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17th ANNUAL STATE FISH-ART CONTEST OPENS TO KIDS GRADES K-12: Presented by FLW, the State-Fish Art Contest is open to kids in Grades K-12. Now is the last chance to create your State-Fish Art and write about your chosen fish. You have to enter to win!
The State-Fish Art Contest uses art to ignite children's imagination while teaching them about fish and fishing. Students across the United States and around the world have the opportunity to win awards, prizes and national recognition while learning about state-fish species, behaviors, aquatic habitats and conservation. The contest is helping create future stewards for our aquatic resources. The deadline for entries is March 31st.
This year's distinguished panels of judges are ready to select the 2015 Art Winners on Earth Day and Writing Winners on April 28th. The State-Art Winners and National-Writing Winners will be announced online Friday, May 8, 2015. All 1st-Place winners will receive national recognition on the State-Fish Art website and be displayed at the EXPO. The National Art Winners will be revealed at the State-Fish Art EXPO.
1st-Place state artists, writing winners, and their families, will be invited to attend the EXPO held in conjunction again this year with the FLW Forrest Wood Cup bass fishing world championship on August 21 & 22 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Attendees will enjoy the FLW Cup, special fishing and family activities throughout the weekend. The highlight will feature the special Awards Ceremony honoring all 1st-place state and national winners with prizes, trophies and fishing gear.
Winners and their families will also have special seating at the FLW Cup weight-in. Catch some memories at the SFA EXPO!
Educators, Homeschoolers and Parents: Visit the State-Fish Art website at www.statefishart.org for complete details and to download the FREE Fish On! Lesson Plan OR request it on a FREE CD here.
About the State-Fish Art Contest
The Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest®, presented by FLW, is in its 17th year of bringing children, art and aquatic conservation together. To enter, young artists create an original illustration of any official state-fish and one page of written words detailing its behavior, habitat, and efforts to conserve it. Entries are categorized in four grade levels: K-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12. Educators nationwide utilize Fish On!, the full-color State-Fish Art Lesson Plan, combining the disciplines of science and art. It is available on CD, at no charge and for download. Entries are due postmarked by March 31st each year. To learn more and to view the 2015 winning images after May 8 visit www.StateFishArt.org.

THE MONTEZUMA AUDUBON CENTER IS NOW ACCEPTING REGISTRATION FORMS FOR THE YOUTH SPORTSMAN SUMMER CAMPS:  Girls and boys ages 11-15 are invited to the Montezuma Audubon Center in Savannah, NY for three weeks of Sportsman Education Camps this summer. Young hunters will earn their hunter safety, waterfowl identification, bow safety, and trapper safety certificates in three weeks of hands-on learning and outdoor experiences.  The camps will run from July 13th – July 30th, 2015 and will be taught as home study courses to  maximize our time in the field. Campers will be given the course manuals and workbooks prior to camp. Each week will feature exciting and engaging classroom-style learning, covering the basics of each course, enhanced by hands-on outdoor field lessons including target practice, orienteering, canoeing, tracking and more.  Participants will also take part in conservation projects that enhance habitats for game and non-game species at the Montezuma Wetlands ComplexSpace is limited and registration is required. Registration forms can be found at http://ny.audubon.org/montezuma. For more information, please call (315) 365-3588 or email montezuma@audubon.org.  Support for the Montezuma Audubon Center’s Youth Sportsman Summer Camps is provided by Bass Pro Shops.

Camp schedule:

                        Week 1 – Hunter Safety/ Waterfowl ID – July 13-17  Fee: $125

                        Week 2 – Bow Safety – July 20-23  Fee: $100

                        Week 3 – Trapper Safety – July 27-July 30  Fee: $100

Multi-Camp Discount: 5% two weeks; 10% three weeks 

For more information about the Sportsman Camp or the Montezuma Audubon Center, visit http://ny.audubon.org/montezuma.  

The Montezuma Audubon Center’s Sportsman Initiative is a collaboration between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited and the Wayne County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.


REGISTRATION OPEN FOR DEC 2015 SUMMER CAMP PROGRAM:  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is now accepting online applications for its 68th Annual Summer Camp Program. The 2015 camp season begins June 28. Parents may register campers only through DEC's convenient, online registration system and pay by credit card, e-check or with a sponsor code. Fees for the 2015 camp season remain $350 per one-week session per camper. Camp dates and a link to the online registration system are posted on DEC's website. Families without internet access should call the camp office at 518-402-8014 for information on how to register for camp alternatively.

Youth 11 through 17 years old enjoy week-long adventures in conservation education at DEC's residential summer camps. They participate in a wide variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, bird watching, fly-tying, archery, canoeing, hiking, camping, orienteering and optional hunter safety education. Campers also learn about fields, forests, streams and ponds through fun, hands-on activities and outdoor exploration. DEC counselors teach youth conservation techniques used by natural resource professionals, such as measuring trees and estimating wildlife populations.

New this season, camps will operate from Sunday through Friday afternoon. The closing ceremony and pick-up date and time has changed from Saturday at 8:30 a.m. to Friday at 4:30 p.m. This allows the weekly rate to remain at $350, and corresponds with the schedule of most coed camps in New York with similar ages, cost and activities.

Pack Forest will once again host an Outdoor Adventure Week July 12-17 for 14- to 17-year-old campers. This week of camp will offer opportunities for youth to hone their outdoor skills in the areas of cast fishing, fly tying and fly fishing, target shooting, safe fire arm handling, tracking, back country camping, archery, outdoor survival skills, plant identification, trapping, bird identification, outdoor photography, canoeing and kayaking.

DEC professionals including conservation officers, forest rangers, fishing educators, sportsman educators and biologists will be on hand to assist with some of the classes and to discuss environmental careers. The camper's will have opportunities to learn outdoor skills through hands-on experiences in a safe and fun atmosphere.

Due to its popularity last year, trapper education courses will be taught by DEC-certified instructors at all four camps this season. Interested 11- through 13-year-old campers can register for Week 3 (July 12--17) at Camp Colby, Week 7 at Camp DeBruce (August 9-14), Week 8 (August 16-21) at Pack Forest and Week 7 (August 9-14) at Camp Rushford. The course is necessary to purchase a trapping license, should youth want to trap during trapping season. The trapping course at each camp will accommodate the first 25 campers who sign up for it. Visit the DEC website for more information on trapping licenses in New York State.

All four environmental education camps serve children ages 11 through 13 years old: Camp Colby in Saranac Lake, Franklin County; Camp DeBruce in Livingston Manor, Sullivan County; Camp Rushford in Caneadea, Allegany County and Pack Forest in Warrensburg, Warren County. Pack Forest and Camp Rushford also host week-long Teen Ecology Workshops, which are more in-depth environmental studies programs for ages 14 through 17 years old. This year, Pack Forest will host six Teen Ecology Workshops and Camp Rushford will host two. Visit the DEC website for information on the camper ages and the types of sportsman education courses offered each week.

All camps will operate for seven one-week sessions (Sunday to Friday afternoon), beginning June 28. Only Pack Forest will offer an eighth week from August 16-21.Campers may attend camp for more than one week during the summer, but will not be able to stay at camp on the Saturday night between sessions. Parents must make alternate arrangements for the intersession if two or more consecutive weeks are selected.

Sporting clubs, civic groups and environmental organizations are encouraged to sponsor one or more children for a week at camp. Groups who sponsor six paid campers will receive a scholarship to send a seventh child to camp for free. Sponsors who are paying for campers can set up their accounts immediately and provide campers' parents with the codes so they can register their child as soon as possible. Information about becoming a sponsor is available on DEC's website. (For more information, visit DEC's website or call 518-402-8014.)


KUDOS:  Congratulations go out to Tom Nelson IV on his first deer taken during the recent youth season in Schuyler County. A 70 yard shot that produced a nice doe.







Fishing Basics:

Summer is a great time to go fishing, and it's a lot easier to get started than you might think. With more than 7,500 lakes and ponds, 50,000 miles of rivers and streams and hundreds of miles of coastline, New York State has some of the finest fishing in the country. You probably don't live very far from a popular fishing spot.

Five Simple Steps to Begin Fishing:

*Prepare your rod and reel: Be sure your reel has line, then press the button of your spin-cast reel or open the bail (if you have a spinning reel) to release line from the reel. Pull enough line out to thread it through all of the guides of your rod.
*Attach a hook: Hooks come in different sizes and shapes. A #6 or #8 hook with a long, straight edge is a good size to try. Circle hooks are best to use if you plan to release the fish you catch. Use an improved clinch knot to tie the hook onto the line.
*Attach a bobber: To attach a bobber, thread the line around the top and bottom hooks. To expose the bottom hook, press the top button on the bobber. For the top hook, press the button while holding the bottom hook in. Attach the bobber so the fish hook hangs just above any weeds or logs on the bottom. The bobber will jerk or "bob" when a fish has taken your bait.
*Attach bait: Place bait on the hook. If you are using a worm, pierce the worm with the hook, wrap the worm around the hook and pierce it again, making sure it is securely fastened.
Cast and retrieve:

Cast your bait out. Next, turn the reel crank forward until it clicks to prevent more line from coming out. To take up any slack in your line, reel the line in until the bobber begins to move. When a fish bites, the bobber will either move along the water's surface or go underwater. When this happens, give the line a quick jerk that's hard enough to move the bobber and set the hook in the fish's mouth, but not so hard that the hook, bait and/or fish go flying over your shoulder. Now, reel in the line until you can pick up the fish with your hand.

Now you need to decide what to do with the fish. Is it large enough to keep? Will it be used for food? First, check the state's freshwater fishing regulations or saltwater regulations to be certain the fish is of legal size to keep. If it's not, carefully release the fish back into the water, being sure to handle it with wet hands and as little as possible. A fish that you catch and release carefully can be caught again someday when it is bigger. To take a fish off the line, hold it firmly around the body. Watch out for sharp spines on the fish's fins. To remove the hook, push it down and turn it so it comes out the way it went in.

For more information, visit DEC's Fishing Basics page. (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/50859)

Now that you know the basics of fishing, it is time to get your tackle box organized. To begin freshwater fishing, you generally need the following items:
-Fishing license (required for both fresh and saltwater fishing for adults and children above the age of 16)
-Fishing rod and reel
-Monofilament fishing line (4- to 8-pound test)
-Fishing weights
-Hooks (size numbers 6-10)
-Good-quality plastic or wood bobber or float
-Live bait or lures
Visit a sporting goods store or fishing tackle shop; they can help you get everything you need, including a license.
(From DEC Outdoor Discovery - August 8, 2012 - To subscribe go to http://lists.dec.state.ny.us/mailman/listinfo/decoutdoordiscovery)










*** Sharpen up your shooting skills


*** Skeet Shooting



Bird Scavenger Hunt (or make up Bingo cards)

If you watch birds in your backyard, you probably see the same species over and over again. Head out to a nearby park, field or woods with a pair of binoculars (and bring an adult along) to expand your bird sightings. Try this "bird scavenger hunt" on your outing. Look for:
—A brown bird
—A colorful bird
—A bird's nest
—A bird hidden in some bushes or brush
—A bird with long tail feathers
—A bird that is calling or singing
—A bird hunting for food

---Add more items