful park with stunning scenery of the ocean and shoreline. The park has a rich history rooted in logging and fishing and accommodates campers with tents or trailers.

The weather had cleared on the third day and allowed us to hit the tree stands again. While the bear activity was slower than earlier in the week, we all saw bears and I was fortunate enough to take a 422 pound boar. I was glad I had picked up new Gold Tip arrows from Jeff Frasier at Black Street Archery before the hunt. I tipped the arrows with G5 Havoc broad heads which make recovering big game easy.

The lighted nock from Nockturnal made finding the arrow and bear even easier, as the bright green light was very obvious in the dark. The bear had only gone 30 yards and should make Poe & Young.

A truly epic spring of hunting and fishing and it looks like I’ll be grilling up some fine eats at the marina at the Great Sacandaga Lake this summer!

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