A season well completed
Last Saturday, as the annual Trout Season came to an end, I set out in search of trout. Despite the fact that I had enjoyed a few good days of trout fishing over the course of the summer, by and large the trout season was a flop.
Sure, I had some good days, but I never had a great day. The local waters just weren’t as productive as they’ve been in the past; despite the many flies, lies and lures I regularly utilized.
Maybe it was the weather, the heavy rains, and the hot sun. It may also be that I’m losing my touch, or not paying the proper attention to detail.
On both rivers and ponds, the water temperatures spiked early in the season, and they never really cooled off. On Saturday afternoon, despite the stiff winds and autumn’s chill; water temperatures on most of the local ponds and streams remained in the high 50s or low 60s. Even a cool rain had no effect, and I retreated from the ponds by the early afternoon, to finish the season on a little brook, that is scattered with beaver dams.
My season finally came to an end, in the dim dusk of the late afternoon. I had managed to land just a single brookie, in six hours of steady angling. It was a handsome male, resplendent with a bright, crimson belly and a pronounced hook jaw.
As I released the fish, and gently slipped it back into the stream, a flying wedge of Canada Geese flew over, just barely above the surrounding alders.
The flyby, which resembled a squadron of F-15’s passing over a stadium, provided a most fitting conclusion to the Trout Season.
Change of seasons
It was an abrupt change of seasons. Although the Muzzleloading Season for Big Game kicked off on the same day as trout season concluded, the weather was not too conducive to the hunt, with stiff winds blowing a steady drizzle of cold rain. It was not the type of day to keep your powder dry, or to find deer on the move, as the weather kept them down.
This coming Saturday, Oct. 22, the Regular Deer Season kicks off, and pickups will again line the back roads, as hunters take to the woods in search of “Adirondack beef.”
The annual Opening Day, will set the stage for a gradual changing of the guard, as hunters begin to replace hikers as the primary woodland travelers.
As the transition occurs, it is important for both user groups to recognize the essential woodland courtesies necessary to safely and effectively “share the sandbox.”
It is important that both groups be considerate, and respectful of each other. As a rule, most hunters attempt to avoid high traffic areas, where hikers can be found. Too often sportsmen get a ‘black eye’ due to the carelessness and poor behavior of a few individuals.
The media does not report on the numerous safe and successful hunts that are conducted each season. Rather, we often hear about the few regrettable accidents that occur.
Safety in the woods
Hikers should similarly make efforts to recognize, and avoid areas where hunters are obviously traveling. It is a time to keep dogs on the leash. It is not difficult to figure out if hunters are in the area. When there are a half dozen vehicle parked off the roadside, and the gun racks in the back windows are all empty; it might be a clue! You may want to consider taking a hike elsewhere.
This is a time to be staying on the trails, to wear bright clothes and make your presence known. Despite the media’s propensity to sensationalize the dangers, hunting remains one of the safest of all recreational activities.
Hunting is far safer than such dangerous activities as tennis, soccer, golf or cheerleading. It is an activity pursued annually by people who are safe, highly trained and who typically attempt to respect other users. Unfortunately, such efforts are not always reciprocated.
Most hunting injuries are self-inflicted, and the majority involve tree stand accidents. Stand hunters should always use a safety harness.
Hunters new to the sport should seek out experienced sportsmen to learn about the intricacies of the pursuit. It’s important to know all you can, about the animal, for on average, hunters/deer encounters typically last less than seven seconds.
It is a very short time span for a hunter to determine if the deer has antlers, to consider the backstop and to raise the rifle and put the sights on the target. It is a most fleeting moment, often fueled by a rush of adrenaline.
The window for error is wide open, since there are often trees, limbs, foliage and stumps to obscure the animal. Additionally, whitetails can run as fast as 36 mph, jump as high as 8 1/2 feet, and leap as far as 30 feet in a single bound. They can blend right into the landscape and disappear.
It’s no wonder hunters are often left shaking, to consider the “what ifs,” as another ‘Ghost of the North Woods’ bounds off into the distance.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org