Thoughts on the Out-of-Doors: Fish And Game Urges Hikers To Use Common Sense And Hike Safe

“This summer, people hiking must be aware of safe social distancing, their physical limitations, weather conditions, and they must know when to turn back,” said Fish and Game Law Enforcement Chief Colonel Kevin Jordan. “This is not the time for challenging hikes or dangerous backcountry adventures in ever-changing weather conditions. It is imperative that people enjoying New Hampshire’s natural resources exercise a high degree of caution. Unsafe and irresponsible behavior puts first responders at extreme risk of injury and potential exposure to COVID-19 because social distancing becomes very difficult to manage in search and rescue situations.”

Colonel Jordan also strongly recommends that hikers be prepared and carry with them the top 10 essentials for New Hampshire’s changeable weather conditions and for unanticipated emergencies: map, compass, warm clothing including a sweater or fleece jacket, long pants and a wool hat, extra food and water, flashlight or headlamp, matches/firestarter, first aid kit/repair kit, whistle, rain/wind jacket and pants, and pocket knife.

You can read more about safe hiking at www.wildnh.com/outdoor-recreation/hiking-safety.html.

Outdoor enthusiasts are also encouraged to purchase their voluntary annual Hike Safe card for 2020. Card sales help defray the costs of training and rescue equipment for NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement Conservation Officers, preparing them to come to your aid if the unexpected happens.

2020 Hike Safe cards cost $25 for an individual, or $35 for a family, and are good for the calendar year ending December 31. The price is the same for both residents and nonresidents.

Cards can be purchased online at www.wildnh.com/safe and at New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Headquarters, 11 Hazen Drive, in Concord.

Purchasing a hunting or fishing license also provides you with the same protection as a Hike Safe card.

Part of hiking safe is to know your abilities and know the terrain you will encounter. Research before you go and don’t over estimate your ability. Don’t be afraid to turn back if the conditions are not what you expected or if darkness is fast approaching. Practice social distancing on all trails and wear a mask when you can’t such as at trailheads or on summits.

Hiking is wonderful exercise and allows us to explore places that can only be reached on foot but we must do so keeping in mind our own safety and that of others, especially those who will have to rescue us if we get in trouble.

Fish With A Warden

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is offering new “Fish With a Warden” sessions to help those new to angling to figure out Vermont fishing regulations and to offer tips about fishing in general.

“We know many anglers have questions they would like to ask a warden, and we know many of our wardens also like to go fishing,” said Education Specialist Corey Hart, “so our Vermont State Game Wardens and other staff have offered to hold several informal Q&A sessions at Vermont lakes from now through September.”

Hart says the purpose of the sessions is to provide an opportunity for the public to go fishing with Fish & Wildlife Department personnel and have their questions answered. Each session will begin at water’s edge with an overview on the ecology of the lake and its fishing regulations as well as the species of fish present and how to find them. Participants will be able to ask questions and then spread out to go fishing.

The Fish With a Warden sessions will last an hour or more. Participants need to bring their own fishing equipment. Face masks, social distancing and fishing licenses are required.

A list of dates, times and locations for the sessions and pre-registration for up to 25 people for each session are available at this link on Fish & Wildlife’s website: https://vtfishandwildlife.com/fish-with-a-warden.

Newark Pond, Lake Memphremagog and Marshfield Reservoir are among the local waters that will be fished.

For more information, you can email Corey.Hart@vermont.gov or call him at 802-505-5562.

Composting And Bears Often Conflict

Composting is good for the environment and I support it and Vermont’s new food scrap ban. However, for those of us who live where bears frequent it can be a problem. Linda and I live in the woods at the end of a half mile road, bear country.

Bear conflicts are high in the twin states and the wardens and conservation officers are busy answering calls regarding bears as the critters search for food, often around homes and other occupied dwellings.

“We have been receiving lots of reports of bears on decks, tearing down bird feeders, wrecking beehives, killing chickens, and getting into trash, compost and garbage containers,” said Vermont Fish & Wildlife bear biologist Forrest Hammond. “Some folks will be new at composting food waste at home, so we are offering some guidance on how to do that without providing additional attractants for the bears.”

“First though, to deter bears, bird feeders need to be taken away until we have a foot or more of snow in December. Then, make sure anything else that might smell like food is picked up. And keep your trash container secured inside a sturdy building and don’t put it outside until the morning of pickup. Beehives, chicken coops and compost bins can be protected with electric fencing.”

The best way to avoid attracting bears is to take food scraps to one of the drop-off stations. You can locate them by contacting your local solid waste management district or town or, ask your trash hauler if they pick up food scraps for composting.

To learn about properly composting food waste, go to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website at www.VTrecycles.com. It takes some effort if done properly and in a way to lessen the chance of attracting bears or other animals you may not want around your pets or kids.

Bits and Pieces

Mark Breen reports in the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium’s Skywatch Almanac that on July 18, 1803: “Tornado from Middlebury to Huntington”

On July 19, 2013: “Severe thunderstorms fed on record heat (98°F in Burlington) to generate damaging winds, knocking down hundreds of trees and powerlines from Clinton, Co., NY east to Lunenburg, VT.”

Also on July 19, 1850: “Heavy rains from a tropical storm brought severe flooding state-wide.”

Parting Shots

I was in need of some exercise other than cutting and skidding trees for firewood and was looking for a short hike to get in last Monday before the heat wave hit. Littleton’s Kilburn Crags was what I choose and a great choice it was. The views are spectacular and the effort to get there is more an easy walk than a hike.

I contacted our friend Nancy, one of my frequent hiking partners, and she agreed to meet me at Littleton Regional Hospital which is a short distance from the trailhead on Route 18/135.

We were on the trail a little after 9 and back at the vehicles by 10:30 after spending about a half hour relaxing on top and enjoying the views.

The Kilburn Crags trail is a rocky outcropping on the northeastern shoulder of modest Walker Mountain. The Crags are named after Benjamin Kilburn (1827-1909) who developed and produced the first stereoscopic viewers in Littleton.

The elevation of The Crags is 1,300 feet. Standing at the lookout one can see expansive views of Littleton below and many of the peaks of the Presidential Range in the forefront and Lafayette and Cannon Mountain off to the right.

The trail is maintained by volunteers from the Littleton Conservation Commission.

There are two benches along the trail for when you want to rest and a picnic table at the lookout inviting one to stop and enjoy the panorama while enjoying lunch or a snack.

The trail is family friendly as was evident Monday when we saw several kids with their parents and a couple of dogs. At only 1.4 miles roundtrip, it is one of those hikes you can do when your time is limited but you still want to get some exercise and a nice view as a reward.

***

Linda and I walked up to the summit of Newbury’s Tucker Mountain early Wednesday morning in hopes of avoiding the heat that came later. Because we were on top before eight the fog limited the 360 degree views Tucker is noted for were limited.

We did not get to linger as I received a page for the fire department and had to head down.

Temps of 90 plus are bad enough but humidity in the high 60s and low 70 is brutal. No wonder we are all complaining after days of such conditions. Remember that come February when we complain about below zero days.

I prefer the February temps as I can put on more clothes and work or move faster to keep warm. The only thing I can do to keep reasonably comfortable when the thermometer soars to 90 is sit in our spring fed pond which Oak and I do frequently. Accomplishing much in the way of work is very limited and thus frustrating.

***

I have lost three big brook trout in the past three weeks. Although the water in the spring fed pond is cool and even cold down about three feet each summer I loose a few fish which I find floating.

My practice is to throw them in the woods for the critters to feed on. This year the dead fish have attracted turkey vultures. My cameras have recorded several of the big ugly birds fighting over a dead fish. When they are around, we can hear them screaming.

Syndicated columnist Gary W. Moore may be reached by e-mail at gwmoore1946@myfairpoint.net or at Box 454, Bradford, VT 05033.

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