Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gordie's Stats for 2015 NY Woodcock Season

NY's woodcock season this year ran for 45 days, from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14. Gordie, I, and frequently a friend or two, hunted 36 of those days. Hunts averaged, I’d estimate, 75 minutes. When I had guests, we worked a little longer; hunting alone on warm and dry early-season trips when birds were scarce, I’d cut Gordie's day short. We have the time and the temperament to prefer a short but daily hunt to, for example, big slogs on the weekend.

I keep woodcock logs for the NY DEC; for the Federal FWS; and for a bunch of (us) crazy old coots who subscribe to Grouse Tales. I’m using data from these three to mention 4 statistics from our 2015 woodcock outings.

1) Gordie averaged just under 3 flushes per hunt. If my 75 minute/hunt estimate is pretty close, that’s a flush every 25 minutes. I tried very hard not to count reflushes, and so Gordie’s total flush count would actually be higher than listed. But I’m pretty sure we moved a new bird about every half hour we hunted.

The best period for multiple flushes ran from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1. From the 21st to the 25th, Gordie flushed 4, 5, 4, 6, and 5 birds; successful shooters in this period were Rick J. and Dids. From Oct 30 to Nov. 1, Gordie flushed 4, 5, and 8 birds; successful shooters in this period were Joey K. and I;

2) Almost 50% of the birds Gordie flushed were shot at. This requires some explanation. I count for logging purposes dead birds by *dog*, not by gunner, as I’m a “dog man” first. So the shooting involved here was done not just by me but by my guests as well. I probably shot at fewer than 50% of the flushes I saw, as I don’t like to shoot at birds in very, very thick cover which offer a long, uncomfortable, and possibly fruitless chance for a retrieve. OTOH, my guests, many of whom are relative newbies, take shots such as they can;

3) Only 20% of the birds flushed were killed. This percentage acknowledges that we hunt in very, very thick places, and that newbies are often the gunners. I like to leave my gun at home when I take guests so that they’ll *know*, when a bird goes down, that they’re the successful shooter. But lots of stuck safeties and “oh, is *that* a woodcock?” tend to depress this statistic; and

4) About 40% of the birds shot at were killed (this follows algebraically from #2 and #3 above.) Given all that comes before, killing 40% of birds in tough places, with newbies often taking the shot, ain’t half bad.

All these numbers are fun for math geeks like me to fiddle with. But as the MasterCard commercial avers, to hunt 36 days with my 11 year old dog both alone and with friends new and old in familiar thickets is priceless. What a great year!

PS: The Shot of the Year was made today as the season ended. Gordie flushed a bird from a stand of dogwood and it offered an easy shot as it flew low to the ground down an open lane. Jim S. drew a bead, but then as Gordie came rushing out of the brush after the bird, he safely raised his gun and held fire. Good job there, Buddy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Fishing in NY 2015

(Entries will be added chronologically below)
May 4 — Wyoming County
I finally got to wet a line this year. I waded into the creek and began working the very first run with a #16 Adams Wulff. On about the third cast I had a splashy rise and refusal from what appeared to be an average size fish hereabouts. I thought “Wow! It’s going to be a great day!” Naturally, that was the last fish I saw all day.
Nevertheless, it really was a great day. It started in fading sunshine and 79°F, a wonderful change from our frigid and snowy February. On the way home, I stopped at the ice cream shop in Sandusky and had the season’s first ice cream cone, one scoop each of Fool’s Gold

and of Caramel Praline Turtle.

I thought “Wow! It’s going to be a great year!”

May 24 — Wyoming County
I fished the No-Kill section of w. NY’s best trout stream that runs parallel to Route 39. I was surprised that I had the whole stretch to myself on a holiday weekend, as there were no cars in the upstream DEC parking spot. After I got on the water, I understood why. Let’s just say it was a bit claustrophobic. If I ever go back there again, it will be after Pai Mei teaches me to punch a tight 30’ loop with an 8” fly rod.
The water was certainly nice, and I in fact had splashy refusals in each of the runs I had an opportunity to cast to. But there was too much bushwhacking and not enough fishing for my tastes.
On the drive home, I stopped at Mar Mac for a Byrne Dairy ice cream cone. Two scoops of Holy Cow restored my happy mood. 

June 22 — Cattaraugus County
Today I fished a favorite stream near Delavan for the first time this year. Spring run-off always alters the stream bed, and last year's honey holes are often blown out before opening day.
And so it was for the first three quarters of the beat I fished. But what holes and runs had been destroyed downstream were replaced by really attractive runs upstream. In one of these new holes, I caught a chunky rainbow maybe 9” long on a #16 Adams Wulff. The splashy rise suggested a smaller fish, but as I stripped in line to get him off the hook and released, he seemed to gain weight. What a fine fish! Of course, when I went to take his photo, the battery in my camera was dead. Rather than search my pack for the iPhone and risk losing him, I simply held him upstream in the current until he felt strong enough to fin his way back home. I googled for a fish that was close in size and color, just to post a fish pic rather than an ice cream cone’s.

In a new pool upstream from there, I had a splashy refusal from a trout that looked considerably bigger than the fish I released. No kidding. I’ll be back there again this summer.

July 13 — Cattaraugus County

Today I went back to Cattaraugus County to the same stream where I’d had good luck last time. I knew I’d be fishing two different sections of the stream. Because I hadn’t tried my brand new GoPro yet, I elected not to baptize it on the longer stretch on which I started the day. Too bad. I caught 3 nice rainbows on a #18 Royal Wulff in the same pool where I’d caught a nice fish last time. Dang!

Another reason I didn’t wear the GoPro is that there’s a long march on the rural roadside from where I stop fishing back to the car. The locals thereabouts always wave and say Hi when they see the amusing geezer with his quaint fish pole wobble by. But that same guy, I feared, might get a warmer reception if he looked instead like some space alien. Think of that nerd kid in Sixteen Candles:

My second beat was shorter, and that’s where I strapped on the GoPro for its test run. I put it over my backwards baseball cap — hate that look… — and adjusted it as seemed about right in my reflection in the car’s rear window.

I was surprised at how easy the gizmo was to use. One click started the video camera; one click stopped it. Rinse and repeat. I wouldn’t know until I got home whether the camera was focused on The Action, or at the treetops, or at my feet. Turns out, no worries. Brainless, and thus perfect for me.

The attached vid shows, at a second or two from each endpoint, first a small “refusal” and then a really exciting refusal (I think the lens must be some sort of wide angle affair. That would explain why it’s so easy for the camera to record where you’re looking, but also why it makes the center of the action look small and far away).

Sunday, March 29, 2015

White Water Kayaking On Franklin County’s Salmon River Above Whippleville

I got an abrupt introduction to canoeing in 1965 when I attended the M-3 Minnesota Outward Bound School. I don’t know whether Outward Bound has softened its approach since then, but in 1965 we “campers” were given the full Zack Mayo.

By M-3’s end, we were all pretty fair hands with a Grumman, and I came away enjoying canoeing in water either flat or white. Running Class IIs with friends got me interested in upping the ante both in class and in craft. And so in 1980 I bought river running kayaks for Nancy and me. We next headed up to a “kanu camp” in Ontario to get a bit of instruction. The camp operators were quite good themselves at white watering, but hugely overly optimistic as judges of our slalom potential. Here’s a shot of our “training site.” We still don’t know how we got out of there alive.

In a triumph of hope over experience, Nancy and I tried kayaking again a month later in some gentle current on the Salmon River that flows north through Malone in Franklin County. We found the little bit of current along Park Street a little too much. The kayaks shortly thereafter became a Sawyer Cruiser.

My alert s-i-l Patsy found this link of some serious early spring kayaking on the Salmon straight down from Chasm Falls. These guys are good. Maybe crazy. Probably both.