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  • December 26, 2007

    Bad Butcher Shop Etiquette-2


    An off-duty police officer has been placed on administrative leave after he allegedly drew a gun on a butcher during an argument over how his venison jerky had been seasoned by the meat-processing establishment.


    It’s not what you might call the feel-good story of the joyous holiday season, now is it?

    And, investigating authorities have yet to determine just who was the biggest jerk about the jerky.

    According to news reports, Mike Brannan, owner of Top Choice Meat Market in Vancouver, Wash., said a heated argument over deer meat led to a customer—an off-duty city police officer—pulling a gun.

    Brannan, recounting the Saturday altercation to the Columbian newspaper, said the officer was angry that pepper flake hadn’t been applied to the jerky and felt he shouldn’t have to pay for the order.

    “He was just being incredibly rude,” Brannan told the paper. “He was told by more than just me that he had to calm down or he would be asked to leave.”

    According to the newspaper account, Brannan likely didn’t help matters much when he told the already angry customer that much of his deer meat was “spoiled or contaminated with feces,” and that “he needed to learn how to clean a deer.”

    No shots were fired, and no one was hurt or arrested, but the officer has been placed on routine administrative leave during an investigation by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

    Our advice? Next time stick with the tried-and-true butterflied backstraps, tenderized steaks and burger.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 20, 2007

    Next Time, Rent the Full-Size Sedan-6


    My good friend Todd Rathner, who writes a blog on his T. Jeffrey Safari Company Web site, just posted some photographs he shot while he was on a recent whitetail deer-hunting trip.


    Evidently, some deer hunters in Oklahoma were faced with a serious logistical challenge after they shot two whitetail bucks—and their primary mode of transportation was a tiny, economy-sized rental car!

    Rathner, who hails from Tucson, Arizona, writes that he pulled into a restaurant parking lot in Oklahoma, where he saw the two bucks somewhat precariously lashed to the roof of the compact car, with bungee cords running through the doors, inside the vehicle, and back over the two antlered roof ornaments.


    Even though he didn’t have any success on his hunt, Rathner says that just seeing the deer atop the diminutive car made his trip one to remember.

    It’s our guess that the additional load on the roof probably lowered the compact’s gas mileage to the degree that they might as well have rented a full-size sedan—one equipped with a roomy trunk!

    (Click on photos to view enlarged versions.)

    By the way, if you’re ever in the market for a first-class African hunting trip, be sure to take a look at Todd’s many offerings.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 19, 2007

    Santa Rosa Island Hunting Scuttled in Budget Bill-5


    One of the more obscure items included in the half-trillion-dollar Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed Monday by the U.S. House of Representatives provides for the removal of all deer and elk from California’s Santa Rosa Island, effectively dashing all prospects of future hunting opportunities there.

    The measure repeals a law passed last year that permitted the estimated 1,100 Kaibab mule deer and Roosevelt elk to remain on the island indefinitely. Sponsored by U.S. Representative and GOP presidential hopeful Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), the bill was a rewrite of legislation that originally sought to allow exclusive hunting opportunities on Santa Rosa for disabled veterans.


    Lawmakers have been battling over the future of Santa Rosa Island for more than two years. Environmental groups want the non-native species eliminated and have called for the island to be more accessible to the general public.

    Santa Rosa Island is part of the Channel Islands National Park. Under terms of a 1986 compensation agreement between the island’s former owners and the National Park Service, the ranching company was allowed to maintain its hunting operation there, but all non-native animals were to be gone by 2011. Cattle were removed from the island in 1998.

    Rep. Hunter’s 2006 legislation effectively negated the terms of the 1986 court settlement pertaining to the deer and elk herd.

    “This marks the end to a long battle over Santa Rosa Island,” declared Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.), who inserted the language into the massive spending bill during negotiations between the House and Senate. By all indications, the bill is expected to pass the Senate later this week.


    Vail & Vickers Co., the former island owners who continue to manage the hunting operation, contend they were blindsided by the provision’s inclusion in the budget bill and that logistics prevent them from relocating the wild animals safely and humanely. Instead, they say, in order to comply with the terms of the original settlement, they will likely have to kill the entire elk and deer population.

    “That’s a lot of animals to just needlessly kill, but that seems to be the only option left,” company spokesman Jim Youngson told the Los Angeles Times. He cited the enormous costs of transporting wildlife, the bureaucratic roadblocks to relocating the animals to public land in others states, and an exceedingly high mortality rate from trapping and moving wildlife.

    “Despite their intentions, Democrats cannot exterminate the Island’s elk herd until 2011,” Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Rep. Hunter’s office said today. “This leaves enough time to save the herd and provide our disabled veterans, many of whom have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, the opportunity of a lifetime.”

    Comments made to the Newshound blog by Darren LaSorte, lobbyist and manager of Hunting Policy for the National Rifle Association, while not as partisan as those from Hunter’s office, were decidedly blistering in condemning so-called animal protectionist groups.

    “This is all more evidence that HSUS and PETA really aren’t trying to save animals,” LaSorte said “Neither group uttered a single word of opposition to the government-mandated slaughter of the elk and deer that have coexisted with other plant and animal species on the island for 75 years.”

    LaSorte also maintained that the isolated Santa Rosa deer and elk are invaluable to science because they are totally free of chronic wasting disease and other maladies that can threaten mainland herds.

    “The NRA has been working this issue for years now and we believed the Duncan Hunter provision passed in 2006 was what would allow the elk and mule deer to thrive on Santa Rosa for generations to come,” he said.

    Have any of our Newshound readers hunted on Santa Rosa? What do you think about the latest chapter in the political chess game being played with the wildlife there?

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 18, 2007

    Felons Fingered Through Hunting Licenses-11


    Here’s some sage advice for felons currently serving probation in Wisconsin: If you’re in illegal possession of firearms, it’s not wise to purchase a hunting license.

    As the result of two Wisconsin state agencies sharing their computer databases, a total of 19 convicted felons were arrested in the past month for illegally possessing firearms under terms of their probation.


    After cross-referencing records from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and the Department of Natural Resources, state probation agents paid surprise home visits to 62 felons who bought hunting licenses this year.

    A majority of those investigated--43 to be exact--did not have guns in their possession.

    “This is the first sharing of data of this kind (between the DNR and DOC), and we worked with law enforcement and took folks into custody if we found evidence that they broke the law,” said John Dipko, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

    The effort was planned by the two agencies to address what is considered by some to be a loophole in Wisconsin law, whereby convicted felons legally cannot possess a firearm but may purchase a hunting license.

    Convicted felons in Wisconsin may join other hunters on deer-drives, but they cannot carry firearms in the process.

    Though state law bans all convicted felons from ever possessing firearms, the DOC cannot take action against felons who possess guns but are no longer under state supervision.

    “The fact of the matter is that felons who are under the supervision of the DOC sign agreements that state very clearly they are not to possess any weapons and that they are also expected to follow the laws,” Dipko told the Wisconsin State Journal this week.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 18, 2007

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-1


    “Women are the most curious of all the animal critters in the world. I have made a lifelong study of women, under all climatic conditions, and a I reckon there ain’t a varmint loose in the woods or water that takes as much figgerin’ with no real answer. You can train a no-’count dog, or fool a fish, or outguess a fox, or outsmart a coon, or make a buck deer run your way, but there is no real past performance that you can use against a woman to cut her off at the draw. Just about the time you got her figgered she whips out a fresh bag of tricks, and you got to start all over again.”
    -Robert Ruark
    “The Women Drive You to the Poolrooms”
    The Old Man and the Boy, 1953

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 17, 2007

    Elk Poaching CSI-1


    As genetic evaluation and DNA testing becomes more mainstream, you can expect to see it become the foundation of wildlife crime scene investigations, used to help convict poachers and to finger flagrant game thieves.

    It was the genetic material found in random drops of elk blood at a Washington state hunting camp that recently helped bring a poacher to justice.

    Dean Harriman. 48, pleaded guilty to poaching after federal authorities used blood spatters to positively link him to an elk killed illegally in Mount Rainier National Park three years ago.

    During his sentencing hearing last week, Harriman was ordered to pay a $500 fine and make $2,500 restitution. He also is banned from the national park for a year, and his Washington state hunting privileges were revoked for a year.


    Court records show a park volunteer discovered a fresh elk kill site within the park boundaries on Nov. 6, 2004. Investigating park rangers found Harriman and five others camped just outside the park in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest with elk meat and a head in their possession.

    At that time, Harriman told rangers that he shot and tagged the elk outside the park boundaries, on public land where hunting was legal.

    Testimony indicated that Harriman refused to let rangers take tissue samples of his tagged elk. However, they later gathered blood samples at the camp, which subsequently matched the DNA from the kill site inside the national park.

    The samples were sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab in Ashland, Ore., where specialists confirmed that blood found at the two sites came from the same elk.

    The other hunters were not prosecuted due to lack of evidence, according to a report in the Everett Herald. When Harriman originally claimed to investigating rangers that the elk was taken on National Forest land, he also admitted to killing the animal.

    “It’s a big area and a lot of things need to come together to get a good case,” park spokesman Chuck Young told the newspaper. He said federal investigators were convinced Harriman knew he was in the park when he shot the elk.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 14, 2007

    Park Elk Plan Slammed For Snubbing Hunters-3


    The plan to cull elk in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park announced this week has been roundly criticized for its shortcomings, as well as for taking traditional hunting off the management table.

    As I blogged here Tuesday, under the U.S. Park Service plan, park personnel, authorized agents, private contractors and “qualified volunteers” selected and managed by park service officials would kill 100 to 200 elk per year—significantly fewer than an earlier plan that targeted 700 animals.


    Biologists estimate the elk population at RMNP is between 2,200 and 3,100. The $6 million, 20-year project would lower the number of animals around 50 percent.

    The plan unveiled this week by the park service calls for using sharpshooters (using firearms equipped with silencers, at night), beginning next winter, after most visitors have left the park. Though the plan mentioned some trained and supervised “volunteers” might be used, details on participation by outsiders were vague. In addition, the plan calls for all meat from the culled elk to be donated to charity and Indian reservations.

    The plan has come under sharp criticism from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, as well as from Colorado lawmakers who were calling for the inclusion of hunters in the elk-management process.

    “The North American management plan has always been to deal with the (elk) populations by hunting. Not by snipers in the darkness killing animals,” Tom Burke, chairman of the Colorado Wildlife Commission, told the Loveland Reporter-Herald this week.


    The offices of U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard and U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, the Colorado lawmakers who introduced legislation in Congress to allow traditional hunters to take part in National Park wildlife management, also criticized the plan.

    “Hiring professional sharpshooters seems to violate the essence of the ‘Rocky Mountain hunting experience,’” Allard’s spokesman Steve Wyme told the Denver Post. “Our state is home to the best hunters in the country. We should include them in the process.”

    In addition to being summarily rejected by plan, the hunting community is also bristling over the park service’s apparent embracing of management practices championed by wildlife protection groups and animal rights organizations.

    The plan calls for biologists to conduct a fertility and birth control study beginning in January. Other non-lethal management and so-called "aversive techniques" include the construction of fences around vegetation and aspen groves, firing blank ammo and rubber bullets, and use of dogs to disperse herds.

    Additionally, the park service has not ruled out the introduction of wolves to help keep the elk numbers in check.

    These days, any discussion that includes both big game birth control and wolves is sure to get the attention of hunters and game agencies.

    “I think our big concern is that through this whole process, we’ve asked and encouraged them to use qualified volunteers to remove whatever number of elk is appropriate,” Commissioner Burke told the Loveland newspaper. “But they haven’t said, ‘Yes, this is what we’re going to do.’ We’re just concerned that they have not defined exactly how they’re going to deal with the issue.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 12, 2007

    King of the Wild Frontier--Revisited-14


    Like a million or more other middle-aged American men, when I was a five-year-old kid growing up in the 1950s, one of my most prized possessions was a coonskin cap, the kind worn by TV icon and "King of the Wild Frontier," Davy Crockett.


    Back then, growing up in rural in southern Illinois, I was restricted to stalking big game and bad guys with cap pistols in my backyard, while singing the refrain from the popular show starring Fess Parker.

    Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee; Greenest state in the Land of the Free; Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree; Killed him a bear when he was only three. Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier!

    So went the legend of the frontiersman, soldier and statesman who died at the Battle of the Alamo in 1835.

    Now the legend of Crockett lives on, at least the bear-hunting part, thanks to kindergartener Tre Merritt, a true blood-descendant of Crockett. With the help of his grandfather this past weekend in Arkansas, the youngster "killed him a bear" --and he was only 5!

    And it weighed 445 pounds.

    Take that, Mister Coonskin Cap!


    Tre's grandfather, Mike Merritt, was sharing a seat in a treestand with the young hunter in the eastern Arkansas bottomland Sunday when the big bruin approached.

    "He came in about 40 to 50 yards," Mike Merritt said on a local television news report. "When he got in the open, I whistled at him and he stopped and I said, 'Shoot Tre.'"

    Tre confirmed his grandfather's account.

    "I was up in the stand and I seen the bear," Tre Merritt said. "It came from the thicket and it was beside the road and I shot it."

    According to ABC News, Robert Crockett, one of Davy Crockett's grandsons, became the first mayor of Stuttgart, Arkansas after the town incorporated in 1889. Today, sportsmen know Stuttgart as the Duck Hunting Capital of the World. The nearby village of Crockett's Bluff was named to honor Robert Crockett.

    "His 10th great-grandfather was Davy Crockett," his grandfather explained. "And Davy supposedly killed him a bear when he was three. And Tre is five and really killed a bear. I really doubt if Davy killed one when he was three."

    Aw, what's a year or two among folk heroes, anyway?

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 11, 2007

    “Qualified Volunteers” May Cull National Park Elk-5


    In its final proposal to reduce a problematic elk population in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park announced this morning, the park service stopped short of opening a hunt to the general public, as was hoped by many hunters’ groups and some supportive legislators.

    Under the U.S. Park Service plan, park personnel, authorized agents, private contractors and “qualified volunteers” selected and managed by park service officials may take 100 to 200 elk per year.


    The proposal is a significantly reduced version of an earlier draft plan that called for culling up to 700 elk a year to bring the burgeoning elk numbers down more rapidly.

    In addition to the culling plan, the Rocky Mountain News reports that park workers will install additional fencing around willow and aspen stands and use “aversion” techniques, such as rubber bullets or loud noises, to keep elk away from certain areas.

    Despite the exclusion of hunters from the plan per se, hunting advocacy group Safari Club International announced in a press release today that the NPS decision to allow “qualified volunteers” as agents to help park personnel cull excessive elk herds is “a tremendous step forward.”

    “Because the plan specifies that the volunteers will have to be ‘certified in firearms training, be specially trained in wildlife culling,’ and pass a proficiency test, SCI expects that these ‘qualified volunteers’ will come from the hunting community,” the press release read.

    Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus members Rep. Mark Udall, (D), and Sen. Wayne Allard, (R), introduced federal legislation that would allow the National Park Service to use licensed hunters as volunteers or contractors in the elk reduction effort.

    Following a short comment period on the plan’s Environmental Impact Statement, a final “record of decision” is expected in early 2008.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • December 10, 2007

    Hunter Pays Deerly for Venison-2


    Here’s a tale you may likely see in an upcoming Outdoor Life “This Happened to Me” feature.

    Bill Carney was seated inside his camouflage pop-up hunting blind when a large whitetail doe appeared in a hollow about 60 yards away. The 59-year-old Sissonville, West Virginia resident calmly took aim, took a deep breath, and slowly squeezed the trigger on his rifle.


    Seconds later, the deer, which had obviously taken a bullet, veered to its left. Carney assumed that in a moment, it would be over.

    Up until then, everything seemed to be going according to plan.

    That’s when the deer turned again and started running full bore—directly at Carney and his fabric hideout.

    At first, he thought the oncoming deer would surely change course before reaching him.

    “I thought it was going to go right on by me,” the hunter later told the Charleston Daily Mail newspaper.


    But alas, Carney’s earlier good fortune had suddenly taken a sour turn, and the wounded, bloodied deer plowed headlong into the blind--knocking the hunter inside for a loop.

    “It hit the blind with such a force, it took the stakes out of the ground,” he said. “There wasn’t a bottom in it, or I’d have gone with her. I was on the ground. She knocked me off the camping chair.”

    When he recovered from the collision, Carney found his dead deer—and his blind—down the trail several yards from the point of impact.

    Next hunting season, Carney says he’s going after a buck, but he’s going to stay out of harm’s way—in an elevated treestand.

    “It felt like an elephant coming through that blind,” he said. “That was the last thing I was expecting.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
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