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Hunters welcome fresh snow with open arms

November 22, 2016
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

The first "dumb snow" of the season has finally arrived, and it wrapped the local landscape in a cold, white sheet. The storm provided the first significant snowfall since the opening weekend of the hunting season.

This is what I call a dumb snow, as it illustrates the travel routes of the whitetails. The tracks provide a lot of important information for hunters who know how to read them.

In the deep woods, boughs now hang heavy on the evergreens, while long white tunnels of hardwood saplings have encapsulated the wood roads. In such conditions, the deer are simply not as smart as usual.

Article Photos

Last weekend’s snowstorm plastered the woods with a heavy, wet layer of snow.
Photo — Joe Hackett

The snow also muffled the woods, which had been carpeted with a brittle mix of frosted leaves, hoar frost and twigs for most of the season. It's almost impossible to walk quietly through the woods when the ground is carpeted with frosted leaves that crunch underfoot like cornflakes

Remember to tell someone where you're going and when you will be returning. Darkness comes earlier with each passing day. Carry a flashlight, matches and don't rely on a cell phone to get you out of the woods safely.

While the fresh snow is sure to be a boon for deer hunters, it will also help to jump start the new ski season. Snow cover greatly aids the hunt, as it provides evidence of travel corridors, bedding areas, scrapes and feeding habits. Experienced hunters who know how to read such "sign" will adjust their hunts accordingly.

In addition, the fresh white snow will also provides a stark backdrop to highlight the whitetail's brown and grey winter coat. Hopefully, the fresh snow cover will be more than a flash in the pan.

The rut is currently in full swing, and bucks will again be looking for love in all the wrong places. While the recent storm will surely put them down for a few days, they will be on the move as soon as the weather breaks. Find the does, and bucks will eventually come your way.

While most hunters take to the woods for the harvest, it is important to recognize the contributions that sportsmen provide in terms of conservation, game management and the unending camaraderie of camp life. The North American Wildlife Conservation Model is the only one of its kind in the world. It is also the most efficient and effective game management system in the world. As a result, the United States and Canada now provide more diverse hunting and fishing opportunities than any place on the planet.

The North American Wildlife Conservation Model was developed in the 1800s as hunters and anglers realized that bag limits would be necessary to protect rapidly disappearing stocks of wildlife, and the wild lands that provided their habitat.

Hunters and anglers were among the first to crusade for wildlife protection back in the 1880s, as market hunters began depleting the vast stock of buffalo on the plains.

Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell were among a host of conservation leaders who rallied fellow sportsmen to the cause. They still rank among the most important conservation leaders in history. They also witnessed the annual slaughter of migratory birds up and down the East Coast, in addition to the slaughter of the buffalo in the West. Together, they pushed for hunting regulations, bag limits, the establishment of conservation groups to help protect valuable habitat and a prohibition on market hunting.

As founder of the first Audubon Society in New York and a central figure in the fight for the environment, George Bird Grinnell spent a lifetime protecting the land he loved. After receiving a doctorate in paleontology from Yale in 1880, Grinnell took over as the editor of Forest and Stream, a popular weekly publication for sportsmen and naturalists. He also served as a naturalist on General Custer's 1874 expedition to the Black Hills.

Grinnell and Roosevelt became a driving force behind the conservation movement. In the case of wildlife depletion, the appearance of national sporting periodicals such as the American Sportsman, Forest and Stream, and Field and Stream, served to rally sportsmen's anger over the eradication of the eastern woodlands and the wildlife that inhabited such wild lands.

Such efforts resulted in the development of the North American Wildlife Conservation Model which is based on two basic principles: that fish and wildlife are held in trust for all citizens, and scientifically managed so their populations will be sustained forever.

The North American Wildlife Conservation Model includes a set of guidelines known as the Seven Sisters for Conservation which hold that North American Wildlife is held in the public trust. The natural resources and wildlife found on public lands are to be managed by government agencies to ensure that current and future generations will always have wildlife and wild places to enjoy. The effort banned commercial hunting and the sale of public wildlife.

Hunting and fishing laws were created through a public process to ensure that everyone has an opportunity and responsibility to develop systems of wildlife conservation. Funding for the program is achieved via an excise tax that is collected on the sale of all hunting and fishing related items that included everything from ammo to camp and beyond.

In addition, the principles of the compact state that every citizen has an opportunity, under law, to hunt and fish in the United States and Canada.

In North America, individuals may legally harvest certain wild animals under strict guidelines for food and fur, self-defense and property protection. The laws also restrict the casual killing of wildlife merely for antlers, horns or feathers.

While fish and game can migrate freely across the boundaries between states, provinces and countries, the United States and Canada jointly coordinate wildlife and habitat management strategies. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 illustrates the ongoing cooperation between countries to protect wildlife. The act also made it illegal to capture or kill migratory birds, except as allowed by specific hunting regulations.

The final tenets of the North American model hold that sound science is essential to managing and sustaining North America's wildlife and habitat. Scientific research is essential to making good decisions in regard to wildlife. The correct information allows scientists and wildlife to be more effective stewards of fish and wildlife, while scientific research information will allow stewards to apply that information for the benefit of all.



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