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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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May 01, 2017

A Wilderness Finger Lakes B&B ~ For Ourdoorsy Men & Women Part I

by Bob Banfelder

In response to Part I of my April 1st article titled Spectacular Outdoor Activities Await the Adventurous, several folks called or e-mailed, requesting to see more photos and wanting to know more (actually a lot more) about The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast located in the Finger Lakes region of Newfield, New York. Another gentleman commented nostalgically, having had attended college in Ithaca, fishing Fall Creek and Cayuga Lake when he could find the time. I encourage all of you to visit this wonderland. The Wilderness B&B is a great base to begin your outdoor adventures this spring, exploring the area's gorges, waterfalls; fishing its lakes, streams, and ponds—not to mention spectacular deer hunting opportunities come fall and winter.

Two of six Wilderness B&B cabins, grounds ~ 21 acres, pond [winter 2016]

Snuggled just 11.2 miles southwest from the tip of Cayuga Lake, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, lies a little-known B&B sanctuary that caters to outdoors men and women. At first blush, the establishment is appropriately named The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast; that is, until you learn that the enterprise does not serve breakfast during the off-season. The ‘off-season' corresponds with those dates set aside for hunting white-tailed deer during the gunning season in the 7R area of Central New York. Therefore, the appellation is not necessarily a contradiction in terms. What happens is that come deer hunting season, the operation receives a transformation, a metamorphosis if you will. While the cozy, warm, clean cabins accommodate deer hunters, The Wilderness B&B deer processing operation springs into action. It then becomes a deer hunter's mecca; a haven for the hearty. Through the remainder of the year, but not limited to one particular season within this pristine wilderness area, other outstanding opportunities abound for outdoorsy folks: fishing, bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, or just plain lounging around for a bit of R&R. Come springtime, many outstanding angling opportunities abound throughout this pristine area, all within proximity to The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast.

Just 2.1 miles down the road from the B&B is the Newfield State Forest, encompassing 1,552 acres. The forest is connected to the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC), Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, which covers more than 11,000 acres.

Additionally, the NYSDEC has Deer Management Focus Areas (DMFA) to help alleviate the overpopulation of deer. This is a homerun for those who want to increase the odds of bagging a trophy. More information is available at One of these Focus Areas is Cornell University in Ithaca, which is 12.5 miles northeast of The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast. Cornell land is but one of those areas that provides great hunting opportunities:

Six private, spaciously separated cabins dot The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast landscape within a picturesque twenty-one acre property. The establishment provides a bathhouse with separate men's and women's bathrooms, game room, horseshoe pits, and although breakfast is not included during the ‘off season,' guests have their use of the kitchen facilities located in the main (common) cabin area where folks may prepare their own meals. Frank Hartenstein and his gracious wife Andi run a first-class operation.

Andi Hartenstein in the Common Area

During late fall and running through the winter deer hunting firearm season, the wilderness operation is truly unique in the sense that it offers a Hunter's Special weekly rental rate for a nominal $200. That's under $29 a day! Now get this: Two of the larger cabins can accommodate up to five folks for the same weekly rate. Do the math. We're talking about clean, comfortable, cozy lodging for less than $6 a day per person!

B&B Wilderness' warm, cozy cabins

In the Finger Lakes area, winter weather and temperature changes can vary dramatically, so one has to be ready for anything. For example, lake-effect snow can drop in on you within a surprisingly short period of time. For example, on the opening day of deer season, November 19th, 2016, with clear skies, the high and low for the day was 67º/32º Fahrenheit, respectively. By the following day, 7 inches of snow covered the ground. Gusts of wind were whipping up to 40 miles per hour. With the wind chill factor, it was 22º. By the 21st, 3- to 3½-foot drifts had piled up in certain areas. It was still snowing; 18–20 inches blanketed the landscape—2 inches over the tops of my Muck boots as I tracked, trudged, and still-hunted for white-tailed deer, eventually making it to one of my treestands. Days like that are for the hardy. I was set up by 6 a.m. as I had for the past few days. I took a nice button buck with a handgun, which became the highlight of the hunt because that challenge was on my bucket list. The high and low for the day had been 29º/26º.

By late spring and early fall, the area is a fishing mecca for sportsmen. Small and largemouth bass blanket many small ponds. Rainbow and brown trout fill the streams; lake trout and landlocked salmon laud crystal clear clean lakes. Shown below is a nice size catfish caught at the foot of Cayuga Lake, just steps from the Ithaca Farmers Market. Its dock and pier are open to the public, so you can shop, or fish, or take a leisurely stroll around the waterfront.

Local fellow with catfish caught at the foot of Cayuga Lake

Tomorrow we'll continue with PART II, covering more of this unique B&B operation and the area in general, so please stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

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