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April 26, 2019

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In the Arena: Nikki Plum

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

Nikki Plum

Hometown:  Airville, Pa.
Occupation: Registered nurse
Conservation credentials: Boots-on-the-ground volunteer work and mentoring

Sportsmen and women like Nikki Plum are the beating heart of conservation in this country. A nurse by training, this 28 year old is a jack-of-all-trades volunteer, working to ensure the future of our outdoor traditions. From stocking fish to assisting with banding waterfowl and building nesting structures, she knows that a single afternoon of work can make a difference. That’s why she also works to share her experiences with others, empowering the next generation of women hunters as a field staffer with the Sisterhood of the Outdoors.

Here is her story.

When I was growing up, you couldn’t keep me out of the creek—so I would say I have been into fishing as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I was a teenager, however, that I got into the outdoors on another level.

My uncle took me out for my first deer hunt on opening day of rifle season in Pennsylvania. We split up after a slow morning, and moments later I heard shots ring out from his direction. I thought I’d missed my chance. Suddenly, I heard something approaching in the woods and turned to see a six-point buck headed my way. I was too excited to make my first shot, but a well-aimed second downed the deer in his tracks.

I was hooked.

I spent most of the ensuing years trying to grow as a deer hunter. Then I started pursuing small game, turkeys, and waterfowl. My skills and interests evolved as I transitioned from rifle hunting to archery and from spinning tackle to a fly rod.

Looking ahead, I hope to hunt and fish in Alaska someday. Harlequin ducks, moose, grizzlies, and multiple species of salmon are all at the top of my list.

Clean water is what makes my outdoor activities possible, from fishing and waterfowl hunting to boating, swimming, kayaking, and camping. Maintaining healthy watersheds is important to sustaining our freshwater fisheries and wetlands habitat.

Every day it seems like urbanization encroaches on these resources, bringing the potential for degradation. It’s harder to get away from noise and light pollution, and contaminants of all kinds make their way into our air and water.

Without the commitment of sportsmen and women, our outdoor resources would be subject to overuse and abuse by an ever-growing human population. I do what I do because conservation helps maintain a natural way of life for hunters, anglers, and the game we love to chase. I hope others are inspired to do what they can, too.

 

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

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April 24, 2019

Sportsmen Groups Launch Campaign to Safeguard the Ruby Mountains

Citing the outstanding hunting and fishing opportunities, a coalition of influential hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation groups calls for Congress to safeguard public land recreational opportunities in Nevada

 

Sportsmen for the Rubies, a coalition of 14 hunting, fishing, and wildlife conservation organizations, today launched a public campaign aimed at convincing federal lawmakers to pass the Ruby Mountains Protection Act.

The proposed legislation, S.258, introduced by Senator Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) would permanently withdraw 450,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service-managed public lands in northern Nevada’s Ruby and East Humboldt Mountains from future oil and gas leasing.

“The Rubies are recognized around the world as a premier hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation destination,” said Carl Erquiaga, Nevada field representative with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “They are also the origin of one of the most important big-game migration corridors in the state, utilized by its largest mule deer herd, and home to many other fish and wildlife species, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout.”

The coalition hopes to raise awareness, both around the state and in Washington, D.C., of the potential threats posed by energy development in the area. Its website, SportsmenfortheRubies.com, will showcase organizational support, provide updates on this conservation opportunity, and enable individual hunters and anglers to take action by contacting their decision makers in support of this world-class hunting and fishing destination.

“The streams that flow out of the Rubies provide some of the best water for Lahontan cutthroat trout in the entire state,” said Pam Harrington, Nevada field coordinator with Trout Unlimited. “The fishing opportunities that abound around the Rubies and the Ruby Marshes need to be protected for future generations.”

The coalition is part of a growing movement to support the Ruby Mountain Protection Act that includes diverse stakeholders, including numerous Tribal governments and other local interests.

“This is the time to make your voice heard, not after you’re upset when the good hunting is no longer there,” said Elko sportsman Justin French. “Sportsmen and women have an opportunity right now to be proactive and do what’s best for our traditions.”

For more information on Sportsmen for the Rubies and other conservation issues, contact Pam Harrington with Trout Unlimited (pharrington@tu.org)  or Carl Erquiaga (cerquiaga@trcp.org) with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

 

Photo by Tom Hilton via flickr.

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April 18, 2019

How I Got to Hunt Elk with My Conservation Idol, Steven Rinella

A smart auction bid put Brian Duncan out in the field with the MeatEater host for a dream hunt

If you listen to the MeatEater podcast or watch Steven Rinella’s show, you probably feel like you know him and his whole crew. But you’d be forgiven for feeling a little pressure if he was watching you line up on a bull. Brian Duncan gives us a taste of what it was like to bid for and win a truly unique Colorado elk hunt that brought him face to face with his conservation idol and a hunter’s hunter.

Here’s his story.

I couldn’t believe it when I won—I didn’t think I had a chance at having the highest bid, but before you knew it, I was on the trip of a lifetime with Steven Rinella. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to in the hunting and fishing world, and the information he puts out there really inspired me to get into conservation over the years.

But the last thing I wanted to be was a goofy fan, so there were some jitters about meeting and hanging out with him and Janis Putelis. In the weeks leading up to the hunt, I kept thinking, Am I going to miss or do something stupid in front of them? But those feelings went away quickly once we arrived—not only were they fantastic and welcoming, but there was little to no time to be nervous.

Together with my nephew Jon and some friends, we touched down in Denver and drove up to the ranch, where we immediately sighted in our rifles—we were hunting within hours of being on the ground. Our buddies went fishing with folks from the TRCP, while I went with Steve and Janis guided Jon.

Little did we know that this hunt would start slow and have a fairly dramatic conclusion.

At first, Steve and I were just trying to establish a pattern of behavior for this group of elk that liked to hang in a meadow. They seemed to know exactly when it was about to be legal shooting light, because they’d filter into the timber so we didn’t have a shot. It was a cat-and-mouse game to set up in the right spot with enough light left.

I was getting antsy as the days passed and I felt like I only had a few chances left. But things started heating up on our last afternoon: They’d been bugling at us all day, and I was getting excited thinking, This is finally going to happen.

But then, suddenly, we heard a shot—my nephew Jon had gotten his bull. I was excited for him, but knew I’d be disappointed if it had spooked the elk on their way to my field.

Still, they came streaming into the meadow, and we were in position. There were only a few minutes of legal shooting light left. Steve was pointing out a bull and I was trying to find it in my binos and scope, but ultimately I thought it was just too dark to risk having a near miss.

We celebrated Jon’s success that night and it would not have been a loss if we left it at that. In the evenings, Chef Andy Radzialowski prepared the most incredible meals, and the topics of discussion over dinner and coffee ranged from hunting and conservation to literature and politics. That was almost the best part, spending time with so many smart, funny, conservation-minded people and just telling stories.

Like I said, it was almost the best part.

There was a one-hour window of opportunity the next morning before everyone had to leave to make their flights, and Steve asked me if I wanted to go for it one more time. So, we got up even earlier and headed back out to the meadow.

This time, we went all the way around back to where the elk had been exiting into the timber the day before, and just minutes after legal shooting light, there was a bull right out in front of me. It was a nice 5×6 (would have been a 6×6 if one of his tines wasn’t broken off) and it was bugling its head off with a bunch of cows around him. I fired, perhaps a little rushed, and he spun around, but my second shot took him down right away.

They’re always such impressive animals, even if this wasn’t the biggest bull in the world. I already have a full shoulder mount at home, so I plan to have this bull euro mounted for the main wall in my lake house. The real trophy is what’s in my freezer—and every time I share that meat with family or friends, I get to tell the incredible story.

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April 16, 2019

In the Arena: William Kosmer

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

William Kosmer

Home waters: North-central Pennsylvania
Occupation: Outdoor photographer, flyfishing guide, and full-time hydrogeologist
Conservation credentials: Has spent 15 years volunteering to restore streams and advocate for wild trout

We’re betting that William Kosmer’s waders are practically never dry. Between his day job, his guiding business, and his volunteer work to help restore some of Pennsylvania’s best wild trout waters, Kosmer still finds time to teach kids about fishing and the hidden world of creepy crawlies that support the riparian ecosystem. But he says he’s not alone: There is a vibrant community of flyfishermen, outdoor recreation businesses, and educators invested in cleaner water for the next generation of anglers.

Here’s his story.

I would have to say my love of fishing started with my father. He introduced me to the outdoors and photography from an early age, and I really haven’t looked back since.

But it’s concerning to see the decline in license sales—kids just aren’t getting introduced to the outdoors like I did. Through Trout Unlimited, I volunteer to guide veterans, teach kids to tie flies, and get people interested in fishing, generally. When kids start turning over rocks and finding bugs, they can’t believe all that has been down there the whole time—it’s always a big crowd pleaser. We also bring trout into the classroom, where kids can raise brook trout eggs and fry into full-grown fish and eventually release them into the stream.

I believe that conservation is not just about protecting the resources we currently have, it’s also about striving to improve them for future generations. And clean water is the key element that powers all our outdoor lives. Without it, nothing worth anything exists.

I fish all over the state of Pennsylvania, but southern Chile is my second home and the site of my most memorable outdoor adventures. It has some of the most incredible scenery and fishing I have ever had the opportunity experience and, not coincidentally, some of the cleanest water on the planet. It’s almost untouched by humans and there are a lot of wetlands to filter out pollutants and keep it that way.

Meanwhile, water use and pollution are two of the biggest conservation challenges where I live most of the year. Especially down in the Harrisburg area and in farming communities, trees were clear cut years ago and uncontrolled runoff has put a lot of sediment in the streams. That really impacts the macro-invertebrates that fish eat. So, as volunteers, we’ll do riparian buffer plantings with grasses and trees that hold the sediment back. We also install some in-stream structures to mobilize the water, create more current, and move that sediment along.

Trout prefer a cooler temperature, so when you remove all those trees, you also allow the sun to heat the water as the sediment slows the water down. You end up with a wider, warmer shallow stream, which isn’t as beneficial for trout as a deeper, cooler stream. We actually classify temperature as a pollutant.

This work that we do to curb sediment in Pa. has far-reaching benefits: It helps the fishing up here, but it also keeps a lot of that sediment from reaching the Chesapeake Bay, where many of my friends guide and fish. So, I’m used to thinking about the impact of my actions on what happens downstream. Not everybody does.

We’re so lucky to have a lot of clean water and streams that have made a comeback. And there are many volunteers and businesses who are generous with their time and money. (I’m pretty sure TCO Fly Shop, for example, supports every TU chapter around the state!)

But the east coast population and industries are extremely taxing on our waterways. There is a long history of abusing our water resources, especially in Pa. We can allow for economic growth and still utilize what we have in a responsible manner.

And we need to keep sharing our love of fishing with others. I’m 40 and I’m usually the young guy in the room—that’s not good. Because as much as any of us would like to have the water to ourselves, if no one is using these resources then no one will care about them.

Follow William Kosmer’s adventures on his blog. Do you know someone “In the Arena” who should be featured here? Email info@trcp.org for a questionnaire.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

CHEERS TO CONSERVATION

Theodore Roosevelt’s experiences hunting and fishing certainly fueled his passion for conservation, but it seems that a passion for coffee may have powered his mornings. In fact, Roosevelt’s son once said that his father’s coffee cup was “more in the nature of a bathtub.” TRCP has partnered with Afuera Coffee Co. to bring together his two loves: a strong morning brew and a dedication to conservation. With your purchase, you’ll not only enjoy waking up to the rich aroma of this bolder roast—you’ll be supporting the important work of preserving hunting and fishing opportunities for all.

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