Friday, June 28, 2013

Threat toward Hunting or Animals?

Over the past few weeks I have told stories of different ways to experience common activities such as fishing from jet skis and using a paddleboard to float down a long stretch of river.  My goal is to show different ways that can make the trip more exhilarating and memorable in order to entice someone to hunt or fish or hike or camp that normally would not.

Our heritage, America’s heritage is based on these skills.  Forefathers such as Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, George Washington, and Teddy Roosevelt were outdoorsmen before they were leaders.  It is important to pass these experiences and skills to our children so the heritage is not lost forever.

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece about what could happen if the government were to introduce a lead ban.  I only mention this because California has a law in the making to ban all lead in the use of ammunition.

The story I wrote told of the potential threat to hunting and fishing should a lead ban come to be.  One way the anti-hunting community was looking to strike a blow to our heritage was through the use of the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead in ammunition and fishing lures.

As most hunters know, lead ammunition is much cheaper than other types.  A new hunter is often exposed to hunting by means of small game and bird hunting.  My first love of hunting came from dove hunting.  The action is rapid and one learns how to use a firearm quickly due to the number of shots.  However, someone who has just been introduced to dove hunting usually misses much more than they hit and can shoot several cases of shotgun shells.  At roughly $5.00 per box, a new hunter can spend at most $40.00 on ammunition for a full day’s hunt.  Compared to steel shot that can reach $25.00 per box or more, you can see why someone will be less likely to try hunting if just learning how to shoot.

In the past few weeks we have learned of government eavesdropping and manipulation through different agencies on nearly all Americans.  Much of this tampering and surveillance stems from laws such as the Patriot Act.  Laws designed under good intentions with protection of the people in mind can over time begin a different path.  Just as a janitor is only doing his job by picking up and throwing paper on the floor away, it is easy for one to lose the big picture as the janitor did not look to see that the paper he just threw away was clearly paperwork that had blown off of a nearby desk.

The potential new law in California is already being heralded.  But there are further issues regarding the law.  First, the law is being pushed through on the basis that the California condor is threatened by lead poisoning by feeding on the carcasses of lead shot game animals.  However, the areas where the majority of the condors live and feed are already in a lead free zone.  Second, surveys from biologists are being used for proof of the need of lead free ammunition.  Again though, biologists that have conflicting data are being ignored in the push for the law to pass.

What we have to do now is look at the full picture.  If the banning of lead is required to save a species, it can be understood.  The biologists’ roles in this debate are to keep the species at a sustainable level for future generations.  We cannot ignore data that does not meet our wishes. But we cannot react without know the full picture either.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Drew Haerer-Strategist

While watching the super regionals of the NCAA baseball tournament this weekend, it brought back many memories of high school baseball.  At one time in my life, baseball was everything.  I was not the best athletically, but I loved the sport and the strategy that went with it.
I like sports that require thinking.  That is probably why I enjoy bowhunting so much.  I have to plan when and where the deer will come out, plan on how to get to the proper location without spooking them, and forecast such things as wind direction in order to make it a successful hunt.

A year ago I interviewed Drew Haerer.  Drew is an avid kayak angler.  He was in the midst of a quest to catch all nine species of black bass, each measuring a certain length.  It is called the B.A.S.S. Slam.  His journey would carry him throughout the Southeastern United States on some great river systems.  To complicate an already enviable task, Drew was determined to catch the species from his kayak on public rivers.

His story and adventure proved to be an inspiration for many people.

Back in March, Drew competed in the Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF) Open.  The strategy involved was amazing.  Just as he did when planning the B.A.S.S. Slam quest, Drew resorted to scouting via the internet and satellite view maps.  This technique would help him define his target locations during a two day practice session.

Over the two days of practice, Drew caught what would have been a five fish limit of over 22 pounds.  In talking with others, he also found out his strategy was quite different than the other anglers.

The next day when the tournament started, Drew hooked in to tight lines quickly.  Unfortunately he lost the huge fish.  Several hours later Drew was still fishless with only the one big bite to show for the morning.  Drew changed up the game plan and headed to a different area he scouted and marked during practice.  The change proved beneficial and Drew brought in 36.5 inches of fish on a two fish limit (fish for this tournament were based on length, not weight).

Drew’s excitement vanquished as he found out day one’s results were only used to make a cut for day two and all competitors would start back at zero.  So a top 10 finish on day one meant nothing.

Day two Drew planned on fishing a spot where there were smaller bass but plentiful.  His plan was to catch two quickly (again, a two fish limit), then head to a different area and look for the lunkers to upgrade.  Plans are great.  However, things change during the course which is where strategy comes in.  Drew had to change the strategy in order to bring in the fish, and in the end he finished with 34.25 inches.  This resulted in a 13th place finish.  For perspective, nearly 40 anglers were cut after day one; day two saw 29 anglers not catch any fish and 28 inches made the top 25.

Drew has also set off on another quest.  This one he calls “50 Chunks on the Fly.”  His goal is to catch 50 bass over the course of the year of a certain size.  This year though he will be targeting them with fly rods, while kayaking, on public waters.
Again, planning and scouting is key to making the quest successful.  Just as the seasoned coach knows when to pull in little used lefty on a particular batter late in the game, Drew will have to come up with a strategy ‘on the fly.’  Drew seems to be very successful in doing so.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Outdoors with Bill Howard Podcast Episode 2: Jet Ski Angling

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Prepping and the Outdoors

Bill Howard interviewed Orion Darkwood about the Prepper Movement on his podcast Outdoors with Bill Howard.  Podcasting allows you to take the show with you so to speak.  Outdoors with Bill Howard can be heard for free on iTunes HERE ,Stitcher, and BlogTalkRadio HERE.


I frequently get into conversations about what was the most difficult hunt I have ever been on and what made it so difficult.  The only thing easy about the hunt I would refer to is the fact that it is easy to pick that particular one as the hardest.  A mountain lion hunt in Arizona back in 2008 consisted of temperature variations from 15 degrees in the morning to the high 80’s by noon.  The land was impossible to traverse other than by horseback, so a situation in which you would be stranded would become a survival situation in all likelihood.

This meant the trip consisted of heavy preparation for whatever circumstance that may present itself.  The planning for such a trip can really enlighten you on what it takes just to live a few extra days without today’s comforts.

The United States was built on such principles, and then as our nation became more and more successful through advances in the free enterprise system, we became much more specialized in our abilities.  Through cooperation from each other it allowed our nation to succeed as no other has in history.

That being said, the curse of our specialized abilities, or careers, has been the loss of knowledge to basic things.  Recently, I heard a survey that found nearly 40% of Americans could not or have not made a sandwich in the last 12 months.  At first I thought this seemed ridiculous, but after further thought, maybe not.  Fewer people have the skill to cook with the access to fast food restaurants at nearly every corner.

I remember vividly my grandmothers knitting or sewing and my grandfathers tilling and tending small gardens.  These skills are slowly dwindling from our bag of tricks.  A nation that purchased Alaska for the purpose of self sustainability has lost the ability to rely only on ourselves in just a couple of generations.

I interviewed Orion Darkwood a couple of weeks ago.  Orion is the president of the Eastern North Carolina Preppers Association which met at William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh on June 8th.  He became interested in the prepper movement while reading the book Lucifer’s Hammer which tells of a comet striking the earth and the resulting issues.  Orion noticed lots of small groups but no real organized group for sharing ideas on preparing for whatever may come.  He then took action in forming the group and it has expanded to holding meetings both in Wilmington and Raleigh.

When asked about the difference between reality and reality television with shows such as Doomsday Preppers, Orion explained reality TV is meant for entertainment, while in reality, true preppers are trying to become self reliant.  Prepping is not just about preparing for a cataclysmic event.  It is the preparation for basically anything that would cause reliance on something other than yourself.  Orion notes preparation may include the ability to get your own fruits in case of a deep freeze in Florida that destroys a large orange crop to your well running dry.

There are so many circumstances in which you could look to and think ‘what if’ that it can become overwhelming trying to truly understand the full results of a situation.  Just in my lifetime we have seen in our very own state of North Carolina gas lines a mile long during the 1970’s and extended periods of power loss with hurricanes Hugo, Fran, and Floyd.  We cannot afford to lose basic survival skills.

The saying ‘jack of all trades, expert at nothing’ may need to be rephrased as ‘expert at surviving.’

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Outdoors with Bill Howard Podcast: Episode 1 Prepping and the Outdoors

Here is episode 1 of Outdoors with Bill Howard.  Be sure to subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or RSS feed so not to miss any of the future shows!
Guest Orion Darkwood ( talks about the prepper movement and how it relates to the outdoors, as well as the difference between reality and reality televison.
First, host Bill Howard shares a little about himself and his progression to hosting a podcast.
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