I spoke with an elderly gentleman the other day. He's 87.
"Ralph, have you ever seen a winter like this in your entire life?," I asked.
"No," he replied, "but my dad told about one back in the 30s."
According to the calendar, spring officially started March 20. We all know it really started Dec. 21, though. That's usually the first day of winter, but fall pretty much blended into spring and left winter sitting on the sidelines.
So what are the effects of the lack of snow and freezing-cold weather?
Normally, the extreme cold and deep snow here in the Northeast have a detrimental effect on the wildlife. Last fall, we saw several groups of very small turkeys in September and October from late-season hatches. They don't usually survive the winter, but they did this year.
You've had to notice the huge flocks of turkeys as you drive around the countryside. They're everywhere. As far as turkey hunting this spring, it's going to be tough. The long-bearded toms have been strutting and mating for weeks already. Come May, the breeding season will have been long forgotten, making it extremely difficult to call in that big, old gobbler.
It's the same with deer. Because food is harder to find in heavy snow and every drop of energy is used to keep warm, some deer don't survive the winter. Other than those killed by automobiles or coyotes, most made it through this past winter in great shape. We easily could see a near doubling in the deer population this fall. Consequently, you'll see far more car/deer accidents, more damage to crops, gardens and shrubs, and far more deer when it comes to hunting season. We should see record deer harvests come October and November.
Non-hunters won't be spared, either. Just try sitting out in your yards this summer. If you thought the hurricanes led to an increase in the mosquito population last year, wait until you see how many of those pesky, biting insects will be around after an extremely mild winter. It should be worse than a couple of summers ago, when it rained at least four out of every seven days? Sitting outside back then was a little like going to the Red Cross to donate a pint of blood.
It's likely your pets will be plagued by more fleas and ticks as well, so get started early with the Frontline, Advantix or whatever you may use. More insects means more crop damage for farmers, too.
I know a lot of folks really liked the extremely mild winter we just had. Heating bills were down and traveling was much safer. But winter is good for the economy. Just ask the folks who live in small Adirondack towns or near ski areas. It's their livelihood.
Snow and cold are good for the ground, too. My grandfather used to say that snow is poor man's fertilizer. The nitrogen in the snow leaches into the soil and helps make everything green. He was right.
After this summer, you may be praying for a few blizzards this winter. Just sit around a campfire on the Fourth of July. You'll see.
Rick Brockway writes a weekly outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at email@example.com.
I spoke with an elderly gentleman the other day. He's 87.
- Local Sports
Sidney boys start season with setback
Bill Kozak scored a varsity-high 27 points Saturday, but Sidney opened its boys basketball season with a 67-60 loss to Susquehanna Valley in the first round of the Thomas Schwann Tournament at Norwich.
Oneonta girls win another title
ONEONTA -- A total of 21 days separates two championships for Oneonta High. Mariah Ruff was a big part of this one, too.
O-State men, women win SUNYAC games on road
Zach Mager scored a game-high 21 points Saturday to lead Oneonta State to a 67-54 SUNY Athletic Conference men's basketball victory at Fredonia.
Weekend High School Results
- Saturday, December 7, 2013
UV boys rally for tourney win
David Dufresne scored nine of his team-best 22 points in the fourth quarter Friday, when Unadilla Valley scored 30 points to secure a 73-63 boys basketball victory over Vernon-Verona-Sherrill in the opening round of the Sherburne-Earlville Tournament.
Red Dragons drop openers in SUNYAC
Grace Schilling finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists Friday, but Oneonta State opened SUNY Athletic Conference play with a 58-52 women's basketball loss at Buffalo State.
High School Honors
- Friday, December 6, 2013
Unatego wrestlers edge Walton
Unatego rode a pin from Nate Wilsey and four straight forfeits to a season-opening wrestling victory Thursday as the host Spartans defeated Walton, 34-32, in a Midstate Athletic Conference dual meet.
Worcester girls take Walton title
Jessica Peeters scored a game-high 11 points to lead Worcester to a 41-26 girls basketball victory over Delhi in the championship game of the Walton Tip-Off Tournament on Thursday.
Hartwick women cruise past Sage
Maria Foglia and Brittney Dumas scored 17 points apiece Thursday to lead Hartwick College to an 84-33 non-conference women's basketball rout of visiting Sage.
Area Sports Briefs
Gray squirrels bring back some fond memories
I was on my hill sitting in a tree stand about a month ago when a large, gray squirrel ran across a branch not far from me. I was actually surprised. There hasn't been a gray squirrel in my woods for many years, at least none that I've seen. I watched him go from branch to branch and then down the trunk of a large, red oak tree.
Thursday's Girls Basketball Results
Baseball Hall executive to retire
National Baseball Hall of Fame Senior Vice President Bill Haase will retire at the end of the year, the Cooperstown shrine announced Thursday.
- Thursday, December 5, 2013
Jackets fall to defending champs
Albert Odero scored a season- and varsity-high 22 points Wednesday, but host Oneonta High dropped a Southern Tier Athletic Conference boys basketball game, 55-48, to defending Section Four Class B champion Norwich.
Milford boys ride big second half past CV-S
Will Ward scored a game-high 20 points Wednesday, hitting four three-point field goals in the process to lead Milford to a 63-34 boys basketball victory over visiting Cherry Valley-Springfield in the Tri-Valley League.
Hall honors Garagiola with O'Neil
Joe Garagiola has waited a lifetime for this. The National Baseball Hall of Fame's Board of Directors selected former Major League Baseball player and national broadcaster Garagiola as the winner of the 2014 John Jordan "Buck" O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, the Cooperstown shrine announced Wednesday.
- Sidney boys start season with setback