Published on November 16, 2023

Oswego’s Happy Hunting Grounds

By Spider Rybaak (1949-2023)

Observation deck provides a nice view of the marsh.

Oswego County boasts a reputation as one of the world’s premier fishing destinations. Its claims to fame include Oneida Lake, the walleye capital of the Northeast, and the Salmon River, the best salmonid stream in the Northeast, and source of the world record coho salmon; a species native to the Pacific Ocean, no less.

However, the county’s wealth of fish-rich waters isn’t the only thing that spurs outdoor enthusiasts to salivate when hearing our name. Indeed, Oswego is rich in forests and fields, too, places that draw legions of hunters, photographers, snowshoers, you name it.

One of the most popular outdoor destinations is Deer Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Located off NY Rte. 3, a couple miles north of Port Ontario, this 1,195-acre public area offers a couple miles of scenic, easy paddling from the canoe launch off the highway to the mouth on Lake Ontario, hiking trails through lowland forest, and one of the finest examples of a wetland in the 17-mile long Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Barrier System.

Formed over the millennium by sand piled up along the shore by the lake’s incessant wave action, our sand dunes tower above Lake Ontario like the sides of a bowl, offering the finest example of Great Lakes dunes this side of Lake Michigan.

Although most popular with warm weather travelers, the dunes near the mouth of Deer Creek have their winter fans, too: hunters, snowshoers, and photographers.

Hunters are drawn by the plentiful game: deer and turkey in autum; squirrels, partridge, pheasants and cottontails right now. Snowshoers and photographers are lured here by lake-washed fresh air and striking winter scenery.

Then there’s snowmobiling, Oswego County’s greatest winter activity. Rest assured, whatever part of the county you may find yourself in, there’s a snowmobile trail nearby.

Oswego County has more than its fair share of magical natural wonders to explore year-round. Still, winter is the most magical season around these parts. Our snow is plentiful, our winter fisheries are legendary, and our hospitality is something to write home about.

Paddlers enjoy a leisurely trip.