A lot already has been said to memorialize Sept. 11 – from tales of heroism to reflections on patriotism and stories of recovery.
Talking about something that’s been addressed by so many people already can be intimidating, but allowing this anniversary to pass without saying anything feels incomplete. I wanted to write a few simple words of thanks.
My sincerest appreciation goes out to everyone who makes America what it is today – firefighters, teachers, factory workers, conservation officers, elected officials and everyone in between. You all are part of what establishes this country as the treasured land – and the bastion of fish and wildlife resources – that it is today.
Taking a Stand for Waterfowling and the Pastimes We Cherish
I was driving down a back road on Maryland’s Eastern Shore when I pulled my truck over to let a tractor pass. The farmer tipped his hat in appreciation and was on his way to the next field. Before heading down the road myself, I took a look around; fields of crops gave way to the Chester River in the distance and a place I am proud to call home.
With tall corn and soy hiding goose pits and the vivid summer woods obscuring tree stands, it is tough to see the importance of hunting during a hot and humid Chesapeake summer. But just a few months from now, the days will get shorter and crisper, and homes across the Eastern Shore will come to life earlier than normal as decoy bags and gun cases are tossed into trucks and Labs wag their tails with the kind of anticipation only a gun dog can muster.
Waterfowl hunting means a lot to this part of the world. On the highway into town, geese adorn the welcome sign, and we have waterfowl festivals to celebrate the autumnal return of the birds. You may find yourself raking leaves in the backyard or picking out the perfect carving pumpkin at the local patch when you hear your first flight of Canada geese returning. It is a sound that compels your eyes skyward and makes many of us reflexively reach for our goose calls.
But the memory of the 2011-12 season remains stark in the minds of many hunters. Winter’s cold weather never came; nor did the birds. Some estimated that less than one quarter of the typical population actually made it as far south as the Chesapeake. The lack of snow and ice gave the birds no reason to venture to their normal southern grounds. The warmest winter anyone can remember gave way to the warmest summer, and hunters can’t be blamed for asking, “Will the birds return?”
More than a few hunters I’ve talked to are considering letting their blind leases lapse.
“I’m gonna give it one more year,” is a familiar refrain from waterfowlers pinched by a slow economy and slow days afield. Visit Higgy’s Diner on any Saturday morning during duck and goose season and you will see just what hunting means to the local economy. It’s not just about license and ammo sales; hunters open their wallets at motels, gas stations, watering holes and sub shops, as well as for guides and gear. As the birds go, so go the hunters.
Conservation is an essential part of hunting’s past – and future. Whether addressing global issues like climate change or local issues such as land use, hunters have a responsibility to become knowledgeable and participate in finding workable solutions. If the voices of hunters fall silent, it won’t be long before the voice of the waterfowl we cherish goes quiet as well.
Filson came up with the five best mobile apps for the outdoorsman. Check them out below.
1) Primos Hunting Calls
We have to agree with the ratings on the best-selling hunting app of all time. Primos Hunting Calls attracts prey with a variety of over twenty remarkably natural calls. Improve your ability to lure in turkey, elk, deer, duck, hogs, and more. Use tried-and-true favorites of the hunting professionals at Primos like “The Gobbler” and the “Heart Breaker.”
2) Ducks Unlimited Waterfowler’s Journal
The DU Waterfowler’s Journalis the only app designed exclusively for waterfowl hunters to keep a detailed log of each trip to the field. Both seasoned pros and beginners can build a detailed diary of the number and type of birds harvested, hunting blind locations, weather conditions, photos, and personal notes. In addition to creating your own journal, you can catch up on Duck Unlimited’s extensive glossary of waterfowl ID characteristics.
3) iSolunar Hunting & Fishing Times
Filson anglers and hunters can trust the up-to-date hunting and fishing information from iSolunar Hunting & Fishing Times. iSolunar provides the best time of day for hunting and fishing anywhere in the world. Using astronomical data from the US Naval observatory, you can find precise local information on feeding/activity times, day rating, current weather, moon phase, moon rise and moon set, and Sunrise and Sunset periods.
4) Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Migration
Follow the ducks on your iPhone this season! The DU Migration App gives you access to more than 10,000 real-time migration and hunting reports across North America. View local reports of those from across the U.S. and Canada if you are planning a trip. Waterfowl hunters can submit their own report on current findings and access reports from trained Ducks Unlimited Field Editors and Avery Pro-Staff.
5) Hunting Light & Blood Tracker
This app enhances hunters’ visibility in all lighting conditions. Hunting Light & Blood Tracker is a handy flashlight that provides screen lights of various colors for specific uses in the field under variable light conditions. Green light enables night vision and blue light enhances green objects that would otherwise be camouflaged. The addition of a “blood tracking” light filter enhances the visibility of a blood trail left by wounded game so you are quickly on the move to recover.
The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, creators of the award-winning “Take Me Fishing” campaign, works to increase boating and fishing participation in the United States. Watch RBFF’s video about the positive state of the fishing and boating industry as well as some of the newest RBFF tools.
If you’ve ever doubted the fragility of our nation’s wildlife resources, a recent incident in western Montana will erase those doubts. A single truck accident wiped out one-third of the bighorn lambs in the lower Rock Creek drainage, the Missoulian reported.
This accident is particularly devastating given that the wild sheep in Rock Creek and across the West already was hammered by an outbreak of pneumonia, which is transmitted to bighorns by domestic sheep and goats. In addition to the wild sheep deaths directly attributable to pneumonia, the lingering effects of the disease are predicted to reduce bighorn numbers even further. Several years of poor lamb recruitment will follow a pneumonic outbreak, making the loss of those lambs in Rock Creek particularly tragic.
Physical separation of domestic sheep and goats from wild sheep is essential to prevent the transmission of the respiratory disease. Earlier this year the TRCP, working in concert with the Wild Sheep Foundation and others, successfully removed a damaging amendment to the House appropriations bill for interior, environment and related agencies. The rider would have prevented the implementation of a management plan designed to provide that critical separation between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep grazing on public lands in the Payette National Forest in Idaho. When you consider the fragile state of bighorns throughout the West, the importance of this initiative to help protect them is clear.
Stories like this drive home the importance of proactive wildlife management and highlight the critical work of TRCP and our partners, organizations that are working to ensure healthy fish and wildlife populations through science-based management and policy. Resource management based in current science remains crucially important to strong natural resources policy – not only to wildlife like bighorn sheep, but also to sportsmen.
The tragedy in Rock Creek reminds us that we can never take our fish and wildlife for granted and we must not falter in our efforts to ensure these precious natural resources remain for generations to come.