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Monday, November 1, 2010
But I Digress

By Mike Suchan
ESPNOutdoors.com blog columnist



Blog calendar: Oct. 29 | Oct. 27 | Oct. 25 | Oct. 21 | Oct. 19 | Oct. 11 | Oct. 8 | Oct. 7 | Oct. 6

posted Oct. 29

Gee, Wally, I didn't mean to

Sure is nice to set up in nature, like having a vacation bungalow or cottage in the woods where you can see a lake and relax.

Oh, but there can be setbacks. Big ones. Caused my little teeth.

Out in the Great White north in the province of Ontario, near Hemlock Corners -- pop. 2,812, sal-ute! -- (Ok, so it wasn't real close to Hemlock Corners but it just sounds so ominous and Halloweeny) a cottage in the woods and another building went down in flames.

Firefighters responding didn't need too long to figure out what caused the fire. They spotted a fallen tree laying over the power line, which caught dry leaves aflame and spread to the buildings, says this article in Cnews.com.

Teeth marks were discovered at the base of the tree and others nearby, so as for the $150,000 bill for the damages -- Leave it to beaver.


posted Oct. 27

Late knock on door wasn't land shark

Knock, knock.

Homeowner Jose Roca said his wife woke to that sound on their front door.

Knock, knock.

"Who's there?"

"Trick or treat."

"You're early."

"Candygram."

"It's 4:30 in the morning."

"Um, gas company."

"No, we're not opening up. You're that land shark."

"Uh ... no."

"Then who's there?"

"Gatorgram."

Yep. A 6-foot alligator came a knocking on the Rocas residence outside of Tampa in Dover, Fla. -- pop. 2,798 sal-ute!

Fortunately, they had a window to see the gator camped out on their front stoop, whacking its head or tail on the door to make the noise.

A trapper dispatched by police said the gator might have been there waiting for the family dogs to have their morning outside time. Or maybe it was just lost. It had no candy.

Whatever the case, the trapper yanked it in and the Rocas, who have small children, plan to put up a sign discouraging any such solicitors.

"We didn't invite him for coffee, no," Roca told Tampa Bay's Fox station for this story and video.


posted Oct. 25

In Bisbee's, time is money

Missed opportunity again cost anglers a big payout, and again it was for something one of the teammates hadn't done.

In June's Big Rock Marlin tournament out of Morehead City, N.C., the lack of a mate's $15 fishing license cost the anglers aboard the Citation $912,825 after their 883-pound catch was disqualified.

Another 800-pound marlin was caught last week in the Bisbee's Black and Blue jackpot tournament in Cabo San Lucas, and that story also lends itself to heartbreak.

Carl Riley was the angler fighting the beast for Team Great Escape but it dove deep, got tail-wrapped and died. With no assistance allowed, he struggled alone for more than five hours to get the dead weight to the boat against current and wind, often thinking about giving up.

"I'm not in that good of shape. I should have worked out," he's quoted in this story.

Taking so long to boat the fish only gave the crew an hour to get back to the 9 p.m. deadline to weigh the fish, and but for nine minutes the Texas team would have celebrated a $430,000 windfall, which could have grown to more than $1 million if it remained the largest catch of the tournament.

The Bisbee's is a world-renowned marlin tournament celebrating its 30th year. With huge jackpots available, like the record $2,162,035 check written to the 2008 winners, top teams must pass lie detector tests, which is what did in the Citation this summer.

This really proves that time is money.


posted Oct. 21

Bolder than the average bear

No pic-a-nic basket this time, only a picnic roast.

Authorities are on the lookout -- no, not Ranger Smith -- for a 400-pound black bear -- no, not Yogi.

This one has been named "Big Daddy Bear" by Charlotte Rooney, a 48-year-old grandmother who lives in Paisley, Fla. -- pop. 734, sal-ute! -- on the edge of the Ocala National Forest.

It's there that Florida wildlife agents relocated a gang of bears, yes, including a bunch of Boo-Boos, that became nuisances elsewhere in the state.

Remote living what it is, Rooney has become accostomed to bears visiting and occassionally ripping up her stuff as they have learned that humans mean food. But last week Rooney was startled with Big Daddy grunted ... in her kitchen ... when she was standing just two feet away.

It had broken through the screen door and made a bee line for the freezer, where it picked out a nice pork roast wrapped in aluminum and took off.

"He knew what a freezer was, he knew exactly what he was doing, and he knew there was food inside," Rooney was quoted in this story.

A University of Florida study found relocated bears often find their way into more trouble, and the collar on Big Daddy says he's been in trouble before. He will be put down when found.

Rooney is glad as she'd like her grandchildren to be safe when they visit ... oh, and she'd also like to keep some food in the house.


posted Oct. 19

Trio of 'when animals attack' incidents

In Marathon, Fla., there's a discrepancy as to what type of fish leapt from the water and punctured the lung of a kayaker.

Karri Larson, 46, of Cudjoe Key, is in serious but stable condition at a hospital after the incident, which the Coast Guard attributed to a barracuda.

No way it was a barracuda, says a Florida wildlife officer, who adds one would do more damage. The most likely culprit is a houndfish, which has a long snout and has been known to impale folks, others claim.

Read the debate and see a houndfish in SouthFlorida.com.

Out in California, a man working to help preserve trout was killed by a snake bite. William "Skip" Price of La Jolla was among the six volunteers from a fly fishing club who entered Boulder Creek to collect trout and take fin clips for testing.

He was bitten near his ankle, lost consciousness and his heart stopped. Read Ed Zieralski's account in the San Diego Union Tribune.

Up the West coast, a Washington man hiking with friends on Klahhane Ridge in Olympic National Park was gored by a mountain goat and died.

Bob Boardman of Port Angeles, a devoted hiker, had tried to shoo the aggressive goat away from a group of hikers when he was attacked. See the complete story in the peninsuladailynews.com.


posted Oct. 11

Flies in the ... um ... ointment

It's confirmed once again -- dogs will eat just about anything.

Deborah Carlson's hound spent her summer bounding around her backyard in Pullman, Wash. -- pop. 21,750, sal-ute! -- eating bugs.

"She is almost manic about it," Carlson said of her German shepherd, Frieda.

Ok, not so strange. But when Carlson came home the other night, she noticed a new bag of fishing supplies knocked off the counter and the container of dry flies for trout was empty.

Maybe it was her affinity for anything buggy or that flies are sometimes made from animal hair and feathers, but Frieda had ingested them.

An X-ray confirmed, showing Frieda was rather fortunate that the 15 barbed flies made it through her throat, stomach and intestines without hooking anything and were "on the home stretch."

The story ends well as the dog passed 15 flies; the 16th in the container was never found.

See the crazy X-ray and the story in the The Spokesman-Review.


posted Oct. 8

Deer harvest up during car season

Deer harvest up during car season. That should be the headline on the release from State Farm Insurance.

Because it's one of the companies paying to fix cars, State Farm compiles records on such things as deer-vehicle collisions. And it ain't pretty.

Although Americans drive only 2 percent more miles than we did five years ago, the number of auto collisions with deer is up 21.1 percent.

From claims data, State Farm found there were 2.3 million such collisions from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2010. They resulted in 200 fatalities each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports, and each incident causes $3,103 in damages.

Where not to drive -- West Virginia again tops the list as the state where a driver is most likely to hit a deer. State Farm figures out the likelihood from its data and the state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration.

So, West Virginia has 1.3 million licensed drivers and an estimated count of 32,372 deer-vehicle collisions. Some extrapolating, ciphering and estimating comes up showing that 1 of every 42 drivers will suffer a similar fate this year.

But the Mountaineer State doesn't have the most incidents. That mark belongs to Pennsylvania, topping the charts with 102,165 collisions. It's 8.6 million licensed drivers knock its ratio down to 1 in 85. Michigan also tops 100,000, making it a 1 in 70 chance.

Iowa is actually second on the list at 1 in 67. Last? Hawaii, where only 1 in 13,011 will collide with a deer.

Check out State Farm's list for your state. The color-coded map breaking down the high, medium and low risk states is also of interest.

State Farm, hoping to help you stay safe and also knock down their claims, offers some guidance on how to avoid being included in the negative end of their statistics.

It is deer-car season right now. They're on the move as they migrate and mate, so pay attention to any deer crossing signs; states don't just put them up because someone once saw a deer there.

Be alert between 6 and 9 p.m. when deer are most active, and hit the high beams when you can so you can see the sides of the road. With a herd mentality, one deer spotted usually means more.

(On a late-night rural trip a few years back, we counted about 50 deer in herds of 5 to 10 along the side of the road. Passing the first several herds was rather nerveracking before we realized they all had their heads down and were eating the grass. Um, don't always count on that.)

State Farms says not to rely on car-mounted deer whistles either. Guess they don't work when your headlights freeze a deer in your path.

Lastly, if a collision is inevitable, don't try to swerve out of the way. You could lose control of the car and have a head-on with another car or a big ole tree.

Slowing down is always a good choice, especially when in deer country.

If you do happen to kill a deer with your car, most states have specific rules you need to follow if you want to keep the carcass. For more on that, read hitters keepers.


posted Oct. 7

Cell phone shot helps catch poacher

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

A cell phone picture helped bust a poacher from Tennessee who harvested a 24-point buck in Illinois.

The issue with the photo sent out by the overly proud poacher was it got to Tennessee Wildlife Officer Shawn Edgmon, who saw that it was taken at 8:30 a.m. last Nov. 12, the key piece of evidence in this case.

When Edgmon later responded to a call of trespasser on some property in Sequatchie County in Tennessee, he found Steve Harmon of Dunlap, who didn't have a license, any hunter orange or permission to be there.

Clever Edgmon was. Since he knew Harmon had killed the big buck and was suspicious that he didn't have a license in his home state, he contacted Illinois authorities. Their investigation found Harmon bought his $400 buck tag five hours after the time stamp on his photo.

Busted. Harmon was fined and the trophy confiscated and returned Pyramid Park in Illinois where the 203-inch mount is on display.

For the complete story on this caper, check out Chattanoogan.com.


posted Oct. 6

Serious cereal faux pas

Where is your home pride, woman?

Pamela Henry, who grew up in Battle Creek, Mich. -- pop. 53,364, sal-ute! -- recently admitted to a serious cereal faux pas.

Fishing on the St. Lucie River in Stuart, Fla., she landed what could be a world record blue tilapia, weighing 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Before she grabbed a fishing rod, she was feeding cereal to fish from the dock.

The Peanut Butter Crunch she tossed in brought up the record tilapia. Busted.

That product is not from Kelloggs nor Post, which helped Battle Creek gain its nickname, The Cereal City.

Of course, she had the sense to be regretful that she used a cereal from General Mills, which is headquartered outside of Minneapolis in Golden Valley.

"I actually felt kind of bad that I use Peanut Butter Crunch instead of a Kellogg cereal," she told the Battle Creek Enquirer for this story. "That kind of thing would only be important to people from Battle Creek."

Miss Henry, wars have been started over less.

Now fishing with cereal is not unheard of. Grab a handful of Wheaties, squeeze tight as you dunk your fist under water but let the flakes get wet. Crumble it up a little and wrap the gooey mixture around a treble hook and hold for a minute or so while it congeals.

Gentle toss into the water, let sink to the bottom and bam -- the Breakfast of Catfish.



About the author: Mike Suchan has been editor at ESPNOutdoors.com the past three years. He's worked in journalism for 25 years, winning state and regional awards. Email him here.