posted Nov. 17, 2006
Buck bowls over 600-pound elk statue
In a week that has been jam-packed with stories depicting the unusual breeding-season behavior of deer, here's a tale that captures the essence of hormone-induced power and determination.
On Tuesday I blogged about the Wisconsin buck that decapitated Ruth Hesselink's ceramic deer lawn ornament. (See Nov. 14 entry below.)
A few days earlier, a Montana buck with considerable moxie knocked over a 600-pound, life-size cement bull elk lawn statue that it evidently thought was a threat to its manhood.
In addition to the size and weight of her statue, Lexey said her painted bugling bull had been secured in the ground with rebar. One of the statue's antlers was broken in the heat of battle, as well.
Another yard inhabitant, a concrete black bear, apparently did not face the wrath of the rutting buck.
Lexey said she plans to contact the North Dakota man who fabricated her elk to make arrangements for repair.
But she's in no hurry.
"I'm going to leave it on its side until hunting season is over," she said.
posted Nov. 16, 2006
Data from high-tech grizzly DNA study released
An ambitious study conducted in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to identify individual grizzly bears through DNA-based science has given researchers an unprecedented snapshot of the grizzly's population and distribution.
Fieldwork for the study performed by various federal and state agency personnel took place in the northern Rocky Mountain region of the United States in 2004. Hair samples were collected and subsequently tested to differentiate between black bears and grizzlies, as well as to identify the sex of bears.
In an informational gathering held in Kalispell, Mont., yesterday, research principals announced that genetic analysis of 33,000 hair samples positively identified 545 individual grizzly bears in the 7.8 million-acre ecosystem.
Jim Mann of the Daily Inter Lake newspaper based in Kalispell reports that the population estimate, combined with results from a trend study, are likely to have an enormous influence on many aspects of future grizzly bear management.
The estimate is scheduled for a peer review and publication sometime next summer, said Jeff Stetz, a wildlife biologist working on the project with U.S. Geological Survey researcher Kate Kendall.
During the summer of 2004, more than 200 researchers and associates collected samples from scent-baited sites surrounded by barbed wire placed to snag hair.
Hair samples also were collected from trees, telephone poles and other rub sites.
Of the 545 individual grizzlies identified, 307 were female and 238 were male.
Stetz on Wednesday told the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem Subcommittee that the integrity of the research has proven extremely high.
"The project represents the state of the art in this type of work," Stetz said.
Researchers believe the data gathered in the study offering a "snapshot" of the grizzly population during the summer of 2004 may likely play a part in any proposals to change the status of grizzlies as a "threatened" population under the Endangered Species Act.
Rut-crazed buck sends couple to hospital
The next installment of this week's ongoing Bucks Behaving Badly saga comes from Pennsylvania, where a man and woman are recovering from serious injuries they received when a 7-point whitetail attacked and gored them yesterday morning.
Authorities said Frank Rishel and Linda Yost, who share a house in rural Clintondale, were reported in stable condition late Wednesday.
According to state police, Yost was feeding her cats at the back door when she was startled by the close proximity of a buck. She summoned Rishel, who went in the yard to scare the deer away.
Instead, police said, the buck charged the man, knocking him to the ground.
Yost immediately called 911.
As she tried to intervene, the buck turned, knocking her to the ground.
State police Cpl. Todd Brian and Trooper Stephen Wilcox found the deer still attacking the woman when they arrived on the scene.
"I thought the deer would be gone by the time we arrived," Wilcox said. "I was shocked to find the deer still attacking her. She was screaming for help."
Unable to immediately get a clean shot at the deer, Cpl. Brian grabbed it by the antlers and wrestled it away from the woman, and then both officers fired shots to put it down.
Authorities said Rishel suffered two dislocated shoulders and numerous lacerations and bruises, while Yost was gored in the face and suffered lacerations and bruises on much of her body. Yost, who police said is in her 50s, will likely lose the sight in one eye from her injuries.
"There is no doubt in my mind that the immediate response and action of Cpl. Brian and Trooper Wilcox saved the lives of the two victims," said Game Commission Northcentral Region Law Enforcement Supervisor Warren Stump.
He said the commission will investigate the incident and a necropsy will be performed on the deer, though it was assumed that the deer's aggressive behavior was simply the result of the seasonal rutting season.
posted Nov. 15, 2006
Sign of the times? Hunters cautioned about meth labs
As firearms deer seasons begin in many states this weekend and hunters prepare to head to the woods in significant numbers, they are being warned about what to do if they accidentally stumble upon a clandestine methamphetamine drug-making operation.
In what is certainly a disturbing fact of life in rural America today, more and more illegal drugmakers are turning to the backwoods, where they can cook their illicit fare with some anonymity, and merely run away if they're discovered only to resume their work in another location.
What's worse than meth's horrific effect on the people and lives it touches is what its chemical components can do to the environment by poisoning streams and impacting wildlife.
Today's Cadillac News in Michigan reports hunters already have led authorities to three meth lab dumpsites in northern Michigan this fall.
If hunters should find a lab or dump site, Lt. Chet Wilson with the Traverse Narcotics Team advises they shouldn't touch anything, but instead should take note of the location and contact the police as soon as possible.
"These chemicals are very toxic and should not be handled," Wilson said.
Items typically found at a methamphetamine dumpsite include gas additives, brake cleaners, fuel tanks, starting fluid cans, coffee filters filled with sludge and plastic bottles or jars with hoses.
In the hills of Tennessee, where deer hunters in past decades may have happened upon an illegal moonshine still on occasion, wildlife agency authorities are being trained to identify the telltale signs of modern meth-making operations.
"Over the last several years we've had to train our law enforcement personnel to be more aware," said Brian Ripley, District Supervisor for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
And, if you thought only hunters need to be concerned about the risks associated with rural meth labs or the possibility of confronting the reprehensible lowbrows who operate them, think again.
"Some of the biggest labs (we've) seized were on houseboats," Ripley said.
Jake the turkey trashes Jake the boy's bedroom
Everyone knows most 8-year-old boys' bedrooms are predictably messy and unorganized.
But when Jake Lane's parents entered his room this week and found broken glass, feathers and fowl feces littered across the bed and floor, they knew who was to blame.
It was the young, wild turkey a jake, no less that crashed into their Millstone, N.J., home's second-story window, going right through a screen and double-glass pane in the process.
Lisa Lane said a flock of about 20 wild turkeys was feeding on crab apples in her yard when they were scattered by the family dog, Bubbles the terrier.
All the birds took flight, and all cleared the Lane's house except for the jake, which was suffering from apparent altitude deficit disorder.
Upon witnessing the bird crash through the window, Lane used her cell phone to summon her husband, John, and the police. Along with neighbors and a municipal animal control specialist, the group of intrepid turkey hunters bravely entered the Lane residence, but soon came out, empty-handed.
The jake had evidently flown the coop, so to speak, the same way it had entered.
Lisa Lane estimated the turkey caused $500 in damage, considering the broken window and the carpet that needed cleaning.
Her estimate didn't include Jake's new sweatshirt, where jake the turkey left his calling card.
"(Jake) just saved up for this Abercrombie (& Fitch) sweat shirt, and the turkey pooped on it," his mother said, adding that the shirt cost about $60.
posted Nov. 14, 2006
Wild deer tales become norm as rutting season proceeds
The crazy stories associated with "whitetails behaving badly" are becoming more abundant as rutting season proceeds, and the ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound feels obliged to pass them along to our readers as we discover them.
After all, if we don't, where else are you going to find them?
Ruth Hesselink of Holland, Wis., phoned sheriff's deputies Sunday to report that the ceramic deer ornament in her yard was knocked over and decapitated by a hoofed vandal.
According to Capt. Dave Adams of the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Department, Hesselink witnessed a buck attacking her lawn decoration as dusk settled in that evening.
Adams said a deputy responding to the call discovered "obvious track marks" that supported Hesselink's account of the bully buck.
And in Des Moines, Iowa, animal control officers were dispatched early this morning to tranquilize and free a whitetail buck that had become entangled in netting that was being utilized as a backyard batting cage.
Steve Eckley, the homeowner whose backyard was the scene of entanglement, told the Des Moines Register he was busy scouring the neighborhood, retrieving the scattered pieces of his 8-foot netted structure.
Background checks point to spike in 2006 gun sales
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the nation's largest trade association for shooting, hunting and outdoor-related interests, reports this week that the number of firearm background checks occurring in 2006 has shown a marked increase over 2005, indicating a vibrant market for firearms of all types.
The number of background checks reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) increased 13.8 percent in October to 970,030, compared to 852,478 in October 2005.
The increase marks the 10th straight month that NICS checks have increased over last year's numbers.
Year-to-date figures (January through October) confirm that 7,737,899 background checks were performed by federally licensed firearms dealers as required by law an increase of 12.4 percent from the same period in 2005.
Since the system became active in 1998, 69.8 million background checks have been performed by NICS.
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the increase in checks parallels the rise in excise taxes reported by firearms and ammunition manufacturers, which is another prime economic indicator for the shooting and hunting industry.
posted Nov. 13, 2006
Illinois hunter blasts buck in his bedroom
Is there any doubt the whitetail rut is in full swing across much of the country?
After last week's story about a buck that went on a 20-minute foray through an Iowa super store comes an even wilder tale of a buck that shattered the window of an Illinois homeowner and was shot after trashing a newly remodeled bedroom.
My good pal Jeff Lampe, the fine outdoor writer for the Peoria Journal-Star, reports that Farmington, Ill., hunter Steve Balagna felt compelled to shoot a 7-point buck after the deer crashed through his 57-by-78-inch picture window.
Balagna was quietly having coffee with his wife, son and a friend Nov. 1 when he says the window in his house exploded.
"He had jumped into the window and kept coming when the glass broke," Balagna said. "Then he got his antlers stuck in the Venetian blinds and we all got out of there."
The deer headed for a bedroom that Balagna had recently remodeled, leaving a trail of blood on the hardwood floors. He and son tried unsuccessfully to herd the deer through a hallway and into the garage.
That's when the deer went ballistic.
"He charged the bed and he charged the closet doors and he was cut up from the window, so he was bleeding all over," Balagna said.
Even though nearly two weeks remained before the opening of Illinois' first firearms hunting season, enough was enough. The veteran outdoorsman grabbed a .22 rifle and subdued the buck with four shots to the head.
"I called our (conservation officer) after that and told him I just blasted a deer in my bedroom," Balagna said.
Photographs of the damage caused by the rampaging buck are posted on Lampe's blog, Scattershooting.
Hilton Head's new floating head is turning heads
The first of its kind floating bathroom facility on the South Carolina coast is all the rage on Hilton Head Island these days.
But much like the high-rent community where it now floats, this buoyant bathroom is considerably more than an outhouse on pontoons.
For starters, unlike your grandpa's outside facility, it's air-conditioned. In addition, it contains four toilets, two sinks and hot-water showers.
And it carries an $86,000 price tag.
While the pricy privy is parked at the Broad Creek Marina, it will be towed out to various locations to be used during fishing tournaments, boat regattas and other events. Solar panels provide the power for electric lights and a hot-water heater.
"Everybody walks by and says, 'What in the heck is that?'" said Jeff Quinn, operations manager for the marina.
The bathroom was purchased with a grant from the state Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management as part of the federal Clean Vessel Act.
posted Nov. 10, 2006
8-point insult: Big buck at the back door
There's nothing like deer season to teach a man some humility.
Take the recent hunting experience of Appleton (Wisc.) Post Crescent outdoor writer Ross Bielema, for example.
Last Sunday, Bielema, bow in hand, was in his treestand at first light, where he remained until around noon. Then, after never loosing an arrow, he headed home for lunch as he'd promised his wife he would.
As the two sat engaged in husband and wife lunchtime chatter, Mrs. Bielema's gaze suddenly became fixed on something she'd spied through a kitchen window, and she uttered those three words that raise hairs on a bowhunter's neck and send chills down his spine.
"Get your bow!"
Sure enough, there stood an 8-point whitetail the best he'd seen all season working a scrape in his own backyard.
"I string my recurve bow, toss on a camouflage vest over my bare chest (looking like Rambo without the pumped biceps) and tie on white tennis shoes," he wrote.
"As I round the hot tub, I notice he's no longer at his scrape."
Suffice to say that the Wisconsin columnist's best chance for a buck this year was all for naught.
But what the heck, it makes for good column fodder, right?
Colorado moose test CWD positive
Authorities with the Colorado Division of Wildlife reported yesterday that two bull moose legally harvested by hunters last month in northern Colorado have tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The findings mark only the second and third cases of the disease found in moose in Colorado. All three of the cases originated in the same area, near Glendevey, Colo.
According to Colorado biologists, 528 moose have been tested in the state since 2002.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that has been diagnosed in ungulates (deer, elk and moose) in 10 states and two Canadian provinces.
We blogged here last month at ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound about a recent scientific study that points to blood and saliva as the potential carriers of the proteins that cause the spread of CWD.
The results of the study, recently appearing in the journal "Science," indicate that the disease may be spread when animals are in close contact with one another, as when they lick and groom each other.
Interestingly, the statistical rarity of CWD in moose may uphold that theory, as the animals do not tend to congregate or share common areas to the same degree as deer, which have historically higher incidents of the disease.
"It is believed that CWD in moose is rare because they are a fairly solitary species," Kathi Green, manager for northeast region of the Colorado Division of Wildlife told the Denver Post. "It hasn't been in moose long enough for us to draw any conclusions to what is happening."
posted Nov. 9, 2006
Emotion trumps logic in Michigan dove initiative
Like me, you're probably tired of hearing the phrase: "The voters have spoken," repeated ad nauseam by television's talking heads for the past two days.
However, hunters and sportsmen in Michigan must feel particularly distraught over the outcome of a ballot initiative that, if approved, would have allowed the Wolverine State to become the 41st state to allow mourning dove hunting.
Instead, because of an effective and expensive campaign launched by the anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the measure was defeated by a 2-1 margin.
In 2004, following several tough rounds and heated debate in the state legislature, hunters in a few selected Michigan counties enjoyed their first dove hunt in 100 years. Unfortunately, after only one season, the Washington, D.C.-based HSUS not only led the movement to place the issue before Michigan voters, but also helped pay workers to obtain the 275,000 signatures necessary to qualify it for the ballot.
Eric Sharp, longtime outdoor scribe for the Detroit Free Press, writes today the emotionally based campaign waged by the anti-hunters proved effective with Michigan voters and even with many hunters.
Sharp reported that proponents of the dove hunt managed to pare the margin, which was running 3-1 against them early in the campaign, but they were unable to overcome waves of sentiment that said doves were songbirds and the symbol of peace, even though they are hunted in 40 other states.
"In a political campaign between logic and emotion, emotion wins every time," Sharp wrote.
On a positive note for Michigan sportsmen, voters approved Proposal 1, a measure giving constitutional protection to hunting, fishing and recreation fees, preventing lawmakers from appropriating the funds for other budgetary uses.
Oregon hunters cited for game transportation infractions
In recent weeks, authorities in Oregon have charged seven hunters with the illegal transportation of game animal carcasses under regulations aimed at preventing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in the state.
Oregon is one of several states where it is illegal to bring deer, elk or moose parts containing central nervous system tissue from any state or province where CWD has been confirmed.
The seized animals were all shot out of state by Oregon residents who transported the animals field-dressed and whole or with some of the central nervous system and brain material intact.
Authorities said several of the cited hunters indicated they were not aware of the transportation restrictions, which have been in place since 2002. Unfortunately, not knowing the rules resulted in a loss of their trophy and game meat, as well as a misdemeanor citation.
Mark Freeman, outdoor writer for the Medford Mail Tribune, reports that one of the seized animals, a whitetail deer taken in Wyoming, tested positive for CWD.
The case against that hunter is pending.
In what should serve as a wake-up call to other hunters, the Oregon State Police
announced it will continue to aggressively investigate all reports illegal game transportation from CWD states.
"All parts that possibly could have neurological tissue attached will be seized and destroyed appropriately," said Lieutenant Dave Cleary, OSP Fish & Wildlife. "In a recent incident involving hunters from Colorado, the antlers of a large bull elk were seized because they had brain matter and tissue on the skull cap."
posted Nov. 8, 2006
Thieves target big-game animals in Nevada hunting camps
As if we didn't already know it, here's a story that proves there are some real rotten eggs out there, even in the mountains and deserts of some of the West's most remote backcountry
Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens are seeking the public's assistance in an attempt to solve a rash of thefts of harvested game animals from eastern Nevada hunting camps in recent months.
The Ely Times reports this week wardens in the eastern half of the state have reported three incidents of stolen big-game animals and one attempt that was disrupted by hunters.
Authorities in the area call it a new and disturbing criminal activity.
I couldn't agree more. In fact, I'll really go out on a limb and label it downright disgusting.
"I can't recall three instances of theft in one fall season," game warden lieutenant Jerry Smith told the Elko newspaper.
"Normally, we only hear about perhaps one case like this in the state over an entire year, and we still have two months of hunting season left."
In one case, an antelope cape and horns were taken from a hunter's camp. In the most recent reported case, someone tried to steal a mule deer from a camp, but the presence of hunters in a neighboring camp apparently stopped the perpetrators.
Descriptions of the stolen animals are being supplied to area taxidermists in an effort to catch the thieves.
Buck hoofs it inside Iowa super store
Let's face it, automatically opening doors at big retail and grocery stores are a handy, modern convenience.
In fact, it's hard to remember life without them.
But, like anything else, there can be downside to having doors that open whenever someone or something simply places their foot on a rubber mat especially during the peak of the whitetail rut in America's heartland.
Such was the case yesterday afternoon, when an 8-point buck entered the Super Target in West Des Moines, Iowa, through the automatic door near its one-hour photo lab.
Witnesses said the wayward buck slid across the slippery tile flooring, losing traction and falling, before dashing toward the clothing section.
"I'll be honest, I panicked," employee Tiffany Miller told the Des Moines Register. "But the customers were laughing. I didn't see anyone who was completely freaked out."
The newspaper reported that customers calmly exited the store and waited while employees chased the deer throughout the store for about 20 minutes, before successfully directing it out an emergency exit.
The good news?
The newspaper reported, "The buck caused no damage and left no droppings."
posted Nov. 7, 2006
A Mississippi whitetail two-for-one with a bow
While the occurrence is unusual, most of us have heard stories about firearms hunters who have bagged two deer with one pull of the trigger.
Because of the nature of modern rifles and loads, it is entirely conceivable that a couple of deer standing close together can be taken with a single, well-placed shot.
But two deer with a single hunting arrow? Now that's another story altogether.
It happened to bowhunter Martin Walker of Leland, Miss., as he hunted from his 20-foot ladder stand above a food plot in mid-October.
Bobby Cleveland, the outdoor writer for the Jackson Clarion Ledger, caught up with Walker last week and reported this highly unusual hunting tale:
Walker said he watched two does feeding close together on a rainy October evening when one presented him with a good shot.
"When the near doe put her head down to get a bite, I pulled back the string and aimed at her vital area," Walker told Cleveland.
"I wasn't paying attention to the other doe, you know. I was locked on the target. Then I shot."
Walker watched the illuminated nock of his arrow as it disappeared in the vital area of the doe.
"Then I saw something strange," he said. "The second doe threw up her head and I saw the nock again. Then she slung her head around and I saw it sort of flying off.
"That's when I first thought, 'Could I have shot both deer?'"
Indeed, with tracking assistance from his dad later that evening, the two deer were recovered within 75 yards of each other both fatally hit by a single, broadhead-tipped arrow.
When dressing his two deer, Walker discovered his arrow passed through the neck of the second doe, severing the jugular vein.
In doing some research on the Internet, Cleveland found two other cases in which bowhunters have taken two deer in a single shot, one in Wisconsin and the other in Ohio, in the last year.
Larry Castle, chief of game for the Mississippi wildlife agency, said despite the state's one doe per day limit, it was not likely Walker would be cited.
Revenge of the Texas roadkill
A Texas man was seriously injured in a bizarre accident last week while investigating the damage to his truck after hitting and killing a large whitetail buck on a rural roadway.
Authorities said Paul Nash, 45, was stabbed by the deer's antler after a passing vehicle apparently hit the remains of the animal, catapulting the broken tines into the air and into his abdomen.
Nash's pickup received considerable front-end damage from hitting the deer and the airbags were deployed. Dazed from the incident, Nash was collecting debris from the road when another vehicle approached.
"I don't know whether it was a car or a truck. I didn't see it. I don't know," Nash told a local television station from his hospital bed.
And then it hit him.
"Something hit me right here in my stomach," he said. "And then I just stood there, and then it started with pain and hurting, and I went down."
The injured man spent several days in the intensive care unit of East Texas Medical Center in Tyler. He was expected to be released today.
Nash considers himself extremely fortunate, as doctors concluded the buck's headgear missed hitting the femoral artery in his leg by less than one inch.
posted Nov. 6, 2006
Bear hunting and lawsuits? Must be New Jersey
Last Monday I reported it appeared New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine would take action to block the state's third black bear hunt in the past four years, potentially sending sportsmen's groups to court in order to uphold the state Division of Fish and Wildlife's bear management plan.
And that's exactly what has happened.
Corzine had until Oct. 30 to re-adopt regulations authorizing a bear hunt from Dec. 4-9 in northwestern New Jersey. Instead, he ordered the state Environmental Protection Commissioner to review the division's five-year bear management plan and determine if last year's hunt, in which about 300 bears were taken by hunters, helped reduce problems associated with bruins in the Garden State.
Ken Moran, the outdoor writer for the New York Post, reported this weekend Corzine's action was met with outrage by lawmakers in the affected region of the state.
A joint statement from state Sens. Robert Littell (R-Franklin) and Anthony R. Bucco (R-Boonton), as well as state Assemblywoman Alison McHose (R-Franklin), said Corzine's call for non-lethal black bear management panders to "an extremist fringe that seeks to ban all hunting."
"For the people of northwestern New Jersey, this is a matter of public safety. We have had bears enter homes. We have seen bears on porches, and we have had bears roaming by swing sets," the statement read.
On Friday, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, a hunter advocacy group, announced it would be joining two other sportsmen's organizations to bring legal action against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in an effort to move forward with the 2006 black bear season as scheduled.
It will be joined in the proposed lawsuit by Safari Club International and the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance's legal entity, the U.S. Sportsmen's Legal Defense Fund, has answered challenges to the New Jersey bear hunt in court two times since 2003.
It is indeed unfortunate that bear hunting has become synonymous with litigation in New Jersey, but don't expect that to change anytime soon.
Pepperoni, extra cheese and a hunting citation to go, please
I've mentioned in past blog entries that one of my favorite sources for offbeat stories from field and forest often come from our fine men and women who serve as game wardens and wildlife law-enforcement officers.
This week, the monthly Game Warden Field Notes from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department contains the story of an officer whose creative tactics led to the apprehension of some unsuspecting game-law violators.
In early October, the unnamed warden was observing some illegal dove hunting activity from a distance while trying to determine how to approach the group of violators safely and strategically.
About that time, the officer reportedly heard a vehicle approaching from his rear. At first, he thought it was more hunters coming to join the ones he was observing, but he soon realized it was a pizza delivery truck.
In a brilliantly deducted leap of faith, the warden stopped the truck and asked the driver if he might possibly be on a mission to deliver pizza to a group of dove hunters.
You guessed it.
After convincing the driver he needed an assistant for the remainder of his route, the warden was chauffeured directly into the group of unsuspecting game violators, where he politely delivered some supreme hunting citations.
Without the anchovies.
About the author: J.R. Absher shares his perspective while blogging about hunting, fishing, shooting sports, sportsmen's issues and the occasional offbeat outdoor tale. In more than 30 years of writing and a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, photographer, mule wrangler, wilderness packer, magazine editor, political consultant, hunting-equipment copywriter, public-relations director and sportsman's advocate. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.