By Scott Bestul
From Missouri’s News-Leader:
Bass Pro Shops is offering a $5,000 gift card for information leading to the return of a record-setting whitetail taken by a 16-year-old in Iowa in 2003, and the arrest and conviction of the persons who stole the mount in 2004. . . .
The enormous buck B&C net scored 253 1/8, making it the non-typical state record and the world’s No. 2 bow-taken whitetail that year. [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
I'm excited to be kicking off a new Q&A series on the blog! I'll be interviewing women from all corners of the outdoors industry, and posting a new conversation about twice a month.
First up is author Laura Browder, whose most recent book, Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America was reviewed by F&S deputy editor David E. Petzal a few months ago. Released in 2006 and out in paperback in March, it's a history of women and shooting from the interesting perspective of someone who is relatively new to guns.
Laura was happy to make time for the blog to talk about old ads, President Theodore Roosevelt, and turn of the century trap shooting.-K.H.
FSHUNTRESS: I understand you weren't raised around guns. How did you first get interested in firearms,
and what was your first experience of shooting a gun like?
LAURA BROWDER: Yes, I grew up in Providence, RI, where the guns laws are much stricter and where I was very ignorant of gun culture. Moving to Richmond, VA, was a real eye-opener. I guess my interest in guns began developing my first New Year's Eve in my new home, when everyone on my block -- kids, middle-aged homeowners, and even the senior citizens in the old folks home across the street -- fired their weapons into the air at midnight. I quickly realized that I was no longer in New England -- and that I had a lot to learn about guns and gun owners. When you grow up in a Northern city, it's easy to demonize gun-owners. In Richmond, I began to realize that many of the people who I liked and respected a great deal were very attached to their guns. That's when my research began.
The first time I shot a gun, I was incredibly nervous -- it was such a taboo for me. I really enjoyed the adrenaline rush it gave me, though.
FS: What gave you the idea for this book?
LB: I started thinking about how closely gun ownership and American identity are tied together in our popular culture. Yet guns and masculinity are closely associated as well. So where did that leave women? When I began doing research, I had a couple of people ask me where I thought I was going to get enough material to write a whole book. On the contrary, the problem I had was in paring down the incredible wealth of stories I found about gun-toting women on both sides of the law.
FS: In your research, what were one or two of the most surprising things you learned about the history of women hunters?
LB: I was amazed to learn how popular hunting was among women at the turn of the twentieth century. If you look at gun ads from that period, many of them feature a woman out alone in the woods with a rifle and hunting dog. My website has some wonderful ads from this period. And I was surprised to learn that President Theodore Roosevelt publicly urged women to hunt -- he saw it as a great antidote to the city living he thought was making women sickly and was weakening their characters.
FS: How have the ways in which advertisers market firearms to women changed over the decades?
LB: Advertising in the 1880s through the early part of the twentieth century assumed that women were competent with guns. Ads from the 1950s included women only as adoring bystanders, if at all. Then we got the bimbo ads of the 1960's and 70's. Since then, many gun ads have promoted the idea that good mothers and responsible single women needed guns to protect their families and themselves. My favorite ads really are those early ones, though. They even feature little girls out hunting -- something I can't say I have seen in any recent ad.
FS: What accounted for women's enthusiasm for hunting and the shooting sports at the turn of the twentieth century?
LB: Actually, trap shooting was the first sport that was open to women and men on equal terms. In its early years, the National Rifle Association worked hard to change the image of shooting from a macho, drunken activity to something that anyone could enjoy. There were even all-female trapshooting clubs at that time. And hunting was seen as a great way to get some exercise and enjoy nature. Annie Oakley did a great deal to popularize shooting for women at the end of the nineteenth century.
FS: Do people tend to be surprised when they hear about that historic involvement?
[ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
I have hinted—if not outright whined—about the severity of the past winter here in the upper Midwest (an event so windy, frigid and interminable it reminded me of a certain English professor I had back in my college days).
But it is without doubt spring now, and the most certain proof has not been the influx of songbirds or the gobbling of turkeys, but the appearance of morel mushrooms. Robins can be fooled into early migration, and toms will breed hens in a snowstorm, but when mushrooms start popping, it is by-God-spring. It takes moisture, daylight and heat to make these babies grow, and once they start coming, summer is only a few weeks away.
Though I have yet to find my first fungi of 08, friends are starting to send pictures and brag of gorging themselves (see photo, below). I look forward to the first meal of the year and, more importantly, teaching my kids the joy of hunting morels. Do these tasty, easy-to-identify mushrooms grow in your hunting area? If not, are there other varieties you gather, now or in the fall? Let me know!
[ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
A big congratulations to blog reader Judy Black, whose story about a memorable bear hunt with her husband is currently in Bear Hunting Magazine's May/June issue. Here's an excerpt and photo on the magazine's website. Judy actually told us her hunt story on the blog a few months ago, and she's beyond excited to see it in print as well. She's also excited about an upcoming September elk hunt in Wyoming, and I know we look forward to hearing about that too! - K.H. [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
I would like to thank reader Jon (see the last post) for supplying today’s discussion topic. Jon notes that he will never be convinced that there is a difference between a 20-by-20 foot food plot and a bait pile. This is an argument I hear quite often. Baiting proponents contend that a pile of corn, apples, sugar beets (insert food of choice) in the woods is no different than a field of clover, corn or winter wheat. Baiting opponents contend that a food is there 24/7-365; feeding deer regardless of weather or the close of hunting season.
What are your thoughts? Is baiting a legitimate tool for today’s hunters? Do we need to hunt over food to shoot the number of deer biologists are asking us to? What’s the difference between a food plot and a corn pile? Does baiting give hunters a black eye to the non-hunting public? Are there areas where baiting is legitimate and others where it is not? I’d like to hear your thoughts….and see your shed pics! [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
From The Grand Rapids Press:
Hundreds of whitetail deer have been shot in recent weeks in Michigan's northeastern Lower Peninsula under a program aimed at preventing them from transmitting bovine tuberculosis to cattle.
The Department of Natural Resources mailed thousands of free, unsolicited deer kill tags this year to farmers in the state's TB zone.
The initiative has displeased some northern Michigan hunters and business owners who have seen deer numbers fall in recent years.
"If you're doing this, you'd be called an exterminator, not a hunter," Doug Mummert, of Gaylord, said. "If we've got to have a reduction in the deer herd, it should be through regular hunting methods." [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
I received my first diploma in a long, long time the other day. This past weekend I attended a “Deer Steward Level One” course offered by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA). The 2-1/2-day course—taught by noted deer researchers and habitat specialists—covered everything from basic deer biology and management to habitat and food plot work. I’ve been a whitetail geek for more years than I’d like to admit, and I learned an awful lot in a long weekend. QDMA offers a Level II course that teaches deer nuts even more info, and I intend to take the course when I can.
QDMA is a conservation organization that’s on a roll in recent years. Founded by Joe Hamilton over two decades ago, the group built membership slowly at first, with strongest interest in the southeast and Texas. Then, in 1997, Brian Murphy—a PhD whitetail biologist and protégé of Hamilton—took over the reins. Murphy studied successful conservation groups like the NWTF and RMEF and applied that model to the QDMA. Under his tenure, membership and visibility has skyrocketed. QDMA now boasts 50,000-plus members, as well as branches (chapters) across the U.S. and even into Canada.
I’m curious about the presence and/or success of QDMA in your hunting area(s). If the responses to my last post are a true indication, most of you hunt within your state’s boundaries and often close to home. Do you apply QDMA principles (adequate harvest of antlerless deer, allowing young bucks to walk, habitat/food plot development) to the land you hunt? Do you belong to a local chapter? What are the management practices in your neighborhood and how do they affect how you hunt and harvest deer? [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
I just came across this April 27 Ted Nugent article on women hunters and thought it was was worth a link. Of course, it's full of Nugent's unflinching "energy," such as this closing appeal to male readers:
Nothing says pro-gun and pro-hunting like an army of female participants, voters and activists. Target the women in your life and let's create a team of female commandos to once and for all crush those who would deny us these wonderful pursuits of happiness in America.
My first thoughts were: I don't think of myself as being in an activist army, and I'm not crazy about the idea of being "targeted" for a team of "commandos."
However, those points aside, Nugent's clear regard for outdoorswomen -- especially those within his own family -- is great to see, and I know he expresses it regularly. The rest of the opinion piece introduces a young bowhunter named Brook and discusses some of the field accomplishments of Nugent's daughter Sasha and wife Shemane.
While he might not be quite my style, I'm all for passionate appeals to get more women into the field, and the fact that he wrote this opinion piece at all is hard not to appreciate. There's plenty of room in the woods for different approaches. - K.H. [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
Considering my last post on presidential campaign frustrations, I figured I'd follow my Ameri-centric concerns with a more global view.
During my routine scan of the news today, I kept an eye out for foreign headlines, and came up with a few interesting ones that point out how strikingly similar and eerily different hunting issues are around the world:
BEAR CENSUS IN SLOVAKIA: Due to an ongoing battle between hunters and
animal rights groups, Slovakia is undertaking a census of the country's
bears. Using GPS collars, cameras, and ground crews (at a cost of an estimated $6.3 million) officials hope to determine a true population
number. According to this AFP report current estimates by ecologists and hunting groups vary widely. As bear populations are squeezed by human development, concerns
about limiting encounters with people are on the rise.
On one side of the argument is park
keeper Emil Rakyta, who says that without natural predators, bear
populations are too numerous and becoming more aggressive. "Hunting is
the sole solution," he says. (Between 2000 and 2006, 500 hunting permits were
issued and 194 bears were shot.) On the other side of the argument is member of the animal
protection group Vlk Eric Valaz, who says, "Hunting does not solve
anything apart from killing bears." Anything sound familiar, Jersey?
ILLEGAL AMMO IN RUSSIA: On April 21, Pastor Phillip Miles of South Carolina's Christ Community Church was convicted in a Moscow court of smuggling hunting ammunition into Russia, and sentenced to three years and two months behind bars. According to this Washington Post story, Pastor Miles was arrested in February after arriving in Moscow with cartridges he'd brought for a friend who owned a Winchester rifle. "It's a strange sentence for one box of hunting bullets," Pastor Miles said as he was led from the court in handcuffs. His lawyer is appealing the decision. Does the sentence feel spookily excessive to anyone else?
BIRD HUNTING BAN IN MALTA: One April 24, the European Court passed a ruling that banned the 2008 spring hunting of quail and turtle doves in Malta. The next day, the European Union commission hailed the decision, citing concerns that, "Current hunting practices would endanger the species." According to this EUBusiness.com report, Malta had been the only EU member state to allow spring hunting of quail and turtle doves, the populations of which are declining throughout Europe. The dispute between pro- and anti-hunters had allegedly led to violence and vandal attacks, largely blamed on Malta's Federation for Hunting and Conservation.
This has been your world briefing. -K.H. [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
Well, the Norwegian Mafia has left the building, meaning the 5-day
season allotted to them by the Minnesota DNR to kill a gobbler is now
over. I did not manage to put a male turkey within range of my father’s
870, but we had a wonderful hunt together (ignoring the rainy/windy
portion that marked the final two days). Below you will find a photo of
my Uncle Al and his bird, a fine 24-pound slob that played the game
nicely. As I focused the camera I asked Al to smile, to which he
replied “I am smiling.” I have learned better than to press Norwegian
hit men to manufacture emotion. He is Al Bestul, not Pacino, and I
couldn’t love him any more if he could produce a 200-watt grin on
Anyway, off of turkeys and back to deer. I appreciated all the comments
sent in from the “I want to be a producer” post -- especially those of
you new to hunting that expressed a desire to learn fundamental
knowledge. I would love to address some of these issues, and I plan to
talk to our web-gurus about producing some sort of survey of your
hunting experience and what areas you would like to learn about. In the
meantime, please keep in mind that Field & Stream magazine does publish quite a bit
of fundamental deer info, especially in a special section marked
“Whitetail Handbook.” Handbooks are found in the back 2/3 of the
magazine and contain a lot of short, focused instructional stories that
can benefit deer hunters of all skill levels. Please check out these
articles, which will begin appearing in the August issue.
In the meantime, I’d like you to answer a question that was brought to
my attention by a friend in the outdoor industry. He owns a company
that produces a deer hunting product and my buddy noted in a recent
conversation that “85 % of our customers say that they never leave
their home state to deer hunt.” The comment struck me immediately and,
of course, made me think of BuckTracker readers. Do you fit the market
profile of the stay-at-home deer hunter? Or do you travel across state
lines? If so, how often? I’d love to catch a snapshot of our audience
here…and I won’t even ask you to smile! [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
From the Times-Dispatch:
The [Charles City County] Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 last night to prohibit deer hunting with high-powered rifles, drawing anger and raised voices from some in the audience. . . .
Vince Brackett said hunting with rifles is a tradition and it claims far fewer lives than boating in Virginia...
Elbert Parker held a piece of inch-thick wood above his head to demonstrate the ease with which a bullet could go through someone's wall.
"Your children can be shot dead looking at TV in your house," he said, prompting an argument among him and members of the crowd until board chairman Gilbert A. Smith tapped on a table to quiet them. [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
Wisconsin Approves 35 Earn-A-Buck Zones for 2008
South Carolina Bill Would Toughen Rules On Deer Contraception
Accused “Serial” Deer Poacher Is A Vegetarian