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In Loving Memory
JULY 23 1933-AUGUST 29 2007

"He lived when he should have died and he died when he should have lived on" Will Elliott

Niagara Outdoors Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Passing of John Long, Sr. Is End of an Era
By Bill Hilts, Jr.

When the news came through that John J. Long, Sr. had passed on to the happy hunting grounds last Wednesday, it was like a chapter out of the Twilight Zone. Could this really be happening?

Time stood still as I reflected on his storied past. Previous hunting and fishing trips we shared, outdoor writer conferences we attended together, hockey games we cheered and jeered through and meetings we toiled through together. They were all adventures in their own right and they are coming to a close now that our close friend is gone. John J. Long of Niagara Falls, NY was a legend of sorts. While his focus was on bears and his love of the hunt, his legend knew no boundaries around sportsman and conservation circles.

A former Conservationist of the Year, honored by the New York State Conservation Council for his lifetime achievements and unselfish dedication to the state's natural resources, Long's list of accomplishments was as his name suggests. Most recently, he was inducted into the New York State Outdoorsman Hall of Fame last April, located at the Gander Mountain store in Utica. I'm proud to say I was there for the induction ceremonies, an honor that was well deserved and long overdue.

In the interest of time and space, we'll jump through some important times of his 74 years of life. Growing up in the rural expanses of Western New York, Long worked his way through college - nearby Niagara University - by catching fish from the Niagara River and selling them to local restaurants. While he concentrated on blue and yellow pike, he'd even harvest sturgeon for Buffalo-area eateries.

Fast forward to his first exposure to bears and bear hunting. That was back in 1962 when friends Harry Balmer and Dale Rinker invited Long along on a trip to Northern Ontario, Canada. His life changed forever, in more ways that one. After spending several months on choosing a place to go, corresponding with several bear hunting lodges, they finally selected Long Point Lodge near Goganda. Not only were they extremely helpful,

Long took it to extremes like he almost always does: he married the lodge owners' daughter (not on this first trip, though).

That first year he was the only one to take a bear. "I was still hunting an old overgrown logging road that fateful day," said Long has he reflected back four decades for an article I wrote for the North American Bear Foundation Journal. " I had walked about 15 miles when I came across a grassy slope and decided to rest. I dozed off, only to be awakened by something. As I sat up, there was a black bear less than 50 yards from me grazing. It only took one shot from my .30-06 Model 70 Winchester to take my first bear. The rest is history. I was bit by the bear bug!" Among other things, he fell in love with bear hunting and the wild country of Northern Ontario. After several trips up hunting and fishing that same year, he decided to get a place of his own up north, doing so in 1963 in Englehart. Four years later, he purchased the camp he owned up until his last days on Crooked Creek in Kenogami, near Kirkland Lake. "I still remember the day, August 23, 1967," said Long. "It cost me $385 for 80 acres of land, the buildings and the furniture. We performed the transaction in one day."

Long was known for his stories. As his name suggests, most of them were like that. But don't ever question the validity of his real life experiences because they really have happened. Since 2003, he collaborated with me as a featured writer in the NABF publication, keying in on some of the humorous aspects of bear hunting. With 45 years under his belt, he had quite a few stories to tell. The sad part is that those stories, as they can only be told by Long, are now only part of the legacy he's left behind.

As we mentioned, his employment is insurance and he's well known across the country in that capacity. He was one of the few people in the U.S. that would work to insure hunting and shooting clubs, as well as game farms and preserves. His reputation even extended into the political arena of the Empire State and beyond. A personal friend of former New York Governor George Pataki, Long was asked to take over the Republican Party in Niagara County in 1996 - a position he held until 2000. But that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his political affiliations in working the system to support the conservation movement. He was a very close friend with Senator John Daly, serving as chairman of his Conservation Advisory Committee. His influence was a key to Long's legacy of leaving this world a much better place to be. A big responsibility of Long was being Chairman (and vice chairman) of the state's Conservation Fund Advisory Board . It's the job of CFAB to oversee the state Department of Environmental Conservation's expenditures as they relate to fish and wildlife. License money revenues in the state are earmarked for something called the Conservation Fund and there are restrictions on how that money can be spent.

Through Long's leadership, he was able to keep a watchful eye on DEC and provide both helpful insight and constructive criticism While he was often busier than a one-armed paper hanger, he would always make time for bears and bear hunting. "It's the hunt that I truly love," said Long. "I learn something new every time I'm in the bush with these animals. I've come to understand their habits, which directly relates to hunting success. These animals are very territorial and I use that to my advantage when hunting them. While I don't shoot that many bears any more, I still love the hunt...and the meat." The last bear he harvested wasn't a black bear at all but an Alaskan Grizzly bear taken the middle of April 2001. All Long's trips are adventures and this one was no different.

A call from a friend clued him in on a canceled hunt, looking for someone to pick up the difference. While an Alaskan grizzly hunt was the furthest thing from his mind at the time, his love for bears and bear hunting got the best of him. Within two weeks, he was headed off St. Michael's, Alaska to hunt with Jerry Austin and his Austin's Alaska Adventures. Working with master guide Austin, they pinpointed a coastal area where Austin had sighted a big bear the previous fall. They immediately found bear sign around a dead walrus that had been frozen all winter and just recently thawed out. It was just a matter of time before Long got his shot and his first grizzly. The huge bruin stood at better than 9-1/2 feet tall and weighed over 1,000 pounds! Long was in that final phase of a hunter's life. It didn't matter if he harvested an animal or not, he still enjoyed the hunt itself. "I get more enjoyment in seeing someone else get their first bear, deer or turkey than in taking one myself. When someone gets that first animal, they're walking on air and bustling with pride. If I didn't like the meat so much, I'd never shoot another animal myself." John Long truly was an outdoor legend.

You never know what's going to happen next, either. He loved hunting alone and often did so chasing moose each fall. One year, while hunting far back in the bush, he hyper extended his knee just prior to a major snowstorm. Everyone feared we lost him when he failed to come out. Search parties were formed as they tried to locate him. One thing about John is that he always prepared for the worse case scenario and this was it. He had some food and built a shelter. He also had a space blanket to keep his warmth. Surviving a foot of snow for several days, he was able to construct a makeshift crutch and hobble his way out almost eight miles. Oh, yea, he got his moose, too.

He was also a family man, proud of sons and daughters… and grand kids. He went out of his way to take them hunting and spend time with them, as we all should. He was a model for us to follow in so many ways. From his involvement with the Niagara River Anglers Association and his walleye pond project donation to his involvement with things like the Strawberry Island project, he made things happen. He was a leader with the state Conservation Council and the state Outdoor Writers. He was one of the doers we don't hear enough about, the people in the trenches working to make things happen.

There are still many more stories to tell. Hats off to one of Long's daughters, Amy Long-McCalister who put together an excellent video tribute of her dad - nearly an hour of memorable Long pictures through the years and set to some of John's favorite songs. The many people who showed up at the funeral home all took turns watching as they laughed - and cried - through this pictorial collage. It would have made Long happy and I could sense him smiling down on us as we watched. In the background, you could hear people tell their own Long stories and some of the memories he passed along through his time here on Earth.

John Long, Jr. was up north at the camp this past week to close things down for the winter. While using the outhouse one day, he looked over through the window and saw a bear paw! As he stood, he could see a big black bear carrying around a gas can, almost like he was looking for something. Yes, even the bears up north will be missing John, Sr.!

Thanks to Long, our life is much fuller and we live in a better place. His legacy will live on forever. But like the bears up north, we'll miss him terribly now that he's not with us any more physically. However, we'll all be carrying around a piece of his spirit. Thanks for the memories, John!

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OUTDOOR SCENE Sunday September 2 2007 By Joe Ognibene: 50 year veteran outdoor writer

Mourning the loss of a gentleman sportsman

By Joe Ognibene

Yesterday John Long Sr. was buried and the many of us who mourn his passing will long remember him as a sportsman, hunter, fisherman, gentleman and basically one of the nicest human being you could ask to know. One of the traits that immediately struck people meeting John for the first time was how his eyes would seem to squint and sparkle when he smiled. And he smiled a lot. I always enjoyed his greeting, “Hey, old man, how ya’ doing?” His handshake was firm and you knew he was sincere when he said, “It’s been a while, it’s good to see you.” He was one of those few people who had charm to spare. Many times I heard him say, “You’ll never guess who I ran into the other day,” then mention a mutual friend we both had lost track off.

The list of organizations and endeavors he headed are too numerous to list here. Suffice to say, whatever task he took on he not only did it well but he became its leader. It was John Long who made available the land the Niagara River Anglers use for their walleye rearing program. I never hunted with John in his Quebec hunting camp although I fished with him on fly-in trips to Northern Ontario and Quebec and joined him and his longtime friend the late Senator John Daly fishing for salmon on Lake Ontario. Both were easy to get along with in the confines of a boat.

John suffered a stroke recently and was hospitalized briefly before being sent to Lockport’s Niagara Hospice. He will be sorely missed and I am sure wherever Niagara sportsmen gather John Long stories will be swapped with fondness, smiles and joy for many years to come. It has been said for as long as a man’s name is remembered he will never be forgotten. Rest easy, John, it was a pleasure and a privilege to have known you.

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He lived when he should have died and he died when he should have lived on.

Will Elliott ~ Buffalo News September 9 2007

John Long Sr., 74, of Wheatfield died quietly at 4:30 a.m. August 29 in the Lockport Hospice House, an ending totally converse to the life long led.

A prosperous businessman prideful of his total lack of computer skills, Long possessed people skills that simply could not be programmed.

When not arranging insurance policies for everyone from homeowners to gun clubs and shooting ranges, Long could mix with everyone. His personal acquaintances ranged from Marilyn Monroe to Warren Buffet, but his fastest friends came from the fields and waters of Western New York — and a family that included 12 beloved grandchildren.

His funeral procession on the morning of Sept. 1 stretched more than a mile, proceeding from First Baptist Church in Lockport to the Northridge Cemetery in Cambria.

He is buried next to his close friend Sen. John Daly. At Daly’s request, Long planted a shamrock on Daly’s grave every St. Patrick’s Day. Now that rite will be the duty of John Long Jr., his son, business partner and outdoors companion. See picture of the Senator below.

John Jr. saw the high point of the funeral proceedings as the story-telling luncheon get-together at the 3-F club in Lewiston that afternoon.

Long had a hunting camp in Rushford, where the presiding minister had gone on deer hunts. But the biggest story source came from his bear camp near Kirkland Lake in northern Ontario.

His coffin was draped with a blanket sewn with sections of shirt tails of hunters who had missed a bear. Names such as Kimp Vosburg and Bill Hilts Sr. showed prominently on this collage of miscues.

Big hunts, Niagara River fishguiding trips, hanging around the film crew during the shooting of the movie “Niagara” with Marilyn Monroe, legislative successes, and dozens of other accomplishments were shared. But it was Long’s amazing survival story that highlighted his outdoors spirit.

While on a moose hunt in October of 1994, a snow storm similar to the “October Surprise” of 2006 in Western New York, kicked up. Long was about eight miles from his cabin.

He had killed a moose, but he suffered a hyper-extended knee injury just as the high winds and severe cold moved in on him.

Rescue teams could not find him for 36 hours. The thought was that by that time it was a recovery rather than a rescue mission.

A seasoned and well-prepared outdoorsmen, Long had a Space Blanket, some food and tools needed to make a pine bough lean-to. Once the winds subsided, he fashioned a walking stick and hobbled more than seven miles to where rescuers finally spotted him near a dirt road.

“One guy [a rescue team member] said they thought I’d died and were just about to quit looking for me,” he recalled during a writers’ conference in Madison, Wis. But his friends and family knew that he would come out of that cold, deep snow alive. He did.

He also went on to serve as the Conservation Fund Advisory Board (CFAB) vice chairman and later chairman for more than 10 years. Hunters and outdoors folk statewide benefited from his many financial and legislative successes.

Hilts said, “We can thank John for passage of bills for Sunday Hunting, Southern Tier Rifles, Youth Hunting Days and so many other sportsmen-related legislation passed.” Long regularly drove from Niagara County to Albany as a watchdog, maintaining effective control of conservation project monies.

Long, always in great physical shape, watching his weight and drink intake, could kill a deer with a longbow at distances out to 50 or more yards. Yet, until the last few days when he suffered his second stroke, he was a strong advocate of crossbow use for hunters in New York State.

I had the pleasure of rooming with Long during the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) 2006 conference at Madison, Wis., where he shared many of his goals and his gadfly wizardry. A Wizard of Oz theme park and the future of hunting in general were frequent conversation topics during that gathering. But crossbow legalization came up most often.

“Some people just can’t shoot a regular [drawn, vertical] bow, and they should have the chance to hunt during the warmer [earlier] part of the deer season,” he asserted.

His induction into New York State Outdoors Hall of Fame in Utica on April 28 typified his family pride. “He brought the entire family, including all 12 grandchildren, to the ceremonies that night,” John Long Jr. recalled.

A New York State Outdoor Writer (NYSOWA) past president, he often chaired state and joint conferences with other writers groups. He organized a gathering with the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) in 1986.

NYSOWA and AGLOW will be holding a joint conference at Niagara Falls on Sept. 17-20 this year. He will be missed there and everywhere outdoors folk get together. Thanks, John.


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Long's fishing partner & close friend Late Senator John B. Daly

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John J. Long Sr., conservationist, outdoors writer

July 3, 1933 — Aug. 29, 2007

WHEATFIELD — John J. Long Sr. of Wheatfield was a longtime conservationist who wrote extensively on his passion for the outdoors.

Mr. Long died Wednesday in Niagara Hospice House, Lockport. He was 74.

Born in Niagara Falls, he was a graduate of Bishop Duffy High School and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Niagara University in 1958.

In his professional life, Mr. Long worked as a licensed general insurance agent since 1949. He was president of Woodward, Long & Reiger, which is a subsidiary of United Insurance in Niagara Falls. Most recently, he was the president of United Insurance.

Mr. Long had a lifelong commitment to conservation, the environment and the outdoors. He was the host of a local television series, “Outdoor World,” and a writer and Niagara Frontier editor for New York Sportsman magazine.

He also was a member and past president of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, a member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers and the Conservation Council.

Mr. Long also belonged to several local conservation clubs. He was a life member of both the Oppenheim Zoological Society and the National Rifle Association. For more than a decade, Mr. Long served as chairman of State Conservation Fund Advisory Board of State Sen. John B. Daly, R-Lewiston.

He also served as chairman of the Niagara County Republican Committee from 1996 to 2000.

As one might expect from his interest in conservation and the environment, Mr. Long enjoyed fishing, hunting, outdoor photography, hiking, camping and traveling.

He is survived by two sons, John Jr. and James; three daughters, Joan Long-McCoy, Amy Long-McCalister and Jessica; a sister, Nancy; and a brother, Harry W.

A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in First Baptist Church of Lockport, 140 Genesee St., Lockport

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Correspondence received from Peter Kaminski ~ Sept 1 2007

Re: F.Y.I. ~ John Long Sr. has passed

Mark- I was very sorry to hear this. As we spoke before, my Daughter helped take care of John at the Hospice House and met quite a few of his friends. She was really impressed with the Shirt Tail Quilt that was on his bed. This was made out of shirt tails from the many hunters and friends that hunted with John and missed their game animal, thus when back to camp, had their shirt tail cut off and the collection was sewn into this quilt. She told me my old time hunting buddy Kimpton Vosburg's name and shirt tail was on this quilt. Two Great Sportsmen and friends who will be definitely missed.

Harry Kaminski

The following from Bill Hilts Jr. Outdoors In Niagara 
Column from Tuesday September 18 2007. 

     We reflected on the loss of John Long who passed on recently. "It was John who introduced me to banding with waterfowl in 1957," said Farrell. "That's 50 years ago. He made a huge impact on my life and it's still a big part of who I am today." Long was also a huge part of the history of the 3-F Club, a club with 374 acres of prime habitat for these birds. "We often think of wintering habitat and nesting habitat," Farrell said to a group of youngsters Saturday afternoon. "Just as important is the migration habitat. If these woods and fields weren't here for these birds, they would probably disappear." One of many important lessons taught on this day. See Jerry Farrell's bird banding information here. Lots of pictures.

See story written by Long in 1992 about fishing the Niagara River and part of his life.
"On The Brink of Something Wonderful"
See photo of Long in 1958!
Exclusive only on the Outdoors Niagara Website

Click all photos for enlargement              More pictures to come shortly

Ted Shipston & John Long at John B. Daly Bass Classic






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