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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Firearm Safety

1. Remove Ammo
Make sure you unload your firearms before storing. Always keep a gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
2. Store Securely
You want all guns and ammo in locked storage. Store your rifles, handguns and ammunition in a safe place. A good gun safe bolts to the floor for extra security.
3. Handle Keys or Combinations Carefully
If your safe has a combination, memorize it. If you have to write it down, put it in an extremely secure private place like a safety deposit box. If you have a key lock for your gun safe, keep it with you at all times.
4. Protect Your Children
As soon as your children are old enough to be aware of guns, explain to them that they should only be handled by an adult with knowledge and experience. Be sure they understand how dangerous guns can be in the wrong hands. As they grow older, remind them that your guns should only be handled when you are present.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Pacific Bluefin Tuna Record

A sinew-stretching encounter with a powerful giant tuna 60 kilometres off the West Coast has got Stoke man Brent Connor into the record books and made him a fisherman of international stature.
Mr Connor, a 42-year-old road marking contractor, now officially holds the world record for a Pacific bluefin tuna caught on 60-kilogram (130-pound) line.
He has a certificate from the International Game Fish Association to prove it, his 281kg (619lb 7oz) catch has gone to the association's Florida museum and he's pictured in the latest issue of International Angler magazine.
It all happened on September 10 last year while Mr Connor and five of his mates were on a two-day trip out of Greymouth aboard Tony Roach's 15.4 metre charter boat Cova Rose.
They all caught bluefin tuna, but it was Mr Connor's that stood out as a possible world-beater. So Mr Roach – an experienced hand with a strong reputation in the bluefin-chasing scene – made sure that all the requirements for a record entry were complied with.
Line testing and other stringent checks take time, and it was only a few weeks ago that the certificate arrived, followed by the magazine at the weekend.
Mr Connor, who was on his first tuna trip, said he and the same group were going back this year. The catch was extra-special because it occurred on the anniversary of the death of his brother Warren, whose life was claimed by a heart attack four years previously, when he was just 39.
"I think he probably gave me a hand to get the fish up."
The tuna took a hoki bait and was landed in 55 minutes, using a game chair and harness. It took all of the six fishermen and three crew to lift it aboard.
Mr Connor said the experience was "just amazing".
"It's like hauling in a bus."
He was exhausted but "still buzzing" the next day, he said, and hopes to one day travel to Florida to see the fish again. It was flown there at the association's expense because it had been seeking a Pacific bluefin specimen for its museum.
Nelson-based Mr Roach, who will begin his sixth season of tuna-fishing charters in August, said the fishery was attracting international clients. Half a dozen charter boats are used, with a number of other fishermen using their own boats, heading out from Greymouth and Westport to fish the Hokitika Trench.
"It's been awesome – it's one of the few game fisheries where your chance of a capture is really high," Mr Roach said. "They're real aggressive compared to swordfish or marlin, and fish deep. Some of the fights are five or six hours."
Last season one client caught an even bigger tuna – 334.5kg – but used his own fishing gear, which didn't comply with the tough requirements for a world record entry. Even so, Mr Roach believes it was the biggest Pacific bluefin ever landed anywhere.
Conservationists often express concern about bluefin tuna but Mr Roach said that most of the fish taken in the West Coast season, which only lasts about six weeks after the fish arrive to feed on hoki each year, are tagged and released after being measured alongside the charter boats.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

California Bear Hunters Must Take a Tooth.

Bear hunters taking to the field this season will need to have their heads more closely examined, if they are successful in their hunt.
The California Department of Fish and Game biologists and wardens are requiring hunters to pull a tooth from the skull of every bear taken during the 2011 black bear hunting season, which begins July 9.
This is a change from last year, when the DFG only required a tooth be pulled from every other bear harvested during the season. The change stems from a request by the California Fish and Game Commission, which wants to take a closer look at the management of black bear hunting in California. The commission is the deciding body for hunting and fishing regulations. In 2010, a proposal to modify the number of bears legally taken during the hunting season was scrutinized by commission members as well as the public. During the regulation setting process, commission members and the public voiced a desire to look at regional bear hunt management.
The bear teeth provide insight in the bear population. A premolar is pulled from the bear’s mandible and processed at a Montana laboratory specializing in finding the age of an animal. Lab technicians can find the age of the bear, and reproductive events can also be detected in female teeth.
The DFG uses the information to monitor the bear population, which is then used to decide new hunting regulations.
California’s black bear population is estimated to be at more than 30,000. Current regulations allow up to 1,700 bears to be taken during the hunting season.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Anglers gear up for snapper season

Red snapper are perhaps the most favored and most controversial of all the fish in the Gulf. Every year there's a tug-of-war between conservation and recreation. This year is no different, as the season has been shortened by more than three weeks. It will begin on June 1st this year.
Most of Captiain Clay Blankenship’s charters are inshore, but at the start of red snapper season on June 1st, he’ll be headed for deeper water.
”Opening day, I’ll definitely be out there. Whether they get an inshore charter or not, I’m going to take them out there and pull on some,” Blakenship said.
While the start of season hasn't changed, the length has. This year’s season will end July 19, making it more than three weeks shorter than in years past.
”This year’s season - the 2011 season - will be the shortest season yet ... 48 days,” said Kevin Anson with Alabama Marine Resources.
Anson said the season is figured on an assessment taken every five years, which is fed into a model to determine how many snapper can be caught. He said the current system doesn’t allow for year-to-year fixes, and the next assessment isn’t scheduled until 2013.
”In that five year period, there may be some increases to the population that just won’t be picked up because the information is based on some previous data,” Anson said.
Anson added that research done by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab shows a healthy abundance of adult red snapper, but that won’t change what you can catch this year.
To be legal, the red snapper that are caught have to be a minimum of 16 inches long, and only two can be caught per day. There is also a possession limit of two, so if you go out on a multi-day trip, no matter how many days you’re out, you’re only allowed to come back with two red snapper.
If you decide to flaunt the law, be prepared. It could cost you as much as $500 per fish.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Texas Noodling to be legalized?

Brady Knowlton has scurried up trees to escape elephants. He has been chased by lions. But in years of hunting, he said, no experience compares to plunging his bare hand into murky water and feeling the powerful jaw of a big catfish clamp down on his arm.
“This is just a very unique thrill,” said Mr. Knowlton, a 30-year-old Dallas outdoorsman who has been hand fishing, or “noodling,” since he was a teenager. But to get his hands inside a catfish’s mouth legally, Mr. Knowlton must go to Oklahoma. Hand fishing is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by a fine of up to $500. But that may not be the case for much longer. State lawmakers on Thursday approved a bill to legalize hand fishing, and the bill is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
But noodling has its detractors. In what could be seen as fishing’s class warfare, traditional rod-and-reel fishermen say noodlers tarnish the reputation of the up-and-coming sport of catfishing. And they worry that hand fishing could decimate the population of large male catfish.
“I had no idea it was against the law,” said State Representative Gary Elkins, Republican of Houston, who introduced a bill to legalize it. He said he could not imagine sticking his own hand down a fish’s gullet but that he did not see why the state should prohibit those who enjoy it from doing so.
It comes with some risks — including run-ins with snakes or snapping turtles and the potential loss of a digit or two. But Mr. Knowlton said it is a great way to enjoy nature. And using your bare hands to wrestle down a catfish that can weigh as much as 60 pounds, well, just seems more sporting.
Noodling worries opponents of hand fishing because it is practiced during the summer spawning season. Females lay their eggs in underwater burrows, which are guarded by males, whose protectiveness makes it possible for the noodler to stick a hand into a burrow and come out with an aggressive catfish. The noodler’s score means one less big catfish in the population and leaves those eggs vulnerable to other predators.
Noodlers and some biologists dispute the argument that noodling affects fish populations differently than other forms of fishing. It is no different from snagging fish on the end of a hook, they say.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials will not speak for or against pending legislation, but officials have expressed some concern that noodling could deplete isolated populations of the long-lived and difficult-to-breed flathead catfish, the species that noodlers typically pursue.
John Tibbs, a fisheries biologist with the department, said a shift in the size of the fish population because of noodling, while possible, seemed “highly unlikely.” The wildlife department could respond to particularly sensitive populations with specific limits and regulations, he said.
But Chad Ferguson, a Texas fishing guide, is worried that noodlers will damage the growing sport of trophy catfishing. “The mentality of most of these guys attracted to noodling is to catch the biggest fish that they can and to keep everything that they catch,” said Mr. Ferguson, who has been a guide for 10 years.
The growing popularity of trophy catfishing has led to more tournaments with bigger prizes and has turned the catfish into one of the top game fish in Texas, Mr. Ferguson said. “It’s a black eye for the progress that we’ve made to really take the sport of catfishing to a more professional level,” he said.
Bradley Beesley, an Austin filmmaker and noodler who has made two documentaries about the practice and runs a noodling tournament in Oklahoma, knows that sentiment. Noodlers are often placed at the bottom of the fishing hierarchy, he said, with rod-and-reel fishermen and their expensive equipment at the top.
To Mr. Beesley, it is an unsporting assessment of his passion. “It’s simply the fairest way to combat another beast on their terms,” he said.

Monday, May 23, 2011

PA is raising the number of doe tags given out this year!

The length of doe season is changing. The number of doe licenses to be available is changing. Antler restrictions are changing. The Deer Management Assistance Program is changing.
Other than that, this year's deer hunting will look just like last year's.
When Pennsylvania Game Commissioners gathered in Harrisburg earlier this month to give final approval to seasons and bag limits for 2011-12, a number of species were discussed, some extensively. But deer, as always, dominated.
One change expanded the number of wildlife management units that will be managed under a split season format - five days of bucks-only hunting followed by seven days of either-sex hunting - to 11. The state's other 11 units will feature 12 days of concurrent buck and doe hunting.
The units with the split season are 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E. Those with concurrent hunting are 1A, 1B, 2B, 3A, 3D, 4A, 4C, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D.
That was not a surprise. Commissioners had given the change tentative approval in April, and stuck to the idea, even though enough people testified in opposition to the idea that Commissioner Ralph Martone, of Lawrence County, congratulated them on "connecting split seasons to everything but drought and famine in Africa."
Commissioners also adopted another proposal that had been championed earlier in the year by Martone and Commissioner Bob Schlemmer, of Westmoreland County.
The change is that units where bucks previously had to have four antler points to a side to be legal will now be managed according to a "3-up" rule. That means any buck with three points on one side - excluding the brow tine - will now be legal.
The change - which impacts units 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D - was adopted to make it easier for hunters to identify what is a legal deer, said Schlemmer.
"I've heard from a lot of our older hunters in particular who wanted to say thank you because now they don't have to worry about that brow tine," Schlemmer said.
Hunters don't have to look for the tine, but if they see one in those units, they can't count it as the third point, warned commission Executive Director Carl Roe.
Commissioners also set the number of antlerless deer licenses to be made available. In most management units, the allocation is designed to keep the herd at existing levels.
There are a few exceptions. The commission is - as always - trying to lower the deer population in the state's three most urban units, including 2B, which surrounds Pittsburgh.
They also upped the number of doe permits issued in units 2D, 2F and 3D. In the case of 2F, it was to offer more opportunity, since licenses there typically sell out within a matter of days, explained Martone.
In 2D, the goal is to lower the deer herd, as a citizen advisory council recommended, he added.
In Unit 3D, the goal is to lower the deer herd a bit more and speed up forest recovery, said Commissioner Jay Delaney, of Luzerne County.
Commissioners lowered the doe license allocation to allow the deer herd to grow in units 3B, 4D and 4E.
Commissioner Tom Boop, of Northumberland County, who recommended those adjustments, said he would have preferred more dramatic changes.
"I'm just really tired of catering to the timber industry on wildlife. Whether people like it or not, we are about providing recreational opportunities for hunters," Boop said.
Boop's frustration - long on display over the deer program - was nothing new. He predicted back in January that the buck harvest from 2010-11 would be drastically down over prior years.
That didn't come to pass, at least according to the commission's chief deer biologist, Chris Rosenberry. The agency's estimated buck harvest in particular was actually 13 percent higher than the year before.
Boop, in a March 16 letter to Roe, questioned the veracity of that.
"Quite frankly, no one that I have talked to since the news release believes that the estimated antlered harvest figures are accurate," Boop wrote to Roe.
"Although I would like to believe that ‘no creative accounting' has been utilized, I am skeptical,"
He continued in that same vein at the commission meeting. When Rosenberry gave a presentation to the board, Boop asked him if he actually believed Pennsylvania held enough deer to support a harvest of 316,240, last season's estimate.
Some have suggested that would mean Pennsylvania had upwards of one million deer, or 36 per square mile, he said.
Rosenberry's answer was that "it doesn't matter." The commission does not manage deer based on how many live within the state, he said. It manages deer on a unit basis, with the size of the herd in each based on deer and habitat health and human tolerances.
"If those goals for the deer program are being met, it doesn't matter" what the number of deer is, he said.
Cal DuBrock, head of the commission's Bureau of Wildlife Management, echoed those sentiments when asked about the total number of doe licenses being issued this fall.
The total is 902,000, the highest it's been in the last several years. But that's irrelevant, given that the commission manages deer by specific wildlife management units, he said.
Commissioner Delaney said commissioners and the public would like to have population estimates, though.
He also asked why Pennsylvania's forests are not getting healthier faster, given the presence of fewer deer compared to past highs.
Roe suggested it's possible to see quicker change, but only by further lowering deer numbers and keeping them down longer, something that would likely prove unpopular with many hunters.
"That's where the social aspect of management comes in," he said.
"It takes time," Rosenberry added.
Finally, commissioners changed the rules regarding DMAP. It gives landowners coupons that hunters can redeem for doe permits good for their specific properties.
Last year, commissioners capped the number of permits and counted them against the overall doe license allocation.
This year, there is no limit on coupons, and they will be offered in addition to regular doe licenses.
Requests for coupons must be justified, however, said President Commissioner Ron Weaner, of Adams County.
"Public landowners will have to present a management plan for their property, and it will have to be approved by staff," Weaner said.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Texas bill would allow hellicopter hunting

Snorting, slashing and digging, some two million porcine predators are rampaging across the state, Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday, warning some are even venturing into urban areas.
Although landowners have the right to shoot feral hogs on their property, Fraser wants Texans to have the right to organize hunting trips and shoot them from helicopters.
Once-domestic hogs, now feral, they root up pasture land, tear down fences, destroy crops and occasionally endanger people. Studies show they do some $400 million worth of damage a year.
The Senate voted 29-2 to support Fraser's bill. Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, was the only one to speak up on behalf of the hogs. He said he understood the problem but had concerns about the hunting notion.
Interestingly, Fraser's bill is labeled “relating to the taking of certain feral hogs and coyotes.” No one spoke up for the lowly coyote, perhaps because they worried about incurring the wrath of a certain gun-toting jogger, whose own coyote encounter is well known. Gov. Rick Perry will now sign the bill.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Alligator Trapping Just Doesn't Pay Like It Used To!

Who knew that the recession would even affect alligator trapping? Prices for the hides have been reduced from $60 a foot, to $15 a foot. People who thought they could pick up some extra income in trapping alligators from backyards, now realize that it is not in their best interest to quit their day jobs. TimeCNN reports Florida paid trappers $30 per gator trapped, but trappers are hanging up their nets for safer and better paying lines of work.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grizzly Bear Killed in Self Defense

Montana wildlife officials report that a Missoula man shot a grizzly bear in self defense on May 15 on the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area near Seeley Lake.
A female grizzly bear with two cubs surprised the man shortly after noon on the northwest portion of the WMA. The man first hollered at the bear, but the bear continued to advance towards him. When the bear approached to within eight yards, the man shot and wounded the bear.
The man attempted to leave the scene, but the bear chased him, and the man then fired a second shot at five yards, which caused the bear to drop and stop its approach. The man was then able to return to his vehicle, unharmed, and report the incident.
FWP game wardens responded and killed the wounded bear. Biologists trapped and transported the cubs to the FWP Wildlife Center in Helena to where they will be held until they can be placed in a permanent facility.
Wardens reported that the man acted within the law and shot the grizzly in self defense. He will not be charged in the incident. The sow was uncollared and did not have a past history of interactions with people.
"We're relieved that everyone escaped without injury," says Mack Long, FWP Region 2 Supervisor. "It is also another reminder for people recreating in western Montana that bears are out for the season, and to always be prepared for what to do in the case of an encounter."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hunting Elk in Missouri could begin as early as 2015!

The hills around Peck Ranch Conservation Area once again will echo with the bugles of bull elk.
Missouri Conservation Commission Chairman Becky Plattner was struck speechless this morning as she stood in the blue dawn light atop a remote ridge in Carter County. She was listening to sharp snorts and muted barks coming from a stock trailer holding 34 elk. Overwhelmed by emotion after opening the trailer door, she turned to Conservation Commissioner Chip McGeehan and placed her hand over her heart in a gesture of awe.
McGeehan joined Conservation Department biologists wielding plywood shields as they herded the elk from the trailer and through a series of gates to sort them into holding pens. When he glanced up at Plattner, she teased "Why are your eyes so big, Chip?"
"We're making history," he replied.
McGeehan was referring to the return of wild elk to Missouri after an absence of 150 years. The elk began their odyssey in January, when they were captured by MDC staff in cooperation with biologists from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Three months later, with the requirements of stringent veterinary-health protocols met, the elk made a 12-hour trip by semi-trailer, arriving at Peck Ranch Conservation Area shortly after 6:30 a.m. The timing was critical to keep the animals cool and minimize stress.
Plattner and McGeehan joined officials of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and MDC staff directly involved in the elk-restoration effort for the elk's arrival. They watched as MDC staff guided six bull elk and 28 cows and calves into separate holding pens.
"Who would have thought 30 years ago that we would be standing here this morning watching elk return to Missouri?" MDC Director Bob Ziehmer mused. "This amazing event is a continuation of the Conservation legacy that Missouri Citizens created and continue to support today"
Ziehmer said the return of elk to Missouri marks a new era in the Show-Me State's conservation history. The fact that Missouri now has appropriate habitat for elk is tangible proof that long-term, landscape-scale habitat conservation and restoration efforts are coming to fruition.
"When I saw those animals come off the trailer it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up," said RMEF Missouri State Chairman Dave Pace. "Seeing these animals come back, so generations and generations of Missourians will get to see them, is a very momentous occasion. This is a great day for wildlife, it's a great day for conservation and it's a great day for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and all our volunteers. This is what we work for."
Twenty-three-thousand-acre Peck Ranch CA is at the heart of a 346-square-mile elk restoration zone that encompasses parts of Carter, Shannon and Reynolds counties. After an acclimation period the elk will be released into Peck Ranch's rugged hills and valleys, where MDC has been working for 30 years to recreate the landscape-scale type of habitat that sustains multiple species of wildlife.
The RMEF is a major supporter of Missouri's elk-restoration program.
"There is no higher calling in conservation than restoring a native game species to sustainable, huntable, balanced populations," said RMEF President David Allen in a prepared statement. "We are proud to partner in that kind of effort in Missouri, just as we have been in Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. As in those places, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is in this for the long haul in Missouri, too. We will remain by your side to ensure these elk not only arrive, but thrive. And we'll be here to help you show conservationists around the world what is possible when you dream big and never give up."
Missouri's elk will remain in the holding pens at Peck Ranch for up to two weeks to allow them to acclimate to their new home. When the time comes to release the elk from the pens, workers will quietly open gates at night, so the animals can leave on their own when they discover they no longer are confined.
"It's called a ‘soft release,'" said Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen. "This is a technique recommended by our partners in Kentucky, based on their experience. They found that if they brought elk in and released them directly from trailers, the animals bolted from the area. That increased the risk of injury to the elk, and it didn't encourage them to stay near the release site."
For the same reason, said Hansen, MDC had a low-key arrival event at the holding facility when the elk arrived.
Peck Ranch's refuge area will remain closed to the public through July. By then, all the calves will have been born and adjusted to their surroundings.
Hansen said MDC is counting on habitat restoration that has been underway at Peck Ranch for more than 30 years to encourage the elk to stay within the 346-square-mile elk restoration zone. He said MDC's elk-restoration plan includes provisions to deal with elk that find their way onto land where they are not welcome. Long-term plans call for hunting as a tool to manage the size of the elk herd. When hunting commences will depend on how quickly the herd grows, but Hansen said it could begin as soon as 2015.

Monday, May 16, 2011

70 state parks set to close in CA

Seventy state parks across California, including the governor's mansion and at least 14 sites within an hour of San Francisco, will close starting in September, state parks officials announced Friday.
Redwood forests, beaches, coastal woodlands and some of the state's most important cultural and historic sites will be closed, and as many as 220 jobs will be eliminated as a result of the state budget cuts recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Among the popular Bay Area sites that will be closed to the public are China Camp and Samuel P. Taylor state parks, Candlestick Point State Recreation Area and Jack London State Historic Park.
"This is a pretty devastating list," said Elizabeth Goldstein, executive director of the California State Parks Foundation. "It represents 25 percent of the park system and, for the Bay Area, it's a big hit."
The closures are necessary to cover the two-year, $22 million cut in the state parks budget that Brown and the Legislature agreed to in March. Those cuts were made to help shrink the state's then-$26 billion deficit to its current $15.6 billion. Brown hopes to place a tax measure on the ballot to help plug the deficit, but Republicans, staunchly opposed to tax increases or extensions, have blocked the Democratic governor from implementing his plan.
Without new revenue, "we will have to make even deeper cuts," said John Laird, secretary of the California Resources Agency.
As it is, the parks are facing the largest cut in their history.

Bad starting point

The state park system was already in terrible shape before the March budget cuts. About $75 million has been cut out of the parks budget over the past decade. Deficits forced partial closure of 60 parks and deep service reductions in 90 others over the past two years.
Of the 278 parks in the state, 150 have already been affected by budget cuts, including reductions in the number of rangers, lifeguards and janitors. Restrooms, campgrounds, picnic areas and parking lots have been shuttered.
Park staffing is currently at 1979 levels, but the park system has 500,000 more acres and 10 million more visitors a year than it had back then, park officials said. The latest cut would mean the park general fund has been reduced 44 percent since 2006.
"Closing state parks is not a task that gives anyone joy, but we are experiencing turbulent times that necessitate deep - almost unthinkable - cuts to public services," Brown said in a statement.
California, which created its state park system in 1864, has more parks than any other state. They cover 1.5 million acres, including 280 miles of coastline and 625 miles of lake and riverfront. Only Alaska has more land, 3.2 million acres, devoted to state parks.

Difficult choices

The parks on the closure list were evaluated based on their historic significance, number of visitors, revenue generated and the ability to physically close them, according to park officials. Park infrastructure, land use restrictions and partnerships with nonprofits, concessions or local governments were also considered in compiling the list, officials said.
Not a single Southern California beach will be closed, but 40 percent of the state historic parks, including the old governor's mansion in Sacramento, will be, Goldstein said. Nine parks with significant stands of redwoods will also be off-limits, including Samuel P. Taylor, Portola Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park and Hendy Woods State Park.
State officials have admitted the best they can do to close state parks is to put up roadblocks and signs. People have continued to use the partially closed parks and will probably continue using the trails and grounds even with full closures.
The big difficulty, everyone agrees, will be keeping transients, thugs, hunters and other trespassers out of the closed parks, never mind the people who end up passing through on a trail that started somewhere else.

Periodic patrols

Park officials said rangers and maintenance workers will periodically patrol the shuttered parks and they are hoping volunteers will also step up.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Whitetail Deer Vitals Diagram

Regardless of whether you shoot a $1,500 bow or a $300 bow there is one thing I think we can all agree on and that is shot placement is key.

Although my current hunting rig is a higher end rig, my backup rig would fit nicely on display in an archery museum. It doesn't sport any of the fancy bells and whistles that my current bow does simply because my backup bow is a traditional bow!

So what's the point of all this? Well in recent posts I've discussed simple accessories that can help you improve your form, I've spoke about getting into a practice routine, how to set up your bow using walk back tuning or my new favorite French tuning, and gone into broadhead tuning. With all of that under your belt the only thing left to do is pick the right spot on a deer to hit. So here it is:

The picture above shows a whitetail deer with its muscular, skeletal, circulatory and organ systems. Study this diagram well because it will be invaluable to you once you're in the field and a deer shows up in front of you. Let’s take a look at the next diagram to get a better view of what we want to hit and what we want to avoid hitting.
In this diagram you will see the main components that lie underneath the deer’s skin. You want to pay attention to how the shoulder blade lies in relation to the deer's heard and lungs. When I see a deer I try and draw an imaginary line across the center of the deer's body and then a vertical line up from behind the deer's shoulder. I aim right below this imaginary cross hair and this puts me in the area of where I want my arrow to hit without chance of hitting the shoulder on a broadside shot. On a quartering away shot you have a great opportunity to take out both the heart and lungs ensuring a very quick kill, just remember not to take extreme quartering away shots and always aim further back than you would on a broadside shot. A good rule of thumb is to aim for the opposite front leg on a quartering away shot. One other thing I'll say, is don't take a quartering towards shot on a deer, no matter how good of a shot you think you have the risk of injuring and losing a deer is far greater than the chance of making a quick clean kill.

Take a moment to go over these diagrams and refresh yourself throughout the season and you will start making better shots in the field and watching your deer drop in sight. The best way is to practice on a 3D deer target so you can visually see how the arrow will travel through the deer. Get out there and start practicing now!
Posted by Marc Alberto

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

73 Kills in under 2 minutes!

73 Kills in Under 2 Minutes!
First part of the video that is Highlighting kills from the TV Show Outdoors with Bob Coker! There are 73 kills in less than 2 minutes. Stay tuned... More to come!!! Check out for pictures and full length videos!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Federal Duck Stamp

On March 16, 1934 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which requires an annual stamp purchase by all hunters over the age of sixteen. Since 1934, the sale of Federal Duck Stamps has generated $670 million, and helped to purchase or lease 5,200,000 acres (8,120 sq mi; 21,000 km2) of habitat.

Monday, May 9, 2011

GA Deer Baiting Bill Passes

Legislators passed House Bill 277, “The Baiting Bill,” but they did little to silence the divide and emotional debate among hunters over the issue. HB 277 legalizes baiting for deer in the Southern Zone while keeping it illegal to hunt deer within 200 yards of bait in the Northern Zone.

HB 277 will become law unless Gov. Nathan Deal decides to veto the legislation. However, vetoes by the governor are rare, especially on an issue where almost 80 percent of the affected public — hunters — support legalized baiting for deer, according to a GON survey. There was no indication as to when the governor would address HB 277 or hundreds of other new laws awaiting his signature. The governor must sign or veto legislation within 40 days after the final legislative day of the session, which was April 14, or a bill becomes law without his signature.

From its original version that would have legalized baiting for deer and hogs statewide, the Baiting Bill was amended so deer hunters in the Northern Zone still have to be 200 yards and out of sight of bait. However, HB 277 makes hog hunting over bait legal year-round in the Northern Zone.

Col. Homer Bryson, WRD’s chief of law enforcement, said it’s unclear how HB 277 will affect enforcement efforts by DNR rangers, especially since it’s not law until the governor decides how to act on the legislation.

“I can’t give you a definitive answer,” Col. Bryson said when asked how the law would affect rangers’ day-to-day operations during deer season, “but I can say this, I don’t believe it’s going to be as big a change as people think it will.

“There was concern about property lines, but generally speaking, we have not written tickets in the past to individuals when bait was across the property line, unless there were extenuating circumstances, so I don’t see that as an issue.”

HB 277 specifically changes the state law so deer hunters can’t be charged with hunting deer over bait in the Northern Zone if their neighbor has feed out.

Also under HB 277, deer and hog baiting in the Southern Zone and hog baiting in the Northern Zone would not be allowed on federal or state lands like WMAs and National Forest property.

Regarding concerns over enforcement of the new laws if HB 277 becomes law, Col. Bryson said, “You can take all those scenarios and apply them to what’s going on now, and we’ve all gotten to a good understanding of what we can live with. I’m not as convinced as some that it’s going to be that big of an issue. I expect it to change our work load very little. We changed our priorities a number of years ago. Our priority is complaints. After we work our complaints, then we work general law enforcement, and that’s where bait would fall. And bait is one page in an 800-page law book. There’s an awful lot of other things we’re looking for and we’re responsible for. We’re also focused on enforcement on department-owned and managed properties.”

WRD law enforcement has been hit hard by budget cuts for a number of years.

“My biggest concern is I’ve got 40 counties that don’t have a ranger in them, period,” Col. Bryson said. “We have gone from a high of 252 rangers down to currently in the field, on the ground, we have 188. Every county has somebody assigned to it, but there are 40 that don’t have a county ranger living in them. There’s is plenty to do without worrying about bait. One of our biggest concerns is importation. That’s where there is so much potential for harm to be introduced to our deer herd. If this were to free us up any, that’s an area where we would look to increase enforcement,” Col. Bryson said.

“Our mission, our goal, is the protection of wildlife and public safety, and we’re committed to that. We’ll be able to work with this and continue to meet our mission.”

Friday, May 6, 2011

Great to see the youth hunting

Brad Clark of Anson shoots a 23-pound tom during his first hunting expedition ever.

ANSON - The lessons 10-year-old Brad Clark learned while watching his grandfather hunt paid off Saturday when he shot a 23.1-pound turkey that made it into the record books.

click image to enlarge
He saw eight hens come out of the woods and then one big tom, he said. He pulled the trigger and was home by 7 a.m.
The score of the bird -- reached by a formula that considers weight and spur and beard length -- totaled 64 points, Lane said. It had to earn 62 to make it into the trophy club's record book. The organization, based in Dover-Foxcroft, keeps track of the largest turkeys, moose, bear and deer killed during hunting seasons.
"It's really rare, especially for a 10-year-old boy," Lane said about making the list. "There's a select few that make it every year." He added that he's been hunting turkeys for a decade and has never scored a 62.
The turkey's beard was 9 1/4 inches long, and the spurs were each slightly longer than 1 inch.
"His father and I, yes, are very proud," said Julie Clark, Brad's mother.
Brad said he plans to mount the tail and beard; his family will eat the rest. They already tried some for lunch Sunday.
"It was pretty good," he said.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

405 pound Yellowfin Tuna

A huge 405.2-pound yellowfin tuna, caught aboard Capt. Mike Lackey’s 80-foot sportfishing vessel, Vagabond, that strained the scales Monday at Point Loma Sportfishing in San Diego may indeed break the 33-year-old International Game Fish Assn. world record of 388 pounds for the species. Mike Livingston of Sunland is the lucky angler who landed the behemoth.

Even more significantly, the big fish is the first-ever yellowfin to top the mythical 400-pound barrier, topping a non-IGFA legal 399.5 pounder caught more than a decade ago. Often referred to as long-range fishing’s "holy grail," the quest to top the 400-pound mark has been going on for over 40 years.

Legendary names like Capts. Bill Poole and Frank LoPreste, along with legions of determined anglers like Ralph "The Long Ranger" Mikkelson, and especially tackle innovators like Ray Lemme, Cal Sheets, Russ Izor and Jerry Morris all contributed to attaining the goal. Almost every angler who climbed aboard a San Diego long-range boat dreamed of battling the 'big one."

The beast was finally subdued by a Penn International 30SW reel blueprinted by Cal Sheets, a custom rod made by Livingston himself, and a 100-foot topshot of 100-pound test monofilament over more than 700 yards of 100-pound test superbraid line, with a live sardine pinned on a 9/0 Owner Ringed Super Mutu hook. Penn Fishing Tackle plans to reward Livingston with a custom engraved 30VSW reel commemorating the catch.
"I got bit on a medium sardine pretty close to the boat," explained Livingston. "The fish stayed near the port corner for about 30 minutes. I started with the drag set at 16 pounds, and then eventually had it all the way up to 26-28 pounds on a Penn International 30SW that my buddy gave me. The reel handled it perfectly. The fish finally popped up off the port corner and everyone said 'Wow.' I have been fishing regularly with Mike on the Vagabond for about 19 years, but my biggest tuna before this one was a 100-pounder."

Capt. Lackey observed: "When the fish was first hooked, it kind of went back and forth for a few minutes, and then just cleaned the reel off. We built a backup outfit, but never used it. The fish only went up to the bow one time, and stayed up and over the anchor rope. The angler fought the fish in the harness for 2 hours and 40 minutes, but everything went right. Our biggest on the Vagabond before this was a 327-pounder."

The IGFA rules are often sticky, and the organization can be expected to take three months or more to make a final decision. However, many of the typical bugaboos of San Diego-style fishing look to be covered.

Most important, as outlined by Lackey, the angler fought the fish in the harness the whole time, bypassing any issues of the crew handling a fish wrapped around the anchor rope. The 100-foot mono topshot should test out far less than 130 pounds, bypassing the IGFA’s 30-foot leader length rule. The possibility does exist that the superbraid may test over 130 pounds, but this appears fairly unlikely.
Long-range anglers have long called yellowfin tuna over 200 pounds "cows" and the even bigger ones over 300 pounds "super cows"; the new terminology for 400-pounders is now "Cowzilla."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Taser Hunting is an Awful Idea

Is there a potential for people to abuse Electronic Control Devices (ECDs) like the popular Taser stungun and use them for big game “catch and release hunting?”
Evidently the Alaska Board of Game believes so.
At its regular meeting held March 26-30 in Anchorage, the Board approved a proposal to prohibit the use of ECDs for the taking of game, except under a permit issued by Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“The department recognized the lack of authority to regulate the use of ECDs on wildlife and brought the concern to the Board of Game,” states an agency press release issued Friday, April 8. “Restricting the use of ECD technology will reduce the risk of improper or unethical use on wildlife by the public or other agency personnel who are unfamiliar with the potential effects and hazards.”
The Fairbanks News-Miner reports the proposal was written by the department’s Taser expert, biologist Larry Lewis, who said he believes hunters could use the devices to stun animals for recreation. He said the agency isn’t as concerned about a hunter killing a big game animal with a Taser as it is with “catch and release hunting.”
“Conceivably someone could Tase a moose or bear, go up and get a picture taken with it, shut the (Taser) off and then release the animal,” he told the newspaper.
“What we wanted to do was kind of head off at the pass any non-trained use of this equipment,” he said.
In recent years, game managers and law enforcement personnel have used Tasers and similar devices with varied success in wild game control situations. This year, Taser introduced its Wildlife ECD, specifically for use on larger animals.
“It is designed to incapacitate larger animals more effectively and safer than current animal control tools,” said Rick Smith, Taser CEO. “It will help wildlife professionals protect wildlife by offering another tool to help resolve human-animal conflicts.”
The proposed Alaska regulation does not impact the use of ECDs by the general public on animals in defense of life or property, or their use by law enforcement in human restraint.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Deer Facts.

Well-nourished bucks begin sprouting new racks each April. Antlers can grow more than 1/2" per day.
-If temperatures drop to single digits farenheit, whitetail deer often move during the midday hours.
-The large ears of deer can rotate 180 degrees and pick up high-frequency sounds.
-The entire molting process for whitetails is gradual, taking several months to complete. From early spring to late summer, a deer's coat transforms from a ragged pelage to a solid deep auburn.
-When hunting in October, hunters will notice that the deer's coat has changed from red to grey. The change occurs quickly, often within one to two weeks.
-A whitetail's hair appears bluish-grey in winter. New hair that grew in during autumn provides whitetails with added insulation. The tips on these new hairs are dark, giving the winter hide its richer hue.
-Studies have shown that deer can smell human scent on underbrush for days after we leave the woods. Wary bucks react very negatively when they run across our scent, often becoming leery of the area for weeks afterwards.
-Bucks most often bed by laying on their right side and facing downwind, which allows them to use their eyes, ears and nose to detect danger approaching from any direction.
-Deer are quick and skillful swimmers, often taking to water when frightened. Deer can easily swim across lakes or rivers at over 10 miles per hour.
-When running, a deer takes a long stride, with its tracks spaced as much as 25 feet apart.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Most Popular Hunting Round

The .30-06 has long reigned supreme as the No. 1 choice of North American deer and elk hunters. While this century-old cartridge has long been the centerfire others are measured against, it doesn’t even come close to the popularity of an even older hunting round.
With more than four billion sold each year, the .22 Long Rifle rimfire is the world’s best-selling cartridge - and by a wide margin. No other sporting round comes even close.
What makes the ubiquitous rimfire so wildly popular? Although it’s unsuited for deer and larger game, many consider the .22 Long Rifle the most useful cartridge you can buy. Inexpensive, soft-spoken and highly accurate, the double-deuce rimfire is the ideal training round for shooters of any age. I can’t imagine learning to shoot with a hard-kicking centerfire. Who wouldn’t develop a world-class flinch when his or her first rifle was a 7mm or .300 magnum?
In addition to being a top training, target shooting and plinking round, the .22 Long Rifle has many other virtues. Every hunter I know began by gunning rabbits, squirrels and other small game with a .22 rimfire. During the Great Depression, game harvested with a .22 kept countless families from starving. Squirrel stew and fried cottontail is still considered tasty fare by those lucky enough to have tried it. The ingredients are invariably supplied courtesy of some .22 marksman.
Not only is the rimfire .22 the best-selling round in existence, but it’s also our oldest self-contained sporting cartridge. In the 1830s, Louis Flobert, a French gunmaker, added a rim to the common percussion cap and inserted a .22-caliber lead ball. Propulsion was provided by the fulminate primer, with no other powder added. Thus the BB (bulleted breech) cap was born.
A few years later, a conical bullet replaced the round ball; the result was the CB (conical bullet) cap. Both rounds were used for indoor parlor shooting, which was highly popular in Europe at the time. Dynamit Nobel still produces these mild-mannered rimfires (firing them won’t startle a sleeping cat). The BB Cap’s Lilliputian 16-grain ball leaves the muzzle at 750 feet per second, packing just 20 foot-pounds of punch.
You can still buy BB and CB cap ammunition. While these are a fun novelty, fumbling one of these diminutive cartridges into a .22 rifle’s chamber can be a challenge. They’re easier to load in revolvers.
The .22 BB Cap was the forerunner of the .22 Short cartridge Smith & Wesson announced in 1957, chambering it in the company’s equally new First Model Revolver. Believe it or not, this low-powered round was promoted for self defense.
In 1871, the .22 Short case was lengthened to form the .22 Long rimfire. Loaded with a 29-grain bullet and 5 grains of black powder, it gave only marginally better performance than the .22 Short.
Sixteen years later, the J. Stevens Arms and Tool Co. replaced the 29-grain projectile with a 40-grain bullet. This was the first of many variations of the .22 Long Rifle round destined to become the world’s most popular cartridge. Today, .22 Long Rifle ammo comes in astounding variety. High-velocity, hyper-velocity, standard-velocity, subsonic and many different target loads are available. Plated and unplated round-nose, hollowpoint and truncated cone-shaped bullets are available ranging from 30 to 60 grains in weight. Shot-loaded cartridges can turn your pet .22 into a short-range scattergun. That’s not even counting .22 magnums, which take rimfire performance to a whole new level.
The first rifle I ever fired was my father’s Model 74 Winchester autoloader. At 3 years old, I was too small to hold it by myself, so Dad sat and rested the fore-end on his shoulder. A few years later, I prowled Granddad’s ranch with his single-shot Winchester Model 67 and a pocketful of .22 Shorts. After I shot a few of the desert jackrabbits that were plentiful on the ranch, I encountered my first predators. Grandma had been complaining that skunks had been at her chickens, so I was tickled to run across a mama skunk and a half-dozen of her offspring ambling through the sagebrush.
Staying well out of spraying range, I dispatched all seven of the odiferous varmints as quickly as I could. Then I hurried to Grandma’s house, proud to have saved her chickens.
The killing ground had been upwind of the house, so the news of my accomplishment preceded me.
“I’m really happy you killed them skunks,” Grandma said. Then she handed me a shovel. “Now go back and bury ‘em!” The odor that wafted into the kitchen before Grandma got the windows closed lingered through the following day.
In those early days, I fired .22 Shorts as a matter of economic necessity. Back then, a box of Shorts cost 15 cents less than the more potent Long Rifle rounds. Occasionally Granddad gave me a half-empty box of .22 LR loads, which I reserved for the colony of rockchucks I regularly tried to stalk. The chucks seemed to know they were in little danger from the bullets I lobbed at them from more than 100 yards away. When I tried stalking closer, they disappeared underground.
The days of bargain-priced .22 Short ammo are long past. Economies of scale mean today’s .22 Shorts are more costly to shoot than full-sized Long Rifle loads. Why use Shorts? While .22 LR loads have very little kick, Shorts produce even less recoil. That’s why some premium target pistols chamber the pint-sized round.
Shorts are also quieter to shoot, so they do less damage to your hearing. Even so, good ear protection is still recommended. The relatively mild report of .22 LR and Short ammo won’t make you flinch and reach for a pair of earplugs. That’s why .22 rimfires probably inflict more permanent, long-term damage to a shooter’s ears than louder centerfires do. Hearing loss is accumulative, so shooting a .22 rifle or pistol without ear protection is a bad idea.
I confess to doing just that for many years. As a teenager, I didn’t even know what hearing protection was! My ears didn’t ring after shooting a .22, so I figured everything was fine.
Several years ago, I was testing a brace of .22 rifles for accuracy, firing them from a sandbagged bench. Eight different loads were used in the test, so a lot of firing was involved. A half-hour into the test, I developed a low-grade headache. Correctly guessing this was caused by rimfire muzzle blast, I put on a pair of muff-type ear protectors. I was amazed when group sizes shrunk by half, becoming even smaller as the headache receded. As inoffensive as the .22 report appeared to be, it was apparently causing me to flinch. The experience drove home the fact that shooting .22s was harmful to naked ears. Ever since that time, I’ve made it a point to wear ear protection when testing .22s at the range. I also wear ear plugs or muffs during plinking sessions, and insist that my children and grandchildren wear similar protection.
I admit I don’t always wear earplugs when hunting desert jacks or squirrels with a Long Rifle .22. There, targets are relatively few and far between - but I’m aware of the hearing risk every time I pull the trigger. When I hunt with noisier .22 magnums or .17 HMR rimfires, you can bet my earplugs are in place.
I’ve taken a lot of prairie dogs and ground squirrels with .22 rimfires, but long ago decided 100 yards was pretty much the maximum effective range of the Long Rifle cartridge. A Montana prairie dog hunt changed my mind. I was happily targeting grass-guzzling dogs 300 and 400 yards away with my .223 Remington, when one of the other hunters handed me a bull-barreled 10/22 autoloader with a Shepherd scope attached.
“Try this,” he said. “This rig makes a .22 rimfire effective at surprising ranges.”
The scope’s strange-looking reticle sported a series of circles of descending size along the lower leg of the crosshair. Each circle corresponded to the size an erect prairie dog looked at 50, 100, 150 - all the way out to 500 yards! Each circular aiming point was calibrated specifically to the rainbow trajectory of high-velocity 40-grain .22 LR loads. I later learned that with a 50-yard zero, a .22 LR slug dropped 128 inches at 300 yards. At 500 yards, the drop was more than 40 feet!
I was frankly skeptical until I started shooting. Resting the rifle on a Steady-Stix bipod, I was soon dropping prairie dogs with regularity at 200, then 300 and 350 yards. I didn’t hit with the first shot every time, but the low-recoiling autoloader let me see the puff of each bullet strike. It was a simple matter to “walk” succeeding bullets into the target. Even at 350 yards, it seldom took more than three or four rounds to make a kill. It doesn’t take much punch to put a p-dog down for keeps, and the little 40-grain bullets proved adequate for the task.
I now own three .22 rimfires (one a magnum) fitted with Shepherd scopes. Whenever I head for prairie dog country, one of these rifles is included with the .22 centerfires I carry.
I couldn’t possibly count the number of critters I’ve taken over the years with various .22 rifles and handguns. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure how many .22 rimfires I currently own. They include three Anschutz bolt rifles; three Kimbers; a bolt-action Cooper; Remington’s recently introduced bolt-action Model 504; lever-action .22s made by Winchester, Marlin, Ruger, Browning and Henry; two Volquartsen autoloaders; three Ruger 10/22 autoloaders (including one with a lightweight Christensen Arms barrel and fancy stock); three Remington autoloaders; and a Henry AR-7 takedown survival rifle. Rimfire handguns include a highly customized Ruger Mk II, a custom Volquartsen pistol, two S&W revolvers, a Taurus revolver, a vintage M999 break-top H&R .22, and both Ciener and Kimber kits that convert any of my Model 1911 .45 pistols to .22 rimfire use. That collection gives you some idea of how much I value .22 rimfires.
These guns don’t simply languish in my safes. All get regular use for hunting desert jacks or when I take my grandkids for a fun day of plinking. In addition to paper targets, we shoot at candy wafers, lollipops, soda-pop cans and other items that react to a hit (we always police up the detritus afterward). Visit the produce department of your favorite grocery store early in the day, and you can often score overripe oranges, apples and other fruit that explode spectacularly when hit (appreciative wildlife will clean up the mess). Reactive targets make plinking a lot more fun.
While the .22 Long Rifle rimfire is considered strictly a small-game cartridge, it has accounted for a number of outsized critters. While requiring good marksmanship, a well-placed .22 slug can kill quickly.
I was 13 years old when my uncle asked me to help slaughter cattle at his desert ranch. My job was to stand in the corral as each steer was led past, then place a .22 rimfire bullet between the animal’s eyes at point-blank range. If I did my job properly, the 400-pound animals died on the spot. That gave me a greater appreciation of how potent these little rounds could be.
Larger, more dangerous animals have also succumbed to the lowly .22. Years ago, a good friend of mine was hiking toward the fire lookout tower he’d man that summer when he rounded a bend in the trail and came face-to-face with an equally startled black bear. Reflexively, Alan drew his Colt Woodsman and fired. The bullet penetrated the bruin’s skull, dropping the bear instantly just 6 feet away.
While small in size, the .22 Long Rifle cartridge deserves serious respect. It also deserves its enormous popularity.