Drift boats such as the "McKenzie" and "Rogue" have a rich history. Developed in the 1930s in Oregon these oar-powered boats with their wide, flat bottoms became the craft of choice for fisherman negotiating the sometimes-treacherous McKenzie and Rouge rivers. Today variations of the original drift boat designs are popular with guides and fisherman needing to negotiate shallow stretches of river. The boats offer a terrific platform from which to fly-fish from. Host Lawrence Pyne joined John Marshall of "River Excitement" in Hartland Four-Corners for a day of fishing from his "McKenzie" on the Connecticut River.
Every October, the skies over Addison, Vt., are alive with geese. That's when thousands of migrating Canada and snow geese descend on the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area for a little feeding and lots of honking on their way south for the winter. It's an area where hunters and bird watchers co-exist. Host Marianne Eaton and Bryan Pfeiffer of Vermont Bird Tours visit Dead Creek to see the geese make the annual stopover. While there, they venture into the management area to explore other habitats where wildlife exist.
Keeping tabs on our wildlife populations is key to not only preserving various species, but also to keeping track of habitat quality. When it comes to goose management, one way to keep tabs on these birds is through banding programs. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department holds an annual Goose Roundup every summer at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area where volunteers spend a day herding and banding geese.
A few years ago, duck hunter and homicide detective for the Vermont State Police, Tim Bombardier, decided to try carving duck decoys. Eight hundred decoys later, he's still at it. We recently spent a day with Tim learning about what goes into building a useable decoy and then put them to the test on Shelburne Pond.
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.