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Deer season in full swing

A thick carpet of leaves now covers the trails while rim ice sets up along the shoreline of the ponds and snow caps the High Peaks. As temperatures continue to drop, a crunchy hoar frost will seize the ground as the foliage continues to thin out. On a morning walk, you can see your breath and hear your footsteps. Fashions of plaid and hunter orange grace the woods while longjohns have become the lingerie of the day. The Regular Big Game Hunting season is now underway and for many in the North Country, ordinary routines have been put on hold as life increasingly revolves around deer camp. Certainly, there are chores that still require immediate attention and other matters that must be addressed, but when the first snow falls, all the encumbrances of normal existence will be forgotten. Fresh snow means fresh tracks and there is little else in an outdoorsmans life that can take precedence over such a situation. It is a paradigm that remains beyond the comprehension of most spouses, girlfriends and employers. But it holds true. Try calling a plumber or a carpenter on the morning after a fresh snow. If you get beyond the answering machine, youll likely be speaking with an ill-tempered spouse who is still angry because her man left the house so early. Its the time of year where life in the North Country is put on hold and Did ya get yours yet? again serves as a formal greeting; but it will be over in just a scant two months. Enjoy it while you can, because the hunting season only rolls around once a year. Fortunately, by the time the hunting season finally ends, there still wont be enough ice to support an ice shanty; at least the hunters will have some time to rest, before they have to haul out the auger and tip-ups. Benefits of hunting In the hope that I may provide fellow hunters with enough ammunition to skip the usual chores and get out of the house in time to hunt. Ive appropriated a recent release issued by the Virginia Fish and Game Department which details the overlooked benefits of hunting. 1. Boosts the Economy in a variety of ways: Affordable for the Hunter One deer can yield upwards of 50 or more pounds of nutritious venison. Hunters also dine on duck, goose, rabbit, grouse and turkey; providing the ultimate in organic, free-range food and cutting the food bill. Putting dollars into New Yorks Economy Each year in New York, hunters spend millions of dollars in trip-related and equipment expenditures, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. Hunters contribute to the economy in the form of food, lodging, gasoline, dog food, kennel supplies, veterinarian care for hunting dogs, and equipment purchases. 2. Contribute to Conservation. Hunters are proud of their conservation heritage. More than 50 years ago, the Pittman-Robertson Act designated federal funding for wildlife conservation by establishing a special excise tax on firearms and ammunition, and hunters were all for it. By purchasing hunting licenses and paying special taxes on equipment, hunters have largely funded wildlife conservation in North America. Contributions to and membership in sportsmen's groups like Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and others provide hunters another opportunity to support states' wildlife management efforts. Managed habitat not only supports game species such as bear, deer, turkey, rabbits, and waterfowl, but it also supports a variety of non-game species such as eagles, songbirds, butterflies, snakes, and turtles that benefit from the same habitat improvements. 3. Wildlife Population Management. Hunting is an important wildlife management tool and deer are a renewable resource. Farmers, landowners, drivers, and outdoor recreationists all benefit from hunters harvesting whitetail deer as it reduces pressure on crops, protects expensive landscaping, cuts down on deer in the roadways, and prevents deer overgrazing an area and destroying habitat needed by other wildlife such as songbirds. Hunters help maintain that balance. 4. Healthy Minds, Spirits and Bodies. Hunters get huge rewards from time spent in the outdoors. Being outdoors and active builds strength and improves your overall health. Nothing clears the mind and brings on a better sense of feeling alive and part of the environment than a day in the woods. Hunting builds self-esteem as you gain outdoor skills and the satisfaction of being able to participate in the age-old need to pursue and to provide food. 5. Sharing the Bounty. Hunting is a tradition that is often passed on from one generation to the next creating a special bond between family members and friends. Many hunters enjoy mentoring others in the pleasure of and importance of being good stewards of our natural resources. For most hunters it's not the killing of game that's key to hunting, but the experiences and life lessons they gain. People who hunt have a special connection with the outdoors and an awareness of the relationships between wildlife, habitat, and humans. With that awarenes comes an understanding of the role humans play in being caretakers of the environment. Additionally, hunters have donated of 250,000 thousands of pounds of venison to Food Pantries via the NYS Venison Donation Coalition. For more information, contact the Venison Donation Coalition at 1-866-862-3337 (DEER) or visiting their website at www.venisondonation.com Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@ adelphia.net

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