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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Be patient when searching for wildlife

Overhead soared as many as five bald eagles occasionally flying to a nearby tree to perch and keep watch. My wife Carol and I were watching eagles one morning last week and even though we did not get the close up views we were hoping for, we commented that it was not that long ago that we were thrilled to even get a sighting of an eagle, much less watch them for half an hour or more. But the eagles are another story.
But it brought to mind a story by a Syracuse sports writer a few years ago who sarcastically kept referring to the lack of wildlife he saw during a canoe trip on the Moose River in the Adirondacks. That same summer I was in the office of Adirondack Exposure visiting with my friend Scott Locorini when a tourist stopped in to make reservations for the following morning for a kayak trip and wildlife viewing. When he inquired what time the trip started, Scott smiled and replied, “We start about 8 a.m. because that gives us time to let all the birds and animals out of their cages.”
Surveys show that viewing wildlife is one of the most popular outdoor sports. When you combine that with hunting and wildlife photography it is easy to understand that a lot of people want to see wildlife, whether for the memory, the photos or the freezer. But as those of us who spend a lot of time outdoors realize, it is not as easy as just taking a stroll through the fields or woods.
Seeing wildlife in its natural setting takes patience, knowledge and more than a little luck. Remember we are not talking about the deer eating your backyard shrubs or the woodchuck living under your lawn shed. Many species are spread thin and the odds of them and you being in the same space at the same time are not good.
You can shift the odds a bit in your favor by being in areas and at times where the various wildlife is more likely to be found. Just as a deer hunter is in his stand in morning and late evening because he knows that deer are most active in periods of low light, you should know the habits of various wildlife species and areas that they are likely to travel through or frequent.
This might include their feeding areas or natural funnels in their travel routes.
Then factor in the natural instinct of most wildlife to be reclusive or avoid contact with humans. Again, the deer out in the meadow in early morning may be ignoring your automobile, but get out the car and take a couple steps off the road and see what happens. Remaining hidden or inconspicuous is essential to viewing most wildlife.
You can be hidden by wearing camouflage or clothing that blends in with the surroundings, or today it is popular to use the portable camouflage blinds. But it is most essential to remain still since animals will easily pick up any motion, even if you are dressed completely in camo. And don’t forget that most animals rely on their keen sense of smell so minimizing your scent and paying attention to wind direction is essential.
Let’s assume that you are knowledgeable about the various species you are interested in, and pick a good location that gives you a reasonable chance of seeing some critters. You have disguised your presence and taken a spot downwind from most likely areas. Just remember that you have to have patience. As mentioned earlier the odds of you and some wildlife you want to see being there at the same time are slim. However the longer you wait, the greater the odds become.
Of course good optics are important. Good quality binoculars or a spotting scope are a necessity for seeing most wildlife in detail. It is amazing how even large animals like a moose can be tough to spot. You are likely to see part of the animal without recognizing what you see. For prey and predator alike, remaining unseen can be a matter of life or death so they can easily evade our feeble senses.

Let your eyes do the walking and slowly scan the area, looking for something that may seem out of place, such as a horizontal shape in a forest full of vertical shapes. Give your eyes a break and look around with the naked eye from time to time. You may also spot something off to the side that you would miss if you were just focused with your binoculars on one area.
Be observant for all of the things in nature. Perhaps you were hoping to see some of the more exotic wildlife like moose or eagles, or at least coyote or deer. But it is also interesting to see the chickadees perch within arm’s reach, perhaps watch a fox hunting for mice or maybe you will see some other rare treat like a pine marten scooting up and down trees looking for his next meal.
As any hunter can tell you, luck plays a huge part. As always, it boils down to being in the right time at the right place. If you get discouraged remember the words of an old Alaskan guide, “there’s always more out there than you see, but less than you think.”


Adirondack Outdoorsman Show: The 7th Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show returns to the Johnstown Moose Club (109 South Comrie Ave/Rte 30A) this weekend on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show will be geared towards the tastes of hunters, fisherman and outdoors enthusiasts, with exhibits containing items for sale pertaining to: hunting and fishing, gear/supplies, guns, archery, trapping, boating, camping, hiking, snow shoeing, guides and charter services, taxidermy, snowmobiling, collectable knives, antique hunting and fishing gear, wildlife art and books and Adirondack furniture.
The Peck’s Lake Wild Turkey Calling Contest will take place on Saturday and Sunday. There will be an adult and youth division taking place each day from 1:00 to 2:30. There is no charge to enter the contest and prizes will be awarded for the top two finishers in each category daily, as well as participation certificates to each youth participant, all courtesy of Peck’s Lake.
For more information on the event, go to or contact Mike Hauser at 518-725-5565
DEC “STATE OF LAKE ONTARIO” MEETINGS: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced three public meetings to discuss Lake Ontario fisheries. The annual “State of Lake Ontario” public meeting will be February 22 from 7–9:30 p.m. at the Oswego County BOCES, 179 County Route 64, Mexico. The meeting is co-hosted by the Eastern Lake Ontario Salmon and Trout Association.
DEC, United States Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources biologists will make a number of presentations, including updates on the status of trout and salmon fisheries, forage fish, stocking programs, and fisheries management plans. Ample time will be provided at the end of the program for the audience to interact with the presenters.
Information summaries for a host of Lake Ontario fisheries assessment programs will be posted prior to the public meetings at:

Previous annual reports can also be found at this site. The estimated value of these fisheries exceeded $112 million to the local New York economy.
Free directory to NY campgrounds and RV parks: Campground Owners of New York (CONY) announces the release of its 2012 Campground & RV Park Guide. The guide is free and available by visiting and filling out the online request form, or calling CONY toll-free at 800-497-2669.
The theme of the directory is, “Get Outdoors. Go Camping New York,” with the 100-page directory highlighting the features and amenities for over 200 privately-owned and operated campgrounds and RV parks across New York State. The guide is a handy reference tool for researching and booking just the right campsite for your next vacation.


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