Maybe Brent Chapman will let up now. The man many regard as the most focused, single-minded angler of the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series has accomplished exactly what he set out to do at the beginning of the season.
Saturday, Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., was crowned 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year, the sport’s MVP award. The title comes with a $100,000 prize.
“This is what we all strive for,” Chapman said as he accepted the trophy in front of a crowd at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, where the Bassmaster Elite Series is holding its final two weigh-ins of the regular season.
“I feel like a huge weight has been taken off my back,” Chapman said. “To achieve a lifetime goal – well, I’ve never done that before. It’s probably going to take several days before it sinks in. It’s truly unbelievable.”
The newly crowned Angler of the Year triumphed in the most hotly contested race of many years. He took the lead in points after the third event. One of his closest friends and his traveling buddy, Randy Howell, was often one of his strongest threats. Howell even took the lead from Chapman at one point (but they remain friends to this day). Todd Faircloth and, after him, Ott DeFoe stepped up and turned up the heat.
Coming into the final event on Oneida Lake, Chapman was 13 points ahead of DeFoe, and 20 points in front of Faircloth. Others, such as Terry Scroggins, could have made a run on Chapman by shining at Oneida and walking through a door Chapman opened if he had made mistakes.
It would have taken both that open door and a stellar performance at the New Yorkevent to catch Chapman. He remained focused, he worked on his tackle until the wee hours each day, and he slept when he could. He was always forthright about the state of his nerves – up, then settled, then keyed high, then easier again. Even under the extra pressure, he remained gracious – and all along was a contender for the Ramada Championship title.
Saturday, he added to his Day 1 and Day 2 catch of 30 1/2 pounds by putting about 13 pounds in his livewell by 9:30 a.m. Only then, he said, did he begin to believe the AOY crown might be his. But he still didn’t know what DeFoe had caught, so Chapman was not confident. Back at the weigh-in site, he waited in the wings offstage for his turn to weigh his fish and find out if he won.
“People were already congratulating me,” he said. “But I’m like, ‘I haven’t got it yet. Until they hand me the trophy, I haven’t got it.’ “
Chapman’s AOY triumph put an end to the reign of Kevin VanDam, who had a four-year command of the title from 2008 through 2011, and has won seven crowns so far in his career.
“It’s been a good run,” VanDam said. “I was trying to make it five. A lot of these guys have stepped up their game, and that’s what great about this sport.”
Just one year ago, as the 2011 season wrapped, and VanDam collected his fourth consecutive and seventh AOY trophy, Chapman was in a low spot in his career. He had to struggle for a 2012 Bassmaster Classic qualification. He got in at 27th place, saving the day through a 23rd-place finish at the season finale on WheelerLake.
At that point, Chapman said, he knew he had to make some changes. He resolved to become more organized, to anticipate needs, to act more quickly to take care of details that had distracted him from fishing. He began an exercise and sports therapy regimen that he says has made him the fittest he’s been in his life. His approaching 40th birthday in July added to his motivation to not settle for anything but the best he could do.
And the reinvented Brent Chapman began to win tournaments. His first of 2012 came at the Open level in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on Lake Lewisville,Texas, in February. His second win was at the Elite level on Toledo Bend Reservoir out of Many, La., in June. In between, Chapman achieved three more Top 12s, and only once failed to make the first cut.
Where will he keep his newest trophy?
“Right up on my desk, next to the other two trophies of the year,” he said.
Chapman made the Top 12 cut to return Sunday to Oneida Lake for a run at the event title — and another $100,000. Even with the crown secured, he was up for it.
“I look forward to the day; I’m just going fishing,” he said.
A reporter pointed out he was about 4 pounds behind the leader, his buddy Randy Howell.
“I gotta root for Randy,” Chapman smiled. “I am going to do everything in my power to help him win this thing. But if I go catch a 20-pound bag, who knows what could happen?” 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series Official Sponsors: Toyota, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, MinnKota, Nitro Boats, Skeeter Boats, Triton Boats, Yamaha
A new study of house cats allowed to roam outdoors finds that nearly one-third succeeded in capturing and killing animals. The cats, which wore special video cameras around their necks that recorded their outdoor activities, killed an average of 2.1 animals every week they were outside, but brought less than one of every four of their kills home. Of particular interest, bird kills constituted about 13 percent of the total wildlife kills. Based on these results, American Bird Conservancy and The Wildlife Society estimate that house cats kill far more than the previous estimate of a billion birds and other animals each year.
The study was carried out by scientists from the University of Georgia and the National Geographic Society’s Crittercam program.
“The results were certainly surprising, if not startling,” said Kerrie Anne Loyd of theUniversity of Georgia, who was the lead author of the study. “In Athens-ClarkeCounty, we found that about 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful in capturing and killing prey, and that those cats averaged about one kill for every 17 hours outdoors or 2.1 kills per week. It was also surprising to learn that cats only brought 23 percent of their kills back to a residence. We found that house cats will kill a wide variety of animals, including: lizards, voles, chipmunks, birds, frogs, and small snakes.”
Loyd and her colleagues attached small video cameras (dubbed Crittercams or KittyCams) to 60 outdoor house cats in the city of Athens Georgia, and recorded their outdoor activities during all four seasons. Loyd said the cats were outside for an average of 5-6 hours every day.
“If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy, the only organization exclusively conserving birds throughout the Americas.
“I think it will be impossible to deny the ongoing slaughter of wildlife by outdoor cats given the videotape documentation and the scientific credibility that this study brings,” said Michael Hutchins, Executive Director/CEO of The Wildlife Society, the leading organization for wildlife professionals in the United States. “There is a huge environmental price that we are paying every single day that we turn our backs on our native wildlife in favor of protecting non-native predatory cats at all cost while ignoring the inconvenient truth about the mortality they inflict.”
Volunteer cat owners were recruited through advertisements in local newspapers, and all selected cats were given a free health screening. Each cat owner downloaded the footage from the camera at the end of each recording day.
The new study does not include the animals killed by feral cats that have no owners. A University of Nebraska study released last year found that feral cats were responsible for the extinction of 33 species of birds worldwide, that even well fed cats in so-called “managed” cat colonies will kill, that feral cats prey more on native wildlife than on other invasive creatures, and that most feral cats (between 62 and 80 percent) tested positive for toxoplasmosis (a disease with serious implications for pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems).
This study was collaboration between Kerrie Anne Loyd and Dr. Sonia Hernandez from the University of Georgia, and Greg Marshall, Kyler Abernathy, and Barrett Foster of National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department and was funded in part by the Kenneth Scott Charitable Foundation. For further information, please contact either [email protected]or [email protected].
View video and photos from the KittyCam at the University of Georgia‘s website
Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in Florida have captured a 17-foot-7-inch-long, 164.5-pound Burmese python in EvergladesNational Park, a record for the state. Scientists found out later that the snake also contained a state record, 87 eggs.
The animal was brought to the Florida Museum of Natural History for examination as part of a long-term project with the U.S. Department of the Interior to research methods for managing the state’s invasive Burmese python problem. Burmese pythons are known to prey on native birds, posing an additional and growing threat to some populations already in trouble. They have also been recorded preying on deer, bobcats, alligators, and other large animals.
Between 2003 and 2008, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, SouthFloridaNaturalResourcesCenter and the University of Florida examined the snake’s predation of the area’s birds.
The scientists collected 343 Burmese pythons in EvergladesNational Park. Eighty-five of these snakes had bird remains in their intestinal tracts. From these remains the team identified 25 species of birds by comparing feathers and bone fragments with specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. The results reflected a wide variety of species, from the 5-inch-long House Wren to the 4-foot-long Great Blue Heron. Four of the species identified (Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis and Limpkin) are listed as “species of special concern” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The team also identified the remains of a Wood Stork, which is a federally endangered species.
“This new record snake demonstrates dramatically how well these animals have adapted to theEverglades and the danger they pose to birds and other native wildlife,” said George Wallace, Vice-President of American Bird Conservancy.
Florida has the world’s worst invasive reptile and amphibian problem. A 20-year study published in September 2011 in the journal Zootaxa showed 137 non-native species were introduced to Floridabetween 1863 and 2010. The Burmese python was one of 56 non-native species determined to be reproducing and established in the state.
Native to Southeast Asia, the Burmese python is one of the deadliest and most competitive predators in South Florida. This and other exotic snakes found in the region are the result of pet owners accidentally or intentionally releasing them into the wild. The first python was found in the Everglades in 1979, and with no known natural predators and vast areas of available habitat that facilitates their spread and makes eradication extremely difficult, the population has grown dramatically. The Burmese python was determined to be an established species in 2000, and today, population estimates today range from the thousands to hundreds of thousands.
A USGS study published in January 2012 revealed drastic declines in the number of mid-sized mammals in the Everglades that may be associated with the rise in the invasive snake population. The most severe declines, including a nearly complete disappearance of raccoons, rabbits, and opossums, have occurred in the remote southernmost regions of the park, where pythons have been established the longest.
EvergladesNational Park and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are partnering with other agencies to address the increasing snake populations. State law now prohibit people from owning Burmese pythons as pets, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made it illegal to transport Burmese pythons and three other species of snake (the yellow anaconda, and the northern and southern African pythons) across state lines without a federal permit. Florida residents also may obtain permits to hunt pythons in certain wildlife management areas during established seasons.
Previous records for Burmese pythons captured in the wild were 16.8 feet long and 85 eggs. Following scientific investigation, the new record snake will be mounted for exhibition at the Florida Museum of Natural History for about five years, and then returned for exhibition at EvergladesNational Park.