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Bugs, birds, brookies and kids in the woods

May 2, 2009
By Joe Hackett

The recent warm weather has accelerated the advance of spring and despite a dose of high winds and intermittent rain showers, the season has been quite pleasant to date.

Buds are popping on the trees and the grass is greening in the fileds. It won't be long before locals revert to that old familiar wave. I've already experienced my first swarm of black flies, which fortunately had not yet grown their teeth. But like the swallows returning to Capistrano, it wouldn't be spring without them. I expect they'll be hungry soon.

Presently, there are larger, winged creatures to be dealt with. In all my years on the water, I've never encountered such an abundance of Canada geese on the ponds. They are everywhere, on large ponds, small ponds, even on remote, high elevation ponds. They are hidden in the marshes, watch out.

Article Photos

Adirondackers have always raised their children with a solid connection to the environment.
(Enterprise photo — Joe Hackett)

Far more dangerous than black flies, geese will become progressively ornery and belligerent over the next few weeks as the breeding season begins.

Canada geese have one of the highest rates of breeding success due to the fact that both male and female guard the nest. While they usually just squawk and hiss to drive interlopers away, the presence of goslings significantly ups the ante.

Geese will bite or worse - they'll fly right at you. Paddlers should recognize the threat posed by a 15 to 20 pound, dive-bombing bird, as it is quite possible to flip a boat in an effort to dodge a strike.

It's wise to give them a wide berth, which can be a difficult task on a narrow waterway.

Bound to rebound

I appreciate the very kind regards readers have expressed in sympathy with my recent lack of angling prowess. However, there is no further need to worry; I got my mojo back. My mysterious piscatorial funk is now defunct. It was a busy week on the ponds, and I have been enjoying fresh trout for dinner regularly.

However, I recently had to console my fishing partner, when he set too hard and lost his hook on a solid strike. As luck would have it, he saved the Lake Clear wabbler.

Ever the kind fellow, he continued to troll along the same route on the return pass, while he hurried to replace the snelled hook.

Impressed with his generosity, I was further humbled when I got a nice hit on the very next pass. With a quick hook set and a short battle, I soon had a fine brook trout in the net.

But, as I removed my hook from the fish, I noticed another hook set squarely in its jaw. There was still a short length of monofilament attached. Sure enough, it was the hook he had lost only moments earlier.

Being a kind fellow myself, I thanked him for the troll and promptly returned the newly found hook to it's proper owner.

If it hadn't happened to me, I would have sworn it was a fish story. Conveniently, he took care of the swearing part for me.

'Last Child

in the Woods'

On Saturday, May 2, The Wild Center in Tupper Lake will host Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods," a national bestseller that has drawn attention to a growing disconnect between children and the outdoors.

Louv has combined extensive research and years of antidotal evidence to detail the cause and effect of this national problem.

Simply put, if children don't enjoy playing in natural settings, the outdoor world holds little value in their eyes. If it holds no value, it isn't important and there is no need to protect it.

Adirondackers have always raised their children with a solid connection to the environment. It helps to shape their character and fosters an understanding of natural processes. It is part of our cultural heritage.

The regions' harsh weather and rugged terrain have helped to build sharp minds and strong bodies; yet even here, the electronic age has established a firm grasp. There's no denying the fact that our children are part of the "wired generation." Never before has instant communication been so widespread.

Cell phones are now used for entertainment, as much as communication. Computers and video games have replaced the bicycles and tree forts of their parent's generation. We've got to make the outdoors 'in' again.

Fortunately, we are insulated to a large degree, due to the region's abundant natural resources. Our natural settings attract visitors from all over the world, who pay dearly to play in our backyard.

Yet, we mustn't be complacent. If our children don't possess the skills and knowledge to effectively utilize the local environment, the lure of electronic entertainment will be all the more difficult to overcome. The only sure way to combat negative recreation is to make the positive recreation readily available and enjoyable.

Outdoor recreation is basic, and while there may be no frills, there are plenty of thrills. Consider the simple economics of the situation.

For the cost of a video game or a couple of movie rentals, a kid can purchase a serviceable fishing rod and reel, a pair of binoculars or a birding guide book. With unlimited opportunities for such pursuits available within the confines of most local communities, these tools of discovery can provide endless entertainment and valuable exercise.

Saturday's event at The Wild Center will showcase a number of organizations; people and programs that can help parents and families attain the necessary skills and knowledge to fully enjoy the natural world. It may be small step, but taken in the right direction it may be the greatest gift we can bestow on future generations.



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