Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | News | Local News | Contact Us | Home RSS

A pursuit firmly woven into our fabric

October 26, 2016
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

Hunting is an activity that permits enthusiasts to interact with the natural world in a manner that is difficult to achieve through any other means. It is a traditional, all-natural pursuit that allows woodsmen to utilize basic instincts that have been refined over the long course of human history.

In the process of the hunt, participants will experience a variety of natural interactions and reconnections to the land. It should come as no surprise, as our species functioned as hunter/gatherers for the majority of their time on this planet.

Hunting is a component of our genetic composition. It provides participants with a deep spiritual connection to the land, the wildlife and the long dormant traditions of the hunt.

Article Photos

Last weekend’s snowstorm transformed the trail to camp into a tight white tunnel of bowed beech branches.
Photo — Joe Hackett

While a harvest is the ultimate objective of the hunt, it is often the attendant activities that provide participants with the greatest satisfaction. Hunting provides us with a natural recalibration, as we recover many of the natural senses that remain hidden deep within our instinct.

Hunting is an activity that combines solitude, stress reduction and a high degree of concentration. It allows us to refine our navigation skills, enhance sensory awareness and utilize our strength, stamina and determination.

To a large extent, hunting remains a very social activity. During the autumn months, the query, "Did you get your deer yet?" is still considered a pleasant greeting whether in the market, the church or the local bar room.

The traditions of hunting and hunting camps have been firmly woven into the fabric of our local communities. It is a recreational pursuit that continues to span the generations. The senior member of our hunting camp in his 80s, while the youngest is in his 20s. My own children first visited camp as toddlers, where they were delivered in a single packbasket.

Hunting is not considered a competitive sport. While many prefer to hunt solitary, more often deer hunting involves the company and companionship of others. It makes for a long, tough drag when there's no one around to help haul one out.

There are very few outdoor activities available in the vast outdoor recreational spectrum that offer the authentic sense of community and shared responsibility that are hallmarks of the hunt. Possibly this is one reason the tradition of belonging to a hunting camp is considered a sacred rite in many corners.

Hunting camp is a place that provides the average man or woman with an opportunity to stay in shape, interact with and learn about nature, get plenty of fresh air and vigorous exercise, while enjoying the company and camaraderie of a group of like-minded folks. If you've never been there, you'll never know the difference.

Although most camps conduct hunts in the traditional manner with drivers and watchers, still-hunting is likely the most popular technique practiced by seasoned, whitetail enthusiasts. It isn't for everyone, but it is popular with those who are comfortable prowling through the thickets, the cedar swamps and the beech flats in search of bedding areas, feeding areas, rubs, scrapes and other such places where deer are to be found.

Still-hunting is the antithesis of tree-stand hunting, which is essentially an ambush. Many old-timers believe the growing popularity of portable tree stands has "dumbed-down" the hunt.

"There are just too many hunters who depend on tree stands, instead of their own hunting skills," explained an old friend. "Rather than enjoying the joy of the hunt and the hard work that comes with it, they have feed plots surrounded by game cameras that provide real-time video to their cell phones. The only skill required is answering a damn phone."

Although there is a growing fraternity of "anti-food plot" enthusiasts, there will always be natural food plots, whether it's an old apple orchard, a particularly productive beech forest or a favored fern fen that continues to attract whitetails.

While the advent of food plots, remote game cameras and cell phones that "dumb down the hunt" to a limited extent, there will always be a portion of the hunting fraternity that continues to honor the traditions of the hunt. While they may not harvest a big buck every year, their hunts are not defined by the number of deer harvested, but rather by what they put into it: the cold mornings, the warm meals, the glow of an old camp stove and the hearty laughter of old friends who are back in camp for the season.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web