They’re shadowy creatures, jet black with tooth and claw. They move silently on ninja feet. They’re big, they’re powerful, and they live among us. They’re black bears and lately they seem to be everywhere. Populations are rising and that means more contacts (and sometimes conflicts) with humans. It also means people are asking more questions about where all these bears are coming from. University of Wisconsin Madison grad student researcher Karl Malcolm wants to know too. Specifically, he wants to know how and when bears move away from their birthplaces in a process called dispersion. Malcom has radio collared more than 30 bears. The collars are advanced beyond the traditional telemetry devices of yesteryear. They each contain a GPS transmitter that allows researchers to track the bears via satellite. Funding for this research project includes support from the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Black bears are born in mid winter and are tiny and helpless – totally dependent on their drowsy, semi-hibernating mothers for warmth and nutrition. Typically the cubs will stay with their mothers the next winter as yearlings. It’s at this point that Malcolm likes to sedate the mother and her young to do a health survey (body weight, blood samples) and fit them with collars. It’s a critically timed opportunity to do so because most of these yearlings will be off on their own by the next winter’s denning season. So far, Malcolm’s dispersion study has found that bears prefer to travel through contiguous strips of forest, including creek and river bottoms. They may venture out into open areas to feed (often at night) but will return to the forest for long distance travel. This research has shed much light on the movement of juvenile bears into new areas, but what about the apparent upswing in numbers?
Another UW Madison researcher, Dave McFarland, was an important contributor to newfound knowledge about bear populations. The Wisconsin population census had long been built on a flawed baiting technique that was due for a change. For some time Michigan and Minnesota have used a much more accurate technique that involves lacing bait with tetracycline, which bonds with the bear’s skeleton and is detectable in the bones of a harvested bear. McFarland’s use of tetracycline in his population research now suggests that the number of bears roaming Wisconsin may be two times or more what was previously thought.
Working with Malcolm and McFarland is Mike Gappa, an independent bear consultant and retired WI DNR bear specialist who believes the inaccuracy started in 1985 when the estimated population was conservatively calculated to be too low. Future population estimates were built upon that faulty information and continued to be incorrect until the recent change in census methodology. The results of the tetracycline study have breathed new life into the true number of bears in the wild. As might be expected, the number of hunting tags has been modified to reflect those new numbers. Gappa also believes that as bears disperse further south from their traditional northwoods strongholds into more agricultural areas, the wealth of available food has increased body weight and decreased disease and mortality. The bears are healthier and having more cubs. And what does that mean for us humans? Get used to listening for ninja feet.
Here is a great little recipe that is simple yet tastes so good. For our friends in the regions of the world that hold various types of Tuna, pretty much anything would work well with this recipe, and of course, Yellowfin Tuna, Bluefin Tuna and Blackfin Tuna would be my favorites living in South Florida. I’m sure if you are not fortunate enough to be able to catch your own, your local fish monger should be able to supply you with some choice steaks.
This recipe has a preparation time of about 5 minutes and the Tuna steaks should be marinated for about 15 minutes. This recipe should serve 4 adults and take about 6 minutes to cook.
4 Tuna Steaks
Freshly ground pepper
1/3cup Olive oil
3Tblsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp Garlic Paste, or crushed garlic
Lettuce of your choice (KOS, Rocket, etc)
White onions, Sliced
Fresh Shaved Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste
Vinaigrette dressing of your choice
You can heat your BBQ grill of other hot iron pan to high. Season the tuna with pepper on both sides of the steak and then take a bowl large enough to place your Tuna steaks into after first placing the oil and vinegar in that dish. After adding the Tuna, spread the garlic paste and let it marinate for about 10 minutes and then flip it over and let the other side marinate for 5 minutes.. Cook each side about 3 minutes. It is important to remember to cook each side for the full three minutes before flipping as the Tuna Steak should only be turned once. Tuna is one of those fish that tastes best when prepared rare and should never be overcooked. Prepare the lettuce by washing and tearing it and place in a bowl then add the sliced onion, ample amounts of the parmesan cheese along with the salt and pepper. Pour your choice of vinaigrette dressing and get read for a gastronomical delight!
The butterfly peacock (also called peacock bass) is and extremely popular freshwater game fish introduced to south Florida in 1984. It is readily caught by bank and boat anglers using a wide variety of tackle and bait that ranges from live shiners to artificial lures and flies. Butterfly Peacock bass prefer live fish and fish imitating baits often used by large mouth bass anglers, but they rarely hit plastic worms commonly used to catch largemouth bass.
Fishing is typically good throughout the year; however most butterfly peacock bass heavier than 4 pounds are caught between February and May. Shaded areas provided by bridges, culverts and other structures generally are productive fishing spots, along with fallen trees, canal ends, bends and intersections. Nearly all butterfly peacock bass are caught during daylight hours.
The easiest way to catch butterfly peacock us by using a live bait. A favorite choice is a small golden shiner about three inches in length, referred to locally as a “peacock shiner.” These can be fished below a float or free-lined while either casting or slow-trolling with an electric motor along canal edges. A small split shot weight may be required to fish the shiner at the proper depth.
Topwater lures (with and without propellers), minnow-imitating crankbaits and a variety of jigs fished on casting or spinning tackle are good choices for artificial baits. These include floating and sinking Rapalas and Yoziri minnows, Rat-L-Traps, Shad-Raps, Jerk’n Sams, WobblePops, Tiny Torpedos and Pop-Rs. A plastic twin tailed minnow and jig combination buzzed across the surface or tossed at fish sighted in deeper water also can be productive. Small tube lures and jigs frequently are used to sight-fish butterfly peacock bass, especially when they are aggressively guarding spawning beds near the shoreline. Although bigger baits (up to five inches) may entice more trophy sized fish, baits less than three inches will produce more consistently than larger ones. However even big butterfly peacock will take baits smaller than largemouth bass anglers typically use.
Dahlberg divers, Deceivers, Clousers, epoxy minnows, zonkers and poppers are all popular selections of flyfishers. Many anglers prefer gold, fire-tiger or natural colored lures; fly fisherman like chartreuse or yellow flies with flashy strips of mylar materials.
Most Butterfly Peacock Bass anglers use light spinning tackle with six to eight pound test line. Light lines and tippets generate more strikes that heavier ones and heavier lines aren’t necessary because canal-caught butterfly peacock tend to be open water fighters.
The butterfly peacock can be handled by its lower jaw, using the same thumb and finger grip used for largemouth bass, although this will not immobilize them. By the end of the day, successful anglers using this grip will have many minor thumb scrapes caused by sandpaper-like teeth. These can be avoided by using tape, a leather thumb guard or a fish landing device like the Bogagrip.
The currently bag limit for Butterfly Peacock Bass is two fish per day, one of which may be greater than 17 inches long. This 17-ince length regulation gives added protection to large fish, which is essential for maintaining a high quality sport fishery. If the popularity of butterfly peacock fishing continues to grow as expected, it may be necessary to consider even more restrictive regulations to protect this fishery (e.g., the bag limit may be reduced to one fish). All regulations for sport fish are subject change, so always be sure to check for current rules.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages anglers to practice catch-and-release when fishing for Butterfly Peacock. Overall, this species is a hearty fish and nearly 100 percent will survive being caught and released when properly handled. However, butterfly peacock do not survive as well in live wells or as long out of water as do largemouth bass. It is important that they be released quickly to maximize their chances for survival.
We will from time to time reprint an article from a Governmental agency such as the FWC to give readers the best possible information. Additional information may be found at www.MYFWC.com and www.floridaconservation.org. We thank them for this valuable information.
Turkeys can see you coming from a long, long distance away, they also have incredibly sharp hearing, combine this with their natural instincts to be a bit cautious and you have a very formidable adversary. I have heard many hunters claim that if the wild turkey had the sense of smell of a deer, nobody would ever harvest one. Having said this, turkey hunting is one of the most enjoyable challenges, and is actually fairly simple if you merely understand how a turkey thinks or acts, and why.
It seems like whenever you are driving along a country road looking into the fields and pastures there is never a shortage of wild turkeys mulling about, picking up pieces of grain and insects, yet walk around in the woods with your shotgun, and you would think that you are hunting on the moon. In order to successfully harvest the elusive wild turkey you must first locate potential wild turkey habitat. I have on many occasions merely driven around in the early evening with my binoculars, and began by glassing various areas, or spent an hour or so on the edge of a forest just listening for the unmistakable sound of Wild Turkeys flying up to roost, or the tell tale gobble of a bird responding to an owl or some other locator call. This practice is called “Roosting” a bird or “putting a bird to bed”. If you see a gobbler feeding in a field or parading around in the late afternoon and evening hours before your intended Wild Turkey hunt, you have a great indication that the bird will be somewhere in that general vicinity come first light, as these birds tend to feed in the evening near where they will be roosting.
After roosting a bird the night before, you will need to return to this general area before dawn (this means in the dark!) and situate yourself, well hidden at the base of a tree or other type of blind. Hopefully, the previous night you have already marked the location you wish to hunt and set up a bit of a blind. It is imperative to make no noise when returning in the dark, so marking a trail you can find is a good idea. If using decoys, it is also important to move slowly and silently so as not to give away your location. Pace off the number of yards, to your decoys to give a good indication of incoming birds and your comfortable shooting range, you may also place a stick in the ground a bit further out so you know your maximum distance as well.
If you chose the right location these birds could fly down right in front of you, as Wild Turkeys prefer to fly down into open areas, making it a very short, but rewarding morning. If you have not heard the birds as darkness gives way to dawn, you might attempt to simulate a few tree yelps in the hope that a gobbler will reply, thus giving away his location. If you are not proficient with calling, “don’t”, as many novices tend to overcall or call badly, which can push birds further away.
It’s also important to remember that gobblers are hesitant to walk downhill to calls, so you want to try and be either slightly uphill of the birds or on level ground. I was once hunting in Coulee country in Southern Wisconsin for spring Turkey and had snuck in about 30 yards above a strutting gobbler and had several Jakes walk in from my side to within several yards before I even noticed them. If you had no luck on the morning fly down you can try to identify a gobbler’s strutting zones as they tend to prefer the same areas again and again to display for the hens. Don’t get too impatient if a gobbler responds to your calls but refuses to move in closer. Just remind him with subtle calls every now and then that you, or in better words…a hen is still in the area.
If the early morning hours are not productive, at some point it may be time to try other strategies and get on the move to locate the birds. This technique is known as the run and gun method, and may work with seasoned turkey hunters and older birds. Moving to new areas and trying to locate birds, then employing a sit, wait and call method can sometimes lure in some Jakes and younger Toms. Either way, enjoying the great outdoors in pursuit of the Wild Turkey is an excellent way to spend a beautiful spring morning.
Anyone reading the articles or paging through the ads in the back of outdoors magazines might think that in order to hunt pheasants in the Dakotas you either need a blood relative who already lives there or a Swiss bank account. Yes, there are many wonderful lodges that will put you into a lot of birds (and take a lot of your money for the favor), but there are also ways that the average Joe and Jane can enjoy outstanding hunting opportunities without taking out a second mortgage. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned from multiple trips to pheasant hunting’s promised land.
Land Access: It’s a myth that the Dakotas are all but closed to those seeking public access. In North Dakota, the hugely popular PLOTS (Private Lands Open To Sportsmen) program tallied over the million acre mark in ’08. Detailed maps are available at most sports shops and licensing outlets and the lands themselves are clearly posted with triangular yellow PLOTS signs. A similar “Walk-in Lands” program exists in South Dakota. Both are financed by hunting license dollars. You might also be interested to know that North Dakota’s liberal trespass policy allows hunters on most private land as long as it’s not posted nor has unharvested crops. Now, that’s just private land that’s accessible in both states – there’s also a wealth of federal, state, and county properties that are open and well mapped and signed. One caution: keep an eye out for WPA (Waterfowl Production Area) signs. The high ground may be loaded with pheasant, and you can hunt them there, but non-toxic shot is required. Read your regulations for more details.
Hunt Late Season: Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone would want to put up with the carnival of opening week. The corn is still standing (and sheltering birds), the weather can be warm enough to wilt even the most robust dogs, and many private farms are entertaining hordes of family and friends and don’t see much need to grant a stranger access. Wait until the December winds have frozen the cattail sloughs and you and your dog can enjoy some quality time with some sly roosters. I can tell you from personal experience that if you knock on a farmer’s door late season, present yourself well, and ask politely, the most common response you’ll get is, “Go ahead, have a great time!” That farmer might not be charging a fee for hunting, but it’s a good bet that he or she has a close friend or family member who directly benefits from your visits to the area restaurants, gas stations, and hotels. I’ve met many wonderful landowners through the years who continue to allow me onto their property on return trips and are genuinely happy to see non-residents visit their state. Just don’t overdo it – don’t have one smooth-talking guy secure access and then send a dozen hunters 4-wheeling across the picked cornfield. Be courteous to your host, respect the land/gates/livestock of the property owner, and use a little common sense. Leave the orange army for paid hunts. One, two, or maybe three conscientious hunters will be welcomed back next time around.
Food and Lodging: As mentioned above, Dakota businesses are happy to see you walk in the door, and you don’t have to pay an exorbitant amount for that privilege. Small town restaurants are famous for big portions, small bills, and early opening hours to accommodate hunters. Hotels and lodges will often supply game cleaning facilities, freezer space, and either outdoor kennels or policies that allow Fido to stay right in the room with you. You’ll literally lose count of how many “Welcome Hunters!” signs you’ll pass. In a professional sense Dakotans appreciate you helping out their local economy. In a personal sense, they’re some of the friendliest and warmest people you’re ever likely to meet.
Don’t be misled by all the hype in the magazines and TV shows about lavish lodges, guided hunts, and king’s ransom prices. For those who prefer and can afford that, fine – enjoy yourself. For the rest of you who just want a few quality days in the field with your friends and your dogs and still get to work a lot of birds, the Dakotas are waiting for you.
Thanks to overlapping licenses, I, along with my friend and brittany breeder Bruce, enjoyed 3 bird ND limits in the morning followed by 3 bird SD limits in the afternoon. We weren’t charged a dime for land access and our comfortable stay at Lynn Lake Lodge near Webster, SD was less than $40 per day per hunter.
Ever since I was a small boy fishing in the waters off Sheepshead Bay, and Rockaway point, New York, I have always had a passion for ultra light fishing in calm sheltered waters. When I was boy it was for baby bluefish known as snappers in that part of the country or small striped bass that could be had on the moving tides off most of the local beaches. I rarely if ever went above 6 lb test line and almost exclusively used artificial lures. Thirty years later and enough big game fishing around the world to make even the most die hard fisherman green with envy, and I still get a kick out fishing the inland waters with the lightest of tackle.
Living in the South Florida sunshine, I am lucky enough to have access to some pretty great offshore fishing for Dolphin, Tuna and Sailfish, in addition to many other species, yet I never miss the opportunity to grab my lightest rod and reel to fish the northern part of Biscayne Bay between Government Cut in the South Beach area, and Haulover inlet of North Miami beach. Scattered with grass beds and small Mangrove islands there is an amazing amount of incredible shallow water angling to be had in this vicinity. There are of course the normally targeted species such as Tarpon, Snook, Sea Trout and the occasional Bonefish that can be caught in these waters, but I am going to mention the sub-culture of Biscayne Bay shallow water fishing.
Some of my favorite species to target are Lookdowns, Ladyfish, an assortment of Jacks, and at certain times of the year Spanish mackerel, all of which can be caught from shore, if you know where to fish. Lookdowns hold a special place in my heart, as a young man I would fish under the bridges at night until I had several of these silver beauties, a bit of rice, a cheap bottle of wine and I ate like a king on pennies a day. Times have changed and I still love to catch Lookdowns, but almost all my inshore fishing is now catch and release. Light line, moving current, and a small jig, along with some structure and bridge lights are all you need for any of these species. I have actually found some of my favorite freshwater panfish jigs such as the Flirty Girty, tipped with a variety of plastics works well for almost any of these small Biscayne Bay fish.
One day I was casting away the late afternoon hours behind a local university located on the edge of Biscayne Bay and decided to try a DOA shrimp in a narrow channel frequented by kayakers. No sooner than I had twitched the lure twice than it was picked up and a several minute battle with a large Ladyfish began. Ladyfish are an incredible fighting fish, and although they have little or no food value (unless of course you are a hungry Tarpon), they are among the most acrobatic of the inshore species. The DOA shrimp also seems to work very well with larger Lookdowns and also seems to have the ability to turn on the fishing when other lures and jigs get no strikes.
My personal preference is a light spinning reel filled with 6 lb test, a 5’6” or 6’ medium action rod that can cast a ¼ ounce lure with some distance and accuracy. The great thing about these inshore species is that most lures can serve double duty. The ¼ ounce DOA shrimp is quickly becoming a favorite, but the small silver Rat-L-Trap works well with Jacks and any other fast swimming species. I have had great luck casting both of these from the shore around the mangroves of Oleta State Park. You can also rent a kayak there and spend the day drifting around the mangroves and enjoying the incredible scenery.
Fishing for these unheralded species in Northern Biscayne Bay with ultra-light fishing tackle is not only incredible fun for anglers of all ages and abilities, it is also an easy and peaceful way to remove yourself from the hectic, fast paced lifestyle common in Miami. With nothing more than a quick trip to the local Bass Pro Shops in Dania, Florida, less than 10 miles from most of my best fishing spots, you can be having the time of your life!