December 2, 2012

Big-game season wraps up in Northern Zone

By Dan Ladd

---- — What began in late October culminates today. This is the last day of the Northern Zone big-game season for deer and bear.

However, some of us who hunt the Adirondack foothills region Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) will have another week of muzzleloading hunting that runs from Dec. 3 to 9. But for those WMUs in the interior of the Adirondacks, things come to a halt today at sunset.

As the manager of an Adirondack themed deer hunting website (, I’m able to gauge the flow of the season. Seldom are two seasons alike and this one has been no exception. Thanks to an easy winter, there were plenty of deer around, but they still did not have it easy thanks to little or no mast crop production and dry summer conditions.

As the season got under way and progressed, it became obvious that food sources were scattered and therefore so were the deer. Our group’s findings, and those of other hunters I’ve collaborated with, were that ferns were a major food source. Mushrooms were also targeted by deer as were backyard bird feeders and gardens earlier in the season. This leaves hunters speculating about what effect a hard upcoming winter could have on the deer should that be the case.

This is not to say that hunters didn’t have some success out there. I have a friend who I consider an expert deer hunter and he always says that in years when you see fewer bucks the ones that you do see are usually good ones. I’ve heard stories and have seen and posted some photos on my website of some really fine Adirondack bucks, which we’ll discuss in a later column. In the end, I’m going to guess that the Northern Zone buck harvest will be down slightly from the previous two or three years.

Bear hunting is a different story. Speculation is that the early bear season was a good one this year in the North Country.

That also carried over into the early part of the big-game rifle season. Bear encounters were numerous among both hunters and the public this year from the summer months right on through early November. Although things tapered off with the recent cold weather, I think the bear take this year will be solid. We’ll see what the numbers really are when they are released this winter.

Deer or no deer, I hope you had a good season and were able to spend some time in the woods.


Lake Champlain International (LCI) continues to rack up the honors and awards. Most recently the nonprofit was named a “Top-Rated Nonprofit” by two organizations: GuideStar and GreatNonprofits. Earlier in 2012, LCI received a national marketing award for its slogan, “Clean Water. Healthy Fish. Happy People.” and also received the EPA Environmental Merit Award.

Along with holding a number of popular fishing tournaments on Lake Champlain, LCI is heavily involved with conservation and environmental interests in the lake, as well as education and youth programs. Congratulations to LCI for these honors. Their website is

Steve Piatt, editor of New York Outdoor News, has been awarded the 2012 Professional Communications Award by the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited (TU). The award honors journalists for major contributions to New York’s sportsmen and sportswomen. Steve and his wife, Paula, live in Elizabethtown where Steve does his editing duties out of a home office. He’s been with New York Outdoor News since its inception in 2004.

I know Steve and Paula personally and can tell you they are great people. Late this past summer he and I were invited by The Nature Conservancy to paddle and trout fish on Boreas Ponds a few weeks prior to Gov. Cuomo’s visit to the same location.

I’m always honored when Steve requests my contributions to New York Outdoors News. He has a knack for giving writers assignments that are “right up your alley” as he says. He is very deserving of this award from one of the most active conservation organizations there is in TU.

Dan Ladd is the author of “Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks,” outdoors editor for the Glens Falls Chronicle, columnist for Outdoors Magazine and contributor to New York Outdoor News. Contact him at