Outdoors With Charlie Chalk

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June 24, 2005

Celebrate Great Outdoors Month

President George W. Bush named June as Great Outdoors Month reaffirming the country's commitment to conserve our environment and recognize the many volunteers who help maintain our natural spaces.  How can you celebrate?  Start or work to introduce children in your area to fishing, hunting, hunter safety, and habitat conservation.  These are life long skills that preserve our New Hampshire heritage.  Perhaps your family already is involved; well, how about the neighbor and his children?

Visit a national wildlife refuge.  Did you know that you get in free with your duck stamp, and there's at least one refuge in every state.  Do you know our refuge?  Have you been to all the New England sites?

Give your dog some time afield.  My Brittany acts like he has forgot how to hunt, until I put that old familiar bell on his collar. 

Make your duck pond more attractive to waterfowl by planting Japanese millet along shoreline mudflats exposed in late summer.  These simple efforts can improve hunting and provide the ducks with food in the fall.  Our state wildlife department, Ducks Unlimited or Ruffed Grouse Society biologist can provide insight into how to improve your property.  Also, you can get free advice on wildlife plantings from your county extension service, listed in the phone book.

Improve your shooting skills with sporting clay targets.  Some local clubs have times for non-members or better yet, join one.  Also, check out a new place to hunt for the next season.  Often this can be done with your fishing pole in one hand and a map in the other!

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June 17, 2005

Fishing Report

Fishermen are reporting stripers, up into the Great Bay waters and their tributaries, and in the Dover Point, Little Bay area, the Piscataqua River, and out on the ocean.  Cod fishing is starting not that far out,  so a small charter will put you on some great fishing over the next weeks.  Many of the larger cod are not on the ledges but on the deep, mud or gravel bottom.

Reports also say a lot of 40-inch stripers are being caught, many of them in the Dover Point area.  Frozen chunk bait has been good, but live bait has been hard to get.  Netting live alewives is one way to get the live bait you need.  I would try a “Santni Tube” bait.  If you are not familiar with them, get in touch with me, and I will put you on to their product.  Eels, as I understand, are in short supply at this time, but hopefully, that will change soon.

For you freshwater fishermen, ponds up in Derry were just stocked, so get out there and spend some time in the evenings with your family.  Let me know your best catches, and I will report them right here.

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June 10, 2005

Tools for Better Shooting

Recently I obtained a very unique shooting tool.  I outfitted a revolver with a product called Lasergrips.  Some think these types of shooting aids are merely for self defense.  While they may be useful for that, they can also teach better target shooting and help new shooters to be a better shot.  After all, no one likes to miss.  With these installed in place of your original grips, you see a red beam projected out to around 40 yards.  Just point and the bullet goes where the red dot is located.

You can have tack-driving accuracy time after time.  The laser adjusts easily and holds point of aim through thousands of rounds of fire.  Just grip your gun naturally and the laser comes on.  No on/off switch to find.  No extra button to push.  For that trophy shot, predator control, or protection, Lasergrips are effectively used in dense foliage, low-light conditions, or at night, even with a flashlight.

They come designed for most handguns, and are well designed and rugged.  The laser is just a small portion of the grip, about the size a piece of macaroni.  Batteries are fitted inside the grip, so you will not find much change in the overall look of your handgun.  This makes it possible to use existing holsters, which can be a real benefit if you carry while you are afield.  I think that you will really appreciate this quality investment in your shooting gear.

Check them out at local gun stores or online at http://www.crimsontrace.com.

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June 3, 2005

Outdoor Cooking

Perhaps you are thinking about outdoor cooking, and if so, let me share some of the most important safety tips for that propane deep fat fryer.  While they are quite popular and they will make that spring gobbler really a special meal, they do require more safety than most outdoor appliances.  First, they are for outdoor use only.  Never use inside an enclosed area (patio, garage, etc.) or under the overhang of a house or building.  Use the cooker on a level, stable surface and away from any combustible materials (wood rails, wood decks, dry grass, leaves, shrubs, etc.).  Never leave cooker unattended.  Constant supervision is necessary when in use and until the cooker has cooled, and always keep children and pets away from the cooker when in use and until unit has cooled completely.

Plan on a good weather day; do not operate while raining.  Cover the cooking pot immediately and turn appliance off.  Also, dry the bird before putting it in the oil, as they will boil the water to instant steam and can overflow the oil, which often causes a fire.  Oil levels are determined by each manufacturer, so follow them with care.  Oil temperatures must be monitored by thermometer to remain at 250 degrees.  Higher temps cook food improperly and, at around 500 degrees, oil will ignite.

Comically, some say to keep three things handy; a fire extinguisher, your homeowners insurance, and the name of a good lawyer.  I would agree with the first one.  Have a great and safe outdoor cooking experience.

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May 27, 2005

What’s Bugging You?

Been outside lately?  It’s bug season, and with all this rain, we are really in for a great summer.  Two that really ‘bug’ me are the tick and mosquito.

Tick bites used to be considered just a nuisance since they are painful, but since the discovery of Lyme Disease, they've become the object of fear.  Lyme Disease has now been reported in 49 states and has reached epidemic proportions on the East Coast down to the Carolinas.  Because ticks feed mostly on animals, like mosquitoes, they carry disease.  The feared deer ticks actually reach maturity in the fall and winter.  It is at this stage of their life when they are most likely to carry Lyme Disease.  Keep them off or remove them within 8 hours to avoid disease.

To slow the mosquito (and they estimate there are 42,000 per person on the earth), eliminate breeding areas – mosquitoes will breed in any standing water that lasts for four days. Take the following steps:

  • Remove all discarded tires.  The used tire has become an important domestic mosquito-breeding site in this country.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outside.
  • Make sure roof gutters drain properly.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and change water in birdbaths at least twice weekly.
  • Avoiding Bites
  • Apply insect repellents.  The CDC recommends using an insect repellent containing DEET, when you're outdoors.  You should use the appropriate repellent for your length of time outdoors.  If you’re going to be out for over four hours use an insect repellent with DEET.  For times that only require up to two - three hours of protection or for those who have a concern about DEET, we recommend using a DEET alternative insect repellent, such as Natrapel®, or Botanical.
  • When possible, wear long-sleeved clothes and long pants treated with repellents containing Permethrin (an insecticide) or DEET since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.  Do not apply repellents containing Permethrin directly to exposed skin.
  • It is recommended by the CDC to use an insect repellent with at least 30% DEET concentration and suggested to use a DEET alternative insect repellent, such as Natrapel®, on small children.
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May 20, 2005

Ethics of Fishing

Fishing is really heating up, so perhaps a review of ethics would be a good.  Here are some common rules of courtesy to follow:

  1. A section of water belongs to the first person fishing it.  It is inconsiderate to crowd an angler who was there first.
  2. A slow moving or stationary angler has the right to remain where he/she is.  If you are moving, leave the water and quietly walk around the angler in position in the water.
  3. If an angler is resting the water, (Allowing the water to calm down after some form of disturbance.  Generally, after a fish has been caught, the act of the fight scares the rest of the fish and makes them hesitant to hit on a fly, so you Rest the Water until it is fishable again.) or planning his/her next move, it is his/her water.  Don't jump in without permission.
  4. A person working upstream has the right of way over someone fishing downstream.
  5. Always yield to an angler with a fish on the line.
  6. Do not enter the water directly in front of someone already in the water.
  7. Always recognize property rights.  Leave all gates as you found them.
  8. Do not litter.  If you brought it in, take it out.  Leave the area cleaner than you found it.
  9. Try not to make tracks whenever possible.
  10. Wade only when necessary.  The aquatic food chain is fragile.
  11. Obey all state and local fishing laws and rules.
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May 13, 2005

Protect Your Boat

Time to get the boat out and prep it for the season, but often left unattended in a backyard or storage lot, bass boats can be ripe targets for vandals.  You may be surprised to learn that the vandals are more likely to be of the four-legged type than two.

In a recent study for its damage avoidance program, the Boat U. S. Marine Insurance Division analyzed hundreds of bass boat claims over several years.  While damage to outboard engine lower units were the leading reason for all claims, researchers also found that bass boats are 25% more likely to be damaged from critters such as raccoons, squirrels and mice than from humans.

Bass boats, with their seductive fishy smells embedded into carpets, decks and live wells, can be a strong lure for four-legged creatures.  Once aboard, these animals often select soft materials - upholstery, life jackets and seat foam - for bedding materials. Some critters, such as squirrels, will even chew on hard materials such as fiberglass to maintain their teeth.

Unfortunately, most boat insurance policies do not cover this kind of damage so prevention is key.  To combat the animal problem a thorough cleaning before you store your boat, especially if the vessel is being put away for a long period.  Animals can move in over just a week of inactivity.  Frequent visits and commercial repellants can also work, such as fox or coyote urine.  Before you ask; they are available at feed stores and sporting good dealers selling trapping supplies!  (How do they get them to go in the bottle?)

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May 6,2005

Keeping Wildlife, Wild

What should you do with so-called abandoned or lost "wild animals?"  This is the time of year when young animals are on lawns and roadsides.  Young birds are falling out of their nests and turtles are crossing roads to lay eggs.  Spring is the most common time to see critters.  Fawns are often mistaken as abandoned or lost, but in reality the doe is nearby and will soon return.  People should always leave the fawns alone unless it can be verified the doe deer is dead or the animal is seriously injured, and then notify Fish and Game.  Many small animals like rabbits attend to their young for a few short minutes a day and intentionally stay away to avoid drawing attention of predators.  Birds can be handled, if they fall from a nest.  Sometimes young birds get crowded out of their nest before they are ready to leave.  Only very young birds without feathers should be picked up and returned to the nest.  People should not be afraid of passing on human scent because it generally will not prevent parent birds from caring for their young.  Most birds have a very poor sense of smell.  Most important of all, keep dogs and cats indoors.  People should leave wildlife alone unless it can be verified that the mother is dead.  Nature takes care of its own, though it may seem cruel or hard to us, to see predators carry away young.  That cycle is carried out hundreds of times far from our view.  Also know keeping wild animals is illegal in our state, as well as many others.

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April 29, 2005

   Free fishing for residents and non-residents for the area are; New Hampshire June 4, Maine June 4 and 5, Vermont June 11, and Massachusetts is for residents only, June 4 and 5.


Planning your next fishing trip?  Did you know that if you take some one with you that has never experienced a hunting or fishing trip, they are likely to remain outdoor sportsmen.

When newcomers to the outdoors STEP OUTSIDE, they stay outside, according to a survey conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).  The STEP OUTSIDE program - which encourages outdoor enthusiasts to introduce others to outdoor activities - has made a significant impact on recruiting new faces to hunting, fishing, archery, and the shooting sports.

As a direct result of their STEP OUTSIDE experiences, 58.5 percent of survey respondents said they continue to participate in target shooting (shotgun), 52.9 percent continue to participate in fishing, and 48.5 percent have continued to hunt (shotgun).  Others said they have continued to participate in archery (35.6 percent), hunting with a rifle (39.2 percent), and target shooting with a rifle (45.2 percent).

One commonly overlooked fact is that outdoor sportsmen and women in the U.S. contribute more than $3 million each day to wildlife and conservation efforts, which adds up to $1.5 billion annually.  On average, past participants have spent $1,378.17 on outdoor sporting equipment, according to the survey.  The top five equipment purchases made in the past 12 months were ammunition (75.7 percent), fishing equipment (55.3 percent), hunting equipment (54.4 percent), targets (50.5 percent), and firearms (46.6 percent).

So, where are you taking your friends this weekend?

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April 22, 2005

Fishing Law Changes

Fishing season is here again.  Some important changes to the laws have occurred and you should be aware of them. 

If you're fishing with live bait, do not dump unused bait into the water, even if it is a native species or on the approved list.  Dumping your bait into waters can introduce disease and nuisance species that may potentially be mixed in with the bait.  The best way to dispose of bait is by placing it in a sealed container in the trash.  Anglers and boaters can prevent the transport of aquatic nuisance species by cleaning all recreational equipment.  Whenever you leave a body of water:

Remove any visible mud, plants, fish, or animals.

Drain water from equipment (engine water intake systems, bilge, live wells, bait buckets).

Clean and dry anything that comes into contact with water (boats, trailers, equipment, etc.).  Never release plants, fish, or animals into a body of water unless they came out of that body of water.

Also mark you calendars for Discover WILD New Hampshire Day on Saturday, April 30, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Fish and Game headquarters on Hazen Drive in Concord.  Admission is free.  There will be fun on tap for the whole family, with lots to see -- from live falcons to huge trout -- and even more to do.  Enter a free drawing for a backpack full of prizes you can use on your own outdoor adventures.

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April 15, 2005

Coyote Part 2

Our coyotes are larger than their western kin, due in part to breeding with timber wolves in Canada and domestic dogs when they first settled into this area.  A coyote weighing 35 pounds will appear much heavier to the inexperienced eye.  Adults weigh 20 to 40 pounds, with males weighing more than females.  Coyotes look somewhat like a slender German shepherd.  Key features include a pointed snout and erect, pointed ears along with a bushy tail.  They are normally tawny gray with black-tipped fur on the head, back and tail.  Some coyotes appear lighter, with a few individuals being yellow and gray.  Two other common features are a shoulder saddle of longer black-tipped hairs and a black spot part way down the top of the tail.  Here are a few suggestions to make your property less attractive to coyotes.

  • Secure your garbage.  Coyotes will raid open trash materials and compost piles.  Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight fitting lids and keep in secure buildings when possible.  Take out trash the morning pick up is scheduled, not the previous night.  Keep compost piles in containers designed to contain but vent the material.
  • Don't feed or try to pet coyotes!  Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause coyotes to act tame and over time may lead to bold behavior.  Coyotes that rely on natural food items remain wild and wary of humans.
  • Keep your pets safe.  Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, coyotes do view cats and small dogs as potential food and larger dogs as competition.  For the safety of your pets, keep them restrained at all times.
  • Keep bird feeder areas clean.  Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground as the seed attracts many small mammals coyotes prey upon.  Remove feeders if coyotes are regularly seen around your yard.
  • Feed pets indoors.  Outdoor feeding attracts many wild animals to your door (Bears)!
  • Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds.  Coyotes use such areas for resting and raising young.
  • Don't let coyotes intimidate you.  Don't hesitate to scare or threaten coyotes with loud noises, bright lights, or water.
  • Cut back brushy edges in your yard as these areas provide cover for coyotes and their prey.
Educate your neighbors!  Pass this information along since your efforts will be futile if neighbors are providing food or shelter for coyotes.
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April 8, 2005

New Hampshire's Coyote

I will attempt to provide some information on the coyote controversy that has begun in our area.  For my first part, my friend Eric at Fish and Game provided the background on this unique animal.  Next week I will continue with part 2.

We are now past the coyote-mating season.  Come April, four to eight pups will be born in a den concealed in a brushy slope or under a log pile.  The male coyote hunts for the female, bringing her food, which she regurgitates to feed her young.  About 70 percent of the pups will die before their first birthday.

The eastern coyote is a relative newcomer to New Hampshire.  The first coyote was seen in Holderness in 1944.  During the 1970s and 80s, coyotes spread throughout the state.  Today, they are entrenched statewide in every available habitat from rural to urban. 

Studies by Dr. Robert Wayne of the University of California on tissue samples of New England coyotes found a great deal of wolf blood related to the gray wolf of Quebec.  This is why our coyotes, weighing 48 - 60 pounds, are nearly twice the size of the western species.  Coyotes come in an array of colors, from creamy to rust-colored to tawny gray.  Their erect, pointed ears and bushy, drooping tails distinguish them from dogs.

Coyotes are opportunists and eat all sorts of things, depending on the time of year.  In the summer, they eat fruits and berries, insects, and small mammals like rabbits, squirrels and mice.  They'll also eat dead animals and prey on deer slowed by deep snow.

New Hampshire trappers have harvested an average of 379 coyotes each year over the past decade.  The coyote is the only furbearer species that has a year-round open season for hunting and trapping in the state, but this hasn't reduced New Hampshire's coyote population.

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April 1, 2005

Voluntary Land Conservation

A recent report by Congress's Joint Committee on Taxation recommends dismantling tax deductions for landowners who volunteer to conserve their land - a program that has been essential to private and public conservation efforts.  Those tax incentives, in place for more than 25 years, have led to voluntary conservation of more than 34 million acres of working agricultural lands, working forests, wildlife habitats, historic landscapes, and parklands.  Currently, landowners who care about conservation and are willing to protect important resources on their property have several options:

They can donate a conservation easement, which protects these resources forever, but allows families to continue to live on and farm the land, and pass the property on to their heirs.  Now, they receive a tax deduction for the value of the development rights they give up.

The Joint Committee proposes:  (1) forbidding any deduction for donating an easement if the landowner continues to live on the land; and (2) in all other cases, allowing the donor to deduct only 1/3 the value of their donation.

They can also choose to donate their land, or sell it for less than its value.  Landowners who do so qualify for a tax deduction.

The Joint Committee would slash this incentive, by limiting deductions to the price the landowner originally paid for the property (their "basis").  This would make it extremely difficult for farmers, ranchers, and other residents who have owned their lands for decades to be able to afford to donate.

   My thanks to Eric Orff, Wildlife Biologist; and Dr. Judy Silverberg, Wildlife Educator

Conservationists support reforms targeted to prevent abuse of the existing laws.  Sportsmen and Landowners, contact your Congressmen. 

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March 25, 2005

Schedule Time for Outdoors

From where I sit as I write this column, I see grass patches surrounding the islands of snow.  Slowly the snow islands get smaller, and soon warm weather with all the activities it brings will be central in our minds.  Things like fishing, hiking, and other outdoor sports.  Many of you often tell me how you use to get out more than you do now.  Excluding health issues, I often repeatedly hear that “I’d love to get out but I have no time”.  Granted, we all are way too busy, but why not plan right now to schedule some activities?  Here is a starting list.

“Discover Wild New Hampshire Day”.  The event is set for Saturday, April 30 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the grounds of Fish and Game headquarters on Hazen Drive in Concord.  Free admission.  This is one of the best opportunities to see what is happening in New Hampshire.

Fishing season begins the fourth Saturday in April.  Never fished, or want to have a family member learn?  For more information about Let's Go Fishing courses, call Fish and Game headquarters at (603) 271-3212 weekdays, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or send an email to aquatic-ed@wildlife.state.nh.us.

If nothing else, dust off the hiking boots, and make a date on your calendar to hike some of our great local trails, or plan to visit a spot that you have always wanted to visit.  New England seacoast is the most popular attraction for our Midwest visitors.  Plan a weekend drive in April to any beach, and you can walk for miles; try that in August!

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March 18, 2005

(Info courtesy of Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership)

Create a “Possibles” Bag

In the last two columns, I discussed walking sticks then a survival kit.  This week I will cover a great way to carry all the small gear that you may need in an outdoor situation.  How often have you forgotten that one item that would have made the trip just a bit more comfortable.

Let me take an example of a woodsman of the 1700s from around this region.  Slung over his shoulder, in addition to his powder horn and shooting bag, would have been a ‘possibles bag’.  This bag is illustrated in pictures of soldiers and woodsmen.  It contained most of what possibly (hence the name) was needed while away from the homestead.

Since it is unlikely you would need all that was in theirs; you will need some of the items.  First, you will need a bag which you can get from many vendors, or you can buy one from military surplus suppliers.  The bag goes in the truck whenever I head out into the field.

       So, it is your call; make the time to visit our natural surroundings.  We need to rekindle our desire for wild places and see what life was like in a simpler time.

In the bag go items that you consider useful.  Mine has a 4X monocular, multi-purpose tool, pin-on compass on the strap, animal track ID card, waterproof match container, toilet paper and bandages.  These never leave the bag, but I add whatever I need for the day.  Say I plan to hunt; I use the bag for ammunition, sandwiches, extra gloves and socks.  Summer hikes may include the ever-present sandwich but also trail maps, rain poncho and bug dope.

So, this shoulder bag, along with the walking stick and pocket survival kit, make for a good and safe trip where ever you roam this summer.

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March 11, 2005

Last week I discussed the importance of the walking stick and how to craft a reliable version. Now we can add to our outdoor gear, by making a survival kit. Now, I know you may say that you will never get lost, but unless you never venture off the tar roads, there is always a chance that you could. So, be prepared.

Always carry a good pocket knife. You remember the story of that hiker in the desert that got pinned by the bolder? His statement was he had a cheap knife, and it failed to meet his 'needs'. Get a Swiss Army, Buck, Case, or other make of top quality steel and keep it sharp. Stop me anytime and ask if I have a knife; I will, and it will be sharp. Carry it with you always, until it becomes part of you and you miss its feel in your pocket, if you should leave it behind.

Now, to build a survival kit, here are the basics. Waterproof matches wrapped in paper for tinder, water purification tablets, surveyors colored tape, whistle, 'Space Blanket' brand blanket, bug repellent, whistle, small quality compass and wrap it all in two locking plastic bags. This will fit inside a pocket or pouch, and fill some basic needs.

Study survival skills on the Web, and prepare, before you go. May you never need to open the pouch; but that tiny package will give you a feeling of comfort when you head out into the wilderness.

Need more information? Contact me at the newspaper.

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March 4, 2005

Ways to Stave off Cabin Fever

Tough time of year; winter is just about gone, spring is so far away. ‘Cabin Fever’ seems to be an appropriate word to use, for whatever ails you. So, let me share a few ideas to pass the time.

This is a great time to make some gear. Yes, make it yourself. How about a walking stick? The woods are full of unfinished models and you can find them easily without the leaves. Choose a sapling around 4 to 4 1/2 feet and cut it before the sap rises. Maple, birch, and poplar are my choice. Peel them if you like, drying for about a week and coat with Linseed oil.

Then add a leather loop or handgrip tacked on with some brass tacks. Old discarded purses are a good source of leather (guys ask first before absconding one from the closet). You can drill and glue in a small compass or even add a small tube for a survival kit.

Carving in figures, could also pass the time. At least put your initials on it or your name.

Finally, a rubber tip or metal cap made from copper water pipe cap finishes the end and makes it wear better. Tips can be made for your specific needs such as rubber for use as a fishing staff or a hardened metal pick for ice hiking or a sling for a shooting rest.

This should stave off ‘cabin fever’ for at least a week. Next week; the survival kit.

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February 25, 2005

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

Representative Stearns and Representative Boucher introduced the bill, HR 800, with strong bipartisan backing from 92 co-sponsors. A Senate bill will be introduced shortly titled, "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act." These businesses provide materials that 40 million Americans use to enjoy recreational shooting and hunting with firearms. These shooting-related activities contribute approximately three billion dollars in activity each year to the nation’s economy.

More than thirty states already have passed similar legislation to prevent unwarranted lawsuits attempting to blame responsible businesses and their employees for the acts of criminals. Federal legislation would prevent new suits from being filed or existing cases from proceeding when a judge determines that the defendants are not connected to the wrongdoing of criminals, and their product was not defectively designed or made.

More important is, last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 261 - 161 to send HR 418, the so-called "REAL ID Act of 2005," over to the Senate.

The bill federalizes the issuance of drivers' licenses, an activity which until recently has always been a state function. Because no American will be able to fly, take a train or buy a gun from a dealer without a driver's license that meets the federal standards in the bill, HR 418 has effectively created a National ID card.

The bill's future in the Senate is uncertain at this time, although Representative Paul's office has told Gun Owners of America that House leaders are contemplating whether to attach HR 418 as an amendment to the tsunami relief bill.

The legislation gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to expand the required information that goes into drivers’ licenses, including "such biometric information as retina scans, fingerprints, DNA information, and even Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) radio tracking technology." Should this happen, it would mean that the federal government would know where Americans are at all times of the day and night.

Contact your representatives concerning their positions on this legislation. I will be, myself.

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February 18, 2005

Remember when you were growing up and plastic bait was the best thing you could buy, to fish whenever and wherever you wanted? Remember those packages of rubber bait called “Manns”? Well, last week we lost the creator of those baits and the fishing community, lost a good friend. The story as told by Bryan Basher:

The items and their descriptions vary. But somewhere in every fisherman's arsenal is proof of the enormous impact that legendary lure designer and professional bass angler Tom Mann had on the fishing industry. For some it's a half-used package of soft-plastic baits crumpled inside the storage compartment of a boat. For others it's a dash-mounted depth finder, a hat with the Mann's Bait Company logo or a light-hearted instructional video on fishing techniques.

A deep-seated love for fishing helped Mann leave his footprints all over an industry that has produced countless millionaires -- and according to his family and friends, some of his final thoughts centered on the sport to which he devoted his entire life and career. Friday in a Birmingham, Alabama, hospital, Mann died of complications from his second open-heart surgery. He was 72.

A self-proclaimed "dirt farmer" from Chambers County, Alabama, Mann began selling lures crafted from the handles of his father's gardening tools for 10 cents apiece when he was still in elementary school. He founded Mann's Bait Company in 1968 and quickly became famous for his lure, the Little George -- a hard, sinking bait named for former Alabama Governor George Wallace. Mann then won fame with the jelly worm -- one of the most popular plastic baits ever created -- and the Sting Ray Grub. He also had a hand in the development of the first Humminbird depth finder -- an invention that was named after the way Mann pronounced the word "hummingbird" with a slow Southern drawl that dropped the "g."

He was one of the first lure producers to put his own photo on his bait packages -- and as a result his face became globally recognizable. The trademark sticker of Mann's Bait Company, which depicted the head of a Cherokee Indian chief, has also been a common sight on boats and trucks across the country for years.

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February 11, 2005

Spread the word. Some of the greatest fishing and hunting talent in the country is at the Eastern Fishing and Outdoor Exposition running February 10 - 13 at Worcester’s DCU Center (formerly the Centrum Centre). The 2005 Celebrity Seminar Series features fishing and hunting outdoor pros. Seminars are free with daily admission.

Kevin VanDam, rated the #1 bass fisherman in the world by Bassfan.com and 2001 BassMaster Classic Champion will share his knowledge on Friday, February 11. New England’s own, Charlie Moore, known as The Mad Fisherman, will present seminars on Saturday and Sunday, February 12 and 13, and sign autographs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Ten time BassMaster Classic qualifier, Stacey King, will present his bass fishing techniques for success on Saturday.

Hunters will not want to miss learning from another of the world’s best, Chuck Adams. Chuck is truly the world’s best known and most widely published bow hunter. He has bagged more official Pope and Young record-book trophies than anyone else and most recently established a new all-time Pope and Young elk record. Chuck will present seminars every day of the show. New for 2005 will be Whitetail Superday. Scheduled for Saturday, this special feature will consist of a series of whitetail seminars by many of America’s great hunters including Chuck Adams, the Benoit Family, Peter Fiduccia, and myself. While I don’t rate myself quite as high as the show personnel rate me, I do hope to share what I have learned from 35 years of muzzle loading. Here is the schedule, say hi if you get down to the show.

Whitetail Superday - -February 12 - All Programs in Junior Ballroom

10:30 am Trophy Buck Hunting In New England with the Benoit Family

11:30 am Bow Hunting Trophy Deer with Chuck Adams, World’s Greatest Bow Hunter

12:30 pm Planting Food Plots & Other Crops to Attract Big Bucks with Peter Fiduccia

1:30 pm Trophy Buck Hunting in New England with the Benoit Family

2:30 pm Buck Hunting the Big Woods with the Maine Guides

3:30 p, Bow Hunting Trophy Deer with Chuck Adams, World’s Greatest Bow hunter

4:30 pm Muzzle Loading Techniques for Whitetails with Charles Chalk

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February 4, 2005

BASS announced that the BASS Federation program is restructuring its division system to include six divisions rather than five. The reorganization will culminate in an expansion of the BASS Federation Divisional Tournament series to six events and will mean that six Federation anglers will qualify for the Bassmaster Classic beginning in 2006.

The new division, to be known as the Mid-Atlantic Division, will consist of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. The area covered was formerly part of the Eastern Division. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont will remain in the Eastern Division. The Federation in Ontario, Canada, will also be moved from the Northern Division to the Eastern Division. All other divisions remain unchanged.

"We believe the expansion to six divisions will level the playing field for our anglers," said BASS Federation Director Don Corkran." At the BASS Federation Championship, which is used to qualify the Federation anglers for the Bassmaster Classic, the anglers from the Eastern Division were at a slight disadvantage. The top angler from each division at the Federation Championship advances to the Classic, and since the Eastern Division had a disproportionately high number of states, it was harder for those anglers to qualify."

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

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January 28, 2005

The outdoor industry is rallying to help disaster victims; numerous companies have formed their own relief efforts. We have heard some amazing stories of kindness, generosity, and compassion. Within one week, the total value of industry relief efforts that we know of has jumped from $1,308,651 to $4,032,991, more than tripling in size. And of course, that number doesn't take into account the countless hours that employees from many industry companies have spent volunteering both here and abroad. Too many are the names, to list them all here.

One thing that came to me recently, is that many of our clothing products come from that region of the world. Costs of production have put more tags from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the like in our clothes. Then I found this little story on one such company.

Since 1989, Sportif has owned and operated a factory in Sri Lanka, employing 800 Sri Lankan staff. Despite destruction all around them, following the tsunami, Sportif employees sprung into action collecting and delivering clothes, food, water, medicine, pillows, and bedding to victims who were left with nothing after the disaster.

To donate urgently needed product/equipment contact: Randy Weiss at AmeriCares at (203) 658-9527. All donations will be flown directly to the region by AmeriCares.

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January 21, 2005

What an odd weather pattern we have seen this winter. Snow is almost non-existent all over the state. That precludes those snowmobiles, cross country skiers, and snowshoe fanatics from having a great season, so far. Follow that up with poor ice conditions on ponds and lakes so that ice fishermen even in mid-January are cautious on many bodies of water.

So what is an outdoorsman to do? Well, how about spending sometime reviewing your gear. Guns all clean; reels all oiled? I dug through my tubs of clothes the other day and found some thing I was missing, and some things that were mud encrusted from a late fall goose hunt. The firearms were all cleaned, but some never left the cabinet this fall, and all the oil was dried up (oil only remains liquid about 6 months).

Finally, dust off your library. Consider a new sport, like spring turkey. Books abound on any sporting subject that you can think of, and some real great advice is waiting to be discovered. As a writer, I have read many good writers and if you want help with a subject just email me.

So, just keep busy for a few more weeks… it has got to change!

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January 14, 2005

Something for our female readers. If you've thought it might be fun to try cruising down the trail on a snowmobile, heading into the woods on snowshoes, or trekking out onto a frozen lake to pull up a few perch, your chance has arrived. Make the winter outdoors your own with skills you'll learn at the upcoming Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop sponsored jointly by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation. Whether you choose to explore winter survival skills or basic snowshoeing and tracking, you'll have the chance to try your hand at outdoor activities under the guidance of experienced instructors and in the supportive company of other women.

This year, the winter version of the popular Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program will be held on Saturday, February 12, at the Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. Registration forms are available online or by mail. For more information, visit the BOW website at http://www.nhbow.com and print out an application, or call (603) 271-3212. The cost of the workshop is $55, which includes a box lunch.

The winter BOW workshop is a single day, running from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Participants select one topic for the day. Workshop topics include ice fishing fun; basic snowshoeing and tracking; snowmobile fun and safety; winter outdoor survival; and a new addition - "shoe and shoot" snowshoe biathlon, a sport combining snowshoeing and target shooting. BOW participants must be 18 or older. Register early, because enrollment is limited to the first 50 people who sign up, and specific classes are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Participants will be advised of a complete list of gear to bring to be prepared for the weather. Classes will be held outdoors for most of the day, so those who sign up must bring clothing appropriate for winter conditions.

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January 7, 2005

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department wildlife biologist Kent Gustafson wants you to know about deer feeding. "People mean well, but don't realize the damage they're doing. Feeding wild white-tailed deer may actually reduce the animals' ability to survive a New England winter, making them more vulnerable to starvation, predation, disease and vehicle collisions. The commercial availability of so-called "deer feed" does not make it okay to feed the deer, according to Gustafson. The Fish and Game Department urges landowners to not provide supplemental feed to deer, because the practice actually can cause far more harm than good. Quality natural habitat provides the best insurance for deer survival in winter," says Gustafson. "If you care about deer, leave them alone -- let them be wild, and find natural foods and appropriate winter shelter on their own. The bottom line is, please don't feed the deer, and please discourage your neighbors, friends and relatives from engaging in this harmful activity." "More Harm than Good," a brochure explaining the negative impact of deer feeding, is available for download from New Hampshire Fish and Game web site or UNH Cooperative Extension offices or Extension's Forestry Information Center at 1-800-444-8978.

In other news…The New Hampshire B.A.S.S. Federation will be hosting the third annual Rockingham Fishing and Hunting Expo from Friday, January 7 through Sunday, January 9. Again this year, the Expo will be held at Rockingham Park in Salem, New Hampshire. In addition to the exhibitors, the Rockingham Fishing and Hunting Expo boast a full schedule of seminars featuring the very best in the field of Outdoors. My friend and NESN’s personality Tim Lajoie from Camo Country TV will head the seminar list. Camo Country TV will be on hand Saturday and Sunday afternoon and conduct their very unique brand of seminar. It’s a must see! Sunday is Kids Day with Charlie Moore, the Mad Fisherman. Kids, get a free autograph of local NESN and ESPN favorite, Charlie Moore on Sunday.

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