WHEN THE KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE Resources Commission voted recently to reduce the daily limit on largemouth bass from 10 to 6, the decision had nothing to do with science, and everything to do with attitude. A statewide survey revealed that more than 35 percent of Kentucky’s bass anglers practice strictly catch-and-release fishing on a voluntary basis.
Jim Hamm and his August article, “Song of the Stickbow,” are way off base. Hamm wants to be a purist, but is far from it. Does he make his own broad-heads out of stone? Does he make his own clothing? NO! And to think he'd even mention making a traditional bow from laminated fiberglass when it should be hewed from a log with a stone knife.
Their number is five, and forgiveness is a word that is not in their vocabulary.
MOST OF US SUFFER FROM the inner conviction that we ought to be better shotgunners than we are. This is a corrosive agony; it causes us to roll our eyes heavenward and ask what evil lurks in our synapses and ganglia that forces us to lift our head from the stock and shoot high, or fire at an angling target as though it were a straightaway.
Public land set aside as a forest reserve or wildlife refuge is forever safe from development. Or is it?
LIKE MOST AMERICANS, I USED to trust the federal government—meaning administrators who ran the various agencies—to do the right thing. But my faith hinged on a faulty assumption: that those administrators knew what the right thing was.
Don't let their name fool you... smallmouths attack large lures, especially in cooler weather, but only if the action is as enticing as the size.
5-INCH FAT GRUBS
THE GREATEST MISCONCEPtion about fishing for smallmouths is that you must use small lures to catch them. While it’s true that many are taken on bantamweight stuff, smallmouths also hit on bigger lures, especially in the fall when cooling water puts big bass on the prowl.
Need a rock-steady shooting platform? Make your own, using this simple design.
MELVIN FORBES, PRESIdent of Ultra Light Arms, the man who put the big-game rifle on a diet, is an American archetype; he knows how everything works, how to fix anything, and how to make anything. He is also a serious varmint shooter, and in line with this interest he has designed a very simple, sturdy portable bench rest.
What do stoneflies matter when you've got inspiration, mole belly hair, and No. 48 hooks?
ONE RAINY AFTERNOON A few years ago, I was absorbed in a wonderful leather-bound tome from the 1930s on the subject of fly fishing for trout while I mindlessly ate one peanut after another from a 20-pound can. A few hours later, I was pacing my den trying to figure out at exactly what time the pleasure of munching on the peanuts had been replaced by the pain that comes from chewing 5 pounds of salt, when I was overwhelmed by a flash of genius.
The basic rules for selecting a stickbow haven’t changed in several hundred thousand years.
FOR INCREASING NUMbers of bowhunters, the old compound has finally lost its appeal. By the time all of the necessary “looks neat” extras are added, it weighs 11 pounds and sounds like a train wreck when used in the woods. So you’re going to hang up the anvil-like catapult and regress to a simple, elegant bow.
Gaiters have been in use for decades, and they're still ideal for getting you through all kinds of rough country.
SOLDIERS IN WORLD WAR I used long strips of cloth known as puttees to protect their lower legs—and to use as bandages or slings in emergencies.If you like the flexibility and comfort of a short boot, then the puttee’s offspring—the gaiter—is ideal for moving comfortably through woods, fields, or mountain country, in dry or wet weather.
Those lucky enough to experience elk at full bugle will be enchanted by their eerie music.
FULL BUGLE. ALTHough I have hunted elk for three decades I doubt I’ve seen it happen more than a dozen times. There is no formula to pick a predictable date nor even a guarantee that it will occur every autumn, and perhaps that’s what it should be; an unexpected gift, or maybe just a reward for perseverance.
"UPLAND" IS A CATCHALL WORD TO DENOTE ANY GAMEBIRD THAT IS NOT A DUCK OR A GOOSE. TO THE UNINITIATED, IT HIDES THE FACT THAT UPLAND BIRDS ARE SUPREME INDIVIDUALISTS. THE EXPLOSION OF A PHEASANT FROM A CLUMP OF CORN STUBBLE IS UNLIKE THE EXPLOSION OF A GROUSE FROM A SPRUCE LIMB, WHICH IS UNLIKE THE EXPLOSION OF A QUAIL COVEY FROM A MILLET FIELD.
TIMES CHANGE, AND THE "GENTLEMAN'S BIRD" HAS GONE DEMOCRATIC.
THOUGH REARED IN THE WEST, as a kid I collected a full set of literary baggage regarding the bobwhite quail, which identified the bird not merely as flying game, but as a feathered institution, surrounded by elegant tradition and endowed with mystical powers.
As conservation reserves come back, so do the pheasants.
DATUS C. PROPER
Our leading character has two long legs and is seldom caught sleeping. The biped I have in mind is named David King but my description applies equally to the pheasant, so take your choice. Neither the man nor the bird is among life’s casual onlookers.
THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO GO: INNOVATIVE STOCKING PROGRAMS AND RESTORATION OF PHEASANT RANGE.
JEROME B. ROBINSON
STOCKED PHEASants that experienced hunters can’t tell from wild ones? This may sound impossible, but Clint and Deanna Smith of Miller, South Dakota, have developed a method for propagating in the wild large numbers of pheasants which are indistinguishable from natural wild birds.
WHENEVER A LONG DAY OF CHASING A SETTER THROUGH Mankiller and Tripwire and Crankcase and my other New Hampshire partridge covers proves uneventful, I don’t blame my skill or my luck or my dog’s nose. Instead, I comfort myself with this handy explanation:
WOODCOCK LIKE HABITAT THAT FEELS GOOD BENEATH THEIR FEET. TO FIND IT, YOU'VE GOT TO GET ON YOURS.
ACCORDING TO THE SENECA INDIANS, AFTER THE Maker finished creating all the creatures of the earth, He looked around and realized He had some leftover parts lying about. There was a small pile of feathers—not colorful ones, for those had already been taken by the glamorous species He had already created—but drab grays and browns.
What is the impact of hunting on woodcock and other migratory bird populations? Unfortunately, nobody really knows, although both sound management practices and reasonable responses to pressures from anti-hunting groups demand an accurate answer to the question.
PHEASANTS ARE BIG, SLOW BIRDS, WHICH MAKES FOR AN ESPECIALLY UNBEARABLE SHOOTING DROUGHT.
Baton Rouge, La. October 27 Dear Philip, Off he goes, into the somewhat tame blue yonder, cackling like a scolding mother. The tail flows out, maybe fatally for him, because by this we know, as well as by the cackle (which some genetically improved pheasants omit) that he is cock, not hen.
Unless you have unlimited time and energy, forget the field gunning and head for the shores. After all, geese are waterfowl.
GOOD GOOSE HUNTING COUNTRY TYPICALLY ENCOMPASSES HUNdreds of thousands of acres of potential feeding fields. To think you can select one acre at random, throw out some decoys, and soon bring down geese is sheer fantasy. Like one waterfowl biologist said, field gunning for geese is always a four-day hunt—three days to find where the geese are feeding, one day to hunt.
All too often, modern deer drives are free-for-alls. To do it right, take a lesson from history.
TOPOGRAPHIC STRATEGIES: USING TERRAIN TO FUNNEL DEER
DEER HUNTING WAS A serious business for the original inhabitants of this country. Undertaken mainly by males, hunting was part of a man’s marriage contract; he was expected to provide venison for the larder. And for many tribes, successful deer hunting was a matter of survival.
This New Jersey teacher/artist combines a love of fish with woodworking skill to create true works of art.
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WHILE VISITING A decoy show in Salisbury, Maryland, Joe Swaluk found himself staring at a decorative carving of a turkey vulture with a trout clasped in its talons. “The vulture was beautiful, but the trout was totally wrong,” he recalls.
LAST APRIL A BUNCH OF US were sitting in the local Dairy Queen when my friend Verne suddenly asked, “How’d you like to go elk hunting in Montana over the Thanksgiving holidays?” Then, without waiting for me to answer he added, “If you do, you’re invited. And it won’t cost a dime. My dad’ll drive and we’ll stay with relatives. But we have to get licenses this spring, before they’re gone.”
IN WESTERN MONTANA, A STRING OF MILD winters combined with conservative hunting regulations has allowed whitetails to flourish in what has traditionally been known as mule deer country—a situation that has increased overall deer hunting prospects in the area, but which worries diehard muley hunters.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has listed Snake River spring, summer, and fall chinook salmon as threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The action legally recognizes that all of Idaho's wild salmon runs are in deep trouble.
To protect the health of Snake River sturgeon, regulations require that all sturgeon caught in the Snake River system must be released. But the key to preventing a complete closure on sturgeon fishing is to assure that the fish survive the rigors of the release.
IN THE EARLY FALL, THE THOUGHTS OF SOME Colorado outdoor enthusiasts turn to hunting. But, meanwhile, back at the ranch—the Spinney Mountain Ranch stretch of the South Platte River—anglers still are enjoying the most dependable dry-fly fishing for trout of the entire year.
As salmon fishing seasons wind down on the Pacific Coast, the hotspot will be the tables where the 1985 U.S.-Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty will be renegotiated starting this month. Charter operators and sport fishermen in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington were outraged this summer when conservation measures limited them to taking only one or two salmon a day.
Occasionally, trout may refuse a basic Trico Spinner. The Anglers All shop in Littleton recommends trying a No. 20 or 22 Poor Witch dry fly, a pattern incorporating moose-fiber tail (two fibers), dubbed gray muskrat body, blue dunhen hackle-tip wings tied spent-wing style, and Adams-style (grizzly and brown) hackle.
Idaho elk hunting is getting better all the time, but this fall's hunters will have trouble topping the 1991 elk harvest. Last year, an estimated 82,400 hunters took a record 24,100 elk. That bested the all-time mark of 22,600 set in 1989. The number of 1991 elk hunters also was a record, up from 77,700 in 1990.
A pilot catch-and-release fishing program has been adopted for three rivers in Olympic National Park in Washington. Under regulations that took effect this spring, anglers must release summer steelhead and Dolly Varden, as well as cutthroat, rainbow, and bull trout along the south fork of the Hoh River, the north fork of the Skokomish River, and the Queets River.
A young fisherman has broken a longstanding Wyoming fishing mark. Dustin Shorma (left), fifteen, of Sheridan, Wyoming, caught a 7.87-pound largemouth bass that pushed aside the oldest angling record in the state. The previous mark for largemouths was 7 pounds 2 ounces, set in 1942.
Debate continues over species' status as a game or nongame animal.
MANAGING TEXAS MOUNTAIN LIONS
Mountain lions in Texas are believed to be expanding their range and increasing their numbers, state wildlife officials say. Nevertheless, the Sierra Club has asked the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to add the mountain lion to the state’s “threatened” (protected) species list, which would allow the killing of cougars only under permits issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Thirty-three public areas offering wild pheasant hunting are identified in the fish and game department brochure, "A Guide to State and Federal Pheasant Hunting Areas of California." The free guide is available at state fish and game offices or by writing Jesse Garcia, California Fish and Game Department, Wildlife Management Division, Upland Game Section, Dept. FS, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, Calif. 95814, telephone (916) 327-1772.
Alaska's trophy-fish recognition program has a fish-conserving twist now. Last year, for the first time, the state offered big-fish certificates to anglers who didn't kill large, documented-weight fish. Result: Of the sixty-five fish entered in the program, thirty-eight entries were measured, photographed, and released unharmed.
Montana bighorn sheep in the Thompson Falls herd have been a smash hit with vehicles and trains. Twenty-five dead sheep were confirmed in collisions, a third of them by trains, said ßruce Sterling, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist.
A poacher last winter robbed sportsmen of the chance to kill Nevada's record bull elk. A logger found an elk's head and antlers hanging in tree branches in the Horse and Cattle Camp Loop area 25 miles south of Ely. Nevada Wildlife Department agents staked out the area, but the poacher never returned.
FINDING A PLACE TO EXPERIENCE A QUALITY DEER or elk hunt on public lands is easy on many of the West's designated wilderness areas. Since the Wilderness Act was passed in 1964, in excess of 90 million acres at over 470 locations in the U.S. have been designated as wilderness areas.
"Deschutes Spring," an oil painting by Darrell Davis of Helena, Montana, is tne art featured on the 1992 Oregon Wild Trout Stamp and limited edition prints. The private, nonprofit group has raised more than $30,000 by selling stamps and prints, with the money going to fund wild-trout projects.
Fishermen in Colorado know that Horsetooth Reservoir, west of Fort Collins, holds impressive numbers of huge walleyes. Not many anglers have capitalized on the opportunity, however, because the walleyes fatten up on a healthy population of rainbow smelt, which is tough to compete with.
Too MANY WESTERN SPORTSMEN VIEW DOVE hunting primarily as an opening-day activity, venturing out for only the first few days of the season when competition is fierce and temperatures are soaring. What they don't realize is that good dove hunting with less pressure is available later in the hunt or in subsequent seasons when temperatures have moderated and being outdoors can be very pleasant.
DESPITE WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE HEARD, SUCKers and other bony fish taken from running water make excellent eating—if you can bypass the bones. Sometimes merely "gashing" the fish crossways doesn't help a thing, and may simply multiply the pieces of bone.
WOODCOCK MIGRATE IN WAVES, WITH FEMALES and birds of the year preceding mature males by up to two weeks. Knowing this, hunters who can sex woodcock can tell if there will be more flight birds to come. Female woodcock weigh around 7 ounces, almost one-third more than mature males.
MANY PEOPLE ENJOY THE TASTE OF MUSHrooms, which gives rise to mushroom hunters. But not many deer and elk hunters pay attention to fungi. They should. Mushrooms represent a large part of the fall diet of mule deer, whitetails, and elk. The mushroom-game connection is especially strong during the hunting season because many fungi are just reaching maturity during the fall—a time when deer and elk are seeking highly nutritious foods to bolster their fat reserves, which they rely on to get them through the winter.
THE LARVAE OF SOME SPECIES OF BOTFLY EMBED themselves under the skin of rodents and larger mammals. Feeling like lumps, these "bots" are often found in squirrels and rabbits. They usually come off with the animal's hide and should pose no question of edibility—in fact, the bots themselves are edible.
FOR THE BEGINNING muzzleloader, the list of essential accouterments can seem endless. I was pretty well set with my cap and ball muzzleloader. I had everything I needed to get the ball rolling in the right direction. But what if I needed that second shot in a hurry?
NEED A CHEAP, CONVENIENT, AND PORTABLE target system to check that bumped scope? Here's how to build your own. Needed ingredients: Half a sheet of ¼-inch plywood or masonite, one 6-foot length of 1×2, a few nails, targets, and a staple gun.
MANY HUNTERS SWEAR TO THE EFFECTIVEness of game scents. The recommended method for using scents is to dribble the scent on your shoes and around the hunting area. This technique is effective, but it's costly and inefficient, and concentrated game scents are expensive.
FOR NATIVE AMERICANS, THESE ANIMALS MEANT MORE THAN MEAT
WHAT TO MAKE OF AN ELK
FOR MANY NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS, THE meat elk provided was secondary to the ways in which elk were used for making clothing, shelter, weapons, tools, and innumerable, other household items. In fact, there was hardly any part of an elk that wasn't used for some important aspect of an Indian's material or spiritual life.
FEW UPLAND GAMEBIRDS TRAVEL FAR ONCE flushed. Because of this, it is often possible for hunters to put birds up repeatedly until they offer a shot (or he stops missing). I first learned this technique while hunting pheasants, but I find it applies to almost every gamebird I've hunted since.
A NEW TREND IS EMERGING in fee hunting that just might be the wave of the future. Pheasants Galore (Dept. FS, Box 83, Corning, Iowa 50841, telephone  322-3749) operates like a down-on-the-farm dating service. The organization signs up landowners, and puts them in contact with interested bird hunters.
Any angler can tell you that these brightly colored flies work. To find out why, however, you'll have to ask a trout.
WHAT MAKES A TROUT take a certain fly? The answer is obvious when the fly taken resembles a natural insect in size and coloring. But why would a trout seize a fly that is basically red and white? In the 1970s, the late Ted Trueblood and I investigated one narrow avenue of this phenomenon by fishing a Parmacheene Belle wet against what it was supposed to represent—a brook trout’s fin.
Are you tired of carrying an entire sporting-goods store on every trip? Here's how to break the habit.
DAVID E. PETZAL
AT THE END OF THE SECOND century B.C., the Consul Marius presided over sweeping changes in the Roman army. One of them was to transfer the soldiers’ baggage from mules to the soldiers themselves, leaving the Legionary grunts to carry loads of 70 pounds on marches of 25 miles day.
No one but a savage would argue that the double-barreled shotgun was perfected in Great Britain. But for most of us, our knowledge of the British gun trade is limited to a smattering of information on only two or three of the most famous firms.
If your 4x4's headlights leave you in the dark, consider what auxiliary lights can do.
SLATON L. WHITE
SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME, man has feared the dark. The fires of the Cro-Magnon not only gave him warmth, but kept the spirits of the night at bay. To this day, many hunters get the creeps as they stumble out of the woods at last light. Even when there is light, we sometimes wish for more.
Although "Hummer" would be a great name for a fishing lure or a game call, what it really is is the ultimate woods-and-water vehicle. The M998 HMMWV, HumVee, or Hummer, is the four-passenger High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle military truck of Desert Storm fame that is now available to out-doorsmen through a small network of dealers.
Just 40 miles north of the Panama/Columbia border, small Piñas Bay offers a large number of big gamefish.
I’VE BEEN TRANSPORTED back in time hundreds—no, make that thousands—of years to an era before man had made any sort of mark in this lush jungle wilderness. The geography of small Piñas Bay enhances that image, surrounded closely on three sides by tall, densely foliated mountains that stand shrouded in mysterious hazy silence with their feet in the sea.
The lodge is open from mid-December through July, managed by Terri Kittredge Andrews and her husband, Mike. August through November is the rainy season. Over 120 IGFA world records have come out of these waters. The club record for black marlin is 892 pounds; striped marlin, 230; sailfish, 199; and blue marlin, 702.
Dress is informal and tropical at all times. Rain gear, a hat, and sunscreens are obvious. The lodge rents heavy tackle in the 50to 80-class range, but more and more anglers are going lighter, even for the big marlin. I brought standup gear with 30-pound-test line and found it quite adequate for marlin, and also not so heavy that the average sailfish (85 to 100 pounds) was unable to put up a good fight.
Tunnel hulls are hardly an innovation with jet sleds, but the 1768 Jet Boat takes that concept just a little further and gets excellent results. The tunnel starts 64 inches forward of the transom, and measures 21 inches width x 5.5 inches height where it exits just under the transom.
Skin out woodcock breasts—four breasts serve two people. Broil 5 minutes, then sprinkle with salt and paprika. Broil for 5 more minutes, basting frequently with the sauce. Do Not Overcook. Transfer directly to plate, and pour pan drippings onto woodcock breasts.
Because woodcock are migratory birds, their management is controlled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Daily and annual bag limits, length and time of legal hunting seasons, and habitat management all depend on accurate estimates of populations, reproductive rates, harvest sizes, and the distribution of the birds.
Shotgunners who don't own $14,000 guns and a full set of tweeds but who like to shoot Sporting Clays will be interested in the Jeep Clay Bird Classic, a tournament designed for ordinary folks. Presented by FIELD & STREAM, a portion of the net proceeds will benefit Quail Unlimited.
No single Indian tribe can be given credit for originating the deer drive. It seems to have been a standard hunting technique across the entire country with regional variations. But a deer drive was often an elaborate affair requiring much advance preparation and sometimes employing hundreds of people.
There is an obvious need for strict safety precautions when employing deer drives. Even in states that do not require hunters to wear hunter orange, it's wise to have everyone use it. Both drivers and posters should keep rifles unloaded until posters are in their stands or positions.
Until they learn better, many forest deer hunters mistakenly assume that making drives ranks for sure results with shooting burbot in a barrel. That may have been true back when deer were lightly hunted and naive. But we ran out of such dumb deer decades ago.
Pup may run into trouble around birds, but there’s always a way to get him back on track.
PUP CAN GET INTO A LOT OF trouble when he’s supposed to be on point. And too often you won’t even know what he’s doing because you’re way back yonder or Pup’s out of sight in the brush. Faults Pup can exhibit are running a milk route on you, bush pointing, blinking the bird, cat-walking, stealing the point, and failing to relocate.
The desirability of smaller, wilder, faster-flying pheasants is growing, according to Bill MacFarlane of MacFarlane Pheasant Farm Inc., Janesville, Wisconsin, one of the nation's largest pheasant hatcheries (800,000 chicks were scheduled for spring 1992.)
TYING DOWN A CARTOP BOAT FORE and aft isn’t enough. One of the tie-lines could come loose or break, letting the boat fly off the car (it happened to me). So play it safe and lash the boat cross-wise, too, from one end of a carrier bar to the other. GOLDENROD GRUBS MAKE excellent bait for winter bluegill fishing.
Looking for better bobwhite quail hunting? First, write a check for $20 and send it to Quail Unlimited, Inc., Dept. FS, P.O. Box 10041, Augusta, Ga. 30903. You'll be doing your share for the birds nationwide, and local chapters can be a super source of intelligence on where to go and what to expect.
Although the sheer beauty of fish is often overlooked by both writers and artists, Joe Swaluk's carvings are actually part of a tradition as old as art itself. Stanley Meltzoff, whose paintings of fish in their underwater surroundings are renowned (and have often graced the pages of FIELD & STREAM), notes that fish have always played an important part in people's vision of the world.
SOME YEARS AGO MY DAUGHTER very clearly announced her position on hunting by making a sign that read, “Do not kill the animals,” and heading for the edge of the woods to picket a squirrel hunt. Come early winter, she dug her sign out again, and proposed to march on our road during deer season.