This month’s #whyBHA is from Ted Krueger, NYBHA Board Member:
I had heard of BHA after moving to Idaho in 2015. It sounded like a cool organization but I just didn’t get around to joining. My wifeand I moved west to experience what the Rocky Mountains had to offer in terms of hunting, fishing, and backpacking. I quickly realized that all of our recreation was taking place on public land.
In the fall of 2016 I went on my first mule deer hunt and killed a nice buck. It was a goal I had long sought after, to hunt a backcountry buck in the mountains and carry him out on my back with his antlers sticking out of my pack. The piece of national forest where I notched my tag will forever be a special place to me.
In 2017 the bill HR 621 was introduced to dispose of excess federal lands. This didn’t sit well with a lot of public land owners. I did the least I could do to help and that was join BHA and contact my representatives encouraging them to not support the bill. I kept thinking about where I love to hunt and how it would feel if it was sold off or disposed of. Even though the proposed land was in Utah, it made no difference to me. Public land should remain open and accessible to all. The bill was eventually thrown out and the excess land remains.
Check out our Instagram page, and #whybha to see other volunteers and hear their motivation to be a part of this organization and community!
Photo of the Month
Moose rubs in the Adirondacks (G. Stefani)
New Board Members Announced for NY Chapter
We are excited to announce these new additions to the NY BHA Chapter Board! Read on for a brief bio of each of our board members.
Raul “Rocci” Aguirre
Rocci has spent the past 27 plus years using his career in the conservation field as cover for fishing, hunting, foraging, and generally exploring public lands across the country. Starting as a wilderness ranger and firefighter with the USFS and NPS, Rocci has managed to stay gainfully employed while pursuing a life that prioritized a love of wild places, wild creatures, and filling the freezer with whatever unlucky game or fish that he could chase down or put on a hook. Living in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks allows for plenty of reflection about the true challenges of hunting and fishing the high country and that the reward is almost never about a punched tag or full creel.
Brandon grew up in South Louisiana, camping, kayaking, hunting and fishing. After moving to New England for college, he is now an avid multispecies fly-fisherman. Now living in NYC for medical school, he finds solace in the woods and waters of the Hudson Valley, Southern CT, the Catskills and Long Island. He enjoys all outdoor pursuits, but chasing deer and brook trout captivate most of his mind space… When he’s not studying or in the lab, you can find him in the mountain ridges, bowhunting urban bucks or waist-deep wading for trout. Brandon is committed to conserving and passing along the traditions of the land, especially for underrepresented hunters and anglers. As an NYC resident, he’s passionate about increasing land access, public-land knowledge and community among NYC and Tri-State area hunters and anglers.
Frank DeSantis Jr.
Frank grew up tramping the southern Adirondacks which fostered an appreciation of public lands and waters. He currently resides in Central New York where he works as an environmental scientist involved in the remediation of contaminated sites across the USA. While not working or chauffeuring his two children, he awaits the time he can be back in the Adirondacks pursuing wilderness whitetails. Frank's interest in BHA stems from his belief that wild places offer an opportunity for all of us to counterbalance our lives to the accelerating pace of technological change and are essential to maintaining the planet's ecological integrity. He thinks BHA's culture of inclusiveness is an important tool to develop similar beliefs among groups who may not otherwise be exposed to these wonderful natural resources. Many of us take for granted the existence of public lands and seem to forget that they are protected based on signatures on paper and can just as easily be unprotected in the future. He fervently believes society must continue to place value on these resources to ensure their existence for future generations.
A native of Western New York, Ted grew up hunting, fishing, and camping with his family. Whether it was on their family tree farm or on summer trips to the Adirondacks, the best memories from his childhood were those spent outside. Of all the outside activities hunting definitely stuck the most. Ted has been lucky enough to call Missouri and Idaho home at different times in his life, which offered up new hunting experiences. It was the time spent in the mountains of Idaho that really opened his eyes to the value of public lands. Ted and his wife took every available opportunity to explore them and spent many a weekend searching for the elusive elk or floating and fly fishing on the Teton River. Ted thought the first step and the least he could do to ensure the stability of public lands and keep these areas accessible for future generations was to join BHA. After moving home to NY Ted was eager to volunteer with his local chapter. These days you might find Ted hiking a high peak, paddling the Moose River, or skiing the trails near his home in the Mohawk Valley.
Greg came to his love of the outdoors via the Boy Scouts (rising to the rank of Eagle Scout) running around in the wilderness of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (Boundary Waters is still his favorite place to spend a week or two). As an adult, he moved from the Midwest to NYC to pursue a career in tech startups. As a co-founder of Meetup, he developed a respect for the power of small local community groups to effect change. Now Greg lives in the lower Hudson Valley where he spends most of his free time exploring, hiking, backpacking, hunting, foraging, and fishing in New York's public lands. His passion for conservation led him to BHA where he is a life member.
You can also see our board member overview at any time, on the NY Chapter page of the BHA website at: New York Chapter Board - Backcountry Hunters and Anglers.
NYBHA Ice Fishing Event: February 19
Join the New York BHA Chapter on the ice of Saratoga Lake for a day of fishing! Saturday, February 19 falls on a New York DEC Free Fishing Weekend so no fishing licenses are needed to attend and fish. This will be a great opportunity for new and experienced anglers to meet and share ice fishing tips and tactics. Bring the whole family! Saratoga Lake is not far from Albany, NY and is stocked every year with walleye (although not the easiest to catch) and also contains a variety of species sought after through the ice like yellow perch, northern pike, black crappie, bluegill, chain pickerel, and pumpkinseed.
No experience or equipment required! For more information and to register, click here.
The Outdoors Are For Everyone: A Recap of NY BHA Hunting Mentorship Program with Hunters of Color
By Brandon Dale
While out in the field or mountains, how often do you see non-white hunters? Think about the last time you did. If you’re like the overwhelming majority of folks in America, you likely never have. And that’s because less than 5% of the hunting community across the US is made up of people of color. This Fall, New York Backcountry Hunters and Anglers paired up with three organizations (Hunters of Color, The Nature Conservancy and The National Deer Association) to change that.
In a three day weekend, a group of mentors from BHA welcomed a group of eight new hunters to deer camp in upstate New York. Day 1 started off with a land blessing from Hunter of Color founders Lydia Parker (Mohawk) and Jimmy Flatt, followed by a pizza and beer night to build fellowship among the mentor-mentee pairs. The next morning, mentees underwent a crash course in deer biology from local wildlife biologist Matt Ross, from NDA, that covered a variety of topics such as shot placement, deer habitat, primary food sources and reproductive cycles. All useful and tailored information to increase the knowledge and efficacy of these new hunters to eventually hunt deer on their own. Following this, mentors and mentee paired up to hit the range, where the mentees trained on the crossbows that they would be utilizing for the hunt later that day.
My mentee, Liana George, was deadly on the range. We played a game where I’d give a yardage and location (30 yards, top left) of the small 2x2 inch square that she would target. After the first 10 minutes on the range, we were drilling squares at 40 yards consistently. That afternoon, the mentee’s went on their first hunt. We headed down to the creek bottom where eight pre-set ground blinds were positioned along key travel routes for a few hopefully unlucky deer. About a mile back with a knee-high creek crossing included, we settled into our blind for the evening. With our backs to a thickly brushed potential bedding area, and the front, a perfect vantage of a likely travel corridor, we had high hopes that a late evening feed would put a deer right into our shooting lane. No luck. But that’s hunting, and the day was filled with success. As we trucked back to the parking lot, there was a palpable buzz of excitement amongst the mentees and mentors. Some saw squirrels, we heard grouse, others enjoyed the silence of nature – all, however, rejoiced in being out in the woods and reveled in the joys of hunting!
As the weekend progressed, so did the weather, and we were gifted with torrential rains, which transitioned to thunderstorms, later snow and then ice. The conditions were tough by any standard, but especially for those whose first day hunting was the day prior. However, the morale of the group still soared! With no deer harvested by the group on Saturday, the second day culminated in a deer butchering workshop led by Brian Bird with a doe that was harvested and donated to demo the butchering process. The weekend experience, in the fullest sense, provided these new hunters with a wide breadth of experience that is to be expected when hunting: changing weather conditions, unpredictable animal movement, game processing, stand snacks and most importantly – community and comradery.
At the end of the experience, mentors and mentees reflected on their experiences at a round table on the final night. A common theme was one of thanks, hope and optimism. Particularly, everyone recognized both the value and difficulty of this feat. Creating a space where complete strangers, from every walk of life in almost every way (race, gender, class, sexual orientation) could come together to learn and share in the hunt is no small feat. The end of the weekend reaffirmed what we all at BHA know to be true: the outdoors are for everyone. And we need to do our part to ensure that this is a reality. As I thought more about my role as a mentor and person of color, I realized that to be part of a group that is doing the work to make that vision come to fruition makes me proud. And it should for you, too.
We love getting tagged on Instagram. Feel free to tag us in your NY public land and waters related posts. Could be hunting, fishing, conservation activities, BHA Events, a great hike, someone you taught to hunt or fish, anything you do on public land. Put @newyorkbha in your post. Periodically we select posts that tagged us and feature them in our story on the New York BHA page!
NYBHA Policy Team Defends Science Based Deer Management
On December 10, Governor Hochul vetoed Bill A6182, which would have made WMUs 3H and 3K subject to statutory antler restrictions. Earlier in November, the NY Chapter’s Policy Team sent a memo of opposition to the Governor noting that science-based game management decisions should remain with the NYS DEC, and not placed within legislative preference. Signing the bill would have hindered DEC’s ability to make science-guided decisions and restricted their expert input into deer herd health and management decisions. Judging by the Governor’s veto message, we were heard loud and clear, and we are very pleased and grateful that Governor Hochul vetoed the bill.
Weigh In on the Fisheries Management Plan for Striped Bass
On January 27 BHA volunteers and staff attended the ASMFC's winter meeting of the Atlantic Striped Bass Board, and listened in on the consideration and approval to advance Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Striped Bass. In the coming days we're expecting to see the public comment period open on Amendment 7, and will be sharing information in the coming weeks on how you can influence the future of Striped Bass management for the better.
Next Up In NY
Hunting seasons are winding down, but there are still some opportunities remaining for small game. Here are a few highlights of what seasons are still open in NY:
- Ruffed Grouse and Squirrel: Seasons continue through February 28. Go here for details on all small game seasons: Small Game Seasons
- Cottontail Rabbits: Seasons continue through February 28 (Southern Zone) or March 20 (Northern Zone). Go here for details: Cottontail Rabbit Hunting Seasons
- Varying Hare: Seasons continue through February 28 in some locations. Go here for details: Varying Hare Hunting Seasons.
Tips from the Field
Talkin’ Panfish - Lindy Perch Talkers
If you’re headed ice fishing for yellow perch, be sure to bring along a Lindy “Perch Talker” or two. This bait has put more panfish on my dinner plate than any other. In the three seasons that I’ve used Perch Talkers, they consistently replace other baits at the end of my line. We still use the classics - Swedish Pimples, tungsten jigs, and various spoons, always tipped with a fathead minnow. However, more often than not these baits ride the bench while the talkers do most of the work.
I wager that the chain is what makes it happen. Lindy has a “Wally Talker'' as well, and though it’s a great bait, it does not perform nearly as well (for us, anyway) as the Perch Talker. The walleye version is a smidge bigger, with no chain. Gord Pyzer refers to the chain’s action as “six degrees of separation”, in that it allows for your bait to sort of be in two places at once. Whatever it is and however it happens, it works! At this point in the game, if I’m headed out onto the hardwater for perch, bluegills, crappies, or the like, there’s no way I’m going without a few Perch Talkers.
How to Connect with Us
Here are a few ways you can keep in touch with the New York BHA chapter:
Stay up to date with events and blogs from New York on our BHA web page at New York Backcountry Hunters & Anglers.
Join our Facebook group at NY Chapter of BHA on Facebook.
Follow us on Instagram New York BHA (@newyorkbha).
Check out our LinkTree at: New York BHA Linktree
Contact the Chapter Board by email: [email protected]
And last but not least, come to an event!
NYBHA Sponsor Shoutouts
Check out our sponsors on Instagram:
Email [email protected] for information to become a sponsor of New York BHA.