Saturday, October 22, 2022

Reuniting with friends at Adirondack Wild meeting, Old Ranger Tales Lecture Series

I put some miles on the truck (and some on the ground) this week as I [traveled to] Paul Smith’s VIC three times, went brook trout fishing a couple times, and watched Loons on Lake Clear. [I also] photographed fall leaves, did some leaf blowing for several days, caught songbirds when the wind didn’t blow, and caught saw whet owls for four nights. Everyone asks [me] when I get the time to sleep and do all these things. I say, “I nap a lot.” I don’t know if I will get into all these [items in my column] as I must add a few politics this week, which I know you all like to hear just before Election Day.

The enlargement of the 21st Congressional district, which now takes in seven counties and parts of three others, is a big piece of the state. Running for that seat is current Congress Representative Elise Stefanik (Republican candidate) and Matt Castelli, the Democratic candidate. Elise has held the seat since 2015, and after the 2020 election, still feels that there was fraud in many other states during that election and Trump should have won. Matt [is a] former CIA officer and Director for Counter Terrorism at the National Security Council who served in both the Obama and Trump White Houses. [He is] running for the first time. Candidate posters [seem to be] about even for both candidates, as I’ve traveled around the North Country in the last week. I have a Castelli poster out front, and I hope everyone gets out to vote for the candidate of their choice.


Brook trout season closed on October 15, and I got out a couple times that last week looking for a nice male to photograph. One place I fished was a three-mile walk in, and I had the lake to myself all day. I had a few bites, and I did catch one of the prettiest brookies I ever caught…and I’ve caught a few in my life. The fish was only thirteen inches, but it had super spawning colors. The couple of females I caught were full of eggs, so they hadn’t spawned yet, and they made a nice supper meal.

Brother Bob and brook trout. Photo by Gary Lee.

The second place I went [was] with my brother, Bob, who has several nice ponds to fish over in the eastern Adirondacks. This pond (which will go unnamed) was a secret pond that my Uncle Max Noyes fished for several years and kept it secret from us. We always heard about this pond and all the fish that my uncle caught there, but we didn’t know where it was until after he had passed away. This was the first time I had been to the pond, a beautiful spot surrounded by fall leaves. The first troll around the pond, I caught a small one on a Hornberg fly (imitates a crayfish), then Bob got a beautiful male on a worm. We had a few more hits, but missed. I switched to worms and caught a few of eating-size, as did Bob. It was [a] “Perfect Day,” the name of Bob’s Charter boat on Lake Champlain. The leaves along the way across the Adirondacks made the trip more enjoyable, as I took several pictures both going and coming home.


One trip to the VIC was for the Adirondack Wild annual meeting on Friday, October 14. [I saw] many friends that I hadn’t seen in several years. On the way up, I stopped at Lake Clear before the meeting and counted over fifty loons fishing together, as they do there this time of the year before going south for the winter. Just giving their little hoot calls and diving regularly for fish. The Loons were at the far side of the lake, so it was hard to get an exact count with all the diving.

Blue Ridge Falls. Photo by Gary Lee.

During the award ceremony of the annual meeting, the Wild Stewardship Award was given to Tracy Ormsbee, Publisher of The Adirondack Explorer, Champion of the Forest Preserve was given to Lou Curth,  and the Paul Schaefer Wilderness Award was given to Scott van Laer. The accomplishments for each [recipient was] given before each [person was] presented with different beautiful, framed photographs by Ken Rimany. Each [awardee] got to say a few words after they received their awards, giving many of their personal feelings toward and about the Adirondack Park. It was a very nice ending to the Adirondack Wild meeting.


The VIC [hosted a program] the very next [afternoon] on old Forest Ranger Stories [Fall Lecture Series: Old Ranger Tales] with George Stec from the Glens Falls area, Bill Houck from the Brant Lake area, and Julie Harjung from the Lake Clear area. Scott van Laer, also a retired Forest Ranger now managing the VIC, was the moderator. There were many stories, many of which I was involved with when I was a Forest Ranger. [This brought] back some memories and many new ones, some that happened after I had retired. One search George brought up was for a lost hunter on French Mountain after a big snowstorm on French Mountain south of Lake George.


At the same time, he had a search for a young person from a group home. The hunter had pawned his gun and took a bus to Florida to be with a girlfriend. George found the young boy not three hundred feet from the home still alive in a strip search. [There were] many other search and rescue stories involving plane crashes, rock and ice climbing, and some law enforcement issues. The hour-long program went nearly two hours with many questions. George was presented with a birthday cake, which was enjoyed by all as that day was his 85th birthday. There were a few recruits from the new Forest Ranger Academy attending as well.


Regular Big Game for deer and bear opens this weekend, but that’s another story. See ya.


Photo at top: Saw Whet Owl in hand. Photo by Gary Lee.


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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

2 Responses

  1. Bill Kitchen says:

    If you hadn’t said otherwise I would have thought Brother Bob was you.
    👍👍 for the Matt Castelli sign. I’ve got one out front, too. Some jerk destroyed a real big Castelli sign in Fulton Co.
    Stefanik was once somewhat reasonable. Now she’s the Marjorie Taylor Greene of the North and America will think of Adirondack voters like they think of voters in Louie Gohmert’s district if we re-elect her. A little screw-loose. Why should we vote for someone who’s afraid to even debate the issues.

  2. Ronald S. DeBree says:

    Your choke hold on the poor OWL looks deadly. Just look at those eyes!

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