Will Elliott’s Outdoors Column: National event draws many youths - The Buffalo News

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Will Elliott’s Outdoors Column: National event draws many youths

Young and old anglers, shooters and all outdoors-interested folk got to see and experience the good things planned and done in behalf of out nation’s environmental resources.

County federations around Western New York held gatherings of a variety of outdoors exhibitors during the 42nd Annual National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration on Sept. 28.

Weather that weekend provided ideal conditions to view and participate in the many events offered at sites in Erie, Niagara, Genesee and Livingston Counties. Fishing-lure casters and bow and air-rifle shooters enjoyed opportunities to try their hand-eye coordination at ranges from the Elma Conservation Club to Godfrey’s Pond in Genesee County. Mild breezes and warm, sunny afternoons allowed for all kinds of instruction and enjoyment.

At all sites, the emphasis was on encouraging youth participation.

Accompanying adults could gain insights on hunting and fishing pursuits, but county coordinators on site kept a count of participants and their progress. Rich Davenport, one of the Erie County organizers, noted, “These are not competitive, scorekeeping activities.”

These hands-on events were first-time encounters for youths such as Cameron Kirby, 6, of Elma. Cameron spent some time a Southtowns Walleye Association Youth Program setup. A Southtowns casting area set up on the lawn welcomed youths to learn how to cast open-faced and closed-faced spinning rods.

Cameron and his sister Chloe, 5, tried casting plugs without hooks through holes in targets while dad, Terry, watched and helped. Percentages and amounts did not count. Learning how to cast lines without tangles and then cast again became the target. Smooth, effective handling of tackle was, for now, the ultimate goal.

As for competition, dad said, “Cameron took first place at a Holland Rod & Gun Club Youth Day in July with a 13.5-inch bass catch.” Cameron also got to shoot a crossbow, compound bow and air gun on the supervised ranges around the Elma Conservation Club grounds.

New York Walleye Association members showed kids and adult anglers the various lure patterns area fishermen use to catch walleye and other popular fish species.

Hawkeye Bowmen archery experts maintained a range where bow shooters could try various models of bows. During the course of the day, many young archers brought in their own bows for help with sighting in and learning to more efficiently shoot their chosen model of target or hunting bow.

The Department of Environmental Conservation exhibit, manned by enforcement and resource biologists, provided visitors an array of fish and wildlife exhibits and interesting facts shared about programs the DEC conducts in Region 9 and with personnel in nearby regions.

Professional staffers offered information about the many mounts of trophy trout, salmon, deer, furbearers and other exhibits on display at the DEC booth. Each visitor interested in planting a tree received a white spruce from the DEC Saratoga Tree Nursery.

One of those seedlings went into the ground an hour after returning from the exhibit at Elma. That young tree replaces a pine that did not make it in a line of otherwise healthy white pines.

But expectations are not that this spruce will approach the heights of these pines that grew to heights of 150 to 200 feet in New York’s Adirondack Region before British ship builders cut them down for ship masts. For a good read on this “monarch among trees,” look for the column “Eastern White Pine” on page 12 of the October issue of Conservationist magazine.

Kids and adults were on target at the Genesee County gathering. Air rifle shooters nearly doubled this year for kids shooting the range at Godfrey’s Pond in Stafford. Coordinators did not keep score, but shots of young shooters’ targets showed many hits in and near bull’s-eyes.

Trap shooting drew many shooters at the Livingston County Federation’s Saturday and Sunday celebrations at the DEC Region 8 Headquarters in East Avon.

Marc Osypian, federation president, noted attendance was good both days, about 3,500 on Saturday and 3,000 on Sunday. “New sporting license sales were up during this year’s program,” Osypian added.

Young and older attendees left each NH&F Day gathering with a greater understanding of what goes into preserving as well and enjoying and consuming our nation’s natural resource abundance.

email: odrswill@gmail.com

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