May 9, 2008
After colliding with a 10-foot alligator in the early morning darkness, two women delivering newspapers in Fort Meade, Florida remained trapped while the injured reptile rocked and swayed their small pickup truck for a nerve-wracking 30 minutes before they were rescued.
And the gator wasn’t too pleased about its predicament, either.
The women quickly closed the doors of their truck, phoned 911, and waited—parked in the middle of the highway--for 30 minutes before authorities arrived.
In the interim, the wounded gator thrashed and growled just inches below the two panicked women, shaking the body of the diminutive truck and generally scaring the bejesus out of the two 20-something friends.
“It was grunting and roaring and shaking the whole truck,” said Ms. Maldonado, who was delivering the Tampa Tribune while accompanied by her friend Friday morning.
As they waited for help, the women told the Tribune that traffic drove around them, while one good Samaritan stopped, advising them they were doing the right thing by remaining inside their vehicle.
Responding emergency workers safely led the women away from the scene and backed the truck over the animal.
The angry amphibious reptile was later captured and destroyed, according the Florida Fish and Game Commission.
But the two friends will always share their memories of the morning they were held captive by a snarling alligator.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” Baker said. [ Read Full Post ]
“Too many modern dog handlers take the view that dog training is a testing of a dog’s will against an electric collar, forgetting that the road to a finished bird dog is a scenic path traveled but once. The difference between a thoughtful approach to teaching and the work of an impatient trainer is the difference between taking the time to smell the roses and simply mowing them.”
A Breed Apart, 1993 [ Read Full Post ]
The man in the photo is Keith Gilbertson, who took this longbeard in Jefferson County, Wis., near Sullivan. He was using a Winchester Super X3 shotgun loaded with none other than Winchester turkey loads.
The tale of the tape: 22 1/2 pounds, 10 1/2-inch beard, 1-inch spurs.
'Nuff said. [ Read Full Post ]
Pat Strawser, a custom call maker out of Millersburg, Pa., gets a lot of opportunities to share his turkey hunting knowledge with other hunters. And while Pat has enjoyed the chance to hunt with countless others and enjoys pulling the trigger himself, he says there is no greater experience in the woods than to experience a hunt through the eyes of a child still learning the tradition. Fortunately, Pat got the chance to help a number of kids take longbeards this spring, including this big Osceola taken by McKenzie Mull of Wichita, Kan.
This was the 14-year-old girl's first Florida bird. It boasted a 10-inch beard and 1 3/8-inch spurs. McKenzie shot the tom using a 20-gauge Benelli, a good choice for a young shooter as it offers minimal recoil while using loads that provide more than ample punch.
Hunting in Florida this year, Pat also got the chance to share a few hunts with adult friends including a successful day afield with Wayne Vickers of Ohio. The two scored on this nice Osceola during a March hunt.
And finally in what is perhaps the best framed pic of the group, Pat shows off a bird he killed back at home in Pennsylvania. Look closely at the call and if you know anything about custom turkey calls, you'll note that the box in front of him is not his own work, but that of the late, great Neil Cost.
"This was one of the first turkeys I ever killed with one of ol' Neil's boxes," Pat writes. Not unusual since the value of some of Neil's calls since his death have kept them more on shelves where they are safe than out in the woods. During his life, Cost always believed in making calls that were functional first, then attractive, but with some going as high as $11,000 and up since he passed away, yeah, I'd be hesitant to take mine afield.
Not Pat, he used this gem to call in this Pennsylvania bruiser that tipped the scales at 21 pounds and sported a 10 7/8-inch beard and 1 1/4-inch spurs.
Congrats on a great season Pat and for most of all, introducing the sport to others. [ Read Full Post ]
After years of watching her husband head out each spring to chase turkeys, Kelli joined a growing list of female hunters and finally decided to give it a try herself. She earned her hunter safety license, practiced shooting before season, discussed it with her husband and watched some turkey hunting videos just to get a rough feel for how things might play out. She was ready.
But her first hunts, like for many hunters, were tough. On one day with 35-plus mile per hour winds (not uncommon in Kansas), she and husband Adam actually had a tom approaching when her had blew off and spooked the bird. But she never gave up.
On another day, the woman hunter and her husband were setting up beneath a lone tree in a pasture where turkeys had been coming. As the two cleared a spot to sit, a limb broke causing several birds to gobble from the treeline about 100 yards away. Excited, the two set up, and with some calls, one of the longbeards flew down and strutted right over to within 30 yards of Kelli, who promptly tagged her first turkey ever.
Congratulations Kelli. We hope this is the first of many. And thanks for sending the pics of you, your bird and your family. Like her husband, Adam, Kelli will be entered into the photo contest for a chance to win one of several prize packs. The deadline for entry submissions was July 4. [ Read Full Post ]
Here, Adam Kahrl poses with the tom he took in El Dorado, Kan., this spring. Kahrl was set up against an oak tree on a cow pasture with decoys in front of him when he spotted a few "black balls moving about 300 yards to the west in the field."
Still aways out, the turkeys were clearly moving toward the hunter's calls. Continuing their approach, the birds drifted into the timber and going out of Kahrl's sight.
"I kept softly calling to them and watching for movement," the hunter says. "In the blink of an eye, one of the gobblers made a mad dash for the decoys from the woods."
As the bird charged into range, Kahrl hit it with a quick double cluck, which paused the tom long enough for the hunter to squeeze his trigger. [ Read Full Post ]
Turnpike humor is in no short supply here in the Garden State. (Yeah, I'm off Exit 7A!) Well, before you go ripping on New Jersey too much, for those of you who have blessedly never been here, there is actually some damn good hunting if you can find a place. Steven Parre of New Jersey apparently has. He sent us this pic and story as his entry into the Give Us The Bird Photo Contest. Here's his tale in his own words:
Here is one of turkeys I killed this past spring in New Jersey. The weight was 22 pounds with a beard of 9 ½ inches and spurs measuring 1 1/8 inch and 1 ¼ inch.
This hunt was a roller coaster from start to finish as the season started with cold wet conditions on the Monday opener. Gobbling and turkey sightings were few and far between. After hunting four days straight, crunch time was fast approaching as Friday was the last day to hunt on my permit.
Friday broke cool and crisp with bright sunshine and gobblers responding from all directions....all that is but near me. After some aggressive calling, one lone hen showed up and started coming toward me shortly followed by 13 more hens—all single file playing follow the leader.
The hens now were calling back and forth making such a commotion that I didn’t have to call. Soon five jakes appeared and came to within 10 feet of my position. With all of theses turkeys so close, I was certain that one was going to bust me and the game would be over. But they stayed and shortly after I heard the unmistakable sound of drumming coming from my left—50 yards away I saw this bird heading toward me.
He seemed like he stayed at 50 yards for what felt like a day, but probably was around 15 minutes before finally making his approach. He came to within 35 yards at which point my Browning 10-ga. did the rest.
I have been hunting turkeys for nearly 20 years and by far this hunt is one that I will always remember.
Steve will be entered into the contest and winners will be announced early next week. Thanks to everyone who participated. [ Read Full Post ]
For you cats still trying to slip pics in to the Give Us The Bird Photo Contest, well, I'm back from vacation and time is up. Sure, we'll still run your pic and story if you send it (we're good that way), but only those entries received by the extended deadline will be considered for the awarding of prizes. Stay tuned, winners will be announced next week, and of course, look to the Strut Zone today and throughout the weekend for more photos and stories from entrants. [ Read Full Post ]
Multiple red flags shot up early this week when leading firearms and ammunitions manufacturers and trade organizations became aware of a series of regulations proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the government agency charged with assuring the safety and health of American workers.
At the heart of the potentially dangerous regulations is OSHA’s indiscriminate definition of ammo, powder and primers as “explosives.”
If implemented, industry representatives say the new rules could have a dramatic effect on the storage and transportation of ammo and reloading components, including primers and black and smokeless gunpowder.
Among the many provisions, the proposed rule changes would:
The National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Association are all preparing comment on the proposed OSHA regulations, stressing the severe effect such regulations would have on the availability of ammunition and reloading supplies to safe and responsible shooters across the country.
Currently, the public comment period on the proposed rules is scheduled to end July 12, though attempts are currently underway to extend the period by 60 days.
Industry leaders are not mincing words about the potential impact such regulations might have on the industry, if implemented.
“As written, the proposed rule would force the closure of nearly all ammunition manufacturers and force the cost of small arms ammunition to skyrocket beyond what the market could bear--essentially collapsing our industry,” read this week’s press release from the NSSF.[ Read Full Post ]
Perceiving the open doors of a Canadian video rental business as an invitation to come inside, a young male deer managed to clear the aisles of terrified customers while wrecking a good portion of the store’s interior.
The Vancouver Sun reports that the buck entered the West Vancouver store last Saturday afternoon, and the chaos began almost immediately.
“Everybody in the store started screaming and tried to get out,” said Michelle Pawluck, who works at Starbucks next door. “(It) started bashing its head against the window trying to get out. It was kind of freaky. It was in the middle of the day and it shook up a lot of people.”
The scene reminded West Vancouver Police Cpl. Fred Harding of a tried-and-true metaphor.
“(It was) exactly like a bull in a china shop,” he astutely observed.
One brave (but not exactly wise) customer tackled the animal, covered its eyes with cloth and kept it pinned until authorities arrived. Thirty minutes after entering the building, the terrorizing buck was herded out the door.
In the aftermath, the floor contained more DVDs and videos than the shelves, and the place looked like an explosion had taken place.
“Everything was knocked down…the place was obliterated,” Harding said.
And even though the weather has remained especially hot since last week’s excitement, Roger’s Video has been keeping its doors firmly closed—as have all the other businesses in the area. [ Read Full Post ]
Brad Jerman asked if I would like a different perspective on the crossbow debate, from a hunter who had started out with the Xbow, gone to the compound and then onto the recurve. “I hunt with all of them now, but my first love is still the crossbow,” wrote Brad. I told him to blog on, and he sent this:
I have kept an eye on the recent crossbow debate/poll on the ZONE and Outdoor Life’s web site. It has spawned a good discussion.
The debate is nothing new. There are always a few folks that believe their hunting methods are more right or pure than somebody else’s. That culture bleeds over into political law and ultimately damages our sport, I believe.
The crossbow has been the whipping boy of archery since the middle ages, and it continues to be a very emotional subject. I believe the problem revolves around general misinformation and the failure of some people to recognize a cultural shift that validates the crossbow’s use.
The debate took on new meaning for me a few years back when I was blessed with a tremendous buck that is the current World Record Crossbow Typical (201 1/8 net). Having one of the largest 5x5s of all time has given me the privilege to show the deer at sports shows and faith-based outdoorsmen’s banquets across the country.
I come in contact with many terrific people, all of whom are interested in the wonderfully addictive sport of deer hunting. I do hear some pretty remarkable things, however, regarding the crossbow. It is clear that many people do not understand the crossbow’s relationship to other archery equipment. It is also clear that many people simply restate falsehoods they have heard from others.
Recently I was discussing the crossbow with an accomplished hunter who is a senior member of Pope & Young. I stated my opinion and he stated his. He felt the crossbow is not archery equipment and that was that. When I asked him on what he based his opinion, he admitted he had never shot or even handled a crossbow. That doesn’t strike me as a very informed or objective position.
There are certainly some advantages to the crossbow. It is easier to become proficient with; allows the use of a rest while shooting; and does not require the strength needed to pull or hold a bow. Also, with the crossbow, you don’t have to make the big move to draw a bow in the presence of a buck. Beyond those things, the differences quickly fade.
With any bow, success depends on scent control, concealment, stand placement and other tactics that create a close encounter with a whitetail. The year following my crossbow giant, I shot this nice buck with my recurve. Both deer were within 20 yards, and both provided me the same satisfaction and freezer supply.
Bowhunting is not about what kind of bow you use. It is about having the skill to get your quarry within 40 yards and then delivering a broadhead-tipped arrow to its target.
The crossbow has another advantage: recruitment and retention of hunters. In 1982 the nation had about 17 million hunters…in 2004 the number was down to 15 million…today approximately 12 million deer hunters. It is time we take action to stabilize and reverse this trend. Sheer numbers are the only way we can fend off legislative attacks from anti-hunting activists. The crossbow has a significant role to play in this effort.
Existing hunters that have grown older, sustained an injury or have a physical ailment that won’t allow them to use a vertical bow any longer can naturally migrate to a crossbow if it is allowed in their state. If relaxed crossbow use is pro-actively legislated, I believe it can be the single most effective tool to recruit and retain hunters.
As mentioned, as compared to a vertical bow, the crossbow allows a hunter to become a more proficient shooter sooner. I believe this increases the chance for an ethical kill. Another key to keeping new hunters engaged is not having a deer suffer at his or her hand. If the learning curve is too overwhelming, we are losing folks before they ever start.
One more thought: As a hunter grows in stature and experience with one bow, he may want to try other types of equipment as I have, just for the fun and challenge.
The crossbow debate must rage on. Emotions will continue to run rampant. Established beliefs will be challenged and eventually changed or become irrelevant. In the end I truly believe the crossbow will be permitted throughout archery season in every state.
I just hope there is an archery season left for all our bows to be a part of.
It figures. Since the delusional PETA People discovered that their recent tough love tactics flopped—you’ll remember their campaign of killing rescued animals, throwing the bodies into dumpsters, and the billboard images of the puppy with a treble hook lure distending its mouth—there’s been a tactical sea change in their war room. It’s all about cartoon-cuddly now, and what better way to plant the brain worm of unreality in the minds of kids.
The campaign—it’s been on-going a little while now—is called the Fish Empathy Project. One of its get-involved “good works” had supporters contribute to a Fish Empathy Quilt. Yes. Participants have stitched-up 100 squares that once assembled bloomed to 300-plus square feet. It’s all in “honor of the billions of fish who are abused and killed by humans every year for food and sport.”
Wait, don’t puke yet.
Now on this quilt in places is the fin-jerk mantra from that cute (and error-riddled) movie Finding Nemo. Remember? “Fish are friends, not food.”
Supporter/fundraisers have a kit bag of talking points to trot out in their efforts. Stuff like “Fish talk to each other, tend well-kept gardens, build nests, and collect rocks for building hiding places where they can rest.” Some of the many factoids have esoteric foundation, but the convoluted presentation is, like PETA thinking, other worldly.
That’s the problem. Non-reality in the form of soft, cuddly cartoons that humanize even the nastiest of critters (I expect a kids book devoted to the misunderstood cockroach shortly) are effective tools to hammer home even the most ill-conceived of messages.
I don’t like typing it but you need to see the kind of propaganda the P-People spew. Check www.fishinghurts.com and click around there to see.
If you spot some of this stuff being slipped into kids library reading hours, school programs, or wherever, I want to hear about it. Likewise, I hope to hear your thoughts on all the above, in general—including maybe ways we can help punch it head-on. [ Read Full Post ]
A Montana sportsmen’s organization is taking outdoor retail giant Cabela’s to task for its online listing of large-tract hunting properties, claiming that such real estate sales could potentially have an adverse affect on the use of property once accessible to hunters and anglers.
My longtime friend and associate Mark Henckel, the fine outdoors scribe for the Billings Gazette, writes that the Montana Wildlife Federation has sent two letters to Cabela’s management detailing its specific concern over the retailer’s involvement in selling key pieces of wildlife habitat in Montana, including the 29,000-acre Weaver Ranch, which had been enrolled in the state’s Block Management Program. Through the Block Management Program, farmers and ranchers are paid by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to provide free public access to resident and nonresident hunters.
A May 30 letter from MWF executive director Craig Sharpe stated, in part: “The first words on the website of Cabela’s Trophy Properties, under the question: What is Cabela’s Trophy Properties? reads, ‘For over 46 years, sportsmen have trusted Cabela’s.’ Regrettably, we now come to the conclusion that we sportsmen of Montana can trust Cabela’s no longer.”
Pretty strong words, if you ask me.
A few days later, Cabela’s president and CEO Dennis Highby responded to Sharpe’s contentions, noting that Cabela’s Trophy Properties is simply a recreational property listing service, and that listed properties are also being marketed independent of the Sidney, Nebraska-based company.
“All of the properties marketed by Cabela’s Trophy Properties are already for sale to the public…we do not get involved in the sale or purchase of any property,” Highby wrote.
The CEO’s explanation apparently didn’t pacify the MWF leadership, and last week Sharpe sent another, strongly worded correspondence, Henckel reported.
“Some of our members have noticed the ‘For Sale’ notices for traditional public hunting, private properties on the Cabela’s website, and in local ag-news publications, and are now calling for a strong public hunter response in Montana, such as burning or mailing back their Cabela’s catalog.”
I’ve blogged before about the current trend of corporations purchasing large expanses of land once thought to be worthless to agriculture, property that has now become valuable to hunters and anglers. In fact, many real estate companies and entrepreneurs are specializing in locating and marketing such land.
Are sportsmen’s groups justified in threatening to boycott these companies and individuals for simply being a part of the sales and marketing process? [ Read Full Post ]
“Down here in the Ozarks, asking whether a fat dog farts is the equivalent of enquiring if the Pope is Catholic or if a pig’s butt is made of pork. The answer, of course, is yes; fat dogs fart. So do skinny dogs, old dogs, young dogs, and especially, gun dogs. This often is directly related to an appetite for carrion and cow pies, but I’ve know some dogs who could manufacture an endless supply of noxious gas on a diet of cornflakes.”
Tales From the Dark Side [ Read Full Post ]
Ca'Lyn Zachary of Morrilton, Ark., says hunting at home was a bust this season. Fortunately, the turkey hunter scored his first ever trip to Kansas but even there struggled on public land for a few days. Zachary and his brother-in-law had been seeing a pair of huge toms strutting with hens on private land and tried a time-honored, but not always successful tactic, they knocked on the landowners door and asked him for permission to hunt. The very friendly landowner said "sure" and the two hunters were in business.
The next morning was silent without a gobble to be heard so the two moved to the field where they had been seeing the toms. I'll let Zachary take it from here in his own words:
"We set up our ole' buddy B-Mobile along with a hen decoy. Several hens soon entered the field and grouped up in the middle but paid little attention to our calls or decoys.
"We finally heard a turkey gobble in response to my cutting at around 7:30 but he responded only once. Then finally, around 8:15, I spotted a blazing red head in the woods near the creek. I immediately hit him with some cutts and a gobble from my Primos tube.
"He walked out into the field and erupted into full strut. He looked over at our strutter and fired off a gobble. Then his buddy joined him and they proceeded to sprint the 80 or 90 yards into our setup.
"My little brother-in-law took the first bird at just 11 steps, and I rolled the other one up with my Remingon 870 Tactical.
"The first bird was a large Eastern sporting an 11-inch beard and 1 1/2-inch spurs. He weighed 23 pounds.
"The one I downed was truly a giant. I'm still kicking myself for not sending him to the taxidermist. The bird was either a Rio or a hybrid and was my first ever double bearded bird. He had a very thick rope of 11 1/2 inches and the second beard was almost 6 inches. His hooks were 1 3/4 inches, making him a true limbhanger. That is if I could find a limb to hold him, because he weighed a whopping 26 pounds! (Yeah Ca'Lyn. You should have gotten that one mounted!)
"I thanked the landowner many times and despite all my efforts to give him a portion of my kill, he kindly refused.
Just more proof that they grow the birds huge in Kansas. Great hunt Ca'Lyn and thanks for sharing it with us. Few hunters will ever kill birds that size.
Ca'Lyn will be entered into the "Give Us The Bird Photo Contest." The deadline was set for midnight at June 30, but since I'm on vacation right now (beach side in Virginia) I figured it would be unpatriotic of me not to extend the contest until midnight July 4. So all you procrastinators get those last minute entries in. I'll be running pics throughout the week. [ Read Full Post ]