There's never a shortage of moments to talk about when you're a person who pursues outdoors activities with a passion
I have to admit that the on-going series of special outdoor memories from readers has been a great success.
It has generated a lot of comments, clearly indicating that many readers identify in various ways with the folks offering their thoughts and memories. So, with that said, here is the next installment in the series.
Ron Schroder is well known to area sportsmen for his many years working as a biologist and public relations contact at the DEC office in Avon. Here are some of his outdoor memories:
“To me, the special occasions in the outdoors come every time I’m out. Whether it be watching a chipmunk or a deer, it’s an experience to favor. I can think of two incidents from many years ago that will stick with me always.
“The first was when my youngest son, Kevin, who was 9 or 10 years old, came home with a red fox he had trapped. We had trapped together for awhile as I showed him what it was all about. He would check his traps alone some days and come and get me if he needed help dispatching a large raccoon or fox. This one day no help was needed as he brought home a red fox all by himself. He was so proud and happy. When I first saw him I, too, was proud, happy and of all things, sad. Why sad – I had to kill his joy with the info that his fox had mange and was worthless.
“My second ‘memory keeper’ involves predator hunting with my middle daughter, Julia (12 or 13 years old). It was a nice moonlit evening with snow on the ground. It was her first time out with me, and I stressed her being quiet. We choose a spot and set out the caller with an injured rabbit call. Things were slow when all of a sudden I felt a kick in the shin. As I turned to my daughter I saw a gray headed fox away from us. I asked why she kicked me. She replied, ‘You told me not to talk and keep quiet, and the fox was running right at us. I wanted you to know.’
“There was no other action so we called it quits and went home.”
Thanks Ron for sharing. It may be cheating on my part but I can relate to both of these memories. I can remember my first trapped fox as if it had happened only yesterday. It was a big red male, and I received $21 for that pelt, quite a sum when red fox were averaging under $10 for good pelts. And my first attempt at calling predators resulted in another nice red fox. Afterwards, I had fits of excited shaking for more than an hour.
Sue Button of Rushville is a dyed-in-the-wool outdoor lady. She and her husband Bill have fished and hunted together for many years. Here are two of her memories:
“I enjoyed the ‘experiences’ you included in your (recent) eagle/deer article. Well, truth be known, I always enjoy your articles, but yesterday I could especially relate. I was delivering the mail one day — March 6, 2005 — to be exact. It was quite a nice afternoon, rather calm and with lots of sunshine. As I was approaching a mailbox on Hall Road in the Town of Gorham, I noticed a flock of crows that were especially noisy and bothered.
“So, my curiosity winning out over my need to get to that mailbox, I stopped and got out to see what was going on. They were diving and attacking a mature bald eagle — my first up-close encounter. It was very accommodating, flying right over my head into a big oak tree and landing on a dead branch in plain view. I was so excited to tell someone that I called a bird-loving friend who had just moved off the lake in that vicinity. Now, how do I remember the exact date? It was my 60th birthday, and the best present one could ever ask for. What a sighting.
“And your article about the new hunter and his button buck prompted another memory. I don't remember the exact date of this account, but it was the first year that legislation was passed to allow rifles for use in big game hunting in Yates County. I had been hunting since I was 16 with a spattering of deer over those many years, mostly with my dad’s 20 gauge. Bill helped me into my tree stand on private property — my favorite tree stand in a beautiful woods overlooking Canandaigua Lake from the east side — with lots of birds to watch.
“As rifle hunting for big game was really a new experience for me, we talked about different safe shots and distances. I had been there a couple of hours during that afternoon when I finally saw movement on the ridge to my left. And there they were, three deer moving along that ridge. I got them in the scope of my .243 and, although a little nervous, determined it would be a long but good, clear shot.
“I remember deer No. 2 in my scope. I said to myself, ‘It’s now or never’ and pulled the trigger. Well, it was over 120 yards for that shot, and the next thing I heard was myself shouting to Bill, ‘she dropped like a rock!’ Not a wiggle, which makes me very happy.
“My only disappointment was that, like your hunter, it was a spike-horn buck — probably the one who would have grown to a huge 10 or 12-pointer if it wasn’t for me and that .243 part of the story: But I’ll never hunt big game with a shotgun again.”
Thanks, Sue for sharing those memories.
And if you read the first special memories column on January 1, you might remember that the original thought for this series came from the musings of Jud Peck, a crusty old NYS game protector who spent many years protecting our fish and wildlife resources from poachers in Yates and other counties before retiring as a Lieutenant. And his special memory is slightly different than those shared previously in these columns.
“Many years ago there was a ‘NYS Game Protector’ (that was the title from 1880 until the 1960’s) located in Yates County. He was the first G.P. appointed to Yates. His name was Chet Culver. Now, fast forward to the 50s, 60s and 70s. His grandson was also named Chet Culver. He was a dairy farmer and had many vineyards.
“Conservation laws, and particularly game laws, were not to be adhered to, according to his philosophy. He would jack deer and shoot anything at any time, in or out of season, because he had no regard for any game laws. For instance, a friend of Chet’s that had a terminal illness liked to paint, so Chet went out in the spring and shot a drake wood duck so that friend would have the mating plumage to copy.
“As a local Game Protector, I apprehended Chet several times and usually the next day Chet would call me and ask ‘Jud you aren’t upset with me, are you?” I would answer no Chet and he would state ‘let’s have breakfast then.’
"Fast forward again to a nice fall day and Chet was in the local gas station sitting and just relaxing. I came in and asked ‘you gong to be around tomorrow in the AM?’ He stated he would and I said ‘good, I have five game cops coming to search your farms and we will find your ferret.’ (At the time, it was illegal to possess ferrets).
"That night, Don Nielsen and I were watching for deer jackers when the sheriff's called and stated ‘your wife just called and received a strange call.’ Don and I broke off our patrol and I headed for home. My wife stated ‘all they said was check your mail box. With that I went down and opened the door with a long stick.’
“As a game cop, you just never know. Inside I found a cloth bag with much movement inside, I just knew that the next day’s search was off as I had Chet’s ferret.
“I’ll add this Len, Chet got back at me one time. As I was coming home just before dark one fall day I saw Chet’s old farm truck parked next to a woods well off the road. I believed that Chet was in the illegal deer business (poaching) so I charged home and got my night clothes, coffee and something to hold me over until daybreak.
“Well, daybreak came and down the road, turning into the field, was Chet with a friend of his. When they stopped at the truck I went over to them. Chet and his friend were dumping a can of gas into the truck. I stated, Chet, did you have a good night’s sleep? He stated ‘great night’s sleep.’ I stated well I didn't, and they both nearly fell down laughing.
“Len, there’s no problem using Chet’s name. He passed many years ago. He was known to everyone in Yates County, and a very good friend of mine, as strange as that might sound.”
Thanks, Jud, for sharing your memories. And I’m sure you could write a book on all the other great outdoor memories stocked up in your brain.
Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.