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The history of hunting in the Adirondacks

Notes from the North Woods

At first glance, the only evidence it was a buck were some big tines sticking out of the tall grass.

At first glance, the only evidence it was a buck were some big tines sticking out of the tall grass. Photo by Joe Hackett.

Herman concluded, ”sport hunting became a quintessentially American sport in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries…as it offered a way to recapture an imagined past…and defined Americanness.”

In current times, as Americans continue to adjust to the rapid changes brought on by the advent of instant communications, and the uncertainties of the many modern day political, social and economic upheaval; it will be traditional consumptive sports such as hunting and angling that provide the population with an important a grounding influence.

In an increasingly artificial world, where virtual reality is nearly as prevalent as the real thing, it will be the folks with boots on the ground that offer this country it’s best and last chance to hold onto the foundations of a proud society.

Adirondack Big Game Hunting

Historically, the vast landmass encompassing the current Park wasn’t formally labeled the Adirondacks until 1837. Prior to that time, a British map from 1761 referred to the land simply as ‘Deer Hunting Country’. It seems times haven’t changed as much as the names.

Despite the lack of a formal name, it is believed the region once provided a traditional route for native peoples of the Algonquin, Abenaki and Mohawk nations, who traveled through it for centuries.

The land was likely used for hunting, trapping, fishing and trade, but there is little evidence of the establishment of permanent Indian settlements. However, it is believed that Native People maintained seasonal villages for hunting, fishing and even agricultural purposes.

Although New York State initiated regulations restricting the harvest of Whitetail Deer in 1788, which limited the harvest to a season spanning from August until December, the laws were rarely enforced.

In the years following the Civil War, an energetic and ever burgeoning, East Coast populace discovered the Adirondacks. In their efforts to escape the summer heat and eternal urban grime, they vacated the cities, and retreated to the cool confines of the Great North Woods. They were called ‘vacationers’, and soon the fabulous resorts and Great Camps were built to accommodate them.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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