But I Digress

Blog calendar: Nov. 19 | Nov. 13 | Nov. 12 | Nov. 4

posted Nov. 19
Madeira Beach monster begs chasing

Mass hysteria has not quite been reached, but the Madeira Beach monster is making headlines around Tampa Bay, Fla.

A 30-foot long serpent-like creature, and a smaller buddy, has been spotted in canals around the Gulf Coast community. Resident Russ Sittlow has not only seen the creature several times, he's videotaped it.

In the canal out behind his Normandy Road home — he has named the thing "Normandy Nessie" — Sittlow has seen the monster, well, whatever it is.

"No, no, well, call a monster what you will, it's something different, it's something strange, it's something I've never seen in salt water," he told Tampa Bay Online this article and video.

Now, this isn't just the rantings of a 78-year-old; his neighbor has seen it. She said it isn't a dolphin or manatee, but wildlife officials who have seen Sittlow's video dismiss it as a manatee.

Could it be one of the huge constrictor snakes let loose in the state? Hmmm. Didn't think they like saltwater too much.

The world may never know.

What they need is some crazy angler to pull it in and identify it. First one to send in a picture of this new critter gets a hat. Go!

posted Nov. 13
Gotta root for this young outdoorsman

Most people who read our pages would probably root for James Vandenberg, an avid fisherman and hunter.

Ok, remove the group that hates the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Allright, remove the Hawkeye fans who put some blame on him for the team's first loss against Northwestern.

But they should still be pulling for him this week when the Hawkeyes visit Ohio State in a big showdown. The redshirt freshman quarterback, pressed into service when the starter was injured, completed only 9 of 27 passes in the 17-10 loss last week.

Vanderberg should do better after a week of practice, and outdoorsman will appreciate his history. He showed off his arm young. At about 3 or 4, his dad Toby says, James spotted a rabbit. His dad gave him a rock and told him to see if he could hit it.

From about 20 yards, James plugged it in the head and killed it. Hawkeye fans would like to see a trick like that repeated Saturday.

Vandenberg has it in him. He holds state high school passing records, and after this week, is certainly more recognizable.

After the loss, he headed to the Bass Pro Shop to get some waders for a duck hunt, and the clerk asked if he was at the game.

He nodded then was asked if it was as rough as it looked.

"You have no idea," he told the clerk.

Sounds like a humble kid, just what we'd expect from someone grounded in the outdoors.

Read Don Doxsie's complete report on Vandenberg in the Quad-City Times.

posted Nov. 12
Love is blind, or at least this buck was

It's said bucks do crazy stuff in the rut. The stories of hepped up deer fighting their own reflection in store and home windows — and crashing through and causing general havoc once inside — are all too commonplace nowadays.

The deer that visited Mark Brye's home in Viroqua, Wis. — pop. 4,400, sal-ute! — wasn't up for this fight. And it sure didn't know when to quit.

A life-size elk statue in the yard, weighing 640 pounds, was viewed as a threat and repeatedly head-butted. This buck wouldn't quit. They say love is blind, but being in the rut did this guy wrong.

It might have felt like a winner when it tipped the statue over on its side, but the damage was done. With a fractured skull and antlers dangling, the buck staggered 20 feet and keeled over.

Brye called a wildlife officer with a sense of humor who wrote on the tag, "lawn ornament fight — lost."

For the complete report, read Bob Lamb's account in the Lacrosse Tribune.

posted Nov. 4
Tie a yellow ribbon

"Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree."

The words to that sappy old Tony Orlando and Dawn song are stuck in my head. It's been replaying ever since I saw the yellow ribbons in ESPN Outdoors' Wildlife Cams.

The mysterious keepers got wind that our soldiers in Baghdad and elsewhere abroad enjoy our efforts to web cast a slice of home to them, so they placed yellow ribbons prominently in our food plots to show our gratitude and appreciation.

"We're pretty excited to be able to bring the wildlife to those serving our country overseas," said ESPN Outdoors executive editor Steve Bowman. "The ribbons are just a little way to show we're thinking about them."


Game camera photos

Since there were no oak trees closeby to the cams, yellow ribbons — OK, yellow blobs of cloth we tried to shape into ribbons — have been placed on stakes.

Hope the visiting wildlife doesn't eat them. The deer, bear, hogs, turkeys among others seem to eat everything else we've put out. The activity of late has increased. Sometimes there are a dozen or more deer on one camera.

The field is starting to dry after it rained all October (so it seemed) and the deer are coming back for the fresh greens sprouting back up, as well as the feed and C'Mere Deer. Our field operator also gave Buddy Bear a special treat of honey and peanut butter. (Wonder if anyone will see him repeatedly licking the roof of his mouth?)

If so, or if there's anything else that piques your interest or you just want to send a word of appreciation to the troops, please feel free to comment about it here.

Our service tech is also researching how we can add sounds to the live stream from the area. That could be intriguing, as long as nobody plays "Tie A Yellow Ribbon."

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.