The hunting and fishing habits, which developed out of the guide-patron relationship, were, as would be expected, unbalanced towards the patron. Deer were hunted, from the guide-boat, by either hounding or jacking. Both strategies, along with fish trolling, depended more on the skill of the oarsman for successful execution than they did the aristocrat’s gun.
Hunting drove a divide in class in the park. There were those who hunted because they need to eat, and there were those who thought it was fun. The latter relied heavily on the former. Hunting deer from boats was popular, as well as hunting waterfowl. Hunting is still popular in the parks today and is regulated to try to avoid inhumane treatment of the animals. Regulation of game began when the park was first created in 1885. The tag rule was put into effect, which required all hunters to have tags, or licenses. Unfortunately with regulation comes poaching, and since 1885 the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) has been battling poachers in the park. In 1892 when the park was officially formed the practice of jacking and hounding were band. Jacking is the process of putting a light, or "jack light" at the end of your boat to draw a drinking deers attention. This causes the deer to go still and create a very easy target. Hounding as the name would suggest uses hounds to chase animals into trees, where they are then easily slain. Today game regulation includes: minimum lengths for fish to keep, certain seasons when you can hunt game, and humane styles of killing these animals.
Guides created every possible opportunity to have their client have a successful trip. Besides being paid by the client the guides themselves were normally former hunters and trappers in the region. They were working class people who relied on the bounty of the park. To them hunting and fishing was work. To their clients it was vacation, and this helped to drive the divide between guide and client. The clients came from outside the park; they were tourists, with means to pay for the trip and food. Obtaining the food not from a market but from nature is different to them and so they treat it as a break from daily life, where the guides were forced to adopt that life or starve.
We see an excellent example of this divide in class with Joel T. Headly, the Secretary of State for New York at the time, and author, chartered the services of a guide and recorded them. Headly writing shows us the knowledge of his guide whilst highlighting fishing as a sport not as a means to eat. The two are fishing for trout, Headly remarks about the flies they are using saying, “Pay no regard to the list of fancy flies sportsmen often make much ado about. The red and black hackles are the best for our latitudes any time of the year” (Headley 25). Headly goes on to say with that one fly he caught forty fish that day (Headley 26). So many in fact that he through the last one back because he couldn’t take it because it was too beautiful a fish. Headly had the luxury of throwing that fish back. Those who live in the park would rarely toss a potential meal back in the water.
Fishing in the Adirondacks, as in all places, was performed initially for sustenance before pleasure. The arrival of well-off tourists into the region, coupled with aristocratic fishing trends in Europe developed a dichotomy between those who fished for fish and those that fished to fish. The former, primarily local or “unskilled” visitor, used bait and reel, the latter, fly and rod. This division is by no means unique to the Adirondacks. Almost everywhere there, are fish, the conflict between to two methods persists to this day. Currently to use a fly or bait is a matter of personal choice but at its introduction to the Adirondacks, the line was drawn strongly across class.
Today visitors to the park will find their boating access to certain areas of the park restricted. Areas like the St Regis Canoe Area are known to have some of the best fishing in the park but area restricted to paddlesports only. These areas are characterized by many small ponds connected by rivers or short carries that motorboats cannot manage. Other lakes and ponds within the park which are often private have also prohibited the use of motorboats for reasons discussed in Motorboats. Considering the very different regulations throughout the park it would be wise to check the boating regulations for the area you wish to visit to avoid potential disappointment. Click here to see fishing in the park.
Schneider, Paul. The Adirondacks: A History of America's First Wilderness. New York: H. Holt, 1997. Print.
Headley, J. T. The Adirondack; Or, Life in the Woods,. New York: Baker and Scribner, 1849. 24-26. Print.
Jacoby, Karl. Crimes against Nature Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation. Berkeley: U of California, 2001. Print.