The Atlatl and dart, is an ancient weapon used for centuries by native cultures around the globe prior to the use of the bow and arrow. While bow hunting became more widespread, the atlatl still maintained a distinct advantage in certain circumstances. For example, once loaded, the atlatl became a one handed weapon, allowing the other hand free to guide the boat. This made it extremely useful in hunting waterfowl. In fact, the name atlatl is derived from the Aztec word meaning “water thrower”. Today, there is a growing interest in atlatls for both sport and hunting. Some local enthusiasts are keeping the tradition of both crafting these unique weapons, and perfecting their unique throwing technique alive.
On warm early spring nights amphibians across Vermont are on the move. Salamanders and frogs migrate in mass from their upland wintering habitat to wetland breeding grounds. Unfortunately in many areas these migrations take them across heavily traveled roads resulting in high mortality rates. In recent years however a dedicated group of volunteers has been keeping an eye on the spring weather. When conditions are right these salamander saviors descend on known crossing sites both to ensure a safe migration and to learn more about some of Vermont’s most delicate and rarest residents.
Vermont has long been know for it’s fine trout and salmon fishing, and on Lake Champlain a growing number of anglers are now targeting a species that has historically been overlooked in New England. Channel Catfish are extremely popular in the south but only recently have anglers discovered that these large whiskered fish are also native to Lake Champlain. Ever since the Lake Champlain International fishing derby added catfish to its list of derby species, anglers have been weighing in giant catfish with increasing frequency. These strong bottom-feeding fish are stubborn fighters and real heavy weights and the long lovely lake of the north holds enough big cats to make any southern boy feel right at home.
Ever since 1999 when legendary fisherman Roland Martin won the first major professional bass fishing tournament on Lake Champlain, the big lake has been hooking pro bass anglers from across the country. Lake Champlain’s large size and abundant largemouth and smallmouth bass have made it a favorite destination on the world’s largest bass fishing tours. Even when the fishing’s tough Lake Champlain is still number one with many pros as we discovered when we went fishing with a North Carolina man whose success on Lake Champlain has made him a rising star on the FLW Outdoors tour.
What Baby Boomer doesn’t remember the childhood game of Wiffleball? This baseball variation still features the hard plastic bat, lightweight enough for even the very young. And who could forget the signature perforated hollow ball, which is capable of delivering a wide assortment of curveballs. Wiffleball is moving out of the backyard and into the competitive sports arena. And in Today’s game the fields and the rules are as varied as the players themselves.
Mention the word “rattlesnake” and the reaction you’ll get is either awe and fascination or fear and loathing. Timber rattlesnakes are listed as an endangered species in six of the 27 states that they inhabit from New Hampshire to northern Florida. Here in Vermont at the northern extent of their range a small population exists and is barely holding on after years of persecution. Today wildlife biologists, the Nature Conservancy and concerned volunteers are taking steps to ensure that timber rattlesnakes survive and thrive in Vermont.
Gray Squirrels can be found just about anywhere in the Northeast. In parks, around back yard bird feeders and campgrounds these little critters can appear pretty bold but in the hard woods squirrels are extremely skittish. Hunting gray squirrels can be extremely challenging but it’s a fun and exciting way to introduce youth hunters to the woods and develop proper gun handling habits.
Since its inception back in the fall of 2002, Dead Creek Wildlife Day has become an annual event held on the first Saturday in October. Activities include everything from decoy carving and building bluebird boxes to an owl walk and viewing snow geese during their fall migration. The event is a showcase for the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area as well as a fun and exciting way to introduce the entire family to dozens of outdoor activities and wildlife exhibits.
A century ago Vermont had a very different landscape. Intensive logging and massive forest fires decimated our woodlands. But today, due to the creation of the National Forest Service as well as strict forest management practices, 78% of Vermont is now forested. One of the state’s natural gems is Groton State Forest. Within the park's 28,000 acres, lie six state parks and an abundance of recreational opportunities.