In November, large numbers of snowy owls began invading the United States. Since then, they've been spotted in 25 states as far south as Arkansas and South Carolina. Ornithologists say it's the biggest migration in 50 years.
This coincides with the worst winter we've seen in, well, 50 years. Coincidence?
According to biologists, these snowy owl "irruptions" occur when their chief food source (lemmings) plummets. This theory always bothered me. First off, who honestly counts lemmings? Second, snowy owls don't eat lemmings during the winter because the little varmints are under eight feet of freakin' ice.
With all respect to the Canadian Lemming Census Bureau, it's not about suicidal arctic rodents. There is definitely a connection between horrible winters and the presence of snowy owls in the lower 48. Since the scientific community won't admit it, MudroomReport bravely calls bullshit on conventional wisdom and proposes the following:
Snowy owls know what's coming…better than The Weather Channel, Farmer's Almanac and NOAA combined. They knew this winter was going to suck way before the term "Polar Vortex" became a household phrase, and sensibly they flew south to better conditions for finding food.
Lemmings don't make snowy owls decide to winter in Arkansas. The weather does…and we've got the research to back it up: The last snowy owl irruption occurred in 2011--the same winter that Mudroom's home state of Connecticut broke historic snowfall records. Boom.
In conclusion, we present the Mudroom Report Snowy Owl Duhh Theory: The greater the number of owls, and the farther south they travel, the more severe our winter will be.
With this knowledge, we humans can benefit greatly. Here's a handy guide come November:
Snowy owls are seen in Minnesota and Cape Cod: Buy some extra salt, maybe a new shovel. You'll be OK.
If they venture to Oklahoma and Maryland: Get that new snowblower, service your generator and stock up on canned goods.
When they show up in Miami and San Antonio: Turn out your wife and kids to fend for themselves, keep your fat, tender golden retriever and nail the door shut till April.
Last weekend, four people were killed in motor vehicle-deer collisions in the US. Each brief story was duly posted by local news outlets and forgotten.
Who cares, right? The BIG story over the past two weeks was The Deer With An Arrow Through Its Head. 12,300 news items on Google News and 8.5 million results on Google Search. Yes, "Little Steve Martin" crushed the Kardashians in media attention, achieving true celebrity status.
The world stood still, riveted to Rockaway Township, New Jersey and the fate of this unfortunate animal. Happily, biologists captured the young buck, removed the arrow and released him back into the wilds of suburbia. Prognosis for survival is very good. Unless he goes through somebody's windshield next week.
It is disturbing that our society largely ignores news once it becomes commonplace. 3,500 car/deer collisions occur every day…killing around 200 people each year, causing over $4 billion in vehicle damage. Boring. But one bad (or ill-advised) shot from a backyard bowhunter captures the attention of the world.
Yet there's a silver lining to this very behavior: This kind of event is usually followed by a flood of anti-hunting vitriol. Stop bow hunting, it's cruel and barbaric. Change the law to prevent thiskind of thing from ever happening in our town.
Apart from a few crazy-cat-lady rants in local online forums there's been surprisingly little anti-hunting backlash. For the moment, Arrow-Deer is a media circus freak and an object of compassion, but not an anti-hunting icon.
Maybe the practice of urban hunting to control deer population has also become commonplace, boring, acceptable. Wouldn't that be great news?
1970. Those were the days. A time when one man with one awesome idea could convince a town in Oregon to blow up a dead whale with a half-ton of dynamite.
Now this was a long time ago...before the Internet, before Greenpeace, before the EPA. These were rough-and-ready days when individual courage, imagination and explosives could deal with anything.
Shakespeare said: "Some men are born great, some achieve greatness; and others have greatness thrust upon them." For George, an 8-ton, 40-foot washed-up gray whale provided ample thrust. By good fortune, George's highway department bosses were off on a hunting trip during the crisis, giving him a clear runway to achieve his legacy.
It must be said that George didn't act alone. The titanic stink of the decomposing whale must've been a powerful ally. Smell you could actually taste. Smell that rapidly overpowers judgement, shortens town hall meetings and sends common sense running for the hills. It doesn't take much to imagine how easy it was for George to advance his plan. "OK George, do it...(gasp)...Just get rid of it...(ulp)...Meeting Adjourned."
In an interview before the deed, George said "We're not sure how much explosive it'll take to disintegrate the whale," but clearly his thoughts were: "By God, I'm not going to leave this putt short." George settled on 1000 pounds of dynamite; a number that, on paper, still sounds pretty good to this day.
The video fromKATU tells the rest of the story:
History was made. Lessons were learned. Fingers were pointed (at George mostly). But most important, a Legend was born.
Here's to you, George. There's damn few like you. You will be missed.
What happens when gun control meets a hunting paradise? We are about to find out in Colorado.
Hunting in the Centennial State is big business. Revenue associated with hunting and fishing is $1.8 billion a year. It's a huge destination for out-of-state hunters and they spend big bucks to go there. Non-residents contribute 60% of the state's hunting license revenue.
Could it be that Governor Hickenlooper forgot about this economic gold mine when he signed his new gun laws? More likely he believed his own BS that "common sense" gun control wouldn't piss off hunters.
Now a boycott of Colorado by out-of-state hunters has begun. Outfitters are reporting cancelled hunts. The Outdoor Channel, in their own form of protest, went as far as to kill the four hunting programs they planned to film in Colorado this season.
From a tin-ear political POV one can't blame Hickenlooper; technically his laws don't affect most non-resident hunting. And perhaps the majority of hunters won't even notice. But the symbolic branding of Colorado as "anti-gun" creates very bad feelings among a significant percentage of hunters--enough to cause real economic pain.
Consider the profile of a non-resident big-game hunter: If they have $5,000 to travel for a guided elk hunt, there's a pretty good chance they own more than one bolt-action rifle. They probably own several guns and pursue a variety of game beyond their visit to Colorado. Hunting's a big deal for them...and gun rights go hand-in-hand with this lifestyle.
A lot of them don't appreciate emotionally-driven gun control laws that impact only law-abiding firearms owners. New state slogan: Colorado--Smells Like New York And California.
Some Coloradans say a boycott won't affect state revenues--new hunters will eagerly replace the narrow-minded heathens who opt out. Or there's this gem: A boycott will make hunting better for resident hunters (forget that locals don't spend near as much money). Still others declare the boycott as stupid, selfish and harmful to wildlife conservation. In other words, it is somehow our duty to hunt in Colorado. Shame on us.
Let's be conservative and say 2 out of 10 hunters are sufficiently offended to consider another destination state. A 20% loss in non-resident revenue would be a serious blow to the state's economy. Outfitters, guides, hotels, retail, car rental, and yes the Colorado Division of Wildlife. There will be innocent victims, but political decisions often have unfortunate repercussions.
In their haste to "do something" about guns, Colorado forgot that non-resident hunters have choices. Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico and -gulp- even Canada should take notice and figure out how to capture the millions of dollars that could be up for grabs.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (myfwc.com) just wrapped up the "2013 Python Challenge", an open-to-the-public 'round up' to find and kill invasive Burmese pythons in the Everglades.
From the get-go, the Python Challenge was controversial, unique, and tailor-made for a media crap-storm.
FWC announced the event in early December; immediately the media floodgates opened. Early on the scene were the animal rights crowd, who predictably went nuts, calling the event "despicably cruel". After these critics learned that invasive pythons are an ecological menace and are cleaning out the Everglades of entire species of cute mammals and birds, they faded away.
Next at bat for the media made fun of the participants, labeling the snake hunters as an unruly mob of armed rednecks crashing around the Everglades. In today's polite society, it's standard procedure for the media to characterize all hunters this way. I wonder how many of those keyboard warriors would wreck a week's worth of underwear at the mere thought of wading through a swamp looking for ornery reptiles that might be 20 feet long. But I digress.
Once the event was under way, a month-long media bonanza of continuous coverage followed, nearly all positive and well-informed. Because the Challenge was a colorful competition with cash prizes it was fun for the public to follow, and the media obliged with widespread international attention. Discovery Channel missed a golden reality-show opportunity here...well, maybe next year.
The Python Challenge ended last week. Over 1600 participated in the hunt. Only 68 snakes were caught. More press followed to announce winners and wrap up the results. Some called the program a failure because of the low number of pythons bagged.
In truth, the Python Challenge was pure genius. Whoever dreamed this up at FWC deserves the gold medal in public relations and marketing. The volume of free press coverage was staggering; Google "2013 Python Challenge" you'll get almost 11 million search results.
Therein lies the genius. FWC knows that education and awareness are vital to the battle against invasive species. In the end, it didn't matter how many snakes were caught, or whether the media coverage was pro or con. The message that invasive pythons are a huge menace to Florida's ecosystem reached millions of people, and enlightened many on the negative impact of all invasive species.
FWC also set a new PR/marketing bar for state wildlife agencies. Hogs and other invasives better watch their backs.
Federal and state politicians have employed some revolting tactics in today's war on guns. Taking advantage of a tragedy to advance their agenda is one.
Another is claiming to respect the 2nd Amendment and defending the rights of "hunters and sportsmen." Their obvious message: "Hunters: This is not your fight. Stay out of it, and we will leave you alone. For now."
This attempt to separate hunters from the gun control issue seemed to be working. I was afraid that the hunting community was sleeping through the whole thing.
Then came today's announcement that British-owned Reed Exhibitions had canceled their giant Eastern Outdoors Show. Hunters may be snoozing on the gun control fight, but certainly the outdoor industry is not.
What killed this outdoor exhibition giant? Reed decided to jump on the gun control bandwagon, prohibiting AR-style rifles and high-capacity magazines from the show.
Cabela's was one of the first to walk away, and that started an avalanche. A week later, 307 exhibitors had bailed out in protest. Not just gun folks. In an impressive show of solidarity, manufacturers and retailers from all corners of the outdoor industry backed away. Here's a partial list.
Companies dedicated to archery, decoys, knives, camping, game calls, taxidermy, optics, plus outfitters and foundations, all told Reed Exhibitions to pound sand. Yet their courage to boycott comes with a real price...many of them do an entire season's worth of business at shows like EOS. Really there's no winner here, just a powerful lesson of unity and principle.
As for Reed Exhibitions, they lost a huge show and a lot of money thanks to short-sighted knee-jerk ignorance. And get this: Reed also hosts the annual SHOT Show, the largest gun trade show in the world. What were they thinking?!
Hopefully this encouraging lesson will not be lost on America's hunters. The threat against our rights affects all gun owners, plus millions of people who earn their livelihoods from the hunting sports. United, with a single voice, we are very hard to beat.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed his blitzkrieg gun bill into law today, no doubt before half the reps who voted for it even got a chance to read it.
We are quickly finding out that federal gun control proposals pale in comparison to a foaming-at-the-mouth governor of a liberal state surfing a crisis.
Other like-minded states are sure to follow Cuomo's lead to destroy the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
For New Yorkers, it's done. Here's some of the bad news:
New and Improved "Assault Rifle" Ban: Any semi-automatic rifle or shotgun that has one of these features: Pistol grip, bayonet lug, muzzle flash suppressor, or folding stock. Current owners of these weapons will have one year to register them with the state. There's all kinds of baggage that can go with this, including further background checks, taxes, and of course as Canada showed us, the threat of confiscation.
Magazines: Bans all detachable magazines that hold more than 7 rounds. Pistols, rifles, everything. Current owners of higher-capacity magazines supposedly have one year to sell them out of state, after that...don't get caught with one.
Important Notice: Criminals are not subject to the 'assault weapon' ban OR limited to 7 rounds, so you'd better make 'em count, folks!
Ammo: Background checks for all ammunition purchases, to be conducted by ammo dealers. Purchases must be reported to the state. Special attention will be given to those who make 'bulk' purchases. Don't know if this also means a ban on internet ammo purchases, but it probably does.
New York gun owners are going to be pissed when they wake up and realize what's hit them. I just hope they're really good shots.
Sweeping gun control legislation is coming--fast. Politicians with a long-standing hatred of firearms are riding the anti-gun wave following the Sandy Hook tragedy, and they're using this crisis to drive unprecedented measures that could affect all American gun owners--including hunters.
The strident political rhetoric also contains a devious message: It cleverly defends 'Hunting' combined with 'the 2nd Amendment' to create the notion that hunters are an immune and protected group.
Our right to keep and bear arms has absolutely nothing to do with hunting, and they know it. Politicians are trying to fool you and 15 million other hunters into believing you're not the target. They want to take you out of the fight.
This strategy appears to be working...the silence from the hunting community about the gun-control fight is mind-boggling. The 'mainstream' hunting magazines and websites have their heads in the sand. Most hunting blogs too.
The shooting sports and 2nd Amendment crowd, on the other hand, are wide awake and at DEFCON 1. They have a lot to lose.
Bad news, hunters...so do you. Like it or not, to policy makers and the media, you--with your high-power scoped hunting rifles, semi-auto shotguns, all that ammunition--are really in the same boat as any despicable American gun owner. Politicians do not care enough about guns or the reasons we own them to make any distinctions. They're going for broke...and the more they can get away with the better.
If you think this is Tin-Foil-Hat conspiracy talk, here are some bills coming this month:
Federal: Besides our Vice President suggesting that Executive Action may be taken on guns, which is scary enough, there's more specific legislation coming. California Senator Feinstein's bill would ban all rifles and shotguns with a pistol grip. Ban a huge (over 1,000) list of popular semi-automatic rifles from M1 Carbine and Mini 14 to modern AR rifles. Ban all semi-auto rimfire or centerfire rifle with a fixed magazine of over 10 rounds capacity. Ban all magazines for any firearm that hold more than 10 rounds.
Current owners of banned firearms would be forced to register them under the National Firearms Act, be fingerprinted, photographed and probably undergo further background checks and pay a tax on each gun. You can't sell or give away banned guns to anyone, even your kid. Surrender them upon your death. Bill is scheduled for introduction January 22nd.
Want to buy a turkey shotgun with a pistol grip? Forget it. A Butler Creek 25-round mag for your Ruger 10-22 plinker? Illegal. Varmint and hog hunting, among the fastest-growing hunting sports, are really going to get it. AR-style rifles, popular and well-suited to these sports, would be banned.
Depending where you live, it could be even worse. Individual states are also moving fast with their own incredible legislation. Here's just a taste:
Illinois:Gun-control express train from Hell. The gist of this bill is to ban ALL semi-automatic firearms. 50% of rifles and 80% of handguns (and who knows how many shotguns) lawfully owned would be subject to ban, registration, taxation, and possible confiscation under this bill. This bill is so crazy that even in Illinois it couldn't get enough votes to be considered this week, but it is still in play. It demonstrates the ferocious mentality of the modern gun-grabbing politician. Illinois duck hunters: Ever imagine that owning a Benelli SBE could make you a felon?
New York: Governor Cuomo has vowed to make gun control a major agenda item this week, and there's a pile of horrific legislation awaiting. Bill 1422 would ban ALL semi-automatic firearms with detachable magazines...handguns and rifles. It also removes provisions allowing 'grandfathered' guns to be lawfully owned, paving the way for possible confiscation. Your trusty Remington 750 Woodsmaster? Banned.
NY Bill 142 bans all mail-order and internet ammunition purchases. A federal license would be required to sell ammunition, and sellers would have to report 'bulk' ammo sales...like the four flats of 12 gauge ammo you buy for skeet shooting (you obviously unstable gun nut). License and regulation costs would be passed on to you...Ammo prices would go through the roof.
Connecticut:Here's a nifty bill that outlaws ALL firearms unless they are made to fire a single shot only. Seriously?
California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Colorado and many other states have plans of their own, coming soon.
Hunters can't afford to be ignorant and complacent. These people want to take us back to 19th century firearm technology.
What should you do?
Be informed: to NRAILA.org and read the bills...understand how they could affect you, both nationally and in your state.
Stay informed: The best up-to-the-minute gun news blog is TheTruthAboutGuns.com. AmmoLand.com is another good one.
Get involved: If there ever was a time to join and contribute to the NRA, this is it. 100,000 new members have joined up in the past 18 days. The NRA has big teeth and they know how to fight political battles.
Write your representatives:NRAILA.org will easily help you find and contact your political representatives so you can voice your opinion.
Spread the word: Talk to fellow hunters, make sure they know what's going on and what they should do.
Too much is at stake here...America's hunters must be heard in this fight.
Nature Wars by Jim Sterba is an important read for hunters, conservationists, American history buffs and even the animal-rights crowd.
This is a timely and important book. Every day in the US, about 4,000 drivers will hit a deer with their car. Coyotes are taking over whole towns, killing pets and becoming more aggressive toward humans. Police respond (with deadly force) to aggressive wild turkeys. What the heck is going on?
Suburbanites all over America have awakened to furred-and-feathered barbarians at the gates: Deer, beaver, coyotes, turkey, bear, even cougars have voted with their feet (and stomachs) to claim our neighborhoods as their new permanent homes.
How did this happen, seemingly all of a sudden? In truth, it's taken over 400 years to get here, and no surprise it's pretty much all our fault.
Nature Wars is a fascinating story, full of surprising facts, exploded myths, and hard statistics wrapped up in a tale well told. The book focuses on our close relationship and history with five familiar American animals: Whitetail Deer, Beaver, Wild Turkey, Black Bear, and Canada Geese.
Most of us know the Cliff's Notes story of these species: Through habitat loss and market hunting in the 18th and 19th centuries, these animals were nearly wiped out. Thanks to smart human management they thrive in their former glory. Yay!
They're thriving, all right, and with a vengeance...not in the 'wild' but right in our back yards. As federally-protected animal populations were recovering, American "sprawl" (our great migration to the suburbs) was taking place. Our desire to live among trees and water, our stylized vision of manicured nature erased the old lines between civilization and wilderness. Along the way we also created the perfect environment for critters great and small.
Throw in booming populations of animals protected by a nature-loving, anti-hunting suburban public and you've got a big problem, difficult to manage and increasingly expensive.
Nature Wars doesn't declare a winner in the end, but it does say who's winning right now. And it ain't us.
In November, large numbers of snowy owls began invading the United States. Since then, they've been spotted in 25 states as far south as Arkansas and South Carolina. Ornithologists say it's the … Read More...