The arrival of cool, damp weather has provided a welcome change of pace for area sportsmen. In keeping with tradition, autumn is expected to be cold and blustery, but for too many years, we've been enjoying an extended summer.
We've gotten so used to it, that we've become spoiled. When a spectacular Indian Summer day arrives, we tend to take it in stride. A warm autumn day is simply no longer a cause for celebration that it once was.
Late season fishing opportunities have started to pick up, with trout again active on the ponds while bass have been busy on the lakes.
In a few weeks, anglers will find landlocked salmon returning to Lake Champlain's tributaries, as they move in to spawn. I expect it will be a productive fall run, in terms of both quantity and quality as a result of the introduction of alewives in the Big Lake.
The timeframe signals a gradual period of seasonal transitions, as hunter and anglers mix and match their pursuits according to the weather, the species and the regulations.
It is also a key period of indecision, as a host of opportunities makes it increasingly difficult to decide on whether to pursue fish, fowl or game.
Sept. 18 is the opener for early bear season in the northern zone. Two days later, the ruffed grouse season begins Sept. 20. Pheasant season kicks in with the youth weekend set for Sept. 25-6. The regular season opener is Oct. 1.
Throw into the mix the close of frog season on Sept. 30 and the beginning of archery season on Sept. 27, for hunters with last year's tag, and it appears that the high holy days of autumn have finally arrived for sportsmen and women.
Within a few weeks, members of the buffalo plaid or camo clad crew will become the primary human inhabitants of the forest as tourists leave and kids return to school to begin their regular routines of life.
The smell of woodsmoke will again scent the forest air, as a familiar musty, pungency returns to the woods. The daylight hours will grow shorter, the weather will get cooler, the breeze stronger and as fallen leaves begin to cover the trails, the season will be in full swing.
I spoke with Ed Reed, a wildlife biologist with Region 5 DEC in Ray Brook, about prospects for the early season and he explained, "It's been a really good year for black cherries, and it appears it will be for acorns and beechnuts, although we'll have to wait and see if the beechnuts actually produce."
"There is a good natural food supply and I'd say that the Adirondack bear population is pretty stable. However, it has been a light year for nuisance complaints, which usually indicates a slow early season."
It stands to reason that with readily abundant natural food the animals won't have to venture far in search of a meal. Less travel means less exposure and fewer opportunities for hunters
Hunters should expect to find thick woods in full foliage on opening weekend, with seasonal temperatures ranging in the 60's.
The American Sportsman -
An endangered species?
Currently, the majority of Americans reside in the cities, we have gradually become an urban nation. So has the rest of the world, they have gravitated to the cities. For the first time in history, the majority of the earth's human population now lives in urban areas.
As a result of this process, a majority of the nation's population has become detached from the land. We have lost our rural roots. In many cases, our children lack for actual experience in the wild, they have become estranged from the outdoors.
This process has proven contrary to our instincts, our genetic resolve. Human beings long for the outdoors! It has been established that we have a physical and psychological need to spend time in natural surroundings. For over 10,000 years, our species lived on the open Savanna, were we evolved into the world's apex predator.
The process of the ongoing, national "denaturalization" has been well established. It was documented in Richard Louv's bestseller, Last Child in the Woods.
This gradual erosion of our national outdoor ethic was eventually ascribed in medical terminology. It has been called, "nature deficit disorder."
In Michigan, a pediatric clinic now provides a prescription to combat childhood obesity. The prescribed treatment requires parents to get their children to spend more time outdoors. The 'script,' which can be filled at a local nature center, provides documentation of the frequency and duration of the children's visits.
Louv claims that he had to ascribe a medical term to the affliction in order to get anybody to pay attention. Fortunately, his efforts have worked! Today the Child & Nature Network is a viable national and international organization that has spawned a resurgence of interest in outdoor play.
Despite numerous claims that there has been a serious downturn in traditional outdoor sports, hunting currently remains almost as popular as it was in the 1950's. In fact, a recent national survey found that 87 percent of all American adults believe that hunting and shooting sports are as acceptable as golf or tennis.
An estimated 7-9 percent of the US population regularly participates in hunting and currently, women represent the fastest growing segment of this group.
Additionally, more than 50 percent of survey participants under 29 years of age claimed they would be receptive to hunt if a friend invited them. This is a very encouraging development in terms of hunter recruitment efforts. The sport would benefit from increased participation, and so will the youth.
In contrast, research indicates that fewer than 3 percent of American adults actually adhere to an animal rights philosophy.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org