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Outdoors With Charlie Chalk

Outdoors Archives


November 13, 2009

Whether they work individually or as part of a group, volunteers are essential to conservation today even more so tomorrow.  The future of America’s sporting traditions, will depend more and more on devoted souls whose only paycheck is the personal reward of preserving traditional values and passing on a cherished way of life.  Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Consider why you’re interested in volunteering.  Do you want to make a difference in the world, or in your own corner of the outdoors?
  2. Select an outfit that represents something special to you.  Mallards over decoys, elk bugling, a bass exploding on a top water lure, Second Amendment issues, there’s a group for you.
  3. Speak with staff or volunteers from the organization and ask what opportunities exist for newcomers as well as experienced volunteers.  Attend a meeting to see how the group interacts.
  4. Seek out volunteer tasks that suit you.  Conservation always needs money but if soliciting donations isn’t your cup of tea, consider helping setup for a fundraising event or even a back-office gig stuffing envelopes.
  5. Start small.  If you already have a busy schedule, commitments at home, or unpredictable work hours, you can still get involved.  In fact, most organizations want volunteers who are busy people because busy people know how to get things done.  Ask questions and do research, but until you get your feet wet, you won’t know if volunteering for a particular organization is really right for you. 
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November 6, 2009

Hunter orange is highly visible to humans, but not to deer.  Fluorescent colors like hunter orange look bright to humans because they absorb UV rays we can’t see and turn them into longer wavelengths we can see.  The effect is opposite for deer.  Hunter orange reflects less of the UV that deer see well and more of the ray’s deer don’t see as well. 

Recent research suggests deer do see color, but they have no red-sensitive cone cells, so they can’t tell red or orange from green and brown.  In addition, deer have a different sensitivity to various wavelengths of light.  They see short wavelength colors such as blue brighter than humans do, but are less sensitive to longer wavelengths such as orange and red, so these colors look darker.  Regardless of how well they see it, ample evidence suggests they aren’t bothered by it.

Yearly deer harvests in many of the states that require hunter orange, like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania exceed several hundred thousand animals a year.  Remember, hunting is very safe - but it could be even safer if all hunters wore a hunter orange vest and hat.

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October 30, 2009

Support for Food Pantries

Hunters’ donations to food pantries have been instrumental in both financing and expanding programs in many states.  This hunting season I encourage hunters to donate venison they cannot use personally to food pantries in their area.  Being able to donate venison has never been easier; “Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry” has a great Website (www.fhfh.org) so you can easily locate programs and processing operations in our area.  This Website provides you with drop-off locations, times, and information on how to handle the deer in a manner that makes it easy for the program to process.

This economy has made it even more important for sportsmen and women to support local food pantries.  Donations of venison can really help them out.  Harvesting an extra deer for a local food pantry makes sense when you realize you are helping both your local community and wildlife conservation.

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October 23, 2009

Water Management

The Obama Administration recently released a management plan for the oceans and Great Lakes that could have a huge negative impact on fishing in coastal areas.  The plan is found at www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/09_17_09_Interim_Report_of_Task_Force_FINAL2.pdf.  The policies outlined in the report will govern federal ocean and Great Lakes waters. 

The report focuses on shifting to “ecosystem-based management as a foundational principle for the comprehensive management of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.”  Of particular concern to many organizations is the absence of any reference in the report to the positive impact recreational anglers have on aquatic conservation.  Instead, it raises an alarm as to what the framework for zoning in these waters will be. 

The consequence of that framework could result in severe restrictions including the elimination of many popular, historically important recreational fishing areas.  Numerous conservation organizations have publicly stated their concerns over this plan.  Rob Sexton, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president for government affairs stated, “If access for fishing becomes overly restricted, there will be a significant decline in resources dedicated to future conservation.”

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October 16, 2009

A Tradition of Hunting

The tradition of hunting in our state goes a long way back.  But to keep a tradition alive, we need to pass it on.  The youth of NH can begin a tradition and remember the first time they want out hunting with their parents.

Take a young person hunting on NH’s Youth Deer Weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 24-25.  This special weekend gives young people statewide the opportunity to go deer hunting with an adult mentor, without the pressure of competing with thousands of adult hunters.  Accompanying adults must be licensed hunters and are not allowed to carry a firearm, so that they can devote all of their time and attention to coaching their young companions.  Non-resident youth may participate in NH’s Youth Deer Weekend only if their state of residence allows NH youth to participate in its youth deer hunt.

Good luck to my young readers!

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October 9, 2009

First Moose

Caleb Berkebile of Wilton, NH chose to hunt for the first moose of the 2009 season in a program called Hunt of a Lifetime.  Organized by NH Chapter of Safari Club International, Hunt of a Lifetime is designed to grant the wish of any child, 21 or under, with life-threatening, critical, or terminal illnesses and provide them with the opportunity to have an all-expenses-paid hunting trip.  The hunts proceed the regular season to assure better success and provide a unique opportunity to the youth hunters.

Caleb has childhood leukemia and has only been in remission since February 2008.  Caleb said, “My favorite hunts are pheasant, deer, and bear.  I just shot a 115-pound bear just a few weeks ago.”  Caleb determined the night before the hunt to stick it out for the “big one.”  That only took the morning of the first day when he shot a bull that weighed 920 lbs. with a 57” spread roughly scored at 191 gross Boone and Crockett.  The animal was transported to Lemay’s butcher shop, where Caleb will send some of the meat to the NH Food Bank and “…will also give a steak to each of my friends at school.”  Strut and Rut Taxidermy of Goffstown will mount the head.

“I have so many people to thank for this hunt,” said Caleb.

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October 2, 2009

Is Hunting Good for Kids?

It is a unique privilege to have a column read by hunters and non-hunters alike.  You allow me to share my interests and passions in the outdoors, and I thank you.  Occasionally, I find a unique book that I would like for each of you to purchase.  It answers the questions: Is hunting good for kids?  Why do they do it?  Is it sport or is it instinctive?  Does hunting encourage violence or does it teach empathy and compassion?  Would it be a more peaceful world if more men hunted?  These are some of the questions addressed in a new book entitled From Boys to Men of Heart: Hunting as Rite of Passage.  Award-winning author Randall L. Eaton, Ph.D. is a behavioral scientist with an international reputation in wildlife conservation who has been studying hunting for 35 years.

“It’s a good thing for kids to spend more time outside, but I doubt that the connection they make with nature is deep enough to promote a conservation ethic.”  In his opinion, “Not only are hunting and fishing better for kids, kids who hunt and fish are better for the environment.”

For more information, contact Dr. Randall Eaton at 513-244-2826 or at reaton@eoni.com.  Purchase at www.owlinkmedia.com.

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September 25, 2009

Going on a Fall Adventure or Hunting Trip?

On almost every trip, some or all of our participants worry that they won’t be in good enough shape for the trip or that everyone else will be in better shape.  So this section is devoted to an overview and to some tips that are specifically concerned with fitness for outdoor activities.

  1. Have a goal in mind.  This is the absolutely best tip I have.  Nothing is more motivating to stick to your fitness plan than having a specific end that you’re working towards.
  2. Remember that fitness has three components: aerobic conditioning, strength training, and flexibility.  All of these need your attention, although the amount you allot to each may vary with your goals and over time.
  3. There are lots of good ways to get aerobic conditioning.  Pick one you like, or one that closely mimics a particular trip you’re interested in.  And don’t just go to the health club or gym.  Try cross-country skiing, cycling, or walking up hills.
  4. Especially as you get older, flexibility is critical.  There is some debate about whether you should do your stretching before or after your activity.
  5. Free weights or weight machines are a good way to improve overall muscular conditioning.  It’s important to get good instruction in how to do each exercise or you can quickly end up with an injury.
  6. Nothing gets you in better shape for a particular activity than doing the activity itself. 

Information by Adventures in Good Company, which is a guide service specifically designed for women.

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September 18, 2009

Hunting References

Hunting is an important contributor to New Hampshire’s economy.  The 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation reported that 61,000 hunters in New Hampshire (resident and non-resident, over the age of 16) accounted for nearly $75 million in trips, equipment, and other spending in the state.  Remember this address for all things hunting-related: www.HuntNH.com.

If you need a hunter education class, visit /Hunting/hunter_ed.htm, or call (603) 271-3212.

Another useful reference for planning your fall hunting strategy is the 2008 N.H. Wildlife Harvest Summary: www.HuntNH.com/Hunting/hunting.htm.

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September 11, 2009

Accident-Free Hunting Season

As the days get shorter and autumn colors begin to overtake the hunting woods, you’re likely to be spending a lot of time scouting trails, checking cameras, and getting ready to hang treestands.  But before you hang those stands, Hunter Safety System has a new list of ‘Stayin Safe Reminders’ to help you enjoy an accident-free hunting season.

First, inspect your tree to ensure it is alive and straight with a circumference that is within the size limits prescribed by the manufacturer of your specific treestand.  Do not attempt to climb or attach a treestand to a leaning tree.

Second, sacrificing safety for economy can be a very costly mistake, so never use a homemade stand.  Only use treestands that are certified to Treestand Manufacturers Association (TMA) standards.

Third, always wear a full-body harness when installing your stands, steps, and accessories.  If you are installing a lock-on-style stand, use a lineman’s-style belt in conjunction with your full-body harness.

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September 4, 2009

Fall Hunting Need-To-Knows

New Hampshire's fall hunting seasons will soon be underway, and the best resource for exploring them is the 2009-2010 New Hampshire Hunting and Trapping Digest.  The Digest is available online at http://www.HuntNH.com or when you buy your license from Fish and Game license agents across the state.

This year, the Hunting Digest has a whole new look.  Hunters will notice that New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has fully revised and reformatted the publication — it is now bigger, brighter, and more readable. The larger size allows for additional advertising and production support, which means the new format is also more cost-effective for the Department.

In the Digest, you'll find all the important dates, bag limits, and other information about New Hampshire’s hunting and trapping seasons presented in a user-friendly format.  It details Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) boundaries, license prices, check stations, and other information hunters and trappers need.

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August 28, 2009

The Nature Conservancy Field Trips and Social

Come celebrate with fellow members, friends, and chapter staff at The Nature Conservancy.  The afternoon will begin with a variety of field trips (see descriptions below) designed for all ages, interests, and for families with small children.  Following will be a social hour with light refreshments, games, a barbeque dinner, chapter business, awards, dessert, live music, and much, much more!

The field trips will be on Saturday, September 12 from 1-4 p.m.

The Nature Conservancy’s Great Bay Office

112 Bay Road, Newmarket, NH 03857

There is a registration fee per person (children under 12 are free) that includes field trips, food, and music.  Pre-registration is required for all.  Please reserve your space(s) by September 4.  For additional questions and information or to register for a field trip only, please contact Christine Polito at 224-5853, ext. 32, or cpolito@tnc.org.

Field trips include:

  • Grassland Nesting Birds at the Lamprey River Preserve
  • Invasive Plant Species Management at Lubberland Creek Preserve
  • Paddle the Picturesque Lamprey River
  • A Great Hike to a Great Bay 1-Mile Walk
  • A Great Hike to a Great Bay 4-Mile Hike
  • Saltmarsh Bioblitz
  • Aquatic Explorations along the Sweet Trail
  • Photographing Nature
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August 21, 2009

Adequate Safeguarding is Necessary and Important

Everyone who has firearms in the home should consider an appropriate safe.  A quality safe is like an insurance policy.  It gives you peace of mind that your guns, jewelry and family heirlooms are protected.  Dale Weathersgun, safe product manager for Brownin, recommends that you do your homework before you whip out your credit card.

"Go with a brand you can trust.  Go to a store that sells safes and ask to talk to the person who knows the most about safes," Dale recommended.  "Ask that person 'what are the better brands and what are the cheaper ones.'  Ask about brands the store doesn't carry.  Do that at a couple of different stores to get consistency in the answers."  If the safe carries a UL rating, that's tangible evidence you're dealing with a product that can protect your valuables.  Anything less than that is a metal cabinet that won't provide security, Dale explained.  The UL rating indicates the item has passed the attack test, meaning it can resist a break in for a certain period of time.  A key variable is the locking system, which at a minimum includes basic mechanical or electronic locks with bolts that are of adequate size and strength and offer at least two-sided coverage.  Other construction features to consider include thickness of the door and exterior walls and a doorframe that can resist prying.

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August 14, 2009

Saving Money on Outdoor Equipment

Can you save money on outdoor equipment?  Marian Marbury, founder of ‘Adventures in Good Company’ says you can by focusing on value rather than price.  If you focus only on price, you’ll end up getting stuff that won’t last long and might not work well.  For example, you can get cheap cotton sleeping bags at many discount stores but they are way too bulky, take forever to dry, and don’t offer much warmth for the weight.  You have to know something about the gear you’re buying to make good decisions.  Sometimes you unnecessarily pay more simply because you’re buying from a well-known company, and you have to know the difference.  So talk to salespeople and friends, and read magazines like Backpacker and Outside.  Don’t always buy at outdoor stores.  At the big local outdoor store, prices can be more than the big local discount store.  For general camping equipment in particular, this is often true.  And the next time you wince at the price of something, keep it in perspective.  Your sleeping bag will be the cost of staying in a fancy hotel for one night but will last for years.  Your outdoor clothes are way cheaper than the latest fashions.  And your tent is definitely less than a month’s rent.  In the long run, spending time in the outdoors and/or engaging in active travel will keep you and your pocketbook much healthier than many of the other addictions people have.

Visit: http://www.adventuresingoodcompany.com for more information.

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August 7, 2009

A new report released July 15 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one of every five Americans watches birds, and in doing so, birdwatchers contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006, the most recent year for which economic data are available. The report, Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis, shows that total participation in birdwatching is strong at 48 million, and remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996.

Participation rates vary, but are generally greater in the northern half of the country. Two New England states, Maine (39 percent), and Vermont (38 percent) are in the top five nationally.

The report is an addendum to the 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. The 2006 survey is the 11th in a series of surveys conducted about every five years that began in 1955.

The survey, conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in partnership with state wildlife agencies and national conservation organizations, has become the reference for participation and expenditure information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. The survey helps quantify how enjoyment of the outdoors and wildlife contributes to society and promotes a healthy economy - and further strengthens the Service’s commitment to conserve the nation’s wildlife for the enjoyment and benefit of the American people.

A copy of the Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis can be downloaded here:  http://library.fws.gov/Pubs/birding_natsurvey06.pdf. 

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July 31, 2009

Sportsmen and women we have a message to get out, and we need you.  Speeches at school, lectures for civic groups, presentations at club meetings.  These are just a few of the uses for new communication tools now available free from National Hunting and Fishing Day.  PowerPoint slides, sample script, automated slideshow with audio, speaking tips, handouts and more, all available at www.nhfday.org, can help you deliver a compelling message about hunting, fishing and conservation.

National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF) is September 26, but the new materials are designed as a year-round celebration of the NHF Day theme.  That is, conservation in America succeeds because of hunters and anglers.  Congress formalized NHF Day in 1972.  Today, the annual commemoration has an official home at Wonders of Wildlife in Springfield, MO.  The museum developed the new communication tools as an extension of its public awareness mission.

Country music’s rising star, Luke Bryan, is this year’s honorary chairman for National Hunting and Fishing Day 2009.  “I feel very proud to be a part of this,” said Bryan.  “I’m looking forward to the coming year.  I hope to help grow awareness of what hunters and anglers do for conservation, and just promote hunting and fishing overall.

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July 24, 2009

Untamed Adventure

Recently I got a chance to cover the first ever U.S. series race, “Untamed New England,” the three-day, non-stop adventure race began at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel on July 9.  Race disciplines include trekking, biking, paddling, ropes, navigation and conservation projects.  Untamed Adventure is part of the Adventure Race World Series this year, organizing the only qualifier in North America.  Teams from all over the world traveled to New Hampshire to compete for entry into the Adventure Race World Series Finals in Portugal.  Forty-four teams (even one from WMUR) from around the world raced through northern New England.

The race began at noon from The Balsams.  They headed toward the Androscoggin River for their first paddle leg.  The teams experienced class 1 and class 2 waters.  Teams faced even bigger challenges when they began their paddle leg with rough water on the Androscoggin River.

After getting off the water teams headed to Berlin for a conservation project at Heritage Park where teams are helping to clear a trail.  The race continued through Jefferson, Gorham, Stark and into Grafton Notch, ME, before returning to the Balsams.  Bike, hike, orienteer, and canoe were part of the event.  The final leg of mountain biking was about 40 miles; a long leg after a limited amount of rest in three days.

ATP/Salomon finished strong, turning in their passport at approximately 9 a.m. of the third day.  This was an unbelievable showing for ATP/Salomon on a difficult course and it appropriately earned them a spot in the Adventure Racing World Championship taking place in Portugal. 

An unusual finalist, Team Berlin/EMS secured a third place finish.  NYARA Team, however, showed amazing sportsmanship in the middle of the night by helping out a team in minor distress.  As a result of their willingness to slow themselves down to help out another team, the race directors made the decision to give them a 15 minute time bonus, giving them the exact same finishing time as Team Berlin/EMS.  Thus Team Berlin/EMS and NYARA tied for third place.

As the race organizers of the Portuguese World Championship Race were present as competitors in this race, they agreed to give both teams a qualifying spot for the World Championship Race.  This does not necessarily guarantee them an entrance to the race, but they will be allowed to participate in a lottery system with other qualifying teams as spots are available for the race.  To see the specifics of qualifying for the World Championship Race please consult their Website, www.arworldseries.com. 

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July 17, 2009

Hiking In the Rain

Tired of the rain?  Want to get outside?

Rainy-day hiking needn’t be uncomfortable if you’re properly prepared.  Here are a few tips from Rob Burbank of the Appalachian Mountain Club:

  • Wear clothing that will keep you warm, dry, and protected from the wind to avoid hypothermia.  A breathable rain shell and breathable rain pants will keep you drier on the inside than will coated nylon, rubber, or vinyl garments.
  • Keep your head dry.  A hat with a wide brim to help keep the rain out of your face.
  • Consider an umbrella.  Lightweight, packable umbrellas have their proponents in the backcountry.  If the rain isn’t too heavy and winds are light, you can stay dry under an umbrella while avoiding the clammy jacket syndrome.  That said, it’s best to have a set of raingear in your pack as a back-up.
  • Waterproof your boots.  Slather on the boot grease, and work it well into any seams.  Boots with fabric uppers often contain a waterproof, breathable membrane to help keep water out.  Waterproof coatings or sprays can often help keep water from soaking in, but check manufacturers’ recommendations before applying.
  • Gotta get gaiters.  These clothe boot covers that snug to your shins and hook to your laces for the rain and mud. 
  • When hiking in the rain, you’re likely to find water and mud on the trail.  Embrace your inner child and slog right on through.  Skirting the trail to avoid the wet stuff leads to trampled vegetation, erosion, and trail deterioration.
  • Be extra careful crossing streams.  Use trekking poles or a hiking staff to help maintain balance when crossing streams.  Be prepared with a Plan B if you can’t find a good place to cross.  High water may mean rerouting or rescheduling a trip.
  • Unbuckle those buckles.  Whenever crossing a water course, regardless of the level, unbuckle your pack’s waist belt and sternum strap so you can more readily doff the pack if you lose your footing.
  • As always, get a weather report before setting out.  Be aware of the potential for electrical storms, and plan your route to avoid exposed ridges if storms are forecast. 
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July 10, 2009

Wildlife Refuge System

The House of Representatives is including a $40 million increase to the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) budget for next year with the passage of their 2010 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill.  The bill exceeded President Obama’s budget request by $20 million, and its enactment would bring the operating budget for the NWRS to $503 million, building upon significant increases in Fiscal Year 2008 and Fiscal Year 2009.  This is a unique response.  If enacted, the House funding level will surpass the inflationary adjusted amount appropriated in Fiscal Year 2004, the previous high water mark for refuge funding.  Funding levels deteriorated to the point where 20 percent of staff positions were to be eliminated and many refuges had no staff at all.  Refuges need at least $15 million annually just to keep pace with inflation.  The House passed Interior Appropriations bill would finally surpasses that number although it is still falls short of the estimated System’s annual need of $808 million.

To those of us who appreciate the outdoors, love to hunt and fish and care about wildlife, and even if you rarely visit a refuge, this is a good thing.  The refuge land is held ‘in the wild’ to keep development from taking all the wild places in our land.  Take time this year to find and visit those places in New Hampshire this summer

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