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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Little Sister’s First Black Bear!

This spring black bear season has been phenomenal.  In the first week of the season my family and hunting buddies put four bears on the ground – three of them being boars squaring 6 feet or more.

Her first Black Bear video

With all this good luck, and our baits are still getting hammered, my little sister Courtney wanted in on the action. So Friday afternoon we pulled the boat down the highway and when we got to the river that leads to our spot things didn’t look good. The wind was really howling, which makes the hunting bears unproductive most of the time. Taking a gamble, we jumped in the jet boat and headed downriver anyway, getting to our blind at about 8:15pm.
The winds looked like they would never let up, swirling and gusting for the next 2 hours or so.  At about 10:30, they gradually started to calm down, and at 11 p.m. we saw black. We call 11 p.m the “witching hour” here in Alaska, because that’s when we kill probably 80 percent of our bears. It’s light enough to shoot up here at that time, so there’s no legal shoot-time like down in the lower 48. Well, there is legal shoot time, I guess, it’s just 24 hours …
At 11 p.m. it seems the bears around here become the most active. The woods has settled down and cooled off.  Anyway, this bear goofed around the bait for 8 or 9 minutes, and I wanted her to wait for an ideal shot. By the time she actually squeezed the trigger, I was so worked up my legs were shaking!
The bear was quartering towards us when I told her to go ahead and shoot, and with the roar of my .25-06, it tore off into the brush.  I knew it was a good shot, so we gave it a few minutes then were pleased to find it less than 40 yards away.  One funny thing about bears is how tough they are. That 117 grain Hornady SST put that bear down fast, but when it was hit, it didn’t even stumble, as you can see in the video. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve heard guys saying you’ve got to have this rifle or that cartridge to kill bears. It’s just not true.  A .243 or .25-06 is plenty of gun for a black bear. Anything hit in the boiler room with a good bullet isn’t going to go far.
I’ve seen a small 150-pound bear hit square in the chest at 10 paces with a 7mm Mag and it didn’t even knock it over.  I saw another shot at 15 yards with a .338 Win Mag, and it ran 30 yards.  Anyhow, this bear was just as dead as any of them, and it was quite a bit bigger than I had though. Courtney couldn’t be happier. The bear ended up squaring 6 feet and weighed more than 200 pounds. I was just as thrilled as my sister and glad I could help her get her first bear.   

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Asian Carp Attack!

Here, this nice Midwestern family thought they were about to have a calm day of uncle, father and son fishing. Instead, as they drove their motorboat down the Spoon River of Illinois they met a much more hysterical fate.
Don't worry about those fish, though. They're feisty Asian Carp, and at around 10 pounds each, these aggressive little fellas can hold their own. This particular type of carp is severely overpopulated and thought to be highly detrimental to the nearby environments they overtake.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Huge 7x7 Whitetail Deer is Nebraska's #1 Typical!

Add another chapter to the file of things that make you say, “Huh?”

Although each deer rack is different and should be scored on its own merits, you can’t help but compare the potential world-record Johnny King Buck to other similar situations. For instance, in November 2010, Kevin Petrzilka shot a massive 17-point buck in Nebraska. Without much fanfare or debate, the rack was measured as a typical 7X7 and was accepted by the Boone and Crockett Club with an entry score of 202-6/8 typical. In all likelihood, the deer will be invited to B&C’s next awards period in 2013 to be panel scored. If the score holds, the deer could be one of the top 15 typicals of all time. It has already been dubbed as Nebraska’s new No. 1 typical.  Whatever the score turns out to be at that awards period will be the “final” score.

The Petrzilka Buck’s left G-3 and G-4 tines are very similar in configuration to the right G-2 and G-3 tines on the Johnny King Buck. From photos, they appear to be common base-points. Already there has been much talk on several Internet websites expressing fears that the G-4 might be ruled as abnormal by a panel of B&C judges. This, of course, would drop the net score by 15 to 20 inches. It was even rumored that Mr. Petrzilka was reluctant to submit his score sheet to B&C for fear that the typical score would be rejected like the King buck was. Fortunately for him, it was not.

But the bigger question is: How could B&C rule the tines on the Petrzilka Buck to be typical and not do the same thing with the Johnny King Buck? 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Illinois is reaching out to kids with a fishing pole.

Summer is the time to step away from the TV and computer and enjoy what the outdoors has to offer.
This is what the Decatur Park District promotes with the Illinos Urban Fishing Program, a clinic held in Fairview Park throughout the summer for children wanting to learn how to fish. The clinic begins in the main pavilion, where the children are taught the basic techniques, safety and ethics of fishing. Then, the children put their lessons into practice at Dreamland Lake.
"Our goal is to have every child catch a fish before they leave," said Herb Dreier, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Urban Fishing Program coordinator.
Techniques discussed in the presentation portion include underhand casting, how to hold the pole, knowing when to tug and the proper way to release the fish after one is caught.
"I was excited to catch my first fish," said Mia Arguelles, 9, one of the many eager children from the Spectacular Day Camp of the Decatur Indoor Sports Center who came to the program Wednesday. "It felt slimy and watery!"
Mia then demonstrated a "fish sandwich," a method used to throw the fish back in the water by placing a hand on each side of the flopping bluegill she caught. The catch and release program is implemented to ensure a fully stocked pond for future clinics.
Stocked about every two to three weeks with more than 800 fish, Dreamland Lake is available for fishing for children ages 15 and younger, as well as for families who wish to bring their children out with them.
"We encourage parents and grandparents to join their children in this program," said Amy Reynolds, conservation education representative for the park district. "That way, they can fish together on their own and spend more time together while doing constructive outdoor activities."

The program is free, and children can participate as often as they wish. All equipment is provided. The clinic is at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and it will run through Aug. 4

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Central Abaco second annual Lionfish Derby a success!

Marsh Harbour Abaco - Friends of the Environment hosted its second annual Lionfish Derby in Marsh Harbour, Abaco on Saturday May 28th. Lionfish have become a major threat to the marine resources in the Bahamas. Although this fish is here to stay, derbies such as this one are a way to help maintain local populations and generate awareness about this voracious predator. 
Several lionfish derbies have been held throughout the Bahamas but none have brought in numbers as alarming as Saturday’s derby. Sixteen boats set out as early as sunrise in hopes to take home the grand prize of $2,000 for the most lionfish caught. The first team to arrive at the weigh in station landed 55 lionfish. As boats continued to arrive, an air of friendly competition ensued. Volunteers from Florida International University helped count coolers full of lionfish. Competitors looked on in anticipation, while staff at Marsh Harbour Exporters and Importers filleted the fish after they were counted. Once all boats checked in, the results were tallied arriving at an unprecedented number of lionfish... 2,957 in total! The winning teams are as follows:
The awards ceremony was held at the Marsh Harbour Marina and Jib Room where some of the fillets were raffled off and also cooked as appetizers for attendees.
The prize money was donated by Marsh Harbour Exporters and Importers and The Bahamas Marine Exporters Association. Additional prizes were also given for the smallest and largest lionfish as well as the least number caught.
Each female lionfish has the ability to produce up to one million eggs each year so hypothetically speaking, if fifty percent of the total catch from this derby were female, participants of the derby eliminated over 1 billion lionfish eggs from Abaco’s waters in one day! Derbies can make an impact on local populations but everyone can help control the lionfish invasion! Catch 'em, Clean 'em, Eat 'em!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Father's Day Catch of a Lifetime

Father's Day was special for a dad and son off Homer, Alaska. The dad got to watch as his son reeled in one of the heaviest Pacific halibut ever caught on rod and reel.

The halibut weighed 350.8 pounds and measured 96 inches, vaulting Chad Aldridge into first place in the popular season-long Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. It's the sixth-heaviest halibut in the 25-year history of the annual competition.

Aldridge caught the fish on 80-pound-test line, after a 45-minute struggle, on a chunk of herring. The International Game Fish Assn. lists the 80-pound line class world record as a 413-pound specimen caught in 2002 off Unalaska.

The IGFA lists the all-tackle world record as a 459-pounder caught in 1996 off Dutch Harbor, Alaska. But in all classes the IGFA lists only those two specimens as weighing more than 400 pounds, and only four surpassing the 350-pound mark.

Aldridge, 32, an oil company worker, said he and Ronnie Aldridge (both are pictured) talked a lot about Father's Day while he was reeling the fish to the surface, and during a marathon struggle to subdue the powerful behemoth and haul it aboard.

"It was great to have him there to watch me bring the fish up," Chad Aldridge said. "He told me it was the biggest fish he had ever seen boated, and he has caught a lot of big halibut over the years."

Besides Ronnie Aldridge, there were two family friends on Chad's 24-foot boat. Chad hooked the fish during the morning's first stop, while reeling in for a planned move to another location. "All of the sudden my line just stopped, then I felt the head shake so I lifted up fairly hard to set the hook," he explained. "Then it took off and and I thought, 'This is serious.' I knew it was big but thought it could also be a skate, a shark or even a whale."

Since the group had only a single gaff, and because giant halibut improperly subdued have been known to smash the insides of boats and injure anglers, a radio plea for assistance was made. Chad's uncle, who had been fishing nearby, arrived with another gaff and a harpoon.

Ronnie Aldridge accepted harpoon honors. Still, another 45 tense and chaotic minutes transpired before the fish was calm enough to be dragged over the rail. "It had the mouth the size of a basketball," Chad recalled. "It took three of us and it was all we could do to lift the fish up and in, and when we did it fell right on top of me."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Milestones in Bass Fishing History

Following his All-American Bass tournament held in the fall of 1967 on Alabama's Smith Lake, Ray Scott knew he was on to something. For the second time in four months, he'd convinced more than 100 die-hard bass fishermen to pay 100 bucks apiece to compete in what was billed as an exclusive, invitation-only tournament.While promoting the tournaments, Scott had kicked around in his mind the idea of creating a membership organization fueled by the competitive spirit of bass fishing. The first move was to give his farfetched idea a name. After Nashville outdoor editor Bob Steber suggested that Scott call the organization BASS, the abbreviation for the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, the name stuck, and Scott went to work.All I knew was that I was going to print a magazine," Scott recounts. "I was going to have the first issue ready before I tried to sign up the first member, because I knew I had to offer something more than a patch and a handshake to join BASS."The first issue of Bassmaster was a grammatical monstrosity that dealt a heavy blow to the English language. At best, it was a collection of rambling stories submitted free of charge, by fishermen, for fishermen. But it addressed a growing void that Scott was creating as a result of his tournaments."It was about nothing but bass fishing, and it was full of meaty information for those hard-nosed bass fishermen," notes Scott. "As the tournaments picked up, more people hungered for knowledge, and that's what jump-started BASS as a business."At the end of its first year, BASS had 2,000 members, all of them recruited by Scott through his growing network of tournament fishermen and bass club followers. By 1971, membership had grown to 54,000, and 10 years later the followers numbered 270,000. The phenomenal growth of what emerged as the BASS marketing machine clearly was fueled by the mystique of the tournament trail and a slicker, refined Bassmaster Magazine.Today, BASS is a multimedia giant wholly owned by ESPN. But it is fundamentally grounded in what Scott set out to accomplish 35 years ago — to build a service organization for bass fishermen by providing them with the information they seek to enjoy the sport even more.

In the first issue of Bassmaster, Scott wrote: "It is my plan that we lift bass fishing up to public par with golf, bowling and pocket billiards. It's high time the public found out we exist."What follows is a look back at 35 of the events that had a profound impact on bass fishing and the growth of BASS:

 The Chattanooga Bass Club becomes the first to affiliate with the BASS Chapter Federation, formed to address water pollution at the grass-roots level. The move also adds 19 anglers to a BASS membership consisting of only Oklahoman Don Butler.

 Californian Rip Nunnery hauls his 98-pound, 15-ounce catch of 15 bass to the scales in the first round of the 1969 Eufaula (Ala.) National. Amazingly, he finishes third behind North Carolinian Blake Honeycutt, whose three day catch of 34 bass weighs a record-setting 138-6.

 The BASS conservation movement begins when the organization takes 250 companies to court for allegedly violating the Federal Refuse Acts of 1899. Conservation remains at the forefront of the BASS mission statement, with a full-time staff devoted to dealing with the issues through the Federation network.Bill Dance wins the first BASS Angler-of-the-Year title. Thirty-three years later, the Busch BASS Angler-of-the-Year title will pay $100,000 to the winner, with a $1,000 bonus paid to the current points leader after each Tour event.

 A jetliner leaves Atlanta Oct. 28 with 24 anglers for the first Bassmaster Classic, destination unknown. The plane reaches cruising altitude, and Ray Scott announces the destination is Las Vegas. At Lake Mead, Bobby Murray wins the first Classic and its $10,000-prize purse. The "mystery flights" end in 1977 to accommodate a growing following.

 After contenders catch over a ton of bass from Sam Rayburn at the Texas National BASS Tournament, BASS launches its "Don't Kill Your Catch" campaign out of concern for the future of conserving bass populations. Innovative pros rig crude aerator systems fashioned from garden hoses and sprinklers to conform to the new catch-and-release rule.

 Fenwick launches the fishing rod industry into the Space Age by introducing the Fenwick HMG (High Modulus Graphite), the first production-grade graphite rod.

1974BASS Fishing Techniques, an advanced fishing workshop taught by bass pros and other experts, is launched by Gary White in Oklahoma. The program (now known as the CITGO Bassmaster University) was similar to the BASS Seminar Tour led by Scott and several pros (see photo at right) that spread the gospel of BASS throughout the country.

 Using a 7 ½-foot rod with precision accuracy to swing baits into tight cover, Californian Dee Thomas catches 35 pounds of bass from Arkansas' Bull Shoals Lake to win the Arkansas Invitational. He calls the technique flipping; the news is printed in Bassmaster, and the rest is history.

1980 With the Classic gaining media attention, BASS holds the world championship in upstate New York on the St. Lawrence River. Two months later, on Thanksgiving evening, ABC's 20/20 prime time ratings hit telecasts with a feature surrounding the hoopla of Classic X.

1981 Classic XI moves indoors to the Montgomery Civic Center, with a crowd estimated at 3,500 on hand to witness Stanley Mitchell's win. Next door is the first Classic Outdoor Show. Since then, the Classic weigh-in has had an outdoor affair only once, in 2000, at Chicago's famed Soldier Field.Roland Martin gets on a hot streak by winning three consecutive BASS Invitationals in Florida, Louisiana and Alabama. His is a feat that has never been repeated.

 1982 Mississippi pro Paul Elias adopts the "kneel-and-reel" technique to deep crank his way to Classic victory on Alabama's Lake Montgomery. As a result, crankbaits designed to run at depths of 20 feet or more hit the market.

 With mixed support from the marine industry, BASS lobbies successfully for the Wallop-Breaux Amendment to expand the federal Dingell-Johnson Act. Today, the amendment channels about $300 million annually to states for sportfishing projects, such as building boat ramps and enhancing fisheries.
Rick Clunn wins his third Classic title on the Arkansas River. He sets the standing record for Classic winning weight with 75 pounds, 9 ounces, with then-Vice President George Bush and then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton on hand to weigh in the winning catch. Clunn would go on to win his fourth Classic in 1990, setting a BASS record for number of championships.Humminbird introduces the first liquid crystal display units, the forerunners to what is the standard for such electronics. A decade earlier, Humminbird introduced its famous "Super 60" high speed flasher to keep up with the performance bass boat trend.

"The Bassmasters" TV show debuts on The Nashville Network (TNN), partly as a result of Clunn's dramatic finish. The next year, live coverage of the Classic is shown for the first time, and again the following year. The Bassmasters is now in its 19th season, and is the first program of its kind devoted to tournament angling.

 Helen Sevier and a group of investors purchase BASS from founder Ray Scott, who remains as consultant and tournament emcee.Realizing The Bassmasters is a ratings hit, the concept of an exclusive made-for-TV tournament is launched as BASS MegaBucks. The event is held 16 times, with the current Showdown format mirrored after the original concept.

1987 Operating from his garage, Herb Reed creates an elongated soft plastic lure he calls the Lunker City Slug-Go. With a twitch of the rod tip, the bait dips and dives to imitate a wounded baitfish. The following year, news of the pros' secret bait appears in Bassmaster, with the term "soft plastic jerkbait" used to describe it. And a new lure category is born.

BASS Times, the newsletter for BASS club members, is transformed into a tabloid newspaper offering "News & How-To Information for the Serious Bass Fisherman." The publication, edited by Matt Vincent, provides comprehensive tournament coverage and environmental news.BASS launches the Top 100 Super BASS Pro-Am Tournament circuit, with the Top 100 pros sharing their boats with 100 amateurs in a four event schedule. The format is the forerunner to the current CITGO Bassmaster Tour presented by Busch. That same year, BASS raises the bar on pro fishing by creating the Association of BASS Professionals, which provides a retirement fund for pros.

Los Angeles policeman Bob Crupi catches and releases a largemouth weighing 22.01 pounds from California's Lake Castaic. Only one other bass in history outweighs it — the long-standing 22-pound, 4-ounce world record caught in 1932 by George Perry.Concerned by the decline in youth fishing, BASS holds a trial CastingKids contest. Twelve years later, the Bassmaster CastingKids program has impacted more than 1 million youths, with annual events held nationwide by the Federation.

 Larry Nixon becomes the first bass fisherman to earn $1 million in BASS prizes. Denny Brauer currently tops the list with $1.6 million.

Using superthin "Lynch Line" made of a braided, high-tech synthetic material used in bulletproof vests, Randy Dearman wins the Texas Invitational on Sam Rayburn, launching the "superline" revolution. Several other brands, including SpiderWire, soon hit the market.

1994 Connecticut angler Bryan Kerchal, a member of the Housatonic Bassmasters, becomes the first Federation angler to win the Classic. He dies just five months later in a commuter airplane crash.

 Fisheries scientists confirm the presence of a virus of unknown causes at South Carolina's Santee Cooper lakes. The Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) has since spread westward, with top fisheries experts convening at the BASS-sponsored LMBV Workshop.

 BASS launches its first Western Invitational trail to qualify anglers for the 1998 Classic. Consequently, California's Mark Tyler catches a 14-9 largemouth (in 1999) from the San Joaquin River that becomes the biggest bass caught in BASS tournament history.

 Twenty-three years after he appears in In-Fisherman magazine for building an underwater "observation tower," electronics wizard Jeff Zernov introduces the Aqua-Vu, the first underwater viewing system.

 ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, acquires BASS as the cornerstone for its new ESPN Outdoors initiative, which includes the Great Outdoor Games and the network's popular block of outdoor programming. The following year, the Classic airs live on cable giant ESPN.Arizona pro Dean Rojas shatters BASS records for single day and four day catch weights at Florida's Lake Toho. Rojas weighs 45-2 for the single day mark and an amazing 108-12 for the overall tournament win. (Both records are for five fish limits.)CITGO Petroleum Corp. signs a multiyear advertising and strategic marketing agreement to significantly increase awareness of and generate a higher degree of national, as well as international, interest in the sport of bass fishing. CITGO becomes title sponsor of the Bassmaster Tournament Trail, among other ancillary BASS properties.

Kevin VanDam becomes the first bass fisherman to win an ESPY Award — which recognizes top performers and performances and relives memorable moments in sports. VanDam wins the award over the legendary Rick Clunn, whose streak of 28 consecutive Classics ends that year.BASS doubles the first prize for the Classic to $200,000, and restructures the tournament trail with the CITGO Bassmaster Open and Tour formats, each designed to create a true professional playing field. A record $9.2 million will be paid out for the 2002-03 trail, a 44 percent increase in payout.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The largest case in state history involved the illegal killing of nearly 300 animals

A 26-year-old Springfield man has been sentenced to eight months in prison and three years of probation for his role in what Oregon State Police have called the largest deer poaching case in state history.
Miguel A. Kennedy was sentenced last week at the Lane County Jail after pleading guilty to four counts of identity theft, two counts of second-degree forgery, one count of unlawfully transferring hunting tags and one count of racketeering. Identity theft is a felony, as is racketeering, which is defined as collaborating with others in a pattern of criminal behavior using the same method to commit multiple crimes.
Kennedy’s pleas were related to his participation with several other Springfield residents charged in connection with the alleged illegal killing of nearly 300 deer between 2005 and 2010.
Racketeering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $375,000 fine, but Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Billings found “substantial and compelling reasons” for a much lighter sentence recommended by both the state and Kennedy’s defense attorney in a plea agreement.
Those reasons include Kennedy’s willingness to provide “truthful testimony” in the state’s case against others involved in the scheme.
Kennedy will actually serve 14 months in prison, however, as a result of also violating terms of his probation in a previous case.
In a plea petition acknowledging his guilt, Kennedy also admitted helping the ring’s alleged leader, 37-year-old Shane Donoho, “defraud” the state Fish and Wildlife Commission by obtaining and hunting with licenses using other people’s identities.
Donoho, of Springfield, pleaded not guilty in April to one felony count of racketeering, five felony counts of identity theft, 10 felony counts of unlawful computer use and 58 misdemeanors.
The lesser charges include one count each of second-degree forgery, unlawful hunting of a cow elk and unlawful possession of a game mammal; five counts of unlawful taking of big game; and 50 counts of unlawful possession of big game parts.
Wildlife offenses are class A misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $6,250 in fines.
According to an April 9 grand jury indictment against the two men and seven alleged collaborators, some of the identities used in the scheme belonged to people who do not hunt.
Elk, antelope and bear also were killed illegally by members of the poaching ring, according to a state police statement released after the indictments.
Also still facing charges are Shane Donoho’s father, Rory Edwin Donoho, 59; his mother, Sandra L. Shaffer, 59; his wife, Laura A. Donoho, 36; his uncle, Gerald Stanton Donoho, 64; and three nonfamily members, all of Springfield.
All have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to return to court June 29.
Billings also sentenced Kennedy to a total of 62 days in jail for the identity theft convictions, but ordered that all the poaching case sentences run concurrently with the 14-month sentence that Kennedy received for violating terms of his probation from a 2009 conviction for failure to register as a sex offender after a 2001 attempted sexual abuse conviction.

The judge also revoked Kennedy’s hunting privileges for life and ordered him to pay $800 in restitution to the state fish and wildlife department.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bow Hunting Lottery for Metro Parks in Ohio!

Metro Parks will allow hunting by bow and arrow or crossbow in select areas by permit only this fall as part of its ongoing deer management program.

Each permit, determined by lottery July 29, is good for up to six people, including up to three adults and three juveniles.

Two box blinds will be installed in two locations for hunters requiring wheelchairs for mobility. Wheelchair-bound hunters may live outside of Summit County. All other participants must be Summit County residents.

Lottery applications and archery tests are available at the following locations:

1) Gander Mountain, 2695 Creekside Dr., Twinsburg; 330-405-2999
2) Hadley’s Sports Center, 5676 Manchester Rd., Akron; 330-882-6060
3) The Marksman, 3017 Barber Rd., Norton; 330-745-2000

Applications must be postmarked by July 18 to qualify.

Hunting areas for the 2011-12 season include Pond Brook Conservation Area in Twinsburg Township; the Columbia Run and Wetmore conservation areas in Boston Township; two areas within Furnace Run Metro Park in Richfield; and Riding Run Conservation Area in Richfield, Bath, Cuyahoga Falls and Boston Township.

Up to three permits will be assigned per location. All areas are remote and have limited public access.

Hunters must follow Metro Parks rules and regulations, the hunting guidelines established by the Ohio Division of Wildlife, and agree to harvest one antler-less deer before an antlered deer is taken. Hunting season is September 24 to February 5.

A complete list of rules is available at under “Nature Information.”

Metro Parks has completed eight seasons of deer management in an attempt to reduce deer density levels in parks and conservation areas and help restore and maintain a balanced ecosystem. Regionally and throughout the state, changes in habitat and the elimination of natural predators have allowed deer herds to grow to unnatural densities.

In some areas, deer densities had been documented at more than 200 per square mile. Densities that exceed 20 per square mile are associated with threats to biodiversity.

Since 2004, sharpshooters have culled more than 1,000 deer in the park district and the venison has been donated to the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank. Last season, more than 10,000 pounds were donated.

In three seasons of the archery program, participants have taken 135 deer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Michigan Lifts Deer Baiting Ban for Fall Hunting Season

Nearly three years after banning deer-baiting by hunters in the Lower Peninsula, Michigan officials reinstated the controversial practice Thursday night.
Baiting has been illegal since 2008, when chronic wasting disease popped up in a Kent County deer breeding operation. The disease, which causes drastic weight loss in elk and deer, can be fatal and is easily transmitted between animals when they group in small areas.
To prevent that, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources put a stop to hunters using piles of feed such as apples, beets or carrots to lure deer to a spot to shoot. The ban was an unpopular move among many in the hunting community, as well as others who made their livelihoods in the bait business.
A group of farmers and business owners sued the DNR over its decision, but lost in court in October 2008. Thursday's 4-3 decision by the DNR's Natural Resources Commission means baiting will be allowed when deer hunting season rolls around in the fall.
"The DNR's position has been that we don't favor baiting," said Mary Dettloff, the department spokeswoman. "But with the ban now lifted, we request people follow the regulations as they are written."
Hunters will be allowed to place as much as two gallons of bait — covering as much as 10 square feet — on a single spot between Oct. 1 and Jan. 1. The ban, however, will remain in place in Alcona, Alpena, Iosco, Montmorency, Oscoda and Presque Isle counties.
The DNR's decision isn't likely to quell the debate over baiting in the hunting community, which includes about 700,000 registered hunters in Michigan. In 2007, the last full year before the baiting ban was enacted, hunters shot nearly 484,000 deer, according to a DNR report.
Some hunters see baiting as cheating — a way to bag a deer in a short amount of time with minimal effort.
Others see the practice as a means to opening up the sport to more people and generating more revenues for the state.
Those who don't have the time to track deer or plot a hunting strategy can utilize baiting as a means of cutting to the chase, some argue.
The issue is even somewhat cloudy among members of the conservation community. Tony Hansen, deputy director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, recently told The Detroit News that his membership was divided on the subject.
Prior to the vote Thursday, New Baltimore resident Brian Powers hoped the ban would remain in place. The 36-year-old real estate agent is a regular hunter in Macomb and St. Clair counties, as well as some areas in Michigan's Thumb.
"My stance has always been that the DNR biologists have made it clear they feel baiting comes with the risk of spreading disease," he said.
"And if those biologists are telling us baiting can mitigate transmission of disease, then we have an obligation to protect the resource by not allowing it. And our deer herd is a natural resource that everyone in the state has a right to enjoy."
With the ban in place, no new reports of chronic wasting disease have been reported among deer in the Lower Peninsula.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Moose lottery Saturday at Cabela's in Maine!

Maine's thirty-first moose hunting lottery will be Saturday night.  3,862 permits will be awarded this year. The hunt will generate $1.4 million to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife .
Department Commissioner Chandler Woodcock says the moose hunting season is most important as a wildlife management tool. "The issue with us is that it's a tool to manage a significant big game animal," Woodcock said, we're fortunate to have that animal in Maine."
After being suspended in 1935, moose hunting began in Maine in 1980. After taking 1981 off, a moose season has been held every year in Maine. 
This year, nearly 50,000 hunters have applied for a license.  In state hunters spend $7, $12, or $22 for one, three or six chances. Out of staters spend $15, $25, $35 or $55 for one, three, six or ten chances respectively.  The hunters are entered into different pools so the odds are slightly different with Maine hunters having about an eight percent chance of being drawn.
Because hunters can purchase additional chances, odds are determined based on "preference points."  A Mainer who has purchased on chance has a one in seventy-six chance.  A hunter who has purchased the maximum six chances and not been selected for thirteen years would have nineteen chances and therefore, a one in four chance of being drawn.
A non-resident who purchased one chance has a one in 416 chance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kentucky Elk Permit up for auction on ebay!

How badly do you want an Elk Hunting Permit?

Kentucky, like Tennessee, allows the use of one elk permit per year to be used for fundraising efforts for qualifying conservation organizations.

This year the League of Kentucky Sportmans is auctioning a Kentucky Commission Elk Tag and guided hunt on ebay. The starting price was $5,000 and as of this writing, the bid is up to $7,900.

The hunt includes the services of one of Kentucky’s most successful elk guides, Lost Mountain Outfitters ( This guide’s success rate is 100% for the last 60 elk taken, 25 of those were bulls scoring over 300”. The hunt package includes up to seven days of 1x1 guide service, elk camp accommodations, meal, game recovery and complete transportation in the field while hunting. The lucky bidder can even bring a non-hunting friend.

The money raised will be used for purchase of public hunting lands and habitat improvement. Bidding ends Sunday, June 12th.

Kentucky boasts the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi. This tag allows the hunter access to all Elk Hunt Units in Kentucky as well as the choice of archery or gun hunt… based on seasons determined by the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources.

A Kentucky Commissioner Bull Elk Tag allows the lucky bidder to hunt the entire Elk Season without restriction of date or Elk Hunt Unit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

PA Bass Fishing is about to start up!

And, with the opening of Pennsylvania's regular bass season this Saturday, there is no better time to take the advice of the all-time king of the Bass Anglers Sportsmen's Society tournament and money winner.
Last year, VanDam appeared at the Greater Philadelphia Sport and Outdoor Show for a series of seminars. At the time, much of Eastern Pennsylvania was still digging out from yet another snowstorm, but inside the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center, the topic for the day was how to achieve hot-weather success by cranking for bass.
With this year's early summer-like weather following what seemed to be a month of steady rain in May, VanDam's tips on how to use crankbaits to their best advantage to catch hot-weather bass can be used early in the season. Clearly, the bass have moved from their spawning beds in the shallows and are looking to feed in deeper water.
"I like to use crankbaits and mix and match my rate of retrieve to explore different depths until I find fish," VanDam said. "When fishing a lipless shad, I want it to dive deep and skim along the top of submerged weeds.
"By using an aggressive, fast retrieve, I'm looking to attract big fish and trigger aggressive strikes. That's why I want to be down at least 10 feet or more."
For VanDam, big fish equate to big paydays on the BASS tournament circuit, and for recreational anglers they can represent that fish of a lifetime everyone hopes to catch. Technique alone, however, will not represent success without taking into consideration conditions and bait color.
Fly fishermen know they are wasting their time unless they match the hatch. This is, fishing a fly that resembles the food of their target species.
"No matter what time of the year I'm fishing, I'm concerned about bait color," VanDam said. "What influences my selection is water clarity and the natural food source for the bass.
"If bass are feeding on shad, my first choice of bait color is pear or silver, and I'll also use chartreuse or other bright colors in cloudy water. If the bass are feeding on bluegills or other small fish, I'll fish dark colors like brown, blue and green."
While VanDam is well known for his success with crankbaits, spinnerbaits are also effective when fishing drop-offs and deep water over weeds. Even in clear water, smallmouth bass just seem to be attracted to bright colors such as chartreuse, white, yellow, orange and green.
For those who prefer to go "soft" in their approach to lure summer-time bass from the depths, VanDam said one of his favorite ways to fish soft baits is off shallow flats off a point where the bottom gradually drops to depths of as much as 30 feet. It is important to use the current in one's favor for a natural presentation, and weedless presentations such as a Carolina rig and a sliding sinker will be effective in weeds and rocks.
Two major advantages of fishing soft baits are the variety of colors available in both solid and flake patterns, and they can be presented like hard baits. Depending on how soft baits are rigged, they can be fished deep in weed beds, cranked deep like hard baits or skimmed across the water like surface baits.
No matter what the calendar reads, warm weather turns up the action for top-water fishing - especially the bites at sunrise and sunset. And while poppers and surface lures provide plenty of action, nothing compares to taking a bass on the surface with a plastic frog rigged weedless.
An important item for anglers to remember is the new Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulation this year dealing with catch-and-release only bass fishing on portions of the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers. Affected is the 98-mile stretch of the Susquehanna from the inflatable dam in Sunbury to the Holtwood Dam in York County and the 32-mile stretch on the Juniata from the Route 75 Bridge at Port Royal to the mouth of the river at Duncannon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alabama Gator Hunting

Going after a dinosaur in the dark is no game for the faint of heart, but almost 300 intrepid hunters will head into the swamps and backwaters of Alabama this August to take on Alligator mississippiensis, the American alligator, a beast that scientists say has remained pretty much unchanged for millions of years, and which can reach lengths over 14 feet and weights of close to a half-ton.
Thanks to increasing 'gator populations, a new hunting area has been opened this year; 50 tags will be issued for west-central counties including Monroe, Wilcox and Dallas. This is in addition to 120 tags for southeast Alabama, mostly on Lake Eufaula, and 125 tags for the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, including Baldwin and Mobile counties. All tags are issued by computer-drawing based on applications received online at www.outdooralabama before 8 a.m. on July 11.
"If you get a permit, you've got a very good chance of getting a gator," says state wildlife biologist Keith Gauldin. "Success rate runs around 80 percent."
Alabama had no alligator season from 1938 to 2006; the season was closed to protect populations depleted by overhunting. Now, biologists say, the prolific reptiles have rebounded to the point that a managed harvest makes sense both in providing a recreational opportunity and keeping down the number of gator/human conflicts.
The state has had only one reported alligator attack and that was not fatal, Gauldin said. Other states where alligators are more abundant, like Florida, experience about one fatality per year and a number of other less deadly attacks.
Alligators are hunted both for their meat--which is white and firm, very low in fat, and tastes a bit like pork--provided that pig has been eating fish and turtles--and for their hides and heads which are valued as taxidermy trophies.
Hunting is done up close and personal. The gator must be "under tether control" of the hunter before it is dispatched, so long-range shooting with firearms is prohibited. Hunters pursue the animals with harpoons, bow and arrow or with heavy saltwater fishing tackle, 150-pound-test microfiber line and jumbo treble hooks. Hauling one of these beasts in on fishing gear makes shark fishing look tame.
However you connect, hauling a very angry 500-pound critter with jaws big enough to swallow a washtub up to the side of the boat is a moment of truth. I've seen gators simply bite off hardwood harpoon handles almost 2 inches thick, and the lashing power of their tail is enough to knock a man overboard in a heartbeat.
Anyone drawn for a permit is required to undergo an ADCNR training session in capturing and handling alligators.
"We've had alligators up to 675 pounds and over 13 feet long harvested in Alabama," says Keith Gauldin. "You need to know what you're doing before you go after one of these animals."
While there's no open hunting in North Alabama, there are gators here, particularly in Wheeler, where legend has it that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service stocked over 50 of them some 40 years ago, hoping the predators would trim down the beaver population and prevent damage to earthen dams.
Despite our relatively cold winters, a breeding population of alligators has survived on Wheeler, with the current estimate at somewhere around 60 animals. Odds are, even with global warming, we'll never have huntable numbers here, but keep your eyes on your next bassing trip to Wheeler and you might well spot one of these living dinosaurs.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kentucky sportsmen could be hunting sandhill cranes by Christmas.

The Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday unanimously approved a Dec. 17 to Jan. 15 hunting season for cranes, making Kentucky the first state east of the Mississippi River to do so. Thirteen western states allow hunting of sandhill cranes.
The hunting season also must be approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is expected to consider the issue at a meeting later this month and make a final ruling in August.
Friday's vote came after a sometimes contentious meeting that lasted nearly five hours. Dozens of people voiced opposition and support for the new hunting season.
Those who opposed the hunt include the state's Audubon societies, the Kentucky Coalition for Sandhill Cranes and the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. The League of Kentucky Sportsmen and several hunters spoke in favor of the proposal.
Sandhill cranes, which often have a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet, have not been hunted in Kentucky and most of the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard since the early 1900s. Popular crane viewing spots include Barren River Lake in Western Kentucky and Cecilia in Hardin County. Cranes are typically hunted for sport and for their meat.
Karen Waldrop, director of wildlife for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, told the commission that sandhill crane populations have rebounded since reaching near extinction in the early 1900s because of overhunting.
Conservative estimates say there are about 60,000 sandhill cranes in the eastern population, which includes much of the Midwest and Eastern United States.
"They are the most numerous of all crane species," Waldrop said.
Up to 400 birds could be killed during the hunting season, with a limit of two tags per person.
Waldrop said the hunt is expected to reduce the population of sandhill cranes in Kentucky by less than 1 percent.
"We will still see population growth," Waldrop said.
Many who were opposed to the hunting season said more research is needed on the sandhill crane population and migratory patterns.
Tennessee considered a similar hunting season earlier this year but ultimately voted to table the measure so it could be studied, many bird watchers and ornithologists told the commission. Others questioned whether the sand hill crane population needed to be managed through hunting.
Others were concerned that the public has not had enough input. The issue first surfaced publicly in early May. Friday was just the second meeting where the issue has been publicly addressed, opponents said.
Most people oppose hunting cranes, contended Jim Daniel of Frankfort.
"This is about as popular as doing away with Medicare," Daniel said. "This bird is special ... it is majestic."
Daniels and others argued that hunting the bird will alienate the general public instead of attract new hunters, which is one of the goals of the commission.
The state Fish and Wildlife Department is funded by licenses and fees paid by sportsmen or federal grants. But the number of hunters in Kentucky is on the decline.
Many hunters countered that making sandhill cranes a hunted bird gives those animals value. There will be more money spent on land conservation to protect the cranes' habitat, said Mark Nethery, vice president of the League of Kentucky Sportsmen.
"It's been proven with elk," Nethery said.
Many commissioners said they appreciated the input but were confident that hunting sandhill cranes would not diminish the population or the opportunities to view them.
Commissioner Stephen Glenn told the group shortly before the unanimous vote that the commission could reverse course and do away with the hunting season if the hunt is not successful or if there is a decline in the population.
"We are not afraid to say that we made a mistake," Glenn said.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Colorado Offers Free Fishing June 4-5

Colorado is encouraging anglers young and old to take advantage of Colorado’s great fishing opportunities during Free Fishing Weekend, Saturday and Sunday. The first full weekend in June is set aside each year to promote sport fishing and no fishing license is required in Colorado during that weekend. “Free fishing weekend is a great opportunity for people to try out fishing if they haven’t yet,” said Greg Gerlich, aquatic section manager for the Division of Wildlife. “It’s also a chance for those who used to fish Colorado’s outstanding waters to get back into the sport.” While no fishing license is required during the first full weekend in June, all other regulations remain in effect. That means that limits on the number of fish that can be caught you can catch in a day, known as a “bag limit” and restrictions on bait in certain waters will still be enforced. Outside of free fishing weekend, anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 must purchase a fishing license before casting a line. An annual resident fishing license costs $26, and an annual non-resident license costs $56. One-day or five-day fishing licenses are also available. Youths under age 16 are not required to have a license. The Division offers resident seniors, age 65 and older, an annual Colorado fishing license for $1. Colorado has more than 2,000 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs that hold a variety of fish including trout, bass, walleye and catfish. There are also more than 10,000 miles of streams and rivers in Colorado, which offer outstanding trout fishing opportunities. Many of Colorado’s 42 state parks offer fishing opportunities and camping options for a great family outing. Each year, the Division of Wildlife stocks more than 3 million catchable-sized trout; in addition to 14 million trout fingerlings. The Division also stocks more than 80 million warm-water fry and fingerlings around the state each year.