Outdoor Life has a long history of covering the weirdest, wildest, and most outrageous stories in the outdoors. There was plenty to write about in 2022 in news of the weird.
An Ohio Mayor said that ice fishing could lead to prostitution, a shed hunter captured gut-wrenching photos of a dying deer that was half-eaten by coyotes, and a fisherman accidentally pulled his buddy across the ice in their shanty. And that was just in the first two months of the year.
So, before we charge into the new year and all the strange stories it will surely bring, let’s take a minute to look back at some of the crazier stuff that happened in 2022.
Video: Fisherman Accidentally Drags His Buddy—and Their Shelter—Across the Ice
The guys in this video intended to have a relaxing and, sure, hopefully an exciting day of fishing. But simply forgetting to un-hitch the tow-sled shelter resulted in something that they’ll (hopefully) be able to laugh about for years. Read the full story here.
Massachusetts Shed Hunter Discovers Buck That Was Half-Eaten by Coyotes, But Still Alive
The deer was still alive, and Guyette instantly recognized what he said were hundreds of fresh coyote tracks scattered among the huge puddles of blood. Both of the buck’s legs were broken, his hindquarters had been chewed on, and it was abundantly clear that the animal had been chased out onto the ice, attacked, and subsequently feasted upon by two or more coyotes. Read the full story here.
Mayor in Ohio Says That Ice Fishing at a Public Park Could Lead to Prostitution
Hudson mayor thinks ice fishing leads to prostitution! Put your poles away boys!*— Amanda Weinstein (@ProfWeinstein) February 9, 2022
*Same guy who thinks creative writing classes are child pornography. pic.twitter.com/9N0R2tVri6
Mayor Craig Shubert of Hudson, Ohio, did not want people ice fishing at Hudson Springs Park. During a city council meeting earlier this year, the mayor voiced his outlandish concern that allowing people to set up ice fishing shanties at the public park could potentially lead to prostitution.
“If you open this up to ice fishing, which while on the surface, it sounds good, then what happens next year? Does somebody come back and say, ‘I want an ice shanty in Hudson Springs Park for X amount of time?’” Shubert asked the city council. “And if you then allow ice fishing with shanties, then that leads to another problem: prostitution. And now you have the police chief of the police department involved. Just some data points to consider.”
Shubert eventually resigned as mayor after this story went viral. Read the full story here.
Watch: Bobcat Fights a Python, Steals Its Eggs
In a study that was published in Ecology and Evolution, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey captured photographs and videos of a bobcat tangling with a 120-pound female python that was defending her nest. The footage from the Everglades shows that after the initial face-off between the bobcat and the snake, the cat returned to the nest to feast on its eggs. Read the full story here.
Elderly Florida Woman Charged in “Mercy Killing” of an Endangered Key Deer
Can you be convicted of a crime for killing a federally protected animal that is clearly suffering at the time? Or better yet, should you be? These are questions that prosecutors will have to ask themselves as they confront the case involving Wendy Kilheffer, a 77-year-old resident of Big Pine Key who shot and killed an endangered Key deer in a residential area last month.
Kilheffer has since been charged with a misdemeanor for taking an endangered species. If convicted, she could face up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. She was arraigned in U.S. District Court on Dec. 16 and was released on a $10,000 bond, according to court documents. Read the full story here.
Magnet Fishermen Ticketed After Uncovering 86 Rockets, Other Ordnance While Fishing on a Georgia Army Base
Three magnet fishermen faced fines after they pulled up a wealth of military weapons while fishing on an Army base in Georgia. The treasure hunters were probing the waters of the Canoochee River, which runs through the base, when they made their discovery. They posted the entire 25-minute episode—including their run-in with law enforcement—to YouTube. Eventually those charges were dropped. Read the full story here.
Two Iowa Men Find Nearly 200 Pounds of Morels
Jimmy Johnson and Rusty Gates went mushroom hunting on May 7 in southeast Iowa and had little success at first. After roughly an hour, they found more morels than ever expected.
“It was just nonstop as we were walking,” Johnson said to The Hawk Eye, a local newspaper. “We’d just see four or five here and then take a few steps and see more. It was continuous.”
After six full hours of mushroom hunting, the two men collected 130 pounds of morel mushrooms. They posted about their success in Morel Reports of Southeast Iowa’s Facebook Group. Read the full story here.
The Landowner and One Hunter From the Viral “I Own the F*cking Land” Video Are Charged with Misdemeanors
The latest chapter of the wild confrontation between a North Dakota landowner and a group of duck hunters involves a few misdemeanor charges, an ongoing investigation, and an accusation from the landowner’s son that the hunters edited out certain parts of the video before posting it to their YouTube channel.
Bismarck landowner Jeffrey Erman approached the group of duck hunters hunting a property line on Oct. 21 and berated them for trespassing on his land and ruining his hunt. One member of the group filmed the interaction and the footage has since racked up 1.7 million. Erman was charged with interfering with the rights of hunters and trappers and disorderly conduct-obscenity, both of which are Class-B misdemeanors. He was also charged with trading in special influence for offering to call off the game warden for half the price of the hunters’ fine. Trading in special influence is a Class-A misdemeanor. Read the full story here.
South African Crew Catches Second Biggest Atlantic Blue Marlin Ever
South African citrus farmer Ben Vorster, 50, was fishing aboard the 37-foot Bertram charter boat Smoker with renowned Capt. Ryan “Roo” Williamson the morning of May 19 when he hooked into one of the biggest Atlantic blue marlin ever caught on a rod and reel. After only a 30-minute fight Vorster brought the fish to the boat. Back at the marina, the marlin was placed on a digital scale, where it officially weighed in at 1,370 pounds. It measured 12.6 feet in length with a 6.6-foot girth, and the fish’s tail fin alone was nearly three feet across. It’s the second heaviest blue marlin ever caught from the Atlantic. Read the full story here.
Iguana Hunter Kills Giant Invasive Lizards in Florida
Florida lists iguanas as an invasive species that can be hunted year-round with no limit. And that’s where iguana hunter Mike Kimmel and his Drahthaar, Otto, come to the rescue. Kimmel has been hunting iguanas for about a decade, and in recent years he’s been hired to eliminate lizards in municipalities, on golf courses, residential properties, and anywhere else they become a nuisance.
“We’ve definitely had a positive impact on removing iguanas from cities, parks, and private properties,” says Kimmell, 33, who operates Martin County Trapping & Wildlife Rescue. “But the large and winding canal system in South Florida is loaded with iguanas, and that’s where I take paying hunters for a day of environmental cleanup.” Read the full story here.
Video: Colorado Man Wakes Up to Discover a Mountain Lion Eating an Elk on His Front Porch
Charles Zelenka has lived in his Colorado home for 17 years, during which he’s watched deer, bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and even the occasional moose stroll through his half-acre yard. That’s why, when he woke up around 2 a.m. on Jan. 4 to a loud banging noise outside his Glenwood Springs house, he figured it was the usual bears trying to break into his bear-proof dumpster.
“I was just about ready to turn and go out the door, and a mountain lion popped up from underneath this thing,” Zelenka says. “So I grabbed my phone—I’m in my skivvies, I’ve just gotten out of bed—and start recording.” Read the full story here.
Watch: Hooked Mako Shark Goes Airborne, Jumps into Fishing Boat
According to NECN News, Capt. Dave Sinclair of Sea Ventures Charters was running the boat when the crew hooked into the mako roughly 15 to 20 miles from Monhegan Island. His 15-year-old grandson Cameron was the one holding onto the rod.
When the short video begins, Cameron is already doing battle with the mako shark. His rod is jammed into a fighting belt. As he cranks on the reel, the mako launches high into the air, does a backflip and lands with a splash.
“Oh, shit!” everyone on board says in unison. “Did you get that?” one of the anglers on deck asks the person filming the video, who appears to be up in the tuna tower. Read the full story here.
Anglers in Texas Catch Rare Melanistic Alligator Gar
Two anglers managed to catch a rare melanistic alligator gar in a southeast Texas marsh on May 15. Terrell Maguire is the angler who hooked the fish, and fishing guide Justin Jourdan was able to snag a few pictures and post them to Lotus Guide Service’s Facebook page.
The fish was an average-sized alligator gar at about 5-feet long, but it’s the jet-black coloration that makes it truly special. Melanistic gar are especially rare. Wildlife biologists aren’t quite sure how many exist, and many anglers will go a lifetime without seeing one.
“Well… me and Terrell found out melanistic gar do exist yesterday,” wrote Jourdan in the Facebook post, which received thousands of shares and hundreds of comments. Jordan and Meyer returned the fish to the marsh after catching it. Read the full story here.
Largest Python Ever Captured in Florida Is Nearly 18 Feet Long
Researchers with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida have captured the largest Burmese python ever recorded in the state. It took three people to carry the massive snake, which weighed a jaw-dropping 215 pounds and measured 17 feet, 7 inches in length.
Ian Bartoszek, Ian Easterling, and Kyle Findley were part of the Conservancy’s python-tracking team that found the snake in December. The giant female easily breaks their previous record for the biggest python ever caught in Florida, which weighed 185 pounds. Read the full story here.
Professional Walleye Anglers Caught Stuffing Fish with Weights During a Tournament on Lake Erie
Serious Controversy in Pro fishing tournament as multiple-time winners caught stuffing lead weights and other fish filets in their fish to have the heaviest catch to win hundreds of thousands in prizes. pic.twitter.com/Sxqeo2XC0K— Billy (@Billyhottakes) October 1, 2022
A professional walleye fishing tournament on Lake Erie ended in pandemonium on Sept. 30 when the leading team was caught cheating during the weigh-in. Professional anglers Chase Cominksy, of Hermitage, Pennsylvania, and Jake Runyan, of Cleveland, Ohio, were declared the winners of the Lake Erie Walleye Trail until tournament director Jason Fischer became suspicious of their bulging walleye, which seemed unusually heavy for their size. Cutting open the fish in front of the crowd, Fischer discovered that each of them had been stuffed with lead weights. The incident sparked an investigation by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Cleveland Metroparks, and Fischer told the New York Times over the weekend that all evidence had been turned over to the proper authorities. The anglers were eventually charged with felonies. Read the full story here.