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  • August 20, 2007

    Bad Timing-2

    by

    An Outdoor News Hound “DOH!” moment occurred at a Florida tow truck business on Friday, when a man walked in and asked if anyone wanted to buy some alligator meat and legs. Unfortunately, for the potential purveyor of amphibious reptile parts, one of the men who overheard his sales pitch was an off-duty Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officer.

    Possession of an alligator without a permit is a misdemeanor in Florida, as is the unlicensed sale of meat or parts.
    Gator

    When Tyler Davidson walked into the Sneads, Fla. garage and towing business last week and asked a group of men who were chewing the fat there if anyone wanted to buy some alligator legs, it suddenly turned real quiet.

    “Why don’t you ask the game warden?” one of the men said to the 21-year-old, “He’s sittin’ right here.”

    According to my friend Stan Kirkland, an outdoor writer and public relations director for the FWC, officer Ben Johnson was off duty and dressed in civilian clothes.

    Before Johnson could say anything, the young man hightailed it to his pickup truck and fled the scene. The officer used his cell phone to call for backup and followed Davidson using his personal vehicle.

    “It was kind of a tense situation for a few minutes, because Johnson had seen a .45 (cal. handgun) tucked in the man’s waistband,” Kirkland said.

    But things went from bad to worse for Davidson, as his attempt to elude the officer was ended abruptly by a flat tire. Fortunately, Johnson apprehended him without incident.

    Davidson was charged with possession of an illegal alligator, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

    Kirkland offered some words of advice to anyone else who might consider the illegal sale of gator parts, especially now that the 2007 Florida hunting season is in full swing.

    “There’s an old saying that you should always know your audience,” he said.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 16, 2007

    Hunters Concerned About Pot-Shots-3

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    As hunters begin to head to the backcountry for early season scouting in preparation for approaching hunting seasons, there’s a rising concern among sportsmen about possible confrontations with armed and ruthless marijuana growers on public lands.

    I blogged about the situation last month and several readers offered some disturbing personal accounts of their own experiences with clandestine drug operations in the hunting woods.
    Pot

    An article in today’s Medford (Ore.) Mail-Tribune notes that state and federal authorities in southern Oregon are hitting the mountain country especially hard right now, specifically in an effort to clear the area of bad guys before lots of hunters head out this fall.

    Is that scary sign of the times, or what?

    Just last week, about 100 officers from multiple agencies raided pot-growing operations in the Applegate Valley, an area popular with blacktail deer hunters. They arrested four armed caretakers and hauled out 42,000 plants.

    “As a group of agencies, we’re trying real hard to make the area safe before the major hunting seasons begin,” said Capt. Lee Fox, a U.S. Forest Service law-enforcement officer.

    And if you don’t think these operations pose any real danger to hunters, here’s a little item that might change your mind. A federal Drug Enforcement Administration affidavit issued following last week’s Oregon raid stated that not only were the gardens tended and guarded by well-armed men thought to belong to a Mexican drug cartel, one of those arrested told federal investigators that he was being paid $1,500 a day to work there.

    For that kind of money, you can bet they will likely shoot before they politely ask if you’ve been seeing any deer.

    It got hunter Ron Sherva’s attention.

    Sherva told the Mail-Tribune that he and his fellow members of the Oregon Hunters Association often talk about what to do if they stumble upon a garden while in the field.

    “The best thing to do is turn around and leave—if they give you the chance,” Sherva said, “You hear guys talk about standing there and shooting it out with them, but that’s just stupid.”

    Be careful out there, guys.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 15, 2007

    Shell-Shocked-1

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    Here at the Outdoor News Hound, we believe the turtle has been unfairly characterized as being one of nature’s slowest creatures. We offer as evidence a man who was fishing on the Tuscarawas River in northern Ohio the other night…

    Police in Massillon, Ohio who responded to a report of a gunshot on the river around midnight Friday determined there’d been some sort of altercation between a fisherman and a large snapping turtle.Snapper_2

    And a 9mm handgun was also involved.

    “So these two knuckleheads have this turtle hooked and I think they were planning to eat it,” Sgt. J.J. DiLoreto told the Massillon Independent newspaper. “Apparently he was taking a shot at the turtle and his foot got in the way.”

    Yes, he shot himself in the foot--literally and figuratively--by all indications.

    “I don’t know how bad his foot is, but I do know they took him to a hospital by private vehicle right away,” said the cop. “At that close range and the bullet moving that fast, it had to have hurt like heck.”

    Heck? We'll bet it hurt worse than that.

    The newspaper report failed to identify the angler (and decidedly crummy marksman), but if you know any river fishermen around the Akron area who came to work this week sporting a bad limp, you might want to ask if they’ve hooked any snapping turtles lately.

    As for the turtle, it apparently fled the scene—as fast as it could.

    “I can’t say with a hundred percent certainty, but I think the turtle got away,” said DiLoreto.

    So we ask you, kind News Hounders, which creature in this tale is slowest?

    We rest our case.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 14, 2007

    Nevada Agency Inundated With Bear Reports-1

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    Is there no end to the crazy bear stories this summer? As a result of the devastating forest fires earlier this year affecting the Lake Tahoe area and other parts of Nevada, residents there are experiencing historic levels of bruin problems.Uprightbear

    In fact, the Nevada Department of Wildlife is telling residents not to bother reporting simple bear sightings any more, because their agency is inundated with calls.

    “Seeing a bear tipping over garbage cans and drinking out of a horse tank is not an imminent threat,” staff biologist Carl Lackey told the Nevada Appeal. “I simply cannot respond to these lower priority calls. In fact, do not even call us if it is simply an issue of bears and trash. Be responsible and use bear-resistant containers and the bear will disappear.”

    This week a woman who lives in the Kingsbury Grade area of Stateline, NV who awoke to sounds in her kitchen and surmised her husband was having a midnight snack discovered a very large bear standing at her refrigerator door, holding a carton of orange juice in its paws.

    “I couldn’t believe how big he was,” said Shinil Quilty. “He stood there and looked at me like he didn’t care.”

    When she located her husband, Brian, Mrs. Quilty explained there was a bear in their kitchen, and it was raiding their icebox.

    Thanks to the incessant yipping generated by the Quilty’s Jack Russell terrier and toothless old Yorkie, the bear finally decided to leave and slowly lumbered out of the house.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 13, 2007

    Ready, Aim, Fire!-2

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    When an unarmed Montana man was confronted by a large black bear trying to claw its way into his camper vent last week, he had to think fast. Grabbing a can of aerosol bug spray and a lighter, he created an improvised—but quite effective—flame-thrower, blasting the bruin in the face and causing it to flee.

    Bruce Hemphill and his wife, Pat, were camping just north of Butte, Montana when their camper began shaking violently about 3 a.m. Sunday morning.Black_bear_adult

    “It felt like an earthquake or something, everything was shaking,” Hemphill told the Helena Independent-Record.

    Hemphill later surmised the big bruin had climbed up the hood of his truck onto the camper top. There, he could see the bear’s face peering through the camper’s vent, which he’d left open before retiring.

    When he tried to close the vent, the bear bent open the cover and jabbed its paw through the screen.

    “It was probably the most scared I’ve ever been in my life,” Hemphill said.

    That’s when the quick-thinking camper decided fight fire with, uh, fire. Remembering a prank most of us tried a time or two in our youth, Hemphill used the old aerosol-spray-and-lighter trick to get the bear’s attention.

    And it worked like a champ.

    Hemphill and his wife spent the remainder of the night inside the cab of his truck. He said he’s learned his lesson and won’t resort to a flame-thrower if he’s ever in another battle with a bear.

    “It was the first time I ever went camping without my gun,” he said. “I’ll never do that again.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 13, 2007

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-1

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    "In my one-room schoolhouse a single teacher taught seven grades—and contrary to many of today’s schools, our teacher not only assumed each of the boys, and some of the girls, carried a knife, she counted on it."
    -Gene Hill
    "Pocketknives"
    Sports Afield, 1971

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 10, 2007

    Fanged by Dead Head-0

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    If you believe the old adage that the only good snake is a dead snake, then a Washington man has some fang marks and a hospital bill to show you.Snake

    Danny Anderson learned the hard way this week that rattlesnakes—even decapitated ones—deserve respect and should never be taken lightly.

    According to wire reports, the 53-year-old resident of Prosser, Washington felt reasonably certain he’d dispatched a 5-foot rattler Monday evening after he and his son pinned the snake to the ground with an irrigation pipe, then totally severed its head from its body using a shovel.

    “When I reached down to pick up the head, it raised around and did a backflip almost, and bit my finger,” Anderson said. “I had to shake my hand real hard to get it to let loose.”

    The snake’s head landed in the back of Anderson’s pickup. And Anderson landed in the hospital, where he remained until Wednesday.

    When he arrived at the local clinic some 10 minutes after the bite, Anderson’s tongue was already showing signs of swelling, indicating that he’d received a good dose of venom from the body-less snake.

    Mike Livingston, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, said he’d never heard of anyone bitten by a decapitated snake before, but assumed (as we do) that there was enough life (and meanness) left in the critter to bite the hand that killed it.

    In retrospect, Anderson said he’ll likely kill more rattlers in the future, but he’ll use his shovel to bury them on the spot.

    “It still gives me the creeps to think that son-of-a-gun could do that,” he said.

    Creeps, indeed.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 9, 2007

    Deer Contraceptive No Magic Bullet—Or Arrow-1

    by

    Here’s some news that’s sure to depress the anti-hunting crowd. In a pair of recently concluded studies, a new drug being touted by animal rights organizations as a one-shot contraceptive that could prevent whitetail does from being bred for up to four years fell far short of expectations.

    A just-completed 2-year study conducted on a captive deer herd in New Jersey found that the immuno-contraceptive GonaCon was only 70 percent effective one year after the animals were vaccinated. The effectiveness dropped to 55 percent for the second year.Deerdoe

    Connecticut biologist Anthony DiNicola presided over the study of 51 deer at the Giralda Farms corporate center in Madison, N.J. DiNicola’s name may sound familiar to some News Hound readers, as his company, White Buffalo, Inc., has become well known for supplying sharpshooters to urban municipalities that want to control problematic deer populations.

    Today, a growing number of city councils and county commissions faced with burgeoning deer herds contract White Buffalo riflemen to cull whitetails—often at $200 a head or more—instead of allowing local, experienced hunters to purchase permits for the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, some city leaders are disturbed by the idea of seeing camouflage-wearing bowhunters in their suburban woodlots, despite the success of dozens of regulated bowhunts conducted by archery clubs and volunteer hunters in some of the most populated areas of the country.

    The New Jersey test results were strikingly similar to those found in a federal study performed at a fenced military facility near Silver Springs, Maryland. In that study, 88 percent of the does remained infertile for the first year, but the vaccine’s effectiveness plummeted to 47 percent the second year.

    In a story appearing in today’s Newark Star-Ledger, DiNicola admitted that not only is immuno-contraception for deer currently impractical, but it’s incredibly expensive when compared to alternatives like hunting.

    DiNicola’s company now charges up to $300 to dart a single deer with a contraceptive cocktail. He estimated that to locate, mark and inoculate free-ranging deer on an annual basis would cost municipalities up to $1,000 per animal.

    That sounds like the perfect sales pitch for organized urban bowhunts to me.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 8, 2007

    Spin City-0

    by

    The Arkansas Fish and Game Commission has reversed its ban on mechanized, spinning-wing duck decoys because none of the 14 other states located along the Mississippi flyway decided to follow their lead.

    In September 2004, the commission voted to restrict the use of electronic duck decoys in the state beginning with the 2005-06 season, after Minnesota decided to limit the devices to the early part of its duck-hunting season.

    After several brands and models of the mechanical decoys—commonly referred to as Robo Ducks--first hit the market several years ago, they faced the scrutiny of waterfowlers and game managers alike. Some critics claimed the decoys were too effective at attracting ducks and offered users an unfair advantage.Rotoduck

    Some game managers also questioned whether widespread use of the devices could disrupt the natural movement of waterfowl.

    In the wake of the controversy, the states of Oregon and Washington banned spinning-wing decoys outright. California restricted their use in the early season, while Pennsylvania already had laws on the books restricting all types of electronic game attractants.

    Arkansas, arguably one of the most popular duck-hunting states in the country, has now returned to the flyway status quo on the Robo Duck issue.

    Freddie Black, vice chairman for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, told outdoor writer Bryan Hendricks it is unfair to require Arkansas duck hunters to make further sacrifices when other member states of the Mississippi Flyway Council refuse to address the effects that spinning wing decoys might have on duck migration patterns and harvest patterns.

    “What effect mechanical decoys have on migration patterns of ducks in the flyway is something to be concerned about,” Black said. “It’s something to pay attention to and for us to continue to work on, but I don’t think there’s any need to penalize our hunters any further.”

    The council agreed to request the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to study the continental effects of spinning wing decoy use on duck populations. One study—the Ackerman Report—indicates that kill rates increase with the use of spinning-wing decoys, but no data has been collected on overall harvest impact.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 8, 2007

    Gas Pains?-1

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    An online survey conducted recently by Southwick Associates, a research firm specializing in economic issues relating to hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation, indicates that near-record high fuel prices might adversely impact the number of days hunters and anglers spend outdoors in coming months.Gaspump

    A poll of 2,481 sportsmen and women conducted on the AnglerSurvey.com and HunterSurvey.com Web sites in June, 2007 found more than half of all anglers and 40 percent of hunters admitting that rising gas prices will likely cause them to reduce their outdoor activities or reduce their travel distance and boat use.

    Further, 35.5 percent of anglers and 41.6 of hunters said that high gas prices would have no effect on their hunting and fishing activities.

    “We’ve seen in past research that rising gasoline prices depress fishing license sales in many areas, but the recent increases in fuel prices are unprecedented,” said Southwick Associates’ Rob Southwick. “Many anglers and hunters gradually accept higher prices and they will return and participate as they have before. However, until the effects of higher fuel prices can be moderated via higher efficiency engines and other solutions, we may loose some hunters and anglers completely.”

    What about our News Hound faithful? Are you cutting back on travel this year due to the high cost of fuel?

    [ Read Full Post ]
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