The first week of Northern Zone rifle season couldn't have started much worse, weather-wise.
Unusually warm weather gave way to one of the worst rain/windstorms in years, which all but wiped out Sunday for all but the most diehard hunters.
Still, there are reasons to be optimistic. Whitetails are moving more, as the rut approaches, despite one of the warmest falls on record. The wind took a lot of leaves off trees, so visibility should be good. There are a lot of deer in the woods, as the last two mild winters have allowed the herd to grow.
I know several guys who took nice bucks heading west to Ohio or Illinois, but I have not heard of much around here so far. The staff at The Crossroads Country Store & Sport Shop in Chester said only one buck had been entered into the store's annual big buck contest so far.
The DEC's forest rangers dealt with another lost hunter over the weekend, with a good result. Details are below, but his decision to "shelter in place" when getting lost, instead of getting more lost, was a good move.
-- Don Lehman
Town of Morehouse
Search: On Oct. 28 at 6:25 p.m. DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance in regards to a missing hunter in Hoffmeister, town of Morehouse, off Alderbend Road. The 30-year-old male left unprepared for an evening in the woods. Three Rangers responded and searched the area with assistance with Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) and Hamilton County Sheriff’s units until midnight with no success. Sixteen Forest Rangers responded to continue search efforts the next morning. On Oct. 29at 7:30 a.m. two Forest Rangers located the subject on the edge of a wetland, approximately 0.8 miles from his camp and in good health. He had sheltered for the night next to a tree after dark and slept during search efforts. He was walked back to his camp when located by Rangers and declined further care.
Town of Keene
Search: On Oct. 28 at 5:12 p.m. DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker at the Adirondack Loj who had become separated from his father while hiking Rocky Falls in the High Peaks Wilderness. Three Forest Rangers responded to begin a search for the 64-year-old hiker. During the hike to the Rocky Falls lean-to, the subject slipped and got both feet wet while crossing Indian Pass Brook and decided to head back out early on his own. After re-crossing Indian Pass Brook, he made a wrong turn and started following the herd path along the south side of the brook rather than the marked foot trail back to the Adirondack Loj, where they were camping. The father continued toward Street and Nye Mountains, and decided to wait there for rescue. At 7:56 p.m., a Forest Ranger located the subject in good condition and escorted him back to the trailhead to be reunited with his son.
Town of Wilmington
Rescue: On Oct. 28 at 12:26 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Essex County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance for a 50-year-old male with a severe lower leg injury. The subject described himself to be three-quarters of a mile from the Hardy Road Trailhead in Wilmington. Three Forest Rangers with an ATV responded to the Hardy Road Trailhead, along with Wilmington Fire and Rescue personnel, and met up with one of the reporting party members. Rangers and rescue squad personnel reached the subject at 1 p.m. and administered basic first aid. The subject was transported by ATV to the trailhead, transferred to a Wilmington Ambulance, and then transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Lake Placid for treatment.