Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dock Dogs

Dock Dogs competition from February 13, 2011 in Washington, NC.

Don't miss the next one!  It's amazing what these dogs do!

Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I love seeing both young and old sharing the common language of the outdoors.  It’s even more special when it allows those that do not even know each other to relate and bond.

I attended the annual Sportsman’s Banquet this last weekend at Trinity Baptist Church.  The banquet has been going on for nearly 20 years and I was amazed at how it has grown.  I attended several years ago as well, but the 100 plus in attendance likely doubled the number I saw back then.  Those in attendance were a mixture of race, generations, and backgrounds.  But everyone there had two things in common; their love of the outdoors, and their faith.  The fellowship amongst everyone was welcoming.  Door prizes were handed out, and thanks to the generosity of many, every youth in attendance won something.

We realize when we are sitting in the company of nature, we are experiencing the beauty of our Creator.   During that time, the church is in the form of woods and water, and God has allowed us to witness a glimpse of heaven.


I want to extend an invitation to the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh on March 4-6.  It is a tremendous event that all can enjoy.  The gathering of guides, manufacturers, and dealers is amongst the top in the Southeast.  Once again, the Classic will bring in Lee and Tiffany Lakosky of ‘The Crush’ and Michael Waddell of ‘The Bone Collector’.  Jase Robertson of ‘The Duck Commander’ will also be there this year.
There will be mounts of all kinds of North American game animals, an archery range for both adults and youth, and seminars daily.  If you have never been, I promise you will enjoy it, whether you like hunting or not.  I will also be there (but obviously not as an ‘expert’ like those mentioned above)!   I’ll be working behind the scenes measuring some of the antlers coming in.

The North Carolina Bowhunter’s Association will hold its annual banquet Saturday March 5 at the Kerr Scott Building.  The NCBA has pulled in a number of amazing hunts for raffle, featuring at least four South African hunts, and other large game hunts throughout the US and North Carolina.  Details can be found on the NCBA’s website at

Reminder, send some pictures of you and your favorite four legged hunting partner to!  They stick with you through the cold and heat, and may even fetch this newspaper every now and then.

Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Presidents' Day

With this column falling before Presidents’ Day, I figured I’d share a story of one of our leaders in ethical hunting.
President Theodore Roosevelt was an avid hunter.  He was every bit of a ‘man’s man’, known in his days as a Rough Rider during the ‘Wild West’ as a true hero of the generation.  Well, Roosevelt really wanted to take a black bear.  In November 1902, Mississippi Governor Andrew Longino invited Roosevelt down for the bear season promising an enriching experience.  Roosevelt accepted the invitation.
Clifford Berry's 1902 cartoon
"Drawing the Line in Mississippi"
Roosevelt, and a hunting party selected to assist the President, set camp near the Mississippi River in an area full of underbrush, pines, and cane.  Two men in the party had particularly strong reputations as hunters.  Robert Bobo was a famous trapper who brought close to 50 top notch hunting dogs.  Holt Collier was known as the best bear man in the Delta area.  The night before the first hunt, the group sat around the campfire and discussed past adventures, with Roosevelt and Collier stealing the show.  One gentleman suggested the roughness of a bear hunt in the swamp would be too difficult for Roosevelt.  Roosevelt responded “This is exactly what I want!”
On November 15, Collier and the hounds picked up a scent of a bear.  The party tracked for hours on end through thicket and mud only to break from the affair and head back to camp for a late lunch.  Collier continued on, and finally caught up with the bear mid-afternoon.  With the dogs baying the bear, Collier bugled for the party, and chased the bear into a water hole.  With the bear exhausted and out of options, the beast fought back against the dogs, crushing the skull of one.  Collier then retaliated by knocking the bear out with the butt of his rifle, and tying it to a tree.
When Roosevelt arrived, he saw a battered and beaten bruin lassoed to the pine.  The party shouted for the President to take the bear, but instead, Roosevelt told one to cut the bear’s throat and put it out its misery.
The story spread quickly about Roosevelt’s ‘sportsmen’s code’ and the following Monday many newspapers carried the story of how the President refused to take the bear.  One cartoonist’s portrayal of the event showed a small cub being held by another hunter, with Roosevelt holding the rifle butt toward the ground and waiving his other hand in disapproval.
In response to the popularity of the action, a toy company in New York designed a stuffed bear.  It was an immediate hit, and the Teddy Bear became famous.
Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor, a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love and the Outdoors

You know, Cupid is a bowhunter.
Sometimes we get caught up in our own adventures so much, we forget the ones we leave tending everyday affairs.  For instance, while I’m out playing with the birds, deer, bear, fish, and whatever else I happen to be chasing, someone has to watch the kids, the dogs, the cat, the guinea pigs, the ferret…our whole zoo!  It can get rough at times, and there needs to be some balance of responsibility.  Fortunately for me, my wife Susan amazingly understands.  While she doesn’t hunt, she shows that hint of excitement on my return, wanting to know the details of the hunt, see the pictures, and of course, sees if I was successful in bringing back any game.  She spends countless hours researching recipes over the internet trying to find a way to cook what I bring back so that all of the family will look forward to the meal (we are a family that is one half very picky eaters).  It gives me a sense of accomplishment and that primal hunter/gatherer feeling.  Although she doesn’t hunt, we will plan days where we scout, set up stand locations and trail cameras.  She’ll be the first to want to see what the cameras picked up.  And one of the most exciting ‘small’ trips we have had was when I took the family where there is a high concentration of bear, and she was able to see her first, real live bear (only at about 15 yards away standing upright I might add).
There are couples who spend time together in the woods.  Scott Smith re-introduced his girlfriend Melissa Webb to hunting this year.  Back in October, Scott and Melissa headed off to a box stand overlooking a bean field, surrounded by cotton.  After settling in, Scott made a series of grunt calls when they saw a doe about 200 yards out.  The doe was anxious, looking over her shoulder steadily.   The doe disappeared into the beans after about 10 minutes.  Scott began to grunt again, this time warning Melissa not to laugh at him, and after a few minutes, Melissa spotted another deer.  The head was down, but the deer was only 85 yards out.  Scott pulled the rifle up, and through the scope noticed horns.  Melissa’s excitement was hard to contain, and Scott managed to take a deep breath, ask Melissa to cover her ears, and squeeze the trigger.  Scott downed an 11 pointer, with Melissa sharing the experience firsthand.
Notice I had stated Scott re-introduced Melissa to hunting.  When Melissa was younger, she had spent some time with her dad deer hunting.  Bobby K. Webb passed away 12 years ago, and Melissa figured she’d give it another try in his memory.  On November 17, she talked with her dad, asking for his help.  After getting herself situated in the stand, to her amazement, a large 8 pointer barreled down the path straight to her stand.  The massive buck stopped 100 yards out.  Melissa readied her rifle, and once again asked her dad for help in making a true shot.  Melissa placed it well, and now had her deer of a lifetime.  I could see Scott’s excitement for Melissa as he told me about his season this year.
The point is couples can enjoy the outdoors together, even if the interest varies.  Remember your loved one on this coming Valentine’s (hint: get a gift now if you haven’t already!) and thank them for all they do, whether with you or when you are away.
After all, Cupid IS a bowhunter…

Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hunting Matters!

I listen to a lot of talk radio.  I enjoy the conversation, the griping over issues, and the humor in it all.  Even the commercials are fun to listen to.  One commercial in particular, talks about how lame and out of touch adults are, yet there are teens everywhere that would love to have a lame, out of touch adult in their lives.  It is an interesting point.
That is why taking a kid hunting or fishing is so rewarding.  You don’t have to know the secrets to Call of Duty, or the latest Lady Ga Ga song.  (Still trying to figure out why you would want to know her latest song!)  Just being with them in the outdoors gives you the bonding you would never get otherwise.   Even if you miss the shot, you both smile, knowing it was a great moment that will be remembered.  I have received many emails from readers the past few weeks and have enjoyed them all.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share some as this column moves forward, but it is touching to receive the same messages from both the youth and the adults who have contacted me.  It is all about the experience, the companionship, and the ties of different generations.  It’s not often you can get your kids to look up to you and not think you are a nerd (or whatever word they use now), so I for one, will do everything I can to clinch that feeling whenever possible.  
I met Walter ‘Deet’ James at the hunter education instructor workshop this last fall and spoke again with him recently.  Deet is the Hunting Heritage Biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.   He runs the Hunting Matters program which asks hunters to introduce and mentor an individual new to hunting.  I thought the program was very well received, and those I know personally that pledged to the program, were successful in the endeavor.  In a 2008 study by Responsive Management, nearly 98% of all hunters were brought into the sport by mentors such as parents, grandparents, or friends, compared to 2% who became involved on their own.  Speaking with Deet, there were 5301 people who signed up for the program in 2010, of which 3585 were eligible.  Eligibility requirements included being a North Carolina resident and license holder.  The mentoring process is important based on the survey information above.  While the number of hunters has shown growth, the overall population is growing faster and the amount of hunting opportunities is decreasing with the increase of urban and suburban areas depleting hunting lands.
I asked Deet about whether hunting license sales would show us an indication of our efforts, and while the numbers have shown increases, tracking of license sales is not necessarily a good indicator due to lapses in licenses, military deployment, and actual active hunting.  Involvement and sustainability of new and experienced hunters is needed in order to continue our hunting heritage.  Our new outdoorsman, after all, will be our future mentors.
Mentoring new hunters bring challenges.  While the diehard hunter may stick to the stand in heavy rain and 35 degree weather waiting for the right deer to come out, it is likely to discourage a new hunter.  ‘Easy’ hunts that offer the chance to see lots of game and plenty of shot opportunities usually are the best type for new hunters.  For me, it was dove hunting.  While I love duck hunting now, it was dreaded when I was a youth due to the preparation, cold, and wet.  Many small game hunts can hook a new hunter, and as the new hunter advances in experience, the hunter will become more tolerant to the tougher hunting situations.  Make sure you limit your expectations of the new hunter in both desired time to hunt and skills.  The novice certainly doesn’t have to limit out on their first few excursions.  First and foremost, be safe.  Let the new hunter know when he/she makes a mistake, communicate, and practice what you teach.  The first time I carried my son on a dove hunt, my father and I went over what to expect on the hunt, and informed him of the proper zones of fire based on where other hunters were in the field, and the ‘low bird’ command.  Low bird doesn’t mean look low for the target, it means pull the muzzle up and get your hand away from the trigger.  I promise you this, an incident involving someone getting injured or worse, WILL discourage the new hunter from hunting again.

Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to