Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

A cougar — in a freezer?!

Texas Parks & Wildlife photo

I don’t know which is more amusing — the notion a of a cougar stored in a freezer, or amusement that some busybody decided to report it to police rather than questioning the owner.

From the Associated Press:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida wildlife officials say a Loxahatchee man did nothing illegal by storing his dead cougar in a freezer.
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Capt. Jeff Arlen said on Wednesday that the owner had the appropriate permits to possess cougars and other wildlife.
An officer who investigated found no obvious signs of abuse or neglect.
A citizen was concerned that the animal had been stored in the freezer and called the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Wildlife officers say that’s not against the law.
Owners do not have to report how or why their animals died. They also can handle the carcasses as they see fit.
Florida currently licenses 260 commercial or personal facilities to possess wildlife that could pose a significant danger. They are inspected twice a year.

Angler eats potential record fish

Kurt Price and his dinner

Kurt Price will never be able to savor the sweet taste of having his name immortalized a book of fishing records.

He’ll have to settle for the flavor of sea bass.

The 25-year-old Welshman devoured his chances of making the record book when he fileted and ate the rather large sea bass he’d caught from the lquay at Tenby, Wales. The record for shore-caught sea bass is 19 pounds, 11 ounces. After examining the photo of Price holding his catch, authorities believe Price’s fish would have eclipsed the record.

The full story is here, in the London Daily Mail.

Price’s sad tale reminds me of the time when I visited West Virginia’s Division of Natural Resources headquarters to interview a DNR official. The official’s secretary was all a-twitter because she was preparing to call a Marmet man who had caught a 10-pound paddlefish — a real rarity back in those days. She planned to ask the man to pose with his catch for a photo in Wonderful West Virginia magazine.

When the man answered, she launched into her spiel: “Hello, this is Alpha Gerwig of the state Division of Natural Resources. We understand you caught a paddefish, and we’d like to take a picture of you and the fish for our magazine.”

(Pause, followed by wide-eyed astonishment)


Yep, he sure did. Just like Kurt Price.


Officers kill snake that ate full-grown deer

The deer-munching python after its demise (AP Photo)

One of the benefits of living in West Virginia is that it’s too darned cold here for pythons to ever invade the state.

Florida isn’t so lucky. Pythons imported for the pet trade have established a toehold — er, bellyhold — in the Everglades and are feasting on the wildlife there, including deer. From the Associated Press:

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK, Fla. (AP) — Officials in the Florida Everglades have captured and killed a 16-foot-long Burmese python that had just eaten an adult deer.
Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, says workers found the snake on Thursday. The reptile was one of the largest ever found in South Florida.
Hardin says the python had recently consumed a 76-pound female deer that had died. He says it was an important capture to help stop the spread of pythons further north.

On second thought, pythons would never threaten the deer population here. They’d choke on our larger whitetails, which comfortably average more than 100 pounds.

Hunters, beware of — zombies?!

The good folks at the Missouri Department of Conservation certainly can’t be accused of lacking humor.

The agency’s Information and Education wing operates a blog called “Fresh Afield.” In it, they share tidbits of information of interest to hunters, anglers and nature lovers.

Imagine their readers’ surprise when they logged onto the site recently and found a warning about the Show-Me State’s latest invasive species threat:


The agency’s bloggers went all-out, even to the point of including Photoshopped images of zombie-like characters appearing to threaten a hunter in a tree stand. For that one post, the witty information specialists even changed the name of the blog from Fresh Afield to “Flesh Afield.”

I can’t do full justice to the authors’ cleverness with a simple description. Check it out for yourself and enjoy a good laugh. All in good Halloween fun, of course.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.

Hawk, shot with nail gun, now recovering

The nail didn't keep the hawk from killing and eating a squirrel (AP Photo)

Somebody would have to be really, really stupid to try to shoot a hawk with a nail gun.

Somebody in San Francisco is really, really stupid. Fortunately, the hawk shot by that stupid person survived — and now that wildlife rehabilitation experts have captured the bird, it’s recovering.

From the Associated Press:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A red-tailed hawk that rescuers said was shot in the head with a nail gun was recovering Sunday at a Northern California wildlife center.
The hawk, captured in a San Francisco park by rescuers Saturday, was doing “very well” while being cared for at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley in San Jose, said Rebecca Dmytryk, executive director of the Monterey-based group WildRescue.
“The nail dislodged and dropped out during transport with no sign of additional trauma and no bleeding,” Dmytryk said.
The juvenile bird was trapped Saturday evening at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. It was immediately transported to the wildlife center where specialists stayed late to receive it, Dmytryk said.
WildRescue had been notified of the injured bird nearly a week ago and had tried to trap it several times last week without success.
But observers got close enough to the bird to see the nail extending from its cheek through the front of its head. They said the hawk appeared to be in pain.
Dmytryk’s group had been using a trap called a bal-chatri, a trap made of wire mesh, to try to catch the injured hawk.
Rescuers believe someone intentionally hurt the hawk earlier this month. A reward of $10,000 has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever harmed the bird.
She has said that wild birds like hawks are protected, and that it’s a felony to try to capture the birds without a license.

Rotting bear carcass nearly electrocutes hunter

Hunters can get hurt in any number of bizarre ways, but this one takes the cake. From the Associated Press:

LIVINGSTON, Mont. (AP) — A Montana bowhunter was hospitalized in Salt Lake City after suffering an electric shock from poking a dead bear lying on live wires, Park County officials said.
The hunter came across a badly decomposed bear carcass Sunday in the Beattie Gulch area north of Gardiner and suffered injuries to his torso, head and hands after poking the carcass with a knife, the Livingston Enterprise reported.
Park County authorities identified the hunter as Edward Garcia, of Emigrant, and said he is in his 30s. Garcia’s brother, Eugenio Garcia, said his brother’s first name is Eduardo.
Garcia walked two miles to find help, the sheriff’s office said. He was flown to a burn center in Salt Lake City, where a hospital spokeswoman said he was in critical condition Tuesday.
“But he’s in good spirits,” Eugenio Garcia said. “We’re praying for him.”
Park County Undersheriff Scott Hamilton said officials are trying to determine what kind of bear Garcia came across.
“Sounds like the carcass was pretty old and there wasn’t much to go by,” Hamilton said.
A report of the investigation said the bear was in some kind of barrel or pipe that was partially buried and contained bare wires, Hamilton said. The 2-foot diameter barrel had some type of lid, but it wasn’t clear when or how it might have been detached.
“We don’t know how the bear got in there,” Hamilton said.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.


Venison ice cream? Really???

Available at Buckskin-Robbins?

West Virginians have a long-running love affair with deer meat. We eat it fried, broiled, baked, dried into jerky,  and mixed into summer sausage.

We probably have never had it in ice cream, though. For that, we’d need to go to Scotland, where an enterprising chef has concocted a venison-flavored ice cream.

Julien Miran, pastry chef at The Cow Shed restaurant in Banchory, whipped up the “endeering” delicacy as the restaurant’s contribution to this year’s Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms Venison Festival. He created it by “infusing the milk with venison before it is turned into ice cream and using their home made tuille biscuits for antlers.”

The Deeside Piper has the complete story.

No word yet on the ice cream’s popularity. Then again, Scots eat haggis, so they’d probably eat most anything.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.

Weird science: Dinosaurs had feathers!

Dinosaur feathers in amber (AP Photo)

I’ll just bet that a dinosaur feather could tie one honkin’ big trout fly! From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In science fiction, amber preserved the DNA that allowed rebirth of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. In real life, amber preserved feathers that provide a new image of what dinosaurs looked like.
“Now, instead of scaly animals portrayed as usually drab creatures, we have solid evidence for a fluffy colored past,” reports Mark A. Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Examples of ancient feathers ranging from the simple to the complex are now being studied. They were preserved in amber found in western Canada, researchers led by Ryan C. McKellar of the University of Alberta report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.
Amber, hardened tree resin, preserved a mixture of feathers from 70 million years ago. Other feathers contained in amber dating to 90 million years ago are less diverse.
Specimens include simple filament structures similar to the earliest feathers of non-flying dinosaurs — a form unknown in modern birds — and more complicated bird feathers “displaying pigmentation and adaptations for flight and diving,” the researchers reported.
Indications of feathers have been found on much older fossils, and the new discoveries indicate feathers continued to develop into modern form before the extinction of dinosaurs, explained Norell, who was not part of the research team.
A separate report by Roy A. Wogelius of the University of Manchester, England, published online June 30 by Science, reports the finding of trace metals in feather fossils, suggesting their colors included black, brown and a reddish-brown.
“Despite many reports over the past decade of feathered dinosaurs and new birds from China, only now are we beginning to understand just how diverse feather types were” millions of years ago, Norell said.

Lost squirrel hunter eats worms to survive

Desperate times call for desperate measures, but eewwwww….

From the Associated Press:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A man who became separated from his friends in dense forest during a squirrel hunting trip in western Tennessee says he ate worms and drank muddy water to survive five days in the wild before he was found.
Bill Lawrence said he gathered rainwater in his hunting vest and tried to stay calm throughout his ordeal. Authorities say they conducted the longest search in decades in the 13,000-acre Meeman Shelby Forest State Park before the man was discovered Sunday.
Lawrence lost sight of his two hunting buddies on Aug. 31 while chasing a squirrel and became alarmed when his shots were the only ones he could hear, The Commercial Appeal reported.
“This is when I got turned around,” said Lawrence, a corrections officer, adding he tried in vain to find his friends or their truck.
At the time he became separated, Lawrence was clad in camouflage pants and jacket, a hat and snake boots.
His friends reporting him as missing. Searchers used trained dogs, horses, all-terrain vehicles, boats, police vehicles and helicopters as they scoured the thick woods.
Meanwhile, Lawrence kept walking, searching for food and water.
“I was drinking muddy water … eating worms. Yeah, I’d seen that on TV. I ate worms.”
Lawrence said he had a shotgun, 15 shells, 2 bottles of water, a flashlight, a can of bug spray, a squirrel call and a can of dipping tobacco. But he did not have a cell phone to summon help.
He shot his gun whenever he thought he heard someone, but his shotgun shells ran out on Saturday.
“Everything was against him from the very beginning,” Park Manager Steve Smith said, noting the helicopter spotters had difficulty peering into the dense forest canopy and searchers were hampered by extreme heat.
Messages left by The Associated Press at the park office for Smith were not immediately returned. A telephone listing for Lawrence couldn’t be located.
Lawrence eventually reached a road on Sunday. It was about three miles from where he started out, but Lawrence estimated that he had covered about 35 miles by then.
Lawrence said he collapsed and was found by some passers-by.
“Man I was happy,” he said. “I laid down in that road and just sat there. … By then I was just wore out.”
Authorities said Lawrence suffered from dehydration and severe insect bites. He was taking antibiotics because of the things he ate in the forest.

Angler snags diver where it hurts most

John Goldfinch with the hook that snagged the diver


Fisherman John Goldfinch thought he’d hooked a real whopper when his fishing line suddenly went taut. When he reeled in his catch, though, he found a wet suit-clad scuba diver attached to the hook. Goldfinch had hooked the diver, as the Brits might say, “in the tender bits.”

Fortunately for the diver, Goldfinch practiced catch-and-release. The story, as it appeared in the Daily Mail, includes some hilarious lines. Check it out.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher in The Outdoors Pressroom.