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  • June 30, 2008

    Bruin Baywatch: Biologist Saves Drowning Bear-0

    by

    Warning: Don’t try this on your next trip to the beach.

    Florida Fish and Wildlife biologist Adam Warwick took a leap of faith—literally—and saved a 375-pound black bear from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico last week when the bruin bolted into the water minutes after being shot with a tranquilizer dart.

    “It was a spur of the moment decision,” Warwick said. “I had a lot of adrenaline pumping when I saw the bear in the water.”

    The bear had reportedly been roaming a residential area on Alligator Point, a neighborhood of about 100 homes on a small peninsula about 40 miles south of Tallahassee.

    News_bearrescueapoint

    When FWC officials responded to reports of a bear in the area on Tuesday, they found it beneath a beachfront home—evidently trying to stay cool in the summer heat. Soon after they shot it with a tranquilizer dart, the big bruin attempted to escape by bolting across the beach and into the waters of the Gulf. (Florida Fish and Wildlife photo)

    Warwick said the bear was showing effects of the immobilizing drug, and he feared the animal would surely drown if he didn’t intervene.

    “At that point, I decided to go in after the bear,” Warwick said. “I wanted to keep him from swimming into deeper water.”

    At first Warwick said he splashed and made noise in an attempt to drive the bear back to the shore under its own power.

    “Instead, the clearly confused bear looked at me as if he was either going to go by, through or over me … and at times he even looked as if he was just going to climb on top of me to keep from drowning.”

    Warwick said the bear reared up on his hind legs as if to lunge at him, but instead fell straight backward and went under water.

    “At that point I knew I had to keep the bear from drowning,” he said. “After a few seconds the bear popped his head up out of the water and thrashed around a bit, but could obviously no longer keep his head above water.”

    Warwick kept one arm under the bear and the other gripping the back of its neck to keep its head above water as the two slowly floated back to shore. He said the bear’s natural buoyancy made his rescue job less difficult than one might think.

    “It’s a lot easier to drag a bear in 4-foot water than move him on dry land,” he said.

    Thanks to the gutsy efforts of one dedicated wildlife biologist, the bear survived his ordeal and was transported to Osceola National Forest near Lake City, where he was released—many miles from the pristine panhandle beaches and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Since news of Warwick's heroics have been made public, he's received requests for interviews from dozens of national and foreign electronic and print-media sources, according to Stan Kirkland, public information officer for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

    "His best quote so far has been to a St. Petersburg Times reporter who asked him whether he'd ever received any formal training as a lifeguard," Kirkland said. "He told her, 'Everything I've learned about lifeguarding has been from Baywatch!"

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 26, 2008

    Supreme Court: Gun Ownership an Individual Right-2

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    In a landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court has shot down the District of Columbia’s 32-year ban on handgun possession, effectively ruling that individual citizens have the right to firearms ownership.

    It was a ruling that has been widely anticipated by gun owners as well as advocacy groups on both sides of the issue.

    125dc_gun_ban

    Today's 5-4 decision marked the first time in history that the judicial branch has interpreted the depth of the Second Amendment’s scope and meaning. The amendment reads: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

    The District of Columbia’s handgun ban, passed by a 12-1 vote by the D.C. Council in 1976, is considered the most restrictive in the nation. It prohibits city residents--with few exceptions--from owning handguns and keeping them in their homes. Residents who own sporting firearms such as shotguns and rifles must keep them disassembled or fitted with trigger locks at all times.

    In 2003, police officer Dick Anthony Heller and five other residents challenged the D.C. gun ban in U.S. District Court. Though the case was dismissed, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel reversed that action in 2007.

    As a result, Heller vs. District of Columbia was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 18, 2008.

    In writing for the Court’s majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said the Constitution does not allow “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”

    Further, Justice Scalia wrote:

    “Logic demands that there be a link between the stated purpose and the command. We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.

    “The most natural reading of ‘keep arms’ in the Second Amendment is to have weapons. The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity.

    “Putting all of these textual elements together, we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

    Today’s ruling was hailed by industry leaders as a uniform and legally accepted definition of the Second Amendment.

    “The Heller decision reaffirms the wisdom of our founding fathers in creating the Bill of Rights to protect and preserve individual rights, the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Steve Sanetti president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Furthermore, this decision solidifies an historical fact, the commonsense understanding that governments have powers, not rights--rights are reserved exclusively for individuals.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 25, 2008

    Hooked, on Fishing-1

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    From a crankbait treble hook piercing an earlobe, to a number 3 worm hook buried deeply in the palm of your hand, most anglers have at least one recollection of the pain and suffering brought forth by a barbed hook embedded deeply in one’s flesh.

    But the tale of Cookeville, Tenn. angler Bob Hargis is guaranteed to make even the most hook-hardened angler wince in agony.

    A devoted fisherman and retired school administrator, Hargis loves to trout fish in the spring at Cane Creek Lake. And he had a dandy rainbow on his line the morning of April 16.

    As he reeled the feisty, 11-inch trout toward the shoreline, he kept his line tight with one hand, as he reached down with the other, preparing to release it.

    “I was just saying, ‘Boy, that’s a good fish,” he later told The Cookeville Citizen News.

    G4xthtthumb

    Just as he spoke those words of admiration, the fish made a flip, and the small treble hook shot off its lip and rocketed (you guessed it) straight into the open mouth of the lifelong educator, lodging in the back of his throat!

    When he tugged on the line and realized he was well-hooked, he cut the line, held onto it, concentrated on not swallowing--and walked over to another angler who was fishing nearby.

    “That was Joe Akers, and he and I had been acquainted before this because he goes down there to fish a lot the way I do,” Hargis told the newspaper. “Thank goodness he was there that day.”

    Akers drove Hargis straight to the Cookeville Hospital Emergency Room, where, after initial treatment, a pair of ear, nose and throat specialists were summoned to perform hook-removal surgery.

    “At the emergency room, they took me in immediately,” Hargis recalled. “They’d never seen anything like it. I was drawing a crowd, and I think there was a former student or two among them.”

    Hargis told the newspaper he was extremely grateful to his fishing acquaintance Akers, the ER personnel and to the surgeons for all their help and treatment.

    And he says he’ll never forget the day that he got hooked by a trout.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 23, 2008

    Dr. Grizzly Provides Cardio Checkup-1

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    Want to know if your heart’s in good shape but you’d rather forego the expensive and time-consuming visit to a cardio-pulmonary specialist?

    Well, you can always do what an Alaska fitness freak and triathlete did last week: Strap on a heart-rate monitor and then have an up-close-and-personal encounter with a charging grizzly bear.

    Healthcarecredibility

    Of course, he didn’t plan for it to happen like that.

    In all of his years as a forester in the Alaska bush, Rick Rogers had never been threatened by a grizzly bear—or any other wilderness critter, for that matter.

    But last week, while he was training in a heavily used Anchorage public park, the 50-year-old Rogers experienced his first run-in with a big Alaska brown bear. And worse yet, it was a large sow grizzly with two young cubs.

    Fortunately, the competitive skier was not injured in the attack.

    What makes Rogers’ encounter absolutely unique is the fact that he was able to obtain medical data from a human/bear experience—information that probably had never been collected before.

    You see, the hard-core runner was wearing a heart rate monitor, one like many athletes utilize for training purposes.

    Craig Medred, the fine outdoors editor for the Anchorage Daily News, caught up with Rogers and got the whole story.

    Rogers told the reporter that he thought his maximum possible heart rate was 180. After the incident, when he referred to the monitor, he realized he’d hit 193 during the peak of the encounter.

    “You hear about people dying of fright,” he said. “Well, this was scary, and I’ve the data to prove it. I think it aged me about five years.”

    So the Alaskan now knows that his heart is in top shape and can withstand just about anything he can muster.

    As for me, I think I’ll just keep visiting my friendly general practitioner, where that cute young nurse checks my pulse and makes my old ticker flutter—ever so slightly.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 23, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-0

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    “Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog. He can show you more affection with one flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.”

    -Gene Hill
    “The Dog Man”
    Tears and Laughter, 1981

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 17, 2008

    Florida Deputy Cuffs 8-Foot Gator-1

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    When Pasco County, Fla. Deputy Fredric Vetter was informed that a Florida Wildlife Commission trapper wasn’t immediately available to capture and remove a 7-foot, 8-inch alligator posing a definite safety hazard in a Port Richey subdivision early yesterday morning, he figured he’d have to deal with the big reptile himself.

    But that was OK with the deputy. He’s had plenty of experience with gators in South Florida.

    The unofficial gator trapper for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office even carries his own personal pole and cable device used to restrain the animals until their legs can be secured with ropes and their dangerous jaws wrapped with duct tape.

    Gator

    The Tampa Tribune reports that while two accompanying deputies used the poker stick to lasso the gator and held it, Vetter jumped on its back, worked his way up to the head, pulled it back, flipped it over and quickly taped its mouth.

    Then, in a maneuver that’s never made it on the “Cops” television show, he secured the 250-pound gator’s front legs utilizing his department handcuffs.

    They don’t teach that at the police academy!

    The three lawmen used rope to fully secure the big critter’s legs and to serve as a handle to help them heave the beast into the back seat of Vetter’s patrol car.

    Vetter then transported his catch to a pre-arranged location, where FWC trapper Kylan Fitzpatrick took custody of the culprit. (Watch the video of the exchange here.)

    The deputy told a local television reporter that he couldn’t recall transporting a detainee that filled his back seat as completely as did yesterday’s prisoner.

    “What happened was we had to roll the window down. The actual tail came out…through the window,” the deputy said.

    How did it compare with other passengers he’s chauffeured in the past?

    “I’ve had a lot worse people in my back seat than that alligator,” he admitted.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 16, 2008

    Uptick in California Hunting, Fishing a Hip New Trend?-0

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    While disappointing news about a national downturn in hunting and fishing participation has been the norm in recent years, a new report indicates that in 2006 and 2007 the sales of hunting and fishing licenses actually increased in the bellwether state of California.

    According to the state Department of Fish and Game, last year’s angler numbers were about 5 percent more than 2005 and hunter numbers were up 3 percent. In 2007, 307,270 hunting licenses and 2.1 million fishing licenses were sold.

    The uptick marked the first back-to-back years reflecting an increase in license sales since 1990.

    Greatseal_2

    Although the state does not track demographic information from license buyers that might indicate a trend, in an article appearing in The Sacramento Bee last week, several factors potentially contributing to the increase were cited; including more retiring baby boomers with the time to spend hunting and fishing, as well as an upward shift in female participants.

    Both reasons seem perfectly logical to The Outdoor Life Newshound and could potentially be reflective of any state in the country. However, a third rationale given by the capital city newspaper could not have seemed more, uh, Californian.

    Bee reporter Matt Weiser pointed to a new movement that encourages finding non-corporate and close-to-home sources of food to benefit the environment as a contributing reason for the increased interest in hunting and fishing in The Golden State.

    To which we query: Must everything that happens on the West Coast be attributed to some new hip trend?

    According to the article, the followers of the so-called “eat local” movement seek health benefits and a smaller “environmental footprint” by acquiring food raised in their own region.

    The trend, writes Weiser, was championed in the 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Among other subjects covered in the book, University of California/Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan writes about preparing a gourmet meal for friends using only foods he personally harvested--including a wild pig he shot in Sonoma County.

    “It’s a great way to remind yourself we are dependent on nature and not industry to feed ourselves,” says the author.

    Hmmm. America’s hunters, anglers and conservationists have been cutting-edge trendsetters for years, and we didn’t even know it!

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 12, 2008

    First Gobbler at 96? Praise The Lord!-1

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    Just how spry is Horseheads, New York’s Pearl Sutphen at 96 years old?

    As perhaps the most-endeared parishioner of Breesport Baptist Church, her trademark quick wit and smile are legendary. In fact, she often inspires younger church members with her faith and humor.

    Last year, at a mere 95 years of age, Pearl delighted members of the congregation when she took a turn on a waterslide at a church-sponsored retreat.

    This past January, during Church Sportsmen’s Day, event host and guide Joe Sears of Adventure Game Calls and Guide Service in Spencer, NY asked Pearl to help him demonstrate his turkey calls.

    Sears_3

    “She pretty much stole the show,” Sears told Ithaca Journal outdoor writer, Dave Henderson. “Before I knew it, she was saying, ‘Sure Joe, I’d love to go hunting with you!”

    So Sears made arrangements to take Pearl on her first-ever turkey hunt this May. (She said she’d hunted deer before, but couldn’t remember the last year.) He scouted an area in Tompkins County and set up a blind where he could place his frail but enthusiastic hunter. The first two attempts had disappointing results, with Pearl missing one shot at a gobbler.

    Then, early on the morning of May 30, as she shared a camouflaged blind with hunter Bob Burdick, Sears’ expert calling attracted the attention of several hens and gobblers.

    “At one point when the turkeys were walking away from us, I began to pray out loud,” Sears was quoted as saying in The Owego Pennysaver newspaper. “I believe I heard Pearl and Bob praying as well. With a couple more calls the turkeys headed back our way.”

    That’s when Sears instructed Pearl to shoot.

    “It was like the Lord answered our prayers,” he said, after the hunter born on December 9, 1911 connected on an 18-pound bird with her 20-gauge shotgun.

    What was her reaction?

    “Praise the Lord!” she exclaimed.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 11, 2008

    Illinois Finalizes Plans for High School Bass Fishing-0

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    While it may not rank up there with Ray Scott’s founding of the Bass Anglers Sportsmen Society (B.A.S.S.) and the first federation tournament in 1967, we believe that somewhere June 9, 2008 will be chronicled as a significant date in competitive bass-fishing history.

    On Monday, the Illinois High School Association Board, the body that oversees 35 intra-school sports and activities in the state, made it official: Illinois will be the first state in the country to have a sanctioned, state high school bass-fishing championship beginning in 2009.

    Ihsabanner_swoosh

    During its June 9 meeting, IHSA directors approved schedules and official rules for the new Bass Fishing State Series to be inaugurated during the 2008-09 school term. Sectionals in the series will be held on Friday of Week 42 (April 24, 2009), with the state final being held on Friday and Saturday of Week 44 (May 8-9, 2009).

    Sites for the events have not yet been determined.

    Schools will be allowed to enter up to two boats, with up to three students in each boat, although only two may fish at any one time. The competition will take place for up to eight hours per day, with provisions for inclement weather.

    Each boat will weigh five fish at the end of each day’s competition.

    The complete tournament terms and conditions can be viewed on the IHSA Website.

    “We are excited about the new bass fishing tournament,” said Marty Hickman, IHSA Executive Director and the driving force behind state-sanctioned high school bass fishing. “We believe it will be the first bass fishing tournament in the country sponsored by a state high school association. The tournament is a great way to reach out to high school students and give them an additional opportunity to compete in interscholastic activities.”

    Great, indeed, Marty. We predict that intramural high school fishing has enormous potential—not to mention that it encourages outdoor recreation, conservation, good sportsmanship and natural resource stewardship.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 9, 2008

    Stink Bait Stinker Fingered-1

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    After a rash of thefts near the end of last year’s fishing season, Gary Bollmeyer, owner of Gare’s Bait ‘n Tackle in downtown Correctionville, Iowa, placed a security camera inside his bait house, where customers often purchase nightcrawlers and chicken livers using the honor system when no one’s tending the store.

    A sign posted in the bait house not far from the Little Sioux River reads: “If you need bait and I’m not here, please help yourself in this little bait shed. Night crawlers are in the fridge. Chicken livers, chubs and shrimp are above in the freezer compartment.”

    European_nightcrawlers

    A notebook is provided for customers to enter their name and the bait they bought along with a container to place the money.

    “Please be honest,” is Bollmeyer’s only request.

    Despite his trust and plea for honesty, Bollmeyer’s camera nabbed its first culprit this year last week, when it taped someone swiping a $5 can of Sonny’s Super Sticky Channel Cat Bait.

    Yep, the stinker stole stink bait.

    The Sioux City Journal reports that the sticky-fingered stink bait pilferer has since come forward to confess and apologize for his grievous lack of good judgment. He even paid the shop owner $10—twice the value of the bait—for the trouble he caused.

    “He only took one can of bait, but he paid me for two,” said Bollmeyer, who declined to press charges. “I know he felt bad he did it.”

    The lesson? Honesty is the best policy.

    Even for fishermen.

    [ Read Full Post ]
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