Outdoor Guide Magazine

Guest Editorials

Tips, Tricks and Thoughts for the Great Outdoors

It’s Time to Go Fishing

It’s the first smallie of spring – Nebraska Game and Parks photo

Winter is starting to lose its grip and signs of spring are beginning to appear. It’s time to go fishing! All that casting, hook setting, lure selection, reeling in, keeping or releasing. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.
Then there is all the ribbing and kidding that two fishing buddies usually do. “What are you doing – squirrel fishing?” “That’s the prettiest bird’s nest I’ve ever seen.” “My wife can cast better than that.”
There will be those days when every cast brings in a fish and when you are so close to your limit you start releasing fish so you don’t have to quit. Then there will be days you couldn’t catch fish with a stick of dynamite.
If you’re not catching fish, there’s always excuse time. Water’s murky, too cold, don’t have the right color jigs, you’re making too much noise, water’s too clear, or lake’s fished out.
Even if you’re not catching fish, it really doesn’t matter. A bad day fishing is still better than 10 good working days. So get ready, it’s time to go fishing.

“Fishing keeps us humble, which makes us better people. Infrequent success reminds us that we have much to learn from those less intelligent than ourselves.” – Robert Montgomery

We now have computerized weather forecasts to tell us what the wind or temperature will be. We have tables and calendars which suggest the best times and days to fish. There are studies that tell us how much fish react to color. We know the temperature and dissolved oxygen content each species like best.
However, we are still faced with the same problem that anglers have always faced. No matter how much information we have, we still can’t answer the question: Will the fish still follow the rules?
When all the conditions are perfect for catching fish, you may catch none. The opposite is also true. At times when a certain fish isn’t supposed to be biting, in water temperature and wind conditions that aren’t supposed to be suitable for catching that fish, you can still catch it.
Fish aren’t robots, and their behavior can’t always be predicted. This fact makes them harder to catch but it also creates the challenge that makes fishing such a great sport.
Besides, if it was easy it would be called catching, not fishing.

Fishing’s a great way to get away from this crazy world we live in today. There are no politicians, protests or negative news while out fishing.

If you love the outdoors and still haven’t decided where you want to go on vacation this year, you might want to consider what is known as the Heartland of America’s outdoor playground – Land Between the Lakes, located in western Tennessee and Kentucky.
Land Between the Lakes is the largest inland peninsula in America and has more miles of shoreline than Florida. Would you believe people come here from the Great Lakes by boat on their way to Florida? In fact, from here you can go anywhere in the world by water.
Originally created when the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were impounded, creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, it features more than 170,000 acres of forested and protected public land and more than over 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline.
Land Between the Lakes offers camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, motorcycle and ATV trails, great restaurants, resorts, and hotels. Plus the area is rich in Civil War history and a whole lot more.
I was there last spring for a turkey hunt, and I’m going back to enjoy the great fishing and other activities. Check it out at www.landbetweenthelakes.com.

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.” –Linda Hogan

Over the years, I have heard lots of comments from fellow hunters about the maddening sport of turkey hunting, and most of them were probably from Bobby Whitehead, Ray Eye or Billy Cooper. Here are just a few that were printable:
• “God’s three greatest gifts to man are beautiful women, smooth whiskey … and two-year-old turkeys!”
• “The first time you hunt turkeys is for sport … every other time is pure, friggin’ revenge.”
• “Now wait a minute … a gobbler has testes that are ten times bigger than his brain … and you think I know what he’s going to do next?”
• “A deer walking through the woods sees a man sitting on the ground and thinks, ‘Could be man … could be a stump’ and walks on through. A turkey walks through the woods, sees a man sitting on the ground and thinks, ‘Could be a stump … could be man!’ and runs away.”
• “If turkeys had a nose like a deer, you could never kill one of them #%^ stupid things.”

“ I don’t hunt turkeys because I want to. I hunt them because I have to.” – Tom Kelly

It’s Time to Make Hunting Great Again

November 30, 2018 by admin in Guest Editorials

I have officially had it. After watching a hunter on Instagram claiming to pass up a two-year old tom turkey while bowhunting, I decided something needed to be said. It is not the fact he passed it up because there were bigger toms around. It’s the way he said it, referencing letting the “flock mature and have better age structure.” Man, just admit you wanted to kill a bigger bird. It’s fine. We all would like to do it.
I mean this with the utmost care and respect for hunting, but I ask hunters – what has the world of hunting come to? I have seen people naming turkeys, and now they are passing up mature toms? Give me a break. It’s time we reevaluate what it means to be a hunter and outdoorsman.
Sadly, this type of social media post is extremely common nowadays. A plethora of half-naked “huntresses” and “Westies” slamming their Mountain Ops protein shakes, and Boomerangs of nightly, sponsored skin care routines is infecting our sport.
In his Instagram Story, the hunter went on to say, “We are all on the same team,” and “There is no reason to attack other hunters.” Well, if we are all on the same team, you and others like you are the clubhouse cancers. And it’s probably not even on purpose. Some of the worst things imaginable are done with the best intentions.
The social media account “Making Hunting Great Again” inspired me to compile a list of issues we are seeing in the outdoor industry. It’s time to address these and make hunting great again.
If you do not want to shoot a turkey with a small beard or a buck with small antlers, so be it. Your choice is your choice, and I will support your management strategy as long as it’s valid. Howere, do not go around talking about #wildgamegainz and defending yourself to anti-hunters with the “hunting to eat” argument.
“Putting meat in the freezer” can only go so far before the holes are meticulously punched through the idea. If you say every time you hunt you are “grocery shopping” and are truly only out to harvest meat, why would you ever pass up a legal animal within range? Be honest – you want to kill a big buck or longbeard! Who cares? Just admit it. Stop being fake.
Save for a few, every “celebrity” hunter on the internet has become insufferable. The social media activity/facade continues to rub people the wrong way. And let’s not forget the real reason for most of their social media presence – selling their products. Good for them – just don’t try and pull the wool over the hunting community’s eyes.
So many people in the hunting industry have a fake persona on social media. It has become all about getting followers and likes. Chris Brackett, Bill Busbice, Adam Greentree and countless others have been exposed in one way or the other for who they really are. I’d rather you be who you are in real life while posting to Instagram or Facebook than be fake. If you are a jerk, be a jerk (see Tim Wells). You would get much more respect from a lot of people.
I understand contracts and responsibilities, but for God’s sake, can we stop the constant barrage of sponsor-laden social media posts? I will never buy a Traeger, Mountain Ops, Scent Crusher, Ozonics, or (insert sponsored product) because of the constant badgering. It’s a grill. It’s protein powder. Scent Crusher and Ozonics are a stupid concept that have been debunked by multiple studies done with drug-sniffing dogs, including one by Field and Stream, showing how useless those products can be. Stop tagging them and creating ad posts. It simply turns the average hunter off.
We need to stop doing dumb stuff with animals we harvest. It’s completely disrespectful and childish. This is the biggest issue, in my mind. Hunters have been taking selfies with dead animals, painting the faces of turkeys to advertise face paint, and posing in bikinis with harvested game. One “hunter” recently posted a picture of herself with 10 ducks, which is clearly over the limit. It is all about getting fame and being “insta-famous” nowadays.
Honestly, it is baffling how anyone would think those pictures are in good taste. What is wrong with people?
What is with the #bowonly movement? If you hunt #bowonly, great. Glad for it. I like bowhunting. I do it for five months out of the year. But do not talk about how much more ethical it is than hunting with a shotgun or rifle.
Sure, you need to be closer to the animal, and that requires skill (see luck and preparation) and discipline. But just because you are close doesn’t mean you are deadly. Every deer I’ve shot with a gun has been at 60 yards or less, for what it is worth. You know how many turkeys I’ve wounded and not recovered with a bow? Three. You know how many I’ve wounded and not recovered with a shotgun? Zero. Maybe I’m just a bad shot, but I know how easy it is to wound animals with archery equipment. And it stinks.
If you possess the skill and talent to harvest animals with a bow, keep on doing you. But please refrain from lecturing and looking down on those who use science, innovation and technology (guns) to their advantage because you think you are higher and mightier, and an overall better hunter. (Disclaimer: I know a portion of rifle hunters for deer are a different set of humans, killing everything they see no matter what, and I have a disdain for that as well. But don’t lump us together, and we won’t lump you together.)
The rise of so-called “huntresses” is asinine as well. Plenty of qualified, awesome, skilled women hunt and post on social media. They are different from this group. We have pretty, barely clothed women posing with dead animals, painting their faces like they’re modeling for Cover Girl, and posing with guns to “support the Second Amendment.” Please – they are looking for likes and fame, and that’s it.
Your average anti-hunter may get on social media looking for people to attack. As soon as they see these low-hanging fruits, the battle is already over. You cannot defend those posts. As the kids these days say, they are “thirsty for likes.” A vast majority do not give a damn if they hunt or not – they are brand ambassadors and get paid to look cute and take pics like this.
I used to do this, like most people nowadays, but I’ve been #hitlist free for three years now. Naming animals is just dumb. This is a direct result of social media influence, and it is not even up for debate. When hunters are creating a season-long Facebook-post-laden-quest for “Bucky,” people want to replicate it. This isn’t one of the major issues, but it does irritate me. Naming animals makes the hunt seem trivial and like you have total control over “your” herd. I just don’t like it.
You post a photo of a great buck on Facebook. People are congratulating you, liking the pic. Then this guy comes in hot with “good deer but I would have given him another year.” Firstly, nobody cares what you think. Your guessing of age structure is probably wrong anyway. Nine times out of ten, the buck is very nice. Secondly, why feel the need to backhandedly comment on somebody’s harvest? If you shoot a deer, great job. Who cares what others think on your property.
Listen, I get that this may be contradictory at a glance. I get it. I shoot a lot of does. But I’m not talking about people who hunt to eat. There is a sect of the hunting community that shoots every deer they see, no matter of population status on their property. Often times, these are the same hunters who would willingly poach, as well as waste most of the meat (usually only taking the backstraps/tenderloins) on a deer they harvest. This is not acceptable. If you shoot it, eat it. Also, the “you can’t eat bone” folks need to chill, too. If you had the opportunity to harvest a buck over a doe, don’t act like you wouldn’t do it.
These are just some of the issues I and others have noticed plaguing our sport. I know people will disagree, and that’s fine. I want to open up some dialogue. We need to become more cohesive. Unfortunately, the ongoing dominance of social media in our lives is helping divide us. It allows fake hunters to infiltrate our sport, and we need to put an end to it.
Ryan Miloshewski is a freelance outdoor writer and co-founder of “Mahoney Outdoors” online magazine. Contact him at rmiloshewski@gmail.com.

Forming Young Hunters Takes Dedication, Effort

Chris Brown and Brandon Butler show the doe Chris took on his fifth hunt of the year.

Photo and Text
We have a problem. While statistics show we are doing a good job of introducing youngsters to hunting, we are, unfortunately, experiencing a poor rate of retention.
With special youth seasons and many programs dedicated to first-time hunters, we are getting new folks out into the field, but once they’re on their own, participation wanes or ends all together.
New hunters face many challenges, none moreso than access to places to hunt. Often, participants in organized first-timer hunts are invited to a special piece of property. Someone who has years and years of hunting experience may even guide them. In such situations, the new hunters often see a lot of game and have a chance to fill their tags.
Then, turned loose on their on, reality sets in. Even if they are fortunate enough to have a piece of quality hunting land, they likely won’t experience the level of satisfaction found during their introductory hunt. After a few unsuccessful experiences, they are likely to just hang it up.
I’m guilty. A couple of years back, a colleague approached me about taking him hunting. I was surprised by the ask, because frankly, this fella doesn’t fit the mold of someone you would think was interested in becoming a hunter. But he said he had become very interested in where his food comes from and would like to go hunting. I was excited and immediately invited him to come on a turkey hunt with me.
The hunt was great. We didn’t kill anything, but we heard plenty of birds, had a few unique encounters with wildlife and shared a nice morning in the woods.
When it was over, I made a few suggestions on equipment he should buy, gave him the name of a couple of public land conservation areas he should check out and wished him luck. I realize now how insignificant my introduction to hunting really was, which has been confirmed by the fact that this guy has never gone hunting again.
I’m not going to make the same mistake with Chris Brown. If you recall a column from a couple of years ago, or the cover of Conservation Federation magazine from March of 2017, Chris was my partner for the 2016 Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt and he successfully killed a turkey, in grand fashion.
After dinner in the Governor’s Mansion, I took Chris to an exceptional piece of private property, one most hunters could only dream of experiencing. The turkey-rich woods produced on the first day of Chris’ first hunt. Sounds great, right? In some ways, yes, but in others it was a recipe for a quick exit from hunting. How could his second hunt compare?
It took me four years to kill my first doe. At age 14, I blew so many hunts and missed a number of shots before I finally took a yearling doe. My motivation grew from a lack of success. My deep connection to hunting was forged by the struggle.
When I found success, it was the culmination of a quest and a reward for intense dedication at a young age. Without the struggle, these first-time hunters are not developing the roots necessary to keep the passion alive.
Chris is a Clark Middle School star on the gridiron and hardwood from Fayette, MO. Like most kids his age today, he’s a busy guy. Academics and athletics require near constant attention. But the hunting bug is alive in him. And I’m so pleased he has continued to ask me to take him hunting. Of course, he wanted to go back to the 600-acre private farm with the log mansion where he killed his turkey, but this season, I brought him down a peg or two.
Chris killed a doe on our fourth hunt this year. He had many opportunities to take small bucks and other does, but we worked on patience. We also worked on woodsmanship. I am proud of this young man for being able to sit perfectly still on the ground next to a tree on the edge of an open agriculture field without spooking deer feeding only 20 yards away.
After his successful hunt, Chris gutted his doe. I don’t think expected to tackle this chore. This was his second deer, and he didn’t gut the first one. I told him that hunting isn’t all about magazine covers, and to “put those gloves on and get over here.”
He did, and I explained every step of the way. When it was over, I asked him if he could do it on his own, and he said yes, and that I am proud of.
Please don’t get me wrong. Taking a hunter out for the first hunt is great, and I sincerely commend anyone who does so. However, setting up false expectations and then sending them out on their own too soon is a recipe for an early exit from participation.
I hunted five times with Chris this year, and with each hunt I could see his skills developing. When he gets his drivers license in a couple of years, I have no doubt he will have both the experience and determination to strike out on his own and remain a hunter for life.
Brandon Butler is executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri.

Elephant Hunting, As I See It

I don’t hunt elephants. I have never hunted an elephant. I never want to hunt an elephant; the decoys are too heavy.
I have never been to Africa. I never want to go to Africa. The place is full of little critters that bite and sting and can kill you. The place is full of really big critters that can eat you. The place is home to a long list of diseases which, if you contract one, will make you wish you had never heard of Africa. The place has an over-abundance of corrupt politicians and terrorists. And, the place is full of foreigners.
But, all the negatives listed above aside, there are people willing to spend enormous amounts of money and travel half-way around the planet just to have some professional guide tap them on the head and say, “Shoot that one.”
The reward for their investment in treasure and time is a photo of the hunter grinning over the elephant carcass, surrounded by a handful of strangers, and a few body parts to take home as souvenirs.
These keepsakes may include, but are not limited to, a foot or two to be crafted into umbrella stands (no home should be without one), a pair of six-foot tusks which the little woman will probably exile to the basement, and a full head to be mounted at a staggering cost, and hung in a warehouse if one is available.
Actually, for the hunter, the photograph is the most valuable. And, that is a good thing, since it is the only remembrance of the elephant hunt that he can be sure he will return home with.
In today’s ongoing tug of war between sport hunting groups and anti-hunting groups, some governments, including the U.S., have decided that killing animals whose populations are deemed “threatened” with extinction is a no-no. Even if the hunt is legally conducted in a foreign country under carefully crafted biological controls, some here in the U.S. feel free to disapprove and take action to influence these nations to end such “slaughter.”
The result has been vote-sensitive politicians issuing orders that the trophy body parts of certain animals, currently polar bears and elephants, may not be brought back to the U.S. by hunters who took them legally in another country.
What will that accomplish? Unlike Lazarus, the elephant will remain dead. Yes, but it will punish the trophy hunter and hopefully dissuade others from following in his footsteps. But this emotionally based wish fails the test of practicality when we consider that each nation that allows elephant hunting does so on a controlled permit basis, and available permits are sold to hunters from all over the globe.
So even if all U.S. hunters were deterred from applying, all the permits would be issued to others, and the same toll would be taken from the elephant herds, the only difference being that few or no U.S. hunters would take part in the hunting.
Do you suppose the elephant has a preference as to the nationality of the hunter who plugs him?
The next question then is, is the elephant really threatened with extinction? I readily admit that I am not qualified to answer that question. But I have read a lot and seen numerous videos purporting to answer that question. Here is my take on it.
In Africa, some of the elephant herds are enormous and thriving, while others are dwindling. The main problems for those herds facing an uncertain future are habitat loss and poaching, not sport hunting.
The human population of Africa is exploding, largely due to the availability of vaccines and medicines and implementation of modern farming practices. Simply put, more humans require more land to live on and to farm. Some of that land is currently elephant habitat. Now what?
To give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem, imagine what our country would be like if we still had 70 million wild bison foraging up and down the plains states, from Illinois to the Rocky Mountains. Imagine our response if, during the 1860s-1890s a foreign government had tried to “save the buffalo.” Today, the bison are not extinct, but only small, representative herds exist in protected preserves. Was there any other way?
Poaching by local citizens illegally takes far more elephants than sport hunting. For the impoverished native poacher, the cash derived from a pair of elephant tusks could represent a fortune for him and his family, or he could simply be a cold-hearted criminal. The poacher’s motivation really doesn’t matter to the animal he kills, and so his crime receives equal punishment.
The game rangers in many African countries do not hand out tickets to poachers, who are dangerous customers; instead, they ambush and kill them. It is truly war. And wars cost money, and the sport hunters’ permit fees provide much of those funds. Stop the sport hunting and you may well lose the rangers, which would give free rein to the poachers.
Isn’t the better course to allow a few old tuskers to be taken out of a herd and save the rest than to ban hunting and risk losing the entire herd?
Ending the world-wide illegal ivory market would be the ideal solution, but so far, good luck with that.
Well, as I said, I am not an expert on the subject, but that is how I see it.

Doing Battle with Foolish Rules

Like Don Quixote, I sometimes get an irresistible urge to do battle with a windmill. Admittedly, actual windmills – especially operational ones – are in short supply these days. Proverbial windmills, on the other hand, still dot the landscape.
For example, The Wildlife Code of Missouri – which, as a whole, is quite well written – contains several regulatory windmills more than worthy of any knight errant’s lance. This year, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has invited the state’s citizens to make recommendations about how the regulatory code could be improved.
To get the conversation started, here are a few of my pet peeves.
One way to decide if a regulation needs to be skewered is to see if it’s all but universally ignored by otherwise law-abiding outdoorsmen. Missouri’s bevy of regulations that ban all forms of party fishing or hunting are a textbook case in point.
For the record, in states where party limits are legal (Iowa is one), all properly licensed members of a group of fishermen or hunters who are obviously working in concert may continue to catch fish or shoot game until the entire group has reached its combined daily limit.
In the Show-Me state, each angler or hunter may not exceed his or her own daily limit, regardless of how the rest of the other members of the group are faring.
Furthermore, his or her fish or game must be kept “separate or readily identifiable” from fish or game taken by any other member of the group. If that doesn’t sound like an example of what a former Wyoming Game Warden friend of mine called “a regulation solely intended to enhance citation revenue,” I don’t know what does.
Speaking of citation revenue enhancers, it’s legal to share fish and game with your compatriots at the end of the day. However, “Any wildlife given to another … shall be labeled with the full name, address and permit number of the taker, species and the date when taken.” The regulation offers no advice on how to write all this information on a crappie’s scales or a quail’s feathers.
Don’t think you’re off the labeling hook if you keep the wildlife you legally harvested. “All stored wildlife except deer and turkeys…shall be labeled with the owner’s full name, address and permit number, species and date placed in storage.”
Deer and turkeys have to be labeled “with the owner’s full name and address, the date taken, and the Telecheck confirmation number of the deer or turkey.”
I can’t decide if those requirements are inherently asinine or merely outdated. An angler or small game hunter’s Conservation ID Number is sufficient to give an agent access to all of the other required information except species and date of storage. The Telecheck confirmation number supplies all of the required information about deer and turkeys.
In at least one instance, a regulation discriminates against tax-paying resident recreational anglers in favor of for-profit corporate entities, most of which are based outside of Missouri. I’m referring to the common practice known as culling or upgrading.
The regulations specifically prohibit any such nefarious activity by Joe Citizen. However, “participants in a bona fide (emphasis in regulation) fishing tournament may upgrade their catch throughout the day so long as there are never more than one day’s legal limit of fish in the angler’s live well at any one time.” I can’t say any more about that one or I start spitting nails.
According to the agency, the MDC’s newest sacred cow, the Antler Point Restriction (APR) has public support. Be that as it may, in my opinion, APR discriminates in favor of that subset of hunters who measure a buck’s worth by its antlers at the expense of the much larger subset of hunters – many but by no means all of whom are relative newcomers to the sport – who consider any buck to be a legitimate trophy
Again this is my opinion, but I believe APR also discriminates in favor of bucks which take the longest to grow legal racks and against those whose superior genetics allow them to develop legal racks when they’re 18 months old. Even someone like myself who has no personal interest in so-called trophy hunting can see the regulation’s inherent irony.
On an even more personal note, I’m a bowhunter. My fellow bowhunters and I killed a statistically negligible number of antlered bucks prior to APR. Since I was never part of the alleged overharvest of young bucks in the first place, I resent being forced to become part of what is, at best, a theoretical solution.
Assuming that past is prologue, the MDC really does listen to what the state’s citizens have to say. Let them know your opinion on these and other current or proposed regulations by visiting the agency’s web site at mdc.mo.gov.

One Person Can Cause Environmental Disaster

August 10, 2017 by admin in Guest Editorials

You don’t have to be a hunter, a fisherman, a hiker or a bird watcher to appreciate the outdoors. In fact, many people who prefer to keep themselves and nature on opposite sides of a pane of glass care very deeply about the environment.
Not surprisingly, those of us who think of the outdoors as an activity center and those who think of it as something to be observed from afar often disagree on the details of how, when, if and for what purposes humans should interject themselves into nature.
Even so, both sides agree that the price of environmental liberty includes keeping certain entities – industry, agriculture and government, to name a few of the usual suspects – under constant vigilance.
Ironically, precious few people realize that the acts of one individual, whether deliberate or inadvertent, can help create or spread an environmental disaster every bit the equal of industrial air pollution, agricultural chemical run-off or even misguided government programs.
For the benefit of those who think I’m being overly dramatic, near the dawn of the 20th century, Hermann Merkel, who, by the way, was a college-educated forester, planted several Asian chestnut trees in what is now the Bronx Zoo. Blight (an airborne fungus) was first observed in these trees in 1904. By 1906, 98 percent of them were dead and within a few decades, so were an estimated 3 billion American chestnuts.
Thus was a single man able to eliminate what for centuries had been the most prolific and most valuable hardwood tree east of the Mississippi River. Scientists in the United States and Canada are experimenting with the few remaining mature American chestnuts to develop a blight resistant strain. To date, progress has been minimal.
But as ecologically significant as introduced insect pests and plant diseases have been in the past, a 21st century immigrant is poised to eclipse them all in terms of economic impact. An Asian stowaway in wooden cargo crates, the emerald ash borer, was first discovered in Michigan in 2002. These inch-long, metallic green beetles – or more correctly, their larvae – have already killed millions of ash trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Ontario.
Emerald ash borers have been documented around Lake Wappappello and in several other locations in Missouri. This is where you and I come in. We couldn’t become Hermann Merkels even if we wanted to; the time is long past for that. Even so, the choices we make regarding the firewood we use both at home and in campgrounds will have a significant impact in the battle to contain this voracious pest.
The seemingly innocent act of transporting firewood for use in your fireplace or on your next camping trip is a case in point. Even wood from healthy trees can harbor destructive insects or their eggs. However, since from some – but, thankfully, by no means all – woodlot owners’ perspectives, culling inferior or diseased trees for sale as firewood is a sound management technique.
As a result, the wood you bought from a stranger, because he was $10 a cord cheaper than the local supplier you’ve always used, could become terribly expensive for miles around.
Fortunately, if the wood was purchased locally, it’s likely that the insects hiding in it are already an established part of the area’s ecosystem and, therefore, are unlikely to present a serious problem. Conversely, firewood – including a single bundle left over from a vacation’s final campfire – that’s been imported from another state or even from another part of Missouri can be the spark that ignites a new emerald ash borer outbreak.
Insects aren’t the only creatures with the potential to allow a single person to start an irreversible ecological plague. The zebra mussel is proof positive of that. This handsome, thumb-sized “clam” is so prolific that it can rapidly form colonies dense enough to block city water intakes and strain virtually all of the nutrients from the water it inhabits.
Since its larvae travel in bilge water, it’s probably impossible to keep zebra mussels out of the nation’s commercially navigable waterways. On the other hand, due diligence on the part of private boat owners may keep the obnoxious critter out of our smaller lakes and inland waters.
In fairness to Hermann Merkel, I’ll close by noting that his was far from the only case of trained professionals who opened Pandora’s Box and later lamented, “It seemed like such a good idea at the time.”
The English sparrow, the starling, several species of carp and a host of plants are examples that come readily to mind.

Tips, Tricks and Thoughts for the Great Outdoors

Here’s a Message for All Fathers

“Someday I’m going to take my kids fishing,” he said as he hurried off to work.
“Someday I’m going to teach my kids how to shoot a bow, but right now I don’t want to miss this baseball game.”
“Someday I’m going to take the kids camping, but this weekend we’ll just go to the mall.”
“Someday I’ll teach my kids how to skip a rock or catch a crawdad or build a campfire, but right now I have to go meet some friends.”
“Someday I’m going to take the kids and teach them all about the great outdoors. Maybe I’ll do that next week if the weather is just right.”
Dads, someday your kids will be grown and gone, and it will be too late!
It is believed that the oldest artificial fishing lure was a metal and silk English lure invented around 1800.
Watchmakers in Kentucky made the first bait-casting reels in the early 19th century.
Fishing with light tackle in small ponds, strip pits and streams can be the most relaxing and satisfying kind of angling that can be experienced.
These small waters don’t just hold small fish. You will be pleasantly surprised at the size of some of the fish you catch.
I’m betting there are plenty of small waters with big fish near where you live, and you didn’t even know they were there. Seek them out and discover the wonderful world of fishing small waters for big fish.
A 2011 Outdoor Industry Foundation study found that in the U.S., almost $646 billion is spent on outdoor recreation and pumped back into the economy, accounting for 6.1 million jobs.
If you fish, hunt, camp, hike, bird-watch or enjoy any other outdoor activity,  tell that to your local Congressman or woman and remind them you also vote.
As an avid deer hunter, I totally agree with the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) and do not want to see captive cervids, better known as members of the deer family, classified as livestock. I believe they should be classified as wildlife and managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Not only is this important to prevent the spread of disease to native wildlife, but it is also my personal belief that it is not hunting when you shoot a deer in places where they are completely surrounded by fences. I also don’t believe in the genetic mutation of this magnificent animal to create trophy antlers.
This is just one of many things CFM is working on to protect our Missouri outdoor heritage. That is exactly why I joined CFM. They are my voice to our elected officials as to how I would like to see our state’s natural resources managed to my best benefit as well as all Missourians and visitors to our state.
If you want your voice to be heard too, then join me and thousands of other Missourians in supporting CFM’s efforts. Your membership is a small price to pay to be able to enjoy all the outdoor opportunities Missouri has to offer and make sure they are always there for your kids, grandkids and future generations.
To learn more about CFM and how you can help protect Missouri’s outdoors go online to confedmo.org.
“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer “Present” or “Not Guilty.”  – Theodore Roosevelt
To help keep mosquitoes away, rub the inside of an orange peel on your face, arms and legs.
Even though you might not like spiders, before you squash or spray them,  just remember they are very beneficial in controlling the insect population.
Multifunctional, breathable, sun-protective fishing face masks can be worn in a variety of ways and provide an innovative way to keep the sun off your neck, face and ears. The same material is used in lightweight fishing gloves to protect your hands.
Ultra lightweight, long-sleeve technical fishing shirts and pants will keep you comfortable while also protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. In addition to keeping the sun off your skin, they keep you cool to the core.
They are worn most often by fishermen but can also be used for many other outdoor activities like hiking, camping, mowing the yard or working in the garden without the mess and time of putting on sunscreen.
If you’ve never fished at night, you’re missing out on a very special experience. Besides the good fishing, you’ll learn to enjoy the feel of night fishing when it’s quiet and cooler and things go bump in the night.
On the 4th of July, most of us will gather with family and friends, eat a lot of food and when night comes, shoot off fireworks, or maybe even go fishing or boating.
How many of us will even think about why we really celebrate this day or even explain to our kids why this is an important day? This is Independence Day, a day we celebrate our many freedoms.
Whether you agree or disagree with how politicians run our country, you have the freedom to say so. If you want to own a gun, you have the right to bear arms, and if you don’t believe in guns you have the freedom to say so.
This day and every day, thank those who have fought or are fighting for our freedoms.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam, God bless America.
“Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.” – John Dickinson

Rediscovering the Hope of America

The essence of the American experience was encapsulated in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, more aptly dubbed the Corps of Discovery. Despite incredibly hard times that brought the participants to the very precipice of doom time and time again, they never allowed themselves to run out of three provisions: hope, weapons and writing utensils.
I count it more than mere coincidence that the American Experiment has been kept supplied with these same provisions.
The hope that filled those brave explorers’ hearts in their most frightening moments was akin to the hope the Founding Fathers had, and it’s the same hope that persists in true patriots’ hearts today. Those honor-bound statesmen relied on their Creator to not only sanction but bless their declaration of independence and their resolve to embark on a revolutionary way of human government whose very roots were grounded in religious faith.
The weapons the explorers relied on for their survival were the same implements of protection that have guaranteed the survival of America throughout its history, against both foreign and domestic threats. At the onset of the Revolution, the Founding Fathers recognized the absolute criticality of this first and last line of defense. They made sure the right of every citizen to bear arms would be guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Pen and ink have been used not only to record historical events like the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but to espouse and publish opinions. The Founding Fathers saw the necessity to the Republic of preserving this enterprise and broadening its scope to cover protest and dissent. They made sure Freedom of Speech was the first priority in the Bill of Rights.
As I seek hope for America’s future, I’m reminded of the lyrics of a 19th-century hymn:  “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”  These words, and the meanings behind them, have proven reliable in our past, remain strong for our present situation, and offer the best hope for our future.

A Stand Against Under Armour

Josh Bowmar, left, celebrates with his guides after spearing a black bear in Canada.

Mahoney Outdoors
The Controversy – Hunters are constantly under fire these days because of the social media era we live in, and it appears we are under attack yet again. However, this time it comes not only from anti-hunters, but also from “one of our own” in the industry.
If you are unfamiliar with the situation, do a quick search for “Under Armour Josh Bowmar controversy.” If you are like me, you might determine it is time to take your hard-earned money elsewhere and boycott Under Armour.
To quickly summarize, Under Armour, a major athletic gear and apparel company with a diverse product line catering to hunters, dropped Sarah Bowmar as a sponsored athlete after she filmed her husband, Josh Bowmar, legally killing a black bear in Canada with a spear.
Under Armour suffered severe public backlash from anti-hunters over the killing method and responded by terminating its association with the Bowmars.
“The method used to harvest this animal was reckless, and we do not condone it. Under Armour is dedicated to the hunting community and supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws and hunting practices that ensure a responsible and safe harvest of the animal,” Under Armour stated in an official response.
Reckless? If you do your research like I did, you will find out Josh Bowmar meticulously practiced with his spear for months. The actual video shows his patient wait for the most ideal and ethical throwing position on the bear. After Bowmar made a great throw at 10 yards, the bear ran only 60 yards before expiring.
The killing method seemed pretty effective based on the results. So what exactly did he do that was so reckless? What was so irresponsible about the harvest?
Under Armour elaborates in its public statement that the company is “dedicated to the hunting community” and “supports hunting that is conducted in compliance with applicable federal, state and local laws…”
Spear hunting is a perfectly legal means for taking a bear where this hunt occurred. In fact, everything about Josh Bowmar’s hunt was legal. Unlike the “Cecil the Lion” fiasco last summer, the details of this hunt are black and white. Nothing wrong occurred. Yet, Under Armour still came out and condemned the hunt.
Am I missing something here, or does that not seem like a complete contradiction to the company’s official statement?
Whatever good Under Armour may have done for hunting is now reversed. Under Armour gave the anti-hunters an inch and now they are taking a mile. Legislation to outlaw spear hunting is already advancing where Josh Bowmar’s hunt took place.
That legislation is just the beginning and will not be an isolated occurrence. An event like this is what slowly starts creating momentum to erode our rights as hunters across the board. There is no doubt about that. What is next to go? Bow hunting? Muzzle loading? Rifle hunting?
What this really boils down to is that anti-hunters do not care what your personal reasons are to justify hunting. They simply just loathe you for being a hunter and they will not stop until your rights are gone.
That means we need unwavering support from every major entity in the hunting industry.
Under Armour may have previously done quality things for hunting, but that does not change the company’s overwhelmingly negative impact now. Unfortunately for hunters, Under Armour serves a diverse demographic of people, most of which vastly outnumbers us hunters who purchase the company’s products. A large, publicly owned company selling products to a vast majority of non-hunters will always bow to its largest consumer base.
From a business standpoint, it makes perfect sense the company would distance itself from someone whose overall negative impact on the company could far outweigh the positive impact he/she had in generating revenue.
Many people say it is a business and it is Under Armour’s right to make that decision. I absolutely agree with that, but that is not what worries me.
Hunters are constantly under fire and forced to defend themselves in today’s world. So should we really put our trust in a corporation whose key stakeholders also include a vast majority of non-hunters and anti-hunters? Should we really stand with a corporation in our industry, which while under intense public scrutiny from those same non-hunters and anti-hunters, completely turned its back on the hunting community and threw us under the bus?
For every self-respecting outdoorsman, the answer should be a firm no. We cannot trust a company that bows to the almighty dollar rather than stand tall with our values. If a company wants to be in the hunting industry and make money off of us, then it better not have reservations with supporting all legal forms of hunting.
From this incident, we can learn several valuable lessons.
We as hunters always need to be aware of how other people might perceive the written and video content we post online. Better awareness can help to decrease unnecessary backlash in the future.
We must stand united together against Under Armour, anti-hunters, and any entity whose actions and words directly work against us and our goals to preserve the hunting heritage.
If “one of our own” like Under Armour turns against us, we must stand against them, which means supporting companies that are owned and operated by true hunters who will always support our cause.

The State of the 2nd Amendment, 2016

November 10, 2016 by admin in Guest Editorials

Early in the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency, I wrote a column entitled, “The State of the Second Amendment in 2009.” Since 2016 is the final year of the Obama era, an update is appropriate.
In the 2009 column, I described how Amber and I wrestled with my decision to attend my first gun show. Although both GUEST-EDITORIAL-smlof us were well aware of the fact that, by definition, propaganda is a lie repeated so often it’s mistaken for truth, neither of us was any more completely immune to it than anyone else. In fact, Amber was worried about my safety.
To take up the story verbatim, “It was a close call, but I decided not to ‘pack heat.’ It was just as well, because a sign on the front door of the building housing the gun show warned, ‘No loaded concealed firearms.’ If all a room full of crazed gun nuts could do was shout ‘Bang!’ at each other, I could handle that.
“In truth, ‘crazed’ people were in very short supply. Instead, I observed a room full of regular folks, including a number of present and former law enforcement officers. I must admit that I did fail to find the much-feared ‘gun show loophole.’ To the contrary, guns were being bought, sold and traded pursuant to the same paperwork required at more formal gun shops.”
In 2009, the most onerous proposed federal gun control legislation was House Resolution 45, which, to quote the bill’s preamble, would “provide for the implementation of a system of licensing for purchasers of certain firearms and for a record of sale system for those firearms, and for other purposes.” One of those other purposes was banning the possession of any type of firearm by anyone under the age of 18.
Meanwhile, north of the border, Canadian Parliament member Gary Breitkreuz, after conducting extensive research on similar legislation passed in Canada circa 1995, stated, “The gun registry has not saved one life in Canada, and it has become a financial sinkhole, estimated to have cost some $2 billion. Imagine how many more police we could have on the streets if we had invested more wisely.”
Between 2009 and 2016, the Canadian Parliament has made great progress in restoring the rights of its law-abiding citizens. This was thanks in no small part to the new-found courage of ever-increasing numbers of politicians in Ottawa, to be sure, but it was also spurred by a refusal of the country’s western provinces to fully comply with the firearms registration clauses in the 1995 law.
Closer to home, in January 2009, within days of placing his hand on a bible and swearing to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic,” President Obama launched an eight-year campaign to disable, if not de facto repeal, the Second Amendment. I’m happy to report that, in the words of a 1950s Arthur Godfrey song, his efforts to date have produced “heap big smoke, but no fire.”
Part of the president’s problem is the facts keep getting in his way. For example, Chicago, a city with which he should be familiar, has one of the highest homicide rates in the United States, despite having “gun control” laws so strict that the U.S. Supreme Court struck some of them down. Much the same could be said of Washington D.C., the seat of our nation’s federal government.
Admittedly, President Obama has had to deal with a Congress determined to thwart his efforts on every issue. Perhaps the nation could have “invested more wisely” if the executive and legislative branches of our government had worked together on programs and policies that really might have reduced violence.
Finally – this is purely my opinion – the president’s blatant attempt to politicize mass shootings was an obscene miscalculation. I have no doubt but that many people who would vote to abolish the Second Amendment if they were given the chance were as offended as I was.
But to be fair, President Obama has accomplished one thing. His continuous barrage of threats and bluster have resulted in him having been responsible for putting more firearms in the hands of previously unarmed Americans than any single individual, with the only possible exception of Samuel Colt.
So what does the future hold? Saying that it depends on the outcome of this fall’s election is a cop-out. Thomas Jefferson probably didn’t say, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The most likely source is Wendell Phillips in an 1852 speech to the Anti-Slavery Society.
Jefferson did say, “Free government is found in jealousy, not confidence … In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” In 1752, Benjamin Franklin chipped in with, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
In other words, the future will be shaped by what you and I do and don’t do.

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