Back when I was a whole lot younger, I didn’t pay much attention to what I wore while in the field or on the water. Chattering teeth and numb fingers and toes were simply the price to be paid for cold-weather hunting or fishing. It took a while (longer than I like to admit) for me to learn the real cost of my folly.
THE NOVEMBER FIRING POINT, "No Choice at All" by David E. Petzal, seems driven by the author's deepseated paranoia about gun control. I have owned guns and hunted for over 60 years and have never felt that my right to do so has been or will be endangered.
A photo from the past teaches us a lesson about today.
SLATON L. WHITE
AS YOU MIGHT EXPECT, THE EDItors of FIELD & STREAM receive a lot of mail. Most of it falls into one of two camps: readers who are mad at us and tell us what idiots we are, and readers who like us and say nice things about the magazine. Occasionally, we open the envelope and find something truly extraordinary, such as the letter sent to us by Marge Verzuh, which we excerpt below:
Northbound Virus—The largemouth bass virus (LMBV) killed a handful of bass at Lake George on the Michigan-Indiana border last August. Discovered in South Carolina in 1995, LMBV has spread to 12 Southern states, but this outbreak is the northernmost to date.
TREE-STAND MAKER API OUTDOORS IS VOLuntarily recalling 54,000 tree stands and tree seats sold from January 1999 through August 2000. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is coordinating the recall with API Outdoors, the tree seats and the seats on the tree stands could collapse, although there have been no reports of injuries or accidents involving these products.
TALK TO ANY HUNTER CONCERNED ABOUT THE SPORT, AND he’ll tell you hunting needs “new blood.” In other words, we need to find a way to attract youngsters and women to hunting. The members of Quail Unlimited (QU) believe they have hit upon a way to do this, using one of the oldest rites in hunting.
New study shows pepper spray more effective than guns at stopping a bear attack.
WHICH IS THE BETTER BEAR deterrent: pepper spray or bullets? After analyzing grizzly attacks over the past decade, Dominic Domenici, the top lawman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming and Montana, has concluded that there’s no longer any reason for hunters to stick to their guns.
The news from Canada doesn't bode well for sportsmen.
Hunting in a Free Fall
CANADA’S HUNTER NUMBERS HAVE dropped a staggering 45 percent in under two decades. According to Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) surveys, 1981 saw 9.8 percent of adults hunting, with 7.4 percent 10 years later, and only 5.1 percent in 1996, the last survey.
AMERICAN HUNTERS TRAVELING TO the provinces are about to get their first taste of gun control, Canadian-style. Beginning this year, all visitors to Canada must register their firearms with Canadian customs and obtain a temporary possession license.
“HUNTING WOULD JEOPARDIZE ACTIVities enjoyed by the vast majority of people who use public lands” is one of the less incendiary statements printed in a pamphlet recently released by the Audubon Society. The document was sent to members of Congress last fall in an effort to sway votes against the Hunting Heritage Protection Act, a bipartisan bill that would establish a “no net loss” policy toward access.
Twenty-one functions—and a few the designers never dreamed of.
IF YOU’VE BEEN ON AN AIRPLANE recently, you’ve noticed the following phenomenon: The moment the announcement starts that it’s okay to use portable electronic devices, nearly every person over the age of 8 simultaneously opens a laptop computer and disappears into it.
Don't let the fear of frozen extremities keep you indoors.
10 ways to kill the chill
Help for the Heat-Deprived
think warm thoughts
MY FATHER IS A FAIR-WEATHER FISHERMAN NOW. He carries a rod when we fish the fall run of browns on the Madison River, but his hands can’t tie on the fly. When he attempts to take a photograph of me releasing a trout, his forefinger can’t feel the shutter release.
WHY DO ATLANTIC SALMON have brighter prospects than Pacific salmon, despite the fact that a number of Atlantic runs are as endangered as various stocks of chinook, coho, and sockeye salmon? The answer (to borrow Ducks Unlimited’s old motto) is “singleness of purpose”—or the lack thereof in the case of Pacific salmon.
Q: I'm a beginning big-game hunter and would like to know the best, easiest, and fastest way to clean an elk.—M.M. A: The big problem you face when gutting an elk is its legs, which flop around like sledgehammers while you wrestle with its insides.
Even a remote camp needs to be properly outfitted.
Flooring That Fits
WAY BACK IN THE last century (1998-99, to be exact), FIELD -AMP;AMP; STREAM ran a series of articles on building and outfitting a Sportsman’s Camp. Based on a manufactured log cabin kit (see “Resources,” page 32), the camp was an exercise in self-sufficiency.
The best part of a trout pool is often the most overlooked.
EVERYBODY WHO KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT STREAM trout fishing also knows that the head of a pool is the place to start. That's been common advice for more than a century. Trouble is, sometimes such advice is wrong. In these days of high-traffic trout waters, the tops of pools can be reminiscent of Yogi Berra's famous malapropism:
Modern metal snowshoes get a lot of press, but for sportsmen, wood and rawhide rule.
Snowshoes have been around for ages. Hunters have worn them for more than 6,000 years. Even some animals have their own versions. But now the traditional snowshoe has got some competition, and its high-tech counter-part has become the latest winter fad.
Ron Amos got interested in snowshoes when he was living in Alaska in the '80s. He bought a kit, then started studying lacing patterns, which, along with frame shapes, are the unique characteristics of snowshoes. Five years ago Amos began manufacturing custom snowshoes, one pair at a time.
Wood-framed snowshoes are not high technology. if you can assemble a gas barbecue or a kid’s Christmas present, you can lace up a pair of shoes. Country Ways sells kits containing finished frames, tubular nylon lacing, and solid instructions.
All the scent-free soap in the world won't eliminate enough of our stink to completely fool their noses. Instead, make the wind an ally, not an enemy.
Tail to the Wind
Wind in the Bedroom
May the wind be in your face and the sun at your back. That hunter’s salutation, probably older than gunpowder, is exactly correct—as far as it goes. The sun’s direction is pretty straightforward, but the wind? The wind can blow in several directions at once, change much faster than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and even carry your scent to deer on a still day.
Some hunters believe that if the wind’s right, their stink doesn’t matter. This is most emphatically not true when stand-hunting. One of my old hunting partners showered only once every three days during the season, hung his hunting clothes next to the kitchen, and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.
For all-around performance in the field, it’s hard to beat the original high-tech fiber.
the structure of wool fiber
The night before we headed up into the mountains, I was showing off some of my new high-performance hunting duds to an elk guide and rancher in Montana. I had jackets, shirts, and pants made of fleece, insulated and made waterproof with the latest polymers.
Most of us might think twice about dropping $1,300 on a wool hunting shirt, parka, and bibs. Then again, if you've ever spent six hours 30 feet up in a tree stand when it's 30° below zero, you know that warmth, like true love, is cheap at any price.
Armies of the world spare no expense in developing battlefield clothing for extreme conditions (the troops usually get it about a week before the war ends, but that’s another story). The Korean war saw U.S. troops wearing a wool-nylon blend of field wear that was still being issued 20 years ago.
Even above the roar of thigh-deep Whitewater, I can hear it—a sourceless rumbling at first, then a labored growl pierced by the squeal of springs and clash of jamming metal. I make another cast. From around the bend, atop an embankment 20 feet above my head, four big Union Pacific diesels strain into view, hauling a mile of freight cars up a 3 percent grade.
CAN 21ST-CENTURY PROBLEMS BE SOLVED WITH A 19TH-CENTURY GAME PLAN?
Frontier Myth, Frontier Reality
This Land Is My Land
Washington's Big Three
The Eternal BLM
JON TATE IS A SPORTSMAN WHO IS TAKING a stand on a desert valley called Willow Springs, north of the fast-growing suburban sprawl of Tucson, Arizona. Willow Springs has been a mecca for quail hunters for generations, but it's also been grazed by cattle.
WATERTOWN, NY — Whether El Niño or global warming is to blame, no one can say, but ice fishing in New York has become an iffy proposition in recent years. A notable exception, however, is in the Empire State’s north country, where long winters and productive pike waters produce all-but-guaranteed ice-fishing action.
west virginia kicks off the new year with trophy trout
ELKINS, WV — This is a slow time for West Virginia sportsmen. Few people venture out into the damp mid-winter chill. But trout fishermen have thousands of very good reasons to brave the elements. Beginning as soon as possible after the New Year’s holiday, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) hatchery trucks begin stocking trout into some of the Mountain State’s most popular streams.
SWARTSWOOD, NJ — All walleye anglers dream of finding a lake filled wall-to-wall with good-size walleyes that no one bothers to fish for. Well, in New Jersey, that dream comes true at Swartswood Lake, a 494-acre impoundment located near Swartswood in Sussex County.
STATE COLLEGE, PA — Pennsylvania sportsmen have long suspected that coyotes and other predators may be hurting the state’s deer herd by killing young fawns. Those suspicions might just be correct. At least, that’s what the early results of a two-year research project seem to indicate.
WATERBURY, VT — Forget about July. The real dog days (and cat days for that matter) are in January, when hunters can aim for Vermont's elusive predator triple: calling in a coyote, fox, and bobcat. Coyotes are the easiest leg of the predator triple.
MADBURY, NH — Whether you call them strawberry bass, calicos, or crappies, one thing is certain: The imported panfish offer some of the hottest hard-water fishing southeastern New Hampshire has to offer. Black crappies are thriving throughout the region, and ice fishermen are reaping the benefits this month.
MACHIAS, ME — For anglers anxious to kick off the ice-fishing season, Downeast Maine has the best of both worlds: safe ice. without the harsh conditions of northern Maine. Best of all, there's hot fishing for several species, principally togue.
HARRISBURG, PA — It takes some pretty unusual conditions to transform a big, winter-chilled river into an angling hotspot. Fortunately for Pennsylvania anglers, such conditions exist just downstream of the Brunner Island power plant in York County.
AVON, NY — Honeoye Lake is one of the few waters in New York where the state’s walleye fry—stocking program has produced big results. The 1,772-acre western Finger Lake is home to a whopping 25,000 adult walleyes. That is about three times as many walleyes per surface acre as there are in famed Oneida Lake, and Honeoye’s ravenous fish are on the verge of eating themselves out of house and home.
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Benign as it might seem, catch-and-release fishing takes a hefty toll on some gamefish species—including striped bass. From Maine to North Carolina, anglers caught an estimated 14.2 million stripers during the 1999 sport fishing season, and they released 90 percent of their catch.
HARTFORD, CT — One of the disadvantages of living in a largely urban state is that the fish you catch aren’t always government-approved for the table. Such is the case in Connecticut, where the state Department of Environmental Protection has put consumption advisories on several gamefish species.
Clear out your closet; this year's great new gear is here.
Rods and Reels
Lines and Lures
how to get it
TODAY’S FISHING TACKLE IS SO WELL MADE THAT anglers sometimes wonder if it can get any better, and every year manufacturers answer with an emphatic yes by introducing innovative new products and carefully refining existing gear. This year there are a lot of great new products for fishermen, something I saw firsthand at the annual ICAST Show, a manufacturers’ event in which new tackle is showcased.
Bargain or lemon? Here's a quick guide to used guns.
Why Are They There?
What to Avoid
What to Look For
When to Make Exceptions
Or You May Get Lucky
DAVID E. PETZAL
IF YOU ARE A GUITAR FREAK, YOU ARE AWARE THAT NEIther you nor the people who share your obsession are really going to the picnic with a full lunch basket. Why? Because you and your cohorts regularly trade in perfectly good stuff in order to get other stuff that is hipper and trendier.
These specialized wrenches can save you big bucks.
tool tip no. 6: sequential tightening
SO WHAT, YOU ASK, IS A TORQUE DORK? ACTUally, it’s who. These are the kids working at the local discount-tire barn, for example, who just love the shrill rat-a-tat-tat noise of a powerful air wrench. They also could care less about your personal pickup truck or SUV.
RAIN SHED (1) We took this Columbia Cascade Wading Jacket to Alaska to see if it could keep us dry. Two and a half days of steady rain later, we still were. Their Omni-Tech membrane makes the jacket waterproof, windproof, and breathable. The cut of the Cascade is roomy enough for comfortable casting. The neoprene cuff will keep your arm dry when releasing fish, and there are functional elastic pockets to keep your fly or lure boxes in place. The garment is guaranteed for life and costs around $160. 800-547-8066; www.columbia.com
WRIST HEATER (2) People who suffer from cold hands should try the Crazy Therma Band. This soft fleece cuff holds a disposable hot pad in a pocket against your wrist, helping prevent veins and arteries from constricting and restricting blood flow to your hands and fingers; better circulation means warmer hands. A set of two Crazy ThermaBands comes with two Crazy HotPads. About $7. From Crazy Creek. 800-331-0304; www.crazycreek.com
PERSONAL DUCK BOAT
PERSONAL DUCK BOAT (3) Attbar's tough, stable Aqua Pod is the perfect duck boat for hunters who want to paddle off the beaten path. The 10-foot model weighs just 55 pounds, making it a snap for one person to cartop, carry, or drag a Pod to wherever the ducks may be. Available in 8-, 10-, and 12-foot models. Options include Advantage and Realtree finishes, spray skirts, seats, and a tow bolt. Prices begin at $479 plus shipping. From Attbar, Inc. 360-887-3580; www.attbar.com
FOLDING SKINNER (4) Alaskans know knives, and they also know how to skin game, so it's no surprise that the Alaskan Super Cub is a perfectly designed folding caping knife. First, the space between the knife's liners is kept open, making it easy to clean out blood, meat, and dirt. Second, the handle is finely checkered for a secure grip, even when wet. And third, the blade has an extremely sharp and fine point for cutting around antlers and other detailed cape work. Suggested retail, $89.97. From Knives of Alaska. 800-572-0980; www.knivesofalaska.com
BODY SOCK (5) For cold-weather hunting and fishing, Web Foots Body Socks make an ideal first layer. The Arctic fleece material is a warm insulating layer that wicks perspiration away from the skin, is soft and comfortable, and stretches easily for unrestricted range of movement. The full-body suit features a two-way zipper down the front and a zippered rear flap. About $99. From Carol Davis Sportswear. 402-991-4447; www.cdsportswear.com
DRY FEET (6) Wolverine's new pac boots are waterproof, warm, and very comfortable. The new line features Asys tec-a durable shell construction that allows the foot to flex comfortably against leather, yet still provides the insulating, waterproof qualities of rubber. The Guide Series of pac boots are snowshoe compatible. About $73. 616-866-5500; www. wolverinebootsandshoes.com
Tired of waiting for a buck to show? Get on the trail.
the best snow
buck or doe?
I DON’T KNOW WHO WAS MORE SURPRISED, ME OR THE buck staring wide-eyed back over his trail. My plan when I left camp that morning was simply to push through a softwood-filled hollow—where the evening before I had jumped several deer that were waiting out an early-winter storm—while a friend overlooked a draw at the end of the basin.
Used responsibly, they can be useful tools at home and afield.
take a seat
Yamaha utility ATVs are named after bruins: Kodiak, Grizzly, and Big Bear. For hunting, the $6,199 Kodiak 4x4 can’t be beat. Completely redesigned last year, a compliant suspension and gutsy 400cc engine makes the Kodiak comfortable and easy to ride. Yamaha’s Ultramatic transmission provides engine braking on steep descents, and pressing a button switches the transmission from 4WD to 2WD. A low-range set of gears is available for heavy loads. Inner fenders keep water and mud from splashing on you. For an extra $300, the Realtree X-tra Brown Hunter Edition adds full camouflage with flat-black racks, wheels, and bumpers. With its robust, air-cooled 600cc engine, the $6,799 Grizzly is big, burly, and comfortable. It’s a good choice for big men or big jobs. On the other end of the spectrum is the Big Bear 400 4x4; priced at $5,449 in Realtree X-tra Brown, it’s lighter and sportier but not as practical as the Kodiak. Less expensive is the BearTracker ($3,549 in camouflage), which comes with a 229cc air-cooled four-stroke and 2WD.
The $6,999 Arctic Cat 500 4x4 Automatic Hunter LE comes equipped with a 2,000-pound Warn winch, a securely mounted, lockable gun scabbard, and Advantage camo fender covers. The winch is activated by a switch mounted on the front rack. The front rack can handle 100 pounds; the rear rack can take 200 pounds. The Arctic Cat 500 is powered by a 493cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine. Less expensive 400cc and 300cc models are available, and a $4,399 250 4x4 has been added for 2001. Arctic Cats come with four-wheel independent suspensions and highand low-range transmissions. Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes work off of a single lever for easier operation, and brake lights are provided to warn following riders. Arctic Cat’s startin-gear feature means there’s no need to shift into neutral to start the engine.
Honda’s largest and most powerful ATV, the $6,999 Foreman Rubicon, is considered by some to be the king of ATVs. It comes with the Hondamatic continuously variable transmission, but its Electric Shift Program permits manual shifting. Honda’s new 499cc liquidcooled, single-cylinder overhead-valve engine was specifically designed for this huge ATV. The engine is mounted longitudinally in the frame and features Honda’s unique underhead camshaft design, which reduces the engine height. This gives the Rubicon a lower center of gravity that improves handling. Paired with the Hondamatic, the engine delivers smooth, seamless power. Engine braking allows for better control when descending hills. Full-time 4WD and a torquesensing, limited-slip front differential are designed to provide superior traction with reduced torque steer for less steering effort. Foreman FourTrax models are available with 433cc and 395cc engines.
The $6,099 Prairie 400 4x4 features a 391cc liquidcooled, single overhead cam, four-valve, four-stroke engine. Kawasaki’s Automatic Power-Drive System means no shifting is required once the transmission is placed into high or low range or reverse. Shaft-driven 4WD combines with a limited-slip front differential for easier steering over muddy and rocky trails. Other features include dual front disc brakes, MacPherson strut front suspension, and composite cargo racks that can carry nearly 250 pounds of tools or camping gear. Popular for its lower price is the Prairie 300 4x4. It shares the larger Prairie 400’s chassis, body work, and transmission but is powered by a 290cc air-cooled four-stroke engine.
Suzuki’s QuadMaster 500 is available with a choice of transmissions. The variable-speed automatic uses a high-mounted gear shift lever with a straight-line gear pattern; the fivespeed manual comes with an automatic clutch. Both come with a highand low-range subtransmission, 2WD-4WD limited-slip front differential, and shaft drive. Suzuki’s 493cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke is designed to produce strong lowto midrange power. Large cargo racks are rated to carry 66 pounds of cargo in front and 132 pounds in the rear. Automatic models come with a lightweight aluminum skid plate and steel floorboards with built-in foot pegs to protect the rider’s feet and legs from mud and water. The Suzuki King Quad is powered by a 280cc singlecylinder, four-stroke engine. A five-speed semiautomatic transmission is aided by a three-speed subtransmission with high, low, and superlow ranges. The shaft front drive and Suzuki’s integrated rear drive are designed to be more durable than a chain drive and more efficient than a traditional shaft drive. A trailer hitch allows towing of up to 900 pounds.
The Polaris Sportsman is available with 400cc or 500cc engines, the latter being a new high-output engine that increases power by 20 percent over last year’s. The engine braking system assists with steep descents, while the 11-inch ground clearance and long-travel independent rear suspension are designed for rough terrain and a smooth ride. Two new special-edition 500 H.O. models for hunters are available, both with front and rear rack extenders for increased cargo capacity. A Ducks Unlimited model comes in Advantage Wetlands camo; a Remington model comes in Mossy Oak Break-Up camo. Sportsman 400 models come with a 425cc engine. Polaris also has 325cc models available and a sixwheel model with a 500cc engine.
LOVE 'EM OR HATE 'EM, ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLES (ATVs) have never been more popular. More than 6.3 million ATVs are in use in America today. Nearly 500,000 were sold last year, double the rate of five years ago. Why? Well, ATVs offer quick, reliable transportation into remote areas, they can haul equipment and game through rough terrain, and they provide access for people who have trouble hiking long distances.
PREHISTORIC HUNTERS AND FISHERMEN, WHO COULD not hit the remote or scroll a mouse to get the weather report, relied on nature’s forecasting team: wind, stars, clouds, creatures. By paying attention, we too can predict changes in weather, sometimes more accurately than professional prognosticators.
1 A heron standing still at the edge of deep water is a reliable sign that baitfish are within its sight. Assume that the baitfish are either being kept in place by larger fish or that larger fish will soon come along and discover them. Make careful casts with a sinking lure in the heron’s vicinity.
From Ben Franklin to Henry Ford to the creator of sliced bread, Americans have long believed that there must be a better way, if only somebody would invent it. Sportsmen are particularly susceptible to this concept, laboring night and day in workshops, basements, attics, or kitchens in search of new ways to save labor, fool fish, find game, and while they’re at it, get rich by patenting their inventions.
The Major and Minor activity periods last 2 to 3⅓ hours, and ¾ to 1½ hours, respectively. To pinpoint when the best sport can be expected to begin in your area, start by locating the appropriate bold time-zone rule on the map above. Then find the 4-minute rule that is closest to your area on the map.
LONG BEFORE SHOW-DOG BREEDERS RUINED THEM for hunting, cocker spaniels were gun dogs, and darned good ones, too. In fact, they were called cockers because they were so good at finding woodcock in thick cover, flushing them at close range, and retrieving those that fell to the gun.
If we could all be dogs, we might be better people.
TOM S. COOPER
THE PAIR OF LLEWELLIN SETTERS WERE BARKING LIKE crazy, eager to get out of the metal dog trailer attached to my old Jeep. When I opened the door, the younger dog, Tex, bounded out first. The older setter, Buck, was less agile; his slight arthritic limp was the painful result of eight tough seasons of hunting.