On The Trail

On The Trail: Rattlers revisited

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The deluge of timber rattlesnake comments continues following two weeks of discussion here about the state’s plan to establish a population of the venomous snakes on Mt. Zion, the large, isolated Quabbin Reservoir island and no-man’s land that’s off limits to humans. MassWildlife’s justification for the proposal is that no reptile is slipping faster toward extinction than the timber rattler, and thus it’s high time to reverse that troubling trend. … 0

On The Trail: Rattler feedback

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Lots of feedback here and there about last week’s column confirming a MassWildlife proposal to establish a population of endangered Timber Rattlesnakes on a secluded, unspecified Quabbin Reservoir island since dubbed “Rattlesnake Island” by the Boston Globe. “What are they, nuts?” were the most common words uttered. Followed by, “Why would anyone do that? I don’t like snakes.” Well, the decision likely wasn’t … 0

On The Trail: Rattler flap

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It’s true that the bright waxing moon in the cold winter sky shouldn’t evoke visions of vipers. Yet, go figure, a long persecuted New England snake is indeed this week’s unseasonable topic. “Snakes, in January?” you ask, bemusedly scratching at your temple with your index finger.” Yeah, snakes in January. Better still, Timber … 0

On The Trail: Lady luck

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The email message, linked to another from before Thanksgiving and its prompt response, was sent by Laurie Banas from Hatfield by way of South Deerfield, where her Frontier classmates will remember her as Laurie Magelinski. She was just checking in to provide her final update on a memorable … 0

On The Trail: Opening salvo

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Could conditions have been any more favorable for hunters allowed for the first time in more than a half-century to kill bears during the 12-day shotgun deer season? Well, not likely, with weather bordering on surreal and the woods literally full of a wide variety of wild foods. … 0

On The Trail: Is seeing believing?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Winter finally arrived this week, leaving a thin yet significant coating of a filthy, frozen disaster that’s nearly impossible to shovel. But why dwell on the negative? Wouldn’t you rather backtrack to the good days of the recent surreal past, when springlike weather was receiving love from lollygaggers … 0

On The Trail: Death rut

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A trophy buck has fallen in Northfield — one the hunter will likely never top, or forget. The archer who slew the 9-point, 215-pound racker Monday morning is Steve Roy, a GCC strength and conditioning instructor who grew … 0

On The Trail: Indian bummer

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bittersweet has pushed its yellow skin aside, adding a softer shade of red to the abundant Christmas berries populating our local wetlands. Both wild ornamental berries will, over time, be snipped here and there by human gatherers seeking materials for holiday wreaths to hang on front doors, and … 0

On The Trail: Swamp busters

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bird season in the Happy Valley is glorious yet short for those who love it. With it comes cold mornings — windshield scrapers always at the ready — and crisp, cool afternoons; sometimes sunny, sometimes gray, some wet and soggy days, others dry and crunchy, some windy and … 0

On The Trail: Dry run

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

High enthusiasm and low expectations hovered over the dense, thorny, tangled, frost-browned wetland below. Opening day of pheasant season? No. Too busy. Too crowded. It was, instead, late morning on the first Monday, Day 2, when the prospect of a random flush is possible but not particularly likely … 0

On The Trail: Pheasant fever

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cornfields have mellowed from green to tan, swamps are brightened by yellows and purples, acorns and apples are underfoot, a few still clicking and clacking through leaves and limbs, and those long, brown, white-pine needles are piling up fast to collect for blueberry-patch mulch — all unmistakable signs … 0

On The Trail: Report from the Northwoods

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

As our own archery deer season approaches (Oct. 19), hints of what to expect from a northern border state. Bowhunters’ take thus far, after the first New Hampshire Fish & Game polling of checking stations, shows a 10 percent decline from last year. The explanation from Granite State … 0

On The Trail: Squirrel pie

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It’s October and the surreal blood moon has passed, signaling fall’s hunts and harvests. But first, fishing, a harvest of sorts, and specifically trout fishing, which should improve dramatically on selected local waters this week and next. Why, you ask? Oh, that’s easy. The annual fall-stocking program is … 0

On The Trail: Spurred down Memory Lane

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The fall equinox has passed, oaks are raining acorns, which can be heard knocking and banging through the branches even on still days, and the tall, dignified pignut hickory I pass daily is balding fast, its round, green-husked nuts spread liberally underneath. Apparently there’s critter trouble in my … 0

On The Trail: Feed & feedback

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A little of this, a little of that is what I have this week — starting with email Japanese-Knotweed feedback from local hill and dale, then traipsing off to the bountiful apple crop my dogs are capitalizing on. For any who missed it last week, I addressed non-native, … 0