The Missisquoi National Wildlife Management Refuge is home to one of the largest and most productive waterfowl habitats in Vermont. Although the refuge attracts waterfowl most of the year, peak use is in the fall when more than 20,000 ducks are anticipated annually. Thanks to a managed hunting program, duck hunters can enjoy an experience like no other in Vermont. Host Lawrence Pyne joins hunter Dave Greenough for a day of duck hunting at the Refuge.
When it comes to hunting for upland game birds there's nothing more enjoyable and challenging than grouse and woodcock. These birds lay low and blend into their habitat, making it almost impossible to see them until they take flight. The most efficient way to hunt them is by using bird dogs. Host Lawrence Pyne joins John Hayes of Kirby Mountain Kennels in East Burke for a day of upland bird hunting.
To train a bird dog requires a lot of basic obedience exercises. They must learn how to handle and carry game without destroying it. They must learn to work in the water. A dog must get to the point where it can use its hunting and tracking instincts to find game. The handler undergoes as much training as the dog. Developing into a finely tuned team takes practice and training. Hunting together creates a special bond between hunter and dog. We spent some time at the Diamond Brook Kennel in Brandon to get a taste of what it takes to train hunting dogs.
A natural community is an area that has experienced minimal human alteration. But when people spend time outdoors, in the woods or fields or along a stream, chances are they're passing through more than one natural community, sometimes resulting in a disturbance in the natural order. Understanding how these assemblages of plants, animals, insects, fish and reptiles co-exist can help preserve and protect the environment in which they live. We join Leif Richardson of the Vermont Non-game and Natural Heritage Program for a look at several natural communities in Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester.
- The Nature Conservancy -
- University of Vermont's School of
- The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
- The Vermont Backyard Forest
Mountain biking can be a terrific way to get off the beaten path and enjoy Vermont's beautiful scenery. But there's a little more to mountain biking than just peddling. Trails can be an obstacle course of ruts, rocks, roots and steep downhill grades. It's to the rider's advantage to learn the correct way to mountain bike. Host Marianne Eaton spends a day at the Catamount Family Center in Williston for a little mountain biking primer to learn a few things about how to negotiate the trails. Then these skills are put to the test on the Contest Trail in Pittsfield for some serious single track riding in the mountains.
Caving is a tricky business and takes a lot of preparation. In addition to arming yourself with coveralls, helmets, lights, ropes and supply of the good batteries, you have to be ready to do a fair amount of scrambling, stooping, crawling and squeezing through tight places. But in addition to its challenges, caving has its rewards when you uncover thousands of years of geologic history. Unfortunately, many of these subterranean museums have been vandalized. That's why veterans of the underground are tight-lipped about their location. Host Marianne Eaton joins members of the Vermont Cavers Association in Rutland County for a trip underground to explore one of Vermont's deep treasures.
By 1896, Vermont's moose had been driven to near extinction by land clearing and hunting by the early settlers, so the Vermont legislature banned moose hunting. Last year, with a herd of almost 4,000 in the state, there were over 200 vehicle collisions with moose. The size of the herd prompted the first moose-hunting lottery in 1993. How does Vermonters handle the delicate balance between the desire to enjoy moose and the human conflicts that can occur? We join Cedric Alexander of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department on a trip to Wheelock Mountain to talk about managing moose and to see if we can get a glimpse of North America's largest mammal.
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.