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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wisconsin gun deer hunt kill jumps 3.6 percent

Wisconsin hunters registered 226,260 deer for the nine-day gun deer season that ended Sunday, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to last year, according to a preliminary count released Tuesday.
In the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources West Central District - from Chippewa County in the north to Crawford County in the south - deer registrations were up 6 percent compared with 2010.
However, in the Northern District, where snow made hunting more challenging, registrations were up just 1 percent from last year, with buck registrations down 12 percent and antlerless registrations up 16 percent.
"We had a 3.6 percent increase in deer harvested compared to 2010, and the reports that we've been getting in from the field are that, in many parts of the state, hunters saw more deer," said Tom Hauge, a DNR wildlife director. "That said, we do know that not everyone got a deer this year or saw a deer. The herd in parts of the state is still rebounding and that even within counties with higher harvests, deer aren't distributed evenly."
The season was the second safest on record, with six accidental shootings recorded - two self-inflicted - and no fatalities. The DNR does not keep track of falls from tree stands or heart attacks that occur during the hunting season. The number of deer killed in Eau Claire County was up 5 percent from last year, with increases in both buck and antlerless registrations. But that wasn't the case everywhere in the region, where
registration figures varied widely, said Kris Belling, a DNR wildlife supervisor in Eau Claire. "This is the most variable year I can remember for the numbers," she said. Four percent fewer bucks were registered in the West Central District compared with 2010. However, the number of antlerless deer killed increased, an expected occurrence because several deer units that were regular units last year became herd-control units this year, meaning antlerless permits were more readily available.
Still, even the antlerless kill total varied widely among counties, Belling said.
"If anything, I would speculate that the herd was similar to last year," she said.
Rain in the area made for less-than-ideal hunting conditions on the afternoon of opening day and caused some hunters to leave the woods early. Excellent conditions the following day raised the kill total somewhat, she said, noting registration numbers were relatively high at the Mondovi registration station where Belling worked.
The DNR will know more when the registrations are sorted into deer management units - a labor intensive process that won't be completed until late January, Belling said.
Hunters who wanted snow for the opener may have gotten more than they bargained for in northern Wisconsin, where anywhere from 3 to 10 inches fell that day.
The morning was calm, but the heavy snow that began around noon opening day made hunting challenging, said Nancy Christel, wildlife manager in Washburn and eastern Burnett counties.
"It pretty much drove hunters out of the woods," she said. "Some of the young go-getters stuck it out."
The snow was wet and clung to branches Sunday morning, reducing visibility, she said.
The hunters who saw deer Sunday usually were with groups who were moving around or driving deer, she said.
"We can't manage the weather," Christel said.
Officials also can't manage the National Football League. Both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings had noon games Sunday, Nov. 20, which prompted many hunters to leave the woods before noon, she said.
The weather generally was mild for the duration of the season, but 60 percent of the deer kill normally takes place on opening weekend, when the largest number of hunters are in the woods. If weather interferes with the opening weekend, making up the deer kill is difficult, Christel said.
By Joe Knight

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Allow Sunday deer hunts!

Monday was the opening day of deer season.
Schools and factories closed in acknowledgement (or based on the long-standing assumption) that too many employees would take the day off anyway.
The designation of the first Monday after Thanksgiving as an unofficial holiday is threatened by a push to allow Sunday hunting. Opponents cite a number of concerns. Some point to the tired traditional objections that have underpinned many of the blue laws that have slowly faded away as society becomes more diverse.
A related concern stems from the potential for conflict between landowners and hunters. Critics of Sunday hunting say that landowners who now allow hunting most of the time see Sunday as a welcome day of peace, absent of gunfire. Faced with the prospect of hunters in the field every day, many property owners may cease allowing any hunting, under this logic.
Last year, hunters in Pennsylvania killed 316,000 deer, up from 309,000 a year earlier. But the deer harvest in both years is substantially less than the hunters had achieved in prior years. The deer harvest exceeded 500,000 twice, hitting 517,000 in 2002 and then declining since.
Proponents of Sunday hunting said the move would be an economic boon. A recent state-funded study estimated that Sunday hunting would generate $804 million in annual spending, and help support more than 7,000 jobs and generate $57 million in state and local taxes.
Critics argue that the impact projections are inflated. For one, the study does not take into account the fact that people who would be hunting would no longer be engaged in other activities that involve spending. Hunting generates about $3 billion annually in state economic activity, the report estimated, including $1.7 billion from deer hunting. The expenses include lodging, airfare, guide fees, boats, weapons and other gear, licenses and land purchases or rentals.
Pennsylvania allows hunting for crows, coyotes and foxes on Sunday, but not for large game, such as deer and bears. The state's prohibition, which dates to 1873, is outdated. More than 40 states allow some Sunday hunting.
Hunters say trifling with the traditions under which they participate in their sport will speed its demise. On the other hand, hunting in Pennsylvania has been struggling with decreased interest for years and the sport could benefit from a move to make it more accessible to those casually interested.
Those who profit from serving hunters and those who enjoy the sport would benefit from adding a weekend day. Those who do not want to hunt on Sunday have an option -- they can rest on that day and allow the rest of the hunting enthusiasts enjoy the time in the woods

Monday, November 28, 2011

A True Thanksgiving

Justin McMahan grew up in northeast Nebraska with a love for the outdoors. He’d spend his available free time in the woods hunting or trying to land a big cat from the Missouri River, much of it with his father Steve, who traveled for work during the week, but always came home on the weekends to spend time with his son in the outdoors.
After graduating high school he moved to North Dakota to study commercial aviation at the University of North Dakota, where he met his Danielle, a young lady he was set to start a family with. On January 4th of this year, the couple brought their first child into the world, a daughter named Samantha. It seemed that life for McMahan was off to a start that most would be thankful for.
All of that changed however on June 27th. While Justin and Danielle were away at work, propane had been delivered to the house and when the couple returned with baby Samantha, they immediately noticed the frightening intense smell of propane. Before they could evacuate, the home exploded, throwing Justin 30 feet into the air, Danielle was thrown 100 feet and baby Samantha, just six months old, was tossed 125 feet away, where she died instantly.
Life as they’d known it had been crushed in a tragic instant.

Justin and Danielle battling through their recovery

Justin’s feet and legs were shattered. Danielle suffered a fractured neck and spine, a broken pelvis and tailbone, and her feet were crushed. Both were life-flighted to a trauma center in St. Paul, Minnesota where doctors assessed the situation.
“Doctors knew within hours that Justin’s feet and part of his legs would have to be removed,” shared Rebecca Freichs, Justin’s mother, “Within days he’d underwent several surgeries to remove both of his legs from below the knee.”
Danielle faced her own hurdles as well, after being stabilized, she underwent eight surgeries to repair her injuries.

Through the use of prosthetics, Justin should maintain a good degree of mobility.
One thing Justin was adamant about was saving his knees. Through researching amputations and prosthetics, Justin knew that if he could save his knees, it would allow him a lot more mobility.
“His love of tromping through the woods hunting would be limited if he lost his knees,” shared Freichs.
His doctors wanted to remove his knee and Justin wouldn’t allow it. Infection was the real danger and surgery was performed almost every other day to clean the wounds in his leg.
“Doctors were still not optimistic, but Justin was,” shared Freichs, “Bone was shaved and vacuums were placed in the wounds with the hope of beating the infection. Any time he went in for surgery, he knew there was a possibility that he would lose more of the leg, but he was too stubborn to give up.”
A hunt had been planned for the 2011 Nebraska deer season and Justin was planning on taking part in it. Anything to get back to the place that he loved to be. Nothing was going to stand in his way.
“My father and I hadn’t missed a deer season together since 2000 and this would have been the first year I’ve missed one and that wasn’t going to happen,” shared Justin.
Finally, in August, doctors had told Justin the news that he was waiting to hear: the infection was gone and his knees had been saved.
“I told you not to give up on me,” was his response.
More painful skin and muscle grafts followed, but he was finally able to come home on August 30th after 14 surgeries, 60 plus blood transfusions and 64 days in a hospital.
“I still remember the day that I found out I would get one of the prosthetics,” shared Justin,” I joked and told my mom ‘well it looks like I could be on crutches in time for deer season this year’, she laughed and said ‘you are your father’s son.’”
The first week out of the hospital, Justin and his father Steve went to the local shooting range, where they shot rifles and shotguns.
As summer gave way to fall, Justin’s thoughts turned to deer hunting and together with his father, the pair put together a plan to construct a blind that would accommodate Justin’s wheel chair and where they’d set for their hunt.
Justin with his Nebraska buck

It was the last day of the Nebraska rifle season and so far Justin hadn’t had much success in seeing anything. He was set up in his box blind with a Marlin .243 that he was nervous about using as his trusty deer rifle had been lost in the home explosion. A lot of the deer were bedded down due to the cold weather (8 degrees) but Steve spotted a group in a stand of cedar trees. After pushing them out of the cedars, a small buck separated from the group of does and Justin was able to drop the deer from 150 yards!
No one would blame Justin McMahan for not feeling thankful this Thanksgiving. With the loss of his beautiful baby daughter, his legs, the injuries to his Danielle, his home…it’s almost too much for anyone to comprehend or accept in this day-to-day existence that we call life. Yet on Thanksgiving, a day in which he also turns 24-years-old, McMahan is thankful for the time he now gets to spend hunting with his father, a recovering Danielle that’s now able to walk in short spurts on her own, and knowing through the prosthetics that he’s learning to use, his passion for hunting will only be limited by life’s trivial occurrences instead of tragic ones.

Author’s note: Justin and Danielle McMahan are still rehabbing from their injuries at home, near family, in Norfolk, Nebraska. Danielle has graduated from her wheel chair and now walks with a cane. Justin plans on returning to school where he’ll change his studies to nursing. He plans on participating in the Nebraska muzzeloader season December 1st. A fund has been established to help pay for medical bills, which now measure more than $3,000,000. If anyone would like to contribute, you can do so through correspondance to: Justin McMahan c/o J. Kint   PO Box 38 Randolph, NE 68771

by Aaron Decker 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Officials seize 881-pound bluefin tuna caught accidentally

A Massachusetts fishing crew accidentally netted a 881-pound Bluefin tuna, but officials confiscated the huge fish because rules require the species be caught only with hand-held gear or harpoons, the ship's captain said on Tuesday.
Notified by his crew of the remarkable catch on November 13, Captain Carlos Rafael said he raced to meet the boat in Provincetown, thinking a bluefin of that size could fetch as much as $500,000 at a premier world fish market such as Japan.
He arrived to find state environmental police and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agents had seized the fish because it had been caught in a trawling net, which is forbidden.
Under the international Atlantic Tunas Convention Act, it is illegal to catch Western Atlantic bluefin by methods other than rod and reel, hand-line or harpoon, NOAA says.
According to NOAA, Atlantic bluefin tuna need to be carefully managed because they are extremely valuable and thus vulnerable to overfishing.
The crew on the New Bedford, Massachusetts boat caught the fish in a trawling net off Gloucester while fishing for ground species such as pollack and hake, Rafael said.
Rafael said the bluefin drowned in the net. He received a written warning for the incident but no criminal charges.
The fish was sold domestically for $5,000, and the proceeds will be held until the case is resolved, said Christine Patrick, spokeswoman for NOAA Fisheries in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"I was disappointed. The fish was a perfect fish," Rafael said.
A 754-pound bluefin in prime shape sold at a Japanese auction last year for nearly $396,000, according to local media reports.
Rafael said he would have preferred to give the fish away than see it sold for so little.
"At least I could have given the fish to a homeless shelter," Rafael said. "I would have been a hero for giving all these people food, instead of them selling it for $5,000."
After the value of Western Atlantic bluefin tuna soared in the 1970s, fishing increased dramatically and the population plummeted. Today, the number of bluefin able to reproduce fluctuates at 21 to 29 percent of the 1970 level, NOAA said.
"Now, if you accidentally catch it with a different kind of gear, or even if you catch it with the right kind of gear but you don't have a permit for it, you have to let it go, even if it's dead," according to regulations, said NOAA's Patrick.
(Reporting by Zach Howard, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deer processing remains steady as hunting declines

Despite declining deer hunting numbers in Michigan during the past few years, Michigan meat processors said their businesses have not been affected.

In 2010, Michigan hunters harvested almost 418,000 deer, a decline of 6 percent from 2009, according to a report compiled by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

About 656,500 people hunted deer last year, a decline of 4 percent from the previous year. There were an estimated 1.7 million deer in the herd last year.

But according to Rod Dejonge, owner of Blue Star Meats in Holland, after a dip six years ago, things have been business as usual for the past few seasons.

“I would say there is a big difference from six years ago, but not in the last five,” Dejonge said. “Numbers were higher then, but it has been pretty consistent over the past five years.”

Dejonge said he could not comment on this season’s business yet, since it is not over. However, he has noticed an increase in bow hunting during the past few years.

“Bow season was better last year,” he said. “I think a lot of that can be contributed to lifting the ban on baiting deer.”

Richard Rodibaugh, who helps his brother at Mike’s Deer Processing in Allendale, agreed with Dejonge.

“Our numbers have been about the same for a few years now,” Rodibaugh said. “We had a little decrease about four years ago, but since then, our numbers have stayed about the same.”

Meat processors might not be suffering losses, but Michigan hunters said they are noticing declining numbers of hunters every year.

“Numbers are definitely down,” said Cody Foley, a Blissfield resident and avid deer hunter.

Fewer people hunting is a national trend, not one unique to Michigan, according to the DNR.

Hunting numbers are down for several reasons, said Mary Dettloff, press secretary for the department.

“We have had population loss as well as an aging population,” she said. “Some people lack the time because of work and family.”

Foley blames the economy.

“I mean, it is an expensive sport,” he said. “Number one, hunting for a lot of people is definitely a middle class sport. Since our economy is bad, middle class people often cannot afford to miss a day of work, especially since opening day this year was on a weekday.”

Michigan is looking to increase hunting numbers by allowing supervised 10- and 11-year-olds to hunt with firearms for the first time this year.

Previously, hunters had to be 12 to bow hunt and 14 to hunt with firearms.

Young hunters must have a firearms deer license or antlerless deer license in order to hunt and only can hunt on private land. If the hunter has earned a hunter’s safety certificate, he or she must be accompanied by someone 18 or older. If the hunter has only an apprentice license, the supervising adult must be 21 or older.

“We are trying to recruit more youth hunters,” Dettloff said. “There is very stiff competition for their time with things like video games and parents wanting their kids to get involved in organized sports.”
By Alex Mitchell

Monday, November 21, 2011

Duck-hunting season's opening day comes with great optimism

Shooting time was only five minutes behind us, but we already knew opening day of duck season was a big success in the Delacroix marsh. We could tell by the sound.
duckhunters13.2.jpgIt arrived like a thunderstorm passing over a tin roof. First a few scattered heavy drops, tap-tap-tapping away with a promise of something big to follow. It did. The sound quickly built to an incessant, thunderous drumming that didn't begin to lose its fury for 30 minutes.
"It's louder than New Year's Eve," Jared Serigne said, smiling in wonder at the roar rising from every point on the compass. "There must be ducks everywhere.
"I haven't heard it this loud on opening day around here for awhile. Maybe we'll have a great year."
Maybe. Maybe not.
Opening day for duck hunters is a lot like the opening game for football fans. We tend to read fortune or disaster into the first-day results, even though experience has taught us the history of the season will be determined by future events.
This opener certainly provided enough about which to be optimistic.
The November aerial waterfowl survey conducted 10 days ago by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries revealed 592,000 ducks in southeast Louisiana, the highest number for November in the last five years. The state-wide estimate was 1.84 million ducks, 13 percent higher than last November's 1.62 million and 20 percent above the most recent five-year average of 1.52 million.
Despite that good news, many hunters were concerned the stiff cold front that blew through the region last week might have hastened many of those birds across the Gulf of Mexico. They needn't have worried.
"There seem to be more ducks and duck hunters around here than we've had in some time," reported Louie Viavant of Chef Harbor Marina. "Almost everyone who went out was back early with their limits. They were really happy."
The good news was solid in the Lafitte area, as well.
"We probably had 40 boats launch this morning with duck hunters, and I think almost all of them came back with their limits," said Kyle Manor at Joe's Landing in Lafitte. "A lot of teal and gray ducks. They're still shooting out there."
duckhunters13.3.jpgSaturday was Tyler Clark Jr.'s first hunt, but Tyler, age 6, didn't shoot like a rookie. He used his .410 to knock down a limit of six teal, part of the 24 ducks bagged by the party of four, which included his dad, Tyler Sr.
It was the same in Hopedale, where Glen Sanchez estimated at least 50 of the boats he launched carried duck hunters. Most of those headed for the Biloxi Marsh, and most of those came back smiling.
"Lots of teal, lots of grays and lots of happy hunters," Sanchez said. "It sounded like a war out there, so I new they were doing good."
Venice-area hunters did well, too, but they had to work a little harder. The stiff north winds that carried the cold front through pushed water levels extremely low.
"That front just sucked the water out of here, but that didn't keep the hunters away -- they've been launching down here for two days," said Mike Frenette, who observed the rush at Venice Marina from his Teaser Fishing Team clubhouse.
"I'm sure there were guys who found themselves on mud flats, but I know most of them shot their limits. You could tell by the noise.
"And the good news is, the wind is going to the south, so that water's coming up. I'm sure it will be even louder down here (today).
"If this is any indication, we could be having a great year."
We could be -- if the rest of the flyway cooperates. Although state and waterfowl managers say ideal nesting conditions on the breeding grounds last spring produced a bumper crop of birds, how many eventually reach the Gulf Coast will depend on weather along the flyway.
Last season set up perfectly for coastal Louisiana hunters. An early snowfall and freeze-up in the Plains pushed birds southward. And drought conditions in the mid-latitude states kept them flying toward the coastal marshes.
Conditions are radically different this year. Last week, biologists said the migration had been slow thus far, with warmer-than-typical temperatures in Canada and northern-tier states. And there are decent to good water conditions in most of the mid-latitude states.
So Saturday's big opening may be indicative of nothing more than a single day of great hunting.
But that was enough for most waterfowlers, who went home talking about the music they heard when shooting time arrived.
"It sounded like a sound track from the middle of the movie Black Hawk Down," said Mike Arnona, who hunts the Lafitte area with his wife, Bari.
"I'm telling you, it was a great day to be a duck hunter."
It certainly sounded like it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Game warden cases: Deer hunters who try to buck the system in Texas usually get the horns

Here’s this week’s selection of cases culled from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement division field reports:

  • On Nov. 5, opening day of the general white-tailed deer season, Terrell County Game Wardens Saul Aguilar and Kenneth Stannard entered a camp and noticed a tagging violation involving a 10-point white-tailed buck hanging from a cleaning rack.
During the contact, the couple in the camp expressed excitement that the wife had been was able to take her first buck (the aforementioned 10-pointer) and were eager to provide wardens with her license and ID without being asked.
Upon educating the couple on proper tagging requirements, Warden Aguilar decided to take some time and acknowledge the couple’s 9-year-old son, who seemed intrigued by the wardens.
After discussing his favorite superheroes and passion for the outdoors, the boy stated he wanted to shoot a buck like the one his dad shot, and pointed at the 10-point buck.
Citations were issued to the couple after the husband admitted to shooting the deer and using his wife’s license to tag it.
  •  On Nov. 1, Val Verde County Game Warden Dustin Barrett responded to a call concerning a black bear in a tree in Del Rio.
The bear was in a large pecan tree in the back yard of a home located very near four school campuses.
Barrett was soon joined by Game Wardens Isaac Ruiz, Mike Durand and Aaron Willoughby who assisted in keeping the bear treed for over three hours while awaiting TPWD biologist Ryan Schmidt to arrive with the dart gun.
When Schmidt arrived and assessed the situation, he agreed that this particular bear, which has been in the area for several months, met the department’s relocation criteria.
The bear was successfully darted and relocated to the Big Bend area.
  •  On Oct. 28, El Paso Game Wardens Kenn Zuber and Ray Spears were patrolling the desert when they checked San Felipe Park and discovered a site containing approximately 400 cubic feet of trash.
The generator of the trash confirmed that they had paid an individual to properly dispose of the refuse.
The individual was contacted and confirmed that he had decided to dispose of the trash in the park instead of the country landfill.
Felony cases pending.
  •  On Nov. 2, Jefferson County Game Warden Chris Swift and Orange County Game Warden Clint Caywood worked an area known for night shrimping in Jefferson County.
 They filed Class B misdemeanor cases for shrimping at night and in a nursery area along with an undersized red drum case.
They also apprehended two men who were running a gill net.  The men had caught 56 flounder, of which 40 were undersized.
They were arrested the men and filed charges for  illegal means and methods along with possession of undersized flounder and exceeding the daily bag limit.
 The wardens filed 27 cases in all.
Cases and restitution pending.
  •  Early the morning of Oct. 30, Comal County Warden Michael McCall received a call from a local bowhunter who, while in his blind, had observed an unknown person walking in the nearby woods using a flashlight with a red lens cover.
Upon making this observation, the hunter quietly exited his blind and returned to his vehicle where he then called Warden McCall to assist with apprehension of the unknown trespasser.
Warden McCall traveled to the location and at about 9 a.m. made contact with the trespasser as he exited the area.
The trespasser was found to have been deer hunting using a crossbow.  The trespasser stated he did not know whose property he was on and had no idea that the blind he had been hunting from had been occupied by its owner just prior to his arrival.
The “legal” hunter did not want charges of hunting without consent filed, but the trespasser was found to be hunting without a valid hunting license or an archery hunting endorsement.
Case pending.
  •  On Oct. 28 at 9:00 p.m., Van Zandt County Game Warden Trent Herchman was contacted by a concerned citizen about a neighbor skinning a deer in a barn.
Warden Herchman along with Warden Steve Stapleton found a new Cadillac parked in front of the barn with fresh blood running off of the trunk.
Inside the barn was the owner of the Cadillac, the landowner and a freshly killed yearling deer.
After a brief interview, the person who killed the deer admitted that the landowner had problems with deer in his garden and invited him over to kill one.
He used a .30-378 Weatherby Magnum rifle that shot a round darn near as large as the deer.
Multiple cases pending.
  •  Travis County Game Warden Chad West received a call from a local resident stating a deer carcass was dumped in a creek near the resident’s home.
Warden West located the deer and gathered a tag that the hunter had mistakenly left on the dumped deer.
Warden West contacted partner Game Warden Theron Oatman to assist with searching for hunting activity on the property noted on the tag; no evidence was shown of recent hunting activity.
Warden West contacted the hunter and requested that he meet the wardens at that location.
The hunter stated he killed the deer in a nearby creek but questioning quickly revealed the truth—that he shot it at another location in a nearby town.
The wardens proceeded to the site that the deer was killed and discovered the hunter did not have permission to be on the property.
Warden West located the out-of-area owners of the property and called upon Harris County Game Warden Jennifer Inkster to assist with collecting information and statements.
After several days of investigation and gathering of evidence, the subject was arrested and booked into Travis County Jail.
Felony cases pending.
  •  On Oct. 29, Bell County Game Warden Justin Valchar investigated a trespassing call from a landowner who found a deer feeder on his property and several trees cleared off his land.
Upon inspection, Warden Valchar found tire tracks which led to the neighbor’s house.
When the neighbor was questioned, she denied any knowledge of the issue and stated her husband was at the deer lease.
When asked again, she admitted her husband was, indeed, behind the issues on the adjacent property.
 When asked why she lied, she replied, “Cause you’re a Game Warden.”
Cases filed and pending.
  •  On Nov. 5, while returning to the boat ramp after checking duck hunters on opening day of duck season, Tarrant County Game Warden David Vannoy noticed a large amount of debris in the main body of the lake.
As Warden Vannoy drew closer, he could see the bow of a flat-bottom boat sticking up out of the water.
Warden Vannoy rushed to rescue two hunters whose boat sank just five minutes prior to Warden Vannoy’s arrival.
The two hunters and a dog were pulled from the water and safely returned to their vehicle.
Both hunters were wearing personal flotation devices when the boat suddenly went down, and the PFDs almost certainly saving their lives.
The two were the last hunters out of the hunting area, and no other boats were around because of the high winds and rough water conditions.
One of the rescued hunters stated that he was sure hoping that the game warden was still around, and the other stated that this was his very first encounter with a game warden and was sure happy to see one.
  •  Cherokee County Game Warden Eric Collins received a call about 11 p.m. on Nov. 3 from a local state trooper who advised that he had a truck stopped with a large amount of blood in the bed.
 Warden Collins met the trooper and the driver of the vehicle at the sheriff’s department for an interview.
During the initial interview, the subject stated he had killed a deer a week prior with his bow and the blood was from that animal.
After further interviewing by the warden, the subject confessed to killing the deer at night from a public roadway with a .22-caliber rifle, and hunting numerous times without possessing a hunting license.
He also admitted to only removing the backstraps from the deer, discarding the rest of the meat, and selling the back straps for $15 to one of his friends.
Cases pending.
  •  The evening of Nov. 4, the day before opening of deer season, Montgomery County Warden Brannon Meinkowsky was patrolling for illegal night hunting activity when he noticed a truck driving unusually slow through a subdivision known to hold a large number of deer.
Meinkowsky stopped the vehicle and found it occupied by two males and one female armed with a .17 HMR rifle, a compound bow and three flashlights.  All of the subjects lived about 30 miles away.
 During the investigation, Meinkowsky discovered one of the subject’s phone had pictures of him holding the head of buck deer.
The pictures had all been taken at night and before deer season.
The subject confessed to killing one of the deer out of season and provided information about the other deer killed out of season.
 Multiple cases were filed.  Additional suspects have been identified and charges are pending.
  •  On opening day of deer season, Nov. 5, Montgomery County Game Warden Karin Apple and Alan Biggerstaff investigated a tip from a landowner who believed someone was illegally hunting on his property.
After several attempts to track the trespasser, the wardens were able to apprehend the suspect, who they found sitting in a tree stand on the complainant’s property.
In addition to hunting without landowner consent charges, the suspect was charged with felon in possession of a firearm.
Cases pending.
  •  Jasper County Game Warden Justin Eddins and Captain Tom Jenkins were patrolling the north end of Jasper County on Nov. 6 when Warden Eddins received a phone call from a local hunting club, advising there were two individuals trying to steal pipe from an oil well location.
 Warden Eddins and Captain Jenkins arrived to find two subjects on ATVs trying to steal a 300-pound piece of pipe.
Criminal trespass and theft charges are pending.
  •  On Nov. 5, Harris County Game Wardens Jennifer Inkster and Kevin Malonson were checking waterfowl hunters on the Katy Prairie when they stumbled onto two campers with numerous ATVs.
 While questioning the subjects for paperwork and ownership identification on the vehicles, one 1999 Polaris showed to be stolen out of Brazos County.
The ATV was seized and an investigation is ongoing.
  •  While patrolling Falcon Lake on Oct. 25, Zapata County Game Wardens Roy Martinez and Shane Bailey, wardens observed two Mexican commercial fishing vessels enter Texas waters just north of their location.
As the wardens made their move to make contact, the subjects bailed out into the brush.
Border Patrol marine units were called in to assist, and while in route to the wardens’ location, they observed another vessel just south of the wardens’ location.
A total of three boats, a motor, and 1,980 feet of gill net were seized.
  •  About 11:30 p.m. on opening day of general deer season, Callahan County Game Warden James Brown and Sheriff John Windham observed two pickups parked on the shoulder of the roadway and stopped to investigate.
Driver No. 1 had stopped, exited his vehicle and realized that he accidentally locked himself out of his idling pickup.
He then flagged down Driver No. 2 for help.
After further investigation of Driver No. 2, Warden Brown discovered an ice chest holding a quartered out, untagged, white-tailed deer which could not be identified as a buck or antlerless deer as required by regulations.
Warden Brown cited Driver No. 2 and then administered standard field sobriety tests to Driver No. 1.
After failing the test, Driver No. 1 stated the only reason he was so drunk was because he never drinks and he couldn’t handle the two beers he drank.
After assisting Driver No. 1 and getting his truck unlocked, officers cited him for public intoxication and released him to some friends that live close by.
  •  Llano County Game Warden Kevin Webb and San Saba County Game Warden Brad Reeves responded to a 911 call the afternoon of Nov. 7 in regard to two lost hunters on a 20,000-acre property in San Saba County.
Webb and Reeves, with much appreciated help from the rancher, were successful in locating the two hunters and returning them to their deer camp.
The hunters had wounded a hog that morning and started tracking it when they became lost and kept walking toward a windmill they could see on a tall hill off in the distance.
The hunters were several miles from their camp when wardens and rancher located them.
  •  Leon County Warden Logan Griffin checked a camp on Nov. 6 and issued multiple citations to the son of the property owners.
In the course of his investigation, Warden Griffin also noticed a 2008 Ford truck parked suspiciously away from the main area and behind a tree.
The truck appeared to have been there a while so Warden Griffin wrote down the plate number to check later.
A run of the license plate showed the vehicle was reported stolen from the subject who Griffin had issued the hunting-related citations to earlier.
A search warrant was obtained, and the next day Griffin and Warden Henson recovered the vehicle.
The subject’s parents, who lived on the property, stated they didn’t know anything about the truck parked in their backyard.
After contacting the insurance company and Texarkana PD, an investigation is pending into insurance fraud charges.
  •  Williamson County Game Wardens Turk Jones and Joel Campos were patrolling a subdivision in Liberty Hill on opening day of deer season when Warden Campos spotted a male dressed in camo holding a rifle in his front yard.
The wardens made contact, and the first thing the subject said was “Look at what I shot during archery season,” and showed wardens antlers of an 8-pointer.
Warden Campos inspected the subject’s hunting license and found he had an antlerless tag missing.
Warden Campos brought it to his attention, and the subject stated, “Well, you got me; let’s change the story and say my cousin shot that one.”
Warden Campos told him he couldn’t change his story, and the hunter finally confessed to bragging to people that he had shot the deer when, in fact, he had cut the antlers off a road killed buck.
Antlers were confiscated and citations were issued.
  •  Opening day of deer season, Washington County Game Warden Eddie Hines checked a vehicle that contained a nice 8-point buck.
The buck was tagged with the driver’s son-in-law’s tag.
However the son-in-law was not in the vehicle.
When asked where his son-in-law was, the driver became nervous and could not answer questions specifically.
Finally, Warden Hines was able to get an approximate location of the hunting lease that the son-in-law was on.
When Hines got to the gate of the hunting lease, he could see a truck behind a tree line.
Warden Hines approached the truck, and two hunters got out, one of whom was identified as the son-in-law.
Warden Hines found an illegal 8-point buck in the bed of the truck.
After talking to the two subjects, they admitted to sending the father-in-law out first to see if there was a game warden around.
When they called him and found out that the game warden was at that moment talking to their father-in-law, they decided to wait it out and see if the warden went on by their gate.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wood duck graces 2012 federal duck stamp

If you love wood ducks and their bright colors, you’re going to love the 2012-2013 Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.The wood duck will grace the stamp, which is also known as the Federal Duck Stamp. Minnesota artist Joe Hautman, who has won the Duck Stamp contest four previous times, was recently judged the winner of this year’s contest with his painting of a wood duck. Calling the Federal Duck Stamp one of conservation’s greatest tools, Evan Hirsche, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, said the stamp is a vital part of the wetlands acquisition fund-raising strategy for the nation’s wildlife refuges. Hirsche’s comments came following the annual 2011 Federal Duck Stamp Contest.
“Since 1934, the Duck Stamp, which supports the acquisition of wetland habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System, is responsible for more than $750 million in conservation funds, resulting in more than 5.3 million acres of land being conserved — most of it on our nation’s national wildlife refuges,” he said.
The Federal Duck Stamp Contest is the oldest and most prestigious wildlife art competition in the United States. “The Ducks Stamp plays a critical role in the conservation of key habitats,” said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. “Ninety-eight percent of the receipts from stamp sales are used to add critical breeding, migration and wintering habitat to the National Wildlife Refuge System.”
Hunting and fishing contribute more than $95 billion to the United States economy each year, Hirsche said.
Those activities, of which the Duck Stamp is a part, also generate more than $1 billion on state and federal tax revenues annually. Waterfowl hunters buy the stamp annually because it is required by federal hunting regulations. But conservationists also buy the stamp to support wildlife and wildlife habitat.
An example of one of the refuges supported by funds from the Federal Duck Stamp is the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge in Nampa. Besides serving as a hunting license and a conservation tool, a current year’s Federal Duck Stamp also serves as an entrance pass for national wildlife refuges where admission is normally charged.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bellevue deer hunter fights ODNR's 'outrageous' $27,851 fine

A few years ago, a hunter cited for breaking the law would pay $400 in restitution per deer.
The price tag has since bounded to more than $27,000.
A Bellevue hunter is facing a record $27,851.33 bill for the large buck he shot with his bow last year in the Willard area.
Lifelong hunter Arlie Risner, 58, believes he has nothing to be ashamed of.
He says he pleaded no contest to a charge of hunting without permission because his lawyer convinced him it was an inexpensive way to take care of a citation from the Division of Wildlife.
He paid a fine of more than $300, but figured that when a year’s probation expired, that would be it and he could get back to hunting and fishing.
Risner said he was stunned when he got a letter demanding $27,851.33 in restitution from the ODNR. He can’t hunt or fish in Ohio until he pays, and if he doesn’t cover the bill, he could face a collections lawsuit from the attorney general’s office.
“I’ve never been in trouble in my life,” Risner said. “I don’t think I’ve even done anything wrong.”
The hunting story
Risner’s deer hunting woes date back to Nov. 10, 2010, when he says he went bow hunting on property owned by his cousin, Marcella Handshoe, along Town Line Road No. 12 in Willard. He hit a large buck with his arrow.
“I hit it good,” Risner said.
He saw the deer leap away, losing the arrow sticking out of its neck.
The licensed hunter followed the buck’s blood trail to CSX Railroad property and found the animal where it had dropped. He tagged it, entering the proper information, and took it to officially check in at a Shelby hunting store.
On Nov. 14, a game warden showed up at Risner’s house, saying Risner had been turned in for hunting on railroad property. Risner said he tried to show the game warden where he’d hit the buck, but his cousin had cut the grass, removing the blood trail.
Handshoe said her cousin did nothing wrong.
“He was on my land and he had permission,” said Handshoe, who said she showed Division of Wildlife agents the trees where Risner took cover when he shot the deer. “I am so upset over this whole issue.”
“I know him as well as I do my brothers,” Handshoe said. “Arlie has always been an honest person. I have never heard anything bad about him.”
Arlie said he did what any hunter would do — follow the deer he wounded and harvest it.
The Division of Wildlife investigator who handled Risner’s case, however, said that there was evidence Risner broke the law.
Jeff Collingwood, wildlife investigator for the division’s office in Findlay, said he was sure of Risner’s guilt. If he wasn’t “100 percent certain,” he would not have sought charges, Collingwood said.
“There’s a fence that separates it,” Collingwood said of the property line.
He said officers found gouge marks from a tree stand on a tree on CSX property that the officer accused Risner of climbing, and found deer bait nearby, within bow shot of the tree stand.
Wildlife officers also found deer guts on railroad property and linked it to Risner’s deer using DNA. A blood trail was found on railroad property, but no blood trail could be seen on Handshoe’s property, Collingwood said.
Risner maintains that he didn’t know he’d set foot on CSX property and said there’s no way he could have scaled the tree Collingwood said he did. Why? Because he’d recently had surgery for colon cancer and there’s no way for him to climb a tree like the one that had marks in it.
Clearly, Risner said, someone else had scaled that tree and put the bait out.
Ken Fitz, law enforcement program administrator for the Division of Wildlife, said it’s irrelevant under the law where Risner shot the deer. If he claimed it on property where he didn’t have permission to hunt, it’s still a violation of the law.
Risner pleaded no contest — technically not an admission of guilt — on Feb. 23 and paid his court fine. The ODNR confiscated both the antlers and the meat.
Model citizen
Deputy Steve Hammersmith, a 26-year veteran of the Erie County Sheriff’s office, lived next to Risner for about 10 years.
Hammersmith said he knows nothing about Risner’s legal problems and said it wouldn’t be proper for him to get involved, but said Risner was an “ideal neighbor.”
“He was the type of individual who did things without asking,” Hammersmith said. “I never encountered him being a bad individual.”
Risner said he does not believe he did anything wrong and doesn’t consider himself a poacher. He doesn’t like poachers, he said, and would never be one.
“I’m probably never going to hunt again,” he said. “It’s just been a really bad experience for me.”
There’s no other record of wildlife violations by Risner.
Fitz confirms that the 2010 charge is the only one in ODNR’s records.
Collingwood worked for 10 years as a wildlife officer in Huron County and has been an investigator for two years. He said that in those 12 years, he never had any dealings with Risner. If there had been an arrest or complaints about Risner, “I would have known about it,” he said.
Collingwood is the Monroeville High School assistant football coach who was fired from his coaching job last month because he failed to report a student violation of the athletic code of conduct.
$27,851.33 deer
Risner thought his case was over, but at the end of April, he got a registered letter from ODNR asking for more than $27,000 in restitution.
Surprised, Risner called up his lawyer, Neil McKown of Shelby, who Risner says didn’t realize his client would be facing the additional fine. McKown did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Fitz remembers the restitution letter.
“I wrote the letter,” he said.
Fitz explained that the department had no leeway in setting the restitution, but had to follow guidelines in a 2007 state law, Ohio Revised Code 1531.201, that sets high restitution for valuable animals. Before the new law, restitution for deer was $400 an animal.
The new law recognizes that killing a large buck can be lucrative. Risner’s unusually large animal therefore drew the $27,851.33 restitution, the largest levied since the new law. The next-largest so far is $23,816.
Collingwood said under the scoring system used for deer, the antlers for Risner’s buck measured 228 inches.
“We rarely see anything higher than 160,” he said. More than 200 is considered world class, he said.
A hunter landing a buck that large can make thousands of dollars selling it to a store such as Bass Pro Shop, and could make money to endorse the bow or clothes or other tools he used to land it.
Risner said he had no interest in the antlers or trophy animals in general. He said he simply hunted for the meat, which is particularly good for his digestion following his bout with cancer.
State officials have taken no action yet to collect Risner’s restitution. At some point, they could ask the attorney general to collect it, Fitz said. That’s the step where Risner could attempt to make some kind of deal.
Risner said he can’t afford the $27,000 fine, especially after all of his expensive medical bills. He instead plans to fight the ODNR, which he claims has too much power.
The deer law
State records show that the bill that hiked the restitution fees, Ohio House Bill, was authored by Bob Latta, then a state lawmaker and now a Congressman who represents Huron County.
The bill passed the House 96-0 and the Senate 29-1 before it became law.
Before final passage, Latta proposed amendments to the bill that were approved 94-2. Only former state Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, and Rep. Lynn Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, voted no.
Redfern and Wachtmann did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Latta’s spokeswoman, Izzy Santa, said the intent of the law was to set up penalties to prevent poaching.
“He believed and he still believes he did not want illegal poaching,” she said. “The fees were there to prevent that behavior.”
Latta had no comment on the size of Risner’s restitution, she said.
State Rep. Dennis Murray Jr., D-Sandusky, said he’s not an expert on deer hunting but Risner’s big restitution sounds like an unintended result of the new law.
“I can’t imagine that the buck is worth $27,000,” he said.
Murray said it’s also “somewhat bothersome” Risner was convicted of anything — assuming Risner’s account is correct.

“If you’re just following the animal and it lays down where it lays down, what else are you supposed to do?” he said.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hunting Facts

The contributions, in the form excise taxes paid on sporting firearms, ammunition and archery equipment, benefit every state and have generated approximately $5.6 billion for wildlife conservation since 1939. The contribution for 2009 is a record -- nearly $336 million, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which recently announced the Wildlife Restoration apportionment.

An average hunter spends $1,638 every year on the sport.

Teenage girls are the fastest growing market in sport shooting.

According to research, 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago. And 50 percent more women are now target shooting.

Americans hunt 228 million days per year.

More than 38 million Americans hunt and fish.

Hunters and anglers support more jobs nationwide than the number of people employed by Wal-Mart.
Through license sales and excise taxes on equipment, hunters and anglers pay for most fish and wildlife conservation programs.

Hunters and shooters have paid more than $5 billion in excise taxes since 1939.

More Americans hunt and shoot than play golf.

Firearms are involved in less than 1% of all accidental fatalities. More Americans are killed in accidents involving vending machines than guns.

Hunting gear sales are growing faster than all other sporting goods categories.

Americans annually buy 1.1 billion shotshells.

Non-resident hunting license, tag, stamp and permit sales have risen 41.2 percent since 1993.

Top selling sporting goods: 1.) exercise equipment, 2.) golf gear, 3.) hunting gear.

Sources: US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation; National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Drop Tines in Kansas, Grady Keith

While hunting in northwest Kansas on October 30th, Grady Keith and his hunting buddy knew that this big buck was in the area. The monarch was spotted during the morning hunt, just 90 yards from Keith’s friend, but came no closer.
With the afternoon sit upon them, the pair headed out to the same area where they’d seen the buck earlier. Keith set up 200 yards east of his buddy.
After a long period of seeing nothing, the deer started to get up and Keith spotted the buck off in the distance through thick trees 250 yards away. The buck finally stepped out of the timber and ever so slowly started to make his way to Keith’s stand.
The buck’s slow saunter towards Keith had the hunter’s heart racing as he pondered the possibilities of getting a shot at this magnificent creature. The buck eventually closed within 15 yards. Keith drew back his Mathews DXT and let a Gold Tip Arrow fly. The Muzzy MX-3 found its mark — a clean pass through on a double lung shot!
The buck featured 21-scorable points and five drop tines!
Congrats on a fantastic buck Keith!

by Aaron Decker

Monday, November 7, 2011

Archer lives dream, doubles up on 10-point bucks

Persistence. And a little luck.
Both paid off recently for Luke Hegge, an avid bow hunter from Pine City.
Hegge, 33, who has been bow hunting since he was 12, was deer hunting with a friend at the Camp Ripley archery hunt earlier this month when he encountered not one monster buck but two big 10-pointers.
And bagged them both.
"I saw the second deer first, and rattled my antlers, but he kept going,'' Hegge said. He kept rattling. "Ten minutes later, the first one charged over the ridge looking for a fight.''
The 10-pointer was only 3 yards away when Hegge shot it. The green score of its rack was 160 inches -- a deer of a lifetime, and the biggest Hegge has ever taken. His friend, hunting nearby, heard the commotion and showed up for some high-fives. They field dressed it and dragged it to his truck, then returned.
"It was only 11:30 a.m.,'' Hegge said. "I asked if he wanted to use my stand, but he decided to go back to his. I wasn't back in my stand 10 minutes when the second deer came running in.''
Hegge, who had been looking at photos of his first buck on his cellphone, set the phone down, grabbed his bow and arrowed the second buck, a 10-pointer with a 21.5-inch inside spread that green scored 155 inches. (Because he was party hunting with his friend, he legally used his friend's tag on that deer.)
He's having both bucks mounted.
"It was a fun day, let me tell you,'' Hegge said.
  • Article by: DOUG SMITH
  • Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Top 10 Deer Hunting Violations in Minnesota

    Conservation officers with the Minnesota DNR issued 1,110 citations or warnings during the 2010 firearms deer season, up from 1,035 in 2009. With Minnesota’s firearms deer season starting Saturday, Nov. 5, the DNR is reminding hunters of some of the more common violations.
    “The vast majority of deer hunters in Minnesota abide by the rules and regulations, while a small percentage run afoul of the law,” said Col. Jim Konrad, Minnesota DNR Enforcement director. “Hunters can best help us protect and preserve the resource by simply following the rules.”

    Top 10 Deer Hunting Violations
    1. Fail to validate tag: 180 citations
    2. Hunt over bait: 150 citations
    3. Untagged: 131 citations
    4. Transport uncased/loaded firearm: 127 citations
    5. Fail to register: 110 citations
    6. Misdemeanor shining: 92 citations
    7. License not in possession: 89 citations
    8. Trespass: 87 citations
    9. Shoot from road right of way at big game: 81 citations
    10. No license: 63 citations
    A large number of citations are written each year for failure to validate a site tag.
    Minnesota’s Deer License and Site Tag come as a 2-part form. The upper half is the Site Tag for tagging the deer in the field. The lower half is the Deer License and Registration Slip. Konrad said that at the kill site a hunter must detach the site tag from the deer license/registration slip.
    “Before moving the deer, validate the tag by using a knife or similar sharp object to cut out the appropriate notches indicating the month the deer was killed, date it was killed and the time of day it was killed,” Konrad said. “Mark carefully -- if more than one month, date, or time is cut out or marked, the tag becomes invalid.”
    The validated site tag must be attached to the deer when the deer is placed on a motor vehicle or an ATV, a vehicle or a trailer being towed by an ATV or brought into a camp, yard or other place of habitation.
    Transporting a loaded firearm in a vehicle is another recurring deer hunting violation. There are circumstances when a person may transport unloaded, uncased firearms (excluding pistols) in a vehicle, including ATVs: while at a shooting range with permission; while lawfully hunting on private or public land or while traveling to or from a site the person intends to hunt or has lawfully hunted that day.
    Other common violations include hunting over bait, license not in possession, shooting from the road right of way at big game and hunting without permission on private property.
    Blaze orange is required on your cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves while hunting deer. Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern of at least 50 percent blaze orange within each square foot.
    Approximately 200 DNR officers will be traveling the back roads and hiking through the woods to ensure hunters hunt safely, ethically and abide by the Minnesota’s hunting rules and regulations.



    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Moose hunters had successful season

    Vermont moose hunters had a succesful hunting season according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. A new archery moose hunt was held Oct. 1-7, and the regular moose hunting season was Oct. 15-20. "A preliminary count shows that by Oct. 25, the department had received official reports of 10 moose being taken by 53 hunters in the archery season, and 231 moose taken by 406 hunters in the regular season," said Cedric Alexander, Vermont's moose project leader. A few additional reports are still expected to be sent in from other reporting agents.