Memory Lane is a great place to visit in bad weather

April 6, 2024

The more I read Vin Sparano’s “Wit and Wisdom of An Old Outdoor Guy,” the more memories it brings back from the 1970s and ‘80s, when I was working for the Fisherman Magazine and was a member of the New York Metropolitan Outdoor Press Association. My editor at the Fisherman, Pete Barret, nominated me for membership, and since I did not live in the New York metropolitan area, the members put me on a 90-day trial period. I must have passed, because I was still a member when the club folded 20-some years later.

Every spring, the club had a banquet on a sunken ferryboat in the Hudson River. Since I drove the news route for the Fisherman, I picked up the smoked whiting and the oysters along the route.

The day of the banquet, I would drive, along with a half-dozen or more Delaware friends, up to New Jersey and take part in what is best described as a drunken free-for-all. Since I am a diabetic, I do not drink, so I drove one of the cars and a fellow non-drinker drove another if we needed two.

The food was outstanding. Troutlings from Eldrid Preserve in the Catskills. Venison from roadkills provided by the state of New Jersey. And those were just the appetizers.

The highlights of the evening were the raffles. Various outdoor companies and artists would donate everything from fishing tackle to guns to beautiful artwork. A room full of drunks would buy lots and lots of raffle tickets, thereby funding our activities for the next year. It was a beautiful racket.

In order to secure my place with the club, I set up a goose hunt on Snow Farm. I worked with the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Division and the Tourism Office to reserve rooms in Dover, and Jimmy Snow set us up with pits on Snow Farm and on the Bombay Hook Hunt Club. The late Tom Draper was the guide for the hunters on the hunt club.

To say the hunt was a success is putting it mildly. Everybody got a 4-bird limit of geese, and when the reporters went to interview Jimmy, he said he didn’t need any more business. He sent them up to Matarese Farm, and they had such a great reaction we hunted there for many years afterward.

We also had a good connection in the Florida Keys. Andy Newman would invite the club down every year to fish, and he knew he would get good coverage in the New York press as well as the Fisherman Magazine and other publications. We stayed in the Palms Hotel and ate in all the fancy restaurants. Most of the time we ate what we caught, and that was great. While I didn’t eat them, I caught my first and only bonefish and tarpon, along with grouper and trout that I did eat. The local lobster is not quite the same as what we have from Delaware waters, but it is still quite good.

I was also a member of the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers, and we visited the Santee-Cooper area. I saw how great the hunting and fishing was and asked the local folks if they would like to entertain the New York crowd. They said sure, and the great culture clash was on.

One of my favorite members was a great guy named Ed Feldman. He grew up with Woody Allen, and Ed was a big guy while Woody was short, so the two of them must have made quite a pair, especially because they both had a cockeyed sense of humor. Since I had been there before, I was selected to drive one group around, and that bunch included Ed. We went to hunt on a big farm, and upon meeting the farmer and his twin sons, Ed’s greeting was, “Hi, I’m Ed, and I can’t tell you how glad you are to meet me.”

The three farmers looked at him with their mouths open and couldn’t say a word. I do believe Ed was the first real New Yorker they had ever met. We did manage to remove a few crop-damaging deer from their farm.

On another hunt, I went by myself. This was a club and you didn’t go on your stand until 7 a.m. At noon, you had lunch of a huge Lowlands crawfish boil. After that you went back on your stand and tried not to fall asleep. This was a hunt with dogs. You only shot bucks in front of the dogs, and the guys who handled the dogs got an equal portion, along with all the hunters, of the venison harvested that day.

The club is gone now, but the memories are still alive.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age. Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. He has been the regional editor for several publications and was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine. Eric is the author of three books: Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits. He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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