This coming weekend, Nov. 20, sunrise to sunset, is the opening of deer hunting and bear hunting season.
As Wayne Hall, of the Times Herald Record points out , "’The ‘Last Great Place on Earth’ called the Shawangunk Ridge is being eaten by hundreds of deer who think every day is Thanksgiving. Hall gives the deer’s menu, as if they were dining in the last Catskills hotel: "Mouth-watering oak acorn succotash, with au naturel seedling greens and chilled and aged bark, followed by crunchy buds that release a refreshingly woody aroma."
All well and good, he explains, except "those acorns are really very tiny complete trees with roots and stems ready to pop open next spring. Seedlings should become saplings. Bark’s supposed to protect the tree’s innards… Acorns, seedlings and such are supposed to be the chestnut oaks of tomorrow. But the forest’s regeneration engine is sputtering and it’s not just from overeating deer (they strip anything below six feet and can champ down 6 to 8 pounds of grub a day, says a wildlife biologist)."
The answer? Hunters.
"’Hunters are key,’ says Ethan Pierce, Mohonk Preserve’s deer management guru.
Some hunt for food, not sport, during this Great Recession (near Depression in Sullivan County). Says Hall, "40 pounds of deer meat may look real good in a freezer now."
"’We’re getting calls all the time from food banks for venison,’" says hunter Carmen Heitczman, former president of the Orange County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs.
The other news is that Sullivan County is down to its very last movie house, and that one is all the way out at the western edge of the county, in Callicoon. maybe the most compelling village of them all Even the multiplexes have closed. You still see the sad marquees hanging empty in Woodbourne, in front of the Strand (Hippodrome) in Loch Sheldrake, and the "air conditioned" Rialto in Monticello.
Without the picture show, or a hotel lobby to sit in, we’ll just have to sit on a rock and tell each other stories.