September 9, 2012

Big game to small game: fall hunting, fishing talk

By DAN LADD, Adirondack Hunting & Fishing Report

---- — It has always been my opinion that summer begins Memorial Day weekend and ends on Labor Day, even though the calendar says fall is still two weeks away.

I’d like to extend sincere good luck wishes to four Plattsburgh State students from around New York who will compete in the National Guard FLW College Northern Conference Championship this week (Sept. 13-15) on Philpott Lake in Virginia. Ready to go are Brendan Bolis of Canton and John McDougall of Queensbury, who won the Northern Conference event and a $5,000 check here on Lake Champlain back in July.

Now Bolis and McDougall will represent the university along with a second Plattsburgh State team consisting of Chris Benninger of Grand Island and Richard Lee of Port Kent. This is big-time fishing, folks, as the winners will take home a Ranger Z117 bass boat and a berth in the National Guard FLW

College Fishing National Championship.

Interestingly, these two teams are going up against anglers from much bigger schools like Ohio State (who won on the St. Lawrence River in August), Michigan State, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Xavier. Again, we wish them the best of luck and are certain they’ll represent their school quite well. Follow the action live at

Early Bear Season

For some communities in the Adirondacks, bear season in the region couldn’t come any sooner. That will happen next Saturday, Sept. 15, as the early bear season in the Adirondack region begins.

This season is not open to all Northern Zone areas, so be sure to check the regulations guide if you plan to go. You’ll also need your 2011-12 bear tag if you are hunting during September.

Black bears have been causing problems with break-ins throughout the summer months, and in some cases bears have been put down. It’s obviously been a dry summer and natural food sources are lacking.

Last year was a different story with a bumper beechnut crop that had bears scattered and resulted in an overall regional bear harvest of just over half the five-year average of about 550 bears. Of those, only 70 were taken during the early bear season, about one-third of the average.

So, hunters should be excited that there should be plenty of bears out there to pursue. I haven’t seen a bear since last hunting season but I’ve been hearing reports of encounters from all over the North Country. If you do, good luck and be sure to let us know how you do.

Small Game

Often overlooked these days is small-game hunting.

Squirrel season opened Sept. 1 and hunting for ruffed grouse begins Sept. 20. These two species were the big game of my youth hunting years, and I pursued them relentlessly. I still have fond memories of my own days at Plattsburgh State (a few decades ago) when a friend and I used to hunt near Taylor Pond in Black Brook. We’d take his canoe up the lake to one of the lean-tos loaded with firewood, food and gear. Our meal that first night in camp was the small game we had harvested up to that point.

I don’t chase after squirrel as much as I used to but I still try to find time for a grouse hunt or two before I get serious with archery hunting for whitetails. An Autumn grouse is a fine meal!

Waterfowl seasons are also getting under way soon and Federal Duck Stamps are available at your local post office. Seasons vary throughout our area as there is a Northeast and a Lake Champlain zone, so once again, check the regulations guide before you go. There are also youth seasons scheduled for both waterfowl and pheasant with many sportsman’s clubs throughout the region organizing hunts.

Youth waterfowl hunts are set for Sept. 22-23 in the Northeast Zone and Sept. 29-30 in the Lake Champlain zone. Sept. 29-30 also marks the youth pheasant hunt in our region. Now, if we can just get that youth deer hunt worked out?

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