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Hunting season approaches with autumn in the air

September 15, 2012
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

With the arrival of the first frost of the fall season, sportsmen's attention has increasingly become focused on a traditional shift in the direction of Adirondack outdoor sporting endeavors. As the trout season slowly winds down to completion on Oct. 15, there are a wide variety of sporting endeavors looming on the near horizon.

Autumn delivers the High Holy Days of the outdoor sporting calendar, and the season unfolds to provide a wealth of diverse opportunities to enjoy the outdoors - ranging from hiking and camping to paddling, birdwatching and more.

As usual, a fiery blaze of foliage serves to usher in the autumn season and complete the Adirondack outdoor calendar. For total enjoyment of the outdoors, there remains no finer time.

Soon, salmon will begin returning to the rivers to spawn. As the streams begin to cool, the brook and brown trout will move into the deeper pools to pursue a similar agenda. On the lakes and ponds, brook trout and lake trout will begin moving to the shallower bays and shoals for the same purposes.

There will be a variety of birds on the wing, which can be pursued both on the water or in the field. It is a time when both hunters and gun dogs quiver equally with excitement as great flocks of geese and ducks continue to honk their way to more southern locales.

As the Adirondack air grows crisper and clearer, the evening temperatures will continue to plummet, and soon, hillsides will be bedecked in a dazzling display of colors. Instantly, a simple walk in the forest will become a kaleidoscopic journey, as shafts of morning sunlight begin to highlight autumn's splendor. A sweet, musty scent of decay will complement the scene, and the sound of leaves crumpling will take on the tune of a million spilled cornflakes underfoot.

The summer season will have ended, and the region's lakes will return to mostly local use as both the summer visitors and lake folk depart for home. Caretakers will continue to motor up the lakes in order to complete the chores necessary to close up camp for the season.

The lake waters will grow increasingly still, flat and black to reflect colorful scenes that come but once a year. In the early hours, the same still waters will sprout mini-twisters of morning fog that dance across the surface, while gentle ribbons of white mist will continue to highlight the course of both rivers and streams snaking their way through the valleys.


Portrait of a hunter

The Adirondack region has a long and storied history of the hunt. Included in the mix are a wide list of characters that range from Native American hunters, Great Camp owners, guides and their sports, celebrities, politicians and a fair share of just plain old local folks.

Despite a wide range of social, economic and cultural backgrounds, nearly all hunters share a common thread in pursuit of game animals. Originally, the term game was derived from gaman, a Goth word that translates to "participation or communion."

In more recent times, game is a term used to describe a wild or fallow animal or fowl, rather than a domesticated species. Typically, game species are protected by a prescribed set of rules and regulations which restrict the method, quantities and seasons of harvest.

Originally, human beings were all hunters/gatherers of a sort until the advent of agriculture nearly 10,000 years ago. While the hunting instinct remains evident in most everyone, it is a pursuit currently practiced regularly only by a small segment of the general population.

Hunting involves a skill set of keen senses, detailed observation and the ability to recognize animal signs and habitat. It requires great patience and a thorough understanding of animal behavior and habits. Most of all, it is an activity that allows a participant to recapture a hidden piece of their past and reconnect with a lingering longing that is only satisfied while tuned in and on the hunt.

A composite sketch of the average American hunter is a rural, middle-aged white male who represents about 5 percent of the country's population, or 12.5 million Americans. He would be likely to hunt (34 percent) with friends or (25 percent) with his father/sons (15 percent), spouse (13 percent), or brothers (12 percent) about 14 percent of the time, he would be hunting alone.

Changing demographics are driving the trend of ever-decreasing hunting participation. One of the most important trends is the increasing urbanization of the U.S.

Currently, a majority of the U.S. population lives in non-rural housing, and the increasing urbanization is expected to continue for some time. Not only is more of the U.S.

becoming urban, but the urban demographic group is becoming even less likely to hunt.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1950, 36 percent of the U.S. population lived in a rural area. This percentage went down to 30 percent in 1960, to 25 percent by 1990, and down to 22 percent in 2000. This demographic trend is important because hunting participation is positively correlated with living in a rural area.

A more focused image appears when we realize the average hunter lives in a small city or town in a rural area and has been a member or donated to a conservation or sportsman's organization over the past two years. The National Rifle Association is the most

common organization to which he belongs and/or has donated, followed by The Nature Conservancy or a local hunt club.

He typically has good or excellent access to public lands for hunting nearby and has participated in sport shooting in addition to hunting while in a household with firearms.

He was younger than the median age when he first went hunting with a relative or a friend, and currently he has a household income of less than $80,000. He has likely gone hiking, boating, fishing, viewed wildlife and camped during the past five years at either a state or national park.

White-tailed deer are, by far, his most commonly hunted species, distantly followed by wild turkey, upland game birds, rabbit or hare, squirrel and waterfowl.

Rifles and shotguns are the typical hunting equipment he uses and he has taken somebody shooting who is new to the sport in the past year.



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