Daily Archives: May 17, 2013

Opinion: Poaching is Stealing

K.J. Houtman

Outdoor Hub News


Almost any malfeasance might stretch into the category of stealing–even poaching. I hate a thief as much as the next. What motivates outdoorsmen to steal game rather than follow the rules? Greed, methinks, pure and simple greed. Sometimes it is greed for money when selling ill-gotten meat for cash. Sometimes it is greed for ego or limelight. If a television show must sacrifice good sportsmanship to air, than doggone it, I will shut the blasted shows off.

Unfortunately, several press releases darkened my email’s inbox in the last few weeks that highlighted DNR stings of multiple game violations (both hunting and fishing) in several states. Makes. Me. Sick. I’m not trying to be goodie-two-shoes, either. To be perfectly clear, we’re not talking about a “woops, I forgot my license at home” violation. We’re not talking about a knowledge gap, either.

For example, regulations on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin do not allow for taking a sauger—a legal game fish in many other parts of the country. A small percentage of walleye anglers might not be able to identify a sauger correctly 100 percent of the time. The DNR does not send out press releases about that kind of violation. I feel bad for someone who makes a mistake and subsequently ticketed. However, I would not call them a liar and thief.

Newsworthy press releases show us multiple years, multiple infractions, and multiple parties involved—or egregious one-time acts that stand out.

I just don’t want anything to do with game violators. Don’t want them for friends. Don’t want them in the family. Don’t want to do business with them, buy their products, or watch their TV shows.

Last year I was at Costco and bought some groceries and adult beverages for the Fourth of July group coming over. I didn’t realize until I was unloading the cart that the clerk had missed ringing up a bottle of wine mixed in with the food. All the beverages were in a case or whatever—except this one, by accident. So I put everything in the truck and walked the wine back to the cashier. “We missed one,” I told him as I opened up my wallet.

“Wow, I can’t believe you came back in to pay for it,” the clerk replied with arched brow.

“I could never drink that wine knowing I hadn’t paid for it,” I replied. “It is a nice wine but surely I would choke on it.”

That is what perplexes me about game violators. Were they able to consume those extra walleyes themselves or for their family members without choking? Could they even deposit the money in the bank from an illegal transaction without heaving bile at the bank? How could they even watch their television show let alone accept a pat on the back from a friend with a hearty “good show?”

Some of these investigations cross many county lines and areas of jurisdiction, many over several years. Think about all the manpower wasted (that our tax dollars fund!) that can’t be put to a better use because of this theft.

When I ran professional fishing tournaments, there was always a lot of “he said, she said” going on. Then I saw a press release from a state DNR office that included an angler that was in our circuit. Ugh. Multiple poaching violations? I spoke with the officer named in the press release and he informed me that the angler in question had turned informant after they approached him with several months’ worth of undercover work–work that found him guilty and facing severe charges. He agreed to wear a wire and get additional information in the months ahead for a reduced sentence.

When I told the angler that he had violated our sportsmanship clause in the tournament rules (just based on the officially disclosed “reduced” charges that were public knowledge) you should have heard the whining. “It’s not fair, it was a small, minor infraction. Total misunderstanding: wrong place, wrong time. It could happen to anybody just once.”


Below are links to three press releases in just the last six weeks that show what I am talking about: multiple years, multiple infractions, several offenders.

Sticks in yer craw. They steal resources and it is far more than a fish fillet or two. I am so thankful for the Turn In Poachers (T.I.P.) program in Wisconsin. Thank the Lord that someone, maybe some family member close to the situation had the courage to phone in the tip.

Thank you, if you were the tipster on any of these cases. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The third link below is looking for a tip on a decapitated bear in Wisconsin. Not a sting operation but the facts point to blatant unsportsmanlike conduct. Sure, innocent until proven guilty. Of course. But if there is an explanation, please, defend yourself. 

Sale of illegally taken game fish

Television show violations

Officials looking for tip on finding a decapitated bear in Wisconsin
In Kansas, Operation Game Thief (OGT) is the program to call. The number is 1-877-426-3843. The line is answered 24/7, seven days a week. Just provide the most basic of information. Let the professionals handle it from there.

Getting the Most from Your Walk in the Woods

By James Swan

Outdoor Hub

            Taking a walk is good medicine for anyone. Walking can help manage weight, improve mood, ease depression, boost the immune system, maintain mental efficiency, strengthen your heart, lungs, and muscles, lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and prevent osteoporosis. Walking anyplace is good for you, but research has shown that walking in natural areas is even better for you. In Japan, they call walking in a forest shinrin-yoku–“forest bathing.” Japanese researchers suggest additional benefits come from pleasing scenery, fresh air, and contact with increased negative air ions. Researchers at Japan’s Nippon Medical Schoolsay that trees emit a fine mist of health-giving “wood essential oils.”

A study in Great Britain found that people suffering from depression who took a 50-minute walk in a woodland park improved their ability to remember a random string of digits and repeat them in reverse order, and their mental abilities were better compared to those who took a walk through city streets.

Just being out in nature has benefits, but to increase your enjoyment and reap more benefits, Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner encourages you to cultivate your “naturalistic intelligence“–the ability to be more aware of the different plants, animals, rocks, and physical features, what they are, and what they mean to you (Teddy Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold were “Einsteins” in naturalistic intelligence). So how do you cultivate your naturalistic intelligence and that of your family?

Before there was the term naturalistic intelligence, these abilities were what my father called “woodsmarts.” Let me tell you a little about how he taught me to develop sensory awareness of nature.

Walking softly

I grew up on Grosse Ile, a cigar-shaped Michigan island that bisects the Detroit River as it empties into Lake Erie, the Great Lake the Chippewa say has the spirit of a panther. Fifty feet from the front door of the house there was a canal that held rock bass, yellow perch, bluegills, and northern pike–and a boat for exploringLake Erie.

One of my earliest memories is going out duck hunting with my father. It was a spectacular fall afternoon with a crisp blue sky, cool breezes, and the sun was a glowing golden ball hanging low in the western sky. I was four or five. As the sun set, waves of dark chocolate brown black ducks with silvery underwings and bright red legs came streaming out of Lake Erie and into the marsh to feed for the night. When my father brought one down with his shotgun, it was an act of magic.

I was hooked. My father saw this and began to take me on walks in the woods in the evening after he finished work. One night when we got to the woods he told me to stop, close my eyes and listen. In the distance, the leaves rustled. “What animal is that?” he asked me.

I can’t remember what I guessed, but I was wrong.

He pointed out a sound like someone stepping on a pile of leaves, then another, and another. He explained: “That’s a squirrel, feeding. They hop and land on all four feet and are noisy when they land. They can get away with being so noisy because they can run up a tree to get away. A rabbit is quieter when he is feeding, because their legs are longer, their feet are covered with fur and their stride is different. If they run, the sounds will be faster than a squirrel.

“Deer walk quietly. You don’t hear every footstep, but they are heavy enough to break twigs and branches. If you jump one he runs off, making a loud racket as they crash through brush. The dog makes the most noise. He gets his food from a dish and has forgotten how to hunt for food, so every step he takes is noisy and he does not care. Except for man, of course, unless he knows better. And that’s what I want to teach you, how to walk silently like the wind.”

A few weeks later we went to the woods. He blindfolded me and said to walk on the dirt road that ran through the woods, which was a two-rut dirt trail with a grassy, raised median in the middle. At first, I kept getting off the road.

“You’ve got learn to have eyes in the bottom of your feet if you want to walk quietly,” he said. “Concentrate on the soles of your feet. Feel the ground. It’s bare, there are a few stones, and there is hump in the middle of the road.”

I found that I could keep on the road by feeling the slight rise in the middle of the dirt road. When I reported this awareness he replied that I now understood what “eyes on the bottom of your feet” meant.

In addition, closing my eyes forced me to use my sense of hearing more, and I began to learn a whole new language of woods sounds.

Next, we moved off the road. With my eyes closed, my assignment became to learn to feel the ground underfoot as I put each foot down gently. It quickly became obvious why moccasins make for quiet walking the woods because you can feel everything underfoot. After I began to get a little better at moving quietly, my father challenged me to see who could walk more quietly.

I could barely hear him. I sounded like a squirrel.

The key to silent walking, my father taught me was to walk planting the outside ball of the foot first, carefully putting one foot ahead and testing out the ground before putting your weight on it. If you walk on your heels, like most people do, you don’t feel out the ground first before putting your weight down and you are much more likely to make noise crunching something like a branch and may not be able to avoid doing so. After a while, I found that taking a walk in the woods with some woodsmarts enabled me to find more animals and get closer to them, which has benefits for hunting as well as enjoying nature.

Predator and prey

A few days later, he invented a game he called “Predator and Prey.” At first he had me mimic the sounds of other animals moving through the woods, so I could sound like a squirrel, a rabbit, a deer, and a pheasant scratching for food under leaves.

The person who was “it” became the prey, while the other person became the predator. We turned our backs and separated by about 20 yards. Then both closed our eyes. We both had to keep moving, and it was the goal of the predator to get close enough to the prey to touch them. The prey could not run, unless they could hear the predator approaching.

Walking is good for everyone. Walking in a beautiful natural area is better. Walking with some woodsmarts enriches the experience even more. It also gives you some more skills to increase your hunting success. Walk, and see how much more aware of what is around you can comprehend.

A quote for the day from Tierona Low Dog, M.D. from her new book, Life Is Your Best Medicine:

“In some cases, maybe the best prescription a physician could write would be for a hike in the mountains, a bike ride along a river, a walk in a garden, or a week-end camping trip.”

NRCS Announces New Edge-of-Field Water Quality Monitoring

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Acting State Conservationist Daniel H. Meyerhoff, announced that funds are available for a new edge-of-field water quality monitoring program under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). “In an effort to improve the effectiveness of agricultural conservation practices and systems, NRCS is implementing this program in which producers use edge-of-field monitoring to evaluate the quality of water draining from their farms,” said Meyerhoff. Producers in Headwaters Grasshopper Creek in the Delaware River Watershed in southcentral Brown County and small portions ofAtchison and Jackson Counties may apply. Applications must be received by June 14, 2013. 

Headwaters Grasshopper Creek is a 22,000-acre watershed that was selected in 2012 for the National Water Quality Initiative which accelerates efforts to improve water quality in small watersheds for nutrient, sediment, and pathogen concerns. “I encourage all producers who are in Headwaters Grasshopper Creek and interested in monitoring to contact their local NRCS office as soon as possible so they can meet the application deadline,” said Meyerhoff.

Edge-of-field water quality monitoring will use a paired watershed approach to establish baseline information and has the potential to provide much needed water quality data to show the effects of conservation practices in quantifiable terms. As monitoring progress is made, NRCS will be better able to focus conservation practices on the areas of greatest need using the most effective conservation systems. EQIP contracts for edge-of-field monitoring may extend for a total of nine years with an additional year of maintenance. 

Edge-of-field water quality monitoring has three primary purposes:  evaluate performance of conservation practices and conservation system; validate and calibrate models; and inform on-farm adaptive management. NRCS will work with producers to use new conservation activities for water quality monitoring system installation and monitoring system data collection and evaluation.