Preserving North Woods traditions

The North Country woods will be busy this weekend, as Saturday, October 20 marks the opening of the regular rifle season for whitetail deer. Whitetails, considered a blue collar quarry, are the most commonly sought game species across the country. The tang of woodsmoke will taint the air and old relations rekindled when long time guests make the annual return to Camp. Area hunting camps be at full throttle in the long held tradition of the season. Designated camp cooks will be up early to see that eggs are fried, pancakes flipped, hash slung and coffee brewed so that hunters take to the woods with a full stomach for the mornings hunt. In small towns across the park, local diners will fill with buffalo plaid and camo clad individuals; hurrying to finish off a plateload of grub before sipping one last cup of coffee and venturing off to the usual watch. Pickup trucks will cluster along back roads; while the occasional report of a rifle will echo off the nearby hills. Can you still remember your first hunt? Do you recall the excitement, the responsibilities and the feelings of shared accomplishment?. These are moments to recognize the significance of sharing our traditions. Such memories should serve as reminders to introduce a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts to the sporting life. A youngsters first hunt is an opportunity to instill a lifelong passion for the outdoors and a commitment to wildlife conservation. And, a personal introduction remains the best way to ensure fellow hunters will hold similar sporting values, behavior and ethics. I am firmly convinced that if more people subscribed to the old saying, If you hunt with your kids; youll never have to hunt for them; wed have far fewer worries about todays youth. While Hunter Safety Education courses continue to stress safe gun handling and proper techniques for hunting; they simply cant instill the common sense elements that partnering with an experienced hunter can provide. Hunters should also remember that the Adirondack woods and waters remain a shared resource. We should be prepared to extend the proper courtesies and cautions that we share with fellow hunter to the hikers, birders and others traveling in the woods at this time of year. Conversely, all outdoor travelers should take the precautions of dressing in bright colors and avoid wearing anything white. Dogs should be on the leash and sporting a bright collar. Travelers bushwhacking or hiking off the marked trails are urged to use common sense and limit these excursions to areas not frequented by hunters. It takes a hunter to make a hunter
We cannot overlook the importance of hunters making continued efforts to get more people involved in their sport, especially as hunting licenses sales in New York state continue to decline as they have for the past decade. Studies consistently reveal that it takes a hunter to make a hunter. Typically, this person is a father or close relative. However, if the tradition of the hunt is to continue, all hunters must make a concerted effort to bring new participants into the sport. We can no longer afford be selfish with our sport. While the anti-hunting fraternity has been highly successful in pushing their agenda across the state; I firmly believe that the lack of effort and enthusiasm on the part of hunters to bring in new recruits to their sport has amplified the impact of the antis. The majority of hunters are a fiercely independent and poorly organized lot. However,to prove that they truly love their sport; they cant be selfish. Weve got to take someone along, invite new blood into camp; have a kids weekend. The more friends we have afield, the less impact foes will have. To this end, here are some suggestions on mentoring the next generation of hunters. Model Behavior. Safe and responsible hunters are mentored by safe and responsible hunters. It takes just a single yahoo to give the entire sporting fraternity a collective black eye. Skills are learned, values are absorbed. Hunt Safe. Not matter what the age, hunting is one the safest outdoor activities. Youth hunters are some of the safest hunters when accompanied by an alert mentor. Hunt Smart. Scouting and range practice are necessary and exciting ingredients to any successful hunt. Hunt often. Lifelong hunting participation is directly related to the amount of time spent hunting as a youth, especially when these experiences occur in a family setting. Have fun! Being with family and friends and generally having a good time is more important to youth hunters than bagging game. Dont push them. Young hunters need positive reinforcement. Hunting is 99.9% anticipation, just being out there should be satisfaction; anything beyond is simply a bonus. Wear a PFD or drown!
Any idea on the number one cause of hunter fatalities between 1995 and 2005? No shots were fired and nobody fell out of a treestand! More hunter fatalities are attributable to drowning than from all the other accidents combined including falls, accidental shootings and heart attacks. Death by drowning was responsible for 91% of hunter fatalities in this timeframe and fewer than 1% of the victims were wearing life jackets according to a study commissioned by the US Coast Guard and the National Rifle Association. In the North Country, where an interconnected web of lakes, ponds and streams provides easy and convenient access to the backcountry; it is a common practice for hunters to use boats for the journey into camp. However, it is not uncommon for these same boats to be heavily loaded with gear, food and other supplies to be used while crossing cold, rough and secluded waters. Considering the potential for lousy weather, high winds and diminishing daylight hours combined with travelers bundled in heavy, woolen clothing and you have a recipe for disaster. Although PFDs are cumbersome to wear over heavy clothing, most quality PFDs have straps that allow for adjustments. If yours does not, buy or borrow one that does. Sadly, the most common cause of accidental drowning is realized upon recovery of a body. Most often, authorities find the victims pants unzipped providing an indication that victim fell out of the boat while standing up to take a pee at sea. Leave a coffee can in the boat; it can be used for more than bailing.

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