Come mid-November, thousands of Vermonter's head out to deer camp. For many it's a home away from home. Every camp is a little different. But they all have their traditions, stories and wonderful characters that make them special places. It can be rite of passage for a young person, a way to reconnect with old friends or the perfect place to have a big family Thanksgiving dinner. Whatever you come to camp for, the door's always open and there's always a place for you in front of the fire. Host Lawrence Pyne visits a few camps in Vermont to get a taste of deer camp culture.
- Deer Camp: Last Light in the Northeast
by John M. Miller, Meg Ostrum (Editor), Howard Frank Mosher
The MIT Press
Cambridge, MA 02142
For many Vermonters in the early 1900's being a successful hunter was the difference between having food on the table or going hungry. Snowshoe hare was a popular meat for the pot during the winter months. For some families the tradition of hunting rabbits with beagles continues. It's a challenge for both dog and hunter, with the rabbits blending into the winter snow and sometimes reaching a speed of 27 miles per hour. Host Lawrence Pyne joins Richard Huntley of Rabbit Hollow Beagles in Bethel for an exciting day of snowshoe hare hunting.
A deeryard is a wintering habitat, a dense, overhead canopy of softwood trees such as hemlock, cedar, fir and spruce. In addition to providing a source of food, tree branches intercept snow before it reaches the ground and with time melts or dissipates it as water vapor, keeping the snow to a minimum. If the deeryard is on a south-facing slope, it can be a source of heat for the herd. The number of deeryards determines how many deer the landscape can support. We spent some time recently with wildlife biologist John Buck to learn more about deeryards and why they're so important to deer.
The Catamount Trail winds for 300 miles through Vermont up to the Canadian border and does for those on cross-country skis and snowshoes what the Long Trail does for hikers. It provides a winter trail through Vermont's Green Mountains for all to enjoy. The longest cross-country ski trail in North America, the Catamount Trail traverses woodlands, meadows and logging roads, and connects up with cross-country ski centers to provide a huge winter highway. One of the features of the trail is the ability to plan overnight trips, traveling from inn to inn on cross-country skis. We spent some time recently on the trail with snowshoers and cross-country skiers and got a little taste of inn-to-inn skiing.
Snowshoeing is one of the fastest growing winter sports. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. The old image of big wooden tennis racket snowshoes has given way to the lightweight, metal variety that not only let you get through deep powder, but can grip on icy terrain, making your hike safer and more enjoyable. Host Marianne Eaton visits the Green Mountain Club's Tenth Annual Snowshoe Festival in Waterbury to get a hands-on demo of the latest in snowshoe technology and take a couple of hikes through the powder.
When many people think of ice fishing, the picture of tip-ups comes to mind. While this type of tackle is still very popular with anglers in search of lake trout, salmon, Northern pike or walleye, a growing number of winter fisherman are now "jigging" for panfish. These fish are flat, shorter than 12 inches and under a pound. They're finicky and catching them requires a delicate hand on the pole and just the right lure. Blue gill, crappie, sunfish and perch are the panfish of choice for these hardy anglers who brave cold temperatures and stiff winds on the ice. Host Lawrence Pyne heads out onto Lake Champlain in search of a tasty winter meal of panfish.
- About.com Crappie and
- The Ice Fishing Home Page
- New England Sportsman Network
-Ice Fishing in New England Page
- On Ice Tour
- Trout Unlimited - Vermont State Council
- Classic Outfitters
861 Williston Road
So. Burlington, VT 05403
- Martin's General Store
General Delivery Rt. 7
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
- Nichols & Dymes
9 Blair Park
Williston, VT 05494
Ecology is the study of plants and animals and their relationship with the environment. Winter ecology is simply studying the relationship of plants and animals in the winter. Signs of wildlife in winter are sparse and often subtle, but to the trained eye, they tell a rich story of survival. At the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Woodstock, the study of our natural environment continues through Vermont's winter months. Teachers come to the Institute in winter to learn how to use outdoor activities to help their students develop a better understanding of their environment. We spent some time recently at the Institute with a group of teachers to learn a little about the world around us in winter.
Skijoring is the sport of cross-country skiing while being pulled by a dog or dogs. It's an offshoot of sled dog racing and has been popular in Scandinavia and Alaska for many years. If you have a dog that's over 35 pounds and is trainable, you both may be candidates for skijoring. It's a terrific way for dogs and their owners to get out and exercise during the long winter months. Other than the cross-country skis, there is not a tremendous amount of equipment needed. Host Marianne Eaton takes a skijoring lesson at the Eden Mountain Lodge and enters a race sponsored by the New England Sled Dog Club.
American shad were once so plentiful in Atlantic coastal rivers that colonists spread the fish on their fields for fertilizer. By the early 1900s shad numbers were in decline due to pollution, dams and overharvesting. Thanks to restoration efforts over the past 35 years, American shad are making a considerable comeback in the Connecticut River offering some exciting fishing opportunities. Host Lawrence Pyne fishes the Connecticut river with local angler Forest Woodruff to learn how to catch these strong fighting fish. He then meets up with Ken Cox, a fisheries biologist, to learn how fish ladders in dams along the river have brought the fish back north.
There are seven species of sturgeon in the United States. These long, armor-plated fish are virtually unchanged since prehistoric times. Mature lake sturgeon grow to about three to five feet in length and can weigh over 100 pounds. It wasn't long ago that Lake Sturgeon were commercially fished on Lake Champlain. Today they are an endangered (threatened) species. Host Lawrence Pyne joins Chet MacKenzie of the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife's Lake Champlain Sturgeon Restoration Program, to find out what is being done to reestablish one of the lake's ancient creatures.
- Chet MacKenzie
VT Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
317 Sanitorium Road, West Wing
Pittsford, VT 05763