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Youth hunting front and center in Columbia County, NY Legislature

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    Columbia County Youth Outdoor Education trap shooting instruction.
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    Youth Outdoor Education small bore rifle competition.
February 2, 2018 04:34 pm

The third year of the Columbia County Sportsmen’s Federation’s (CCSF) Youth Outdoor Education Program was reported to be a huge success in 2017.

Kathy Burke, who coordinates the program, reports that “Fifty-eight youths from throughout Columbia County registered to attend 19 different courses taught by volunteer instructors at fourteen different clubs.”

She said the program is open to all Columbia County youth aged 12 through 18. The federation is currently assembling its Youth Outdoor Education Committee to plan events for 2018. Burke advised its schedule is expected to be announced sometime in early spring.

The program starts in April and runs through October. It includes a variety of outdoor events including hunting, fishing, trapping, target shooting, environmental education, orienteering, the shooting sports, sportsman education, plus much more. Crowning events of the CCSF’s Youth Outdoor Education Program include its youth turkey, pheasant, and deer hunts.

The robust program requires youth to attend mandatory safety presentations above and beyond that required by New York’s rigorous hunter safety program. It gets the word out by distributing flyers to local school districts and other venues inviting the general public to attend.

All courses are free of charge to participants. This is made possible by generous donations of time and money by hard working volunteers and supporters. These include the Columbia County Sportsmen’s Federation, the Ghent Rod and Gun Club, the Columbia-Green Sportsmen’s Association, the New York Conservation Officers Association, the Ghent Sportsman’s Association, Canaan Conservation Club, Canaan Rifle Club, Craryville Rod and Gun Club, Kinderhook Sportsman’s Club, Tri Village Rod and Gun Club, Glencadia Rod and Gun Club, Kalicoontie Rod and Gun Club, Philmont Rod and Gun Club, Canaan Rifle Club, Stuyvesant Outdoor Adventures and the Austerlitz Club.

In addition to expert volunteers, local ECOs and DEC Wildlife Biologist, Stacey Preusser, impart their professional skills providing instruction in conservation and ecology, hunter safety and tactics, orienteering, and outdoor survival. ECOs also assist with youth hunts.

To say the Columbia County Federation’s Youth Outdoor Education Program is comprehensive is an understatement. In addition to the broad activities already mentioned, participants learn to tie flies, how to fly fish, and shoot muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows, rifle, shotgun and trap. They have their own Conservation Day and even take a canoe trip on the Hudson River.

This program invites youths to get outside and learn about the outdoors while having a good time doing it. By providing expert instructors and mentors, this grassroots initiative is self-supported by the generous members of the sporting community. For more information, or to be added to the CCSF Youth Outdoor Education Program mailing list, contact Kathy Burke at 518-929- 2709 or

NYS Senate Passes Bill to Lower Hunting Age

The NYS Senate recently passed a bill (S3156), lowering the universal minimum age to hunt in NY from 14 to 12 years of age. New York has one of the highest minimum ages to hunt big game in the nation.

You must be at least 14 years old to hunt deer and bear with a gun in the state. For small game, including turkey, pheasant and waterfowl hunting, the minimum age has been 12 for a number of years.

Statistics have shown that youth hunters are among NY’s safest demographic. Despite that fact, the legislation faces an uphill battle in the NYS Assembly. The senate has passed similar legislation in recent years, only to be shot down by the assembly.

Chuck Parker, President of the NYS Conservation Council, is urging sportsman and anyone who wants to help get our youth outdoors to contact their assembly representative and support passage of NYS Assembly Bill A477. Green County Sportsmen’s Federation President, Hank Coons, and Legislative Director, Emily Plishner, join their counterparts across the river in Columbia County and Chuck Parker in urging you to contact assembly members in support of this common-sense legislation.

Decreasing the universal hunting age in NY to 12 years is a no brainer given the safety record of youth hunting in the state. However, it’s more than likely those opposed to the bill in the assembly will let emotion rule the day and not let facts get in the way of their opposition to the well-intentioned legislative measure.

News and Notes

— A fly tying class will be held at the Phoenicia Fish and Game Club over the next five Saturdays; from Feb. 10 to March 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The club is located at 5419 State Route 28 in Mount Tremper. To register, call Hank Rope at 845-254-5904 or email

— The Rip Van Winkle Rod & Gun Club invites hunters to participate in their “Sqwirl Skramble” scheduled for Feb. 24. Teams of two can take up to six grays and an unlimited number of red squirrels. That, plus all other DEC hunting regulations apply. The highest team total takes first place. The pre-entry fee per team is $20 with a late registration fee of $30 for those signing up after Feb. 22. To register, or for more information, call or text 518-821-8093 or visit the club’s Facebook page.

— Albany’s Lawson Lake County Park, in partnership with DEC’s “I Fish NY Program,” is holding a free ice fishing clinic at the Winter Festival to be held at Lawson Lake on Feb. 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bait and equipment will be provided by DEC at the event which features many other free activities available throughout the weekend.

— There will be a free NY Safe Boating Class offered at the Philmont Community Center on March 25, 26 and 27 from 6-9 p.m. The Community Center is located at 14 Lake Drive in the Village of Philmont. The course is co-sponsored by the Philmont Community Center, the Philmont Rod and Gun Club and the Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration and Sailing Society. To earn a NY Safe Boating Certificate, attendance is required at each session. It will be presented by experienced instructors, Douglas Cropper and Julia Veronezi. While the course is free, NYS charges a $10 fee to those over 18 years of age to obtain the permanent Boating Safety Certificate. The class is open to anyone over the age of 10. Pre-registration is required by March 2 by emailing or calling 518-755-8456. The class is limited to 15 students. For further information, contact Julia Veronezi at 518-392-4713 or Douglas Cropper 518-672-4531.

— Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.

Happy hunting, trapping, and fishing until next time.

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