John Harrigan: No danger of becoming a Luddite

JOHN HARRIGAN November 24. 2012 10:14PM

I have no love affair with technology, except when work requires it, and thus my office is at a newspaper with state-of-the-art computers and all of the attendant gadgetry, but the old 40-pound L.C. Smith typewriter I hammered stuff out on during the first half of my career sits up there on a shelf as a reminder of simpler times.

I've dragged my feet in other areas, stubbornly clinging to my first and only muzzleloader, a 50-caliber Thompson, even as virtually everyone else has rushed to embrace steadily evolving technology. If I can hit something consistently at 100 yards with it I'm happy, so why change?

But I finally caved in and purchased a trail camera, otherwise called a game camera, after receiving a growing number of photos taken with them and sent in by readers in recent years. I think "trail camera" is a more accurate term, because readers have sent me some definite non-game photos - images of bobcats, porcupines, wild pigs, vultures, foxes, eagles, fisher cats, and yes, even other hunters, who in most cases seem to have remained unaware that the camera was even there.

So during warmer times I set the camera up on the trunk of a dead stub near the end of my upper field, called Ancestors' Field on account of the ashes scattered there to be recycled in the grand scheme of things, a place where I've seen plenty of game over the decades, and just for good measure drove back up with the bucket-loader to dump the pulpy residue of our annual September cider-pressing event.

A week later I retrieved the camera's memory card and took it down to the office for the Big Moment, and its images included me, of course, big French-Irish mug peering into the lens when I'd set it up. And the vague forms of several deer, two moose, a sideways view of a nice fat six-pointer I'm still hoping to ventilate, a coyote, and last but not least, three weary hunters, appearing out of the woods and trudging home, never once looking the camera's way.

Just as I think that it's only a matter of time until a mountain lion is killed in the road or someone shoots one in defense of livestock, it's only a matter of time until someone gets a good, close, undeniable image of one on a trail camera. In fact, I think this has already happened in the form of the Burgess cougar, an image actually taken in the town of Sharon, although the image, with some, is still a matter of dispute.

And as a matter of fact, I think there already are other good cougar images out there, possessed by people who just don't want to come forward, out of fear of ridicule or fear for the big cat's safety.

Meanwhile, while I'm still chasing my buck, mentally or otherwise and with no real help from the trail camera, others have hung theirs up. My neighbor Fernand Beloin racked up his usual early season kill with a 200-pound eight-pointer, making me inclined to go up and demand a backstrap, because I know where the deer grew up and it was surely eating my grass as well as the Beloins'.

And a couple of days after the election I got a call from a very happy Ovide Lamontagne, not happy about losing his bid for the Corner Office but certainly happy to be leaving it all behind and heading for the family camp on Umbagog. He was even happier several days later when he arrived at LL Cote's in Errol to check in his 12-point 244-pound buck.

As I'd said to him a whole lot of time ago, back when the battleground was just getting dusty, the Governor's chair can be a heady place to be, but in many ways camp is a lot better. The talk and the tone are a whole lot nicer, and the food can't be beat.

John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook NH 03576, or e-mail at

John Harrigan

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