Some of the earliest visitors didn’t come to the Adirondacks to sit idly by a serene lake, they came to find wild game. And that tradition continues to this day, with plenty of game around, and local shops and guides that can help lead the way.
Shops and know-how
Of course, with so many generations of hunters prowling the Adirondacks, Saranac Lake has a couple of must-visit shops that can provide everything from guns and ammo to know-how and hunting licenses.
Blue Line Sports is right in downtown Saranac Lake, and offers a full range of hunting and fishing gear, including archery implements. And across town is the newest addition to the Adirondack hunting scene, Woods and Waters. With firearms, ammo, fishing, and camping gear, Woods and Waters also offers some good old fashioned local wisdom.
If you’re looking for some intimate knowledge for stalking the big bucks, though, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better source than a local guide. And when we say local, we mean local. Guides in the Saranac Lake area may spend their weekends taking hunters around, but they spend their weeks hunting for themselves. From places to tactics to tracking, a local guide can help lead the way.
Much of the public land around Saranac Lake is part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, owned and managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The unit that comprises tens of thousands of acres here is called the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, and a management plan for the SLWF was released a few years ago.
Much of the plan deals with parking and camping, trailheads, and hiking trails. But there was a little something - more like a big something, really - there for hunters. In fact, the SLWF has 7,400 acres of trailless area that should provide hunters and trappers with lots of space to roam.
Of course, hunters are welcome to use trails to access hunting grounds, but extra care should be taken when hunting near other backcountry users.
While there are moose in the Adirondacks, there’s not enough to hunt. But there’s plenty of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, bear, geese, ducks, rabbits, squirrels, and other game species to go after.
Of course, there’s also plenty of opportunities for trapping as well. River otters, beaver, marten, and fishers are all popular game to go after, as are the other game birds like woodcocks, grouse, and pheasants.
And lest you think the long winters make game here scarce, the wildlife management units that cover the Adirondacks typically have some of the highest harvest densities in the state!
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation sets the hunting seasons by zones, with the Adirondacks comprising most of the Northern Zone. The DEC has a full list and maps of hunting seasons by species on its website.
Generally speaking, big game hunting for deer and bear near Saranac Lake begins toward the end of October and continues into December, while other game species may run from October well into the new year.
And when, not if, you’re successful, take a look at some of these ideas for cooking up wild game.