Jake's Outdoors

Making the Most of the Great Outdoors

February 14th, 2009 by

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!


Near Disaster in the Rabbitry!

February 13th, 2009 by

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?

February 11th, 2009 by

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

February 5th, 2009 by

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


January 30th, 2009 by

I was emailed a link today that has the text of H.R. 45, which is a gun licensing bill.  I have scanned the bill, but have not spent enough time with it.  I thought I would post the link up here, and let you all take a look (if you haven’t yet), and then let me know what you think.

How do you think this bill will affect our rights as gun owners?  Do you think it is something that could be good, or bad?

I see a few things that throw up some red flags in my mind, but I’ll let you all have first crack at it.

Here is the link:  Text of H.R. 45

Punishment for Game Law Violations…

January 23rd, 2009 by

Most states have a point system that is used to dictate the punishment that comes from various game law violations. For example, in West Virginia, one can lose points on their license for various violations.  Here are some of the violations listed in the game law book:

  • 10 points use of spotlight with firearms or other implement.
  • 6 points illegal possession or sale of wildlife or illegally killing deer, boar, or turkey.
  • 6 points hunting from a motor vehicle.
  • 4 points all other hunting violations.

When a person racks up 10 or more points, they lose their hunting or fishing privileges for a period of 2 years.  I could not find any evidence in the game book that longer penalties are enacted in the state of WV.

While doing some “online reading” today, I came across a story that I thought you all might be interested in.  In North Dakota, there is a current bill that has been proposed that will lengthen the period of time that a hunting license can be taken away from a repeat offender.  This is to help close a loop hole where hunters from other states who have lost their licenses for a longer period of time than the 3 year maximum now in the ND law, come to the state to get to hunt.  ND, like many other states, have a reciprocal agreement.  If you lose your license in Wyoming, for example, you cannot go into ND to hunt.  However, other states have a “lifetime ban” for those who are chronic repeat offenders.  The 3 year maximum currently applies to even those who have lost their license on a lifetime ban in other states.  The change in law would make it possible for ND to ban these chronic offenders as well.

I personally like the idea that chronic game law offenders can lose their license for life.  Granted, this is not going to stop those who have no regard for hunting laws anyway (like those that are mentioned in the linked article above).  They are still going to poach deer.  However, if they have their license taken away, the punishment can be much more harsh when they are caught, even if caught in a different state.

The point system is fair for most of us.  It allows for us to have minor violations by accident.  Regardless of how honest and careful we are, there is still a chance that we could violate some law without knowing it.  The point system makes it so that unintentional violations do not cause a person to lose all hunting rights.  But, I think that all states should move toward what ND is doing.  Every state needs to have a provision for those who simply have no regard for game/fish laws.

You all know that I strive for keeping every game law.  These laws will make it possible to punish those who insist on violating the law.  These chronic violators reflect badly on the rest of us, since they gain far more press than the honest, lawful hunters.  Being able to inflict greater consequences on these offenders will make it possible to show that we will not tolerate intentional violations!

One More Post in the Safety Zone Saga…

January 21st, 2009 by

I was very encouraged by the reply that I got from Mr. Fox of the Howard County Council.  It showed that there are at least some of the council members who are very concerned about the rights of hunters, and they are trying to make sure that those rights are protected.  After sleeping on the response, I decided to write to Mr. Fox one more time today, and share with him some of my thoughts on his amended propositions.  He did send me one more email asking for my input, as well as any input I might generate through this blog.  If you want to add something, and haven’t written to the council individually, feel free to post it here and I will pass it along.

Here is the text of the letter that I sent to Mr. Fox today:

After considering the email you sent, I thought I would send you a few of my thoughts.  It appears that the changes that you have suggested in the email are reasonable, and that they will certainly help to ensure safety, without taking away from the rights of hunters.  My main observation is this:  it appears that the implementation of the bill as stated in your email would not make any real change to the laws.  Basically, a hunter would not be in violation of the law unless he actually shot into a structure (which is already currently illegal).  If a bullet were to be shot in the general direction of a structure, and yet strike a tree or hill before reaching it, it obviously had an “adequate backdrop”.  It seems to me to be a bit useless to make laws to make something that is already safe and legal to be legal.  At best, it is a bit redundant.  On the other hand, it is also currently illegal to shoot into a structure, or to violate the 150 yard safety zone.  So, again it would be redundant to make another law that makes such actions illegal.

It does sound as if there is some room for improvement based on the implementation of a fine.  I assume this means that you would be codifying the exact punishment for violations to the law that makes it illegal to shoot into a structure or dwelling.  I, for one, am all for harsh punishments for those who would be so careless as to discharge a firearm into a structure or dwelling.  I would support harsh penalties for anyone found guilty of this, and believe a codified punishment would certainly act as a deterrent, and hopefully make people more conscientious of their actions—especially when they pull the trigger.

I will say that if some new law is to be passed, your amended version is by far better than the original bill.  It seems to be much more “hunter friendly” than its original counterpart.  It is my tendency to think that new laws are not needed where there are laws on the books that will accomplish the same end result if they are enforced.

Thank you for your interest in this issue.  I hope that everything goes well in the council meeting tonight, and that all parties are able to come to an agreement concerning this issue.  If it is possible, I would be interested to know how this shakes out.  Thanks again for your time, and willingness to correspond with me, even though I am an “out of stater”.


Kris Brewer

I am very thankful that Mr. Fox has been willing to correspond with me on this subject, and I look forward to seeing how all of this plays out.  I am hopeful that all will work out well for our hunting friends in the state of Maryland.

On a different note, I thought I would share with you the birthday present my wife gave to me today.  She had the kids’ picture taken decked out in their camo:

Hunters in Waiting

Hunters in Waiting

Aren’t they something?!

The Howard County Safety Zone Issue…

January 20th, 2009 by

I don’t usually post twice in one day, but I just received a response from Mr. Greg Fox of the Howard County Council.  This is the second response I received, but this one is quite substantial and seems to be well thought out.  It appears that the change in language in the bill is much better now than it was previously.  Here is Mr. Fox’s response:

That is fine that you are not one of my constituents.  I can sure you the max range issue will be addressed.  Please read my updated standard reply:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns on CB1-2009.  I can assure you that I have been reviewing both your comments as well as those of other hunters.  I take your concerns very seriously.

At this point, I have spoken to a number of hunters one-on-one as well as discussions with DNR and others.  In addition, I have had two meetings with groups of hunters along with Councilwoman Sigaty.  Working together with other councilmembers, I/we plan on introducing amendments that should alleviate many of the concerns of hunters and others regarding the potential impact of the bill on hunting and deer management efforts while trying to address the fears of other parts of the community.  I believe that there will be support for the amendments from both councilmembers and the executive’s office.

I would also like to provide some additional background on the situation that might help alleviate some concerns as well as provide some foundation for additional discussions.  First, as someone who has been broadsided by a deer while driving in my neighborhood and whose wife suffered for 3 years with Lyme disease, I know first hand the effects of the deer over population.  Second, I don’t believe that it was the intent of the County Executive to effectively ban hunting when the legislation was drafted as I believe he understands the problems with the deer over population. Again, his administration, as well as other councilmembers, has assured me that they are open to any and all amendments and alternatives.

While I was not involved in the actual drafting of the bill, I did provide some level of input in the process as I was concerned that it might be even farther reaching.  The administration did listen to some of my concerns and attempted to incorporated them into the bill such as making sure that the use of shot for bird hunting would not be impacted and the consideration of the use of a deer stand to mitigate some of the distance concerns.  From my initial conversations with hunters, it was believed that this might be a workable solution with some minor tweaks.  This is the key area that still needs discussion from all parties.  As of now, I will be proposing the following and believe that there is support in this direction:
That the current 150 yards remains in place and whenever a person discharges a gun, the person shall:
1)    Ensure that the projectile has a downward trajectory;
2)    Be in a stand or otherwise elevate above the target; OR
3)    Ensure that the projectile has an adequate backdrop (might need to fine tune the language); OR
4)    Use a shotgun that contains only shot.
We are hoping the focus of the hearing will revolve around this portion of the bill and any suggestions are welcome.

The issue of the 10 acres in the non-Metropolitan district was something that was added towards the end and something which I told the administration up front that I could not support.  In subsequent conversations with the administration and a number of other councilmembers, I can assure you that this provision will be removed if anything is passed. However, it should be noted that the 10 acres was not intended (nor worded) to be a 10 acre parcel and that the current law require 150 yard radius is in effect nearly 15 acres of land (not parcel).

Finally, the issue of the nebulous language about how far ammunition MIGHT travel was something that I was not aware of until after the bill was filed.  In hindsight, the administration has told me that it realizes that this would be tough to enforce.  Based on that and a number of the e-mails I have received from hunters’ suggesting that a fine would be appropriate in certain circumstances, I have proposed changing the language accordingly.  Basically, if you damage any facility or  as outlined in the current bill or personal property, including pets and livestock, you would be fined up to $1000, a Class A offense (the maximum allowed under Howard County Law). The language in the original bill discussing IF you could hit a structure would be removed. I believe the removal of the old language and insertion of a fine has near unanimous support.

You are welcome to come out and testify on Wednesday, January 21 at the Board of Education building at 7:30.  I hope we can count on your support for the AMENDED bill.  Again any thoughts on how we can provide improvements to the safety of the community without impacting the ability to hunt, especially deer, would be greatly appreciated.  Additionally, I would love to hear suggestions on how we could improve the management of our deer population whether through extended seasons, increasing the managed hunt or any other ideas that you might have.

If you are unavailable to attend and would still like to talk to me, feel free to e-mail me or to call me on my mobile phone at 410-446-5673.  If I do not answer, please leave your name, number and a good time to reach you.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Still listening and respectfully yours,

Greg Fox

The council meeting is tomorrow, so I am hoping to be able to find how it goes, and whether this measure passes or not.  I’ll try to keep you posted!

It’s Official…We Have a New President…

January 20th, 2009 by

Well, the day has come that President Bush has transferred power to the new president, Barack Obama. In many ways, I have been dreading the coming of this day, because I realize just how many of our current freedoms are in jeopardy of fading away. I wrote an article sometime ago on Obama’s positions on Gun Rights, and it has received a lot of attention. Jump over there, and you can see some of the comments that have been made. It is certainly clear that those who are “anti-gun” have been emboldened by the election of one of their own.  Just the anticipation of a president that shares the anti-gun agenda has caused many state legislators to introduce legislation that would be detrimental to our freedoms as gun owning americans.  Consider the legislation, now pending in several states, that would make tracking numbers required on all ammunition.  The point of this is to make the manufacturing of all ammunition so expensive that most people will be unable to purchase it.  It would also make it illegal to even own ammunition (after a certain date) that is not stamped (or laser engraved) with the serial/tracking number.

I know that President Bush has made a lot of mistakes, but then every president does.  But, he has been (for the most part) a friend to sportsmen, outdoorsmen, and especially gun owners.  I have not worried a bit about this administration making it impossible, or nearly impossible for me to own guns and the ammunition that goes with it.  I do worry about what will come in the next four years.  We can hope that other things will be of such importance that the new administration will not be able to legitimately take the time to try to implement this type of legislation on the national level.  From this standpoint, I will definitely miss President Bush.  I know that many will disagree with missing him, but it is my belief that history will reflect on him far more favorably than his contemporaries do.

Do you think the new administration will affect sportmen in a positive or negative way?  Why?

Contact the Howard County Council

January 16th, 2009 by

Ok guys (and gals), Arthur asked for contact information for the Howard County Council.  If you want to contact the County Council for the purpose of speaking out against the new safety zone regulations, you can contact them either by regular mail, or by email.  You are running out of time to use regular mail, as the Council Meeting will be next Wednesday.

The mailing address is:

Howard County Council
George Howard Building
3430 Court House Drive
Ellicott City, MD 21043

To contact them by email:  councilmail@howardcountymd.gov

You can also contact the County Executive by CLICKING HERE.

I don’t know how much good it will do to contact these guys as we are not in their district, but it certainly cannot hurt.  If nothing else, it can get us some practice for when this does hit a bit closer to home.  If you are out there, and live in Maryland, especially in Howard County, make sure to contact the council, and let them know that you do not support this type of change!  I live in a state that is boardering Maryland, so I fear this is coming faster than we would like!

EDIT:  Here is the letter that I am sending to the County Executive concerning this issue.  I believe I will copy it to the council as well.

Dear Sir,
I realize that I am not one of your constituents, but I am still writing to you concerning the new Safety Zone Regulations that are under consideration in Howard County Maryland.  As a an avid (and safe) hunter/outdoorsman, I wanted to speak out on behalf of my fellow hunters in the state of Maryland.

The new Safety Zone Regulations under consideration are devised with good intentions I am sure.  However, some of the elements will ensure that hunting with any type of firearm will be made illegal.  As you are probably aware, some firearms have a maximum range of over 2 miles.  If it is true that “hunters also would be barred from firing a gun in the direction of any building if it is within the maximum range of the weapon being fired” then hunters could not hunt within two miles (or more) of a neighboring property.

I realize that I may not know all that is included in the bill that is under consideration.  I only know what I have been able to read in various news sources.  This bill, however, (at least as it has been reported) would take thousands of acres away from hunters to enjoy their sport, and it would infringe on the rights of property owners to use their land as they would like.

I hope that Maryland hunters will stand up for their rights, and that you will see many at the upcoming County Council Meeting.  Please consider the impact such a bill would have on the law abiding, and safety minded hunters that take to the woods every fall.  There are far more safe hunters than those who are careless.

Thanks for your consideration!

Kris Brewer