Archive for February, 2009

In the “Dead Zone”

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

It is that time of year here in WV. There just isn’t a lot of outdoor activities to take advantage of. The hunting seasons are over, and the fishing hasn’t really picked up yet. It is kind of like the professional sports season. There is a dead zone between the end of Football and the beginning of Baseball. I know there is Hockey and Basketball, but I don’t really pay attention to them. I am hoping to be able and get some fishing done sometime in the next few weeks.

The state actually starts stocking trout in January, and there is no closed season for trout in WV.  However, the trout streams are in the mountains, and the mountains get a lot of snow.  The state also does not clear many of the mountain roads, so the rivers are not very accessible.  We have had several days that the temperatures have raised, but I’m sure the ice pack is still present up in the mountains.

I only got out one time last year, as the gas prices were ridiculously high.  I am hoping that travel will be a bit more reasonable this spring.  I really want to break out the fly rod and see if I can catch anything.  It has been 2 years since I had the fly rod out!

I would like to get some further comments based off of my last post.  There were a couple of folks who voiced their disagreement with catch and release fishing, as well as the hunting that is done with tranquilizers.  So, my question is this:  do you think that catch and release fishing is the same as I described in the last post, or is there a difference?  Would you (or do you) practice catch and release fishing, and yet oppose the hunting counterpart?  I am interested to see the reasoning behind those who practice C&R fishing but oppose the hunting tactic.  By the way, as I mentioned before, I do practice C&R fishing some times.  Perhaps I’ll share my thoughts a bit later!

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Real Hunting?

Monday, February 16th, 2009

One of the first posts that I ever did here on Jake’s Outdoors was about the World Hunt Organization. Back in 2006, this company started a “catch and release” deer hunting campaign. They were trying to start a tournament like environment, comparing it to the Bass Pro fishing type circuits. The idea was that the deer would be darted with tranquilizers instead of being shot with a bow or gun.

At that time, there was a huge uproar over this concept.  In fact, it was so problematic that outdoorsmen were calling for sponsors to withdraw their support of anything that had to do with the WHO.  These anti catch and release campaigns were quite successful, causing most if not all of the sponsors to withdraw their support of the project.  Of course, with no financial support, the whole project crashed.

I thought that the whole idea of “catch and release” hunting was terrible.  I was very happy to see the whole thing crash and burn.  So, imagine my surprise as I was watching the Outdoor Channel (one of my favorite channels, of course) last night only to see a relatively new show showcasing a hunt that was very similar to this idea from 2006.  Only now, it was called a “green hunt”.  She Safari’s Beyond the Lodge featured a White Rhino hunt that was a dart hunt, rather than a true hunt.  The justification was that the huntress would be followed by a veterinary crew, who would collect some scientific data off of the rhino, before waking it up and sending it on its way.

Quite frankly, I do not see any difference in this than the original idea 3 years ago.  This makes it a sport to dart animals for fun.  I believe that the scientific data is important, but if we are truly going to be conservationists, I think that we need to distinguish between the conservation efforts and our sport of hunting.  I realize that there is an element of conservation in our hunting.  However, when we are going to fight for animals, especially those who are truly endangered, we need to make sure that people see us as being a true element of the conservation.  Think about it.  Making the darting and scientific collection of data a sport makes it appear that there is nothing more important to us than getting an animal on the ground.  Perhaps that is true for some, but I hope for the bulk of us hunting is much deeper than that.

Maybe I am wrong on this.  But, how could this cause such outrage 3 years ago, and be virtually overlooked now?  Are the subtle differences enough to get a pass on it this time around?  Is doing it in Africa on endangered animals more acceptable than doing it in the US on the common white tailed deer?

One of the things that aggravated me about the show was that they made a point of saying that they were going to do it in the most difficult, and potentially dangerous way.  They were going to put the dart on the end of an arrow and attempt to shoot the rhino from close range.  So, what was the point here?  Scientific data collection?  Then why not use the typical dart gun?  Sport?  Then why endanger both the hunting party, the medical crew and the rhino?  This was all about exciting TV (which is understandable).   However, I’m not sure what this type of “green hunt” does for the image of hunting in general.

I must admit, as I watched the show last night, I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I see this as an opportunity for anti-hunters to jump on those of us who are ethical hunters.  After all, if they can hunt like this in Africa, why not here?  Why not hunt like this all of the time?  Just dart an animal, take a few pics, and send the animal on its happy way.

I’m anxious to hear your input on this subject.  I have a feeling there may be some disagreement here.  That is ok.  If I’m being too harsh, feel free to let me know.  If I’m missing something here, as to why this is so drastically different than the original WHO proposals, show me why.  Are you for this type of “green hunt” or not?

Making the Most of the Great Outdoors

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Kristine, over at the Outdoor Bloggers Summit has issued a challenge, and I am looking forward to reading all the posts that are already in the works. Recently, the American Spectator published a piece entitled the Hunt for Gray February by Christopher Orlet.  Basically, the author wrote a piece that was supposed to be funny (I assume) but instead he ended up insulting those who are true outdoorsmen.  He painted the typical hunter as needing “a gun in one hand and a beer in the other before they are able to talk to one another.”  He painted women as being inable to enjoy the hunting sports, and basically as being in the way of their chest pounding, gun toting, beer drinking husbands.  Reading Mr. Orlet’s piece, and then doing a quick search on American Spectator’s site to see what other pieces Mr. Orlet wrote, it became suspicious that he is a hunter, or an outdoorsman at all.  Perhaps Mr. Orlet should stick to writing about building cabinets (though I doubt he knows much about that either) and let true outdoorsmen and women tell about the great opportunities available to all in the great outdoors!

As frequent readers of this blog already know, I enjoy the outdoors, and spend much of my “down time” or relaxation time in some aspect of outdoor pursuits.  I hunt in the fall, fish in the spring and summer, and go camping and hiking whenever I get the opportunity.  Usually the camping and hiking is combined with hunting or fishing!  But, one of the greatest parts of enjoying these activities is the fact that my family loves to get out and go with me.  My wife enjoys wading the trout streams of West Virginia, casting to the perfect holes, and catching trout.  Yes, she baits her own hook, and removes fish by herself.  And for the record, I have never in 15 years of marriage heard my wife complain about a broken nail.  My kids all enjoy getting outside as well.  Jacob has been hunting and fishing.  Skylar has gone fishing as well.  JonDavid is not quite old enough to participate, but he sure loves getting outside and playing.

I say all of this to say that there are plenty of opportunities for anyone who has the desire to get outside and enjoy God’s wonderful creation.  Every single state has made it possible to enjoy outdoor recreational sports, no matter what type of person you are, or how much ability you might have. If you want to go camping, but don’t have much experience, you can check out camp grounds, that have great amenities such as restrooms and showers.  Like to rough it?  Most states have wilderness areas that you can gain permits to camp in.  Most people also have public land close enough to enjoy for hiking as well.  I know that here in WV we have several state and national forests that have miles and miles of hiking trails.  Those same state and national parks also have great fishing opportunities.  Whether you like lakes, ponds or rivers, the opportunities for fishing are nearly endless.  There are even more and more opportunities that are opening up for those who have disabilities.  Hiking trails are being paved so that even those in wheelchairs have access, and fishing piers are being built to make access easy, even for those who have cumbersome equipment that they must keep with them.

I wonder why anyone would want to try and eliminate any part of the populace from enjoying the outdoor sports?  There are so many opportunities available that there is always something for everyone.  You don’t have to be a hunter or fisherman to enjoy the outdoors.  Try canoeing, kayaking, or some other kind of boating.  Try mountain climbing, or hiking.  Try Frisbee golf if nothing else strikes your fancy.  But, you should try something!  Getting outside will make for a much more healthy lifestyle, and involving your family will get them out from in front of the TV and video games, and allow them to enjoy something that is far more fun.

I am not ashamed of my “country roots.”  In fact, I may be too proud of those roots sometimes.  I have “A Country Boy Can Survive” playing through my head at the moment.  I wonder how Mr. Orlet would do if he had to actually provide something for himself without having a Kroger’s to go to?  I am, however, offended by the characterization that Mr. Orlet uses in this piece.  If he is an outdoorsman, his characterization does much more harm than good to our image.  True hunters know that alcohol and guns never mix.  I personally do not drink at all, but anyone who drinks while hunting is simply an idiot.  The anti-hunters salivate when they see this type of article that portrays hunters as a buch of drunk bumpkins who cannot control themselves.  To also paint the hunting fraternity as being sexist and derrogatory is just added fodder for their attacks.  After all, if an “outdoorsman” paints the outdoors sports in this way, it must be true, right?

Perhaps Mr. Orlet can’t stand his family, or perhaps his family can’t stand him.  Perhaps he doesn’t even have a family, which is why he doesn’t really understand the family dynamic. But, for him to presume that all hunters are as he portrays is neither truthful nor humorous, so he missed both possibilities.

I am glad that the Oudoor Summit exists to band together real oudoors men and women.  I enjoy reading about real experiences, and seeing the humor that comes out of those real experiences.  If I want to read something humorous, I think I’ll go back to Patrick McManus.  There was a man who understood the outdoors…Mr. Orlet is certainly no Patrick McManus…

buy a kayak!

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Near Disaster in the Rabbitry!

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Several months ago, I wrote about entering into a new venture with Jacob, my son.  We decided that we were going to try and raise rabbits, both for fun and for putting some extra meat in the freezer.  We built the racks for cages, and got all of our necessities together, and then bought 5 rabbits (2 bucks and 3 does).  Our first effort at breeding a doe did not take, but our second attempt has been successful.  We now have our first litter of bunnies.

This doe is actually my daughter’s.  She was feeling left out, so I went back to where we bought our first 3 rabbits, and purchased two more.  This rabbit is a colored rabbit, rather than one of the purebred New Zealands, or Californians.  I bred her to our New Zealand buck.  It is evident that these bunnies will have some good coloring, just like their mother.  I am looking forward to seeing how this goes over the next few weeks.  We have another doe bred, which should be kindling in March.  We are trying to spread it out a bit here at the beginning, as we don’t have the facilities to house several litters at the same time to feed them out to maturity.

Here is a picture of Fluffy, and her litter of 8.  You can’t really see how many are in there, but maybe you can make out the little guys…


Fluffys First Litter Kindled

Fluffy's First Litter Kindled



Now to the near disaster…

Some of you here in the east may have experienced the terrible storms that came through a couple of days ago.  Well, we have the rabbits in a “portable garage”, which is a steel frame covered with tarps.  Early in the day, I looked outside during the wind storm (before the rain came) and saw that the rabbit shed had blown over!  It had knocked over the two bucks, but fortunately they were not injured.  The shed itself sustained some pretty significant damage, with one of the poles breaking nearly in half.  We were able to get everything set back up, and I went to the hardware store to find some solution for keeping the shed fastened down.  I ended up having to chain the frame of the shed to the fence, and then chain several concrete blocks to the frame to try and hold it down.  The winds got so bad during the storm later in the evening that they actually lifted the shed, concrete bloks and all, up in the air.  Fortunately, my makeshift anchoring system kept the shed from turning over once again, so the rabbits were kept safe through the night.  Becasue the shed was still blowing around quite a bit, the tarp on one side hit the racks inside and cut a pretty good hole.  I am not sure exactly how much longer this will last me.  I am afraid that I am going to have to build a more permanent shed to house the poor rabbits, so that they don’t have to be so stressed during the storms.

Fluffy was actually due the same day as the storm, so we were glad that she held off until today to make sure the weather didn’t harm the babies.  The wind and rain certainly could have caused much more damage, so we are glad we didn’t lose any of our animals!

Hunting Success, or Failure?

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

OK, here is an issue that I am kind of torn on.  In some ways, it is obviously good, but in other ways, I am afraid that it sends the wrong message, and sets a unwise precedent.  In Utah, the state held an auction for statewide tags for several different species.  The one that drew the most attention was a Mule Deer tag, which would make it possible for the winner to hunt in a unit that is very restricted, and yet known for huge deer.  The winning bidder, Robert Kay, paid a whopping $205,000 for the tag.  Tags specific to the Henry Mountains sold for $90,000 and $87,000 respectively.  There were several other tags that were also sold, including Mountain Big Horn Sheep, and Moose.  Both went for an exorbitant amount of money!  To see more info, check out this article in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Here is what I see as the two sides of the issue.  First, the good side.  This money will be put to good use, invested in the wildlife of Utah.  This is indicative of how concerned (at leas I like to think so) hunters are for the wildlife that they hunt.  Consider what Mr. Kay had to say about purchasing his tag:

“I bid only because the mule deer need help and that is exactly what this permit does,” said Kay, 54, a lifelong Utah resident. “I hunt every year, but I haven’t shot a deer in five years. I love to see the animals; the record books don’t mean anything to me.”

Mr. Kay obviously wanted to give his money to help the mule deer population.  There are certainly not any anti-hunters lining up to donate over $200,000 of their own money to help the mule deer.  I am sure that the money will be put to good use for the state, and I hope that the state will make wise choices for the use of the money.  They have in fact raised some $17 million over the last 10 years, 90% of which has gone straight back into the wildlife program.   So, all of this points to this being a good program, raising a lot of money for conservation.

Now, the bad.  It seems to me that this type of practice is taking us down a path that we really don’t want to go down.  Hunting is becoming a sport of the rich world wide.  You have to be wealthy to hunt in many of the great places around the world.  That idea seems to be spreading through the US as well–primarily in western states.  Land for hunting is harder to find, and tags are becoming more expensive.  Many states already have implemented lottery systems where you have to hope that you get a tag.  Even “over the counter” tags are going up in price.  I know that our tags here in WV have doubled over the last 3 years.  Before long, it will be a sport of the rich right here in the USA.  It is no wonder that many young people are not choosing the hunting lifestyle–they can’t afford to get involved!  By the way, if our new president has his way, this will only get worse, as the price of guns, and ammunition will skyrocket.

If it catches on that the extremely rich will pay these huge prices for tags, then those of  us who simply do not have the funds will be “iced out” of the prime hunting locations.  Private ranches have already closed their borders, and charge a huge amount for the right to hunt on their land.  Combine these two elements, and most of us won’t be able to hunt.  So, from that standpoint, it bothers me that these tags are being auctioned at such high prices.

So, what do you think?  Is this a good idea, or will it cause greater problems for those of us who are “normal hunters” down the road?

Final Note On The Howard County Safety Zone Issue

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

I think this will be the final post on this issue.  I am happy to say that it appears that the Howard County Council has listened to concerns from hunters and outdoorsmen in crafting the new legislation for the safety zone issue that arose there last year.  Most of the new law seems to me to be clarification of laws that were already on the books, and quantifies the punishment for those who would violate the safety zone laws.  I am glad that they chose to remove all of the language from the new bill which was very anti-hunting.  I am sure that there are many on that side of the fence that are very upset with the bill in its final state.

Greg Fox, one of the county councilmen, has been very gracious in providing me with information on this issue over the last few weeks.  Today, his office sent links to the final form of the bill.  Take a look at these links, and let me know what you think.  If I’ve missed something here, fill me in.  However, this looks like a very good solution to the problem at hand.

  1. The Bill
  2. Amendment 1
  3. Amendment 2 to Amendment 1