John Harrigan: Skier's tumble offers lessons on two fronts

JOHN HARRIGAN April 12. 2014 7:20PM

The incredible story of a high-country skier who survived a plunge on an ice slab on Mount Adams made good news for two reasons - his survival and the free flow of information.

The skier, 22, was well-prepared. He had worked hard to get to the top and was well-equipped, experienced and in good shape. He also left himself plenty of time.

I liked Union Leader correspondent John Koziol's line about how the guy "walked, crawled and shimmied for more than seven hours in the deep snow" to safety. I've done that.

What I particularly liked was another example of Fish and Game's well-earned reputation for reporting such incidents in great detail despite mounting roadblocks involving "privacy" (which, by the way, there never has been with any accident) and possible litigation.

These are real issues, yet Fish and Game, in the tradition founded by hiking and climbing fraternities, sticks to reporting hunting and fishing and canoeing and hiking and climbing and search-and-rescue incidents in the greatest detail possible so that we all might learn something from whatever happens. Privacy and litigation be damned.

Are you listening, administrators, lawyers, lobbyists and legislators?

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As a not-quite-but-close Luddite, I took great delight from the latest computer "password" quandary, caused by some kind of bug that might have hacked something or other.

To me, "hacking" involves training or working a horse. And at the moment, my "bug" quandary comes from an invasion of ladybugs, sadly the Asian invasion variety, which (a) can bite, and their little mandibles can inflict a painful pinch (OK, so not involving a trip to the emergency room), and (b) stink when smooshed.

As for a password crisis, the only password in my life that matters is "No watches allowed in camp," which, as sole owner and emperor, is my rule, my dictate, my edict, even my boon, and is not at risk.


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Two big back-to-back March snowstorms knocked the daylights out of New Hampshire's deer herd, at least north of the notches, more than a third of the state's land mass. Wildlife biologists, who always must think about the hunting public, fear late-winter snow, when deer are near the end of their resources.

The temptation is to say, "Well, publicly funded wildlife managers should also think about the non-hunting public," but the fact is that hunters, like the wildlife, are in it for the long run and tend to know the hard facts, which much of the non-hunting public does not.

For most people, the deaths in the winter deer yards, whether from weakness, starvation, predation or just old age, occur out of sight and out of mind, and all anyone cares about is seeing deer in the spring. Wildlife biologists, game wardens and hunters (not to mention loggers and farmers) know better.


My better half, Nancee, has a pioneer farm just across the river in Beecher Falls, Vt. With the help of a wildlife biologist and similarly inclined functionaries, she has "released" (meaning removed from competition) several apple trees, two of particularly ancient root stock.

This past winter, because of overwhelming snow, local deer could not move and so out of desperation girdled the carefully shepherded trees. She - a deer lover in sight, mind, rifle and frypan - is distraught.

I think Vermont's wildlife community should grant her unlimited deer permits and help her graft new shoots to those ancient stumps and protect them from the deer, as a sort of live-with-the-wildlife demonstration project. She owes me venison and bakes a great apple crisp.

John Harrigan's address is Box 39, Colebrook 03576. His email is

John Harrigan

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