The Heat Is On…And The Hunt Might Be Off!

Planning a big hunt out west this fall?   Have you been paying attention to the weather recently where you plan to do your hunting?   Truth is, many hunters are sadly learning that unless some big changes come about in the weather patterns…and it happens soon…the dream hunt to some western prairie state might remain just that — a dream.

Seriously, I spoke to one hunter yesterday who is deeply concerned about his upcoming hunts both in Montana and in New Mexico.   To his knowledge nothing has officially closed quite yet…but he’s already bracing himself for the real possibility of that happening.   Right now things don’t look good over much of the West as dry, hot conditions are simply making it too dangerous for hunters to be roaming the tinder-dry lands.   When ranch-land gets dry the ranchers get real nervous…and so, too, do the foresters who want to keep fires out of their districts.

In fact, things have gotten so bad out in Washington and Oregon that Weyerhaeuser has set up a special toll-free hotline so the recreational users on their company lands can now access the latest information on where closures might be initiated.   No matter where you’re planning to hunt this fall it might be a good idea to check now with officials to start preparing for what could happen in the weeks to come.

Rumor has it that some Indian reservations out in South Dakota and Wyoming have already closed off their lands this summer to prairie dog shooters due to the extreme fire danger that is present.

Certainly I’m not trying to be a pessimist here, but you need to know if you’re hunting several states away just what the conditions are there right now.   It might change the way you are allowed to hunt this fall (i.e. no 4–wheelers or off road vehicles) or it could involve the outright closure of lands you were planning on to be open.   Most hunts are an investment not only of your money, but also your time…so plan ahead and stay current with what is happening even if it’s still several weeks until you pack the trailer and start heading west.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Well, Imagine That!

I’m still not completely sure what to make of this, but it seems that one of the hottest new arcade games on the market today happens to be a game called Big Buck Hunter Pro.   Now you’d expect this game to be widely popular in places such as…oh, say the Midwest, the deep South or other locales where hunting is a way of life for many…but how about New York City!   Yup, deep in the heart of Gotham City miles away from any true hunting opportunity this game is raking in hundreds of dollars weekly totally shooting down its arcade game competition.


It appears that to many city-dwellers, some of whom rarely ever leave the bright lights of the city are discovering a new fascination with the notion of hunting — at least doing so electronically.   It is now being viewed as quite “hip” to be plopping quarters into these machines in exchange for a chance to waylay a big buck.   In bars and arcades across the country this new game has captured the imagination of folks whom you would not ordinarily find traipsing in the woods.   To read more on this new trend click here.

So, should this be a positive sign for the future of hunting?   Initially I tend to think so.   In a world where it appears that more and more people are repulsed by our sport in an odd way it is sort of refreshing to see non-hunters…well,…pretending to be hunters!   I know, I know just because they pick up a plastic toy shotgun and start blasting away at animated deer doesn’t mean they will someday become the real thing.   Still, I don’t know if that’s really necessary.   When I first read this story my initial reaction was this game could become a great public relations tool to reach the minds of those folks we ordinarily couldn’t reach.

I mean let’s face it.   The chance of some urbanite who has never experienced hunting or shooting a real gun trekking out of the city into the woods is quite remote, to say the least.   Yet this same person might better understand and accept the challenge that hunters face who do this activity for real.   Why is that important?   Well, like it or not the future of our outdoor sporting heritage might someday rely on the voting attitude of a person who is largely apathetic about participating in the sports we love.   Yet, if their attitude fosters a certain tolerance for shooting wild game or fishing…that person might just be swayed our way more easily in terms of accepting our sport when they step into a voting booth.

In the article linked above Russell Thornberry, Editor in Chief of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine in Montgomery, Ala. was quoted as saying:

“I thank god they are doing it in a bar.  I’m not sure I’d want them hunting anywhere near where I was hunting.  They’d be a danger to me and the deer.”

Okay, I don’t personally know Russell but I will give him the benefit of the doubt here.   I’m guessing that quote had to be taken out of context.   Why would the editor of a whitetail hunting magazine say anything to discourage participation in the sport of deer hunting.   After all, shouldn’t it be his job to inspire hunters to advance their interests in the sport…no matter what that level of interest might be?   Moreover, commenting about the danger element is totally unnecessary and only reinforces the public’s already mis-conceived notion that hunting is such a dangerous sport.

No, the more I think about it the stronger I feel that sportsmen should be better capitalizing on games such as this for our own public relations benefit.   For years now the animal rights folks have been tainting our children’s school books with their misguided, slanted rubbish.   Isn’t it about time we expose to a non-hunting public just how much fun the challenge of hunting can be—whether its real or not?   I realize that Big Buck Hunter Pro is a poor excuse for actually hunting some ol’ woods savvy buck, but it’s a start…isn’t it?

I’m thinking that the next time I walk through a shopping mall I might just have to sneak into the arcade for a moment or two and seek out this game.   Of course, I wouldn’t be doing so in an effort to feel more “hip” or cool about myself.   Nope, instead I would be voting with my quarters and telling the arcade owner that games such as this one exposing the excitement of hunting needs to continue to find space inside his arcade.   So…how do you feel about hunting-themed arcade games?

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Appreciating Life Beyond The Ordinary

My wife could easily see that I was fascinated with the entire concept of “lobstering” during our recent trip to Maine.   Now grant you most lobsters are not caught by recreational sportsmen…rather, they appear in saltwater tanks at the local grocery store as a direct result of commercial fishermen who make a living pulling these “bugs” out of the sea.   Still, the whole notion of catching lobster held a certain flair that captured my sporting imagination, if for no longer than a few days during a vacation last week that went by way too fast.


Actually it was lobsters that attracted my wife and I to choose the state of Maine as our summer vacation this year.   My wife, Roberta, absolutely loves most types of seafood and so it was only fitting to take her to one of the best spots on earth to satiate that hunger.   Personally I am not a huge seafood person, myself, but you have to love a place that cooks up most fish, shrimp, scallops and lobster only hours after it is caught.   There’s nothing quite like fresh seafood to quickly spoil you when all you are used to is frozen fare from the local grocery store.

Now did you know that about 70% of the U.S. lobster market is served by fishermen from Maine?   Yup, lobstering is that important up there.   In fact, annually there is about 6,000 to 7,000 commercial lobstering licenses handed out by the Maine Department of Marine Resources each year.   With each commercial fisherman allowed up to 800 traps, this amounts to an annual harvest of between 50 to 60 million pounds of lobster during the past few years.   Talk about big business…you can quickly see why “lobstering” has a big economic impact to this eastern seaboard state.

Fortunately for the recreational sportsmen it is possible to do your own lobster trapping.   Beginning in 1996 the Maine Legislature passed a measure that allows a noncommercial lobster and crab harvestor’s license to state residents allowing the enthusiast to set up to 5 traps provided they adhere to some very strict regulations.   In fact, a competency test must even be passed before such a license is issued.Lobsterclaw3

That concept sort of intrigued me even though I could never qualify to do such fishing (not a state of Maine resident).   I discussed this recreational opportunity with a retired lobsterman and quickly learned just how sensitive this topic was among some career lobstermen.   It seems some of the commercial fisherman do not take kindly to folks now able to dabble for fun in an activity they once did exclusively as a livelihood.   Sort of reminds me how even back in my home state the subject of commercial vs. recreational fishing has long generated bad feelings among many participants.

And let me tell you…the stories of lobster thieves are quite famous in these parts.   You’ve heard of cattle rustlers out in the western states stealing livestock and being dealt with harshly if they were ever caught.   Well many feel that lobster thieves are even a worse character.   Tales are numerous of shots being fired over the bow of boats suspected of stealing…while other tales describe a certain lobster justice practiced with shots being fired directly into the boats…and sinking them!!!   That’s right.   Folks caught or suspected of not playing fair are often dealt with by their peers.

But did you know that lobsters were once considered poverty food?   Back in the 17th and 18th Centuries they were actually fed to prisoners and to servants…that is until many revolted and demanded they be fed lobster no more than three times per week.   Early Native Americans even used the lobsters for fertilizer and to bait their fishing hooks.   It wasn’t until dining on lobster became fashionable in Europe that they took on a much wider appeal in North America as a food worthy of dignitaries and socialites.

BouyAnd so you are probably sitting there wondering what all of this really has to do with being a sportsman.   Well, in general probably not much.   My intrigue by the sport and activity of lobstering comes from living 1200 miles away in Minnesota and not seeing a life anything close to what is experienced when living along the Atlantic Coast.   Sometimes activities that you know you will never get a chance to do can capture your imagination.   And while the notion of trapping a small crustacean being baited with some decaying food on the bottom of the ocean might not sound glamorous to some, it sure is a change of pace from…oh, let’s say dry-land fox trapping here in the Midwest.

Now if this blog post did nothing else but start your mouth watering for some great, fresh seafood…well, then I apologize for teasing you.   On the other hand, if you truly have a hankering for some seafood that you must satisfy, please note that it can arrive on your doorstep in less than 24–hours…just place your order here.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.