May 20, 2013
A Miami man has caught and killed the longest Burmese python ever captured in Florida: 18 feet, 8 inches. The python was a 128-pound female that was not carrying eggs, according to University of Florida scientists who examined the snake. The previous record length for...
Read More »
May 16, 2013
Aimpoint, the originator and worldwide leader in electronic red dot sighting technology, has announced that the Aimpoint Micro T-1 sight has received a “Readers’ Choice” Gold award from Predator Xtreme magazine as part of the publication’s first annual 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards. The Aimpoint Micro...
Read More »
February 20, 2013
Blake Russ and Devin Belliston’s 11-foot Burmese python is getting a rare reprieve: he’s going back into the wild. Why is this incredibly large creature slithering back into the Everglades when the two hunters went through so much to nab him, especially considering the fact that the Burmese python is a highly invasive species?
According to ABC News, the snake has been conscripted as a double-agent working for researchers to flush out more pythons. The python was caught as part of the 2013 Florida Python Challenge, a month-long competition meant to draw attention to the ecological danger the animal presents. The hunt ended with a modest 68 snakes. While the number of snakes caught have been cited as a failure, scientists agree this isn’t about the quantity.
“We’ve never collected so many pythons in such a short period of time. It really is an unprecedented sample,” said hunt organizer Frank Mazzotti. “It provides us with a sort of autopsy of the wildlife. There’s going to be recommendations coming out of this that will help us be able to remove more snakes from the wild.”
This will involve releasing three tagged pythons back into the wild to root out snake-gathering areas, especially breeding females. The thought of letting the largest pythons of the group run amok may concern some, but Mazzotti assures the public that the snakes are being tracked wherever they go.
“I absolutely never want to explain to someone that we left a snake out in the wild, so we make sure to put two transmitters in them so that they can be tracked,” he said.
Russ and Belliston took home the Python Challenge permit holder’s grand prize of $1,000 in an awards ceremony at Miami Zoo last weekend, followed by runner-up Ruben Ramirez. An even larger 14-foot python caught by Paul Shannons won the general competition.
Read and join the discussion on Florida Python Challenge’s Largest Snake Released at OutdoorHub.com.
February 18, 2013
Grand Prizes of $1,500 Presented to Top Competitors
A total of 68 Burmese pythons were harvested between January 12th and February 10th in an effort to heighten public awareness about the invasive species, and to gather data about the pythons and their impact on the Everglades ecosystem.
Florida FWC commissioner Ron Bergeron and FWC executive director Nick Wiley congratulated and presented the top finishers with their trophies at Zoo Miami on February 16th:
- General Competition for Most Pythons:
- Brian Barrows took in six pythons to win the grand prize of $1,500.
- Bill Booth harvested 5 pythons to win the second place prize of $750.
- Python Permit Holders Competitions for Most Pythons:
- Ruben Ramirez collected 18 pythons to win the grand prize of $1,500.
- Blake Russ brought in five pythons to win the second place prize of $750.
- General Competition for Longest Python:
- Paul Shannons caught a 14-foot, 3-inch-long python to win the grand prize of $1,000.
- Rigoberto Figueroa caught a 14-foot, 2.3-inch-long python to win the second place prize of $750.
- Python Permit Holders Competition for Longest Python:
- Blake Russ harvested an 11-fot, 1-inch-long python to win the grand prize of $1,000.
- Ruben Ramirez brought in a 10-foor, 6.8-inch-long python to win the second place prize of $750.
Nick Wiley stated after the awards ceremony that, “Thanks to the determination of Python Challenge competitors, we are able to gather invaluable information that will help refine and focus combined efforts to control pythons in the Everglades. The enthusiastic support from the public, elected officials, conservation organizations, government agencies and researchers gives hope that we can make progress on this difficult conservation challenge by working together.”
Possession and sale of Burmese pythons as pets is prohibited in Florida; federal law also bans the interstate sale and the importation of invasive species such as the Burmese python.
If you wish to assist in controlling invasive species such Burmese pythons you can:
- Report sightings of the invasive species to 888-IVE-GOT-1 or www.ivegot1.org.
- Remind others about the dangers and problems associated with releasing non-native species, and avoid releasing those species yourself.
Read and join the discussion on Winners Announced for Florida’s 2013 Python Challenge at OutdoorHub.com.
February 14, 2013
Craig Pearson is an avid hunter, outdoorsman, and adventurist. His main passions are hog hunting in Texas and writing about his many adventures. He currently blogs for nightvision4less.com, a supplier of high quality night vision equipment.
Since the advent of night vision technology, it has been deemed a game-changer for its effectiveness during obscured conditions as well as increasing accuracy due to its ‘seeing in the dark’ features. From its earliest beginnings by Germans engineers in World War Two, it has since become ubiquitous with precision scopes and in some hunting circles (especially those who hunt wild pigs). But even more exciting is the further evolution of where night vision is headed.
Once relegated to military arms, it has expanded into my further fields, namely that of science. With the use of infrared (IR–a spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, first discovered by a German astronomer, William Herschel in 1800) technology, night vision has since been used for many additional scientific purposes. One of the benefits of night vision is of course its ability to work during ambient light, hence the reason animal researchers have embraced night vision’s technology to help study animals that would normally be unseen because of their nocturnal nature. Having night vision capacity in an easy to use camera reveals not only numbers of species, but types of animals in an area, as well as their eating and social habits. All with the animal completely oblivious to the camera’s presence.
And night vision is not just for military, hunters, or trained animal-behaviorists, you too can easily purchase your night vision needs over the internet, right in the comfort of your own home. Let’s say your interests lie in night vision unique abilities; as in capturing wildlife in your own backyard. There is a device just for you as well, and if you’re in the market for a “trap camera” then let’s look at three features that should keep in mind:
- Battery Life: Researching the battery life on your new trap camera is an important feature to consider. After all, if you’ve left your camera high up in a remote game trail, the last thing you need to worry about is whether the batteries have suddenly gone high and dry, leaving you without critical recorded footage. Some Bushnell camera’s features have nearly 30 days of battery usage for one pack.
- Covert Infrared: Another feature to consider is looking into a function like ‘covert’ infrared, where there is no flash to disturb the animal as it goes about in its natural habitat. Since a trail/trap camera is “triggered” by motion (i.e. walking, objects moved by wind), they are only filmed when it is close enough to activate the sensor (about 40 meters). Images can either be produced during ambient lighting during the day or when the darker hours occur and are captured through the IR still or video features. Some cameras even have audio functions, to hear any noises.
- Price: Of course with any new device, one of the biggest mitigating factors is cost. And budget will probably dictate which features you will be likely to achieve or not (or have you wait and save so that you can afford the right features at the right price). As far as the industry goes, there are a range of manufacturers and price points. A simple internet search can help you find exactly what you need and you can shop around, compare prices, and with a little patience, get a good deal.
At the end of the day, night vision will only continue to increase its clarity and uses due to its ongoing technological uses. By studying the eyes of dung beetles, scientists have vastly improved upon night vision’s camera lenses to not only mimic an insect’s compound eyes and multiple lenses to pick up even more visual areas, but also the insect’s nocturnal abilities. Now, only the (night) skies are the limit!
Read and join the discussion on Night Vision Trap Cameras: From the Battlefield to the Backyard at OutdoorHub.com.
February 12, 2013
Well, it’s the off-season. Deer and turkey hunting seasons are closed, and opening day for either seems a long way off. It’s the hunter’s lull, the long stretch of non-hunting that we dread every year. This time, I won’t let my fall-hunting self down. I’ve found 10 ways to keep my skills sharp and improve the odds for next year’s deer and turkey seasons.
1. Do Some Post-season Scouting
Remember the elusive buck whose bedding area you couldn’t pinpoint during the bow season? Now’s the time to track him down in the open woods. A fresh snowfall offers the perfect opportunity to scout and map out the deer movement in places you’d like to hunt next year. As I discussed in my article on deer hunting in snow, some of the things you’ll find will surprise you.
2. Visit the Shooting Range
As I wrote in my article on shooting range design and operation, I recently went out to sight in my grandfather’s 30-06 and pattern his Remington 1100 shotgun. This is a perfect time to zero in a new scope or practice shooting from distance. Skeet or trap shooting will keep your shotgunning skills sharp and hey, they’re a lot of fun. Finally, the range is one place that you can go and find a lot of other hunters in the off-season. I sure hope to make some new friends and acquaintances that way.
3. Try Predator Hunting
Here’s a recent fact I’ve learned that should ignite your passion for hunting predators. A long-term study of coyote predation found that as many as 75% of newborn deer fawns are killed by coyotes in their first three days of life. Hunting predators is intense and challenging — you imitate wounded prey animals to draw them in; the response can be fast and furious. You start making a wounded rabbit call, and anything could show up: coyote, fox, even a bobcat. Successfully hunting predators not only reduces their impact on deer and turkey young, but challenges you to improve at least three skills to make you a better deer and turkey hunter.
- Hunting the wind. Coyotes have a sense of smell that might even surpass the whitetail’s. They’ll actively circle around downwind of you while calling to get a sniff. You have to take the wind into account on every hunt.
- Stealth and concealment. Predators have superior sight and hearing. Hunting them will teach you to remain absolutely still and silent.
- Accurate shooting. What better excuse to practice your rifle or shotgun skill than on small, elusive targets? It’s better practice than the range, because you’re shooting at live targets and usually from a distance.
See the Coyote Hunting Tips at Field & Stream to get started.
4. Hunt for Sheds
Here’s a pastime of many hunters that gets you out into the woods and helps you locate trophy deer for next season. Hunting shed antlers (sheds) is all about timing, because you want to devote time after the bucks have shed their antlers, but before the rodents and vermin get to them. Shed time varies according to climate and altitude; here in Missouri shed hunters were already making finds in January and continue to do so in February.
5. Learn New Hunting Skills
The off-season is a perfect time to pick up (or practice) new skills that could help you next season. It might be tracking, scouting, marksmanship, or some other aspect of deer hunting. Personally, I’m learning to shoot my grandfather’s 30-06 and Remington 1100 shotgun in preparation for next year’s firearms deer hunting season.
Check out our article on essential skills for bowhunting if you need some more ideas.
6. Manage Land to Support Game
Spring and summer offer numerous opportunities to improve your own land so that it better supports the populations of deer, turkey, and other game. Here are some quick ideas for how you might do that:
- Hinge-cut low-value tree species (box elder, sweet gum) to create more bedding cover
- Make clear cuts in winter or early spring
- Put out salt or mineral licks
- Build a small pond with enough cover to provide a good water source.
- Plant crops or native food species
There’s undoubtedly a lot more that you can do to support the wildlife on your land; your local conservation office would probably love to offer you some suggestions.
7. Find Private Land to Hunt
So here’s one area I’d really like to focus on this spring and summer: finding and obtaining permission to hunt on private land. In Missouri (and many states), the majority of hunting takes place on privately owned land. Sure, there’s public land to hunt, and I’m grateful for that, but I’d just as soon find some nearby spots where the pressure’s not as high. I have to admit that this is an aspect of hunting I’ve not really tried my hand at.
Petersen’s Hunting has an article with 8 tips for getting permission to hunt on private land that I intend to try out.
8. Score Some Hunting Gear
After the close of deer season, many retails are trying to clearance out their hunting gear. Just like January for cars or the end of summer for boats, now is the time to shop for deer hunting equipment. Wal-Mart is a good place to look now; they dramatically mark down much of their hunting gear (deer hunting equipment and camo clothes, especially) around this time of year.
Now’s a good time to look around on eBay for hunting gear, too. A lot of hunters are now realizing that they don’t have the space to store all of their new gear. If you’ve had your eye on something rather expensive all season long, you might also be able to get it at a good price. Just look at all the compound bows on eBay.
9. Use Trail Cameras
Deer, turkey, and other big game aren’t just around during hunting season. They have lives and patterns throughout the year. In the late winter, spring, and summer, there’s relatively little human pressure on them, and thus a greater opportunity to learn their movements.
Setting up some trail cameras on the lands that you hunt gives you a long-term view of their activities without losing any hunting time. You might also pick up some good entries for next year’s trail cam photo contest at Field & Stream.
10. Protect Hunting’s Future
These are uncertain times for gun owners and hunters in the United States. Recent tragedies have made tighter gun control a priority for many hunters. With the economy hurting, governments are also cutting federal, state, and local programs; recreation and conservation are often the hardest hit by such cuts.
Finally, we must be wary of those groups ignorant or nutty enough to think that hunting is a bad thing. As long as we’re all out of the woods, let’s do what we can to protect our rights to bear arms and harvest game. Let’s write or call to make our feelings (support or criticism) known to lawmakers. That’s what it will take to ensure the future of hunting in America.
Read and join the discussion on Ten Off-season Hunting Tips for a Better Next Year at OutdoorHub.com.
February 8, 2013
Michigan’s Wolf Management Advisory Council will meet Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Little Bear Arena, located at 275 Marquette St. in St. Ignace.
The Wolf Management Advisory Council (previously known as the Wolf Forum) was codified under a law passed by the Legislature in December 2012 that reclassified wolves as a game species and directed the WMAC to report its recommendations on wolf management annually to the Legislature and the Natural Resources Commission. The NRC has the authority to determine whether public harvest of wolves should be allowed and to regulate season structure and method of harvest.
The WMAC includes members from a diverse group of organizations with an interest in wolves and wolf management, including hunting, conservation, tribal government, agriculture and animal advocacy.
At the February 19 meeting, staff from the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division will gather input from council members regarding future wolf management activities, including the use of hunting to manage and resolve conflict issues. The 2008 Wolf Management Plan will serve as the guide for these discussions.
Members of the public are welcome to observe the council’s discussions and will have the opportunity to provide written comments at the meeting. The DNR will also host a series of public meetings around the state in March to provide information on wolf management and receive public input regarding the public harvest of wolves. Dates and locations of those meetings will be widely publicized once determined.
For more information about the WMAC meeting, contact the council’s DNR liaison Adam Bump at 517-373-1263. To learn more about Michigan’s wolf population and Wolf Management Plan, visit www.michigan.gov/wolves.
Read and join the discussion on Michigan Wolf Management Advisory Council to Meet February 19 in St. Ignace at OutdoorHub.com.
February 7, 2013
Dedicated to those four-legged predators that evokes a love/hate relationship with hunters – Al Voth has joined North American Hunting Club’s list of reputable bloggers with his “Predator Professor” blog located at HuntingClub.com. North American Hunting Club is the premier community for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.
Voth’s blog will cover the hunt, the gear and the techniques needed to be successful when predator hunting. In the summer off-season, Voth will chase various burrowing and flying varmints and he’ll always share tips to tweak your equipment for the next hunt.
“Over the years I’ve watched North American Hunting Club grow into the most comprehensive hunting club on the continent. Now, by sharing my passion for predator and varmint hunting through HuntingClub.com, it’s exciting to be part of that growth. And the best part will be meeting lots of NAHC members and sharing experiences with these new friends. “Predator Professor” will definitely be a fun ride,” said Voth.
Voth worked for 35 years in law enforcement before retiring to hunt and write full-time. He began in street-level policing, but soon joined the tactical team, working in various roles there until another opportunity presented itself-training as a forensic firearm examiner.
Join the North American Hunting Club FREE for the first 30 days and receive a digital copy of North American Hunter; just log onto HuntingClub.com. In the January digital issue, the focus is on varmit and predator hunting. Read about the latest in fur hunting rifles and how technology is boosting predator optics.
Read and join the discussion on Al Voth Joins NAHC as Predator Professor at OutdoorHub.com.
February 7, 2013
Not long ago I sat in this exact spot belting out deep buck grunts in hopes of catching the attention of a wandering whitetail. Now the scenery was a bit different; I was still downwind of a thick, nasty bedding area but there was a foot of snow on the ground and nothing green in sight. Also, instead of a grunt tube I was wailing on a rabbit distress call in hopes of luring a hungry coyote from his cozy winter den.
With a thick blanket of snow coating most of the Midwest, many post season deer scouting plans have been ruined. Rather than just sit around, some deer hunters are still taking to the woods in hopes of putting a tag or two on a predator. All across the country coyotes, wolves, bobcats, and other rascals are putting a dent in the whitetail and turkey populations. Rather than just wait for the snow to melt to start whitetail scouting, how about trying to take a few predators out of the pack?
Around me, coyotes are really terrorizing the local game animals. I’m just getting into predator hunting so I stick with basic techniques and woodsmanship skills. The best times to hunt are dawn and dusk, with nighttime being fantastic if legal. I try to set up downwind of where I think the coyotes will be, and call from there. Of course, it isn’t that simple, and the basic setup requires a bit more thought.
Coyotes depend on their sense of smell a lot. They will naturally try to get downwind of the call to make sure it is legit before committing. The trick is to keep some sort of barrier at your back, so they cannot get downwind. I was talking with my good buddy and coyote hunting guru Ken Morand, and his logic made complete sense. For the novice predator hunter, try to get near a river, steep embankment, lake, or anything else the coyote can’t get across. Then, if a coyote is interested in the call, he’ll have no choice but to come in upwind.
Again, take a pretty logical approach to calling. The point is to lure the coyote out of hiding for a shot. Some people are really good at howling, but for beginners, just stick to wounded animal sounds. If a lot of rabbit tracks are showing up in the area, then use a rabbit distress call. If it seems to be more squirrels, birds, etc., then use those types of distress calls.
Ken also suggested tying a few turkey feathers to an old arrow shaft as a sort of decoy/distraction to place in the ground.
“The feathers give the coyote something to focus on, and help the shooter take a decent shot,” he told me. Many experienced predator hunters have expensive electronic callers. If possible, invite one of them along to show how it’s done.
Yet again, take a basic approach to this. Try to blend in as much as possible. Use brush, trees, blow-downs, and anything else that can cover a hunter’s silhouette and movement. Some hunters also build natural blinds out of hay bales left over from the summer. These blinds may also help a hunter stay warm.
Wearing snow camo or whatever pattern that will blend in won’t hurt any. Robinson Outdoor Products, LLC. produces the Whitewater series of insulated clothing. Whitewater’s Reversible Sherpa AP and AP Snow Camo are perfect insulated hunting gear for diehard cold weather predator hunters.
Predators can be scouted like deer and turkey. Use trail cameras at high traffic areas. Look for fresh tracks, what they may be feeding on, and dens. Listen at night for howling, “yipping,” and other noises they may make. Where legal, baiting with roadkill may be a helpful way to locate and pattern a few predators.
Even when using the wind to our advantage, a hunter has to keep scent control at the top of their priority list. Many times hours after the hunt is over, the coyotes will come into the area and investigate. If they smell any bit of human scent, they won’t cooperate at all in the future. Coyotes and other predators are pretty nervous animals, and they don’t tolerate any human interference in a situation as intimate as this.
Be sure to use all of the scent control protocol that needs to take place during deer season. ScentBlocker’s Ti4 spray will come in really handy when pursuing coyotes. Ti4 oxidizes, neutralizes, adsorbs and prevents odors on clothing and gear, making it a must have spray for any dedicated hunter. The Dream Season 17” knee boot is perfect for deep snow hunts allowing for warmth, scent control, and quiet easy movements. Be sure to treat and store your apparel just like fall deer hunting garments by washing them in ScentBlocker Clothes Wash and storing them in an airtight, scent free container until the hunt. Also, keep scent killing sprays inside so they will not freeze, and use them generously on boots and anything else that will come in contact with the ground.
Remember, when properly set up, it’s not so much getting winded we need to worry about, it’s leaving sign that we were there.
As with any hunting situation be safe and have fun. Be sure to follow state and local game laws. In some areas, predators are really doing a lot of damage to game animals. In other areas, the predators themselves are protected. Proper predator management is a great way to help contribute to healthy deer herds, small game populations, and turkey flocks for the future.
Read and join the discussion on Predator Hunting Basics at OutdoorHub.com.
January 31, 2013
New Mexico State Representative Nate Cote (D-Organ) is looking to ban all “animal-killing contests” within the state via a proposed bill that would make the holding of any hunting contests illegal. If the bill passes, violators could be slapped with a fine of up to $1,000 and possible jail time for repeat offenders.
“I’m a hunter and a fisherman, but I’d never seen anything like that. We’ve got to be better than that,” Cote said regarding contests such as the coyote hunts in his state last fall. “They’re nothing but live target shooting.”
According to the Farmington Daily Times, opponents of the bill say that Cote is infringing on hunting and gun rights. Mark Chavez, who sponsored a coyote hunt last November, says that such contests serve to cull potentially dangerous animals and also benefit local families. However, Chavez found himself the target of a animal protection groups and media.
The controversial coyote hunt went on to receive national attention when a flurry of angry emails, social media activity and signed petitions demanded the hunt’s cancellation. Protesters even showed up outside Chavez’s gun shop, Gunhawk Firearms in Los Lunas, in a rally against the killing of coyotes for prizes. Gunhawk Firearms had announced earlier that the top coyote hunting teams would receive a Browning Maxus 12-gauge or a choice of two AR-15 rifles. Animal rights groups called the event cruel and unethical for glorifying violence.
Despite this, Chavez decided to go ahead with the contest as a matter of principle.
“To me, these contests are helpful to the community. You get rid of some mangy coyotes, plus hunters put gas in the tank and buy lunch,” Chavez said. Coyote hunts are a tradition in his area during the winter season, when coyotes often attack the livestock of local ranchers. Coyote hunting is legal in New Mexico with very few restrictions and no bag limit.
Fifty-two two-man teams showed up for Chavez’s hunt. All together the hunters harvested 60 coyotes, which fell just short of expectations. The winning team brought in 11 coyotes.
Other scheduled coyote hunts in the area had been canceled due to media pressure, which is one of the reasons that Chavez decided to go forward with his. His partner, Rick Grosse, also mentioned support from ranchers who benefit from decreased coyote activity.
Read and join the discussion on New Mexico Coyote Competition Draws Bill to Outlaw Hunting Contests at OutdoorHub.com.