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  • October 29, 2008

    Check Your Sights, Heart at the Range-0


    You gotta admire the folks from Wisconsin.
    They love their beer and brats, Packer football and deer hunting.

    And not necessarily in that order.

    Every year it seems
    we read about a Wisconsin deer hunter who succumbs to a fatal heart attack or
    another health-related malady while overexerting himself when dragging a fat,
    dead whitetail out of the woods.

    In an effort to
    reduce hunters’ health risks and potential heart attacks in the field this
    year, the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center near Madison has
    announced it is hosting a combination rifle sight-in program and heart
    screening at a single location.

    Yep, you can check your
    deer gun and ol’ ticker at the same time/same place. Only in Wisconsin, don’t
    you know?

    The Capital Times
    that from Saturday, Nov. 1 through Friday, Nov. 14, hunters can
    sight-in their deer rifles at the training facility located on Wisconsin 19
    between Interstate 39/90/94 and Waunakee. The sight-in costs $10 for the first
    gun and $5 for each additional firearm.

    On Saturday and Sunday
    only, hunters can receive a free health screening from Meriter Hospital staff
    from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The screenings will check cholesterol, blood
    pressure and body composition, and staff will also provide information on heart
    health and the warning signs leading up to potential heart problems.

    Then, after punching some
    paper on the range and getting up close and personal with a stethoscope,
    hunters can be assured they’ll be “good to do” on opening day.

    And about the beer and
    brats. Only in post-hunt moderation, OK?

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 29, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-0


    “3-pound rainbow trout, age 3, of Low-Water Bridge
    Hole, succumbed Saturday after mistaking a metal spinner for real food. Born in
    January of 1994 at the Reed Creek Hatchery in Pendleton County, Mrs. Rainbow
    was the daughter of the late Mr. And Mrs. Brood Trout. Surviving are thousands
    of siblings in such waters as Lost River, Thorn Creek and the North Fork of the
    South Branch of the Potomac. Mrs. Rainbow was best known for her ability to
    capture and ingest sculpin from between rocks at the bottom of the river. A
    memorial photograph of Mrs. Rainbow will be placed on the wall of the angler
    who caught her.”

    -Mike Sawyers
    “3-Pound Rainbow: An Obituary” 
    Native Queen, 1996

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 27, 2008

    Mystery Meat? It’s Venison!-0


    You’ve probably heard all the jokes about what happens in
    the kitchens at certain exotic cuisine restaurants and the innuendo about where
    the cooks obtain the meat used in their East Asian stir-fry dishes.

    Well, one
    oriental food establishment achieved the dubious distinction of living up to
    those tongue-in-cheek expectations last week when health inspectors found a
    whitetail deer carcass in the process of being skinned in the kitchen of the China King Restaurant in Hamburg, NY.


    A report
    in today’s Buffalo (NY) Times
    confirms that Erie County Health Department officials acting on a tip Friday found
    the dead deer inside the business, prompting them to immediately close the
    dining establishment until further notice.

    A hearing on the matter
    is scheduled for later this week.

    Officials investigating
    the health code violation said it was unknown whether the deer originated as
    roadkill or was killed by a hunter and brought to the China King for

    Here at the Outdoor
    Life Newshound, we can only assume the health inspectors didn’t think to check
    the hide for tire-tread marks.

    “From our standpoint,
    it doesn’t matter,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Anthony J. Billittier
    IV. “In general, you can’t have a dead animal in a food services

    told the Buffalo newspaper there was no reason to believe that the meat from
    the deer was going to be served at China King.

    were they going to do with the meat? I don’t think we’ll ever really know the
    answer to that,” said Billittier.

    A message on the
    restaurant’s answering machine Monday said it was closed because of “family

    There was no mention
    whether a “Gone Hunting” sign is currently posted at the establishment.

    That’s what we would’ve

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 22, 2008

    Bad Economy = More Hunters?-1


    You know what they say about dark clouds and silver linings.

    A new report that looks at trends in hunting license sales concludes that during tough times and economic downturns, more sportsmen may actually purchase hunting licenses and spend more time in the fields and forests than during a normal season.


    Could current economic hard times translate into good times for the hunting industry?

    Though he points out that the impact is not the same in all 50 states, well-known outdoor data-cruncher Mark Damian Duda says that when the housing market is hard hit by economic woes, it often translates into more hunters afield. That’s because such a large percentage of hunters and sportsmen are employed in the building and construction trades.

    Author and researcher Duda serves as the executive director of the Virginia-based Responsive Management, an internationally recognized public opinion and attitude survey research firm specializing in natural resource and outdoor recreation issues.

    Duda told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in a recent interview that nearly one-quarter, or 22 percent, of all active American hunters are employed in the construction, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and craftsman trades. No other profession or group of professions produces as many hunters.

    “There’s a very important statistical relationship between housing starts and license sales in states that saw an increase,” Duda said. “There’s something going on there.”

    Simply put, a slow housing market provides potential hunters more time to spend in the woods hunting.

    “Past surveys have shown that the number one reason people give for not hunting is lack of time, so if they’re not working, maybe they have that time,” Duda surmised.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 22, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-0


    "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

    - Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 21, 2008

    Worm Fiddling: Here’s the Science-1


    For generations, Southern practitioners of “worm-grunting” or “worm-fiddling” have coaxed large fishing worms above ground by making vibrating sounds rubbing steel bars on wooden stakes that are driven into the earth.

    Most never questioned why the system worked. They just were glad it did.


    New research reveals that for decades, backwoods worm-grunters have actually been tricking the lowly earthworm into thinking it was being chased by its primary predator, and that’s why they appear above the ground--almost like magic.

    After extensive research performed in northern Florida earlier this year, Vanderbilt University biological sciences professor Ken Catania concluded that the vibrations made by the “grunters” who rub steel bars over wood stakes actually mimic the sound produced by digging moles. In reaction, the worms quickly crawl from their burrows to escape their approaching natural predators.

    Practiced historically and passed down among generations of worm-gatherers in the South, the custom is colloquially referred to as “grunting” because the of sound made by rubbing metal on wood, or “fiddling,” in reference to the physical motion that resembles pulling a bow over the strings of a violin.

    Despite a lot of speculation, generations of worm grunters were never really certain exactly why the technique works—just that it brings the very large (and desirable) earthworm Dipocardia mississippiensis to the surface by the hundreds so they can be collected and used (or sold) as bait.


    Biologist Catania, whose specialty is studying moles, first thought that the explanation behind the phenomenon was contained in a theory put forth by geneticist Charles Darwin, who once said, “If the ground is beaten or otherwise made to tremble, worms will believe that they are pursued by a mole and leave their burrows.” To investigate Darwin’s concept, Catania traveled to the Florida Panhandle this spring and enlisted the help of noted worm grunters Gary and Audrey Revell.

    During his study, Catania actually recorded the vibrating sounds made by burrowing moles and compared them to the sounds produced by the worm grunters. Analyzing geophone recordings of the two types of sound, he found that the worm grunting vibrations were more uniform and concentrated near 80- hertz, whereas the moles produce a wider range of vibrations that peak at around 200-hertz.

    “The moles are quite noisy,” Catania said. “Often you can hear the sounds of a mole digging in the wild from a few feet away,” he said.

    Whether it’s called fiddling, grunting (or even snoring or charming), the technique is still used in certain parts of the southeastern U.S. today, though it probably reached its peak during the 1960’s in Florida’s Apalachicola National Forest. At that time, hundreds of commercial gatherers grunted for worms before the U.S. Forest Service began requiring permits for the previously unregulated practice out of concern that the industry was impacting the native worm population.

    “This is a fascinating biology story and a fascinating sociology story,” said Catania, whose extensive study and findings were recently published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE. “The biology story is the question of why the worms behave as they do and the sociology story is the fact that hundreds of people once made their livelihood by collecting worms in this unique fashion.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 15, 2008

    The Latest Bachelorette Party Trend: Girls & Guns-0


    For today’s modern women, bachelorette parties featuring male strippers and excessive alcohol consumption are so, uh, 1990s.

    One hot new trend for females saying farewell to the single life is a day at the shooting range, where they can blast away with everything from high-powered rifles to handguns, under the supervision and guidance of well-trained firearms experts.

    In Las Vegas, the city that’s unquestionably America’s wedding and party capital, gun shops and outdoor shooting ranges specifically cater to groups of men and women who are in town to have fun and do something wild. Many Vegas indoor ranges feature full-auto guns, ranging from military rifles to the classic Thompson submachine gun.


    And yes, there’s a wide selection of pink handguns and matching AR rifles for the ladies.

    “We get a slightly higher percentage of male than female customers, but not as much as you’d think,” said Chris Irwin, who, with his father offers full-auto shooting at The Gun Store & Indoor Range on Tropicana Ave.

    “The women are truly fascinated. We get bachelorette parties,” Irwin said in a recent Las Vegas’ Southwest View newspaper article. “(They) come in with pictures of their exes and ask if they can put them on the target, crazy things like that.”

    On the East Coast, Andy Massimilian, CEO of Manhattan Shooting Excursions, says shooting is becoming increasingly popular among women, and his company provides bachelorette shooting parties with all the frills. Previously only a bachelor-party provider, he now admits that about 40 percent of his current customers are female.

    “Our guests are in fashion design, medicine, technology, finance,” Massimilian told the New York Daily News.

    For bachelorettes, Massimilian recommends the one-day excursion to their outdoor shooting range in southern Connecticut, where both rifles and handguns are available (unlike in New York City, where only handguns are available at indoor ranges).

    Massimilian said Big Apple bachelorette revelers are picked up in Manhattan at 9:30 a.m., early enough for a full day of shooting. They receive lunch and custom souvenirs--including mugs and dog tags--and are returned to NYC around 6:00 p.m., where they are dropped off at the restaurant of their choice.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 14, 2008

    Trailcam Photos Lead to La. Cougar Confirmations-2


    The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries last week announced it has confirmed evidence of the second and third cougar sightings in the state in recent history, thanks to trailcam photos provided by hunters from two different parishes.


    Upon receiving the photos in September, LDWF Large Carnivore Program Manager Maria Davidson and LDWF Natural Heritage Zoologist Beau Gregory conducted on-site investigations and interviews that confirmed the authenticity of the photographs.

    “After inspecting all of the evidence, we have concluded with the best of our abilities that the photos are in fact real and of a cougar,” Davidson said.


    The first trailcam photo was taken in Natchitoches Parish on September 4, and the second was taken in Allen Parish on September 29. The sites are approximately 100 miles apart, leading to speculation that it could be the same cougar.

    “Given the time lapse between the two pictures it is certainly possible for a cougar to have traveled that distance,” Davidson said. “Both animals have the same general appearance of a young cougar, but it is impossible to determine conclusively if the animals are one and the same. It is also impossible to determine if the animals in the photographs are wild free-ranging mountain lions, or escaped captives.”

    The first documented cougar sighting in Louisiana in recent years was in 2002 by LDWF Program Manager Michael Carloss on Lake Fausse Point State Park. That sighting was later confirmed through DNA analysis from scat found at the site.

    LDWF biologists speculate that the recent occurrences of cougars in Louisiana may be young animals dispersing from existing populations in west Texas. An expanding population in west Texas can produce dispersing individual cougars that move into suitable habitat in Louisiana. Young males are known to disperse from their birthplace and travel hundreds of miles seeking their own territories.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 14, 2008

    Foxes Tangle Inside Tennessee SUV-0


    From the Outdoor Life Newshound “You Can’t Make This Up Department” comes the tale of Dover, Tenn. resident Tommy Fox, who was driving home late last Wednesday night when his SUV hit a red fox on the road.

    With the intent of removing the fox’s tail for a keepsake, Fox stopped his GMC Jimmy, tossed the carcass into the back seat and continued down the road.

    That’s when things got interesting.


    The 4-legged fox, evidently merely stunned from its run-in with Mr. Fox’s truck, suddenly sprang back to life--with an attitude to boot, according to Dale Grandstaff, a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife officer.

    As he tried to throw a blanket over the biting and snarling animal to keep it from climbing into the front seat with him, Fox lost control of his vehicle and it skidded across the centerline, flipping in a ditch and landing upside down.

    Officer Grandstaff told The Tennesseean newspaper that Mr. Tommy Fox received medical treatment at the accident scene and was not seriously injured.

    Mr. Red Fox was not as fortunate, however, and was pronounced dead—this time, positively.

    There’s no word on the current whereabouts of its tail.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • October 10, 2008

    West Virginia Leads Deer Hit Parade-2


    Not much for either treestands or groundblinds but you’d still like to put some venison in your freezer this year?

    Well, if you’re not into bows, rifles, slug-guns or muzzleloaders, your best chances of dispatching a whitetail by the motorized method can be found in the hills of West Virginia. There, one in every 45 drivers will become more closely acquainted with their insurance agents this year following deer encounters on the roadway.

    Data released this week from State Farm Insurance show that—for the second year in a row—West Virginians have the best chance among all U.S. motorists of hitting a deer with their vehicles. In fact, since last year it’s become even more likely for folks in The Mountain State to harvest a whitetail with their Buick or F-150.


    And the “Good Neighbor” folks from Bloomington, Illinois put the data into perspective for us, noting that the probability of a vehicle hitting a deer in West Virginia sometime in the next year is roughly two times greater than the possibility that you will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service in 2009 and 1,100 times greater than your chance of winning a state lottery grand prize if you buy one ticket per day for the next year.

    Which begs the question: Which would be more painful, a smashed front bumper or an IRS audit?

    Anyhow, for those drivers keeping score, whitetail-rich Michigan came in second in the deer hit parade again this year with 1 in 78 odds. It was followed by Pennsylvania (1 in 97), Iowa (1 in 105) and Arkansas (1 in 108).

    South Dakota is sixth. Wisconsin dropped from third to seventh. Montana, North Dakota and Virginia round out the top 10.

    See the complete state-by-state statistics here, and the color-coded U.S. "Deer Collision Likelihood" map.

    The least likely state to smack a deer on the highway remains Hawaii, where the chances are only one in 10,962.

    Oh yes, State Farm also reports that the average property damage cost of deer/vehicle accidents in the U.S. is $2,950, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.

    Be careful out there.

    [ Read Full Post ]
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