Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hunting: Deer Season Opens in The Adirondacks

On Friday my friend Todd was seen stocking up at Blue Line Sports Shop in Saranac Lake. That could only mean muzzleloading season was opening Saturday.

Muzzleloaders, or black-powder hunters, are older school than their “regular” shotgun and rifle counterparts. Maybe they’re more interested in the pursuit than the kill; they’re definitely more process-oriented and Daniel Boone-like. It’s no surprise that muzzleloading interests Todd, a guy so deeply into fly-fishing that he learned to scuba dive so he could see for himself how fish behave.

Black powder ends and the regular season opens this coming Saturday throughout the North Country. According to Region 5 Department of Environmental Conservation wildlife biologist Ed Reed, “The overall forecast for the upcoming deer season is mixed. Deer numbers should be higher in most of the southern zone units, but lower in some of the interior Adirondack units where the 2008-09 winter caused some deer mortality.” You can read details on the regional deer forecast here.

It all reminds me of William Chapman White’s month-by-month description of life here in Adirondack Country, still right on, 55 years after first publication. Here’s an excerpt from “October”:

On some early October day a man appears on the street in a pair of red and black checked pants and a scarlet jacket [more likely tree bark camo or blaze orange today]; he is like the first branch of the maple that turned in August and signaled the change to come. . . .

[Some] men prefer still hunting, going out alone and climbing the ridges. If they see no deer, at least they can see other things in the woods that now appear so dead and empty. They see the old pines, still sturdy no matter how the wind has whipped the new bark underneath. They see bluejays gathering weed seeds and nuthatches in their headlong rush down the side of the trees. They see brown buds on the spruce, shielded for the winter but full of confident promise that a spring will come someday. They get a sense of being firmly rooted in a sure world, in a world that is always full of the promise of life, even in the midst of seeming desolation, if only a man would look. And many a man will say that these are the best days in the year.

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Mary Thill lives in Saranac Lake and has worked alternately in journalism and Adirondack conservation for three decades.

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