Something Fishy

Something Fishy
t Doesn't Get Much Better

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tips for starting youngsters in waterfowl hunting

When it comes to teaching youngsters the basics and traditions of hunting, often squirrels or rabbits are the game that usually come to mind for the initial outings.
Squirrels are a good choice because many of the basics learned apply to other types of game, like deer and turkey. 
My first hunting was for rabbits. Almost by accident I shot one with a BB gun when I was about 10 years old. 
While rabbits are good for learning, however it seems these days there are fewer and fewer rabbits to hunt. Most farmers have eliminated their fence rows and many also fall plow. Much habitat has disappeared.
The PR folks at Delta Waterfowl sent me information about starting youngsters hunting waterfowl. I’ve always thought of waterfowl hunting as difficult and challenging. The best hunting usually requires crawling out of a warm bed about the time many people go to sleep, and it also often requires waiting for birds in lousy weather. The worse the better.
However, the information from Delta Waterfowl President Rob Olson is interesting and worth passing along for would-be waterfowl hunting. Many of the recommendations apply to any type of hunting, and even relate in general to fishing.
"I really believe you can't start'em too early," said Olson, who hunted ducks and geese with his father well before he was old enough to pull the trigger. "One important thing we've learned with our First Hunt program is that hunting participation soars in families where parents hunt. The more you can nurture the culture when they're young, the more likely you'll have a kid who hunts over their lifetime." 
Olson recently took his son Benjamin, 4, and nephews Petey, 8, and Joey, 6, to Delta to hunt ducks. "They had an absolute blast, and we didn't even shoot at a single bird," said Olson. "In many jurisdictions across North America, there are age restrictions on when kids can start hunting waterfowl. Restrictions or not, there is nothing stopping you from bringing the little ones along for a hunt. My advice is to just do it. You can't imagine how rewarding the experience will be—for you and the kids." 
Here are 10 tips Olson recommends considering when you take youngsters into the field: 
1. Keep it short. "It's like training a young Lab—short is always best," said Olson. 
2. Pick the right day—this isn't the time for a tough, cold day in the marsh. 
3. Make it fun. "Keep the focus on the kids and make sure the experience is fun and upbeat," said Olson. "Bring a football in case the birds don't cooperate." 
4. Start teaching some basic skills, but concentrate on safety. 
5. Bring lots of calls, and let the kids blow them as much as they want. The outing isn't about bagging birds. "Bring some ear plugs too, because it's probably going to get loud," Olson said. 
6. Bring lots of snacks. "Kids always want something to eat," said Olson. 
7. Bring a dip net. Yes, a dip net. "If the birds aren't flying, switch it up to a frog or water bug hunt. It doesn't matter to them." 
8. Take a lot of photos. They are certain to become family heirlooms. 
9. Bring a change of clothes because your kids are likely to get wet. 
10. Get your kids to help clean the birds, and eat them that same day. "If you do, they'll get hooked on eating game," said Olson. 
From this old outdoor writer’s experience, don’t worry about getting wild game. Make sure the kids have a fun experience. It’s about the kids and not the adults.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Persimmons among Mother Nature's fall food bounty

Persimmons make good puddings and make tasty wine.

Mother Nature produces a fall harvest of good things to gather and eat. Persimmons are one of those good things that can be found on a hike in the woods or on a special trip just to pick them.
Persimmons are one of the most popular items harvested in the fall, although other fruits of interest include the pawpaw, wild grapes, elderberry, and wild cherry. These can be picked while on a fall hunting trip for squirrels or a fishing trip, or they can be hunted and picked on any fall outing.
And besides the items thought of as fruits, there are nuts, walnuts, hickories and others. They are tasty in baked goods and other recipes.
Unfortunately this summer's drought has impacted some fruits and nuts, but in places they can be found.
The persimmon tree has gray, fissured bark. Once you learn the tree, they are easy to identify. I've never quite figured out persimmon production as to whether it will be a good year or no-so good year. Similar weather years don't seem to always produce the same amount of fruit. With the dry, hot weather, it will be interest to see the result. One way or another, it will be fun to get out and check the trees.
Persimmons should be picked from the ground and not the tree. If picked from the tree, they may be what we always have called “puckery”. One not fully ripe will leave the inside of your mouth with an awful taste and make the inside feel as though it puckers. Some people shake the persimmons from smaller limbs, but there is a danger of getting some puckery ones included in your picking.
Persimmons can be used to make wine. To process them is easy. You just look them over in the kitchen. Wash them off and make sure they are clean. Then squash and drop skins, seeds and all into the container where you make your wine.
However if you plan to use them to make persimmon pudding, cookies or pies or to save and freeze for later, much more work is involved. The biggest problem is getting out the seeds. They are sizable, but difficult to easily remove. The skins and stems also must be separated. They need to be run through a colander or Victoria strainer,  and that is a work of love, but one well worth doing. I love persimmon pudding. It is always a part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
Here is a persimmon pudding recipe::
Ingredients -- 2 cups persimmon pulp, 2 cups sugar (granulated), 2 cups milk, 2 cups flour, 3/4 stick of margarine or butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
Melt the butter and stir it into the pulp. Then stir in flour, sugar, cinnamon in that order and stir it well.
Pour the mixture into a nine by 13-inch cake pan, and bake for one hour in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees. It can be served with shipped cream, or it can be cut into squares and eaten with the hands, although you may have to lick your fingers afterward.
There are a number of other recipes. My mother-in-law always made a pudding that was less like a cake and more like a soft pudding to be eaten with a spoon. Either way it is delicious.
If you want to enjoy eating a few raw persimmons while on a hike or baking a tasty pudding, this is the time of the year to give them a try.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Photo of beautiful sunset can bring joy, and also save fond memories

Sunset at Cedars Resort on Central Lake, MI

Last evening after dinner, it was time to take my rat terrier Tyler for a walk on the grounds of Cedars Resort, located on the Antrim Chain of Lakes in northern Michigan.
During the day, it had rained and the temperature began to drop, but as the day began to fade, the sunset became brilliant. As the sun dropped over the hill on the far side of the lake, I thought I should have my camera. It was beautiful. But, I figured by the time I walked the short distance to the car for a camera, it would be too late for a good picture. When the sun sets, the light rapidly disappears.
But, I decided to give it a shot, and headed for the car. Tyler couldn’t figure out why his normal walk was being disrupted for a quick trip to the auto.
To my surprise, when I arrived back at my viewing spot of the sunset, which was bracketed between a number of handsome cedar trees, the sunset had turned even more golden in appearance.
I snapped about a half dozen shots with my old Nikon digital as the sunlight left for another day. Several of the resulting shots looked as though they had been shot through a filter, but they weren’t. I was just lucky.
One thing about photography I learned long ago, is take a lot of pictures. If you take enough, you often will get a shot you like.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Small town of Falmouth, MI, offers several pleasant surprises

Wonderful surprises in a small town. That’s where you often find them.
While traveling in Northern Michigan, we visited our winter Florida neighbor Dennis Daniels, who lives just outside of Lake City. His wife, Jean was visiting family in Ohio, so when time for lunch came around, he suggested a short road trip to Falmouth.
I once ran a road race in Falmouth, MA, but wasn’t aware there was a Falmouth in Michigan. However, the Michigan version is just as scenic as the Atlantic namesake.
Dennis suggested we wait a few minutes before heading out to lunch. “Right now, they’re busy with the farmers,” he grinned. “Let’s wait a few minutes...And there is a dairy right across the street.” He wasn’t kidding.
With a population of less than a thousand, the small town has a wonderful restaurant, specializing in home cooked (and baked) food. The place is Duane’s. and the food isn’t fancy, it’s great. The places bakes it’s own bread, pies, cookies and other pastries.
Another surprise is behind the restaurant, it’s Ebel’s General Store, which has been around since 1920. Today, Ebel’s located in a modern building with large basement, and if the store doesn’t have it, you don’t need it. You can buy anything from a tractor, to clothing to an extremely large selection of meats and foods. There is a large selection of jerky sausages, including one variety containing locally grown cherries.
If you ever are in the area, a trip to Falmouth is well worth your time. Your taste buds will like it as well.
And after we said goodbye to Dennis, we stopped briefly in Lake City at a local shop that makes pasties. a northern Michigan specialty. It’s sort of a pie filled with meat and vegetables. The shop had several varieties of pasties, and the lady working in the store recommended one with rutabaga and beef.
It was a fun day visiting a friend and neat small town places.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9-11 memories still strong in my head; seems like yesterday

(I wrote this column a number of years ago, and today after thinking about that awful day again, I decided to post the recollections on my blog.)                

       My head is filled with thoughts related to 9/11. They are numerous and difficult to organize. That may be the case for many Americans.
I know exactly what I was doing when the first twin tower was hit. My wife Phyllis and I had made plans to attend an outdoor writer’s conference. We planned to take our motorhome, so I had scheduled some minor maintenance at a Tell City automotive garage.
When I arrived at the garage with the motorhome on the morning of 9/11, a radio was playing in the back of the shop. A newsman was talking about a plane crashing into a World Trade Center tower.  A short time later, the second plane hit. Being an old news guy and retired Air Force officer, it didn’t make sense. 
The rest of the day, and for several days, I was glued to the television and radio. It was hard to believe. I couldn’t get enough information.
The thoughts and mind-pictures from the scene poured into my head, and my heart. I felt for the victims, their families and their friends. And to me, the physical loss of the buildings also was like losing a friend.
For four years, I rode the train from Mt. Lakes, NJ, to Hoboken, then boarded the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson). Rode under the river to the train station in the basement of one the Twin Towers. Each evening, I made the reverse trip.
I can still see the escalators which carried me daily up from the lower level station. There were sandwich shops and restaurants. I often visited them for lunch.
There also were other restaurants higher in the building.. And if I remember right, in the early days of CNN, the network had an office there that covered Wall Street. I sometimes worked with its reporters.
Windows on the World was a wonderful restaurant atop one of the towers. The food was good, but the view was even more spectacular. I remember attending a Christmas party there. The view at night was breathtaking.
I worked about a block and a half away in media relations for AT&T. It still is hard for me to imagine or believe the towers are gone.
One day a wacky guy using suction cups on his hands and feet decided to climb one of the towers. Fred Heckman, the former news director of WIBC in Indianapolis, was a good friend. He called me and asked it I could see the climbing guy, who I think called himself,”The Human Fly.”
“Sure,” I said. The next thing I knew I was live on WIBC providing an account of the nutty guy’s climb. In fact, I did several reports for Fred.
I have many memories of the now missing beautiful buildings. I still see them in my mind.
Had the timing been a bit different, I could have been in one of the towers.
My fear is that something similar will happen again. It is hard to protect against people who have no respect for human dignity, for life, and freedom.
We do the best we can.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dove season has arrived; birds available despite drought

        Dove season is here, and despite the hot, arid summer, birds seem to be plentiful as the season starts.
“There are plenty of doves around,” said Rocky Pritchert, migratory bird coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in a recent department news release. And what applies in Kentucky pretty much applies to the southern Indiana side of the river.
“It’s a mixed bag. Some dove fields are looking good while some were affected by the drought,” said Pritchert.
Indiana’s dove season opened Sept. 1 and continues through Oct. 23. The it will closed and reopen Dec. 9 and run through Christmas Day. This late season is primarily for migrating birds. The daily limit throughout the season is 15 birds.
According to Rocky, hunters who put in a little time scouting before hunting a particular field place themselves at an advantage. 
“The first thing I look for when setting up in a dove field is a dead tree or snag,” Pritchert said. “Then, I look for the flight patterns of the doves. Survey where they enter the field and where they exit. Find the entry spot and set up near there. It is better to find a place where they enter the field than where they exit.”
Doves often fly into a field through gaps in trees or a swale in the ground. “A dead tree that is in one of these flight patterns is a great spot,” Pritchert said. “They often land in dead trees before entering the field to feed.”
Doves also use power lines for the same purpose. Studying these features and setting up near them makes for a much more eventful day. A poorly chosen spot in a good field leads to frustration when others down all of the doves. It is like watching someone from the opposite end of the boat catch all of the fish. Study and choose wisely.
For many hunters, dove season is part hunt, part social gathering, and part ritual for many. It is a time for renewing old friendships and making new ones. Its a time for camaraderie, tall tales, hunts remembered, and some lip smackin'’ outdoor cookin'’.
Dove season also is ideal for introducing young people to hunting. It’s still relatively inexpensive. September weather is ideally suited to the young hunter who isn’t ready to handle the cold of a duck blind or goose pit.
There also isn’t as much need to remain motionless and silent for long periods of time, although the less motion the better when birds are incoming.
There is plenty of time for snacks and moving around. There usually is considerable action. And it is just fun whether you down many doves or not. During hunts, there is ample time for conversation as you wait for the next flight of those gray bird versions of the Thunderbirds.
Doves are a dark meat with a flavor somewhat like liver. Some people say they don’t like the meat, but properly prepared, doves are great eating.
My favorite way to prepare them is to marinate the breasts overnight. You can make your own or buy a commercial marinade.
The next day, wrap them in in bacon like rumaki, and cook them on a charcoal grill. They make a great meal-starter, or if you have enough, a main course themselves.
Proper preparation of doves is important. There are many good recipes on line. Find one you like and you’ll find dove mighty tasty.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Kentucky fish & wildlife department budget woes similar to most users

Kentucky’s Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources faces some pocketbook issues similar to most folks who enjoy the outdoors. 
The KDFWR must live within its revenues, says Dr. Jon Gassett, commissioner of the department.
In the August commissioner newsletter from the KDFWR, Gassett, outlined the current status of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. He explained how despite belt tightening, the department strives to offer quality facilities and experiences for the public.
Gassett wrote in part: “This current year has been a challenge and is directly related to the following factors: 
• Personnel costs increased due to insurance and retirement rates. 
• Our state license revenue declined in License Year 2012. This number was used as our revenue base for the FY 13 budget. 
• Also more “baby boomers” are recruiting to the $5/Senior license (produces less revenue than regular license)
• Federal Sport Fish Restoration Funds have declined since they are based on fishing license sales. 
“Our budget reduction strategy is similar to your personal finances: Do Not Spend More than Your Make!,” explained the commissioner.
Gassett said in an effort to respond to the budget impacts, some reduction methods include: 
• Reducing fleet vehicles including a car pool for Headquarters, along with curtailing the purchase of new vehicles in this budget cycle; 
• Eliminating blackberries and reissuance of less expensive phones/devices where necessary; 
• Negotiating new cell phone costs; 
• Curtailing and delaying the purchase of new capital outlay items (e.g., boats, atvs, etc.) in this budget cycle; 
• Delaying the filling of unfilled positions; 
• Reducing out of state travel; 
• Reducing printing costs in favor of more technological advances; and 
• Identifyjng other inefficiencies that translate 
to immediate cost savings. 
Gassett said KDFWR has a stable Fish and Game Fund that can be used as a backup for necessary expenses. “However, it has been our routine practice to avoid use of these funds for our operating budget. 
We do use these funds for our Capital/ Land Acquisition Projects, but many of these receive a significant reimbursement to offset this debit,” according to Gassett.
He added that projections indicate an improvement in license revenues to accompany planned savings from frugal management.
“In summary, this is not a crisis, and we 
periodically have to reexamine our spending strategies – again no different than your personal finances.” Gassett concluded. 
     # # # #
TAYLORSVILLE DOCKS -- KFDWR Engineering Division staff recently completed installing new boat courtesy docks at the Possum Ridge and Settlers Trace boat ramps at Taylorsville Lake.  
They also plan to rework the existing boat courtesy docks at Chowning Lane and Van Buren boat ramps in the near future.  
These boat courtesy docks were damaged as a result of the intense flooding which occurred during the spring of 2011 when Taylorsville Lake water levels for the first time exceeded the emergency spillway. 
Funding for much of the work is being reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a result of the flooding.   

Tell City DU to celebrate 75th anniversary with banquet, auction

Ducks Unlimited will commemorate its 75th anniversary Sept. 8 with a banquet and fund-raising event at the Schergen’s Center in Tell City.
Ducks Unlimited (DU) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife, and people. It has more than a half-million members, mostly in the United States and Canada.
DU has become a leader in waterfowl habitat conservation and has conserved more than 12.4 million acres of waterfowl habitat in North America. DU partners with a wide range of corporations, governments, other non-governmental organizations, landowners, and private citizens to restore and manage areas that have been degraded and to prevent further degradation of existing wetlands. 
One such project has been to partner with the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources at the Yellowbank Wildlife Management Area across from Perry County, where a waterfowl refuge area has been established.
Among the activities of the local chapter has been the placement of  wood duck boxes around the area.
Bert Holtzman, co-chair of the upcoming event, said the local chapter was revived in 2009 after it had become inactive, and since has become very active and has qualified for several organization awards.
“Our 75th anniversary event is open to the public andfeatures numerous homemade items, which can be viewed on our Facebook page. We also have all the traditional items auctioned at a DU event,” added Holtzman.
Information about the event is available on internet’s Facebook at: Tell City Ducks Unlimited. Information and tickets also are available from Holtzman at 812-719-5183.
# # #  #
TRAIL PROGRAM -- Gov.  Mitch Daniels has announced that Indiana will continue to participate in the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) that has provided $14.5 million in federal funds for more than 100 trails projects in the state since 1994.
  The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) recently passed by Congress reauthorized RTP for the next two federal fiscal years beginning Oct. 1 but also gave governors the option to not participate. Daniels chose to renew Indiana’s commitment to trails initiatives, which fits with the Hoosiers on the Move plan he announced in 2006.
  “Hoosiers on the Move established an ambitious goal of having a trail within 7.5 miles or 15 minutes of every Hoosier citizen by the year 2016,” Daniels said. “We’re getting close, and continued funding from the Recreational Trails Program over the next two years will put us over the top in fulfilling that goal.”
RTP is a matching grant through the Federal Highway Administration that funds multiple trail types, including bicycle/pedestrian greenways, mountain biking, equestrian, water and motorized (ATV, motorcycle, four-wheel drive). RTP funds are routed through the Indiana Department of Transportation and administered by the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation.
Indiana’s Outdoor Recreation website has a trail inventory with an interactive map for finding various types of trails.
# # # #
RIG STORAGE -- Alabama and other umbrella-style bass fishing rigs have earned a permanent place among many bass fishermen's tackle arsenals, but the wire-frame contraptions have had a problem fitting into anglers' traditional tackle storage systems. Now one company has come up with a solution.
Plano, a long-time tackle storage company, has developed The Plano® Alabama Rig® Box, which joins the company's StowAway™ lineup in tackle bags and other tackle management systems.
  The Plano Alabama Rig box measures 14"L x 9.13"W x 2"D and is designed to hold up to four rigs in individual compartments.  
  The specialty box, available now, retails for around $12.