A natural change of pace during snowless stretches

As I gaze out the window of my home in Ray Brook, it is easy to forget that the annual big game hunting season has not yet received a single day of tracking snow. Although the Northern Zone will continue to draw hunters from all across the state, the season will officially close at sunset on Dec. 2.

While there will continue to be numerous opportunities to hunt big game during the upcoming Southern Zone big game season, this year’s Northern Zone hunting season will likely be noted for providing yet another snowless stretch but nobody will take notice of it at all. Because such changes typically impact the end users in the long term, the current consequences of the present impact of our ever-warming planet is more likely to be overlooked until it’s too late.

With little or no snow currently on the ground, deer can easily blend into the landscape, where it can be difficult or nearly impossible to locate them. ln such conditions, deer certainly have the upper hand, or hoof as it may be.

However, a backdrop of fresh snow cover always makes it easier for hunters to locate sign and follow tracks. At the same time, it also muffles their approach and conceals their presence.

Fresh snow is a great equalizer that always serves to energize the hunters. While it doesn’t actually equal the odds, it certainly serves to lift their spirits, especially when it illustrates a particularly large deer bed, a fresh scrape or a new rub.

Such glaring evidence also serves to alert the hunters and steel their resolve.

It should come as no surprise that female hunters in the 30-40 age bracket currently make up the fastest growing demographic in the hunting community. Although the huntresses only account for less than 10 percent of the overall total of hunters, there has been a corresponding interest in all shooting sports among women in general.

The influx of female shooters has likely been driven by role models such as Olympic gold medalist Kim Rhode, and a variety of celebrity hosts. Amid the current culture of gun violence and terror, it is more important than ever to present a truly honest portrait of firearms, and the people who use them.

It should come as no surprise, that female shooters are consistently ranked among the safest shooters overall. In addition to the rise in female shooters, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of female hunters, instructors and organizations.

Among the most successful programs has been the popular Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW), which is now considered to be the standard of the industry.

For gunners who are interested in extending their seasons, there are a variety of hunting opportunities to be found in ruffed grouse, varying hare and more.

I know several fly tiers who are always interested in trading finished flies for the raw materials. The late, great Fran Betters, of Ausable Wulff fame was always looking for the hair of a snowshoe hare, which is a hollow hair that allows a dry fly to float high on the surface without need of a flotant.

Although most flytiers use synthetic materials these days, there is a unique natural connection that occurs whenever l take a native fish while using all-natural gear,which is why l still care to carry an old, limbery bamboo flyrod on occasion. It helps to foster the natural connection, as it slows down the pace.


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