Random shots in the woods
As the autumn season begins to accelerate, with diminishing hours of daylight, cooler weather and finally a bit of rain; thoughts drift to the big woods and the approaching deer season. Spitting snow, winds whipping across the ridge and frost so heavy the ground crunches like a bowl of kids cereal. What happened to the fall I remember? Its difficult to catch the fever when the weather remains so warm.
While a typical Indian Summer has always been a most welcome occurrence across the North Country, this falls weather patterns appear to simply be an over-extension of summer. Despite the turning of the leaves and flocks of geese overhead; to date, the season has been mild beyond comparison.
I spent most of last week camping and fishing through the ponds of the St. Regis Canoe Area. Water temperatures were still hovering in the mid-60s, comfortable enough for a quick dip in the midday sun. Although a thick fog embraced the ponds each morning; by noon, we were reduced to t-shirts and sunscreen. Even the trout had a sun tan.
Even intermittent rains that fell earlier this week have failed to raise water levels appreciably. Rivers such as the Ausable, Boquet and Saranac remain desperately low, while the shorelines of lakes and ponds continue to grow larger each day. Conditions have gotten so bad in the southern Adirondacks that the DEC recently closed 28 miles of the West Canada Creek to fishing in order to protect the resource. Similar measures were enacted on the Salmon River in Pulaski last month, to protect spawning salmon.
Clear, skinny waters provide piscatorial predators such as herons, osprey and otters with easy, convenient meals; while at the same time, the elevated water temperatures result in diminished oxygen levels. This combination is extremely stressful to fish populations, especially salmon, brook and brown trout, which are fall spawners.
Big Game Seasons
The DECs latest attempt to upgrade their annual Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide has resulted in a new, glossy magazine package that is replete with maps, charts, flashy advertisements and more than a few errors.
The newly formatted publication is a helpful guidebook featuring a variety of worthwhile articles on outdoor topics, photos of proper equipment and a directory of phone numbers of Environmental Conservation Officers for all regions across the state.
However, with the Muzzleloading Season opening this weekend, the DEC wants to remind readers that there are errors in the 2007-2008 Hunting and Trapping Guide as issued.
The correct Northern Zone
Hunting Seasons are as follows:
Early Bear Season: Sept. 15-Oct. 12
Regular Bear Season: Oct. 20-Dec. 3
Bowhunting Season: Oct. 1-19
Muzzleloading Season: Oct. 13- 19, Dec. 3-9
Regular Hunting Season: Oct. 20-Dec. 2
I ask all outdoorsman and women to hunt safely, ethically and successfully. Please remember that a single hunters approach, attitude, appearance and actions affect all of us. Opinions are based on first impressions and in the public mind, it only takes one yahoo to erase the goodwill established by all of the hunters who subscribe to the ethical edicts of a fair chase.
Remember, by protecting the resource, you are protecting your sport. Hunting is recreation but it is more than simple sport; it remains a valuable game management tool. Take the time to report your harvest; wildlife biologists need this vital information to access the condition of the herd.
A sincere thank you and Im not lion!
Id like to extend a quick Thank you to the many readers who sent in stories of their encounters or sightings of mountain lions, or cougars. I greatly appreciate that so many people took the time to contact me. I truly regret that time constraints wouldnt allow me to respond personally.
To date, I have received 97 emails, letters and phone calls of panther sightings. Unfortunately, I received no photos; but quite fortunately, I didnt receive any scat samples either.
With such a broad spectrum of responders, stretching from Rouses Point and Mooers all the way to Hague and North Creek and points between; there has to be some truth to what everyone claims to be seeing. They cant all be oversized house cats or simply a wayward fisher.
Most notable in the responses, was a definite cluster of sightings this summer around Essex, Whallonsburg and Willsboro. Most recently, reports have again begun filtering in about sightings near Elizabethtown and New Russia.
While the DEC doesnt deny reports that people are seeing large cats in the woods, the major question remains; where are they coming from? DEC officials and wildlife biologists are as anxious as the public for an answer to this query.
To this end, especially during a a time of prolific use of trail/game cameras; I would like to ask readers to produce a legitimate photo, whether of tail, teeth or tracks.
For several years, I have heard the rumors and listened to tales of the tails. However, there is not a better time of year when there is a more observant group of travelers in the woods and off the trails than during the big game hunting season. Hunters seek out the remote areas and they are always on the lookout. If there are actually big cats out there; somebodys going to find one.
Cougars typically attack from above and bite the nape of the neck and then kill by breaking the neck. They typically will cover a kill with brush or forest debris and return to it later to feed. They are also known to haul prey, such as deer, and lodge it in a tree or on a ledge.