The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Rick Brockway

December 21, 2012

Nothing hunts like a fisher

Last week when the regular deer season was winding down, I sat on a log along a deep gorge that runs down the hill on the backside of our woodlot.

No deer seemed to be moving in an area that usually has lots of activity. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw something. I slowly turned my head and watched a fisher come up the creek at the bottom of the ravine.

I saw him move closer and closer, meticulously checking out every log and rock along his path. As I watched the dark brown, oversized weasel move steadily up the little brook, I remembered a fisher story.

When I lived in the southern Adirondacks many years ago, there was an old fellow who came to the Wells Fish and Game Club meeting one night. When the president gave him a chance to speak, old Charlie Reese stood up and started in.

“We have a problem. The fishers are eatin’ all the patiges.”

“They’re eating all the what?” someone asked.

“Patiges. Those darn fishers are eatin’ all the patiges. I’ve hunted for three days and haven’t got a one. All I see is fisher tracks.”

Well to Charley, they were patiges. To the rest of us, the birds he was hunting were partridge or ruffed grouse.

One of the members suggested that he should trap the fishers that winter to solve his problem. Someone else told him he should take it up with the Department of Environmental Conservation in Northville.

“Years ago we wouldn’t have this problem,” Charley said. “When I was young, I’d hunt ‘em down.”

Because of its fine hair, a small, black, female fisher pelt would bring more than $150. When Charley came across a track in the snow, he’d follow it until he got it. I was told that he’d follow one for several days through deep snow and frightful blizzards if necessary. But when he came to the fish and game meeting, he was about 85 years old. So the fisher finally had the advantage over the old mountain man.

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Rick Brockway

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