Shannon Canavan, 14, shows off the 120-pound spikehorn she shot while hunting with her father Nov. 2. It was the first buck for Canavan, who is an eighth grade student at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School. She downed the buck with one well placed shot from her .257 Roberts. Congratulations Shannon!
A combination of stiff winds and a few heavy frosts helped to knock the stuffing out of the North Woods, over the past week. As a result, the woods are now more open, and a hunter’s field of view is much wider, and extensive. These subtle changes won’t necessarily tip the odds in favor of the hunters, but they will likely allow more deer to be seen.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife recently released the results of an interesting survey, which indicates the state’s efforts to recruit new hunters appears to be working. The survey revealed a retention rate of 69% among participating youth hunters., who have continued to maintain a presence in the fields and forests as adults.
“Vermont’s special youth deer hunting weekend helps to ensure that young hunters get the quality training and experiences they need for lifelong participation,” explained Fish and Wildlife Hunter Education Coordinator Chris Saunders, in a news release.
Hunter retention is of great concern to Fish and Wildlife agencies, all across the country. Vermont, with a demonstrated success rate of better than two out of three young hunters is obviously doing something right.
Pack lite, but remember to pack a light
With darkness setting in, well before the evening news, now is an appropriate time for outdoor travelers to replace their flashlight batteries, before it is too late. Hunters, hikers and other woodland wanderers should be aware of the onset of autumn darkness, which occurs with alarming speed. The woods become dark almost immediately after sundown, and as a result, there is very little room for error on the return trip back to camp or to the trailhead.
When it comes to flashlights, I’m redundant. I typically carry a headlamp, in addition to a small handheld flashlight and a micro-light on the zipper of my pack. There is no time to be looking around for a headlamp at the end of the day, as the woods turn into a pitch-black, obstacle course,
Such situations can be avoided with the addition of an extra headlamp, or a small penlight, and remember to toss in some spare batteries.
Darkness affects balance, since our equilibrium is dependent upon a number of sensory receptors for orientation. It is impossible to walk upright in complete darkness, since the absence of light inhibits human sensory reception. I discovered this phenomenon years ago, when I was deep in a cavern, and the lights went out. I could barely take a step without falling over. It was a very helpless feeling, and fortunately, the lights were soon restored.
In a forest setting, there are a number of issues to contend with as darkness sets in. These include navigation and direction, if traveling off trail, and obstacles such as roots, rocks, tree limbs and ledges. If you find yourself in such a situation, the wisest choice is to stay put. Seek or build some cover, start a fire, and wait until morning.
Fire is a good companion. It can be very comforting, entertaining and time consuming. Staying active in stoking a fire can help keep your mind busy, so you don’t dwell on the situation. It can also provide a huge psychological boost, and a sense of protection.
I wrote this week’s column after reviewing the most recent NYSDEC Incident Report, a summary of incidents Forest Rangers responded to from August to October of 2011. The majority of these incidents involved travelers who were reported to be either ‘Lost or Overdue’. Several incidents required First Aid and/or medical assistance. Tragically, at least one involved the retrieval of a body.
Overall, the incidents illustrated a glaring lack of preparation on the part of the travelers, including a lack of proper clothing, food, water, flashlights, a map and/ or a compass. Rangers repeatedly discovered that the most common equipment carried by those in need of assistance was a cell phone. Unfortunately, cell phones provide a false sense of security, especially in the Adirondaqcks where service is often spotty.
Although the travelers may have been lost or overdue, and without a map, compass, flashlight or matches; they were still able to call for pizza!
Tie one on
Hunters, and late season paddlers, are reminded to “tie one on” before setting off in a canoe or boat again this season. State law now requires Personal Floatation Devices to be worn on the person, while on the water from November 1 to May 1.
The new measure was signed into law following a rash of fatalities involving off-season boaters on small boats who were not wearing PFDs. Hunters are often dressed in heavy clothes while transporting their gear, guests and other necessities into camp, in less than favorable boating weather.
With the debilitating shock of sudden immersion in cold water, it is difficult for even the most accomplished swimmer to stay afloat. Compound the situation with layers of heavy clothes, and it is ripe for disaster. I prefer a self-inflating, PFD that inflates instantly upon contact with water. It can be comfortably worn under a jacket or a heavy coat, and it is still effective. At less than $100, it is a pretty reasonable life insurance policy.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org