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Camping at Mongaup Pond in the Catskill Mountains

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Each year my friends and I go “camping” at a developed camp ground more for the relaxation of being in the woods with a group of people than actually surviving out in the wilderness. We enjoy the trip each year and always wish it lasted longer than the weekend. Last year we went up to Schroon Lake in the Adirondack Mountains and had a great time. This year – because of the higher gas prices – we’re thinking about staying a little bit closer to home and have chosen Mongaup Pond in the Catskill Mountains.

This camp ground is great for a group of friends to go and have some fun hiking, fishing and relaxing for a weekend. The campsites are not right on top of each other and if you book your site far enough in advance, you can reserve a site – or two in our case – that is far enough away from the other sites where you can be a bit louder and get away with it [go to www.reserveamerica.com to locate a campground in New York and book a site for your next camping trip]. The campsites can accommodate up to six people and no do not try to sneak in more, you will get caught and have to get another site as we did our first year, so we ended up having two campsites on opposite ends of the grounds instead of right next to each other.

Mongaup Pond has a small lake with blue gill and other fish swimming around which makes for an enjoyable time if you rent a row boat and take it out on the lake. Another good thing about the on site boat rentals is that you can keep the boat at your site which is on the edge of the lake. With your boat tied up a few feet away from where you’re sleeping you can make your way to the lake whenever you wish.

Mongaup Pond is in bear country and although encounters are not frequent, precautions should be taken. When camping in developed campgrounds campers should follow these rules to avoid conflicts with black bears (or those sneaky racoons that will climb on top of your picnic table and steal your hot dog buns while you’re sitting on the other end of the table!):

  • Do not leave coolers or food out at any time. Store them securely in either the trunk of your car or in the passenger area of your truck. Keep windows shut and food and coolers out of sight.
  • Where food lockers are provided, food and coolers must be stored and locked inside.
  • Clean up immediately after all meals.
  • Keep grills, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and wash basins clean when not in use.
  • Do not wash dishes under the water faucets.
  • Do not put grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles or other refuse into the fireplace.
  • Do not keep food or coolers in your tent.
  • Do not wear clothing to bed that was worn while preparing or eating meals.
  • Keep campsites as clean as possible. Bring all garbage and recyclables to the recycling center each day by 8 p.m.

While these rules are required to be followed at DEC campgrounds, campers at other private and public campgrounds are also strongly encouraged to follow these practices to avoid bear encounters.

For additional information about bears in New York State and the initiatives DEC is employing to help study and manage the population, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html on the DEC website.Hunters also take note that Mongaup Pond offers hunting opportunities for big game during the season and campsites fill up quick. Hiking trails lead to state hunting lands and there is a healthy population of bears and deer in the surrounding area.

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Bear Hunting

New York’s First Early Black Bear Season a Success

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A flourishing black bear population and a newly established early-season give hunters additional opportunities to hunt black bears in New York.

The NYS DEC took a proactive approach to manage the State’s black bear population with the addition of an early black bear season in select WMUs for 2014. The early bear hunting season started on September 6th in portions of Southeastern New York and September 13th in Northern New York

Some of the highlights of the new plan include:

  • New early firearms bear season from September 6-21 in WMUs 3A, 3C, 3H, 3J, 3K, 3M, 3P, 3R, 4P, and 4R. Any hunting implement, including crossbows, are legal for use during the early black bear season.
  • Expanded bear hunting in northern New York which now includes WMUs 6A, 6G, 6K, and 6N. In these newly opened units, bear hunting begins with bowhunting equipment only from September 13 through October 17.

The downside with the early season bear hunting is the heat – the opening day had temperatures in the mid to high 80s with high humidity. Bear hunters will have to skin their harvest as quickly as possible to cool the meat and prevent spoilage. Hunters might also want to skin and quarter the bear in the field and picking out the meat in game bags.

Here’s a video from one successful hunter during this year’s early black bear season:

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Bear Hunting

Black Bears Around Campsites and Hiking Trails

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Recently, the NYS DEC issued some warnings about camping in areas with black bears. I frequently visit areas like this and it’s good to refresh yourself no matter how seasoned of a backpacker, hiker, or camper you are. Here are some tips from the DEC to remember while camping and hiking in bear country:

  • Store food, toiletries and garbage in bear resistant containers or “food hangs.” If you have no choice but to hang your food, be sure to use a dark colored cord. The cord should be 75 feet long and the bag should be hung 15 feet above the ground and at least 10 feet away from trees.
  • Keep food in hangs or in bear resistant container at all times, take down only what is needed for cooking. Bear resistant canisters are a highly effective means for preventing bears from getting food, toiletries and garbage from back country campers. For more information about bear resistant containers, see the DEC webpage at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7225.html.
  • Bear resistant containers are required to be used by all overnight campers within the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Zone of the Adirondack Forest Preserve.
  • Never leave food unattended unless it is in a bear resistant container or in a food hang.
  • Never cook or eat in your sleeping area.
  • Cook early, no later than 5 p.m.
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Bear Hunting

Maine Black Bear Raffle

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This was something I came across that you don’t quite hear about everyday, but I thought it was worth mentioning and spreading the word about.In the little town of North Berwick, Maine, 200 Noble High School students are trying to raise $100,000 for a school music trip down to New York City. However, selling cup cakes just wasn’t cutting it so one of the student’s grandfather decided to offer up a raffle for a 6-day black bear hunt.

Grandfather of a choral student in the school music department and a Master Maine Guide, Varney figured the sale of $10 tickets for a chance to hunt at one of his son’s 50 “bear sites” might help raise the funds needed for the children to make the trip.

The winner gets lodging and meals for two at one of the family’s bear camps in northwestern Maine for the first week of the 2008 bear-hunting season. Hot and cold running water, “a flush toilet,” bedding and meals — including a lobster bake and “trash can turkey” dinner — are included. A Ragged Lake Guide Service guide is part of the prize and winners are warned their cell phones won’t work at the remote camp.

Winners who don’t want to hunt can photograph bears and other wildlife in the remote area between Mt. Katahdin and the Canadian border, said Varney, or take $1,000 cash.

Tickets will be sold until April 30 and the winner drawn May 1. Rod and gun clubs are getting out the word and Noble music boosters will be selling tickets at the Kittery Trading Post on Feb. 2.

To purchase tickets for the Black bear hunt raffle, or more information send inquires to Varney at noblesro@sad60.k12.me.us.

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