Cory Deal

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October 2, 2019

In the Arena: Brianne Rogers

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Brianne Rogers

Hometown: Bozeman, Montana
Occupation: Public relations consultant
Conservation credentials: A lifelong sportswoman and advocate.Worked for senators Max Baucus and John Walsh to advance conservation initiatives in Montana and nationally. Currently champions the protection of public lands in Alaska.
Favorite conservation quote: One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted.

For Brianne Rogers, hunting is about experiences shared in the field and around the campfire. Her commitment to conservation has taken her all the way from small meeting rooms in Montana to Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, where she advocates against the seizure of public lands by private interests.

Here is her story.

I was first introduced to hunting by my dad, Brian Rogers. He was raised hunting ducks with his father and still recounts the childhood excitement of bringing birds home to pluck and roast whole.

After college, I moved back to my home state of Montana, got a Labrador retriever, and learned to train her with my dad. We’ve since had endless fun upland bird hunting in Montana and waterfowling across Montana, Canada, and Alaska.

I’ve had so many memorable times hunting, but nothing will match the intensity of hunting for king eiders—a large sea duck—off the coast of St. Paul Island, Alaska. We boarded a 20-foot inflatable boat and struck out into the Bering Sea to navigate eight-to-ten-foot swells.

In conditions like that there’s no staying dry. Instead, you’re being hit with freezing walls of briny water as your captain scans the waves for a line of calm water indicating the edge of the reef. The birds fly this stretch as they’re moving from roosting to feeding areas, and a good captain will position their hunter along this edge to set up for the hunt.

Ours was one such captain.

Eider ducks can fly at speeds of 45 to 65 miles per hour, so once you spot one, you need to mount your gun and lead the bird 10 to 20 feet before firing. Taking one down was so satisfying, because there were no second chances. Anything but a clean hit meant this tough sea bird would dive behind a wave, never to be seen again.

When hunting, location has always mattered less to me than the people I am with. The repartee and storytelling that comes at the end of a long day is hands down my favorite part of a hunting trip.

Hearing others share their favorite tales or having an older, more experienced hunter or colleague remind us of the “good ole days” always bring me back to something my dad shared with me decades ago: “One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted.” The quote is from Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, and I think he captured the vital importance of hunter’s camaraderie perfectly. The shared experience that hunting engenders is so unique, it cannot be built in any other way.

I’ve focused my conservation advocacy on the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Alaska. This 315,000-acre wilderness-and-wetland complex has remarkable expanses of eel grass and is vital to the survival of the world’s population of Pacific black brant and emperor geese. It’s an irreplaceable ecosystem that is facing a lot of challenges.

Designated as a Wetland of International Importance in 1986, this refuge has been beset with attempts by a foreign-owned company to de-list it from protected status in order to build a road that would bisect this wilderness. This seizure of public land has been prevented thanks to the work of many partners, thus avoiding setting a dangerous precedent for the opening of all wildlife refuges, national monuments, wilderness areas, and other public lands to economic development. However, if corporate interests remain, I fear that the threat will persist.

I spent my high school years helping my dad put his Townsend, Montana, ranch into a conservation easement. Every weekend, we planted shelter belts, cleared brush piles, reduced noxious weeds, and eventually watched the wetlands we constructed mature and flourish as a result of more balanced management.

Watching change like this firsthand has showed me what is possible if we bring folks of diverse backgrounds and upbringings together to be good stewards of our private and public lands.

 

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

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Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

August 8, 2019

In the Arena: Doug Duren

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Doug Duren

Hometown: Cazenovia, Wisconsin
Occupation: Site and land management consultant and contractor; part-time manager of a 400-acre family farm
Conservation credentials: Helped raise $5,500 and led the effort to provide six dumpsters for the proper disposal of deer bones and carcasses to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease in southwest Wisconsin. This kept an estimated 1,400 carcasses from being moved or disposed of in areas where CWD could infect other deer.
Conservation motto: “It’s not ours. It’s just our turn.”

Doug Duren has some stories, and you may have even heard a few. He’s a MeatEater podcast regular and good friend of Steven Rinella, but he’s also a lifelong conservationist who has lived closer to the land than many of us can say. In his neck of the woods, chronic wasting disease prevalence has been growing steadily, and Duren is concerned about the role that hunters are playing in the spread of this always-fatal deer disease.

That’s why he spearheaded a project with Hunt to Eat to raise enough funding to place six deer carcass disposal dumpsters across the region for the duration of the 2018 hunting season. (The brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen of a deer are the parts most likely to hold the prions responsible for CWD, and bringing carcasses home, to a deer processor, or left in a traditional gut pile could pass the disease on.)

We’re proud to showcase Duren’s incredible work and conservation ethos. Here’s his story.

The person who introduced me to hunting, fishing, and the outdoors was my father, Vincent Duren. But, growing up in Wisconsin farm country, outdoor activities of all sorts were just a part of our lives.

Cazenovia is built around an 80-acre mill pond where all the local kids swam and fished. The hilly terrain of the Driftless Area is filled with trout streams and the farms are a mix of fields, wetlands, and woodlands. So, in the late 1960s and 70s, when I was a kid, my friends and I spent much of our time—after our farm chores were done, that is—exploring, fishing, and hunting this area.

These days, if I could hunt or fish anywhere, I wouldn’t have to go very far. I still love the Driftless Area of the Midwest and all the hunting and fishing opportunities it has to offer. My family has lived in this very special place for five generations, and I feel very fortunate to spend my days working and hunting in this part of the world.

Honestly, it’s enough for me.

Up Close with a Grizzly

But I’ve been fortunate enough to make a lot of memories wherever I find myself in the outdoors. I’ll tell you about a recent one. First, it’s important to note that I’ve known Steve Rinella for a decade or so now, and he and I have become pretty good friends who hunt and fish together fairly often—both on and off camera. I’ve made a lot of friends through Steve and the folks on his crew are some of my favorite people in the world.

Recently, Steve asked me to go on an Alaska caribou hunting trip that would be filmed. I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We were joined on the trip by some of my favorite guys from the MeatEater crew: Janis Putelis, Chris Gill, Garrett Smith, and Brody Henderson. Also joining us on the trip was Mark Kenyon, a fellow Midwestern whitetail hunter.

And it turned out to be a series of amazing experiences: Driving through some amazing country. Pushing the weight limit of a Super Cub (much to the chagrin of the pilot.) Landing on what seemed like a postage-stamp-sized area in the alpine tundra. Seeing and being close to more than 5,000 caribou—never mind harvesting one of those amazing animals. The meals, the camaraderie, the incredible vistas, and even the weather couldn’t be beat.

The most amazing part of the trip for me was the encounter we had with a boar grizzly bear. It was the first evening, and we were all setting up camp, prepping gear for the next day, and settling in. Janis was looking for a good water source and was some distance away. Suddenly, I heard him yell, “Grizz!” from across the ridge, and we all stopped what we’re doing to look. Sure enough, there was a light-colored grizzly working its way up a ravine near our camp, eating blueberries “like he was angry at them,” as Steve says.

Photo by Garret Smith/@dirtmyth.

Steve and I walked over to the edge of the ravine with our binoculars to get a better look, and I was just dumbfounded by the beauty of it all. We were traded guesses at its age while tracking the bear as it worked its way up the ravine. Soon, I realized Steve was no longer at my side. A minute later was back with his .300 WinMag over his shoulder.

I said, “Well, clearly I’m in good hands, because I would have stood here like a dummy and watched that bear until he was on top of me.” Steve smiled and said we’d watch him a little bit more, but “we’ll have to let him know he’s not welcome here soon. If he wants to, he can cover the distance between us in a few seconds.”

We made some noise and tried to look as large as we could, to which the bear just stood up, regarded us with no expression, and then slowly wandered off. Even if nothing else happened on that trip, I would have gone home happy. The memory makes me smile with wonder and awe.

A Conservation Legacy

Conservation, too, has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. My family was in the timber and sawmill business for three generations, and the forest on our family farm has been sustainably managed for even longer than that.

I took a couple years off from college and worked for a reforestation company, traveling around with a bunch of other gypsies and hand-planting trees throughout the South. I went for the adventure, but that experience really showed me how important conservation was, no matter what I did or where I lived.

I also taught high school for a number of years in northern New Hampshire, where I worked on a trail maintenance crew in the White Mountains during the summers. The work was hard, the people were incredible, and I spent a lot of time in and caring for access to places that are awe inspiring.

I’ve worked in land management for nearly 30 years now, and conservation is one of the key elements and considerations in everything I do. There is such joy in it.

It’s from this perspective and with all this experience that I say chronic wasting disease is the biggest conservation challenge where I live. There are other concerns, like water quality, resource protections, and access issues, but nothing is as bigger crisis than CWD.

So, in 2018, the Adopt-a-Dumpster Program was born out of a need for proper deer carcass disposal in the CWD Endemic Area of southwest Wisconsin. The intent was to mitigate the spread of CWD by providing dumpster locations around the area where hunters could properly dispose of deer bones and carcasses, thus removing possible infected deer parts from the landscape. And in some cases, dumpsters were located at CWD testing locations.

Six dumpsters were fully funded for the 2018 hunting season, with partial funding provided for three other locations run and monitored by two organizations and one business. Throughout the season, we collected more than 39 tons’ worth of carcasses, and we learned valuable lessons that could help this effort expand.

We saw that our Adopt-a-Dumpster Program and other Adopt-a-Kiosk programs, because they involve and empower hunters and landowners, provide an opportunity for discussion and education about CWD and proper carcass disposal. This kind of interaction and advocacy is invaluable, especially as some efforts to control CWD get twisted to look like a loss of hunting rights.

Some areas were unable to secure a dumpster because there was not a solid waste provider in the region who was willing to take deer carcasses as part of their services or to their landfill. It would help if the Wisconsin State Legislature considered legislation requiring licensed landfills to accept and properly dispose of deer carcasses. Lawmakers could also allocate funding specifically for the disposal effort. A voluntary check-off box on deer license applications could be another source of dedicated funding for disposal.

Hunters will likely continue to support this kind of effort. And it follows that organizations and businesses concerned about the health of the deer herd or the future of hunting should get involved, too.

 

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Kristyn Brady

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posted in: In the Arena

July 26, 2019

In the Arena: Zane Zaubi

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Zane Zaubi

Hometown: Springfield, Illinois
Occupation: Real estate manager and developer at Horizons Land Development
Conservation credentials: Advocates for Farm Bill conservation programs and is currently enrolled in the Voluntary Access Program to give Illinois sportsmen more opportunities to hunt and fish on private land.

We love to see young people able to make the connection between conservation and the eventual harvest, whether it’s a big buck down or a lunker on the line. And this has been a way of life for Zane Zaubi since he was a kid. No wonder he is vocal about his support for conservation programs in the Farm Bill, sweeping legislation that he says, “affects everyone in our society, whether they know it or not.”

Here’s his story.

I was lucky enough to be born into a family that has always shared a passion for all things related to the great outdoors. My father and both of my grandfathers were avid hunters and anglers, and it didn’t take long for me and my brother to follow suit.

But, from a young age, I also learned the importance of managing habitat and protecting the health of our local gamebird and deer populations. We’ve always hunted throughout the fall and then worked the rest of the year to ensure each season is better than the last.

My idea of a dream hunt has never changed from the time I was ten years old—I’d want to float, fish, and hunt moose along as many Alaskan rivers as possible. One day!

But the truth is, as much as I enjoy traveling and chasing different species around the country, I am a home body. What I enjoy most is creating what I believe to be the ideal whitetail habitat on our own farms and enjoying the fruit of that labor. There is just something special about working with my dad to develop a multi-year plan and having that all come together one November evening.

I’ve been an active participant in Farm Bill conservation programs and an advocate for improving these programs because, truthfully, the Farm Bill affects everyone in our society, whether they know it our not.

This is especially true for sportsmen. Over 90 percent of the state of Illinois is privately owned, which limits opportunity for those who share a passion for being outdoors. The Farm Bill’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program is the only federal program that creates access for public hunting and fishing on private land. The bill also enables landowners to create habitat that has become scarce in farm country, like grasslands that suit pheasants and quail.

The Farm Bill essentially works to ensure that as sportsmen we will continue to be able the share the experiences that we have had with generations to come. Passing the 2018 bill with some boosts to conservation was a major win, but our work isn’t done.

As we work to implement the 2018 Farm Bill, I think it is an important to continue to grow the number of acres that we allot to the Conservation Reserve Program. While I wholeheartedly believe in largescale agriculture, I also believe in a balance. Programs like CRP allow for buffers from our water systems and field separations to alleviate soil erosion, all while creating habitat for our favorite species.

As someone who works the land to shape the health of our deer herd, I think there’s a huge opportunity to benefit wildlife and sportsmen if we have better access to these programs and funding.

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Kristyn Brady

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June 19, 2019

In the Arena: Neil Sunday

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

Neil Sunday

Hometown: New Cumberland, Pennsylvania
Occupation: Flyfishing guide for Relentless Fly Fishing, a TCO Fly Shop employee, and snowboarding coach for USA Olympic athlete A.J. Muss
Conservation credentials: Board member for Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited

Neil Sunday’s “Gram” probably didn’t realize she was creating a lifelong sportsman and fishing devotee when she purchased his first fishing rod at a local hardware store. These days, he’s something of a reformed bass fisherman, dedicated to helping people get out on the water for south-central PA’s brown, rainbow, and brook trout.

Here is his story.

I can still remember the trip to the hardware store in Mechanicsburg, Pa., where my grandmother bought me a Shakespeare spinning rod. Trindle Spring Run was quite demanding for a six-year-old, so I spent a few summers with very few fish stories! That all changed when I moved to Dillsburg and hit the farm ponds and Yellow Breeches Creek near Williams Grove.

When I was older, I took up flyfishing after a few years of tournament bass fishing on the Susquehanna River. I realized the impact we were having on the smallmouth bass populations and thought that something had to change. So, I gave away most of my traditional rods and reels and taught myself how to fly cast—I haven’t looked back.

I have so many good memories of fishing, and I’m making more every day. One of my most incredible days on the water was shared with my wife, Lori, and a good friend, Captain Scott Irvine, in Key West. We left the docks before sunrise, and after a 45-minute skiff ride we powered down the boat. In the distance, as far as we could see, fish were rolling on the surface.

We had over two hours of sight casting to feeding tarpon! By 9:30 a.m., we were doing celebratory shots of tequila. We spent the rest of the day chasing permit and hunting bonefish in the pristine environment of the Marquesas.

If I could fish anywhere, I would like to go back to New Zealand. Their focus on protecting the environment is evident. The people and government understand the importance of conserving what they have, and the fish happen to be the benefactors of this effort.

The overall conservation ethic is something I wish we had more of here in our great country.

As a fishing guide in South-Central Pennsylvania, my office is on the famous waterways of the Cumberland Valley. Without clean water, we would not have the wild brown trout of the LeTort Spring Run, the wild rainbow trout and native brook trout of Big Spring in Newville, or the dynamic trout factory known as the Yellow Breeches.

In fact, without clean water, I’d have to go get a “real” job.

Streamside // Neil Sunday from Mathew Stambaugh on Vimeo.

In my time as a Board member of the Cumberland Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited, I have taken a keen interest in our Stream Access and Conservation Committee. Once a tract of land has been used and a waterway altered, it’s very hard to restore. As a committee member, I’m part of a team that goes to great lengths to have restoration projects approved by state agencies, landowners, and other stakeholders.

Right now, one of the biggest conservation challenges where I live, and for our country, perhaps, is that people don’t prioritize responsible building practices, development, and land-use management over financial gain. Conservation should be used as a preventative measure—it is the easiest way to keep what we have for future generations.

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

Kristyn Brady

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June 14, 2019

In the Arena: George and Amidea Daniel

TRCP’s “In the Arena” series highlights the individual voices of hunters and anglers who, as Theodore Roosevelt so famously said, strive valiantly in the worthy cause of conservation

George and Amidea Daniel

Hometown: Beech Creek, Pennsylvania
Occupation: George – Flyfishing guide instructor
Amidea – Educational specialist for the PA Fish and Boat Commission
Conservation credentials: Spreading the gospel of flyfishing, the mental health benefits of the outdoors, and bringing balance to areas where a growing populations puts extra demands on water resources.

These high-school sweethearts have been married for nearly 18 years, but their commitment to the outdoors runs just as deep. George says flyfishing is his life, and he spends close to 280 days on the water, while also serving as a coach for the U.S. Youth Flyfishing Team. In her work, Amidea leads a statewide initiative designed to promote and encourage more women to take up fishing. Oh, and that’s when they’re not busy raising two little water bugs of their own.

Here is their story.

George was born in Potter County, along the headwaters of Kettle Creek and started flyfishing at the age of six. Amidea was introduced to the outdoors by her father, who would take her and her brother out on camping trips at a very early age. So, both of us found a connection to the outdoors early on, which is why we spend so much time with our two children in the same capacity.

Collectively, our family has floated hundreds, maybe even a thousand miles, on our FlyCraft boats—in PA and throughout the country—especially when we first started taking our children fishing. It can be challenging and sometimes dangerous for a 5-year-old to wade, so our boats have taken us to waters they wouldn’t have been physically able to stand in.

One of our fondest memories is of taking our two children to Montana for the first time. We spent four full weeks exploring Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas, and from sun up to sundown, we were outside. The expressions on our kids’ faces as we drove through the park and witnessed all the wildlife and beautiful scenery is something we’ll never forget.

There’s a reason why we still live in central PA—it offers almost everything an angler could want. From freestone streams to legendary limestone rivers to the recovering West Branch of the Susquehanna, we have all our bases covered. Plus, we have so many miles of fishable water within a 30- to 90-minute drive from our home.

Clean water means everything in what we do. Trout, obviously one of our favorite species, demand high-quality water conditions, and without clean water, our angling opportunities would be reduced to a fraction of what we currently enjoy.

Most of our family activities revolve around the outdoors, and not having clean water and natural areas to access would have a negative impact on our lives. Technology and our smartphones can be wonderful, but we notice a difference in our mental health when we haven’t been outside for several days, either to walk, hike, float, or fish.

Numerous studies have shown the positive impacts of spending even 20 minutes in a natural environment. So, not only is conservation important to our planet, but we also feel it is imperative to Americans’ mental health and wellbeing.

In our area, development and urban sprawl are major concerns, especially because some of the aquifers that feed our limestone streams are also being tapped for drinking water. This may not be significant now, but eventually we may meet a threshold where we begin to see it having an obvious effect on our streams and water table.

Establishing a healthy balance, whether that’s between our indoor and outdoor lives or between increasing demands on our water resources, is crucial to the future of fishing and our family’s traditions.

Do you know someone In the Arenawho should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

WHAT WILL FEWER HUNTERS MEAN FOR CONSERVATION?

The precipitous drop in hunter participation should be a call to action for all sportsmen and women, because it will have a significant ripple effect on key conservation funding models.

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