Backyard Wilderness Blog
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What better way to start the new year than to spend a day tracking deer through the woods in 18" of snow!
Living in a log cabin in the forest, the long, dark, cold winter nights in Vermont are perfect for reading, study, and deep contemplation, not to mention surfing the Internet! Recently, I came across a couple of websites belonging to wild harvesters in my area that deeply disturb me. One belongs to a commercial forager who brags harvesting hundreds of pounds of mushrooms locally each year. The other site is admirably dedicated to the wonderful wild medicinal fungus known as "Chaga," but reveals that the owner also extensively forages this locale, selling to health food stores regionally. A few years ago, wildharvesters were discovered "clearcutting" a riparian environment in central Vermont of Ostrich Fern fiddleheads. When confronted, they claimed they were harvesting only for personal use, but were caught loading dozens of 30 gallon plastic bags full of fiddleheads into a van with out-of-state license plates.
Forests around the world are under tremendous pressure from humans who neither understand, nor appreciate their true value.
Back in the 1960's, the Moody Blues wrote a great line into their song, "Watching and Waiting;"
... but don't be alarmed by my fields and my forests, they're here for only you to share...
Likewise, Three Dog Night's song, "Out in the Country" echoed a similar theme;
... before the breathing air is gone, before the sun is just a bright spot in the nighttime, out where the rivers like to run, I stand alone and take back something worth remembering...
Although there are many wildcrafters, herbalists and others who respectfully harvest wild plants, there are also many unscrupulous, greedy individuals rampantly reaping everything from fiddleheads to rhinoceros horns for personal profit, devastating species populations and diminishing the natural world. Tragically, in the end this may be humankind's greatest legacy...
Backyardwilderness.com condemns this behavior and yet, while promoting knowledge of wild edible and medicinal plants, still hopes to discourage others from taking more than they need for their own immediate, personal use, and even then, only when conditions or populations allow harvesting sustainably, else we all eventually go the way of the Dodo bird and the passenger pigeon....
Additionally, we encourage our members, and anyone else who will listen, to work actively to restore species diversity by participating in our educational programs and workshops, supporting regional nature parks and conservation areas, and restoring natural habitat through the intentional planting of native wild plant species in their own backyards.
Here's where a large buck was bed down until shortly
before my arrival. It's on top of an isolated, south facing promontory or elevated peninsula with three very steep sides, about 50 feet high. (The fox den mentioned elsewhere on this site is located about two-thirds of the way up the south slope.)
Look at the size of that hoof print!
Our south facing hill provides ideal nighttime winter shelter and warm daytime sun for white-tail deer. Over the years we have had many exciting close encounters with old bucks, young spikehorns, does, and fawns!
All three photos were taken 01/01/13.