But I Digress

Blog calendar: Feb. 19
| Feb. 14
| Feb. 12
| Feb. 11
| Feb. 9
| Feb. 2
| Jan. 27

posted Feb. 19

Cat food key to put toads Down Under

Any of you who've ever fed a kitty know most cat foods can be rather nasty smelling, but who knew it could be key to killing toads.

In the land Down Under, scientists have found that a few tablespoons of the stuff will help in the battle with the infamous cane toad, an invasive species so prolific and reviled they've had organized hunts (See Toad Day Out), and some Australians want to put a bounty on their little warty heads.

Oh, the cat food isn't poison to the amphibians, it's put down near ponds where the baby toads emerge. According to this report from Sydney, the canned mix draws in fierce Australian meat ants.

Apparently it's an ant-eat-toad world. Hey, it's better than other ineffective methods like cricket bats, golf clubs and carbon dioxide.

Still kinda gruesome, but the cane toads, which emit poison that can even kill a hungry croc, are more hated by Aussies than sharks.

And the tactic is effective. The report said within two minutes of putting out the canned cat food, almost all the baby toads in the area were under an ant seize.

Crikey! That's some Fancy Feast.

posted Feb. 14

Bass Pro Shops car takes Daytona 500

If only they had one of those fan giveaway deals. You know, like when your team scores six runs you get a free drink or taco the next day at the sponsor's store.

Bass Pro Shops could have offered a hat, a shirt or a lure if Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag in the Daytona 500. He did, outdueling Dale Earnhardt Jr., on the final lap of a thrilling race plagued with stoppages.

But with millions of NASCAR fans who are also fishing afficionados, Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris might have had a bittersweet day Monday as the 50-plus stores would have been inundated for freebies.

Eh, it was just an idea, but maybe they'd also buy that new rod. Or reel. Eh, it might have been a good idea.

Bass Pro Shops will get some mileage out of McMurray winning the sports pinnacle event, anyway. It is known as The Great American Race. Just like fishing is the great American pastime.

McMurray, who is from Joplin, Mo., not far from Bass Pro Shops headquarters in Springfield, loves both bassin' and racing. He lost his ride last year and says he felt fortunate that Morris took a chance by sponsoring him.

"It's unreal," McMurray said in an Associated Press story. "You know, to be where I was last year and for Johnny Morris and Chip and Felix. What a way to pay them back. It's just very emotional."

Read the rest of the story from the Associated Press, and read James Hall's recent story on Bassmaster.com.

posted Feb. 12

Bear shows why bigfoot thought possible

No, it is not some guy in a bear suit.

That's what somebody thought when my cry of "Come look at this!" was excitedly said in the office.

"That's crazy!" was one comment. Another was, "Maybe it learned how to do that because it doesn't have a front leg."

Yes, a three-legged bear was videotaped — and we think in the wild and not a released circus bear because a cub was with it — getting up on its hind legs and walking like a human.

The first scene shows it walking upright behind a couple of trees, and the site says maybe that's why some people believe in bigfoot.

But further on, the bear is out in the open on an dirt road just rambling, albeit kinda funny like, on its back legs.

You gotta feel sorry for the black bear that probably lost its right front foot to a trap.

Anyway, the feat is amazing and you can watch it here on Raonokeoutside.

Bobcat culled out after one strike

O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

Play ball.

Scott Bassett hit the game-winner outside his home in Montgomery, Mass. — pop. 654, sal-ute! — a real walkoff swing in a night game against the Bobcats.

And he did it without much warmup. His wife, Kelly had just woken him after a wildcat slammed into their window around midnight. She dialed 911. Scott, being a man and former ballplayer, headed out of doors, armed with a softball bat.

The bobcat had run around the bases in their yard several times, drawing first blood by ripping up things like the family dog's bed, a trash can and car tires.

It was finally Scott's turn at the plate when the bobcat stared him down from the mound, got the sign and wound up. The cat launched itself at Scott like a fastball. The old ballplayer took his stance and unfurled a swing for the fences.

Crack. (Imagine the sound).

Home run!

Game over.

Medical personnel later declared the 33-pound bobcat was rapid. Scott's rather fortunate he didn't whiff.

Nice hit, Scott.

For the final score, read Frank Sousa's article in Masslive.com

Texas bowhunters getting nasty on hogs

Feral hogs have long been a problem in Texas, but folks like the Blue Collar Bowhunters are trying to do a little something about it.

They just began their second bowhunting tournament, the Texas Big Nasty Hog Contest, but their mission isn't necessarily to combat the overpopulation. With about 50 teams registered so far and hopes of more with some media play, organizer Jeremy Sickles realizes knocking back their numbers is a tall order.

"If you go out and shoot 10 of them, you might feel good, but you didn't do nothing," Sickles said. "Not even a dent in the population."

Wild hogs do $52 million in agricultural damage each year in Texas, causing landowners to spend $7 million annually for control, but that's an uphill battle with an estimated 2 million wild hogs in the state.

"Whatever they're saying and double it," Sickles said about the fast-breeding hogs. "They've done nothing but multiple."

The hogs can have two or three litters in the double digits each year, and groups of 40 to 50 are commonly seen ripping up the farmland in east Texas.

"They're bad. I'm talking 10 acres, a group of them can come through, and it's like a breaking blow has come," he said. "Usually, right now is when they'll start tearing the pastures up. "

Sickles said a Dallas TV reporter came to their locale and started her piece on their hunt by showing the destruction, and he expects some more hunters to sign up as well as some swipes from antis.

"We'll probably get a couple of those haters," he said, apparently more worried about showing a profit this year. They paid out all of the $100 entry fees last year in a number of categories, including best photo, best video, most hogs, heaviest hog and longest tusks.

"Last year, (the payout) was probably 120 percent," Sickles said. "We lost money … a lot of money.
We spent about $2,000."

Anyone in the state is allowed to enter, but hogs must be killed with bows and the hunts need to videotaped "to keep everybody honest." The hunt started Feb. 6 and runs until March 8, with awards handed out at the Pine Forest Community Center at a date TBD.

"If they live in Texas, hunt in Texas, they can enter in it," said Sickles, noting entries from as far as San Antonio and the Houston area.

For information on the hunt, click here.

Go get 'em. Get nasty on those hogs.

posted Feb. 2

Can a groundhog really predict weather, really?

Six more weeks of winter, folks.

Yes, Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, not some guy with a cool moniker, saw his shadow this morning, which means spring ain't just around the corner.

With top hat pomp and circumstance Tuesday, a cheering crowd greeted the famous rodent as handlers, the Inner Circle, took Phil from his simulated ceremonial tree stump at Gobbler's Knob, Pa. — pop. 5,944, sal-ute! — and made him look for his shadow.

But did he really see it? I mean really?

Even if the 20-pound woodchuck — same as groundhog — was staring right at the darkened area on the ground made by his body blocking out the sun, would he know it was his shadow. Does he even know what a shadow is?

Sure, small furry critters probably run when they see the shadow of a hawk flying overhead, but that's probably just their skittish nature to any movement. My cat doesn't even know its his reflection in the mirror, so I'm to believe a groundhog, even lower on the food chain, can grasp the concept of shadows?

Sure why not.

And anyway, the Inner Circle tells us that Phil "speaks to his human caretakers ... in Groundhogese and tells them his forecast. The Inner Circle then translates Phil's words for the world to hear," reads an article on the German ritual in National Geographic.

Awesome. Wonder if there's a class for that. You gotta love their conviction.

Handlers say Phil is right all the time. Uh-oh, they shouldn't have gone there.

Weather-guy types dispute that, probably in a rage of jealously whenever their station manager tells them an overgrown rat could do their job, saying Phil's accuracy is closer to 40 percent, worse than a coin flip.

They dole out explanations that astronomically there are always six more weeks of winter on the calendar, so the groundhog is wrong whenever it doesn't see its shadow and predicts an early spring. I would hope most meterologists can see the inherent fun and the added interest Groundhog Day brings to their profession.

Let's get bureaucratic. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tops the charts by going as far as to edict that Phil has "no predictive skill" whatsoever. Wow. Like the No Fun League, groundhog lovers and recreation anglers might start referring to NOAA as the Non-Optimistic, Alienating Administration.

C'mon. Give a rodent a break. Let the people have some fun, after all, Groundhog Day is only once a year ... and it was a pretty good movie.

posted Jan. 27

Lucky find occurred before record catch

Now I've untied someone else's lost lure from a shrub in the water, but I've never found a rod and reel.

Of course, the closest I've ever been to having a fish pull in my combo was catfishing in a Missouri pond. I've seen videos and heard of saltwater anglers having rods pulled out of their hands and into the drink, yet none ever reported getting them back.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy reported to us that he found a lost reel once the lake drew down.

And now comes a Paul Harvey moment on Japanese angler Manabu Kurita's recently certified 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass that tied George Perry for the IGFA World Record.

Jason Schratwieser, the IGFA conservation director, said during work with the Japan Game Fish Association to certifity Kurita's fish, he learned an interesting side story. Two months before landing the record, Kurita laid down his Deps Sidewinder rod and a Shimano Antares DC7LV reel loaded with 25-pound Toray line as he organized some tackle.

Bam! A big bass ate it his live bait and yanked his rod and reel into Lake Biwa. Weeks later, Kurita saw a dead bass floating and went to look. It had line attached, so he yanked it up and miracle of miracles, attached to the other end was his lucky rod and reel.

"It was that same rod and reel he used in early July for the world record tying catch," Schratwieser said.

And now you know the rest of story.

For more, visit IGFA's hot news.

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.