On Saturday, the local chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation - the Lakeshore Longbeards - held their 14th annual "Hunting Heritage" banquet at the Kosciuszko Club in Dunkirk.
Most of the original committee members remain, including the club president Scott Dibble, treasurer Bob Turk, his wife Judi and son Bob. Also in attendance were Gary Burmaster, Gary Dudek, Rich Lazarczyk and, of course, the talented auctioneer Jim Tofil.
If memory serves me correct, most of these banquet events have been held at the Kosciuszko Club. The friendly, warm atmosphere of the "Dog House" is well known for their hospitality, as well as their food. This year once again promised a good turnout, with well over a hundred people expected to turn up and help raise money for conservation-minded projects, that will benefit not only turkeys, but all manner of wildlife.
Museum quality artwork and a variety of collectibles were on hand at the 14th annual Lakeshore Longbeards banquet, held Saturday at the Kosciuszko Club.
This year's events will focused on restoring habitat for wild turkeys. The turkey population has taken a hit over recent years, from poor spring-time reproduction due to cold, wet weather, as well as predation from a variety of sources that include raccoons, coyotes, raptors and even bears. Despite all these obstacles, the turkey population will thrive and the NWTF, along with the hunting fraternity, will be there to lend their assistance. To all those who helped make the 2013 event another success, thank you!
The open house at the Westfield Fish & Gun Club on Saturday was a success despite the threat of some nasty weather. Steve Alstad, the President of SCOPE, a pro-gun politically active group was on hand to answer some questions concerning recent litigation from Washington and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Law-abiding gun owners are urged to stay informed of upcoming legislation proposals and stay politically active. Remember who your allies are, especially during an election year.
Here is some food for thought: Since President Barack Obama came into office, there has been a steady increase of legal handgun registrations and sales. Locally, pistol registration courses used to number 25-30 students per class once or twice per year. The last class had 100 students with three more classes scheduled. Ammunition has been limited to three boxes per person daily at major outlets (if you can find any left). One NRA certified pistol course instructor informed us that he traveled to Erie to purchase ammo. The first place was sold out. Another store had plenty and sold the instructor what he requested. The instructor went to lunch and decided to go back and get a few more boxes and found the owner sold out completely in one hour. Locally, a delivery truck arrived around 10 p.m., and was sold out again in a few hours.
With all this talk about the lake freezing over, many of us tried to remember when the last time the harbor froze. OBSERVER City Editor Gib Snyder went through the OBSERVER files and located the story written by News Editor Bill Hammond on Jan. 26, 1978, that involved the rescue of two young fishermen, Jim Schrantz and Paul Port. Would-be rescuers Joe Vacanti and Bill Gage were also mentioned in the story. Schrantz and Port were 17-years old at the time when their 15-foot boat met up with 50 mph winds as they tried to reach shore. Vacanti and Gage also ran into trouble while attempting the rescue. A Chautauqua County Sheriff's boat as well as a fishing tug (I believe) were involved in the rescue.
The fishermen were fishing the fabled hot-water discharge area of the NRG power station. Back then it was called NiMO or Niagara Mohawk. The warm water usually kept the Dunkirk harbor ice-free and would attract bait and game fish as well. I believe the harbor froze completely during the blizzard of 1977, except for about 20 yards of open water by the discharge area. Two fishermen carried a canoe out and fished that spot also.
There will be an unscheduled pistol course today at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club from 3-7 p.m. There is a $55 fee and pre-registration is not required. For more information, call Gary at 366-3397.
Waterfowl hunters should be advised that the Dept. of Environmental Conservation has re-opened the snow goose season until April 15 in Upstate New York. For more information, log on to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50514.html.
There will be a "Gun Owners' March on Albany" bus trip which will depart from the New York State Thruway Exit 49 (Depew) park-and-drive area Feb. 28. Participants will travel to the Empire State Plaza's Legislative Office Building. Departure is 4:30 a.m., with arrival time expected to be 10 a.m. The cost is $25 per passenger. Departure from Albany is scheduled for 3 p.m., and arrival back at the Depew parking area around 8:30 p.m. For reservations, call Rich at 510-7952 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This event is co-sponsored by the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen.
Willie Fedrick, Ken Hollandar, Monte Kennedy, Jeffrey Rasmus and the rest of the fly tying group are back again on Monday evenings (6-8 p.m.) at the Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club. The Con Club Fly Tyers have all the equipment you will need to learn how to tie your own flies. No matter what level you are at - from beginner to advanced - you can come and have a good time free of charge. They will provide the vises, hooks and fly tying material. Youngsters accompanied by a parent or guardian are most certainly welcome.
The Sportsman's Show at the Seneca Allegany Events Center (I-86- Exit 20) will be Feb. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go to www.yorkpennshows.com for more information.
Note: The Northern Chautauqua Conservation Club will hold a rabbit contest for members and guests on Feb. 16. Weigh-in will be from 1-3 p.m. with food and prizes available after the weigh-in. Entry fee is $5 with prizes awarded for the heaviest three entries. Those interested can sign up at the club.
Announcing the NYS Ice Pro-Am Tournament Series: There are three main tournament events scheduled - if the ice cooperates. The first was on Tupper Lake Jan. 4-6. The second is on Chautauqua Lake Feb. 15-17. The final event is on Sodus Bay Feb. 22-24. There are three divisions: professional, amateur and open. Professional, which is 1-2 anglers per team, has a $160 entry fee. The Amateur Division, which is also open for singles and pairs, has a $90 entry fee. The Open Division, which is for single anglers only, has an entry fee of $40. Check the official tournament website at www.NYSiceproam.com. The official Tournament email address is info@FKsportfishing.com.
The Jamestown Rifle Club will hold pistol classes today, Feb. 24, March 24 and April 28. You must be 21 years old and a resident of Chautauqua County. All classes begin at 1 p.m. and last around four hours each. Call Pat Hayes at 484-9301 for information.
Gene Pauszek is an OBSERVER outdoors columnist. Send comments to email@example.com.