For anyone considering a trip to the Northeast this Fall to engage in ‘leaf peeping’, this is a year anyone would want to miss for sure! With Mother Nature blessing us with so much rain this summer, it will actually pay off in the way of gorgeous vibrant colors for the fall foliage, not only in the Adirondacks but as far as New Hampshire and Maine. Just keep in mind that the northern states pop their bright colors first, following the ‘trickle down theory’ as we then head south throughout the Northeast. If we don’t want to go as far up into New England as Maine and New Hampshire, a popular route to follow is from the Albany / Saratoga areas of New York, up through Rutland VT, passing through Woodstock (one of the best little New England towns anyone will ever experience in my opinion) and on up to Burlington. While the fall foliage drive will take approximately two and a half hours, depending on where you start from, it is well worth it!
Once in Burlington, be sure to check out downtown Church Street; this main strip is off limits to cars and is a great way to spend the day window shopping against the backdrop of gorgeous mountains and their fall foliage, and views of Lake Champlain. Church Street has something for everyone; upscale shopping as well as mainstream stores like Old Navy, and of course, a Ben & Jerry’s on the corner! For those that haven’t had a chance to really explore the Lake Champlain area, a visit to Echo, an interpretive, child-friendly hands-on museum is a great place to spend the day. It not only highlights animals, fish and trees/plants native to the area, but there is even a fun ‘playroom’ for the kids to climb a tree house, explore a replica of the infamous ‘Champ’ (our local equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster), and much much more. A family can easily spend a good chunk of the day there in addition to the fall foliage tour.
Along the fall foliage route between New York and Burlington, a stop in Charlotte (pronounced Shar-lot) is always required by my family; the downtown area is quaint and typical of small Vermont towns and there are plenty of places in the area for apple picking, exploring a pumpkin patch for the perfect pick, and the area is abundant with coffeehouses (don’t forget some Green Mountain Coffee!), cafes with homemade breads and pastries, and plenty of farmer’s markets.
Back here in the Adirondacks, if your plan is to hike and get a birds’ eye view of the fall foliage, you’ll want to be sure to get out there and do it prior to mid-October, when the leaves are falling at a steadier rate and the peak colors are over. Searching your destination online should provide you with some dates as to when to expect peak colors; don’t blink or you will miss them! It seems to always be about a two week window of really spectacular bright reds, oranges, yellows and greens before you’ll have to be looking down on the ground to see them versus up on the trees! Hiking in the fall is personally my favorite time of the year; not only is the temperature ideal but there are fewer people on the trails (depending where you go of course), and the fall foliage colors are overwhelming.
If hiking isn’t your thing, check out the various gondolas you can take up to the top of many area mountains, or plan a drive to the top of Killington (Vermont) or Prospect Mountain (Lake George), where there are picnic areas and places to just take in the views and enjoy the fall foliage colors. Should you want to drive as far as New Hampshire, passing through the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont (prime moose country! I see one every time) Franconia Notch should be high on your list of destinations. There is a tram that will take you to the top of a gorgeous peak to enjoy the views for miles and miles. Franconia Notch is a fantastic, totally unique park, unlike anything you’ll ever see with a multitude of water-formed carvings in the rock and plenty of trails to explore.
So whether you’re into hiking, biking or taking a leisurely drive, you won’t want to miss out on the fall foliage colors of the Northeast this year… so take the Outdoors Guy advice and ‘get out there’!
We may see someone walking into the woods with visions of a 10 point bucks dancing through a hunter’s head on the first day of deer season, only to see that same person walk out of the woods wondering where all the deer went, or what happened to make them miss an easy shot. Well, even a even a broken clock is right twice a day and even someone new to deer hunting can also just be in the right place at the right time, but it is still preferable to take the time to learn deer hunting tips, and basic woodsmanship in order to prepare for deer hunting season.
The basics or deer hunting 101 should begin by finding areas that not only have game activity but that you also have permission to hunt. If you are scouting public land, make sure that hunting is permissible on that land, and if there are any special conditions or quota restrictions that must be considered to deer hunt. I was very lucky to have two friends who spent the time to teach me what to look for when pre-season scouting and teach me where to place my tree stands for deer hunting. Being from Miami, Florida this took quite a few trips up to Wisconsin and many hours in the woods.
It’s not enough just to know that there are deer in the area merely by seeing tracks on game trails, you will want to know where they are going and why. Pay attention to any nearby fields that have been harvested or have crops of corn or soy bean or some other food source that deer will be attracted to. You will want to know about nearby water sources as well. Once you have figured out all these possibilities, it then narrows down to a situation of not so much where a deer will come by, but when. Aerial maps are great for finding natural funnels to certain areas. A much overlooked component to deer hunting but incredibly important is knowing the prevailing winds for the time of the year and that area. Setting up with the wind at your back is like sending a telegram to the deer telling them exactly where you are. There are products on the market that can help mask your scent and scent blocking clothing that can assist in minimizing the scent dispersal, but these should be used in conjunction with proper tree stand and blind placement to give the deer hunter the best possible chance of success.
Now that you have decided on several prime pieces of real estate that you feel will give the best chance of harvesting a deer you will need to decide whether you will be hunting from a ground blind or a tree stand. There are several options for each. Bow hunters tend to prefer tree stands as they give a much better view of any animals coming in and they assist in scattering your scent above and away from any nearby deer allowing them to come very close to the stand without detecting your presence. You will also be above the animal’s line of sight, so if you don’t twitch around too much it will be much harder for a deer to realize you are there. If you are planning on a tree stand, take into consideration your physical abilities in order to determine what type of stand best suits you, and the method of climbing into that stand as well. Before climbing into the stand it is good practice to mark off some yardage to assist in properly gauging distance for a shot. Remember, you may be 20’ above the ground so take all recommended safety precautions seriously. If you are hunting from a ground blind it is important to position the blind so that you have a good field of view and clear shooting lanes, and don’t forget enough brush behind you to breakup the outline of the blind. If you are not using a portable climbing stand, you may consider placing several stands (on private land) depending on conditions and wind directions and use the one that seems most optimal for that day.
The clothing that will be worn on this deer hunting adventure depends upon where and the time of year your will be hunting. Boots can not only be a lifesaver by being comfortable and waterproof, but depending on what kind you are wearing they may assist in keeping your scent as you walk into the woods down to a minimum. I take my stealth ability very seriously and shower with unscented soap and shampoo as well as doing laundry with unscented detergent. I then immediately place my clothing in a sealed bag and do most of my dressing once I park my car and prepare to move out. This was very awkward on afternoon when I was stopped for blown brake light. Some of my friends tend to think less of their scent in favor of properly utilizing wind direction. Weather can change significantly during the hunting hours and it pays to dress in layers as it’s much easier to remove layers in a tree stand or blind then to put more on. Be prepared for most possibilities including rain. Gloves, boots and layers of scent blocking clothing should work nicely and be given considerable thought. You may also want to spray yourself down with one of the many scent blocking products available before heading into the woods.
Finally, if you are new to deer hunting, I will give you this word of advice from personal experience, if the gods are with you and you do harvest a deer, it might pay to have a plan with your buddies to come and assist in the tracking and field dressing of the animal. This is especially true if you have never done this before. My first deer with a bow is a source of amusement to my friends whom not only had to calm me down (yes, I called them from my cell phone!) but before they could help track and teach me to field dress the animal, they had to help get me down from the tree stand as I was having a mild panic attack! All in all, I put in the time and did my homework which put me in a position to succeed. If you take the time and prepare properly, you may not be guaranteed a big buck, but you will be guaranteed your best chance and have a heck of a great time in the process.
** We encourage all accomplished hunters to add to this article with comments so that your experiences may help others enjoy the great outdoors!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to sit in the woods for a full 24 hour period, just to see what assortment of wildlife passes by? Most avid outdoorsmen have the patience and tenacity to sit in a tree stand or rest against a tree on the forest floor for hours, but rarely would one get the chance to see all that nature has to offer during those busy evening and twilight hours. Somewhere along the way, someone had the foresight to recognize a need for capturing what goes on in the woods when we’re not there; enter the trail camera.
While trail cams come in all different shapes, styles, sizes and prices, they are most commonly attached discreetly to a tree, most commonly along a proven trail – i.e.: a path where deer, bear or other animals are clearly frequenting. The camera is motion-activated and on many models, you can choose the duration between photographs. Another feature may be a camera equipped with night vision capability, allowing you to capture pics of what passes by or even feeds in front of your selected area. These trail cams are great for seeing those that are most active at night, like deer, bear, raccoon, etc. Trail Cams may come with a flash set up or IR capability (infra red may have less effect on spooking the animals) for night photography. When looking for a trail cam with a flash make certain to investigate the effective flash range of that trail cam. The greater the distance from your anticipated target, such as a bait station or entrance to a field will determine the necessary effective flash range. Make sure that there is nothing between your target and the camera that can trigger the photo. I have in the past had swaying branches use up all my pictures, and this was when I was still using real film!
When scouting for an area in which to place the trail camera, hunters will normally look for signs of activity such as a spot where several game trails merge. The weekend hiker should have little trouble finding these locations if those trails are active and in constant use. The entrances to fields or a food source as well as a water supply are great spots to set up. Animals that are eating or drinking are usually very calm and may allow multiple pics to be taken before moving on. One of my favorite pictures is of a black bear in the Florida Everglades that leisurely sat down in front of my trail cam to munch on a doughnut I left for him. I saw a single bear print at the edge of game trail and set the trail cam up there. I have my reservations about leaving food in front of the trail cam to bring in and keep the animals there a bit longer, but if that is your choice, you may consider matching the bait to the animals you are seeking to get pics of. Grain and molasses will bring in bear, hog, and deer, while decaying meat may allow for pictures of coyotes and bobcats.
No matter what make, model or style you choose, there are a few things you can typically expect with the use of a trail cam. My first word of advice is this: don’t get too excited the very first time you go back (usually you would not check on it for a few days at a time since too much action around the site will deter animals from frequenting the area). When you first check your camera you may see the display state that you have 5 or 6 pictures, but the funny thing is this: one is typically of you as you walked away after setting it up and another will be of you as you approach the camera to check it! The first time we set one up in our backyard to try to get some photos of a fox we were sure we’d seen sneaking around, the kids were so excited at the thought that we had so many photos. Once we downloaded them, we saw blurs of birds flying by, the tail of a raccoon that was a bit too fast, and of course a close up of me as I set it up and was cleaning the lens. Good family entertainment, but not what we got the camera for! In the end though, we did get a good look at that wily fox and the kids were thrilled.
While perhaps the initial and most frequent use of the trail cam was for hunters to scout potential hunting areas and get a taste of what was living in the area, trail cams today are used by nature lovers and families alike. A great way to get some up-close and personal candid shots of animals we normally wouldn’t be able to get this close to. If you are considering purchasing a trail cam, do your research. There’s no reason to pay any more than you have to, depending on its intended use. You will be paying more for higher resolution of the camera. Should you have any really great shots taken with a trail cam, feel free to submit them to us here and we’ll post them for others to enjoy.