I was all settled in ready for a great night of reality television. I had my appetizers all laid out and was just about to flip on the channel that had an Alaskan Gold Mining marathon ready to start when my brother stopped in to a watch a few shows with me. A few episodes into the all day marathon we took a break, and then my brother turned to me and said “why aren’t you doing that?” I looked at him and didn’t say a word, I knew what he meant. Throughout my younger years I could always be found on some unique adventure, sometimes it was climbing the highest peaks of the Himalayas while other times I’d be diving some shipwreck in the Florida Keys, but what it really was about was the quest, or the pursuit of treasure. Prospecting for gold is something I always wanted to try but after watching some of these shows I was kind of turned off by the idea due to the extreme risk, expense, and the fact that those on the shows seemed a bit, well, off their freaking rockers! And of course the fact that I live in South Florida where the only major concentrations of gold is found either on centuries old shipwrecks or on centuries old women wintering in West Palm Beach. Well, a little research on the Internet and I had a plan all figured out to have some great fun and learned a bit about prospecting, specifically panning for gold.
After visiting some websites on the subject and watching several YouTube videos on panning for gold I decided it was time to go for it. Well, going for it as much as I could for the moment. I came across a website called Addictedtogold.com that offered great paydirt and reasonable prices. Paydirt! I recognized that term from the gold mining shows, it’s the actual dirt that that one digs out of the ground in hopes it contains gold. Now I’m not a complete moron, I’m not the type to by a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge or anything so I did a bit of research and found that AddictedtoGold.com had done quite a bit of business on eBay and other online sites and enjoyed a very high feedback rating. I’m also not naive enough to think someone is going to sell me something that I can get rich on and not keep it for them self, but I did think that I could have some great fun, relax and learn a new hobby, and that’s exactly what happened!I had ordered some inexpensive equipment used in panning for gold, basically, a pan, a pair of tweezers and a little glass vial to store my pickings. The shipping on my order of 20 lbs of paydirt was lightning fast and I had to wait two more days for my other order from a different vendor to arrive. Now there are no guarantees that I would find much although I had high hopes. I set up a little tub on my front porch and got right to work. Not really knowing what I was doing made the process painfully slow but I was determined not to screw up. Jonathan, the owner of AddictedtoGold.com, had suggested that I use a tub or large bucket to work over so I could go through the paydirt a few times to ensure didn’t miss anything. About thirty minutes into my very first pan of paydirt and down to just some black sand and…nothing! I took a deep breath and regrouped and put another scoop of paydirt in my pan and began the process all over again, dipping, swirling looking and repeat…wait! What is that shiny little thing? It was no bigger than the head of a pin but gosh darn it that was gold! I really wasn’t sure what I was looking for but when I saw it, I knew exactly what it was. All the videos I had watched and the coaching that Jonathan had given me describing the specific gravity of gold and the size and shape of what I may find was dead on.
OK, so now picture this, there I am sitting on my front porch placing scoopfuls of paydirt into my gold pan and going through the motions that I saw while watching gold mining shows like “Gold Rush” and “Bering Sea Gold.” I was having a blast! My neighbors were thinking I was a bit insane by now as every so often they’d here me shouting Eureka! Something that I learned after just a few hours of panning is that you need to find a comfortable position when bending over your pan as it took me almost as long to straighten myself out as it did to find the days gold, which by now was almost enough for a cheeseburger at MacDonald’s…on cheap burger day. But that was not the point, I was finding gold and relaxing and learning how to separate gold from dirt. I was practicing for going out and finding my own claim.Let’s be honest, the chances of you even coming close to making back what you spend on paydirt is probably better than winning the lottery but still highly doubtful. If you are going to purchase from a miner, do a bit of research on that company like I did on AddictedToGold.com. Check for their past feedback ratings and try and email the owner for a bit of information, most honorable miners will get back to you quickly and be happy to offer assistance. They realize that if you are anything like me, and if they treat you right, you will be a repeat customer.
So, now that I know how to pan the stuff, I started accumulating more equipment for prospecting and practicing with more paydirt and running the old dirt through various other apparatus. I have also decided to join a gold prospecting club to meet other like-minded folks and perhaps make a few new friends along the way. I hear they have some great outings!
Just a quick note about the neighbors who were so quick to look at me like I was a crazy man; well it’s amazing what putting some barbed wire around a hole in my front yard with a shovel and sign saying “claim jumpers will be shot” can do, not to mention the several phone calls I received this week about where they can get a gold pan of their own!
I used to love those rare occasion when I was heading home from a day of fishing and skirting the edge of a squall line when I saw a small tail begin to descend form the clouds and slowly get bigger and longer until it touch the ocean. Waterspout! Everyone would turn and star in wonder, that is until it seemed like the damned things was chasing us. Waterspouts are routinely seen over South Florida’s coastal waters, especially the warm waters of the Florida Keys. What is a waterspout? Well, it’s actually a tornado that occurs over water, and just like its Midwest terrestrial counterpart, it can come in all kinds of sizes and strengths. In South Florida the winter and spring are relative dry times of the year but come summer and fall when the water is warm and perfect for feeding storms most waterspouts occur, although they can form during any time of the year. They can form when layer of cooler air blows across areas of warmer water blowing it up from beneath. They can also form during periods of relatively fair weather or along the edges of storms and are often called fair weather waterspouts.
Just like a tornado, although generally not nearly as powerful, a waterspout is a potentially dangerous force of nature and can cause considerable damage, especially if they move over land as tornadoes. They have the power to flip boats and tear apart docks in addition to blowing debris all over the place. Research that has been done over the years have shown that waterspouts have their own life cycle, that is, there are 5 separate stages to their existence. When we are on our boats and marveling at the small funnel cloud seemingly beginning to descend from the cumulous or cumulonimbus clouds, we don’t realize that there have already been 2 stages of the Waterspout that have already taken place but can’t be seen from water level. The reason for this that a waterspout actually starts at ocean level and begin a journey upward. Tornadic waterspouts are a bit different as they develop and move down from the cloud level whereas the fair-weather waterspout moves from surface upwards.At the start of the third stage we can see what is termed the “spray ring” which is that area in which the swirling winds draw the surface water upward. This base of a waterspout is very dangerous and can produce gale force winds or in many instances hurricane force winds. Although looking at these waterspouts often mesmerizes us, the base is exceptionally dangerous to boaters and you need to bid a hasty retreat to a safe area.
It’s quite often difficult for weather radar to pick up or detect waterspouts and weather spotters and eyes on the water are often the best way to alert others to their formations. Of the five stages in the lifecycle of a waterspout the first is a disk shaped light coloration on the water’s surface (one of the reasons the initial stages are not often seen unless by air), then forming a spiral band that rises from a dark spot that encircles the light patch. As it strengthens a noticeable funnel or spray vortex rises from the water’s surface to the cloud above. Waterspouts of this type rapidly develop and dissipate, having life cycles shorter than 20 minutes.
It’s important to take proper safety precautions around waterspouts such as listening for warnings by listening to NOAA weather radio. Keep vigilant and watch both the sea and the sky especially in and around areas underneath a squall line or cumulous clouds. If you spot a waterspout do not liner to view it up close and head at an angle way from its apparent path quickly and if it’s in your way do not try and go through it. Waterspouts are a great sight to behold, but only if safety is practice first.
The nocturnal trek of hatchling Sea Turtles is one of the most interesting and exciting spectacles in the state of Florida and if accomplished properly a stealthy beach walk between the beginning of March and the end of October may allow you to bear witness to this amazing event. Much of the information in the article can be found by visiting the websites of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and Florida Power and Light who do their best to ensure the hatchlings have their best chance and survival during this fragile stage of their lives.
It takes between 50 and 65 days after the mother turtle deposits her eggs in a beachside nest that the hatchlings will emerge by breaking out of their thin eggs buried below the sand and make their struggle to the surface and then onward to the water. This is an especially perilous point in their survival because in addition to the natural predators such as Gulls and Raccoons, man has made it increasingly difficult for the newly hatched turtles to find their way to the ocean. The baby turtles emerge under cover of darkness and are naturally attracted to lights, as it is their instinct to move towards the lighter horizon of the ocean and away from the darkness of the beach and sand dunes. Their ability to get from their nest to the relative safety of the ocean is critical for their survival.
Many of the beaches that have been the natural nesting grounds for Sea Turtles are not close to street lights and developments which interrupt the hatchlings dash for safety causing them to scurry towards the street lamps and lights from windows and other light sources. Those hatchlings that are deceived by the artificial lights are either gobbled up by predators or die from exhaustion and dehydration when the sun comes up. It takes very little light to confuse and mislead the baby Sea Turtles and that is why the Florida Power and Light Company along with Florida Fish and Game and other associations such as the Marine Turtle Trust Fund raise money and awareness through articles such as this to explain how people can help this particular circle of life continue successfully.
It is especially important for those residents of coastal communities to understand how their behavior affects those of the hatching Sea Turtles. Regrettably, even the lights from beach fires can mislead the turtles so it is essential that we learn how to reduce the artificial beachfront light without severely inconveniencing the public or compromising their safety. In Florida during the period between March and October if beachfront residents cannot completely turn off their porch lights or eliminate light from their windows there are actions that can be taken to keep their effect to a minimum. Dark blinds can help for windows facing the beach and some streetlights that are not essential can be turned off during this period. It does not take a lot of light or even direct light to cause problems for the hatchlings. Some people have apply dark tinting to their windows and turn off pool lights while setting their security lighting systems on motion sensor mode. Its not rocket science; any type of light, direct or indirect can affect the bay turtles march to the ocean.
If you have any questions about the baby Sea Turtles March to the sea, you can just ask it as a comment here or request a pamphlet (where much of this information came from) by visiting www.fpl.com or www.myfwc.com. If you want to witness this miracle for yourself, it is best to do it with a group or tour that has experience in this type of hike or adventure with as little affect on the Turtles as possible.
The Waves of Environmental Consciousness
With all the talk about conserving our natural resources and supporting conservation efforts around the globe, you may be sitting at home and wondering ‘well what can I do?’, thinking that one person or household could not possibly make a noticeable impact. Think again. Conservation efforts go far beyond reforestation and wildlife preserves. There are so many ways that we as individuals can make a dramatic impact (albeit over time) in the way we choose to live. Making the conscious effort to reduce, reuse and recycle has become a lifestyle for my family and while the thought may seem overwhelming at first, you can start out small and gradually build upon what you do, even getting younger members of the family involved.
Being a single mom of two children, ages 5 and 8, our endeavor to be a bit more green began a few years ago when we spent much of our time living in Vermont. Having a large parcel of land allowed us to cultivate flower gardens, a vegetable and herb garden, and various berry bushes. Rather than spend all sorts of money on fertilizers, we got into the habit of composting anything and everything that didn’t have a shell. The only other precautions to take if you are going to compost on a ‘small’ scale is not to put any meat or anything with seeds into your compost bin; the seeds will sprout before you know it and the whole batch will have a longer break-down time, giving you plants where you probably didn’t intend them to grow. When composting, there isn’t even a need to spend a lot of money and buy one of those big heavy-duty barrels you crank to turn your batch over. We found it was just as effective to collect our compost in a bin on the counter and make a daily trip out to the barn where we kept a metal garbage can for all the scraps, using a shovel to turn the compost every week or so. As you go through this process, you’ll get satisfaction in seeing the rich, dark, nutrient-rich soil turn up from the bottom, ready to be spread in your flower beds and garden.
Although Earth Day has come and gone, there are still plenty of things you can do throughout the rest of this year to reduce the waste that is either dumped into our landfills or incinerated only to go into our atmosphere. Think of all the plastic containers your household discards over the course of just one week, let alone the countless amounts you will go through in an entire month or year. Instead of tossing these containers into the trash can, take the few extra moments to rinse them and set aside for recycling. If you live in an area where recycling is not picked up curbside, there are plenty of ways to reuse many of these items. For instance, haven’t we all, at some point, purchased plastic storage containers from the market or local box store? Not to say that Rubbermaid containers aren’t great, but when you are working to reduce the amount of non-biodegradables you toss in the trash, think about how you can refill your water bottles, return your soft drink cans for the deposit (don’t throw them away; it adds up!), save the yogurt containers for art projects with the kids or to use as snack cups for them (I put everything from trail mix to fruit in them; just the right size for small hands to carry around while keeping portion control in mind). In my house, we reuse everything from paper towel tubes (good for art projects or an easy storage solution for all those plastic shopping bags that accumulate; just shove them in the tube and you have your own ‘free’ dispenser for them!) If you are someone that already returns your bottles and cans in order to get your five cent deposit back, consider the additional value that sits right on top of those cans; did you know that by pulling the pop-top tab off the can and saving them, you can turn them into your local hospital or renal dialysis center for an important cause.
**because of the importance of issues such as what has been discussed in this blog post, we have decided to continue this article in installments so we can address the issues discussed more fully and because we realize the average blog reader’s attention span is limited! We will continue to post installments to this post frequently.
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.
The National Wild Turkey Federation was started as a group to promote the sport of turkey hunting as a traditional sport but also to work towards wildlife conservation and the preservation of natural wildlife habitats.
The National Wild Turkey Federation works with government agencies as well as private groups and landowners to promote hunting but also to promote responsible hunting ideals and to be advocates for wild turkey.
The National Wild Turkey Federation also works to pass laws that will promote hunting as a sport and protect the wild turkey. Because the NWTF has such a large membership it has become a force to be reckoned with when lawmakers are writing and lobbying for the passage of laws that deal with hunting and wildlife.
The NWTF is dedicated to preserving the dignity and tradition of the sport of hunting. It holds national banquets that celebrate hunting and the accomplishments of hunters every year. The banquets are also fund raisers that have raised millions of dollars for all the projects that the NWTF is involved with.
In addition to doing advocacy and conservation work the NWTF also offers lots of resources to hunters like articles about hunting, gear guides, guides to the best hunting locations for both fall hunting and spring hunting, and more.
Within hunting circles the National Wild Turkey Federation is regarded as the expert in all things relating to wild turkeys and turkey hunting. If you want to be a serious turkey hunter it would be a very good idea for you to join the National Wild Turkey Federation and take advantage of all the wonderful tools that they offer to hunters.
In addition to the information that they offer for hunters the NWTF is one of the largest groups in the country working for conservation and the preservation of national wildlife habitats. With more and more wetlands, forests, and other game habitats disappearing everyday the NWTF’s focus on responsible hunting and preservation is very important.
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