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News Hound archive: Through Dec. 1, 2006

12/4/2006

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    posted Dec. 1, 2006

    Deer check station moved out of playground view

    In an example of political correctness run amok, officials with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife agreed to move a deer check station away from public view after complaints that children on a nearby playground could see dead deer as they were weighed and recorded at the facility.

    Upton Police Chief Thomas Stockwell told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette he was acting on the complaint of a concerned parent when he requested the check-in site be moved behind a local Veteran of Foreign Wars post building, so it could not be seen from a playground and Christmas tree sales lot.

    As is the case in many states, hunters in Massachusetts are required by law to have their deer weighed and tagged at a state-maintained checkpoint. The gathered data is used by state biologists to track and research the deer population.

    Thomas O'Shea, assistant director of wildlife for the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, told the Milford Daily News it was a first time someone had complained about the location of a check station or about having deer carcasses in public view.

    "We have more than 70 stations in quite-visible places and have never had a problem," O'Shea said.

    Jack Saucier, a trustee at the VFW post, said he couldn't understand why someone would complain about the site's location, noting that children were often drawn to the check-in to look at the deer.

    "Most of them come over; they want to touch the deer," he said. "It's like a learning experience."

    So, remember parents, don't you dare let your kiddies view a dead deer at a check station. But graphic, violent video games and raunchy TV shows and movies are just fine.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Bobbi Hoagland receives inaugural ESPN Outdoors award

    I just received word that my dear friend and longtime associate, Ms. Bobbi Hoagland, was recently presented with the inaugural ESPN Outdoors Friend of the Outdoors Award during her retirement dinner held in Easton, Pa.

    Hoagland, who was fondly known to legions of outdoor communicators for her work with the public-relations firm Images Group, represented companies including Bushnell/Bausch & Lomb, Imperial Schrade, Woolrich and others during her 20 years with the company.

    "There are many things that come to mind when I think of Bobbi Hoagland's contributions to the outdoor industry throughout her 20 years in it," senior director of ESPN Outdoors Michael Cassidy said in presenting her award.

    "However, the one thought that seems to tie all others together is that I have never known anyone to be so completely committed to our industry as a whole. Bobbi's attention to detail, and dedication to follow up on every commitment, should serve as the example for all of us in the outdoor industry to emulate.

    "It is because of Bobbi's countless contributions to help all of us in the outdoor industry to promote our beliefs, our hopes and our passions that I consider it a personal honor to present Bobbi with the inaugural ESPN Outdoors Friends of the Outdoors Award."

    For me, a visit to an outdoor writer function or hunting and shooting industry trade show was never complete without the opportunity to share a drink and a few laughs with my pal Bobbi.

    A consummate professional, she always remembered how I'd made her feel welcome when she attended her first national outdoor writer event 20 years ago in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Indeed, it's a good memory that separates the best PR folks from the average ones.

    Have a great retirement, Bobbi. Hope to see you around.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Survey: Crowded boat launches a growing problem

    Heavy traffic at the nation's boat launches is a growing problem for many anglers, according to Southwick Associates, a leading national research agency that specializes in fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation statistics.

    In an online poll taken on its AnglerSurvey.com Web site in November, nearly 11 percent of respondents said they have cancelled a fishing trip due to overcrowded ramps.

    Though the online survey was decidedly unscientific by design, Rob Southwick, who heads the agency bearing his name, says the results are nonetheless significant.

    "There are 35 million anglers in the U.S. who fish 557 million days annually and spend $75 per fishing trip," Southwick said.

    "When 11 percent of anglers cancel just one trip a year, they also cancel $287 million in fishing expenditures. That hurts."

    Considering economic multiplier effects, Southwick notes the potential loss of $287 million in sportfishing sales also reduces state and federal tax revenues by $50 million and American jobs by 7,400. Total economic activity in the United State is reduced by $802 million, and people's paychecks and business profits decrease by $208 million.

    His conclusion?

    "Additional or expanded boat ramps in many areas may be worth the investment," Southwick said.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Nov. 30, 2006

    Deer season brings annual Wisconsin jobless spike

    What could possibly explain the dramatic 86 percent jump in new claims for unemployment benefits in Wisconsin last week?

    A serious downturn in the economy? Massive layoffs in the auto industry?

    Nope. Deer-hunting season in the Cheesehead state, what else?

    According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, every year, just like clockwork, initial filings for unemployment insurance leap during the final week of November, when many employers suspend operations or schedule factory downtime to accommodate Wisconsin's nine-day firearms deer hunting season.

    As a result, a total of 23,000 workers filed new applications for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of 12,335 from the previous week.

    The state Department of Workforce Development says that figure is similar with 2005 numbers, when 22,105 claims were filed during deer-hunting week, reflecting a 73 percent jump from the prior week.

    With the tremendous hunting tradition in Wisconsin — where 600,000 head to their deer stands and camps annually — the one-week surge in jobless claims garners a rather dubious national distinction for the state every year.

    We tend to look at it as a good thing.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Last straw: N.J. bear hunt high-court appeal denied

    The New Jersey State Supreme Court Wednesday denied an appeal made by hunter's groups, effectively ending any chance the state's third black bear hunt in four years would begin as scheduled next Monday.

    "As far as the 2006 hunt is concerned, this is the end of the road," said Doug Burdin, lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Safari Club International.

    Safari Club joined with the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs to challenge an earlier lower court ruling that concluded Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson acted within her authority to suspend the hunt.

    Jackson's decision reflected the sentiments of her boss, Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who vowed to block the hunt in favor of non-lethal bear control methods.

    "I think we can crown (Corzine) the leading anti-hunting governor in America," Rick Story, senior vice president of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, said following the court's decision.

    Yesterday's action marked the third time since 2003 that The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance's legal entity, the U.S. Sportsmen's Legal Defense Fund, has answered challenges to the New Jersey bear hunt in court.

    In 2003, the first bear hunt in 35 years took place in an effort to control an increasingly troublesome population that had grown to an estimated 3,200 bruins, primarily in the northern part of the state.

    Last year, hunters took about 300 bears in a 1,500-square-mile region roughly bordered by Interstates 78 and 287.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Nov. 29, 2006

    Hunter held up for doe

    A Pennsylvania hunter told authorities he was robbed this week by three armed men who demanded he hand over his doe.

    That's right, his D-O-E, not his D-O-U-G-H!

    Robert Hanna of Meadville, Pa., said he was preparing to climb down from his treestand after shooting a whitetail doe Monday when three men carrying rifles approached him. He said the men wore blaze orange vests and hats and appeared to be hunters.

    The 42-year-old Hanna said the men ordered him to empty his rifle and throw it down. When he climbed to the ground, he said one of the men struck him from behind, knocking him down.

    The trio left with Hanna's deer.

    "I'm really, really upset about the whole ordeal," Hanna told the local newspaper. "(It's) over a dumb deer. If they wanted it so bad I would have said, 'Take it."'

    Local authorities are handling the case as an armed robbery and assault.

    "They knocked him to the ground and took his deer," said Vernon Township Police Sgt. Randy Detzel.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Steal a tree and "urine" trouble

    Hunters and trappers have a long history of using natural scents, including animal urine, as both an attractant and cover when pursuing their quarry in the field.

    Some innovative landscapers in Nebraska have found that certain natural animal scents also can prove to be a deterrent against those ne'er-do-wells who may have designs on filching fir trees for their personal holiday decorations.

    That's what was happening at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City, where tree thieves were hitting the evergreen-studded campus every Christmas season.

    Until 12 years ago, that is.

    That's when the campus landscaping crew began spraying all the fir, spruce and other Christmas-type greenery with a malodorous combination of fox urine and glycerin.

    "It is fine when it is outside," landscape manager Kirby Baird told the campus newspaper, The Daily Nebraskan. "But once it warms up, you can't have it in your house for more than five minutes."

    Apparently, the word about the urine-scented trees has spread across the campus like, uh, a bad odor. Only one tree has been cut during the past four years.

    "It smells just like what it is," Baird said.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Nov. 28, 2006

    Deer hunt oddity: Five-legged buck

    If you're a regular reader of the ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound blog, you know I've tracked down a fair number of odd deer hunting stories in recent weeks.

    Here's one that came to straight to the News Hound via an Illinois outdoor writer who knows how much I like to share wild critter tales.

    Rod Kloeckner, a reporter for the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat, shared his recent article about a local high school sophomore who bagged his first deer during last week's Illinois firearm season opener.

    When an excited 16-year-old Tony Zajac of Grantfork, Ill., recovered the spike whitetail he downed with one slug from his shotgun, he discovered something that will make his first-ever deer even more memorable.

    You see, the buck had a fifth leg, complete with a hoof, growing out of its chest.

    "It was the first deer I had ever shot, so I was excited about that," Zajac told the newspaper reporter. "Then I go down and see it and it has this extra leg.

    "I was like, I don't know if it's something everybody else sees every day, or if it's just a freak."

    Freak, indeed.

    In fact, Tom Micetich, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources deer project manager with more than 30 years experience in the field, called it a potential one-in-a-million occurrence.

    "I don't want to put a number on it because some statistician will call me a liar, but it's extremely rare," Micetich said, adding that it was the first time he'd witnessed such an abnormality in a whitetail.

    "It's just some freak of nature," the biologist said. "Most of the freaks end up dying because some predator gets them. This is just one of those oddities."

    Where else are you going to read this stuff, huh? And, Rod, thanks for sharing it with the News Hound faithful.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    6-point smackdown no walk in the park

    A trio of Sheboygan, Wis., men sharing a pre-holiday family walk in a local park last week found themselves engaged in a half-hour, hand-to-hoof battle with an apparent rut-crazed, 170-pound whitetail buck.

    Writer Eric Litke of the Sheboygan Press reports Anthony Lee, 20, was with his cousin George Lee, 19, and father, Tou Moua Lee, 47, in local Evergreen Park last Wednesday, when a 6-point buck leapt onto the trail in front of them, angrily snorted several times and charged.

    "I just grabbed the horns, which is pretty stupid," Anthony Lee recounted. "That's where it all started."

    As he held tightly to the antlers, Lee said the deer lunged at him repeatedly. It ripped his pants, knocked him down several times and briefly pinned him to the ground with its headgear.

    What followed was a 30-minute wrestling match in which the three men battled the belligerent buck with their bare hands and sticks, eventually tackling their attacker and holding it to the ground long enough to summon police by calling 911 on a cell phone.

    "It was very intense. This buck was just going crazy," said Anthony Lee, who weighs 130 pounds. "It was tossing me around as if I were a kid or something. It just did not go down."

    Sheboygan police, who had a difficult time finding the exact location of the park melee, eventually shot and killed the buck. Anthony Lee, who is an avid hunter, said he plans to have the buck's head mounted to display on his wall.

    No doubt, the mount will serve as a catalyst for a lifetime of storytelling.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Nov. 27, 2006

    New Minnesota conservation plate uses artistic license

    It could probably be said with some authority that no anglers in the country know and respect their walleye like those hailing from Minnesota.

    That's why many hearty northwoods fishermen were justifiably perplexed last week when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources unveiled its new design for the state's third in a series of "critical habitat" vehicle license plates to raise funds for conservation efforts and programs.

    The piscatorial painting depicts a fish leaping, basslike, from blue water into a beautiful Minnesota sunset. At first glance it appears to be the favorite species of Northern filet knives, the walleye. Then, upon close scrutiny, pectoral fins and other irregularities point to more unusual genetics.

    Maybe it's a bass-eye?

    Actually, the winning design by artist Sam Melquist of East Grand Forks and chosen from about 80 entries is not supposed to be species specific but, rather, artistic and inspirational.

    Gene Merriam, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, tells the Minneapolis Star-Tribune the design is intended to be symbolic of fishing.

    "It speaks to what so many Minnesotans enjoy — our lakes, our fishing and that feel of the north," he said.

    During the past decade, sales of loon and deer license plates in Minnesota have raised $17.5 million for land purchases and other conservation efforts.

    The previous two plates will continue to be available to motorists, with images of genetically viable species.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Foul weather results in rain of fowl

    Some furious thunderstorms that rattled through Decatur, Texas, recently resulted in heavy downpours, some severe lightning, power failures … and more than two dozen dead ducks raining down on Martha Hughes' roof and surrounding property.

    When the fierce storm subsided in this community located northwest of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex earlier this month, Hughes discovered 26 dead mergansers on her roof, yard and driveway, according to the Wise County Messenger newspaper.

    Hughes surmised that the small, redheaded ducks were all flying together when a single lightning bolt struck them, the same strike that caused a fireball when it hit a nearby electrical transformer.

    Jeremy Meador, a Decatur animal control officer who responded to the scene, said the ducks were indeed well done.

    "They looked like they were charred, burned," he said.

    Hughes told the local newspaper that some other local bird lovers also discovered roasted ducks.

    She said that neighborhood cats apparently hauled away a few of the 26 cooked fowl prior to animal control's arrival on the scene.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Correction: Passport not required for offshore anglers

    Last week I blogged about an apparent new provision of Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 scheduled to become effective in January, which, among other things, would require saltwater anglers who expect to venture 60 miles or more offshore to be prepared to present passports when returning to port.

    Offshore anglers need not worry, as such is not the case. The story apparently was misreported by the Associated Press and is no longer being circulated on the wire.

    I would like to personally thank Mike Loff, a reporter for the ABC affiliate in Pensacola, Fla., who phoned me first thing this morning inquiring about the story and my sources. Like me, Loff found the single AP story with no further background or details.

    Loff's concern prompted me to contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security directly, where I spoke with Jared Aigen of the department's media office.

    Aigen noted that beginning Jan. 23, U.S. citizens traveling by air from any foreign destination — including Caribbean countries, Canada and Mexico — will be required to present a passport upon re-entry.

    Under the provisions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, similar requirements for land and sea travel are scheduled to become effective in January 2008.

    Aigen stressed that as the Act relates to offshore travel by anglers and boaters, passports will be required — beginning in January 2008 — by U.S. citizens only when their craft has docked at a foreign port after departing from domestic waters.

    The department spokesman also said the Associated Press was notified of its reporting error and was asked to print a correction.

    Now you know.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Nov. 22, 2006

    Offshore anglers will need passports beginning in January

    Under provisions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, beginning Jan. 23, American citizens traveling by air or sea will be required to have passports when returning from Caribbean destinations, as well as from Canada and Mexico.

    In addition, saltwater anglers who expect to venture 60 miles or farther offshore also will be required to carry the same official citizenship documentation.

    The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 mandates that the U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State develop and implement a plan to require American citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate identity and citizenship documentation when entering the United States.

    For many years, U.S. citizens re-entering the country from trips to Canada, Mexico and Caribbean countries have simply been able to make a verbal declaration of citizenship, or present other forms of documents like birth certificates and driver's licenses.

    That all changes in January, at least for air and sea travel.

    Under the act's provisions, by January 2008 the same passport requirements are expected to become necessary for border crossings by land from Canada and Mexico.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Clyde the turkey was no roadrunner

    Here's a heartwarming holiday critter story for all the fine regular readers of ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound.

    Alabama commercial turkey grower Bill Bates has been taking his best bird of the year — which he always names Clyde — to the capitol in Montgomery to receive a gubernatorial "pardon" for the past 60 years or so.

    After Clyde '05 was spared from the axe by Gov. Bob Riley last year, the 82-year-old Bates arranged to put the big fellow on display at the Alabama Farmers Market located in the state capital.

    Enter People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

    "The PETA people complained that he wasn't being treated right, so I brought Clyde back home," Bates told columnist Alvin Benn of the Montgomery Advertiser this week.

    Clyde, being of champion stock and bloodlines, was, uh, one fat turkey, so to speak; meaning he was not the most agile of fowl.

    As a result, while Clyde waddled away the hours during his retirement back on the farm, one recent day he became the prime target of a crafty coyote.

    In other words, Clyde was no roadrunner.

    "Poor Clyde never had a chance," Bates said. "There wasn't much left but feathers and bones."

    Here's hoping your holiday is as enjoyable and fulfilling as that day on the Bates Farm was for that lucky coyote.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Nov. 21, 2006

    Florida woman finds angling engaging

    Can fishing be romantic?

    You can bet Kim Shea of Boca Raton, Fla., believes it is, especially after her engaging experience on Saturday.

    Steve Waters, the longtime fishing writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, reports today that Shea was angling off San Remo with her boyfriend, Steve Barnes, when she hooked a sailfish … and then some.

    When the woman boated the 65-pound fish, she noticed something rather unusual about the fishing line — a shiny ring was attached to the leader.

    It seems Barnes had attached inexpensive rings to the leaders of both fishing rigs the couple were using that day, all part of his scheme to pop the question while they were on the water.

    Thankfully, the sailfish complied, and Barnes proposed marriage with a real engagement ring.

    Waters reports that Shea decided Barnes was the catch of the day.

    And she released the sailfish.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Way over the limit

    Talk about exceeding the fishing limit.

    Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers recently charged an angler with three gross misdemeanors (emphasis on gross) when he was discovered with 257 sunfish and 79 black bass above his legal limit.

    Tam Thanh Cao, 33, faces maximum fines totaling $6,655 and up to a year in jail for his actions.

    The possession limit for sunfish is 20, and the limit for black bass is six per individual.

    A tipster led officers to Farquar Lake in Apple Valley, where the caller said he'd observed anglers taking a large number of fish from the lake.

    On Oct. 10, State Conservation Officers Jason Peterson and Thephong Le watched Cao catch several fish while using two lines. They later followed him to his home in Burnsville to question him about his activities.

    A DNR press release reports Cao agreed to allow the officers into his house to see the fish he had caught that day, as well as allow the officers to examine the two freezers in his home.

    "Officer Le, Mr. Cao, and I removed a total of 34 frozen bags of what appeared to be bass from the two freezers," Peterson said. "We also removed 35 frozen sandwich-sized bags of what appeared to be sunfish."

    Cao also was charged with illegally fishing with two poles.

    Doing the math, it appears Cao had just about 13 times the legal possession limit of each species.

    And that, dear anglers, is one gross misdemeanor.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Nov. 20, 2006

    Mating moose keep hunter treed

    Following an amorous liaison in the northwoods, a moose cow and bull parked beneath a Minnesota hunter's treestand last week, preventing her from climbing down from her lofty perch.

    Deer hunter Julie Collman says she witnessed nature in its most raw form when she watched the two mate while she sat motionless in her stand.

    But instead of going their separate ways following their romantic encounter, the exasperated ungulates bedded down and didn't seem too keen about moving along.

    In the meantime, it was getting late and Collman wanted to leave. She told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune outdoor writer, Doug Smith, that when she stood up and revealed herself to the animals, they became perturbed rather than frightened.

    "They immediately got upset. They wouldn't leave," Collman said. "They were right under my stand. They weren't afraid. They were just mad."

    A couple of shots from her deer rifle didn't deter the angry moose, either.

    Finally Collman, a sheriff's deputy and an experienced hunter and sportswoman, used her cell phone to call Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Darin Fagerman of Grand Marais.

    Fagerman soon arrived on the scene, armed with a rifle and an air horn, the latter proving to be sufficient incentive to put the moose in motion.

    FORUM | MAILBAG

    Virginia hunter mauled by bear he shot

    Memo to all muzzle-loading rifle hunters: Before approaching a 600-pound black bear you've just shot, it might be a good idea to reload your gun first.

    Thurman Hensley was hunting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley on the final day of the state's black-powder bear season Friday when he shot the big bruin.

    Believing his single shot was sufficient, Hensley moved in to recover his trophy bear.

    Unfortunately, the bear wasn't quite ready to be recovered.

    And all Hensley had for protection was an unloaded smoke pole.

    As a result, the 60-year-old Hensley was airlifted to the University of Virginia Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery Friday afternoon for multiple injuries.

    His condition was upgraded from "fair" to "good" yesterday.

    Hensley's hunting companions successfully dispatched the bear after they came to his aid during the attack.

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    About the author: J.R. Absher shares his perspective while blogging about hunting, fishing, shooting sports, sportsmen's issues and the occasional offbeat outdoor tale. In more than 30 years of writing and a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, photographer, mule wrangler, wilderness packer, magazine editor, political consultant, hunting-equipment copywriter, public-relations director and sportsman's advocate. You may contact him at jrabsher@psci.net.

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