Originally created 11/05/06

Wildlife abundant in NYC



I had to go on vacation last week to accompany my wife and some friends to New York City.

In a way, I didn't want to go at first. It's the middle of autumn and the peak of deer season - when every good hunter should be out in the woods.

Instead, I found myself zig-zagging around the Big Apple, taking in the sights and sampling everything from dim sum to crowded, noisy subways.

It didn't take long to realize there's plenty of wildlife in New York - and even some opportunities to go hunting.

Well, sort of.

Our first hunt was in a department store. The girls dragged us to Saks and Tiffany and Barneys, where all the movie stars shop.

My wife was hunting for something she could buy for less than $100.

I was hunting for a restroom.

"Sir is welcome to visit the gentlemen's lounge on the third floor," a kind attendant at Tiffany told me.

I exited the elevator, imagining a restroom festooned with the same opulence as the famous store - and with a cover charge.

When I found the "gentleman's lounge," I discovered it was a basic restroom and nothing more.

My hunt was over. My wife, on the other hand, learned the only thing under $100 was a keychain.

She left emptyhanded.

We also wanted to see some celebrities, but after three days of hunting for famous people, our closest brush with fame was riding with a cab driver who once took Monica Lewinsky from a nightclub to her apartment in Manhattan.

That's when we decided to put our Georgia woodsman skills to work with some advance scouting and a little common sense.

Twenty-nine floors beneath our Times Square hotel window, we could see the neon-encrusted studio of ABC's Good Morning America.

Surely, we thought, there would be celebrity guests.

The hunt was on.

Monday morning, we were up early (in New York, they call it being out late) and staked out a street corner at Broadway and 46th street in front of the show's ground-floor windows.

A one-way side street offered easy access to the studio's side door. That was the spot to watch.

After a 20-minute wait, a chauffeured black Escalade with darkened windows rolled to the curb and the rear passenger door slowly opened.

I was hoping for a worthy trophy: Jessica Alba, or maybe Shania Twain.

Instead, it was Barry Manilow - kind of like seeing a four-pointer in the woods. I never raised my camera.

Then we waited to see who else might show up. A Mercedes limo pulled up moments later.

Was it Brooke Shields? Or maybe William Shatner?

The door opened and out hopped Jerry Springer. We waved but I don't think he saw us.

That was the extent of our celebrity sightings (we also caught a glimpse of Fabio in the trendy River Cafe under the Brooklyn Bridge, but my wife swears it was just a lookalike).

The best wildlife viewing of the trip (aside from some questionable activity in Central Park) occurred in a more likely place: in the domed halls of the American Museum of Natural History.

We enjoyed the gems, minerals and the cultural artifacts, not to mention the fabulous and endless cases of mounted mammals from every continent.

But the last gallery - the dinosaur wing - had the best surprise.

We'd already strolled past the reassembled skeletons of the tyrannosaurus rex, the pterodactyl and countless other creatures of bygone epochs.

We came around the corner and a huge set of antlers caught my eye. It was the rare megaloceros giganticus, the largest deer ever found.

Its antlers were almost 10 feet across and - according to the inscription - would weigh more than 100 pounds.

I wondered what it would be like to see one of these creatures sneaking through a pine thicket - and how Boone & Crockett might have scored it.

Unfortunately, though, I was about 10,000 years too late, so it's a good thing I finally made it to New York City.

REASON TO VOTE: Tuesday's long-awaited elections have something for just about everyone - including Georgia's hunters and fishermen.

Among the endless ballot choices, there is also a question on a constitutional amendment that - if affirmed - would specify that hunting and fishing are part of Georgia's heritage.

The wording is simple:

"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the tradition of fishing and hunting and the taking of fish and wildlife shall be preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good?"

Proponents include the Georgia Wildlife Federation, National Wild Turkey Federation and Quality Deer Management Association.

It's a yes or no question.

AIKEN ANGLER SUCCESS: Jason Williamson, the Aiken angler we profiled on this page just six weeks ago, concluded his first Bassmaster pro season by finishing in the top five in point standings.

According to BASS publicist Doug Grassian, the 25-year-old Williamson will qualify to fish the organization's premier tournament trail in 2007, which includes a stop at Columbia County's Wildwood Park.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.