The New York State Outdoor Writers Association’s (NYSOWA) annual Spring Safari took place last month in southern Washington County.
For the first time that I can recall, we had perfect weather throughout the weekend. Our accommodating hosts were Battenkill Valley Outdoors (BVO) and Battenkill Riversports and Campground (BRC), both in Jackson just outside of Cambridge.
Battenkill Riversports and Campground is right on the Batten Kill River, which is still a classic a trout stream.
Some of the writers fished successfully right near the campground. Others fished above the Eagleville covered bridge, where upstream to the Vermont border catch-and-release is the regulation, as is artificial lures only.
Through the course of the weekend several brown trout were brought to the net with the biggest being a 14-incher landed by Chris Kenyon of Wolcott (Wayne County), who continuously raved about the large amount of public access provided to the river.
Meanwhile, there was some lake fishing to be had.
Current NYSOWA president Leon Archer of Fulton (Oswego County) brought along his 11-year-old grandson, Nathaniel, who, like his grandfather, has taken up the art of carving decoys. After landing a few browns on the Batten Kill the first day, they spent the next two mornings fishing Dead Lake, where they caught numerous brook trout as well as four very nice brown trout.
Dead Lake supposedly is only stocked with brookies? Long Island writer Charles Wittek and his wife, Theresa, also spent a morning on Dead Lake catching browns and brookies.
There is also plenty of public land in southern Washington County that proved inviting to our turkey hunters. After spending a quiet morning hunting some private land with veteran writer Leo Maloney of Sherrill (Oneida County), I went out the next morning with Dave Figura, a full-time outdoor writer for the Syracuse Post-Standard. Dave has never killed a spring gobbler and I was hoping to get him a crack at one.
It didn’t take long to get a bird going and we set up on one that was answering my calls pretty consistently. Although we never saw him, the tom sounded like he came within about a hundred yards of us.
Dave’s heart was racing as he listened to the gobbler get closer and closer. However, the bird went the other way and we found out why an hour later when we went looking for him; he found some real hens. Still Dave was quite jubilant about the experience. I just wish I could’ve closed the deal for him.
Meanwhile, other writers were having action on both private and public lands.
Ed Noonan of Schenectady’s Daily Gazette, who lives to hunt turkeys, called in and nailed a 20-pound gobbler with a 9.5-inch beard on public land. Ed was by himself just exploring and calling when he got an answer. Ed could kill turkeys in Manhattan and this bird came into his decoy setup around 10:30 a.m.
Our writers were treated to some very informative programs during the afternoons of our stay. We took a ride over to Easton for a detailed tour of a QDMA co-op. This was solid information about the hows and whys of Quality Deer Management, and the writers who didn’t know much about QDMA were amazed at how much work goes into these projects, which are not just about hunting for trophy bucks. We toured food plots, clear-cuts, apple orchards, sanctuaries and tree-stand set-ups and basically just talked deer hunting.
Another program featured New York State Museum consultant Howard Romack’s presentation on reptiles, amphibians and insects that call the area home. Especially interesting were the different frogs and especially the snakes, some of which have bitten him numerous times. Others were just as gentle as could be, including an albino rat snake.
While Washington County is lacking in accommodations compared to neighboring areas, places like BVO and BRC that provide adventure-types with quarters are thriving. These locations worked out perfectly for our writers group and we enjoyed their company as well. Christine Hoffer of Washington County Tourism, who also doubles as the proprietor of the Rice Mansion Inn in Cambridge, out-did herself custom cooking a fantastic dinner for us.
Before we knew it the weekend was over and so many of my fellow writers were raving about the beauty, the friendly people and the plentiful fish and game the area had to offer.
As the chairperson of this event and a resident of Washington County myself, I was sure glad to hear it and plans are already in order to come back in a few years and spend some time in the northern part of Washington County.
Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at www.adkhunter.com.