The Imperative Role of Hunting in the North Country

Caption

Dreen Camp, built in 1982 after a fire destroyed the original, has been the hunting club for the Evans family for three generations.  Called the Fairchild Club currently, it had originally been called the Rainey Club at its founding.  Dreen Camp sits on the Northern end of the North-South Road, a minimally maintained road in the Town of West Turin.

Citation

Dreen Camp, Tug Hill, Lewis County, New York. Personal photograph by author. May 24, 2015. Picture was taken by Jane Allen.

Hunting has a long history of both work and sport in the North Country.  Original settlers often hunted for basic survival, and having an excellent hunter could ensure the survival of an entire community.  Such is true for Turin, which before it was incorporated as a town, leaned on the original settler, Judah Barnes’, thirteen year old son.[1]  It is said the Judah’s son provided enough meat for all the families there.  Without this work, it is certainly possible that some, or potentially all of the members of this small community would have died at the time.  While hunting is not as crucial to survival today, many do still hunt for the purpose of feeding themselves.  For many families, the savings from having venison in their freezer during the winter can be substantial.  Hunting, across the nation, has taken on a stronger element of sport in the last century however, increasingly about the size of the animal bagged or the size of different features.  For white tail deer, the male’s horns are scored based on an assortment of different features, including girth and length.  These changes have occurred in the North Country as well, with some hunters solely hunting for the biggest bucks, coyotes, or other game out there.  The way hunting is done has changed as well, from deep woods hunting to what could be called farm hunting.  While some sportsman maintain the old style of hunting, which is seen in the depths of both the Tug Hill and the Adirondack Mountains, these are rare individuals or clubs.  The hunting is arduous and takes both time and patience in the deep woods.  Hunting has undergone changes in the North Country, as farmland has replaced forest and climate change has effected the weather conditions.  But hunting has also changed culturally, from an act done to feed yourself or your family, to a sporting act that bases the harvest of game often on size of that animal.  These changes are profound, but often hunting still implies a sense of work rather than just pleasure, and remains a source of food.  Hunting also remains a staple of North Country activities, and that traditions will most likely go on for the foreseeable future. 

Contributor Biography

Caption

Luke Evans delivers a speech at a political dinner in the fall of 2014.

Citation

Luke Evans delivers a speech at a political dinner., 3g Fire Hall, Glenfield, NY. Personal photograph by Cindy Virkler Dosztan. Fall 2014.

Luke Evans is a member of the Class of 2017 at St. Lawrence University.  A native of the North Country, Luke grew up outside of Watertown, New York, and attended school at Copenhagen Central.  As a history major, Luke’s focus was on American government and Middle Eastern studies.  He has spent much of his time at St. Lawrence getting involved in local politics, taking two semesters off to work on Congressional campaigns.  Luke chose to focus on Turin, New York and hunting due to his family’s deep history with both. 

Bibliography

Williams, Emily, and Ethel Evans Markham. A history of Turin: Lewis County, New York. Lakemont, NY: North Country Books, 1974.

The Imperative Role of Hunting in the North Country:

[1] Williams and Markham, 3.

Image Citations

Banner Image: A day of skiing at Snow Ridge, Top of South slope, Snow Ridge Ski Resort. Personal photograph by Luke Evans. December 23, 2016.

Dreen Camp, Tug Hill, Lewis County, New York. Personal photograph by author. May 24, 2015. Picture was taken by Jane Allen.

Luke Evans delivers a speech at a political dinner., 3g Fire Hall, Glenfield, NY. Personal photograph by Cindy Virkler Dosztan. Fall 2014.

Williams, Emily “Stan Evans Winning Oneida Silversmith's Trophy.” In A History of Turin: Lewis County, New York, Williams, Emily and Evans Markham, Ethel, Section Four. Lakemount, NY: North Country Books, 1974.

A Few Sources to Consider

The New York Department of Conversation (DEC) website provides a large amount of information regarding hunting and outdoor activities across New York.  For those looking to engage in hunting in the North Country, this is an excellent source.  Informing you on the laws and regulations regarding hunting in the different parts of New York, it is a great starting point.  It also provides information on public lands that are available for use during hunting seasons.  If you are looking for the basic information on hunting in New York, this is the website to visit, and maybe find a class taught in your area to boost your knowledge.

"New York State Department of Environmental Conservation." Accessed April 25, 2017. http://www.dec.ny.gov/index.html.

Caption

Stanley Evans, second from left, accepts Oneida Silversmith's Trophy tray in 1958.  His second trophy of the day is being held to the right.

Citation

Williams, Emily “Stan Evans Winning Oneida Silversmith's Trophy.” In A History of Turin: Lewis County, New York, Williams, Emily and Evans Markham, Ethel, Section Four. Lakemount, NY: North Country Books, 1974.

Coyote hunting across the Tug Hill and other parts of the North Country is a popular activity, both for leisure and work.  While the pelts for coyotes are cheap, it can be a side income for some individuals who may engage in the activity.  Field & Stream offers a guide to some of the helpful rules in hunting the small dogs.  While their review is focused on Kentucky, the geography is similar in certain regions and the skills are certainly interchangeable.  Also, factors like warmer weather are mentioned, which for Kentucky is a normal occurrence, but it is becoming one in the North Country as well.  If you are interested in engaging in hunting coyotes, in a more traditional way, these pointers will be a good starting point.

Honeycutt, Josh. "Eastern Coyote Hunting Playbook." Field & Stream. February 13, 2017. Accessed May 02, 2017. http://www.fieldandstream.com/eastern-coyote-hunting-playbook.

For those looking for information on Turin, New York, turning to A History of Turin: Lewis County, New York is a great option.  Written by two women from the town, Emily Williams and Ethel Evans Markham provide an insightful history of Turin up until the 1970s, when the book was published.  Taking a chronological approach, the authors tackle the history of the town by decade frequently.  Then Williams and Markham tackle issues of work, quality of life, the economy, and leisure activities.  Using newspaper and eye-witness stories, the two authors create a comprehensive view of how town’s long and changing history.

Williams, Emily, and Ethel Evans Markham. A history of Turin: Lewis County, New York. Lakemont, NY: North Country Books, 1974.

Caption

Picture taken at the top of South Slope at Snow Ridge Ski Resort.  I learned to ski on this slope in 2013.

Citation

A day of skiing at Snow Ridge, Top of South slope, Snow Ridge Ski Resort. Personal photograph by Luke Evans. December 23, 2016.

For those looking for supplemental information on whitetail deer hunting, a leading portion of the hunting done in the North Country, then a report published in the Wildlife Society on the population over several decades may be of interest.  A Geostatistical Analysis of Deer Harvest in the Adirondack Park, 1954-1997, provides an analysis of how the whitetail deer population fluctuated over the course of more than forty years.  Taking into account weather, hunting, and other human factors, they tracked how the population rose and decreased, and how it recovered after periods of steeper decline.  It is also meant to provide a better perspective on how conservation efforts should be organized.  Rather than state wide efforts, or even regionally, those conservation efforts should be done more locally inside the park.

Nesslage, Geneviève M., and William F. Porter. "A Geostatistical Analysis of Deer Harvest in the Adirondack Park, 1954-1997." Wildlife Society Bulletin 29, no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 787-94. Accessed April 25, 2017. JSTORE.

Outdoor Life magazine often provides descriptions of hunting in different regions, tips to succeed on your hunt, and information on the latest equipment available to hunters.  In one specific article, a resident of the Adirondack Park describes his hunting practices during the height of hunting season, the rut.  It is a grueling process, involving heavy hiking, and long periods away from a permanent shelter or running water, and an overall deep dedication to hunting.  While not all hunting in the North Country is this extreme, deep hunting across the region certainly is, and for those looking for an insight might turn to articles like this for information.

Kenyon, Mark. "Hunting The Rut: Crazy For It." Outdoor Life. November 3, 2016. Accessed April 25, 2017. http://www.outdoorlife.com/hunting-rut-crazy-for-it.