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  1. Last night a 100 foot wide ice shelf formed along the shore officially ending late duck. Skaneateles 2014/15 Season Summary; The first week brought mild temps and several days calm enough to set decoys, but apart from mergansers there were virtually no ducks. Thousands of snows and canadas rafting offshore were an amazing sight. Calling and a couple goose decoys on the inside of the rig brought a few canadas in, but not quite close enough. During the second week a few bluebills and goldeneyes showed up, but wind and cold didn't permit much hunting - had only one afternoon of fair shooting and one modest duck dinner. Most years I stop shooting buffleheads, this year I didn't even see one. 11 1/2 months until 2015/16. Plenty of time to carve more decoys and maybe even build that layout boat. I love late duck, even when it's bad. Happy hunting, Jeff
  2. Still working at it here in front of the house on Skaneateles. Finally a small number of ducks have arrived and a couple flights of GEs pitched into the rig! So the season's not a total loss. This unprotected, deep, eastern shoreline is usually a rough and cold hunting spot, but this year is especially brutal. It looks like tomorrow will be too cold and windy to set decoys, so my hopes are on Thursday and Friday.
  3. Divers I, for one, like eating divers. It's probably healthier to just use the fillets and thighs on these more carnivorous species. Anyway, this simple preparation is my favorite and also my post-successful hunt ritual... Rub the whole breast fillets and thighs with coarse salt and crushed black pepper, dust with flour, then sear and brown in a little olive oil in an oven-safe pan (a cast iron skillet works well). When nicely browned place the pan in a hot, preheated oven and let them cook through for a few minutes - until medium pink on the inside (do not overcook!). Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving. For those who don't like the flavor of divers, yet want to make use of them, spices are the answer.... Use them for taco meat. Grind, brown in oil, then add lots of your favorite taco seasoning. New Mexico Green Chile Stew (soup, really)... ~1 cup duck meat (cut into 1/2" pieces), brown in a pot with ~ 1tbs oil, (optional; add and sweat down ~1/2 cup chopped onion and/or a clove of garlic), add ~ 3 cups stock, a couple handfuls of cubed potato, and several roasted, chopped green chilies*. Boil until potatoes are cooked, (optional; add a couple tbsp. of toasted cornmeal - mix toasted cornmeal with water or cooled stock to avoid lumps). Salt to taste. Set aside to cool, refrigerate and reheat the following day. Serve with flour tortillas. *substitute for New Mexico green chilies; roast anaheim and jalapeno, or hot banana peppers over a flame until well charred, allow to cool, remove skins and most of the seeds.
  4. To stop and think things through, even though you've done it a thousand times before, is great advice when the water is this cold. I spend as little time on the water as possible by rigging the strings of decoys on shore and then just towing them into place. I don't mess around out there any more than is absolutely necessary. I wish there were some ducks here to miss. Thanks, I can use that luck.
  5. Yes, be very, very respectful of the cold water. Last weekend I saw two people go offshore in a canoe! Kept my eye on them, ready to call 911. During those years (like this one) when I have only a skiff to set the rig and retrieve birds (and trout fish), I stay close enough to shore for "self rescue." And it's still a risk. Retrieving birds has been no issue this year - in all my years hunting the east shore of Skaneateles, I've never seen so few ducks. The growing number of rafting scaup and redheads at the calm ends of Skan and Otisco gives me some hope things might improve, but so far no goldeneyes or buffs at all.
  6. Hunted the east side of Skaneateles for four days now. Very few dabblers, and, apart from mergs, no divers whatsoever. Canadas and snows abundant, but distant. Loons attacking the rig have provided the only entertainment. Hopefully this cold weather will bring some ducks back to the lake. Anyone hunting Skan, Owasco, or Otisco? How's it been?
  7. Just read through all the posts on this interesting topic and thought I'd share this... In June, 2004, I was working in PA along the flats of the Susquehanna just a few miles from the NY/PA border. Talking to one of the landowners, who's property I had to cross, the subject of wildlife came up and he told me he and his neighbors have regularly sighted mountain lions. Sensing my disbelief, he invited me into his home and produced some photographs taken right there from his living room. No doubt about it, 100% big, healthy mountain lion(s). He even had pictures of one standing on his back deck! So for sure, ten years-ago, at least one mountain lion was roaming free on the NY/PA border. Whether it was an escaped "pet" or wild-born I can't say, but it was there. From my time living in the west, I know that wild lions sometimes enter yards and come right up to occupied houses, so why wouldn't a wild lion do that here? I no longer have contact info for this person, so, as a science guy, I know this anecdote should not convince anyone - but I'm convinced that at least some NY lion sightings are real.
  8. I hunted Skaneateles yesterday and today. Thousands of canadas and snows rafting offshore, but virtually no ducks (no divers at all). The warm weather has messed things up.
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