May 9, 2008
“The best thing about hunting and fishing,” the Old Man said, “is that you don’t have to actually do it to enjoy it. You can go to bed every night thinking about how much fun you had twenty years ago, and it all comes back clear as moonlight.”
The Old Man’s Boy Grows Older, 1957 [ Read Full Post ]
No doubt, whitetail hunting is good in Iowa. I hope this gentleman didn’t accumulate this pile of bucks on his own. The tag line that came to me with this image is as follows. “That is a lot of venison. Fourteen tags, three days, 1 square mile in Iowa.”
All I can say is that they may want to let that section of land rest for next year and cook some chislic to remember the good old days. For those of you who don’t know what chislic is, it's cubed venison, seasoned and deep fried in oil. Ummm, ummm good!
In most of the areas I’ve hunted, including the Hawkeye state, killing this many deer from a section of land would be considered overkill. Since I don’t know the facts I’m not going to lambaste this hunter or his buddies. Millions of hunters still get together and enjoy the camaraderie and deer camp atmosphere, as much as the opportunity to take a trophy. And let’s not forget the chislic. These guys have a pile of chislic opportunities.
The Iowa Department of Economic Development and Travel use the slogan, “Iowa, life changing.” This many deer in a trailer is definitely a life-changing event; at least until the last chunk of chislic is wrapped and ready for the freezer.—Mark Kayser [ Read Full Post ]
Reporting from Connecticut Outfitters (www.ct-outfitters.com), Captain Blain Anderson told us that the spring run of striper has been on fire. He starts his day snagging big bunker then live lines bait back to big striped bass. “We’re catching good numbers of fish between 20 and 30 pounds with some in the 40-pound range,” Blain said. He adds that the northern part of the river is slowing down so the stripers are dropping back to the saltwater. “Guys are fishing in 20 to 100 feet of water with live eels at night and bunker during the day,” he said. The most common rig is an 8/0 Gami circle hook and 4 feet of 50-pound fluorocarbon leader. Tie the leader to a three-way swivel and add a 12-inch dropper and enough weight to hit bottom. “Find the structure and you’ll find the bass,” he said. Blain said that the fluke bite has also turned on. “We’re not seeing a lot of fish but we’re seeing big fish,” he said. Blue fish are showing up in the normal places such as the local reefs, Plum Gut, the Race and Sluiceway. “Guys are having fun throwing topwater plugs at the blues,” Blain said.
Keeping up with bass fishing in the Mid-Atlantic keeps Ken Penrod busy. He reports that water in the Upper Potomac River is a little high, but that is just the way Ken likes it. “You can work over top of the substantial grass,” he said. He’s catching nice-sized smallmouth bass with Mizmo tubes between the launch ramp and Burkharts Riffle along the ledges where the water ripples and foams. The Upper Potomac is our most productive river right now. He’s seen a big improvement in the water conditions on the Tidal Potomac. Despite bad weather and small craft warnings, he’s been able to work the rocky cover with tubes, Speed Traps and Case Magic Sticks. He found some quality striped bass at the end of Washington Channel. He even pulled some 3- to 5-pound largemouth from Penrod Cove with Luhr Jensen Brush Babies and Hot Lips crankbaits. Ken was able to hide from the wind in the Mattawoman area where he found good tide and fair fishing with Penrod Special spinner baits worked over the grass beds between Marsh Island and the river.
Picture working a big twitchbait around a pile of partially submerged timber and having a 10-pound brown trout hammer the lure. Fred McClintock at Trophy Guide Service (trophyguideservice.com) pictures that scenario almost every day. Fred has been fishing the Kentucky stretch of the Cumberland River with Smithwick Rouges and catching browns between 7 and 10 pounds. “Throw the lure under the timber and jerk it out,” he says. “It’s almost like fishing for largemouth bass.” Fred adds that striped bass fishing has been good on the Tennessee side of the river. On Tuesday, his party landed 9 big striped bass by slow trolling skipjack herring off planer boards. “Seven of the nine fish were over 40 pounds,” he said. Fred admitted that dirty water has slowed the action, but he’s finding fish around deadfalls in two- to five-feet of water.
“We’ve had lots and lots of rain,” reports Jeff Rowland from south-central Iowa. Jeff said that the high water has pushed the fish into Roberts Creek. “Crappies are magnetized to that little creek,” he said. Jeff is catching fish on red and white, red and chartreuse and white and purple tube jigs. “When they’re hitting you could catch them on a piece of yarn,” he joked. Jeff said that the fish are looking for clear water making it easy for fishermen to find them. He’s been catching crappies from 12 to 13 inches with big ones pushing 15 inches. “The slabs look like pork chops,” he said. Read more about fishing in Iowa in Jeff’s book, The Real Life Adventures of a Marion County Angler available on his web site: (www.iowafishingguide.com).
From the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Wes Jancik at Anglers Covey reports excellent trout fishing at Eleven Mile Canyon and Spinning Mountain Ranch. “The water’s high,” he said, “so all the other places are blown out.” He’s fishing blue olives, caddis flies, copper johns and pheasant tail nymphs. To fish Spinning Mountain, Wes recommends anglers lay their fly against the banks and the shallows. At Eleven Mile he suggests throwing a fly into the eddies and behind rocks. “Eleven Mile Canyon has a lot of deep holes,” he says, “you’ll want to nymph those.” On a good day in the middle of a hatch, Wes says that the guides will catch up to 10 rainbows or brown trout ranging from 12 to 18 inches. He said that the fish in Spinning Mountain are spooky. “Watch your approach when you walk up,” he said. Anglers need not worry about spooking the fish in Eleven Mile Canyon. “Those fish are stupider,” Wes said. [ Read Full Post ]
A whitetail doe smashed through the glass entry door of a downtown Fond du Lac, Wisc. specialty wine store yesterday, miraculously passing from the front to the rear of the building without breaking any of the store’s 600 bottles of palate-pleasing vintages.
At the time of the deer’s abrupt, store-crashing entrance, shop owner Sara Cujak was one aisle over from the door serving a customer. She said the doe couldn’t get traction on the hardwood floors, as it frantically slid and crawled through her Cabernet section.
“I was showing a customer a wine that I knew her husband would like and thank God it was Merlot and not a Cab,” she said.
According to a story in today’s Fond du Lac Reporter newspaper, Cujak phoned the nearby Connect Café and asked one of the workers to hurry over and open her shop’s back door. Then, as she guarded her bottles and glassware, she gently coaxed the injured and confused animal safely outside.
Authorities later found the deer lying in a nearby yard. Due to the severity of the injuries it sustained from the glass door, the deer was shot, according to Fond du Lac Police Lt. Steve Klein.
Cujak later said she was just relieved that no one was injured during the incident and expressed amazement that nothing in her shop—where everything is breakable—was damaged.
“It’s not a bull in a China shop, it’s a deer in a wine market,” she told the newspaper.
Not one to normally imbibe during business hours, when things finally settled down yesterday, the proprietor of Cujak’s Wine Market relaxed while sipping a glass of Garnacha.
Hmmmm. Why a red?
“It goes good with venison,” she told the newspaper’s photographer.
The woman obviously knows her wine. [ Read Full Post ]
This recent spring turkey season William Billings thought he was looking at a Vermont gobbler with three legs as the bird worked to the decoys. It turned out to have just the usual two feet, along with a beard—a big one at that.
Try 16 inches.
When all was said and done, the turkey scored 83.5, easily the biggest ever tagged in New England. It creaked the Messier’s General Store scales in East Randolph, Vermont at 21 pounds and 8 ounces. Each spur taped out to 1 1/2 inches.
According to Vermont Outdoors Magazine, Billings, a resident of South Burlington, saw a big gobbler in a field while scouting the afternoon before.
He and his father set up in cold rainy conditions, not uncommon in New England this time of the year, and around midmorning, the trophy bird entered the field in front of them.
Though Billings and his dad had been calling, they stopped, and let the gobbler work in toward them. Apparently, as the story goes, the hot tom stopped briefly to strut around a woodchuck in the field. Talk about adding to the hunt drama . . .
After this unexpected turn in the morning’s hunt, Billings shot the turkey at 10 steps.
News of the record turkey is not without controversy. Billings’ photo of his gobbler—pictured here and taken with a cell phone—offers sketchy visual detail. Still, if the weigh master at the check-in station signs an official National Wild Turkey Federation form, the record wild turkey will stand.
Without question, hunting is not something that is reserved only for fathers and sons. More and more dads are taking their daughters into the field each season to enjoy the great outdoors and to strengthen family bonds. A lot of girls have a knack for hunting and the ladies can sometimes make the guys look bad, by tagging a bigger buck or shooting more turkeys. Take a look at nine-year-old Morgan Michels who smoked this nice eight-point buck last season on a hunt with her grandparents Dave and Carman Forbes of Hunter’s Specialties. Young Morgan has become quite the hunter and she loves spending time with her family in the woods.
Morgan took her first buck last season in the stand with her grandfather on a Missouri gun hunt. This sharp-shooting little girl made a perfect shot with her Thompson Center .223 rifle right in front of her proud grandfather. Last spring Michels also dropped the hammer on a huge Missouri longbeard with her grandmother Carman Forbes to follow up her deer hunt. I would like to thank the Forbes family for setting a good example by showing how hunting together can keep a family close and that young girls are not excluded from enjoying the outdoors. By the way, you can checkout both of Morgan’s hunts on the Primetime Bucks 12 and Cuttin’and Struttin’ DVDs. Congratulations Morgan on a terrific hunting season. —Travis Faulkner [ Read Full Post ]
With the recent hubbub over airlines adding fees and surcharges for checked luggage and other options, here’s one you might have missed.
Last week, Denver-based Frontier Airlines announced it is increasing—by $25— its charge for checking antlers as baggage. Now it will cost hunters a cool C-note ($100) to bring their racks from Colorado and other Western destinations the airline serves.
That the carrier already charged $75 for big game racks was news to the Newshound.
“During hunting season, people do bring antlers back in cargo,” a Frontier spokeswoman told the Denver Post.
The economy airline is currently involved in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Other changes taking effect June 10 at Frontier include: a $25 fee for a second checked bag; a $50 fee for an unaccompanied minor, up from $40; a $75 fee for overweight and oversized bags, up from $50; and $35 for a paper ticket, an increase from $25.
Hmmm. We wonder what the total fee would be for an overweight, oversized, unaccompanied minor.
What’s next, antler charges by the point?
Guess we’d better not give them any more ideas, huh? [ Read Full Post ]
Thornton is well known throughout the agribusiness community most recently as president and chief executive officer of Agriliance, LLC, a leading agricultural input distributor in North America providing retailers and producers with crop nutrients, crop protection products, seed and equipment. Thornton, who retired from Agriliance in August 2007, also served in various sales, financial and management positions with American Cyanamid, ICI Americas, ICI Australia PLC, Griffin/Dupont, LLC and AgWeb.com. He is a past director of the Minnesota Zoo, and has served on many civic, industry and company boards including chair of the Chemical Producers and Distributors Association, Crop Life America, The Fertilizer Institute, local Boy Scout councils and church groups. In 2006, George was named Agribusiness leader of the year by the National Agricultural Marketing Association.
"We are thrilled to have George leading this organization," said Jere Peak, NWTF chairman of the board. "His background heading up Agriliance, which became the largest Agricultural products distributor in North America under his leadership, and his commitment to the same conservation principles and hunting heritage values that the NWTF family holds dear, makes him a perfect fit to take us to the next level."
A lifelong hunter with a passion for restoring and maintaining wildlife habitat, Thornton is looking forward to leading one of the nation's largest single species conservation organizations to even greater success.
"As a conservationist and hunter, the NWTF's mission really resonates with me, and I'm committed to working with this team of staff, volunteers and partners to fulfill the organization's goals," said Thornton. "The track record of the NWTF is very impressive. We can build from this foundation of success to find new and exciting ways to enrich the experience of our membership."
Thornton brings 36 years of agribusiness experience in a variety of positions and organizations. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and a master's degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. A Georgia native, he has lived in five states, four countries in addition to visiting more than 50 other countries. He currently resides with his wife, Beth at Creekside Farm, Elberton, Ga. with plans to relocate to Edgefield, S.C. [ Read Full Post ]
There’s a squirrel loose inside your house. Do you:
A. Call a professional nuisance animal trapper?
B. Open all the doors and windows and try to chase it back outside?
C. Use pepper spray?
If you chose option A or B, here at The Outdoor Life Newshound we’d like to ask: Where the hell’s your sense of adventure??
A man in Rochester, NY was not interested in simply trapping or extricating the bushy-tailed rodent that found its way into his home yesterday. No sir, he was prepared to teach that little nut-eating bugger a lesson it would not soon forget.
He opted for pepper spray—the same hard-hitting compound that wildlife authorities recommend to ward off angry, charging, 800-pound grizzly bears in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons.
The squirrel, apparently, was not deterred by the aerosol assault.
Instead, the occupants of the house now know firsthand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the airborne irritant.
Responding paramedics treated five people inside the house for exposure to pepper spray, washing the noxious chemical from the victims' eyes and nasal passages.
Firefighters also placed fans around the house to help clear the spray-filled air.
And the squirrel?
“When the fire department went in and opened up all of the windows, the squirrel decided to leave,” Rochester Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Scott Williams told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. “I guess he figured his work there was done.” [ Read Full Post ]
It’s hard to find anyone stealthier in the woods than a professionally trained military sniper. In most cases, a sniper’s target doesn’t even realize that the situation is about to go very, very wrong until it’s too late. A lot of these guys were deadly with a rifle long before their sniper training and started out as hunters. This was exactly the case for former Army Ranger and sniper Brad Reagan from Georgia. Well before Reagan was nailing 1,000-yard targets at the range, he was hunting the backcountry of his Georgia farm. Recently, Reagan’s love of hunting deer with a rifle was replaced when a good friend, L.J. Planer, gave him a Mathews Bow as a gift—it completely changed his life.
Currently, Reagan teaches weapons systems to both soldiers and members of the elite Special Forces at Fort Gilliam, Georgia. Last year, Reagan took his first doe with a bow during an early-season hunt in Georgia triggering an addiction that would explode out of control later that season in Illinois. On a special hunt with American Valor Outdoors, Reagan arrowed a nice 148-class, 7-point nearly 30 steps from his treestand. The deer only ran about 45 yards before crashing into the brush.
“I never dreamed that anything would replace the thrill of gun hunting, but one hunt was all it took to completely change me,” says Reagan. “In fact, I can’t wait to hit the woods hard this season in Georgia with my bow. Hunting has always been and still remains a big part of my life and now bow hunting has opened up a whole new world to me.”
Congratulations Brad on a nice buck and an awesome hunt! I would also like to thank all of our military men and women who are currently serving overseas and sacrificing for their country. I couldn’t imagine being away from my family for extended periods of time or missing opening day of deer season in the mountains of Kentucky. Thanks for everything that you guys do—our country owes all of you a great debt of gratitude.—Travis Faulkner [ Read Full Post ]
Some of us watch for the first poults to hatch in areas we had been hunting for spring gobblers.
Some of us begin shooting our bows with the fall seasons in mind. My calendar is marked for September 15, for instance, which is the start of the New Hampshire archery-only turkey season.
Some of us build wingbone calls from the radius, ulna and even humerus bones of turkeys we’ve killed. It’s a fun way to extend our hunts.
I’m guilty on all counts. How about you?
Do you fish for summer bass? Plan autumn hunts for other species? Do you train your turkey dogs? Are you a “spring is for beards and fall is for antlers” sort of sportsman? Do you fall turkey hunt as hard as we do here at the Strut Zone? Are you planning your 2009 spring turkey hunts?
All of us need to return thanks to the landowners, outfitters, and other folks who put us into turkeys. All too often we forget to do that. Turkey hunting is so often a “we” proposition.
Let those people know you appreciate them.
Autumn turkey seasons are just a little over three months away. What will you Strut Zoners do to pass the time? Let us know. We'd really appreciated knowing about the turkey hatch in your neck of the woods. Moderating temperatures and relatively dry weather is pointing to a good hatch here in the Northeast—Steve Hickoff [ Read Full Post ]
About four weeks ago my son, Jack, became obsessed with rainbow trout. I can’t say I was too surprised. Like my daughter, Ava, Jack has been interested in and fascinated by animals since before he could walk.
His first love is cows. Bovines of all stripes, wild and domestic, loom large in his imagination. Any given day he’ll ask what kind of animal we should pretend to be and then rattle off a list of suggestions that includes American bison, wood bison, Cape buffalo, water buffalo, musk ox, black wildebeest, blue wildebeest and so on.
He likes to spend time looking at the bison skull in our living room, an animal I shot last year, asking about what bison eat, where they live, what they like to do and other Very Important Questions. At four years old, one of his prized possessions, which he sleeps with every night, is a stuffed dairy cow he named “Cowey” that is so soft it could be made of angel kisses. Whenever I picture him in his bed it is with Cowey tucked under one arm.
He also loves to fish. When the urge strikes him, which is often, I’ll take him and his sister to a small pond in our neighborhood and they’ll hook one bluegill after another until they’ve had their fill or the panfish stop biting.
But somehow, somewhere he got trout on the brain and caught a very bad case of trout fever.
The same thing happened to me when I was a boy, though at a later age. When I was 8 or 9 years old my grandfather gave me a book on the game fish of North America and I spent hours and hours pouring over the descriptions of the various types of trout and salmon—their sleek profiles looked so exotic compared to the bass and sunfish that lived in the pond behind my house and the cool, clean water where they were found seemed to me the epitome of wilderness.
I don’t know what Jack pictured in his head when he thought of trout but I do know that the conversations he had been having at night with his grandfather, a passionate trout fisherman who lives in the Pacific Northwest, about the qualities and virtues of the rainbow—its multi-hued beauty, the disproportionate strength of its fight, its propensity to dazzle with acrobatic displays when hooked—had stoked the flames of Jack’s desire to a white-hot intensity.
“Please, please, please, please can we go fishing for a rainbow trout?” he asked. “When can we do it, Papa? Please?”
So just before Memorial Day Jack and I spent an afternoon in a rowboat on a small lake about an hour from our home. I propelled us in lazy circles hoping a trout would grab onto the shallow-diving hardbaits wobbling in the water behind us.
Then it happened. The tip of Jack’s rod started pumping up and down in a frenetic motion and I tried to keep my voice calm as I told Jack to reel, reel, reel.
I watched him move his fist in circles, bringing in line as best he could. “I think I have a bite,” he said.
He couldn’t keep up with the fish and the line went slack, his rod pointing straight up toward the sky, no longer bowed.
For an agonizing minute I watched him work the reel handle, slowly retrieving his line, which now sat in lazy coils on top of the water.
“Do I still have a fish?” he asked. I could hear desperation in his voice. My insides tightened at my inability to help my son avoid having his hopes dashed. It is a feeling of helplessness unique to parents. The fish was gone. He kept reeling.
But just as suddenly, the rod came back to life, doubled over in a deep arc. The fish was right under our boat and I could see the silver flash of the trout as its sides caught the light.
“Do you know what you have?” I said as I dipped a landing net underneath the fish.
“A bluegill?” he asked in a small voice, the idea of actually catching a trout being too much to hope for.
No, Jack, it wasn’t a bluegill. It was a trout. A rainbow trout. Your first and it was a beauty, all 14 inches of it. You caught it by yourself and after we got back to shore you couldn’t keep your hands off it.
“Papa, are you impressed of me?”
Yes my son. More than you’ll ever know.
—John Snow [ Read Full Post ]
When a vacationing family found and adopted a 3-week-old baby raccoon at Wexford Plantation on Hilton Head Island, S. Carolina earlier this spring, everyone they showed it to agreed it was adorable.
Friends and neighbors back home in Okatie, S.C. held and cuddled the precious little critter, hand-feeding it, touching its nose and tongue—even kissing it.
What could possibly go wrong?
When it was all over, more than 35 people and 20 pets were part of an extensive S. Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control investigation.
Of those exposed to the rabid animal, 24 received rabies vaccinations and follow-up prevention shots as a result of their affectionate actions toward the baby raccoon. The remaining 12 did not need treatment because they did not touch the animal or come in contact with its saliva, said DHEC spokeswoman Clair Boatwright.
“There was a lot of affectionate handling, kissing it and feeding it,” Boatwright told the Island Packet newspaper. “Part of that is it was three weeks old, and they inserted fingers into the raccoon’s mouth. Saliva is one way that rabies spreads.”
In the end, the coon kissing cost the taxpayers of the state of South Carolina more than $40K.
According to the DHEC, the rabies vaccines and prevention shots cost about $1,000 per person, totaling $36,677.75. With investigation costs and personnel time, the ending tally was a whopping $43,028.50.
That’s one costly coon, eh?
Obviously, there’s an important lesson to be learned from the unfortunate occurrence.
Every year, state wildlife agencies send out press releases advising folks not to adopt young wild animals that appear to be abandoned or in need of care.
That’s good advice.
Oh, and don’t kiss them, either. [ Read Full Post ]
If you live south of the Mason-Dixon Line or anywhere south of the snow belt, you probably have little experience with the effects of springtime storms on both wildlife and domestic livestock. This picture will give you a better feel for the hardships. It was reportedly taken near Lead, South Dakota, a Black Hills mountain community, which receives heavy snowfall regularly. But this May storm was more than expected and it spilled out onto the surrounding prairie in Montana, Wyoming and both Dakotas.
For big game hunters, this is exactly the type of event you don’t want to see. All species, big or small, are at their weakest as winter leaves and spring arrives. During the rut a whitetail buck may loose up to 25 percent of its body weight and it can be difficult, if not impossible, to gain it back as winter sets in. A monster storm such as this, which dumped up to 48 inches or more snow, can push whitetails struggling for survival over the brink of no return.
Last spring a similar storm struck in my own backyard with up to 40 inches or more of snow. I found no less than 9 dead deer on my scant 40-acre property. Most were burrowed deep in brush thickets and neatly bedded as they prepared to sit out the longevity of the storm. If your area receives these occasional surprise storms in the spring there is a chance you might loose a buck you knew made it through the hunting season. I’ll have more on unsuspected whitetail deaths on future blogs, but for now you have to marvel at the will of wildlife survival. [ Read Full Post ]
Wing bone turkey calls aren't just a novelty, but can be deadly effective on spring and fall turkeys. If you've always wanted to make your own wing bone call from a freshly killed turkey, but were unsure of how to do it, follow along with this video as Quaker Boy Game Calls' Ernie Calandrelli shows you how. —Gerry Bethge [ Read Full Post ]