Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Woman gives birth while on fishing trip

At least the big one didn’t get away…

From the Associated Press:

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas family returned from a fishing trip with more than mere fish to show for their outing.

Lorraina Fortine (FOR’-teyn) was 39 weeks pregnant and scheduled for a C-section Monday. But her doctor told her she wouldn’t go into labor before then, so the family headed Friday to Cheney (CHEE’-nee) Lake for the weekend to celebrate her 3-year-old’s birthday.

But her new baby wouldn’t wait. Fortine told KWCH-TV she woke up Saturday morning in labor, had a few small contractions, and gave birth — in her tent.

The newborn girl is named Summer Fortine. She came into the world weighing seven pounds, 13 ounces.

Good news, fresh off the PR Newswire. I’ll bet it won’t take fishing-line manufacturers long to make hay from this development:


If the new, thinner Spectra fiber indeed allows manufacturers to produce thinner, stronger, smoother-casting lines, all us anglers stand to benefit. The main knock on previous Spectra lines has been their roughness.

If West Virginia were to name an “official state firearm,” what would it be?

Within the past few weeks, the Utah Legislature passed a bill recognizing John Moses Browning’s Model 1911 semiautomatic pistol as the Beehive State’s designated shootin’ iron. The Arizona Legislature got into the act when its Senate approved a measure to recognize the Colt single-action Army revolver. Now Alaska has joined the party with a proposal to name as the state firearm the Winchester pre-1964 Model 70 rifle in .30-06 caliber.

West Virginia already has an official state animal (black bear), bird (cardinal), flower (rhododendron), fish (brook trout), tree (sugar maple), fruit (Golden Delicious apple),  and song (The West Virginia Hills). So if our lawmakers decided to designate a state firearm, which one would you recommend?

Strong candidates would be the Pennsylvania rifle or the Kentucky rifle, both of which were widely used by the Mountain State’s early settlers. Problem with those is, they carry other states’ names. For that reason alone, it’d be difficult for West Virginia to claim them. So I’d like to suggest the Model 1842 smoothbore musket produced at the U.S. Armory in Harpers Ferry.

Any other ideas? If so, post them in the comments so others can see them!

Critters taste good in St. Patrick’s Day stew

I haven’t posted much lately because of March Madness.

The past three weeks have been Basketball Tournament Time here in the Mountain State. So far I’ve covered games in the state small-college conference tournament, the girls’ state’ high-school tournament and the boys’ state high-school tournament. I do it because the Gazette’s sports staff gets stretched mighty thin in early March. The editors ask me to help out, and I do.

What does basketball have to do with critters, stew and St. Patrick’s Day? Nothing, really. But I felt you were owed an explanation. Now on to the topic at hand:

Back during the summer, I did a story on a Huntington woman’s recipe for Goose a l’Orange. To get the necessary photographs, I visited Regina, Todd and Kristin Trimboli’s house on an evening Regina had chosen to prepare the dish. During dinner (you didn’t think I’d turn down a free meal, did you?), Todd mentioned that Regina also liked to prepare Irish Stew with game meat as the chief component. He said it had become a family tradition to serve it on St. Patrick’s Day, and he and Regina invited me to stop by the following March for a sample.

That was today. I just polished off a hearty sample made with venison, rabbit and squirrel. As expected, it was delicious!

Regina gave me permission to share the recipe with you. Here it is:

Irish Stew

Ingredients: 1 1/2 lbs. venison, 1 rabbit, 2 squirrels, 3 cups beef broth, 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tsp. ground thyme, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, 1 bottle Harp beer, 5 cubed potatoes, 6 carrots sliced into discs, and 3/4 of an onion diced or minced.

Instructions: Boil the rabbit and squirrel separately until tender and cut into pieces. Cut the venison into bite-sized pieces and brown in oil. Add 1 cup of beef broth to the venison, bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked rabbit and squirrel and simmer 10 more minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the bottle of beer and bring to a boil. Add the onion and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, the carrots and 1 more cup of beef broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 to 40 minutes (vegetables should be tender, not soft). Combine 1/2 cup of beef broth with 2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour and add to the stew until the stew thickens. If the stew is too thick, more beef broth can be added.


Calling all critters!

Greg Hubbell Jr.

Meet Greg Hubbell Jr. of Belmont, Calif.

Hubbell, 15, is an expert wildlife caller. He had already won world calling championships for ducks, geese, elk and turkeys. Recently he added a fifth species to his list by capturing the World Swan Calling Championship.

The full story is here, in the San Mateo County Times.

Kinda makes you wonder what Hubbell will try next. Moose, maybe?

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

California man suffers ‘death by gamecock’

A typical fighting cock

It’s a tragedy when anyone suffers loss of life.

But anyone who appreciates irony should admit that the recent demise of a California cockfighter could aptly be described as “the chickens coming home to roost.”

Jose Luis Ochoa, 35, died last Sunday when the sharp metal “fighting spur” attached to a gamecock’s leg severed an artery in Ochoa’s right calf.  Ochoa bled to death.

The full story is here, in the Bakersfield Californian.

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

14 1/2-foot python captured in Florida

This is NOT the python captured Thursday. This one, captured last March in the Everglades, is slightly smaller. Photo used only to illustrate approximate size.

Florida’s reputation as a breeding ground for unwelcome exotic species got a boost yesterday when a trio of Tarpon Springs police officers captured a 14 1/2-foot python near an apartment complex.

Here’s the Associated Press account of the story:

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — It took three police officers to trap a 14 1/2-foot African rock python and deliver it to wildlife officials.

A man spotted the 150-to-200 pound snake sunning itself in the woods near an apartment complex Thursday. He guarded it with a mop while his roommate called police.

Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the snake was “well-fed” and was a pet at one point.

African rock pythons are a labeled a “reptile of concern” in Florida. Owners must have a permit and the snakes must be registered and kept in a locked container.

Officials say they will check to see if the snake is registered. If not, it will be turned over to someone licensed to keep pythons.

Snowy owl (Wikimedia Commons photo)

The bird in the photo at left is a snowy owl.

Contrast that image to those of the owls in this ESPN ad for the upcoming Winter X Games. The two birds are identified as “snow owls.” In reality, they are barn owls.

If a worn-down old schlub like me can tell the difference, why — WHY — can’t ESPN’s vaunted army of researchers?


White ‘whale camo’ PFDs should save lives

Whalers model prototype 'float coats' (Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Photo)

Native Alaskans can now hunt whales more safely.

Drownings, though rare, sometimes happened because whalers refused to wear life jackets. Standard-issue jackets, the whalers said, were too brightly colored and would spook the whales.

When representatives of a life-jacket manufacturer learned of the whalers’ dilemma, they came up with a solution — a white “float coat” that provided buoyancy while allowing the whalers to blend in with their icy surroundings.

Here’s the full story, from the Associated Press:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Gordon Brower has been hunting bowhead whales for most of his 47 years, forgoing lifejackets because no one made them in white, the only color that would work as camouflage on Alaska’s icy arctic coast.
Now the whaling captain from the nation’s northernmost town of Barrow and other Eskimo whalers have begun to wear personal flotation devices, custom-made in the white they’ve traditionally used to make them more invisible to their massive prey.
When the subsistence whaling season arrives this spring, more Alaska Native hunters from coastal villages will be outfitted with the white “float coats” being distributed through a safety program that’s been greatly expanded since its debut last year. A couple dozen whalers also will receive white float pants.
Brower’s crew was among whalers who tried the coats last year. On the first trek out with the new gear, the crew even landed a 30-ton bowhead.
“Everything kind of lined up in a straight line and the stars were with us, and we got a whale,” he said, noting the only glitch with the coats is the noise they make in extremely cold weather. “Other than that, I think they work pretty good. We were happy to use them.”
The coats are the result of efforts by the Coast Guard, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and Burnaby, British Columbia-based Mustang Survival Corp., which makes flotation and extreme climate protection products. The whalers’ coats have a nylon shell and flotation foam filling, which also offers protection to the frigid conditions faced in the Arctic.
Mike Folkerts, a recreational boating safety specialist with the Coast Guard, was participating in a mission to Barrow in 2009 when he noticed the town’s main grocery and general store had no lifejackets for sale. Local whalers told him lifejackets were too bright and would scare away the animals. He asked if they would wear the jackets if they were available in white.
The hunters said sure.
Folkerts called a couple companies, including Mustang, that sent prototype samples, which Folkerts showed to the whalers.
“They loved them,” he said.
There is no federal or state requirement to wear a lifejacket in a recreational boat unless the person is under 13, although lifejackets on board are required, he said.
The Coast Guard can’t purchase equipment to give to the public, so Folkerts turned to the tribal health consortium. The organization tapped $12,000 of its own funds and ordered 52 coats from Mustang, distributing them among whalers in Barrow and two other villages.
It was an apt connection.
One of the consortium’s areas of interest is reducing the disproportionate rate of drownings among Alaska Natives.
Between 2000 and 2006, Alaska Natives accounted for 179 drowning deaths in the state, or 45 percent of the 402 such deaths in that period, although they represented less than 18 percent of Alaska’s population at the time, according to Hillary Strayer, the organization’s injury prevention specialist.
Drowning deaths are a rarity among whalers, who are extremely safety conscious, according to Folkerts.
But Brower has seen his share of tipped boats over the years. He points out that his canoe is only 24 feet long, while whales can be more than twice as long, averaging a ton per foot.
“Once in a great while, somebody has lost their lives,” he said. “The potential is always there, especially when you are attempting to harvest a whale and the animal is a big animal.”
As far as Strayer is concerned, whalers are role models. She’s hoping they inspire others to start wearing lifejackets.
“They are pillars of their community,” she said. “They’re really looked up to.”
For the upcoming spring whaling season that begins in April when bowheads are heading north, the consortium is distributing 96 coats among crews from the remaining villages that are members of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, which represents 11 communities. Four crews, including Brower’s, will get the float pants.
The funds for this year’s effort came from a $15,000 donation from Shell Oil and almost $11,000 from ConocoPhillips, one of the oil producers on Alaska’s North Slope, where some of the whaling villages are located. Shell has offshore oil exploration projects in the region.
Representatives of the companies said the donations stemmed from their support of the subsistence lifestyle of Natives in the area and the companies’ devotion to safety.
“If outfitting North Slope whalers with traditional-looking, but effective, float coats saves a life, that’s a behavioral change that we’re proud to be part of,” Shell’s Alaska spokesman Curtis Smith said.

‘Shoot, shovel and shut up?’ Hmmm….


OK, here’s the scenario: An Idaho sheriff holds a raffle for a .308-caliber rifle and a shovel. He promotes the raffle as the “.308 SSS Wolf Pack Raffle.” And he wants us to believe that the SSS stands for “safety, security and survival” in an area where the letters SSS in the wolf-plagued area stand for “shoot, shovel and shut up.”

Suuuuure that’s what the good sheriff means. From the Associated Press:

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho – A northern Idaho sheriff said he is not advocating the illegal shooting of federally protected wolves by offering a hunting rifle and a shovel as the prize in a raffle called “.308 SSS Wolf Pack Raffle” in a region where SSS commonly stands for “shoot, shovel and shut up.”
Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said the SSS in the raffle stands for “safety, security and survival.”
“We knew that this would stir up some interest,” Giddings told the Lewiston Tribune.
The newspaper reported that the SSS in the wolf-shooting context often appears in the area on bumper stickers.
Raffle tickets went on sale Friday for $1 each, or 11 for $10. The prize is a Winchester .308-caliber Model 70 Featherweight rifle and a shovel. The drawing is planned for March 8.
Giddings said money from the raffle will go to a food bank, alcohol and drug awareness programs, and local school equipment fundraisers.
“No, we’re not advocating shooting wolves,” Giddings said. “Safety, security and survival, that’s kind of an Idaho County thing. That’s who we are. It’s to get people’s attention. It means something to us up here.”
Dave Cadwallader, Clearwater Region manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said the raffle is an indication of how frustrated people are over wolves and the loss of state management of the animals.
A federal judge in Montana in August ruled it was improper of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to retain federal wolf management in Wyoming while turning wolf management over to state governments in Idaho and Montana. In response, the agency took back authority over wolf management in Idaho and Montana, angering state officials and blocking wolf hunts that had been scheduled for this fall.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter pushed for an agreement with Fish and Wildlife to allow a wolf hunting season. When that failed, Otter in October ordered Idaho wildlife managers to relinquish their duty to arrest poachers or to even investigate when wolves are killed illegally.
The move means Idaho Department of Fish and Game managers no longer perform statewide monitoring for wolves, conduct investigations into illegal killings, provide law enforcement when wolves are poached or participate in a program that responds to livestock depredations.
Cadwallader said that evidence of wolf poaching in the region is turned over to federal authorities.

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