But I Digress

Blog calendar: July 30 | July 27 | July 23 | July 21 | July 18 | July 16 | July 3

posted July 30
Lifetime of fish all in a day's work

Think of all the times you've been fishing and how many fish you caught.

Oh, let's say you make it out about 20 times a year and catch, I don't know, maybe four fish per outing, both of which might be a little low, but play along. Now, you've done this for around 20 years, so you can probably claim 1,600 fish in your lifetime.

Pshaw. You'll have to do better than that if you want to match Jeff Kolodzinski's record — for one day.
That's right. One day.

Kolodzinski holds the Guiness World Record of 1,680 fish caught in a 24-hour span. He did it last year on Lake Minnetonka outside of Minneapolis to raise awareness for Fishing for Life.

Tough to beat, right?

Maybe. The Marathon Man, as he's known, is attempting to eclipse his mark this Friday. He's put a bullseye on 2,000 fish.

I gotta see this, you say? Oh, you can. There will be cameras set up showing Kolo's attempt live, including one underwater, on LiveFishCamera.com.

If you are in the vicinity, you can also go to Maynard's outdoor seating area as Kolo, the vice president of marketing for fishing gear manufacturer Frabill, yanks in fish after fish with a cane pole.

His record attempt starts at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday.

Why, you ask? (You are so curious.) He is helping raise funds for the Armed Forces Family Fishing Celebration, which will be held in in August. Kids of military personnel deployed or fresh home get a special day on the lake. Admirable cause.

Go to Fishing for Life to find out more or how you can help, and check back here to see how he did, and how he did it.

posted July 27
Pulling a Croc out of a gator

Maybe she drew short straw. Maybe she's had prior experience. Or maybe she's practicing for a magic act.

Any way, Allison Ballentine successfully pulled a Croc out of an alligator. Ok, maybe it wasn't a Croc, but it was a sandal, which had been eaten by the discerning reptile after falling into its pen.

Ballentine, an animal care technician at the Oatland Island Wildlife Center in Savannah, Ga., stepped up to plate, and reached down the palate, of a five-foot gator that the staff feared would suffer from severe digestive blockage.

Oh, they knocked out the gator, at least they told Ballentine they did, and then wedged its jaws open before wrapping and strapping. With plastic over her right arm — from that I assume she's left-handed — the plucky Ballentine went sandal searching.

"You need a steady hand, patience and a whole lot of nerve to reach into a 5-plus foot alligator's mouth, down its throat and into its stomach," an Outland Island staff member wrote.

With left hand on the gator's back and eyes closed (at least in one of the photos for this write-up at WJBF.com), Ballentine digs deep and extracts the footwear.

No word if she said "walah."

She was smiling big in the final photo, but that's probably more because her arm was still intact.

Say, you didn't happen to feel any keys in there, did ya?

posted July 23
Here come the Govs

Teddy Roosevelt has to be the king of outdoorsman. No other politician comes close, but here comes the Govs.

As 26th president, Roosevelt was responsible for the U.S. Forest Service, a bunch of national parks, bird and game preserves and 150 National Forests. The amount of land placed under public protection by Roosevelt is a staggering 230,000,000 acres.

State governors are banding together to do their part of continue in his spirit. A group interested in protecting the interests of hunters and anglers broke off from the National Governors Association annual meeting in Biloxi, Miss., to announce the formation of the Governors Sportsmen's Causcus.

Like the Congressional Sportsman's Caucus, this group of 16 governors — they're pushing their cohorts to join — hope to keep fishing and hunting an American tradition. The govs at the kickoff spoke of how the outdoors industries were important to their state's economy, but they added how important having a place to hunt and fish were in their lives, and how they want to pass that on.

Outdoors sports are "a way of life we can't afford to lose," said West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, adding that he finds time to dip a line in his state's great trout streams. "I never travel without my pole. Take my coat and tie off and fish a little bit."

Manchin spoke of the ritual of a morning turkey hunt, how hunters in his state help their local food pantries, and how getting the next generation involved is his aim.

"I'll tell you, if you got trouble with a child, take them out hunting or fishing," he said.

Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota and the others who spoke echoed that sentiment, and the caucus will work to coordinate groups who want to give youth outdoors opportunities. He's concerned for his children.

"I want them and my grandkids to have that opportunity," he said of why he joined this group. "To assure those rights and freedoms don't get away for that next generation."

Now if they can accomplish a smidgeon of what Roosevelt did ...

For the news release on the Governors Sportsman's Caucus, click here.

posted July 21

Man saves osprey by mouth-to-beak resuscitation

People have gone to extraordinary efforts to save animals. There's groups for about every critter endangered or even some that are overpopulated.

Not many have gone as far as Chuck Needham. He brought a bird of prey back to life with mouth-to-beak resuscitation.

Now, he didn't just see some bird lying dead and start CPR, so don't try this at home, especially with any road kill. Most likely won't work.

Needham was fishing at Lacamas Lake near Vancouver, Wash., when he saw an osprey dive into the water chasing a fish. But alas, it got tangled in another angler's line, couldn't free itself and basically had drowned when Needham and girlfriend Sue Cappoen got to it.

"It was dead by that time," Needham told Columbian.com for this article. "It was gone. It just had no life to it."

With his cowboy boots still on, the three-quarters Cherokee bolted into the knee-deep water. He freed the bird from the line and started to breath into its beak while massaging its chest and throat.

"I gave it about five or six deep breaths and, all of a sudden, it started coughing up water and foam and perked up a little bit," he said.

Wary of an alert bird's sharp beak and talons, Needham set the osprey, which can have 5-foot wingspans, down on a rock. A little prod to see if it was alright, and the bird flew off.

Don't believe it? You scoff?

Ian Wang, the other angler whose line the bird crossed, photographed the incident. Check Columbian.com for images.

For Needham, the experience was positively spiritual. We here commend his quick actions.

posted July 18

Head-on attack fended off by one swipe with chainsaw

Appears a mountain lion only brought itself to a chainsaw fight, and ending up losing big-time. A man cutting firewood used the whirring blade to make the cougar turn tail this week, then authorities tracked it down and killed it.

Dustin Britton, a 32-year-old an ex-Marine from Windsor, Colo., was close to his family's campsite in the Shoshone National Forest near Cody, Wyo., — pop. 8,835 sal-ute! — when he spotted a hungry looking cat in the bushes. It pounced toward him and pawed him several times before it felt the wrath of an 18-inch blade, which left about a 6-8 inch gash on its shoulder.

The mechanic only suffered a small puncture would, but the attack left officials wondering what up with that? Mountain lions are rather reclusive — only eight attacks have been reported in the state over the past decade.

Maybe Britton running the chainsaw disturbed its sleep. Nobody ever appreciates a neighbor using a power tool too early in the morning.

Read the complete story from The Associated Press.

posted July 16

Does customer have solid ground to sue?

Either Wal-Mart is having a bad run of snakes, or the snakebit just like going there to try and sue.

For the fifth time in the past four years, a customer claimed to be snakebit at a Florida Wal-Mart garden center. The latest man was reaching under a display of ferns for a dropped baby bottle. He came out with a 7-inch pygmy rattlesnake on his pinky finger, witnesses said.

Jeriel Joiner remains at a hospital in St. Augustine, Fla. — pop. 12,157, sal-ute! — and said he plans to sue after saying his hand swelled to the size of a baseball glove. That appears to be a bit of an exaggeration, at least from pictures in this report from news4jax.com.

The Wal-Mart closed the garden center to sweep for more snakes. The best line in the story is that "investigators said they don't know where the snake came from."

It's momma. Br-rum-cha.

Oh, someone surmised it might have stowed away on some potted plants. Makes sense.

What might not is the big question: Whether Joiner has the right to sue the store.

Maybe not the right, but is it the right thing to do. Sure, it's Wal-Mart, but are they really to blame?

Readers of the story seem to have some rather strong opinions.

Do you?

Pop me an email or comment below with your thoughts. Don't worry about signing in here to ESPN, you won't get any spam, just an occasional floating survey, which you can just X out, or take, you might help set some standards for our coverage.

posted July 3

Save the great white worm

Steve Paulson is out to save a worm he's never seen. Really.

His great white worm, if you will.

See, it's a really special worm. One of the few native to North America, this worm has been known to grow 3 feet long. It's white, spits at predators and smells like lilies.
This is not some Call-me-Ishmael story. These huge worms are not haunting his dreams. What's haunting him is that they might not be reality much longer.

"Usually anybody who wants to talk to me about it is interested in biology," said the self-taught scientist. "Very rarely do I talk to somebody who thinks I'm crazy."

Paulson and number of others near the Palouse Prairie region are attempting to get endangered species protection for the giant worms that once thrived in a 200-million acre region on the Washington-Idaho border. The worms, reported in abundant numbers there in the 1800s, have had their habitat shrunk by agriculture and development.

The Palouse Prairie Foundation and Paulson's Friend of the Clearwater are among the groups who believe the Palouse worm is a special creature.

"It is to some of us," he says. "I've never seen one. I'm not one of the four people who have seen one in the last 100 years."

That's right. Only four times in 110 years has one been sighted. In 2005, a researcher accidently dug into one, cutting it in pieces. It wasn't one of the biguns, but it worked up the groups and they worked up and submitted a request with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was mostly put off and ignored.

They cited that not enough is known about the elusive worms, which Paulson describes from what he's heard.

"It's white and sometimes described as pink. It's 3-foot long, fairly narrow at 5/8ths of an inch. It lives in a deep burrow. It goes down 3 or 4 meters.

"It's dependent on very deep topsoil and it's prime agricultural land. It lives in these deep burrows and escapes into the burrow for inclement weather ... To escape the heat, and the winters can be quite harsh, too."

During spring and fall, he said they come to the surface and feed at night, spitting at would-be predators.

"That's what they say. They say that it smells like lilies, so it probably has some kind of chemical that will hopefully repel predators," he said.

Only about 2 percent of the worm's viable habitat remains in the Palouse, and the groups hope the gentle giant can receive protection like its cousin, the giant Gippsland worm of Australia. These down under giants have been recorded at 9 feet long — I know, a 9-foot-long worm? — and there's a Giant Earthworm Museum in the town of Bass ... must be big fish.

The Gippsland is one of Australia's 1,000 native worms, and it is related to the Palouse.

"At least to family, possibly even to genera," Paulson said. "One thing else that's remarkable, North America prior to colonization was thought to be earthworm poor. All of the earthworms are European or Asian immigrants."

Paulson said the now abundant earthworms came over in roots wads. "Italians sent them over the grapes and English with apples and pears. That has created a significant problem for some of the native plants."

And now one of the last species of worms indigenous to the states has a problem. But at least it has friends. One high school science class in the area even developed a club and sold T-shirts, Paulson said, and they sent money to the foundation.

Even University of Idaho folks came out to give the foundation more info to provide to the USFWS, all in the attempt to get Paulson's great white worm protected status.

"We're hoping so," he said.

About the author: Mike Suchan has been editor at ESPNOutdoors.com the past three years. He's worked in journalism for 25 years, winning state and regional awards. Email him here.