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50 Latitudes (USA) Feature

The 50 Latitudes Feature will showcase Latitudes from a resident of each US state in their own words to illustrate that despite age, sex, location, or occupation, every living being on the planet has a favorite Latitude.  A person's favorite Latitude is not restricted to their home state.

Entries in New York (1)

Tuesday
Mar082011

New York

My parents were raised during the Great Depression and came of age at the beginning of World War II.  My father entered the military at the age of 17 and served in the U. S. Navy in the Pacific.  My mother became a “Rosy the riveter” building aircraft for the war effort.  They married after the war and raised nine children in Lewis County, New York.

The economy here consists largely of forest related industries and dairy farming.  This area, located east of Lake Ontario in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, is known for its heavy snowfall. When people think of New York State the only picture that comes to mind is large crowded cities, but much of New York is rural. Lewis County is one of the least populated counties in the state.

Outside of family, my father’s passion was hunting.  Deer were not as plentiful then as they are now and great effort had to be expended in order to be successful.  In Dad’s later years he and I often hunted together, just the two of us.  On this particular day I took Dad to an area of state forest land surrounding Half Moon Lake. 

This area is located in the northwest part of the Adirondack State Park.  The lake is aptly named as it is shaped just like a half moon.  It is a beautiful area of rolling hills covered with hardwood forest interspersed with large white pines and hemlock trees.  Streams cut through the woods and provide homes to beaver, otter, muskrat and brook trout.  The area is perfect habitat for white tail deer and black bear.

I was familiar with this area but Dad was not so the plan was for me to take Dad to a spot and have him stand while I attempted to push deer toward him.  This is a tried and true hunting technique but is difficult to accomplish successfully with only two people.  But we were there to hunt and success wasn’t always our primary purpose.  Both Dad and I loved being in the woods.

It was snowing hard this day-big fluffy snowflakes.  This was lake effect snow.  If you live near any of the Great Lakes you know what I mean.  I had never hunted in snowfall that heavy.  There was no wind so the smell of pine hung close to the ground.  There was about a foot and a half of snow on the ground already when we got to Half Moon. 

We walked about a mile through the snow.  I placed Dad next to a small stream.  It was dead silent in the woods, the heavy snowfall covering all sounds.  All Dad would hear for the next two hours would be the sound of water rushing over rocks.

I walked another mile and then cut west into the area I wanted to push toward Dad.  I started zig zagging through the area to cover as much ground as I could.  The snow continued to fall and it was getting deeper, now up to two feet.  Walking was difficult and I was sweating so I stopped often and enjoyed the beauty of the snow covered surroundings.

I never expected to move any deer because I was sure I would have to nearly step on them to get them up out of their beds.  That’s what smart animals do during a snowstorm, they lay down. 

Visibility was very limited due to the snowfall.  I was walking along a very narrow ridge top when I stopped.  The snow on the ground was now three feet deep and moving was very difficult.  I changed directions and started down the ridge when I saw two explosions of snow.

It was right in front of me, like someone had thrown two hand grenades.  I couldn’t see anything except falling snow.  I moved down to the spot and saw the impression of two deer beds and tracks of running deer moving away from me.  I followed the tracks and found that one of them had changed direction but the other was still heading directly toward where I thought Dad was. 

I then heard the sound of a muffled shot.

I waited for another shot but none came.

That’s Dad I thought, laughing to myself.  He never shoots more than once, he doesn’t like to waste ammunition.  A lesson his upbringing and the war taught him no doubt.  I continued following the track and it led directly to Dad. 

He was standing exactly where I had left him.  He always did that, no matter how cold it was he would stay in one position on watch.  Always standing, never sitting.  He was covered with snow.  When he did move I remember looking at his footprints in the snow-just two of them.  He had not moved one inch in over two hours.  The buck lay dead about 15 feet from him.

Dad is gone now but whenever I think of him I think of that spot where he stood under the tall pine and hemlock trees next to that special stream.

But I also go to that spot in my mind in times of trouble because it conjures up images of total whiteness, softness and silence, of being one with nature and with my father and it all brings me comfort. 

See Bill Campeau with his Dad HERE in the Gallery