Marc C. Hirrel, Leopold Education Project

Autumn is the season of the hunter. A good time to venture through the woods of South Fork. Look for red lanterns as you make your way through the yellows, tans, and browns of changing oaks and hickories. Let the red lanterns mark your path.

Red lanterns, to Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac, were blackberry leaves lit by the October sun to mark his trail. Hunting was how he made connections to the land. And those connections was how he read the landscape and crafted a personal ethic on “how to live on a piece of land without spoiling it”, which was Leopold’s conservation cornerstone. And it began with a grouse hunt. In his essay Red Lanterns he is challenged to read the landscape connecting the brambled habitat and the clucking grouse in cover with the dog having analyzed thousands of smells then hitting olfactory gold and going to point.

In Smoky Gold, Leopold challenges us to read the landscape by going on our own hunt. The sweetest hunts are stolen. To steal a hunt, either go far into the wilderness where no one has been, or else find some undiscovered place under everybody’s nose… South Fork.

This November go steal a hunt by following the red lanterns of SFNC, like:


What did you find? What did you read from the landscape to help your hunt? Did those red lanterns help you to return to the trail?

My hunt lead me to these dens and to some questions. Whose den is it? What makes this location so special? Next month we’ll see what my game cameras reveal and what I read from the landscape.