Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Comment of The Year

The other day’s post about the elderly gent who managed on two occasions to corner and capture a wild turkey has given rise to my nominee for Comment of the Year.

I monitor all the comments to my blog, and this is easily the most entertaining one I’ve had in more than four years. The commenter identified himself as “Andy.” Enjoy Andy’s comment:

I caught a small doe one time.
It was after the big snow in January ’96 and I found it in the fenced in side yard eating my rhododendrons and I thought I would teach it a lesson. I ran screaming off the porch and it took off but because of the deep snow it couldn’t jump the fence. It turned all confused and ran straight at me.
I said, “I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget” and tackled it. Just as I grabbed on she twisted her hind quarters and gave me a swift kick in the “you know what.” At that moment I also said to myself, “Maybe that’s why cougars jump on their backs.”
Luckily I had a thick coat on and no harm was done to me. Not sure if the deer learned her lesson, but I sure did.


Carp, the other white meat

Common carp (Texas Parks & Wildlife photo)

For more than 120 years, carp introduced by well-intentioned state agencies have gone virtually unmolested in United States waters. Maybe that’s about to change. From the Associated Press:

WABASHA, Minn. (AP) — An Australian company that processes carp will open its first U.S. facility in Wabasha Friday.
Carp may not be popular on menus in the U.S., but it’s widely eaten in Eastern Europe and Asia. Keith Bell of K & C Fisheries says in China, the carp is steamed with vegetables for the main meal. In Poland, Bell says the fish is canned with vegetables or is baked for Christmas dinner.
Bell and his wife, Cate, began exploring the upper Mississippi River as a place to grow their business after several years of drought in Australia made it difficult to harvest carp there.
Minnesota Public Radio News reports the common carp is native to Europe and Asia and was introduced in the Midwest as a game fish in the 1880s.

Hunting deer with spears

Atlatl technique

Well, technically what they’re doing in Missouri is hunting deer with “darts,” which is what atlatl enthusiasts call the 4-foot-long feathered spears they fling from primitive throwing sticks, very much like the ones Ice Age hunters used to take down mastodons.

A Missouri man recently became the first modern atlatl-wielding hunter to kill a deer in the Show Me State. Luke Boenker, 54, of Maryland Heights, Mo., took a four-point buck on the first day of the state’s recent firearm season for bucks. A few hours later, Scott Rorebeck of Trenton, Mo., bagged another one.

The Evansville (Ind.) Courier and Press has the full story. Fascinating stuff.

I can personally attest to the velocity at which an atlatl can fling a spear. While working on a feature story on atlatl enthusiasts a few years back, one offered me a chance to attempt a distance throw. I had a bad right shoulder at the time, and could only use my wrist and forearm to flick the dart downrange. It went 80 yards.

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

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.

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.

Angler drowns trying to rescue son

Stuff like this shouldn’t happen, but it does.

From the Associated Press:

NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Authorities say a 43-year-old Uxbridge man has drowned while trying to rescue his 6-year-old son from a Northbridge pond.
Police Chief Walter Warchol says Sarwat Hanna and his son, Yousef, were unconscious and in cardiac arrest when they were pulled from Meadow Pond just after 3 p.m. on Tuesday by rescue personnel with the help of two Good Samaritans.
Both were taken to a Worcester hospital where the father was pronounced dead and the son was in serious condition.
Authorities say the family was fishing and the boy apparently fell in the water. The father jumped in in an effort to save his son. Hanna’s wife and 3-year-old daughter were on shore and unhurt.

Dead sharks on Ala. beach puzzle investigators

Bull shark

Fitting that the following item should make the news during Shark Week on the Discover Channel.

From the Associated Press:

DAPHNE, Ala. (AP) — Biologists say they aren’t sure about the type of the sharks that have washed ashore at Montrose Beach in Baldwin County.
WALA-TV reports that more than 14 sharks washed ashore.
Biologist Chris Denson says the bodies are too badly decomposed to determine the type of shark.
Marcus Drymon, Fisheries Biologist with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, says there was a report of sharks on shore last month, and they turned out be bull sharks.
Researchers say the cause of death remains a mystery, but they say salinity has a major effect on the fish, and anything from a pulse of fresh water or extremely dry weather can change the amount of salt in the water.

If a lack of salinity really is the culprit, chances are the dead sharks are some species other than bull sharks, which have been known to survive in brackish water. In one infamous incident in 1916, a bull shark swam up New Jersey’s Matawan Creek and killed an 11-year-old swimmer and the 24-year-old man who tried to rescue the youngster.

Bear didn’t harm boys, NJ official says

No attack, but still too bold

Hold the phone.

Apparently yesterday’s Associated Press story about the bear that attacked two New Jersey youths was based hastily gathered information — too hastily, as it turns out.

In a follow-up, the New Jersey Herald quoted a Garden State wildlife official, who said the cuts and scrapes at first attributed to a camp-raiding black bear were not consistent with injuries commonly caused by bears’ teeth or claws.

Here’s the Herald’s story.

So the bear didn’t hurt anyone. Fair enough. It was, however, raiding a campsite in search of food — a campsite where humans were present.

With that in mind, I’ll stand by the underlying premise of yesterday’s blog post, which was that bears in New Jersey will continue to be unafraid of humans until they’re hunted enough.

A good deed punished, then un-punished

The gavel of public opinion

Eleven-year-old Skylar Capo thought she was doing good when she rescued a baby woodpecker from being eaten by a cat.

Skylar, from Fredericksburg, Va., decided to keep the bird for a couple of days to make sure it was OK, then release it back to the wild. Problem is, a sharp-eyed wildlife agent spotted the caged bird and urged Skylar to release it. She did, immediately.

A couple of weeks later, the same wildlife agent showed up on Skylar’s doorstep in the company of a state trooper and fined Sylar’s mom $535 for illegally transporting a protected species.

Here’s the story, from the New York Daily News.

The news of Skylar’s good deed getting punished must not have set too well with the public. Apparently folks raised enough Cain that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials decided to rescind the fine.

Here’s that part of the story, from MSNBC.com.

Does it irk anyone else that justice tends to be tempered by wisdom only when it’s exposed to the harsh glare of public opinion?


Clearing a Sylvan Pass avalanche (Park Service photo)

National Park Service officials want to spend roughly $300,000 a year on avalanche control at Yellowstone Park’s Sylvan Pass.

Sounds reasonable, right? After all, the Park Service needs to protect the public, and wants to do so by shooting howitzer shells at snow-laden avalanche chutes.

Consider, though, that only about 500 visitors — snowmobilers —  attempt to cross Sylvan Pass in winter. The pass lies along spine of the Absaroka Range in the relatively undeveloped eastern section of the park, and is closed to passenger vehicle traffic from Nov. 1 to April 30 due to heavy snowfall. It is highly prone to avalanches.

Critics of the Park Service avalanche-control plan point out that the anticipated $300,000 expense amounts to approximately $600 per visitor. They argue that it isn’t cost-effective, especially at a time when parks are so apparently underfunded.

Seems to me that Park Service officials are running scared — scared of potential liability. The precedent of allowing snowmobilers through the pass has been set. Should one get killed by an avalanche, his or her relatives could conceivably win a lawsuit by arguing that Park Service officials should have addressed the avalanche hazard.

A sign of the times, I suppose…