HUNTING | The Reynolds Clan’s fall campaign begins

Brooks, Steve and Finn have begun their fall campaign. Here, they display a take of ducks.

Fall is a holy time of year for the Reynolds family.

Steve, Brooks and Finn — and soon, we hope, Thomas — take to the waters of the Adirondacks for bird shooting. In a recent dispatch, Steve shared the details of a spectacular duck shoot with longtime friend Chris Williamson of Jones Outfitters.

The take was epic — as you can see in the gallery below:

FISHING | The Reynolds explore the Salmon River

steelies Outdoor Correspondent Steve Reynolds poses with his father and a brown on Tuesday in the Salmon River near Pulaski, New York.

I had a pleasant surprise just a few hours ago when Outdoor Correspondent Steve Reynolds ended a drought of correspondence about his exploits with a some photos and a note.

Winter still lingers in the Adirondacks, but fishing is under way. Reynolds and his father, J.D., set out for the Salmon River in search of steelheads on Tuesday. It’s an annual ritual, as we’ve noted before.

Conditions were fantastic, Steve reports, though the river was rushing at about 750 cubic feet per second. The water’s temperature hovered at a balmy 38 degrees. With the Reynolds was Walt Geryk, a guide who is a leading guide along the Salmon.

“The spawning of the steelhead has just begun,” Steve tells me, adding that while they had a few on the line, they did manage to land one. “It was a great day.”

Here’s a gallery:

SAILING | Braving the sound in wintry weather

sailing gear
Gear you’ll want should you be brave enough to undertake winter sailing, as our newest correspondent, Edward Briganti, has.

Edward Briganti Contributing Writer

If you’re a New Yorker (or live anywhere on the eastern seaboard for that matter), you know we’re coming off what’s proved to have been a long winter. As a lifelong sailor, however, I long ago swore off heading out on the water between October and late April unless it was in warmer climes. But after New York’s fourth major snowstorm, I was driven from my cramped, stuffy, over-heated apartment into the outdoors. I have begun “Frostbiting,” as winter sailing in New England is known, on Sundays at Larchmont Yacht Club. It’s amazing how “up” life can look just by spending a few hours in the sun, even if it’s 40 degrees.

On the other side, winter sailing can be a brutally cold and miserable affair — the water is a hypothermic 36 degrees — so cold the floor of the cockpit gets chilly and forms ice inside the boat as you sail; there is more wind and it is shiftier and puffier and more unpredictable than in the summertime — all increasing the dreaded threat of a capsize. The fear of capsizing, however, is what also makes winter sailing so exciting. It’s healthy for the soul to scare the crap out of yourself every now and again. Winter sailing can also be some of the most strategically rewarding and visually appealing sailing there is. The light refracts off the water in a crisper, clearer way and the lack of boat traffic creates smooth waters. When it’s good, there’s often nothing better, so it is critical that outdoor sportsman dress appropriately for the conditions. Below is a summary of the gear I use, love, and recommend. All are based on two key and reinforcing themes: warmth and moisture transfer.

My take on gear is that you pretty much get what you pay for and cheap can be expensive. I take a long-term investment approach to my gear: if you buy the good stuff, it will perform better, longer. While it is recommended that anybody recreating in waters colder than 50 degrees wear a drysuit, it is not mandatory. For the sake of comfort, I use my Gore-Tex and capilene based offshore foul weather gear as my winter sailing attire.

1. Top: Musto MPX Gore-Text Race Smock: My top layer has an active cut, room for layering, articulated elbows and underarms for ease of movement. I like the smooth non-abrasive stretch neck seals with Velcro adjustment, side opening neck with waterproof gusset, and Velcro adjustable neoprene waistband. Side pockets with water resistant zips stash granola bars or a beanie on warm days. The waterproof coating keeps me dry.

2. Bottoms: Musto MPX Offshore Trousers: I lived in these bibs for 4 sultry days in the Gulf Stream on the way to Bermuda during the 2008 Newport Bermuda Race. The 500 denier Cordura seat & knee patches resist abrasion while hiking and moving around the cockpit. There’s plenty of room for layering. The multi-tool sheath stores my Gerber multi-tool. My favorite feature is the 2-way zip, which allows one to relieve oneself over the side without having to derobe.

3. Boots: Shamrock Stretch Boot by Dubarry of Ireland: Cozy feet are happy feet and happy feet make for a good sailor. These boots are gore-tex lined and incredibly comfortable. There’s enough room to fit a Little Hotties toe warmer inside as well. Some people think it’s cool to
wear these boots around town. Don’t. These boots will save your life, so treat those award-winning slip resistant soles with respect and have a pair of sneakers to change into when you’re
back on the dock before you reach the pavement.

4. Lifejacket: Lotus Designs PFD: This was my lifejacket from college sailing. I picked it up on a five-finger discount from the Lost & Found at the yacht club after watching it go unclaimed for an entire summer. The low profile/flak-jacket look is key to keep the things flow. The utility pocket on the front carries your knife, lip balm, granola bar, and beer koozie.

5. Gloves: Atlas Thermal Fit gardening gloves: Yes gardening gloves. Sold individually and preferred by sailors who always seem to lose just one glove. Much cheaper than brand-name sailing-specific gloves, just as warm, and in many cases more functional.

6. Sunglasses: Haber Vision Kenais: A bunch of ex Bollé guys got together and produced a gnarly line of polarized shades at value prices. The full coverage blocks out glare, and the polarized rose-colored lenses allow you to spot that lefty shift coming down the course from 300 yards

7. Hat: Patagonia Beanie: Crews might prefer a thicker wool hat, but as a skipper, I often get warm when I’m in the thick of racing.

8. Fleece Sweater: Patagonia R2 Jacket: This piece will essentially be your mid-layer between your smock and you base underwear. It is super light, super compressible, breathable, and heck, the U.S. Marines even use this jacket (have yet to find the special issue tan and olive drab), it must be good! The softly lined inner collar is where it’s at.

9. Fleece Pants: Patagonia R1 Pant: Similar to the R2 jacket but for your legs. Could get a little warm on the more mild days, if so, drop down to full-length capilene tights.

10. Wicking Undershirt: Patagonia Capilene: No cotton t-shirts in here. We wick and we stay warm and dry. Not much more to say here.

11. Wicking Underwear: Patagonia Active Boxers: The outdoor sportsman can’t have enough pairs of this wicking boxer short.

12. Socks: Patagonia Mid-weight Hiking Socks: If it seems like I’m obsessed with Patagonia, I am. They make good stuff and I believe that pretty much all others are just imitations. In all practicality though, you need a warm sock for frostbiting but it’s important that your sock not be a thick one. In the event you end up in the water and your boots fill up, you need to be able to kick them off easily. While this is an extreme situation, in reality, the Dubarry’s seem to fit better with a thinner sock.

13. Multi-tool: Gerber: The icon on this tool is a sword in a stone. I’ve had this tool since high, school and it has truly been my Excalibur. The quick deploy needle-nose pliers are a big help in clasping cold ring dings and adjusting shroud tension.

14. Knife: Boye Boatknife: A multi-tool AND a knife you say? What for? Well, the Gerber is your toolbox in a sheath for all the nuts, bolts, ring dings, pins, and other misc. hardware on the boat that might require attention. Yes the Gerber has a blade, but every sailor worth his salt knows a knife is really for personal safety. When things get rough and that line needs to be cut to free yourself or your crew from danger, you need a blade that will deploy quickly, cut inch-thick line like butter, and it’s dendritic cobalt so it won’t rust in the saltwater environment. For that you choose Boye.

15. Activated Warmers: Little Hotties:
It might seem like cheating with all this gear to use these little suckers but when it’s cold out, you’ll be glad to have them. Who said you have to suffer and be uncomfortable?! Enjoy some creature comforts and stuff yourself (especially crews) with these activated charcoal warmers.

16. Neck gaiter: Buff Original: Some people like the fleece ski neck gaiter, I prefer the lower profile, climate controlled Buff. The fish scale pattern lets the competition know I’m serious.

SKIING | Gone skijoring outside Saranac Lake

SkijoringYour writer and his hound, Kennedy, give skijoring a go a few miles from Saranac Lake on Sunday morning.

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. And in all the years I lived in the Adirondacks, I never gave it a go.

Skijoring, in which a nordic skier is pulled by a dog or horse, is not something I ever thought my hound, Kennedy, could handle. While he is a very fast runner, he’s led by his nose and he only weighs 35 pounds. But on Sunday, during a visit to Camp Mary, aka Mount Van Hann, a property outside Saranac Lake owned by our dear friends Molly and Steve Hann, we gave it a try.

Ken was up for the challenge.

Despite initially trying to play with Lola, the Hann’s English Setter, he eventually got the concept, if not the practice. That nose distracted him quite a few times. He was, after all, at home in his native Adirondacks and he loves to dive into deep snow piles.

By the time Steve yielded the harness to me, though, Ken had basically hit a stride, albeit a slow one as he was tiring out — 45 minutes of dashing around with a snowshoed Mrs. F. diminished his strength.

As you can see in the gallery below, the Hanns have developed a nice little network of loops. Steve, ever the man for a project, has purchased a 1979 SkiDoo Alpine and built a groomer. They’ve got a kilometer and a half of trail in total, all cleared and well marked.

Take a look:

SCENE | Saints v. Yale at the Whale

Saint goalie Matt Weninger turns back a Yale shot during a recent game at Ingalls Rink.

A recent Saturday night was spent in the company of some of our dearest Laurentian friends. A good group of us headed up I-95 to New Haven, where our Skating Saints were squaring off against the Bulldogs of Yale at Ingalls Rink.

Better known as the Whale for its striking and very unique appearance, Ingalls Rink was designed by Eero Saarinen and was constructed between 1953 and 1958. Like our own Appleton Arena, the Whale has a unique timber roof, whose curves are supported by a central concrete arch. The building was recently renovated and was sparkling on Saturday night. Particularly impressive were the distinctive banners, whose diagonal stripes were highlighted by the shields of each ECAC team. The game was less impressive; the Saints dropped a 4-1 decision to the Bulldogs, the No. 1 team in college hockey.

Prior to the game, St. Lawrence hosted a very nice dinner at the New Haven Lawn Club. In addition to cocktails and a decent buffet spread, the Alumni Association’s executive council sponsored a silent auction. I’m told it raised nearly $1,300.

Here’s a photo gallery:

SKIING | Young Reynolds mounts up

TJRThomas Reynolds tries out the sticks for the first time earlier this month.

Outdoor correspondent Steve Reynolds sent along this charming image of his son, Thomas, 1, on skis for the first time.

Skiing is an important component not only of Lake Placid culture but also in Reynolds culture. Steve was an All-American at St. Lawrence and we all have high hopes for the next generation.

HUNTING | Mallards near Lake Champlain

ReynoldsBrooks Reynolds and Finn display some of their take Sunday morning along Lake Champlain.

The Reynolds clan continued their fall bird-shooting campaign on Sunday, taking in an outing to a pocket of water near Lake Champlain.

Steve, our country sports correspondent, his wife, Brooks, an accomplished outdoorswoman herself, and their mascot, Finn, braved 13 degree temperatures and snowy conditions for the hunt. Their take of mallards was a trio of drakes and a hen.

Finn, Steve reports, “was, as always, as sharp as he can be.”

Here’s a shot of Finn braving freezing waters with a retrieval:


And here’s a video of a retrieval:

Finn makes a retrieval from Ed Forbes on Vimeo.

FISHING | Grouper and sea bass off the Carolina coast

GrouperBrooks Reynolds displays a 20-pound grouper she landed off North Carolina.

The Reynolds clan dispatched a report this morning from North Carolina, where they’re spending the holiday.

Taking a break from their fall hunting campaign, our outdoor correspondent and his wife took to the Atlantic to pursue their other sporting passion: fishing. In addition to their real estate and concierge businesses, the Reynolds are also accomplished hunting and fishing guides. Indeed, before their marriage, they spent parts of their years in the south working as fishing guides.

Brooks Reynolds — a native Tar heel — landed a 20-pound Grouper about 20 miles off the North Carolina coast. Steve reports that the take also included some sea bass.

Hope they keep fishing all week long.

SHOOTING | A Saturday at Sandanona

WillShootingWill Briganti, an Contributing Writer, prepares to fire during a Saturday sporting clays outing at the Sandanona Shooting Grounds in Millbrook.

I was probably 13 the first time I held a shotgun, shooting a five-stand at the Eldred Preserve, a sporting club near my family’s cottage in the Catskills, with my mother. We shot two or three times a summer through my high-school years and I eventually graduated from a .20-gauge to a .12-gauge. I came just to the line of shooting enough to warrant the purchase of my own gun. Sadly, life and St. Lawrence interrupted and it wasn’t until after college, during a trip to Sea Island with the then Miss H. that I shot again. My brother-in-law and I have subsequently made it a habit to shoot a five-stand round whenever holiday travel takes us to Buffalo.

Still, I haven’t found the motivation to make shooting a lasting hobby. Until about 10 days ago, at least.

The Saturday after the election, we traveled north along the Taconic to Sandanona, the Orvis-operated shooting facility outside Millbrook on U.S. Route 44. Mrs. F. and I were in the company of the brothers Briganti, Eddie and Will. (The latter is an occasional contributor.) Our objective was a 10-station sporting clays romp.

Before our adventure began, we all chipped in for a very helpful lesson from veteran instructor Jim Dobbs. Jim, it turns out, coaches a Junior League friend of Mrs. F’s and I think he may have landed himself a new student or two.

After a picnic lunch with the balance of our party, we set out for the shoot. There were about 50 of us, divided into squads of four, five or six. We set out to shoot at just 10 of Sandanona’s 30 sporting clays stands. The Brigantis and I economized and rented one weapon for the shoot. We ended up with a .20-guage over-under, Orvis’ Knockabout model. Mrs. F. had a .28-gauge version of the same.

Our trapper, Chris, was an affable fellow who, like his clients, hailed originally from parts south. Turns out he left the wilds of corporate communication and headed up the Hudson a life of trap-shooting, hunting and race-car driving. Not shabby. He talked sailing with the Brigantis and technique with Mrs. F. I kept meaning to ask him if he knew any friends in the Adirondacks who also worked as professional hunting and fishing guides, but he was repeatedly interrupted by phone calls about his young German short-haired pointer, who’d elected to escape into the wilds of northern Dutchess County. No matter, the dog was eventually found and all was well.

It was ice-cold two Saturdays ago and the leaves in Millbrook were almost all down. I remarked toward the end of our shoot to Eddie that the constant rat-a-tat-tat of shotgun shells flying made me feel like an extra in a World War II movie. In short, it was fabulous. Mrs. F. and I had a largely humbling round, each making about 38 of our clays. The Brigantis fared a bit better — Eddie topped 50, I’m fairly certain. I was particularly proud of taking a pair from a challenging stand that required shooting from atop a gulch.

Orvis has run the place since the early 1990s, but Sandanona has a century-long history. The property has operated as a game preserve since 1907, making it the oldest shooting ground in America.. It was run by members of the Wing family until 1979, when ownership passed to a chap named Bednar who introduced sporting clays. Orvis picked up where Bednar left off, and as they say, the traditions of the field are still held in the highest regard.

Sandanona is no secret of course. A quartet of crackshot hipsters were just ahead of us on the course. Dressed in too-tight selvedge and watch caps, they were busy finding the America of my youth and perhaps their youths, too. Just tonight, in Penn Station, I came across Esquire’s fall edition of the Big Black Book. Sure enough, some of the chief purveyors of hipster Americana are featured in a spread about tweed.

No matter. Mrs. F., the Brigantis and I were all hooked. We’re already talking about heading back up to MIllbrook before Christmas, hopefully with a larger group in tow. Who wants to go?

Thanks to Eddie for extraordinary organization and, more importantly, for inviting us along.

Here’s a little gallery of our adventure:

Sandanona Shooting Grounds
3047 Sharon Turnpike
Post Office Box 450
Millbrook, New York 12545
(845) 677-9701

HUNTING | Skiers on the prowl: Weibrecht and Reynolds

AndrewWeibrechtAndrew Weibrecht, a bronze medalist in the men’s super-g at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, poses last week with Finn Reynolds and some take harvested along the south end of Lake Champlain.

Lake Placid native Andrew Weibrecht is a good friend, a world-class alpine skier and an Olympic bronze medalist. The Warhorse is also a pretty good shot.

Braving steamy temperatures that broached the low 70s, Weibrecht joined outdoor correspondent Steve Reynolds for a Wednesday morning shoot on lower Lake Champlain. Finn Reynolds, our retrieving mascot, was also along for the trip.

A swampy landscape and the weather made for a challenge all around. The steam can be seen on the image above.

“It was foggy and hot,” Reynolds recently recounted. “It’s the nature of the swamp.”

Finn was particularly challenged.

“This terrain can break dogs with years of experience,” Reynolds said. “It was very out of the way. We had brutal hunting — it was really tough for the dog to mark but he had some excellent blind retrieves. He rose to the challenge.

The quarry yielded included 4 wood ducks and a Drake mallard.

Aside from their obvious Lake Placid ties, Reynolds and Weibrecht have deep connections through their alma mater, the Northwood School, and the New York Ski Education Foundation.

FinnFinn displays a retrieved woodie.

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