Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Disease threatens W.Va.’s best bat cave

Bats with white nose syndrome

Bad news for West Virginia bat populations, especially the endangered Virginia big-eared bat. From the Associated Press:


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The discovery of a deadly and quick-spreading fungus in West Virginia’s largest bat cave is threatening to wipe out the cave’s entire population, including two endangered species.The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that tests confirm that white-nose syndrome has spread to Hellhole in Pendleton County.

The cave’s bat population includes 13,000 Indiana bats and 5,000 Virginia big-eared bats, both of which are endangered.

The DNR says the cave supports more than 40 percent of the world’s entire hibernating population of Virginia big-eared bats.

The past three years, the scourge named for the white fungus that often appears on bats’ muzzles has killed more than a million bats in nine states. 


It’s KVD by a mile!

kvdclassicTwo-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin Van Dam took most of the suspense out of the 2010 Classic by putting a big limit of bass into his livewell early on the tournament’s final day.

The Kalamazoo, Mich., angler boated a five-fish limit that totaled 19 pounds, 7 ounces — the heaviest catch of the day — and took his third Classic title going away.

Van Dam’s winning weight of 51 pounds, 6 ounces comfortably eclipsed runner-up Jeff Kriet’s total of 46 pounds, 6 ounces and Todd Faircloth’s total of 44 pounds, 2 ounces.

Pam Martin-Wells, the first woman ever to make the Classic’s two-day cut and fish in the finals, finished 22nd with 25 pounds even. Martin-Wells finished ahead of heralded pros Dean Rojas, Terry Scroggins, Alton Jones, Gary Klein, Kelly Jordon, Skeet Reese, Boyd Duckett and Denny Brauer. Feel sympathy for Brauer. He fished for two days and never boated a keeper; he “zilched.”

No surprise here: Van Dam leads Classic

Kevin Van Dam
Kevin Van Dam

He’s arguably the most dominant angler on the Bassmaster Elite circuit, and he leads after Day I of the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.

Kevin Van Dam weighed in a five-fish limit that totaled 19 pounds, 6 ounces — more than a pound ahead of second-place angler Todd Faircloth.

Pam Martin-Wells, the only female angler in the field, came in 30th place with a five-fish, 6-pound 13-ounce limit.

Angler catches walleye, takes bullet to the head

Ryan Byrnes' head wound
Ryan Byrnes' head wound

Ryan Byrnes remembers landing his first walleye. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the ice of an Ely, Minn., lake with blood pouring from a gunshot wound to the head.

Byrnes, a student at nearby Vermilion Community College, had been hit by a stray bullet. He survived, with a fishing tale that ought to  fascinate his grandchildren someday.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has the full story.



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T minus two and counting…

bigbuck.jpgIt’s the weekend before the big event! West Virginia’s firearm season for bucks begins Monday. If all goes as expected, roughly 300,000 hunters will be in the woods and the weather should be a lot better than it was last year.

Division of Natural Resources officials expect a better-than-average buck kill. Look for a harvest somewhere in the 70,000 range.

To bag a gobbler, ya gotta put in the hours

calling.jpgI know from sad experience that the odds don’t favor guys who hunt turkeys just one or two mornings a year. The chances of hearing, calling and shooting a tom in so few hours are pretty slim.

Now, thanks to turkey expert Jim Pack, I know just how slim.

“According to the results we’ve obtained through the years from our annual turkey hunters’ survey, the average ratio of hours hunted per turkey killed is about 50 to 1,” said Pack, retired principal turkey biologist for the state Division of Natural Resources.

Assuming roughly seven hours of turkey hunting a day — from the approximate 6 a.m. beginning of legal shooting hours to the ironclad 1 p.m. close of same — that means the average hunter spends at least seven mornings in the woods for every gobbler bagged.


A quick but sincere thank-you

Thanks to all who have logged onto Woods & Waters Online over the last couple of days. Our “hit count” is now up more than twentyfold from our previous averages!

Please feel free to comment on blog posts you like or dislike. Also, feel free to contact me via e-mail (johnmccoy@wvgazette.com) if you run across any interesting tidbits of outdoors-related news.

Again, thanks a million!

Wild goings-on around the country

Everywhere one looks, it seems, critters are “going wild.”

People in Alaska, for example, are learning to deal with dumpster-diving moose.

Members of a theater’s board of directors got invaded by a kamikaze turkey gobbler.

A deputy answering a home-intruder call ended up having her police dog tangle with a burgling turkey.

Postal workers in Madison, Wis., have armed themselves with water pistols to fend off attacking turkeys.

And a 63-year-old New Hampshire motorcyclist is recovering from injuries he received after a turkey flew into him.

(Hat tip for all the above: J.R. Absher at the Outdoor Pressroom.)

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I discovered that Rob Keck, for 27 years the chief executive officer for the National Wild Turkey Federation, had submitted his resignation.

Keck cited the usual “personal and family reasons” for his planned June 1 departure, but sources within the NWTF believe he was protesting the organzation’s board of directors recent vote to relieve two Keck assistants of their duties.

Details are in this week’s Sunday Gazette-Mail column.