Normally this time of year the Contoocook River is a kayaker’s delight; with little current, it’s a great place to learn how to kayak. Don’t try it now, however, since the heavy rains have changed the Contoocook into a river of rage. Normally this time of year the Merrimack River has places in it where you can cross without getting your knees wet. Don’t try it this year. The Merrimack has been transformed from a great fishery and fun river for recreationists to a river of no return by reason of its near-flood stage. The tragedies that have taken place, for the most part, were avoidable with a modicum of common sense.
Any time you are on the water – be it in a boat, canoe, kayak, raft or inner tube – you need to have on a personal flotation device (PFD). In last Sunday’s Monitor, there was a delightful picture of a man with his two sons or grandsons. The children were wearing PFDs. The man was not. They were in a canoe that was on a small pond. Canoes can tip over, and while the kids would be okay, there is no guarantee that he could survive a spill.
The alcohol absorption rate is far greater on water than it is on land. All of us who have completed the boater operator’s course know this to be true. The mixture of sun, adult beverages and dangerous water levels and current is an unhealthy combination that often leads to disaster.
The most recent PFD advancement is the vest-like PFD that inflates when it is submerged in water. It looks like an oversized pair of suspenders. There is no excuse for not wearing a PFD. The most painful part of a search-and-rescue mission is when it becomes a recovery mission.
The high levels of water in our rivers, streams, lakes and ponds have put fishing on hold. Generally, the big lakes are transitioning into thermal climes that stack game and bait fish. I suspect the rains might push this off until August, but we will see. Another possible outcome is that once the water levels in the streams and rivers return to normal, fishing should pick up.
∎ ∎ ∎
Are you ready for a truly wild weekend in September? Back by popular demand, registration is now open for the Barry Camp Wild Game Culinary Adventure, a weekend exploring wild game preparation and cooking to be held at Barry Conservation Camp in Milan, Sept. 27-29. The cost is $150, which includes meals, instruction and rustic lodging. All proceeds benefit the Barry Camp Fund. An application is available at huntnh.com/barrycamp/game-weekend.html or call 271-3211. This is a snooze-you-lose event that is limited to 35 participants and fills up fast.
The wild game weekend is sponsored by N.H. Fish and Game, the N.H. Wildlife Federation and the Belknap County Sportsmen’s Association.
Participants will get hands-on instruction and practice dressing wild game, cutting meat, planning game menus and preparing wild game for cooking. The highlight of the event is tasting. It’s open to those 18 and older.
Check-in is that Friday at 5 p.m. with the program starting at 7. Saturday is a full day of hands-on instruction and cooking, followed by a game dinner and entertainment around the campfire with music by Don Watson. The program wraps up at noon on Sunday. Remember, this is the North Country and the end of September. Peak color will be present in New Hampshire’s most invigorating season.
In recent years, the state’s outdoor community, led by the Belknap County Sportsmen, has renovated facilities at Barry Conservation Camp, which provides overnight summer youth programming sponsored by N.H. Fish and Game and 4-H Cooperative Extension. A campaign is also under way to build the Camp Barry Fund to provide operating expenses and ensure the camp’s future financial stability.
Organizations and businesses can support the event through donations or sponsorships. Contact Mark Beauchesne at Mark.Neauchesne@wildlife.nh.gov or 271-6355.
(Bob Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)