Outdoors With Charlie Chalk

Outdoors Archives

December 22, 2006

Smith & Wesson Acquires Thompson/Center Arms, Inc.

Smith & Wesson Corp., the legendary 154-year-old company in the global business of safety, security, protection and sport, announced Tuesday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Thompson/Center Arms, Inc., a 40-year-old, privately held, New Hampshire-based designer, manufacturer and marketer of premium hunting firearms, for $102 million in cash.  The transaction is expected to close in the beginning of January.

Thompson/Center Arms, headquartered in Rochester, New Hampshire, manufactures and distributes innovative firearms recognized by hunting enthusiasts for their precision, performance, craftsmanship, and reliability.  Thompson/Center Arms occupies a leadership position within each of its core product categories of black powder firearms (or “muzzleloaders”), black powder accessories, and interchangeable firearm systems, as well as a presence in precision rimfire rifles.  The transaction will combine two leading firearms companies with complementary products, to yield a single provider of high- quality pistol, revolver, shotgun and rifle products.

The purchase price for Thompson/Center Arms includes the company’s Rochester, New Hampshire, facility, which produces all of the company’s products and is situated geographically between Smith & Wesson’s manufacturing operations in Springfield, Massachusetts and Houlton, Maine.  In conjunction with the acquisition, Gregg Ritz, President and CEO of Thompson/Center Arms, will be named President of Smith & Wesson - Hunting.  He will continue to lead the Thompson/Center Arms operation and will head Smith & Wesson’s efforts to develop its hunting business.  In turn, Thompson/Center Arms’ array of barrel manufacturing expertise, hunting rifle products, and accessories fits nicely into the Smith & Wesson portfolio of pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and future hunting rifles.

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December 15, 2006


For my young readers; check this out.  Safari Club International has launched an exciting online contest for all of you between the ages 13 - 18 that will have you hunting for prizes on websites for companies like Yamaha, Mossy Oak, and Cabela’s Outfitters.  From December 7 until July 31, participants will collect game pieces from participating websites and become eligible to win daily prizes, such as gift certificates, gun cases, watches and hats, or a grand prize that includes a brand new Grizzly 80 ATV from Yamaha and a trip to the 2008 Annual Hunters’ Convention, as well as other big ticket items.

The grand prize is a Hunter Defense Airgun from Gamo USA, Panther Rifle Scope from BSA, a collection of gear from Bob Allen, a full suit of camouflage from Mossy Oak, a $150 gift certificate to Cabela’s, a $150 gift certificate to Bass Pro Shops, the ATV from Yamaha, and the trip for two to the 2008 convention.

To qualify for the grand prize, contestants will submit a 250-word essay describing what hunting means to them, with the grand prize winner’s essay being published in the award winning Safari Times and other submissions being displayed on the SCI website at www.scifirstforhunters.org.  To join the hunt, log on to http://sci.eprize.net/esafari.  Ready/Set/Hunt!

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December 8, 2006

Fish and Game Director Answers

As has been widely reported, Fish and Game faces a financial shortfall because revenue is not keeping pace with the rising cost of doing business.  The department works for everyone, but hunters and anglers in New Hampshire -- about a quarter of the state’s population -- have always paid for the agency, and the benefits we provide, through license fees and federal excise taxes on their equipment.  The people of New Hampshire contribute $50,000 to Fish and Game each year from the General Fund -- just 3.8 cents per resident.

What can New Hampshire Fish and Game do to get on firm financial footing?  As a stopgap measure, we’ve asked Governor Lynch to put $1.6 million per year of General Fund revenue into the Fish and Game budget in FY2008 and 2009.  Without these funds as a temporary fix, we will have to lay off as many as 28 full-time workers and eliminate 36 part-time positions, as well as closing hatcheries and regional offices -- dramatically reducing our ability to serve New Hampshire.

Raising license fees won’t work this time.  They’re already the highest in New England; also, the data tell us that we’d lose money after another fee increase because participation would go down.  And so, we need a long-term plan.  One proposed legislative strategy is to capture some of the $579 million that hunters, anglers, and wildlife watchers pump into the state’s economy each year by allocating a small part of the state rooms and meals tax to Fish and Game.  Fish and Game seeks to capture a small portion -- just four percent or about $4.6 million.  Since hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers pay more than $13 million annually -- we believe that it makes sense to reinvest some of the money into the resources that generate it.

Lee Perry, Director

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December 1, 2006

Funding Issues at Forefront

While I said that I would do some columns on camping, I will defer that as we have some issues with Fish and Game that concern us all.  Potential funding problems face sportsmen, so here are some and I will continue to get more details in the next week.  Commissioner Guaraldi moved to go forward with enabling legislation for a marine fisheries license or permit to include a means to identify saltwater participants, the ability for saltwater sportsmen to pay fair share, the ability to address party boat participation, and Commissioner Tichy seconded.  The vote was unanimous in the affirmative.  The commission moved to pursue a percent of the rooms and meals taxes in New Hampshire being dedicated to the Fish and Game Fund.  As an alternative, if it’s needed and the opportunity arises, the department is directed to pursue an allocation of the Real Estate Transfer Tax to the Fish and Game Fund.  There is a move to license non-motorized boats.  I am getting more information on that matter, for all of us.

In another matter, the commission voted down mandatory hunter orange; a good decision in my opinion.

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November 24, 2006

Camping Smart

Starting now and for the next few weeks, I will cover the best tips for camping.  Winter camping is the best adventure you can have.  Today’s new equipment offers comfort, convenience, and weight reduction for virtually any category of camping and hiking equipment.  In case you’re not current on technology or equipment, CampSaver.com has offered up 10 tips to evaluate your gear and help “start your journey to the light pack.” 

  1. Start with the three heaviest items you’ll carry- your tent, sleeping bag and pack.  If your tent, sleeping bag, or pack is more than five years old, there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to shave two to five pounds off each one without sacrificing comfort or function.
  2. When you come back from your trip, look at what you did and didn’t use.  If you didn’t use the item, consider taking it out for the next trip
  3. Unlearn some very bad packing tips from your Scout Master.  Iron Griddles, 32 ounce can of syrup, firewood, you name it, and the Scoutmaster will pack it.
  4. Planning your trip ahead of time helps you determine which items you need to bring or leave at home.  Is there food, water, shelter, or fuel where you're headed?  If so, consider leaving items you know you can buy or get along the way.
  5. Dry camp versus wet camp.  A dry camp is when no water is available.  If your camp is dry, you might actually save weight by not using dehydrated food.
  6. Backpack with your brain.  Food and water can turn a 20-pound pack into a 40-pound pack.
  7. Multi-use gear.  Have you ever considered using your bandana as a pot lifter or first aid sling?  How about that down jacket as a pillow?  Many items in your gear arsenal can be multipurpose in function.
  8. Share the load.  How many tents does it take to sleep three people?  If you’re backpacking in groups, you can share almost everything!
  9. Entertainment.  Leave your iPod, iBook, and iEspresso maker at home.  You are hiking at 10,000 feet to get away from all that.
  10. Buy a pack with less volume, and then you’re forced to leave items out.
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November 17, 2006

AMC Seeks Volunteers

With winter soon upon us, the opportunity to prepare for winter outdoor activity begins now.  I will be doing several columns on gear, preparation, safety, and other subjects.  Here is an opportunity for consideration.  Appalachian Mountain Club’s Trails Challenge Program needs more volunteers, particularly youth.  With an influx of new volunteers for its Trails Challenge program, AMC seeks to increase its trail stewardship commitment by five miles a year, per AMC Chapter, during the next five years, for a total of 300 additional miles maintained by local volunteers.  “AMC’s goal is to maintain 2,000 miles of trail in the Northeast by the year 2010,” said Andrew Falender, Executive Director of the AMC.  Beginning this fall, many of AMC’s trail volunteers will gather to set program goals, discuss strategies to recruit volunteers, and set a schedule for the trail work.  Initial plans include a series of training and trail events, such as family outings for volunteers and prospective volunteers, throughout the spring and summer of 2007.

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November 10, 2006

My Deer Tips

The beechnut crop is up this year, acorn production appears below average, and wild apples vary in abundance, depending on location.  The beechnut crop is the best I’ve seen in a long time.  Historically, the abundance of beechnuts also plays a role in attracting deer and bear to higher elevations, where beech trees tend to grow.

Plan to use scents?  Some deer hunters mistakenly will put scents on their bodies or their clothing.  Instead, place the scent in the area you want to draw the deer to, like a bush or a tree.  Never pour buck lure on the ground and leave that lure out all night.  If you do, that lure will work all night to pull in nocturnal deer.  When the deer go to that region and smell the lure, they'll eventually walk off because they’ll find nothing there except the smell.  The next time you pour out that same lure in that same area, the buck won’t respond.  To use deer lure most effectively, put it out during the hours you hunt, and take the lure with you when you leave.

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November 3, 2006

Don’t Vote?  The Outcome …

Next week, we as voters will elect government leaders and decide ballot issues that will affect sportsmen’s rights.  Sportsmen nationwide must vote to ensure protection of their liberties.  Hunters and gun owners have the numbers to affect elections and influence policy.  It makes a difference when sportsmen vote.  The problem is that many do not get out and vote.  Don’t complain about the loss of rights, if you were not part of the process.  Sportsmen must elect candidates who support gun rights, conservation and will safeguard hunting traditions.  Learn where candidates stand on hunting issues and firearms rights before heading to the polls.  Contact their campaign offices and ask specific questions.  Candidates recognize the growing importance of the sportsman’s vote.  It is no surprise to them that their voting constituencies consist of passionate sportsmen and sportswomen who play key roles in election outcomes.  Vote as if the future depends on it.

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October 27, 2006

Taking your wife or girlfriend hunting?  A new survey suggests remarkable growth in female participation in hunting and shooting sports.  According to the research, 72 percent more women are hunting with firearms today than just five years ago.  And 50 percent more women are now target shooting.

Women today account for just over 15 percent of the shooting, hunting, and firearms marketplace, which could equate to $420 million in commerce this year alone, projects the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the industry trade association.  ”More and more women are discovering that hunting and shooting sports are great family activities,” said Doug Painter, NSSF president.  “It’s a new awareness borne from many programs introducing females to these traditionally male sports, along with a growing list of manufacturers who design products especially for, and retailers who cater to, women.”

Field Notes:  This Saturday begins muzzle-loading deer season.  Gun season follows, until the end of November.  If you are in the woods for any reason, wear orange to be safe.

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October 20, 2006

Time for Winter Maintenance

Here’s a quick, simple guide to follow prior to storing your outboard for an extended period.  Disconnect fuel line at engine and spray a couple ounces of fogging oil into each carb as motor runs out of gas and stalls.  Remove the spark plugs and spray some in each cylinder; turn flywheel by hand a few times.  Change the lower-unit lube and remove prop, grease shaft and all other fitting and lube points.  Spray a little corrosion preventative on engine and be sure to leave your motor in vertical or down position so water won’t lay in there and freeze.  Put your battery inside shop and charge it now and then.  Fill fuel tank and add proper amount of fuel stabilizer to it for the winter.  Put jack stands under the axels to support the weight off the tires, and cover tires to prevent dry rot.  Think spring, fishing, and other happy thoughts.

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October 13, 2006

Proper Disposal of Deer Remains

Disposal of deer remains may not be the best subject for my column, but it's an important aspect of hunting, particularly in maintaining the hunter's image.  Hunters should recognize that improperly disposing deer entrails and other deer parts could create a negative public image and possibly lead to the closing of properties to hunting.  Deer and other wild game or furbearer remains are considered municipal waste and should be disposed of along with other household waste through your curbside pickup or at an approved waste facility.

Burying animal remains may present serious health concerns and are not advised practices.  When hunters field-dress their deer in less populated areas entrails can be left on the ground.  Never, under any circumstances, should remains be thrown into streams or other bodies of water.  In more populated areas, hunters should consider taking entrails with them so that free-roaming pets and other wild animals do not drag the entrails around.  Behavior by hunters, like improper disposal of deer remains, promotes the kind of negative image that anti-hunters use in their attempts to ban hunting, and landowners who find a mess on their property also may have second thoughts about allowing access to hunters next season.

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October 6, 2006

New Hampshire Man Takes Lead in Bass Tournament

Pro Dave Cioppa of Hopkinton, New Hampshire, caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 13 ounces to lead day one of the Stren Series Northeast Division event on Lake Champlain.  "I had a great day," said Cioppa, who came into the event ranked 39th in the Stren Series Northeast Division.  "I fished a hump right in the middle of Lake Champlain working a drop-shot from 20 to 40 feet of water."  Cioppa fished a Cobra Baits 4-inch paddle tail worm to boat more than 30 keepers by 10:30 a.m.  Satisfied with his limit, he put away his rods and tried to help his co-angler catch a few more fish.  Rounding out the top-five co-anglers was Chris Girouard of Epsom, New Hampshire (five bass, 14 pounds, 15 ounces).

Stren Series tournaments are four-day events consisting of three rounds.  The entire field competes Wednesday and Thursday, and the top-20 pros and co-anglers - based on two-day accumulated weights - advance to day three.  (While the final standing was not in at press time, we wish our New Hampshire fishermen all the best!)

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September 29, 2006

Remember Your Best Hunt?

Well, I just returned from Newfoundland where myself and Eric Gibbons (sponsor of this column) had a fabulous bear hunt.  We were at Victoria Outfitters, and Dave Evans the Owner put us on bears, the first day.  Using my trusty MDM muzzleloader, I was able to drop a 300# black bear with a single Dyno-Core magnum bullet, right where she stood.

I want to thank the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, the Marine Atlantic Ferry and Victoria Outfitters for their assistance on this trip.  If you plan to go, plan to drive up and cross on the ferry.  The country is too beautiful to miss!

One side note from the trip was a new camouflage I tried which is worth a look for our terrain; “God's Country Camo.”  The light pattern with open areas fits well in the brush and birch common here in the East (and Newfoundland).  Please take time to see this unique pattern at www.godscountrycamo.com as I think you will be impressed.

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September 22, 2006

Retail Value of a Hunter?

During his or her lifetime, an average American hunter spends $17,726.59 on hunting equipment.  When licenses and lodging, food and fuel, magazines and meat processing, plus other expenses are included, the average lifetime total spent on hunting jumps to $96,017.92.  A 2006 study suggests there are more hunters in the U. S. than previously thought.  Nearly 12 percent of Americans 16 and older, or 26.4 million people, said they hunted with a gun or bow last year.  U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service surveys show 14.7 million people, or about five percent of Americans, purchased a hunting license last year.  Cornell University 2006 study shows that children who hunt, fish or play in the wild before age 11 are more likely to grow up with deeper understanding and respect for nature.  Interestingly, participating in Scouts and other formalized outdoor education programs has no effect on adult attitudes toward the environment.

I hope that you will take the opportunity to get out and hunt this fall.

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September 15, 2006

How to Tune a Bow

Fletching clearance with the bow and rest is vital as well and often overlooked by many shooters in the tuning process.  Fletching contact (even with feathers) can present as incorrect center shot or nock point adjustment and cause mass confusion during the tuning process.  Incorrect arrow spine can also show center shot problems for finger shooters and nocking point or rest height problems for release shooters.  Finger shooters put a horizontal torque on arrows, and release shooters exert a vertical torque upon arrow release.  Broadheads must be perfectly straight and aligned on the arrow.  Broadheads should be turned on the arrow as the epoxy thickens until the arrow/head spins true.  Then stand the arrow up straight for the glue to cure.  Hot melt adhesive is also useful (especially for aluminum arrows), but working time is very short and occasionally must be reheated to achieve a true spin.

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September 8, 2006

Three Generations of the Benoit Family

If you deer hunt, you know the names Larry, Lanny, Lane, Shane and Landon, and you know that it is rare to get them in one place.  You have the best opportunity to meet them for an unforgettable dining and entertainment experience for the whole family, in relaxed attire.  The event will be held at the Cabot Motor Inn, Lancaster, New Hampshire; 2-1/2 hours drive from Manchester, New Hampshire.  As both an MDM Pro Staff member and Outdoor Writer, I want to meet you there.  MDM Muzzleloading is hosting this experience at Cabot Motor Inn, Route 2, Lancaster, New Hampshire, Friday, October 6, 6:00 p.m.  Advance tickets are $40 per person, $70 per couple with tables of eight for only $280.  Tickets at the door will be $50 per person with no guarantee if the event is sold out.  The first 200 tickets purchased will qualify for an MDM muzzleloader drawing.  The proceeds from this event shared in support of Camp Ta-Kum-Ta of Vermont, for terminally ill children.  Contact MDM for more information and reservations (802) 676-3311, www.MDM-muzzleloaders.com, or call me at the newspaper with any questions.

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September 1, 2006

Great Outdoor Festival

Can't you just feel the weather changing?  Autumn, with its adventures, awaits us.  Time now to get your gear out, clean, and replace what you may have let go all summer.  Start sighting in the bows and guns, take friends and family, and introduce them to the Great Outdoors.  Here is a great family event, as we get ready for fall.  The Great Outdoors Festival in Durham, New Hampshire at Wagon Hill Farm.  There will be craftsmen and vendors of outdoor merchandise, as well as planned events for everybody.  The event starts at 10:00 a.m. and is held rain or shine, food is available, entry is $5 a car load.  Raffles will be held all day.  Contact Dick Magie at (603) 472-7350.

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August 25, 2006

Free Pictures of Wildlife

Pictures are a subject that I don't discuss often, but with school soon to open, and kids may need a resource for whale, bear, or other outdoor image.  Also, I get requests for a picture of wildlife, camping, or a lake or stream.  Now, you can get digital images for free in the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's online digital media library.  Presently, the library system contains the National Image Library - the Service's collection of public domain still photos.  You may search all the images through the National Image Library link.  The National Image Library contains still photo images of wildlife, plants, National Wildlife Refuges and other scenes, as well as wildlife management work.  You may search all the images through the National Image Library, or you may search by individual collection.  When using these images, please credit the photographer and the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Ex:  John Doe/USFWS.  Go to http://images.fws.gov.

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August 18, 2006

27-Inch Fly Rod

Back now from a brief trip away, and ready to get afield.  Fishing has been limited for me, this year, but just in case you get a chance to get out, I have found the most unique rods I have ever seen.  Emmrod Innovative Fishing Gear is the manufacturer of revolutionary fishing rods, featuring small and compact angling systems that rival conventional seven-foot casting rods, and yet measure only 23 inches in length.  "Our fishing rods and systems are short, lightweight, compact, and very affordable, and they compare to or beat conventional spinning, and bait cast rods in terms of casting ability and accuracy.  Imagine, no more seven foot rods, when you can cast just as far and more accurately with an Emmrod that measures 23 inches!" says Duane Markley, Inventor, and President of Emmrod.  Two latest additions-the Stream Master-a 27-inch fly rod that Gary Graham, noted saltwater angler and President of Baja On The Fly outfitters, was able to cast the rod a nearly unbelievable 60-feet, one-inch, and the Gulf Master-designed for heavy fresh and salt-water angling.  With its unique two-tip rod system, it’s set up to catch big game fish to 100 pounds!  I hope to get a sample rod soon, but you should see the products at www.emmrod.com for you own evaluation.

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August 11, 2006

I Need Your Input

Something different:  A question that you could help me with.  I will ask you to send me emails with your opinions, through the paper outdoors@areanewsgroup.com.  The North American Muzzleloading Hunting Association (NAMHA) has filed a civil rights complaint alleging discrimination against the Fish and Game Departments of 15 states that do not permit the use of "sight correcting magnification" (riflescopes) during their special muzzleloader hunting seasons.  Since filing the complaint, the NAMHA says it has been contacted by several of the named departments.  Their reasoning for the no-scope regulations are characterized by NAMHA as "the same old rhetoric and reasoning that has been shot down and proven wrong in other states," from a potential over-harvest of game to the temptation to take longer shots.  In response, the association says that precise shot placement is key to a quick, clean, and humane harvest, not a ban on optics.

Do you agree?  Since New Hampshire permits scopes, my question is, why do you use them?

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July 28, 2006

Choosing Binoculars

Choosing binoculars isn’t always easy, and sometimes advertisements make exaggerated claims.  Only you can make the choice, bearing in mind price, performance, size, durability, and your own particular needs.

In all binocular specifications, two sets of figures are supplied (e.g., 10x40).  The first figure indicates magnification, i.e. the number of time the image is enlarged.  The second figure indicates the diameter of the “objective lens” – the lens furthest from your eye.  (The measurement is in millimeters.)  The larger this lens, the more light reaches your eye.  It’s this measurement that determines the physical size of the binoculars.

Generally, the lower the magnification, the wider the field-of-view, the brighter the image, and the easier to use without a support.  So 7x or 8x are ideal for woodland use, or at sea, or in poor light.  They are recommended if you’re walking, too, being easier and quicker to use.  You get good depth of field, and you don’t have to keep refocusing. 

There are two main body types:  the traditional porroprism design, with an angled body shape, and the roof prism design, with its “straight through” look.  Roof prisms are more expensive.  They have internal focusing which is more robust and protects the optics, and they are more compact.  Both designs are available as full-size instruments (e.g., 10x50 or 10x40).  You can also get them in a more compact form (e.g., 8x30) or as a pocket field glass (e.g., 8x20 or 9x25).  Miniature binoculars are fine as backups to your full-size ones and when you need them to be small and light.  But miniatures don’t have the same light gathering power or field-of-view as the larger binoculars do.  Undoubtedly the best for sportsmen are the top quality roof prisms.As well as magnification and type, you need to think about the way the binoculars handle:  are they comfortable to use?  Is the weight and size manageable?  Think abut the optical quality, the image brightness, and the field-of-view.  Where are you going to use the binoculars, in woods or on the water?  Are you going to use them frequently and in rough conditions?  If so, you need to choose a durable pair, maybe check for waterproofing.  More information?  Contact me at mtmannh@outdrs.net.

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July 21, 2006

The Gift of Fishing

The gift of fishing is something I learned from my Dad, but what if he had not shared it?  Of today's 50 million anglers in the United States, 99 percent say they fish because someone once took the time to introduce them to the sport.  Recent research indicates there is the need for such a leadership role in the changing America.  Among the 67 percent of respondents who said "dad" took them on their first fishing trip, 87.8 percent were 35 years of age or older, compared to only 12.2 percent for those under 35.  If dad has a diminishing role in introducing new anglers today, and others don't step in, how will fishing be passed to future generations?  And how will those who miss out even know what they've missed?

Fishing report:  New Hampshire Fish and Game says "the striped bass anglers are once again out in force this year, and from the information collected from our daily creel surveys, seem to be finding the fish with ease.  Most anglers participating in the voluntary surveys have reported large catches of "schoolies" (sub-legal sized striped bass) in the Piscataqua River and Great Bay areas.  Some of the bigger fish that have been caught this year were landed near the Isles of Shoals, more specifically near White and Star Islands.  Remember, fishing live bait with no success?  Try a lure.  The true measure of a good striped bass angler is his ability to adapt to the fish.

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July 14, 2006

For My Young Readers

Every now and then, I try to find something for our Future Generation.  Kampp Tales books inspire and encourage enjoyment of outdoor shooting sports, while touching on the topics of hunting safety and techniques, animal facts, and reasons for hunting and hunting ethics.  Kampp Tales delivers stories that inform and entertain youngsters while generating a hunger and curiosity for the great outdoors.  The first book just released: "Snort, Wheeze, Rattle & Grunt"!  Read it to kids, or let them loose to read on their own!  Kampp Tales books are illustrated in full, vibrant color.  Samples are provided on the web.  They will provide my readers 20% off, plus free shipping on individual book orders.  Visit their web site at http://www.kampptales.com.  Once there, click on the "Order" link on the left-hand side.  Scroll to the very bottom of the page, and you'll see a link asking for promotional code.  Enter the following information when prompted: User name: igo_promo Password: FRIEND

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