“Sportsmen are represented in every community, yet they are working individually or in disconnected groups in the interest of fish and game protection. They do not realize the tremendous waste of effort which takes place. (Where) clubs have united, forming State organizations of sportsmen, clubs and individual(s) are receiving benefits which were impossible while they were working single handed.”
Does this sentiment sound familiar? Does it make you recall scenarios where well-meaning sportsmen actually work against each other’s interests?
This statement lamenting the dangers of disunity while touting the benefits of a unified message could easily have been pulled from a recent hunting or fishing chat room. Actually, it’s from an article entitled, “Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs,” written in Syracuse, NY more than one hundred years ago in the April, 1909 issue of “Forest and Stream” (forerunner of “Field & Stream” magazine.)
Yet truer, more appropriate words were never spoken on the subject. The potential strength of sportsmen organized in large statewide organizations, acting with unity, power and resolve toward a common goal should not be underestimated.
In 2009, the future of pheasant hunting and stocking in NYS was on the line. It was determined that the John White and Reynolds Game (pheasant rearing) farms were to be closed; forever ending a pheasant stocking program that had been in place not too long after that 1909 article was written by the concerned outdoor writer; the one worried that a grass roots movement of hunter-conservationists that had just begun at the turn of the 19th century would founder in fragmented disunity under the weight of petty disagreements over this or that style of hunting or fishing and trapping. The future of hunting in NY, and in fact the nation, hung in the balance.
Fast forward 90 years to the crisis of losing our state pheasant rearing farms in NY. In 1999, the New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC), a collection of county sportsmen’s federations stepped forward, and speaking with one voice representing nearly 60 county federations that comprised its voting membership, stopped that from taking place.
While they did lose the John White Pheasant Farm, they saved Reynolds Game Farm which boasted stocking 50,000 pheasants in 2019.
Now while we can sulk over the reduced numbers of pheasants stocked compared to that time when both game farms were at their peak, NYSCC should remain proud of saving pheasant hunting in NY in 2009. They also played a critical role with their partners in saving the trout hatcheries from the chopping block, and continue to fight for sportsmen’s issues every day.
There are 62 counties in NYS. Speaking with Chuck Parker, President of the NYSCC, only 44 of NY’s 62 counties are currently members of the council. Chuck said that just ten years ago the number of county federations was in the mid 50’s and likely were pushing 60 member federations, ten years before that when they saved the Reynolds Game Farm.
That article from 1909 is just as relevant today as it was 111 years ago. Today, as it was then, sportsmen and women are called to coalesce into strong county federations with statewide representation within the NYSCC.
NYSCC President Chuck Parker issued a call to recruit all federations to join them in facing the many challenges together with renewed solidarity. He announced big changes coming to their website this month with links to social media to facilitate communication among sportsmen throughout the state. Consider his call for unity, especially in these turbulent political times.
While it’s perfectly natural to disagree on issues of focus and rules about legal take or one method of taking fish and game over another, it’s absolutely critical, in my opinion, to focus on what sportsmen DO agree upon, and work together toward that common goal.
Sportsmen and women need to seek the common ground, agree to disagree, and make sure you never work at cross purposes and against each other. Such behavior emboldens enemies of hunting, fishing, trapping, and the shooting sports. It simultaneously displays a weak, fractured, movement making it easy to be ignored by those in power.
It’s clear to me that continued and renewed solidarity among all sportsmen and women is needed for success in the common purpose to ensure a bright future for hunting, fishing, trapping and the shooting sports in New York.
Happy Hunting, Fishing and Trapping until next time.
News and Notes
Canaan Conservation Club’s 21st Annual Hardwater Fishing Derby
This event will take place on February 15 from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. at Queechy Lake, Canaan, NY. Register online starting January 15 at https://canaanconservationclub.weebly.com/ or, in-person at 6 a.m. on the day of the event at Adams Point Beach. Entry fee for adults 16 and over is $15 and $5 for kids 15 and under.
Three cash prizes for largest trout, perch, pickerel, and crappie with a gas powered auger standing in for the grand prize. Other prizes include hand augers, tip-ups and jigging poles. For more information contact Julia Horst at 518-567-4302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Save the Date: February 15, 2020
The Catskill Mountain F&G Club/Stony Clove F&G Club Youth Ice Fishing Derby
The date for this event is scheduled for Saturday, February 15th; ice conditions permitting.
Sign-in begins at 9 a.m. with youth fishing from 10 a.m.-noon. There will be prizes for all kids attending, plus refreshments will be available. For more information call Bob Monteleone at 518-488-0240.
Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.
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