Joe Hackett and the 10-point buck he shot recently
The first significant snow of the season has finally arrived, and while accumulations remain far too meager to jump-start the backcountry ski season; the woods are again white. The Northern Zone Regular Big Game Hunting season officially ended on Dec. 2, however, hunters can still get out for the Late Muzzleloading Season Dec. 3-9 in several Northern Zone Wildlife Management Units, including 5A, 5G, 5J, 6A, 6C, 6H and 6G.
There will also be continued hunting opportunities for bobcat, coyote, fox, coyote and raccoon.
Ruffed grouse populations also appear to be in great shape this season, and it’s been a rare day when I’ve failed to flush at least a few grouse while hunting for whitetail.
Of course, grouse always seem to be around when I’m carrying a deer rifle, and conversely, deer typically appear while I’m lugging a shotgun.
Fortunately, outdoor enthusiasts will soon be confronted with a variety of additional winter recreational options as ice overtakes the local lakes and the snowpack continues to grow. Winter’s hard cap has already locked in many of the smaller ponds, and the larger lakes won’t be far behind.
Finally, off the snide
Following a prolonged drought in my annual deer hunting efforts, I finally managed to harvest a nice buck during the regular (rifle) season. While I’ve had success during the archery and muzzleloader seasons in recent years, bucks have proven to be rather elusive during recent rifle seasons.
As an old fishing guest always proclaims after landing his first trout of the season, “I’m officially off the snide.” Finally, I have a right to make the same claim for the hunting season.
Unfortunately, there is no great hunting tale to tell. Before heading off to the woods, I showered with scent-free soap and I made sure my hunting clothes were as scentless as possible. I also dragged pads covered with Tink’s No. 69 all the way to my stand, and I hung them a short distance away.
The previous afternoon, I had watched numerous does in the same area and I knew that bucks would be likely nosing around. One by one, the does began to assemble, and eventually a buck made an entrance.
Although I couldn’t see it, the does certainly did, and they continued to watch as it edged along in the cover of the thick woods.
With its nose to the ground, the buck followed square on my tracks. Soon, it moved out from the treeline and into the open, directly on my footprints.
I kept the crosshairs of my scope on its chest and steadied my aim. When it stopped and lifted its head, I exhaled and squeezed the trigger.
Does scattered as the shot rang out, and the buck ran off as well. However, it piled up less than 30 yards from my watch. There was no euphoria, and there was no one around to exchange high fives with. It was a simple act that served to reassure me I still retain the skills to be a hunter. Despite the fact that my accomplishment was tinged with the bittersweet knowledge I had taken a life, I was proud of my hunting efforts.
I had put in the time and I was satisfied with a handsome 10 pointer, which sported a large, non-typical rack. However, I was more excited at the prospect of enjoying fresh venison loin for Thanksgiving.
Thoughts on the Forest Preserve
As part of an ongoing effort to better understand both the concept and the conception of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, I have been researching through old journals, periodicals and outdoor magazines from the era of the 1880s through the turn of the century.
Many quotes ring as true in current times, as they did when first set to type in the late 1880s. It appears the battle between preservationist and land developers is as indelibly linked to the Adirondack landscape as the forces of nature. Combined, these manmade and natural forces have served to frame the land as it stands today.
In March 1884, Leon Thomson, a lumberman declared, “Those that seek to create an Adirondack Park are Office seekers, aesthetics and dudes. "
However, in New York at that time, political forces were working to put an end to the lumberman’s exploitation of forest resources. Arguments included social, economic and health factors.
From an 1882 report to the NYS Legislature: “There were other scientific reasons for the creation of a park. The fetid quarters of the urban poor threatened not only physical health, but the mental health of the young as well. For their sake, it was important to retain the forests in order to replace the vicious debasing pleasures of the cities.”
Other climatological reasons advanced the call for the preservation of forests included “the requirements of the higher civilization of the Caucasian race … that shade must be provided to avoid the action of the mid-day sun on the brain and the nervous system.”
Samuel Hammond, an Albany lawyer who enjoyed camping in the Adirondacks as early as 1840, was one of the first to call for the creation of a park.
He claimed the state should “mark out a circle of a hundred miles in diameter, and throw around it the protecting aegis of the constitution" to protect the land as "a forest forever."
Harry Radford, editor of Field and Stream magazine, considered the savior of beaver and black bear in the Adirondacks declared in 1904, “The Forest Preserve Board has recently purchased several large tracts of forest lands within the boundaries of the proposed Adirondack State Park.
Adirondackers should always rejoice at every acre of land thus acquired by the state as it lessens the chances of the land barons to ruin the beautiful wilderness and hastens the day when the Adirondack Park will become a glorious reality.”
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman living in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.