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

Stalking whitetails in snowless woods

December 7, 2016
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

There was a time, not so long ago, when a brisk, cold blanket of snow covered the local landscape for a fair share of the year.

I'm old enough to remember such times, when the rumbling thunder of passing plow trucks could be heard throughout the majority of our evening hours. I recall the joy of jumping off our back porch, and disappearing into the depths of the regular snowfall.

Winter would wrap the landscape in a thick white carpet as it re-established ownership of the local landscape. It would remain that way, often for a span that stretched from October 'til May.

Article Photos

The lack of local snow cover was evident in this November photo of the village of Lake Placid taken from the east side of Scarface Mountain in Ray Brook.
Photo — Joe Hackett

Unfortunately, many of today's kids no longer have an opportunity to enjoy the natural progression of the seasons. In recent years, our seasons have lost their distinct, natural definition.

Winter now brings rain rather than snow. Summer weather now shows up in April, with golfers already on the links wearing T-shirts and shorts.

Of course, they just aren't building kids like they used to either. The enticements of texting, tweeting and the virtual world of the Web has largely become more attractive than the the birds, the bees and the trees.

While there remain many climate change naysayers, I've spent enough time outdoors to recognize the difference. I've been fishing on April 1, the opening day of trout season for six of the past seven years, and I was in a canoe rather than an ice shanty.

As one old timer remarked, "There wasn't even enough snow to make a decent pot of track soup."

I mention such facts to illustrate the dramatic impacts of our rapidly changing climate. For the fourth or fifth year in a row, I spent the majority of the season stalking whitetails in the snowless woods.

As expected, the deer take is down again, although the state Department of Environmental Conservation has not yet tabulated the overall harvest.

The historic Trudeau Big Buck Contest awarded the cup to John Skiff with a nine-point, 181-pound specimen. There were only two bucks entered in the contest this season.

Over in Jay, the popular Ward Lumber Company Big Buck Contest saw a tie for first place among the 15 deer that were entered. The top buck was a 165-pound 10 pointer.

Most of the sportsmen and women I've spoken with claim the recent season was likely the worst in recent memory. Whether it can be attributed to a lack of snow cover or a diminished herd is up to DEC biologists to determine.

There were only two snowstorms that produced snow cover. The storms, which book-ended the season, delivered heavy wet snow on both the opening and closing weekends of the season. After the storms passed, the snow didn't stick around for long. For the remainder of the season, the woods remained primarily brown and bare, which allowed the wily whitetails to blend easily into the natural forest backdrop.

Unfortunately, it appears to be a trend that will continue to affect the long honored art of tracking and stalking whitetails.

While the warming climate poses a potential threat to such traditional outdoor pursuits, it is interesting to note a more ominous message that was delivered in a recent New York Times op-ed column.

The Times column detailed how a recent edition of the popular Oxford Junior Dictionary, which has been developed for a market of 7-year-olds, made the decision to drop such words as fern, otter, dandelion, pasture, glen and willow.

The deleted words were not considered to be improper or politically incorrect, the editorial staff simply decided that such "nature words" were simply no longer relevant to the lives of modern children. In their place, were more important, topical words such as broadband, blog, cut and paste, MP3 player and voicemail.

The twits at Twitter are surely FaceBooking their friends with the good news. I think I'll take a walk to the glen where no one will see the tear in my eye. Glen was also deleted, by the way.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web