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January 2013 Outdoor Discovery

DEC Outdoor Discovery is published by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

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A gray fox walking in the snow.


New York State has wonderful recreational opportunities which will be highlighted for you each month. Get ready to start planning your next adventure!

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December 2012 Conservationist cover: wolf diorama at American Museum of Natural History.

Where can you find a Barosaurus protecting its young from a marauding Allosaurus, a grizzly bear, a running wolf and several bison all together in one place? In the December 2012 Conservationist, of course! To get your copy, visit us online.

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DEC Events

Select Recreation Events
New Year's Day Bird Count at Five Rivers - 1/1
Varying Snowshoe Hare Hunting Season - 1/1
Suffolk County Special Firearms Deer Season - 1/7
Frozen Forest Snowshoe Walk at Reinstein Woods - 1/12

See more upcoming events

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Nature Notes

A snowshoe hare blending in with the snow.

Triggered by the shortening of daylight hours, the snowshoe hare's fur coat changes color to increase the hare's chances of survival during Adirondack winters. Air chambers within each newly grown hair aid in insulation and reflect light, causing the fur to transform from a brownish-gray to ivory white.

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Safe and Sound

A hunter wearing an orange vest and hat.

Even when the landscape's covered in white, hunters should still wear blaze orange while afield.

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Featured Video

A family ice fishing.

Entire communities of ice fishers spring up on frozen lakes during the winter, as families and friends enjoy coming together to fish and socialize. Learn more about ice fishing on DEC TV.

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Explore for FREE

You can explore many state lands free of charge. However, some state campgrounds and day-use areas charge a small fee, depending on the season (campsite rentals extra).

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Let Us Know

We hope you enjoy this newsletter and will share your favorite hiking spot, recreation activity or outdoor tip with us. Your feedback is always welcome.
E-mail us

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to your friends.

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Photo Credits

Top banner: Eric Dresser Photography
Bald eagle: Lou Buscher Snowshoe hare: US Forest Service Owl: Don Morley, Jr.

A young boy ice fishing.

Ice Fishing on Hemlock and Canadice Lakes in Western New York

Winter in western New York doesn't keep diehard anglers cooped up waiting for warm weather to return. They satisfy their craving for fishing at frozen lakes, ponds and reservoirs throughout the region.

Two very popular spots for ice fishing are Hemlock and Canadice lakes, both located within Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. Known for panfish, chain pickerel, rainbow smelt and trout, these lakes attract ice anglers as soon as their waters freeze thick enough to safely walk on. Boat launches on both lakes provide good access for ice anglers. See DEC's Hemlock-Canadice State Forest webpage for directions.

With proper preparation and precautions, your whole family can enjoy winter days fishing on the ice. Check DEC's Ice fishing webpage for complete information, and don't forget your fishing license.

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Watchable Wildlife

A bald eagle walking on ice.
Winter is a great time to view bald eagles. See the Watchable Wildlife bald eagle page for the best places to see them.

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Hare Hunting in Northern NY

Closeup of a snowshoe hare.

On a clear, cold winter morning when the snow glistens in the sunlight, head to Winona State Forest in southern Jefferson/northern Oswego County for a snowshoe hare hunting adventure. The season in the northern zone runs through March 17, and the daily bag limit is six hares.

Unlike deer hunting, you don't have to wake up at the crack of dawn and stumble out in the dark to wait. Snowshoe hares feed on twigs and bark during the winter, primarily at night, and they nap in the sun near low-lying boughs of small evergreen trees or thickets. They avoid open patches of land without good ground cover.

Winona State Forest covers more than 9,000 acres with nearly 40 miles of trails, including 10 miles of forest roads. Both snowshoeing and snowmobiling are allowed in the area. Good hunting opportunities can be found elsewhere on the Tug Hill plateau and the peripheral Adirondacks, including:

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Owling in the Big City

A screech owl in the trunk of a tree. New York City's varied habitats and "moveable feast" are why owls, particularly barn owls, great horned owls and eastern screech owls, live and hunt here. Long-eared and northern saw-whet owls are often seen too, the latter especially in winter. Even snowy owls are known to hunt in this metropolis during colder months.

To see these urban-dwelling raptors, visitors can participate in an organized "owl prowl" (see the NYC Parks website for events) or go on a self-guided search at dusk. A daytime stroll through a wooded area may be rewarded with a glimpse of fledglings closely guarded by their parents. In addition, adult owls may be observed roosting in tree hollows, among thick evergreens and even in nest boxes.

Check out the Conservationist's article on owls of New York City for more information.

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Hike of the Month: Camp Santanoni, Newcomb, Essex County

Cross-country skiers on the trail at Camp Santanoni.

For a unique winter experience, join other snowshoers (and cross-country skiers) for three Winter Weekends/Open Houses at historic Camp Santanoni, a 19th-century Adirondack Great Camp. Snowshoes will be available for loan. Start at the estate's impressive stone Gate House and follow the carriage road through dense forest past an old dairy, farmhouses and the ruins of a large barn. Continue to Newcomb Lake, warm up by the fire at the sprawling Main Lodge, and get a hot drink at the quirky Artist Studio. Catch a glimpse of blue jays and white-tailed deer along the way. Winter Weekends/Open Houses are scheduled for Jan 19-21, Feb 16-18 and March 16-17, but trails are open year-round.

Camp Santanoni is just one place to explore in the winter. Check out DEC's Great Winter Hikes Across New York State for more places to enjoy the outdoors.


January 2013 DEC Outdoor Discovery Newsletter © New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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