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  • September 28, 2007

    East Texas Gar Ropin’-2


    When catfish angler Chockie Nolen realized that the biggest alligator gar he’d ever seen had taken his chicken liver bait offering and was proving difficult to land, he did what any self-respecting Texas cowboy would do—he lassoed the 100-pound critter and bulldogged it into his boat.

    “I was fishing with my nephew, Dale Nolen, and his wife Donna, on the Neches River just below the Town Bluff dam,” said the 77-year-old, who runs a barbeque joint with his wife in Silsbee, Texas. “We mostly fish for catfish, but on that particular day we hooked a huge gar, the biggest one I’ve ever seen.”Cowboy

    It turns out that hooking the sharp-toothed monster was the easy part. Getting it into the boat required some unique angling skills—and a little bit of Texas ropin’.

    At first the trio of anglers figured Chockie had hooked a big blue catfish, not an uncommon catch on that part of the Neches.

    “He played it and played it,” Donna told the Beaumont Enterprise. “We were hoping for a big catfish. About 30 to 45 minutes later I finally saw it come up about four feet behind the boat. I let him know he was fighting a big gar. Chock finally played him down. We cut the rope from the anchor so we could lasso him.”

    It seems that Chockie, who once team-roped steers in Southeast Texas, hadn’t lost his touch.

    “We got the anchor rope looped around the head and pulled him in the boat,” the old cowboy said. “He just about turned the boat over.”

    It’s our guess that a 16-foot jonboat holding three anglers, fishing gear and a crazed, thrashing 6-foot, 97-pound gator gar made for an interesting ride back to the boat ramp.

    But they made it, without incident.

    And the gar?

    “They cleaned him and made gar balls,” Chockie said. “I’ve got the head. It’s wild looking with all those big teeth. We’re going to have it mounted and hang it on the wall at (my) West Texas Bar-B-Q.”

    (Note to Newshound readers: I’ll be on the road and unplugged for a few days. If all goes as planned, my blog will resume by Wednesday, Oct. 3.)

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 27, 2007

    Candidates Eye Sportsmen’s Clout, Votes-4


    Despite the fact that not a single U.S. Presidential primary has taken place and the 2008 general election looms more than 13 months away, candidates have targeted sportsmen and shooting enthusiasts as a constituency critically important to their campaigns.

    Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, candidate for the Republican nomination, announced in April 2007 that he was a lifelong hunter. Just days after his statement, however, it was revealed that the presidential hopeful had never held a hunting license in any of the four states where he has resided.Dovehunt

    Last week’s National Rifle Association “Celebration of American Values" convention held in Washington, DC included presentations (live or video) from Republican candidates John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Fred Thompson and Democrat Bill Richardson.

    Richardson, by the way, stepped forward in June to announce publicly that he has hunted turkey, deer, elk and oryx. As governor of New Mexico, he also has signed into law a concealed carry measure.

    So, why have presidential candidates seemingly turned a corner in recent years and realized that sportsmen—and their issues—are important?

    A new report released this Tuesday by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation sheds some light on the political phenomenon.

    “Hunting and Fishing: Bright Stars of the American Economy--A Force as Big as All Outdoors,” uses the data gleaned from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation and compares hunters’ and anglers’ impact on the economy with other industries and constituencies.

    The report reveals that the 35 million or so who hunt and fish spend more than $76 billion annually to enjoy their pursuits. If they were a commercial enterprise, such capital would place sportsmen on Fortune 500’s Top 20 list.

    “While hunting and fishing are generally thought of as just outdoor traditions, they actually comprise an outdoor nation--both in terms of economic impact, and in turning out the vote on Election Day,” said CSF President, Jeff Crane.

    What that means to presidential, gubernatorial and congressional candidates is that America’s sportsmen and women constitute one of the country’s most prominent and influential demographic groups.

    Further, according to the data, nearly 8 in 10 hunters, anglers and shooting enthusiasts say they always vote in U.S. Presidential elections—and that outdoor and Second Amendment issues are important in their voting choices.

    Additionally, in key presidential “swing” states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, fully 20 percent of the total state populations hold a hunting or fishing license, or both.

    So, what does it all mean?

    Well, while we thankfully will not be subjected to John Kerry in another lame goose-hunting photo op during the next election cycle, we can probably expect to see at least a few of presidential hopefuls in duck blinds and wearing camo before November 2008.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 26, 2007

    Daytona Beach Shark Reports Draw Angler-2


    Some recent shark activity off a popular central Florida public beach may be keeping some cautious surfers and swimmers on dry land, but the news served as pure enticement for angler Dan Ficocello.

    As a result, anyone who was around Flagler Beach early Sunday morning may have witnessed Finocello pull a 12-foot, 4-inch, 543-pound great hammerhead shark onto a beach where sunbathers normally frolic during the daytime.Hammer

    The Daytona Beach Journal reports that the 28-year-old shark angler from Bunnell, Fla. paddled his kayak about 250 yards offshore late Saturday night and dropped his bait—a barracuda head. Then, fishing from shore only 15 minutes after placing his baited line, the hit came, followed by an incredible run that lasted at least a quarter hour.

    With dawn approaching nearly three and half hours later, Finocello landed the massive shark, which was expired when it was pulled onto the beach.

    It took a dozen helpers to drag the hammerhead across the beach and load it onto a truck so the angler could haul it to the Flagler Beach Pier, where he photographed his catch.

    Last week, a Flagler Beach lifeguard said a surfer refused emergency treatment after receiving a shark bite “maybe the size of a quarter,” to his side.

    Two days later, the Daytona newspaper reported that a swimmer felt something like a punch that broke the skin on her leg as she swam in chest-deep water.

    As for Finocello, he says this weekend’s shark was the catch of a lifetime for him. Local news reports said it was the largest hammerhead ever caught by a beach angler in the region.

    “I fought it the whole time. I was hunkered down in one of those little fold-out beach chairs,” Ficocello said.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 25, 2007

    Blogs—And Dogs—Will Swallow Anything-4


    OK, the old Newshound hasn’t tracked down a good dog tale to post in awhile.

    A story currently making its way around the blogs tells of a Colorado family’s Labrador retriever that is no worse for the wear after swallowing—and subsequently regurgitating—a boy’s videogame remote control unit.Remote

    According to the circulating reports, the Becknell family from Loveland, Colorado, became concerned when their 3-year-old Lab began spitting up blood last week. An X-ray taken at a veterinarian’s office indicated an object located in the dog’s stomach.

    Depending on versions of the story, the vet administered (or did not) a medication to induce an outward movement of the Lab’s stomach contents, causing the animal to produce a Nintendo Wii remote control.

    “The vet started massaging the dog’s belly and it just came flying out of the dog,” said Marie Becknell. “I knew what it was right away by the color and shape of it. It was my son’s video game remote!”

    The dog was said to have recovered fully, while the remote control did not.

    But not so fast, bloggers.

    Brandon Lowrey, a reporter for the Loveland Reporter-Herald, was unable to confirm the story or track down a Becknell family in Loveland.

    He did, however, locate vets who said that the story was certainly a believable one.

    “Dogs’ll eat anything. It’s crazy,” said Loveland’s Dr. Sherry Schubert, who said she didn’t treat the dog in question. “We deal with it all the time.”

    Dr. Schubert went on to give the reporter a few examples: like a doll’s rubber hand, corks, toothpicks, rocks and diamond rings.

    I’m sure any dog owner—and particularly Lab owners—would certainly concur the story is indeed fathomable. In fact, my neighbor’s Lab recently needed surgery to remove a sealed package of cheese and crackers from its insides.

    How about it, Newshound readers? Any crazy canine consumption stories to share?

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 24, 2007

    Scents & Dollars-4


    A lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn. alleges that carbon-activated, odor-eliminating hunting clothing does not perform as advertised and that hunters have been defrauded by the company that produces and licenses it. Scentlok

    An article by outdoor writer Doug Smith in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that four Minnesota men have filed suit against Michigan-based ALS Enterprises Inc., the company that makes and markets Scent-Lok and ScentBlocker hunting clothing. Named as co-defendants are companies and retailers licensed to produce similar garments, including Gander Mountain, Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops and Browning.

    The suit alleges conspiracy and deception by the defendants.

    “Consumers have been duped into spending significant amounts of money on a product that does not work as represented,” the suit states.

    But according to the Star-Tribune article, Mike Andrews, vice president of marketing for ALS, defends the company’s products and says the suit is totally without merit.

    “We’ve done years of research...we have hundreds of testimonials from consumers over the years,” he said. “We know it works. And we’re excited about the opportunity to prove to the world once and for all how effective our product is.”

    If the plaintiffs get their wish, ALS may indeed be forced to prove just that.

    The suit was filed September 13 by four Minnesota hunters who purchased the ALS-licensed apparel--Mike Buetow of Shakopee, Theodore Carlson of Edina, Gary Richardson Jr. of St. Paul and Joe Rohrbach of Shakopee. Not surprisingly, attorneys say they will seek class-action status for the suit, alleging that “tens of thousands” of Minnesota hunters have been deceived by the defendants into buying millions of dollars of the clothing advertised as odor-eliminating.

    Questions and doubt surrounding the legitimacy and performance of scent-blocking hunting clothing have swirled around the hunting community since the apparel first hit the market in the mid-1990s.

    It was probably inevitable that sooner or later lawyers and courts would become involved in the controversy.

    Stay tuned on this one, Newshounders!

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 24, 2007

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-2


    “Give a man enough rope and it will still come out six inches too short. That is the nature of rope, if not the nature of man. In fact, the phrase ‘enough rope’ is deceptive, because there is no such thing as enough rope. Ask anyone who has tried to tie a canoe securely to the top of his car.”

    -Patrick F. McManus
    “At Loose Ends”
    The Night The Bear Ate Goombaw, 1989

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 20, 2007

    The Newshound’s Lowlife of the Week-3


    The world has its share of n’er-do-wells and good-for-nothings. There are more than enough SOBs and scumbags to go around, thank you very much.

    Then there’s the 24-year-old bottom-feeder who stole a rod and reel from a dying angler at a Lake Ontario harbor just before dawn last Saturday morning.Skunkingrass

    The Toronto Star reports that a 68-year-old man was fishing around 5 a.m. at the Bronte Harbor when he collapsed.

    As another fisherman began to perform CPR on the unnamed and unconscious angler, authorities said witnesses watched as Jamie Harland Gross stepped forward in the pre-dawn light, reeled in the fallen man’s line and fled the scene with his fishing gear.

    An ambulance responded to the lakeside location and transported the man to a nearby hospital, where he was unfortunately pronounced dead.

    Upon receiving a description of the thief, police arrested the lowlife soon thereafter.

    Gross (an appropriate moniker if we ever heard one), a resident of Kitchener, Ont., was charged with theft and two counts of breach of probation. He has since been arraigned on the changes.

    So, with nose firmly grasped, I’d like to present Jamie Harland Gross the first-ever Outdoor News Hound Scum-Sucking Bottom-Feeder Award.

    Because he's earned it.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 20, 2007

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-0


    "In all this wide lovely country, in all these diverse climates, birds and animals live and more, find their enemies, love briefly and violently like the deer or long and tenderly like the quail, guard and cherish their young, and finally die, usually horribly, for Nature, lovely though she is, has no love for the awkward, the slow, the old and the weak."

    -Jack O’Connor
    Outdoor Life, 1960

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 18, 2007

    Gator Attacks S. Carolina Diver-3


    Bill Hedden, 59, remains in critical condition at the Medical University of South Carolina today after his arm was completely ripped from his body by a 12-foot alligator while he was snorkeling in Lake Moultrie.

    Though Hedden’s intact limb was retrieved from the belly of the reptile after it was shot and killed by authorities, family members reported yesterday that doctors were unable to reattach it. Alligator2l1709_468x330

    “The first order of Bill’s care has been to stop the bleeding and save his life. His surgeons and health care team are determining the next steps in his care at this time,” the family said in a statement Monday. “We are in good spirits and thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers.”

    Though the incident was admittedly grisly and tragic, Hedden turned out to be extremely fortunate, at least in one regard.

    Emergency medical personnel said the gator victim might have easily bled to death had he not stumbled ashore where a group of picnickers--five of whom were nurses—iced his wound and kept him conscious until paramedics arrived.

    One of the picnickers, Jerome Bien, said he followed Hedden’s blood trail to the lake, where he saw the gator with victim’s arm in its mouth.

    “His arm was clean off the socket.” Bien said.

    Wildlife officials said it could be the worst such attack ever recorded in South Carolina.

    “To my knowledge this is the worst case scenario we’ve had in the state,” said Sam Chappelear, wildlife regional coordinator for the S.C. Natural Resources Department.

    Note to Newshounders: The accompanying photo was found among others posted on a variety of blogs and Web sites, and was evidently taken by a person at the scene. I have no reason to question its authenticity.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • September 17, 2007

    Fishing as a High School Sport?-1


    The legacy of Ray Scott continues.

    On the heels of last year’s inaugural event, the second annual National Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship (NCBFC) is on tap for next week, Sept. 27 – 29 at Lake Lewisville near Dallas, Texas. There, 100 two-person teams representing 50 schools and universities from 20 states are expected to compete for the 2007 title.

    And in Illinois, the association that approves and oversees sports played at high schools across the state is considering sanctioning fishing competition among schools in The Land of Lincoln. B8d096b188214caaa3f0b45d47cada70

    According to an article in yesterday’s Chicago Sun Times by outdoors writer Dale Bowman, Illinois may be “within a year or two” of becoming the first state in the nation to sanction fishing as a high school sport, putting it on the same level as basketball, football and baseball.

    Could Ray Scott, the visionary entrepreneur who founded the Bass Angler Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) 40 years ago, ever imagined that his concept of catch and release, competitive fishing would have come so far in his lifetime?

    According to Bowman’s article, Illinois is just a couple of sponsors away from making the high school competition a reality.

    “We have reached out to some folks who can make this happen,” said Marty Hickman, executive director of the Illinois High School Association. “The ball is more in our court.”

    Ball? Make that the bass, Marty. And it’s in the lake, not on the court.

    IHSA officials are currently looking into rules and logistics, including how fishing boats would likely be operated by adults who could also serve as volunteer fishing coaches.

    Bowman noted that such an undertaking would take lots of manpower and assistance, but he accurately observed that when it comes to the outdoors, generally there is no shortage of enthusiastic volunteers willing to introduce youngsters to pursuits like fishing and hunting.

    Me? I’m still wondering where the pom-pom girls and cheerleaders would fit in. But the pep rallies would surely be a blast.

    “Hey hey! Ho ho! Old Bucketmouth has got to go!!”

    [ Read Full Post ]
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