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  • August 27, 2008

    ‘Robo Ducks’ Returning to Razorback State-0


    After a three-year ban on the use spinning-wing duck decoys, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission voted last week to allow the controversial devices for the upcoming waterfowl season.

    The commission banned the so-called “Robo Ducks” in 2004, expecting other states on the Mississippi Flyway to follow suit.

    That never happened.

    Outside of some provisional, early season restrictions for waterfowl hunters in Minnesota, hunters throughout the duck-rich region may now use the motorized decoys that proponents says can lure airborne ducks from as far as a mile away.


    Many hunters and wildlife biologists argue that the spinning-wing contraptions are unethical and especially effective on vulnerable young ducks migrating south for the first time.

    Seasoned waterfowlers also contend that once ducks have seen the decoys, heard the gunshots that accompany them and become educated, they avoid them altogether. Like, by the time they reach the flooded rice fields and hardwoods swamps of Arkansas.

    Whatever the case, there seems to be no middle ground in the debate over use of the multiple styles and brands of spinning-wing decoys—especially in The Razorback State.

    Bryan Brasher, the outdoors scribe for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, wrote in this weekend’s column that there aren’t any fence sitters on the “Robo Duck” issue down in the Mississippi Delta country.

    “I’ve heard the words ‘spinning wings’ so much during the past month they’re tattooed on the cerebral cortex of my brain,” Brasher wrote. “Right now, all I know is that most people I’ve talked to have an opinion on spinning wings--they either love them or they hate them and all they spin for.”

    In casting his lone dissenting vote last week, Arkansas Commissioner Brett Morgan said most of his constituents told him they wanted to maintain the decoy restrictions.

    “I can’t support something that we know helps kill juvenile ducks,” Morgan said. “This is an issue that we (commissioners) raised--not the public. The majority of e-mails and phone calls that I’ve received support keeping the ban in place.”

    But George Dunklin, chairman of the Arkansas Commission’s waterfowl committee, said data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that motorized decoy use creates “no demonstrable impacts on either overall harvest rates or population levels.”

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 25, 2008

    Microchips Finger Antler, Cactus Thieves-1


    Thanks to modern technology, the long arm of the law is reaching farther than ever before—even when tracking down and apprehending outdoor outlaws.

    Microchip technology is becoming increasingly popular among many pet fanciers—including a growing legion of hunters who own sporting dogs—as a method of locating and positively identifying canines that have gone missing.

    In addition, microchips are replacing branding irons in many parts of the West, where free-ranging cattle still roam large expanses of private and public lands.


    Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department have recently started inserting tiny microchips into large and highly desirable shed antlers located inside the National Elk Refuge near Jackson Hole, Wyo. to catch those ne’er-do-wells who enter the compound illegally for the sole purpose of antler poaching.

    Now, the folks charged with protecting the stately 100-year-old giant cacti that grow only in parts of Arizona’s Sonoran desert are planning to insert electronic tracking devices the size of a rice grain into saguaros to deter an increasing number of cactus thieves who target the unique—and sensitive—succulent.

    Officials with Saguaro National Park near Tucson began to look into using the chips after 17 medium-sized saguaros were stolen in January 2007, the second large theft in recent years, according to The Arizona Republic.

    The chips being considered for use by the park are passive—without batteries or moving parts—and have a lifetime up to 100 years. They are injected into the plant with a hypodermic needle.

    Audrey Hopkins, a representative of chipmaker Biomark Products, said researchers who study long-living species like tortoises and sturgeon are currently using similar technology.

    “(The chips) have been functional for many years,” Hopkins said.


    Saguaro National Park ranger Bob Love said the first chips would likely be placed in smaller cactus near roads—the ones normally targeted by poachers.

    “They’re looking at saguaros that are generally 4 to 7 feet, something a couple guys could manhandle into a pickup truck,” said Love.

    The Arizona park ranger said the use of chip technology would also allow authorities to spot check local plant nurseries, where cactus thieves often sell their spiny contraband.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 19, 2008

    America’s Sportsmen Hunt, Fish—and Vote!-0


    Research conducted for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and released this week indicates that 90 percent of sportsmen are registered to vote and 82 percent say they vote in every (or nearly every) U.S. Presidential election.


    Knowing this, is it any wonder why hunters, anglers, shooting enthusiasts and conservationists have become such an important target in congressional, gubernatorial and presidential elections in the last decade?

    It’s all pretty simple, really.

    Sportsmen vote.

    And, there are a lot of us.

    The third of a series CSF pre-general election surveys found that 85 percent of those polled said they voted in the 2004 election, with 55 percent voting for George W. Bush and 28 percent voting for John Kerry (11 percent failed to respond to the question).

    More than three-quarters of those polled (76 percent) said they would prefer to elect a President who hunts and/or fishes, and nearly the same number (74 percent) said they’d prefer a President who personally owns firearms.

    Responding younger sportsmen (ages 18-34) were the least confident that they will vote in November (71 percent definitely/probably), while 92 percent of those identifying themselves as Republicans were confident they will cast a ballot.

    To add perspective to those numbers, 35 percent of those polled identified themselves as Republicans, 29 percent as Democrats and 30 percent as Independents. Further, far more sportsmen identified themselves as conservative (43 percent) and moderate (32 percent) than liberal (18 percent).

    Performed in 2000, 2004 and now in 2008, this year’s Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation survey contacted and polled 1,009 sportsmen (78 percent) and sportswomen (22 percent) by telephone in July.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 19, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-0


    “There is sorrow enough in the natural way
    From men and women to fill the day;
    And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
    Why do we always arrange for more?
    Brother and Sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.”

    -Rudyard Kipling
    “The Power of the Dog”
    Actions and Reactions, 1909

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 14, 2008

    Carolina Road Rage: Pistol Trumps Bat-3


    When a screaming, angry, bat-wielding Hilton Head, S. Carolina driver pulled into a parking lot and confronted a young man who had been driving slowly because he was lost, the aggressor got more than he bargained for.


    A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office incident report from last week notes that a 22-year-old Citadel student had been driving slowly on Beach City Road looking for a doctor’s office when he pulled into a parking lot to refer to a map.

    That’s when the obscenity-yelling, road-raging Porsche driver approached the student’s vehicle, baseball bat in hand.

    By the way, for those Newshound readers who may not be aware, The Citadel, located in Charleston, SC, is one of the nation’s leading military and leadership institutes of higher learning.


    Cool and calm, the collegiate male stepped out of his vehicle while palming his .40 cal. S&W Glock 23 pistol that he’d removed from its place in his glove box.

    The would-be assailant put his hands up, dropped the bat, made a quick about-face, hastily retreated to his Porsche and sped away.

    The student, who was not named, reported the incident to authorities. According to a story in The Island Packet newspaper, no charges were filed in the incident.

    The moral to the tale: Don’t bring a knife (or a ball bat) to a gunfight.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 12, 2008

    Town Considers Deercams to Fight Illegal Dumping-1


    Just ask today’s deer hunter what’s the best way to document the activity on secluded trails and backroads, and he’s sure to tell you to buy one of the increasingly popular movement-activated digital trail cameras.

    After all, that’s how all in-the-know hunters scout for big deer these days—right?


    Knowledgeable deer hunter and Hamilton, Penn. Township Supervisor Tim Beard knows all about modern trail camera technology. That’s why during the township supervisor’s meeting last week he recommended the town purchase several digital deer-cams in an effort to combat a growing problem of illegal roadside trash dumping.

    “We will get pictures of those who are doing the dumping and pictures of their cars and license plates,” said Beard. “We want people to know that we are going to prosecute those who are doing this (illegal duping) to the full extent of the law.”

    The Hanover Evening Sun reports that Beard explained to his fellow supervisors that the undetectable, motion-activated, waterproof cameras could be strapped to trees or posts in areas of the township where illegal dumping is prevalent.

    “This is everywhere in the township and it’s got to stop,” Beard said. “We need to find some way to identify who is doing it.”

    And who knows, besides recording the identities of some trash-dumping perpetrators, they might also find out where a nice, 10-point Pennsylvania whitetail is hanging out.

    The hunters around Hamilton might want to keep an eye on where Supervisor Beard hangs his treestand this fall.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 11, 2008

    News Flash: Dogs Are Caring, Empathic-0


    We’ve all experienced the phenomenon of the contagious yawn; when seeing someone wide-jawed provokes the same, uncontrollable reaction in ourselves.

    A new study published last week contends that humans are not alone in experiencing this action/reaction sensation, and that our best friends and four-legged hunting companions are often affected by the same idiosyncrasy.

    The study, performed at Birkbeck, University of London, found that 72 percent--or 21 of the 29 dogs tested--yawned after watching the researcher yawn. Moreover, the rate was significantly higher than the 45 to 60 percent rate reported in humans and the 33 percent yawn factor documented in chimps.


    That’s all well and good, but what the hell does it mean?

    Don’t look now, but here comes the psychologist with the answer.

    Earlier research conducted by Gordon Gallup Jr., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany, suggests that people who are more susceptible to contagious yawning tend to be more empathetic toward others.

    Empathy, or the capacity to grasp what someone else feels, knows or intends, may depend on some of the same neural circuitry triggered by contagious yawning, the psychologist says.

    So, that brings us back to our retrievers, setters and hounds.

    Do the results of the new UK study demonstrate that our dogs are capable of a rudimentary form of compassion, sympathy and understanding?

    The data are “pretty compelling,” say the researchers.

    “If it can be replicated it strongly suggests dogs may have a primitive empathic capacity,” Gallup says.

    For most hunters and dog lovers, the contention that our canines feel compassion toward us is not news. And we sure don’t need to read about it in a science journal or hear it from a university psychologist to know it’s a fact.

    Further, if we were to believe the yawning study results, it would indicate that dogs have a much higher capacity of sympathy and understanding to humans than do humans to each other.

    But, we already knew that, too.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 7, 2008

    Too Much Reliance on GPS Not Good-0


    An incident occurring in the canyon country of Utah over the weekend has drawn attention to what authorities say is a growing problem of people relying more on modern Global Positioning System (GPS) technology than on good old common sense when it comes to backcountry travel.

    And in more and more cases, such over-reliance on the GPS screen is leading to trouble in the outdoors.

    For example, on Saturday, a 4-vehicle convoy comprising 26 vacationers from Los Angeles departed Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park for a side trip to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on their way to the Grand Canyon. Their GPS directed them to take a primitive route than was more suited for serious off-road travel than for the passenger vehicles they were driving.


    As a result, the Southern Californians--ranging in age from 2 to 70--found themselves stranded on a 500-foot cliff at 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Running short of both fuel and water, they finally used a cell phone to summon help.

    The Salt Lake Tribune reported that it took several hours for the panicked travelers to give deputies from the Kane County Sheriff’s Department their accurate location coordinates, and the stranded tourists were finally found at 11:45 Sunday morning.

    “All of them were thirsty, but no one was injured,” Chief Deputy Tracy Glover told the Salt Lake newspaper.

    Glover said that since the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996, dozens have been stranded while following GPS information.

    Sheriff Lamont Smith offered some sage advice to backcountry GPS users.

    “It’s just a piece of equipment that’s only as good as the data programmed into it,” Smith said. “It can show which direction to go, but not the 500-foot cliff where you can’t go any farther.”

    And here at The Newshound, we’ll offer some advice of our own.

    Learn how to read and follow a good, old-fashioned road map.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 6, 2008

    Lion Snatches Lab From Colorado Bedroom-4


    It’s 4:30 a.m.--and you and your spouse are asleep in your bedroom, your two faithful old Labs are snoozing on the floor at the foot of your bed.

    Suddenly, you’re awakened by a sound--a movement--and you realize an animal is coming through the darkness, toward your bed.

    A wild animal.

    In one of the more frightening tales we’ve ever heard relating to bold wild animal behavior, a mountain lion entered the open doors of a home belonging to Mack and Jacquie Anderson in the foothills southwest of Denver, Colorado early Monday, snatching their 12-year-old yellow Labrador retriever from where it slept.


    Jennifer Churchill with the Colorado Division of Wildlife said the French doors of the Anderson’s Idledale, Colo. bedroom were left open that August night when the hungry cougar entered.

    “It was about 4:30 in the morning,” Churchill said. “The gal awoke to a sound, got up out of bed and saw something about a foot away from her. She said to her husband, ‘There’s an animal in here!’”

    It’s enough to make even the most-seasoned outdoors or wildlife person weak-kneed.

    The 130-pound mountain lion grabbed the female Lab and quickly escaped out the door.

    When the remains of the 72-pound dog were discovered partially buried in pine needles later that morning, the Andersons agreed to allow wildlife officers to use the carcass as bait to apprehend the killer cat.

    The lion, a male, was successfully trapped Tuesday morning and subsequently killed by wildlife authorities.

    The Rocky Mountain News reported that the mountain lion didn’t threaten the Andersons and the other dog in the bedroom.

    “When lions go after something, they’re pretty single-minded,” said the DOW’s Churchill. “They generally zero-in on things that are vulnerable. They want what they’re going after. They’re not distracted by other animals. They kill to eat.”

    In retrospect, considering all the safety advice that wildlife agencies offer to those inhabiting mountain lion country, they might want to add one new rule.

    Like, close all the doors to your house before retiring for the night.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • August 6, 2008

    JR's Random Outdoor Quote-1


    “Remember, it’s not hunting, it’s the hunter. Men don’t hunt for sustenance anymore. We hunt for the anthropologists’ reason—as a piece of human ritual. I hunt for the pleasure of forests and fields, companionship, for what my son can learn about lives foreign to his own. I hunt to experience the moment of heightened acuity that modern life seems to dull. I hunt to experience the story.”

    -Walt Harrington
    The Everlasting Stream, 2002

    [ Read Full Post ]
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