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  • August 30, 2007

    25 Years, 25,000 Bass-1


    To call Dave Romeo a bass-fishing fanatic is an understatement of the highest magnitude. I mean, how the hell do you categorize someone who has counted, measured and meticulously documented every bass he has landed for the past 25 years--all 25,000 of them?25k

    You read it right, there are three zeroes behind that 25.

    In 1987, the Mount Joy, PA motivational author and speaker landed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most bass ever caught in a single season--3,001 in 77 days.

    And last week Romeo achieved his latest angling feat, catching his 25,000th bass in 25 years of fishing, an easily calculated average of 1,000 largemouth a year.

    Batting 1,000 is pretty impressive, no matter what sport you're talking about.

    Romeo, who has carried a clickable counter and fishing journal during his visits to Pennsylvania ponds and lakes since 1981, authored "Better Bass Fishing-The Dave Romeo Way," in 1988.

    Mike Parker of Harrisburg, PA television station WHP reported this week that Romeo eclipsed the 25,000 mark last Saturday, but he has another goal in sight for 2007.

    That'll take another 200 fish, so he can claim 1,000 or more for each year of the last quarter century.

    And you thought you were crazy about bass fishing.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 29, 2007

    Sacrilege On The Big Hole?-4


    Ask a hardcore, elite fly angler to cite the two most profane words in the English language and he’s likely to say, “bait-fishing.” With that understanding, one can only imagine what those wader-wearing fly-flingers are saying about the proposal to open a portion of Montana’s Big Hole River—one of the most revered temples in all of trout angling—to the Neanderthal nightcrawler pole-and-liners next year.Grayling_3

    A story in today’s Montana Standard reports that the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing a regulation change that will eliminate trout slot limits and allow fishing with bait on the Big Hole from Divide to Melrose.

    The agency says the intent of the proposal is to protect the stream’s resident arctic grayling—the only population of the species found in the lower 48 states--by decreasing the number of competing non-native fish like rainbow and brown trout.

    According to the Butte newspaper, the usual suspects--like fly fishing guides and flyshop owners--are claiming the proposal is akin to heresy, and will lead to throngs of knuckle-dragging, cane pole-toting yahoos crowding the banks of their sacred stream.

    If implemented, the change would be effective from next year until 2011. The department is accepting public comment on the proposal until the middle of September.

    Dave Dunmire of Butte told the paper that fly anglers’ stereotypes of bait fisherman are totally unfounded.

    “They don’t keep all their fish,” the longtime bait fisherman said, adding that he keeps fewer than a dozen fish each year. “They have closed a lot of access off to people who like to sit on the bank with a worm. It would be nice to see that opened up.”

    Hey, it’s time for the proud red wriggler aficionados to stand up and be counted!

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 28, 2007

    EHD In Your Area?-3


    Abnormally dry conditions in parts of the country this year have contributed to an increase in whitetail mortality from epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), a cyclical malady that has been known to severely impact deer populations in some regions.

    Thus far, a high number of EHD-related deer deaths have been reported in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.

    Just yesterday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission reported at least 100 deer died from EHD in Greene and Washington counties, and that number was expected to increase.White_tailed_deer2

    EHD, which is known colloquially as blue tongue, is a common deer disease contracted by gnat-like biting midges. Deer can die within five to ten days after being bitten, but the disease is not always fatal.

    Symptoms of the disease include a high fever and swelling of tissues around the eyes and mouth area, often causing a rosy or bluish color (hence the “blue tongue” moniker). Sick deer often lose their appetite, coordination and their fear of normal dangers.

    EHD is not transmittable to humans nor does the meat from an infected animal pose any health risk.

    Perhaps the biggest downside for hunters is that EHD can potentially devastate a healthy deer herd in small pockets and areas where large numbers of deer tend to congregate. And it can do so in a relatively short period of time.

    I reside in one of the 14 affected counties in southernmost Indiana, and I’ve already seen four carcasses in less than a week, just during my regular morning and evening walks. And all of them have been near water sources, which is common as the infected animals try to fight the effects of fever and mouth-swelling.

    Unfortunately, the only thing that will put a definite stop to an EHD outbreak is a good hard fall freeze, and that's not likely to occur for some time.

    In the meantime, there’s not much we can do except hope for a minimal deer loss.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 27, 2007

    Illinois Counties Staging Pro-Gun Revolt-9


    Law-abiding gun owners in Illinois have long felt victimized by the political stranglehold that Chicago and Cook County have had when it comes to the passage of some of the nation’s most restrictive firearms laws. Now, the state’s leading gun-rights organization and county boards have combined forces to send a strong message that “down-staters” are tired of being treated like they don’t matter.Map

    In recent months, county boards in 29 of Illinois’ 102 counties have signed on to resolutions declaring opposition to the passage of any new statewide gun control laws. Organizers of the movement hope to eventually have at least 70 central and southern Illinois counties on board.

    Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, helped initiate the involvement of county boards last year after legislation was introduced to ban so-called assault weapons and place limits on private handgun sales.

    “Lawmakers are trying to treat the whole state for a problem they don’t realize isn’t a statewide issue,” Pearson recently told the (Springfield) State Journal-Register. “We don’t have the same problems in central and southern Illinois that they do in Cook County.”

    In addition to Pearson, Mark Mountain of the Pike County board and Jim Logsdon of Brown County are spearheading the effort downstate.

    If Pike County sounds familiar to some of you outside Illinois, that’s because it has become quite famous in recent years for growing big whitetail deer—and hunting has become one of the region’s most important commodities. In fact, the leasing of rural land for deer hunting is worth around $5 million annually to Pike County.

    Those in the pro-gun control camp contend that the resolutions are non-binding proclamations with no legal power and will have no impact on the passage of new firearms restrictions.

    But initiative supporters say the movement exhibits the fundamental difference between rural and urban values and could ultimately unite downstate lawmakers.

    “When a county signs on, saying, ‘We don’t agree, we don’t want any more legislation, back off,’ it sends a message to representatives and senators,” Mountain said.

    Sounds like a worthy effort to me.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 27, 2007

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-2


    “I can’t think of anything that brings me closer to tears than when my old dog--completely exhausted after full and hard day in the field--limps away from her nice spot in front of the fire and comes over to where I’m sitting and puts her head in my lap, a paw over my knee and closes her eyes and goes back to sleep. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve that kind of friend, but I’m humble enough not to ask any questions”
    -Gene Hill
    “The Dog Man”
    Tears and Laughter, 1981

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 23, 2007

    PA Will Consider Alternatives To PICS Shutdown-4


    Following sharp criticism from hunters, retailers and lawmakers, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said today he would consider alternatives to the planned Sept. 2-Sept. 6 shutdown of the state’s computerized criminal background check system to avoid interrupting firearms sales at the start of the state’s dove hunting season.Dovehunt

    In a mid-morning press conference, Rendell said he would appoint a special advisory committee to look into whether the dates of the planned system shutdown for maintenance and upgrades to the state police computer system can be changed.

    The Allentown Morning Call reports this afternoon that the seven-member committee will be made up of legislative and administrative appointees, representatives from the sportsmen’s community and law enforcement. It is scheduled to meet Monday and return a report by Tuesday.

    As I reported here Tuesday, firearms dealers across the Keystone State were going ballistic over the timing of the shutdown, claiming they were not notified far enough in advance. Harrisburg mega-retailer Bass Pro Shops’ largest sale of the year--the Fall Hunting Classic—was scheduled for Sept. 1-9 offering special one-day-only sales on specific guns.

    The governor all but admitted today that scheduling the upgrades during the first week of September was a mistake.

    “Someone should have known it was the start of dove season,” Rendell said.

    Right you are, Mr. Governor.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 23, 2007

    Far Flung Fish?-1


    How did a tiny electronic tracking device find its way from the inside of a Columbia River steelhead to the stomach of a flightless bird off the coast of New Zealand? It’s a question that has experts scratching their heads and doing what scientists do best—making educated guesses.Shearwater

    The Seattle Times reports that in April, bird researcher Dale Whaitiri was on an island off southern New Zealand examining the stomach contents of a baby sooty shearwater—a native seabird--when a tracking device the size of a grain of rice spilled from the bird’s gullet.

    It was later discovered that the tag was originally placed in a juvenile steelhead in 2005 above the Bonneville Dam in the Pacific Northwest.

    But the sooty shearwater chick examined by the researcher was too young to fly—let alone eat fish. Further, when steelhead enter the Pacific, they head north, not south. And the tags don’t float, they sink.

    So how did the tag end up inside a flightless bird on the other side of the world, some 7,700 miles from where it originated?

    “The odds are almost impossible to fathom,” Jen Zamon, a seabird expert for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center told the Times’ environmental reporter after learning of the discovery.

    It seems that gull-like shearwaters are known to frequent the mouth of the Columbia during the summer months, returning to the southern hemisphere around October.

    The answer to the mystery, at least to Zamon, is elementary. A sooty shearwater ate the steelhead on the Columbia, carried the indigestible tag in its stomach for two years, and then regurgitated it into its chick’s open beak.

    But, she admits, that’s only speculation.

    “Who knows?” she said.

    Only a regurgitating sooty shearwater could answer that question.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 22, 2007

    Sticker Shock For Shooters-8


    No matter what type of firearm you’re planning to take afield this fall, be prepared for sticker shock when you hit your favorite sporting goods store in coming weeks.

    That’s because the price of nearly all ammo—be it rimfire, centerfire or shotgun—is being raised across the board by most producers.D1001remingtonsportingcartridgespos

    The ammunition business is feeling a major pinch because of the rising price of global commodities such as copper, brass, nickel, steel and most notably, lead.

    The price increases began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, then were compounded by a double whammy: the war in Iraq, which pushed up overall demand, and growing industrial powers such as China, which bid up the cost of certain metal and raw materials.

    Some rounds, such as .223 cal., used in the M-16 and AR-15, have become increasingly difficult to find in the civilian market. Supplies of .308 cartridges also have tightened.

    Many rifle cartridges currently cost 10 percent more than a year ago--while others have more than doubled in price.

    A major player in the industry—Remington—had an 8 percent jump in ammo pricing on June 1. Just weeks ago, it announced an additional 10 to 15 percent price increase (dependent on ammunition type), effective October 1.

    And brace yourself, because there’s more to come. In a letter to dealers, Remington vice president of marketing and sales, John Dwyer, wrote, “Based on our current assessment of metals pricing for the remainder of 2007, we anticipate an additional 12-percent across-the-board increase on all ammunition and components effective January 1, 2008.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 21, 2007

    PA Gun Dealers Fuming Over System Shutdown-7


    A planned 5-day shutdown of Pennsylvania’s instant checking system for firearms purchases in early September has firearms dealers and other major retailers boiling mad.

    Earlier this month, state police notified licensed gun dealers of their intent to perform necessary computer upgrades to the checking system, which would require shutting it down from 6 p.m. Sept. 2 to noon Sept. 6.

    The dates, which happen to include the Labor Day holiday, also coincide with the opening days of Pennsylvania’s dove hunting season.Dove

    While the state police argue that the shutdown is little more than a necessary inconvenience, some legislative leaders and retailers say the timing just stinks.

    For example, the Allentown Morning Call reports today that Harrisburg mega-store Bass Pro Shops’ largest sale of the year--the Fall Hunting Classic—is scheduled for Sept. 1-9. Its sales flier includes dozens of gun-related specials, including one for Sept. 6 only offering an $850 pistol for $499.

    “(The system shutdown) is not stopping anyone from purchasing a gun, it’s that they’re going to wait a few extra days to get that gun,” said state police spokeswoman Trooper Linette Quinn. “It’s not that we’re trying to hurt anybody’s sales or anything--it’s an update to the system. It’s only going to make it better.”

    But leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus are countering that gun dealers did not get enough advance notice about the system maintenance and they’re asking Gov. Ed Rendell to step in and do something to remedy the situation.

    “Implementing this shutdown at the beginning of hunting seems ill-advised, and belies a lack of communication and consultation with sportsmen groups and businesses, the very people this shutdown will impact,” wrote Reps. Marc Gergely, (D) Allegheny, and Keith Gillespie, (R) York.

    Here at the News Hound, we’re advising sportsmen in the Keystone State to keep an eye on this one. We have a feeling that it’s not over yet—especially when you consider that lots of dollars (consumer and tax) and mega-retailers are involved.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 21, 2007

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-0


    “During the 35 years I have been consorting with old largemouth in various segments of the Deep South, where he attains maximum dumbness and avoirdupois, I have known him to swallow the following items: a disabled young woodchuck, a swamp rat, a wounded gray squirrel, a three-foot cottonmouth moccasin, two half-drowned kittens, a small alligator, a pair of goslings, and three summer ducklings swimming with their mother across a misty cove at sunrise. And sundry other denizens not printed on the menu.”
    -Havilah Babcock
    “How Not to Catch Bass”
    Field and Stream, 1960

    [ Read Full Post ]
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