News Hound archive: Through Nov. 3, 2006

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    posted Nov. 3, 2006

    Angler tops own state smallmouth record, 11 years later

    Pragmatic Idaho angler Dan Steigers knew it was inevitable that someone would eventually break the state smallmouth bass record he set in 1995 with an 8-pound, 5-ounce brownie.

    He just didn't figure it would be him.

    Last week Steigers landed a 9-pound, 11.52-ounce smallmouth at Dworshak Reservoir — the same place he caught his first record — surpassing his old mark by more than a pound.

    "I was kind of prepared for it to be broke here in a year or two with as many big fish coming out of there, but I wasn't nearly as upset as I thought I was going to be," Steigers told The Lewiston Tribune.

    Steigers, 49, who hails from Juliaetta, Idaho, said he fishes the reservoir regularly during the season. He said he'd landed several fish in the 3- to 4-pound range Saturday before he hooked the big one.

    "It didn't jump," he said. "It just sounded."

    The International Game Fish Association world record smallmouth is 11-pounds, 15-ounces and was caught in 1955 at Dale Hollow Lake on the Kentucky and Tennessee border.


    For the books: Minnesota woman arrows 24-point buck

    Deb Luzinski, avid Minnesota bowhunter and 38-year-old mother of two, has hunted deer with a bow for 15 years, taking 64 does and five bucks.

    Last week, as she has done for years, she took part in a deer-control hunt on public park property for the sole purpose of reducing the herd to a more manageable level.

    In fact, as a member of the Metro Bowhunters Resource Base, a nonprofit organization that helps urban communities cull problem deer herds, she was helping coordinate this year's hunt at Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park.

    My friend Chris Niskanen, the fine outdoor writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, wrote this week that, as in past years, Luzinski was fully intent on shooting a doe.

    After 16 other bowhunters picked their hunting locations and put up their stands last Friday, Luzinski took what remained.

    "I picked the last spot next to a cattail swamp that nobody wanted," she told Niskanen.

    But she didn't shoot a doe.

    Instead, the veteran hunter bagged perhaps the biggest buck ever taken by a Minnesota woman, by any means.

    When all is said and done, Luzinski's massive 24-point non-typical whitetail is expected to score among the top three in the Minnesota Record Book.

    "I'm not a trophy hunter, so to speak; I firmly believe in hunting as a part of deer management," she said. "My intent that night was to shoot a doe, but this buck was unfathomable."

    Unfathomable, indeed.

    While we await permission to run Luzinski's photo here at the ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound blog (Deb's hard to track down; she's still hunting!) you can see her incredible deer and read the entire story here.


    posted Nov. 2, 2006

    Study: Bears biggest predation threat to elk calves

    A five-year scientific analysis in Montana's Garnet Mountains has concluded that black bears pose the largest single predatory threat to newborn elk calves in the region.

    The study, in which 221 calves were monitored electronically, documented an overall mortality rate of 41 calves, or about 18.5 percent.

    Interagency researchers found that bear predation was responsible for nearly 27 percent of elk calf deaths, while mountain lions made up about 17 percent of the overall mortality rate.

    Disease, malnutrition and other factors were responsible for the remainder of the calf deaths.

    The study was a combined effort of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and University of Montana.

    Brett French, outdoor writer for the Billings Gazette, reports that the data confirmed what many of those taking part in the study already believed.

    "Bears will hunt the calving areas and they have a long memory," said Tom Toman, director of conservation for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation "They'll go back to those same areas."

    Toman said elk calving grounds are the same areas that bears frequent when coming out of hibernation — sunny hillsides with lush plant growth. If a hungry bruin runs across a newborn elk calf along the way, it often remembers where it found that easy meal.

    "In one study in Idaho, black bears took about 60 to 70 percent of the elk calves in the first couple of weeks," Toman said.

    "So it's really important from that standpoint to get all of the calves on the ground in synchronicity, and get it over with quickly. The bears can only eat so much."


    Neither rain, nor snow … nor squirrel attack

    From the ESPNOutdoors.com News Hound "Do I look like I'm nuts?" department, comes a story about this week's berserk bushytail bushwhacking.

    Mail carrier Barb Dougherty said she was attacked and bitten by an aggressive squirrel while delivering mail in Oil City, Pa., this week.

    That's right, the squirrel went postal … on a postal worker.

    Dougherty said she had just placed mail in a residential box when the squirrel ran up her leg and began biting her on the back.

    "It was a freak thing. It was traumatic," the 30-year postal employee told The Oil City Derrick newspaper.

    "I eventually got a hold of the tail and pulled it off me," Dougherty said.

    "No one was home at the house where I was delivering the mail, but the neighbor lady heard me screaming and came over."

    Daugherty was treated at a local hospital and given a precautionary rabies shot.

    The squirrel was subdued with a BB gun and was sent to a lab for testing.

    So, mail carriers beware: Pit bulls may look dangerous, but don't forget to carry pepper spray for the squirrels.


    posted Nov. 1, 2006

    Buck leaps onto the front page

    Talk about having a news story jump right into a reporter's lap, so to speak.

    That's exactly what happened at the Moline (Ill.) Dispatch newspaper office over the weekend, when a 150-pound buck crashed through a window and tore through the building for nearly three hours before being subdued by authorities.

    A motorist reportedly saw the buck running on a street in downtown Moline on a normally quiet Sunday morning and decided to follow it at a distance to see where it went.

    Rob Huggins said he was surprised to see a deer downtown, but became even more stunned by what it did next.

    "All of a sudden it just turned and jumped through the window," Huggins said. "I got out of my car and called 911."

    No one was in the office at the time of the incident.

    The badly cut buck left a trail of blood throughout the building's ground floor as it frantically tried to find an exit.

    Authorities — including police, state DNR officers and the local zoo director — were finally able to capture the buck with a net and a veterinarian was summoned to euthanize it.

    Needless to say, the account of the ordeal was Monday's lead story, with no shortage of firsthand descriptions and photographs.


    91-year-old woman finally gets her moose

    After 25 years of unsuccessfully applying for a Maine moose tag, avid hunter Sarah Groder finally drew a permit authorizing her to take a cow moose during the state's second season in October.

    Never mind that Groder is 91 years old and is confined to a wheelchair because of a bad hip.

    It didn't seem to matter to this feisty, lifelong hunter.

    The Kennebec Journal reports Groder has hunted deer with 54-year-old Alfred Curtis — whom she considers like a son — for decades. She began hunting in her mid-30s, mostly with friends and neighbors, during time away from her career in nursing.

    Acting as her sub-permittee, Curtis drove Groder around the mountains for several days, until they finally spotted a cow following a large bull moose on the final day of the hunt.

    Curtis fired the first shot, then Groder shouldered her .243 magnum rifle and dispatched the cow with a second bullet.

    "She was so tickled, she was crying and laughing all at once," Curtis told reporter Dave Sherwood.

    When they arrived at the tagging station, Curtis entered to register Groder's 580-pound moose.

    "I told the folks at the tagging station, the woman who shot this moose is 91-years-old and isn't able to walk stairs, so here's her permit," he said.

    Scott Sheridan, who had check-in duties at Griswold's Store that afternoon, didn't have a problem with that.

    "For a woman … born in 1915, I'll go to her," Sheridan said. FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Oct. 31, 2006

    Proposal: Florida alligators to be game species

    With an unprecedented set of three fatal alligator attacks in 2006 and a late-summer alligator hunting season drawing the largest participation in state history, Florida wildlife officials are recommending a first-ever expansion of alligator hunting opportunities and liberalized regulations for managing nuisance animals.

    In its regular meeting yesterday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommended alligators be downgraded from "species of special concern" to a managed game animal within five years.

    Further, the Commission proposed property owners be allowed to kill nuisance alligators themselves, and to keep the meat for their personal use.

    The recommendations come on the heels of the first comprehensive review of the state's alligator management program in its 20-year history. The commission will revisit the issue at its December meeting.

    The proposals are the result of a Florida Fish and Wildlife online survey conducted last month.

    "Everything right now is at a very broad level," program coordinator Harry Dutton told the Fort Myers News Press.

    Dutton said the 638 survey responses exceeded his expectations.

    As the Commission moves forward with the management proposals, public hearings likely will be held in 2007.

    Although the amphibious reptiles once were endangered in Florida, the population has held steady at more than 1 million since 1999.

    Tags for the 2006 alligator harvest season were increased from about 4,300 to more than 8,000. Eager gator hunters snatched up every available permit in less than three hours of online sales.

    In addition to hunting, licensed gator trappers annually catch and destroy some 8,000 gators that threaten people and property.


    Second N.D. pheasant hunter kills cougar

    For the second time this month, a North Dakota hunter pursuing ringnecks has instead encountered an unexpected quarry — a mountain lion.

    Just last Monday I blogged about how pheasant hunter Kent Ferguson of Lansford, N.D., shot the second lion of the state's ongoing season after the big cat took a swipe at his Labrador retriever.

    The Bismarck Tribune reports that George Linz was hoping to kick up some pheasants on Saturday as he and his girlfriend enjoyed an afternoon walk on his property near the Missouri River in Washburn.

    Linz was carrying a semi-auto shotgun loaded with No. 4 pheasant shot.

    His girlfriend was not armed.

    "I happened to glance behind me at a washout, a kind of sandy area, and much to my surprise, (a lion was) in a crouched position, eyes as big as saucers. I remember the tail twitching," Linz recalled.

    At a distance of 10 feet, the cougar appeared ready to leap.

    So he instinctively swung around and shot.

    "I hit it in the head. It died, in effect, instantly. I looked at it and said, 'Gosh, what happened?' It happened so fast," Linz told the Bismarck paper.

    And it's a good thing his single shot was on the mark, too.

    "I had no second shot. The shotgun just hung up," he said.

    This is the second year of an experimental lion season in North Dakota. The season will end when a quota of five animals is reached.

    Linz's animal was the third of the season, which opened in September.

    In retrospect, Linz — a biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture — said he probably would not have purposely hunted a mountain lion, but he felt the animal posed an unquestionable threat to his companion and himself.

    "In this situation, I felt I needed to do it," he said.

    "It was in a crouched position, and its tail was flicking. If you've watched house cats, it's not a good sign for the mouse. In this case, we may have been the mouse."


    posted Oct. 30, 2006

    N.J. governor tries to scuttle 2006 black bear hunt

    Political observers in New Jersey say that today's orchestrated non-action by Gov. Jon Corzine was designed to block the state's third black bear hunt since 2003 and will likely result in court action by hunter's rights groups.

    Today was the deadline for the governor to sign off on the routine five-year renewal of New Jersey's hunting and fishing management plan — a plan that includes authorizing the state Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife to conduct a bear hunt. Without his signature, the plan will not be official.

    During his campaign last year, Corzine didn't hide his opposition to bear hunting in The Garden State.

    "There's no evidence this has been a good control device," he said. "I haven't seen anything that changes my mind on this."

    Bear hunting has been a contentious issue in New Jersey, inflaming passion on both sides. Lawsuits, protests and several arrests for hunt disruption have occurred.

    In 2003, the first bear hunt in 35 years took place in an effort to control an increasingly troublesome population that had grown to an estimated 3,200 bruins, primarily in the northern part of the state.

    Last year, hunters took about 300 bears in a 1,500-square-mile region between Interstates 78 and 287.

    The 2006 bear season was scheduled to begin Dec. 4.

    The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, a leading hunter advocacy group, has announced it is evaluating its options and may consider legal action to prevent cancellation of the bear hunt.

    The USSA's legal entity, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation, has answered challenges to the New Jersey bear hunt in court two times since 2003.

    Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled the Fish and Game Commission has ultimate authority over establishing hunting season in the state, based on the expertise of division biologists and other experts who are best suited to evaluate wildlife trends and methods of population control.


    Alaska judge unloads on habitual poacher

    Judge Suddock, we need more of ye.

    Alaska Superior Court Judge John Suddock sent a strong message that flagrant poaching activities will not be tolerated under his jurisdiction when sentencing a convicted wildlife violator Friday.

    For the next 10 years, convicted poacher Robert McConnell cannot own a computer or log on to the Internet. He can't own firearms or practice his trade of taxidermy. He is not allowed to leave the road system south of Anchorage without first consulting his probation officer.

    In addition, he will serve six months in jail and pay $25,000 in fines and restitution.

    McConnell, described by authorities as a habitual poacher, was convicted of illegally killing two massive Dall sheep last winter in a popular wildlife-viewing area outside of Anchorage.

    In announcing his sentence, Judge Suddock referred to McConnell "a hunting addict," and compared the severity of his punishment to an intervention, according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News.

    "Some sentence has to be imposed that ensures this gentleman is not going to hunt again for some time," Suddock said.

    The two Dall sheep were illegally killed in mid-February in an area state wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott described to the court as a "world class" sheep viewing area that is easy and inexpensive to reach.

    McConnell's accomplice, Douglas Perfetto, admitted to doing the shooting during most of the duo's poaching activities, but the state argued McConnell was the leader.

    Perfetto testified that he and McConnell poached a total of eight sheep in six months and that they were engaged in the illegal sale of animal parts over the Internet.

    Perfetto was sentenced in to 17 days in jail and fined $7,200.


    posted Oct. 27, 2006

    Mule deer buck surprise: He was a she

    Canadian deer hunter Paul Roberts received quite a shock when he prepared to field dress the mule deer buck he bagged last week near his home in Cranbrook, British Columbia.

    As Roberts rolled the expired deer onto its back, he discovered the 4-point buck didn't have, uh, a pointer.

    "I reached down there … but there was nothing there," a bewildered Roberts told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. "I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, and I couldn't see any more."

    Because only four-point mule deer bucks or better were legal for harvesting during this particular British Colombia deer season, Roberts said he'd gone to great lengths to determine that the deer was a legal buck before shooting it.

    Then, it turned out that he was a she.

    "What was it? A doe-buck? A transvestite deer? I didn't know," Roberts said."

    After consulting with a conservation officer, Roberts became enlightened to hormonal abnormalities that sometimes can cause does to grow antlers. It is unusual, to be sure, but it happens.

    The occurrence of antlered does is precisely why most game agencies specify "antlered or antlerless" on their regulations, instead of simply "buck or doe."

    Even though Roberts' hermaphrodite deer was biologically a doe, its four-point rack made it legal to harvest.


    Oregon woman rolled by cranky blacktail

    A 58-year old Oregon woman is recovering today after a blacktail buck attacked her as she took mail out to her roadside mailbox yesterday.

    Annie Saunders, of rural Aurora, an avowed "wildlife watcher," said she was surprised how calmly the small buck with the forked rack appeared when it began to approach her.

    But things changed quickly.

    The deer knocked her to the ground with its antlers, repeatedly kicked her with its hooves and sent her to the hospital with multiple lacerations and a puncture wound to her abdomen.

    "I stopped to look at him and he came right over to me very nonchalantly and calmly and used his head to knock me down," Saunders recounted to outdoor writer Roy Gault of the Salem Statesman-Journal.

    "Then he rolled me around in the gravel, attacking me with his antlers and front feet. And I was still on the ground when two gentlemen drove by and saw what was going on. It took both of them to pull him off," she said.

    Saunders drove herself to a nearby hospital, where she was treated and released.

    Besides being a lover of deer on the hoof, the pragmatic woman said she hoped that someone would soon savor her four-legged attacker — in the form of roasts and jerky.

    Does that mean the bruised and battered Mrs. Saunders holds a grudge against all ungulates?

    "No, they're very tasty," she responded. FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Oct. 26, 2006

    Chesapeake anglers net whitetail buck

    A group of Chesapeake Bay anglers got more than they bargained for last week when they netted a whitetail buck that was struggling to stay afloat near Solomons Island.

    Don Fitzhugh was fishing with his wife and three other anglers when they spotted the deer with its head barely above the water.

    "This deer had no business being out there; he was very disoriented," said Fitzhugh. "Frankly, he was really down for the count. This deer was just desperately trying to stay afloat."

    One angler snagged the buck's antler using a fishing net and the boat's occupants held on to the animal while the craft motored slowly to the shore.

    When they released the deer near the shoreline, it slowly stumbled onto dry land.

    "As he stood there, he turned sideways and looked at us. As he turned around, he started to bark at us. He barked three times. We all looked at each other and said, "I swear this deer is saying thank you,'" Fitzhugh said.

    OK, I know it's an awfully syrupy, warm and fuzzy story up to this point, kind readers.

    For the record, let's just imagine that the real happy ending to the tale came for the blackpowder hunter who was waiting in the woods on last Thursday's opening day of Maryland's muzzleloader deer season.

    Feel better? Thought so.


    An argument against Darwinism: Game violators

    OK, I understand that using decoys can be a highly effective method for hunting all types of game, from ducks to deer, and just about everything in between.

    I can fully grasp that the brainpower of wildlife is limited, compared to humans, for example. And I know wild critters often act compulsively, dependant on their instincts.

    That's why decoys can deceive them.

    But, for the life of me, I just can't understand how a seemingly aware and cognizant human being can be fooled into thinking that a motionless big game animal decoy is the real McCoy.

    Fooled … to the point of shooting it with a firearm.

    It sometimes makes me question this whole evolution thing.

    The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reports that nine such humans (and I use that term with some trepidation) were cited on one day earlier this month for shooting at a bull elk decoy strategically placed along a road near Pinedale.

    According to Game Warden coordinator Scott Werbelow, 62 vehicles passed the decoy during daylight hours Oct. 1, two weeks before the area opened for elk hunting.

    The nine Neanderthals who stopped their vehicles and shot at the decoy were cited for a variety of offenses, including shooting from the roadway, taking elk from a vehicle, taking elk during a closed season, taking elk without a license and transfer of a license.

    There's a lesson to be learned here: When diving into the proverbial gene pool, beware of the shallow end.


    posted Oct. 25, 2006

    California's biggest: 1,175-pound rod-and-reel mako

    After an all-night ordeal on open water and a battle lasting more than 12 hours, a California angler outlasted a 13-foot, 1,175-pound shortfin mako shark, the largest ever recorded off the West Coast.

    The sharp-toothed subject of Chris Podesto's incredible fish story presented the angler and crew with dozens of exciting highlights, including 30-foot leaps into the air, 300-yard surges and attacks to the boat's 150-horsepower outboard.

    Oh, yeah, and in the meantime it hauled the 27-foot fishing craft around the coastline of Catalina Island like it was a child's toy.

    Podesto's catch fell just short of the 1,221-pound all-tackle International Game Fish Association record caught in July 2006 off Chatham, Mass. The largest mako ever weighed was a 1,530-pounder harpooned in July 1997 off Plymouth, Mass.

    Because Podesto handed off the rod and reel duties to his pal Scott Gurney for about two hours of the fight, the mako likely will not be recognized as an official state record.

    After hooking the shark around noon Sept. 30, Podesto was still fighting the battling behemoth at 10 p.m.

    And, as Peter Ottesen, outdoor writer for the Stockton Record wrote, captain Steve Quinlin didn't feel comfortable about a nighttime landing.

    "This (was) way too dangerous to attempt to gaff after dark," Quinlin said. "I've never caught a fish like this at night."

    (Be sure to read Ottesen's entire account of Podesto's catch of a lifetime.)

    After four more hours of fighting and maneuvering, they were able to tail-wrap the shark and secure it to the side of the boat. By then it was 2 a.m.

    "When we checked its stomach contents, it was almost empty except for the remains of a digested porpoise," Podesto said. "The way I figure it, I was one sea lion away from No. 1 in the world."


    Halloween advice: No seal costumes in Churchill, Manitoba

    In what might be considered the most obvious trick-or-treating safety advice ever offered, the Manitoba Conservation Department suggests that children who live around the Hudson Bay community of Churchill should not wear Halloween costumes that might make them look like seals and other critters that polar bears like to eat.

    You see, when you reside smack dab in the middle of the world's largest polar bear denning area, it's often necessary to take some special precautions.

    For going on 25 years now, the folks in Churchill, Manitoba, get together to form a Halloween Polar Bear Patrol, so youngsters may safely trek door-to-door collecting treats on Oct. 31.

    The special patrol includes a strategic perimeter around the entire town and utilizes manpower from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Parks Canada, local ambulance and fire officials and the Canadian Rangers.

    About a dozen fire trucks, ambulances and other vehicles park with their engines idling and spotlights shining. Other vehicles cruise the streets to give children in this town of 1,000 around eight hours to collect bagfuls of treats and goodies.

    In late October, when the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population's annual migration to the ice is in full swing, both predator and prey disguises are discouraged.

    In just a few weeks, the massive bruins will locate a den and begin to hibernate for the long Canadian winter, but not before enjoying a few extra seals to tide them over until springtime.

    "To be honest with you, I've never seen a kid dressed up as a seal — but the message would be don't dress up as a polar bear or a seal," said Richard Romaniuk, district supervisor for Manitoba Conservation.

    May we suggest the Spiderman costume?


    posted Oct. 24, 2006

    Lost Idaho hunter walks out of snowy Sawtooths after 5 days

    Authorities in Idaho's Custer County were in the process of altering their search into a recovery operation last week, when an elk hunter who'd been missing for five days emerged from the rugged Sawtooth Mountains on his own, albeit very cold and very hungry.

    Bill Helfferich, 53, embarked on a solo elk trip Oct. 15 and was supposed to return to his Boise-area home the same night. While looking for elk, he took a wrong turn, finding himself in an area not covered on his topo map

    Then it began to snow.

    His wife reported him missing at 11:15 a.m. Oct. 16, according to police reports.

    Realizing he was lost and that searchers would probably be looking for him, Helfferich knew enough about wilderness survival to stay put, build a fire for warmth, and to keep hydrated with melted snow.

    As time passed, searchers began to lose hope he would be found alive.

    "Day 3 was hopeful, but we had to start thinking of the inevitable here," said Custer County Sheriff's deputy Levi Maydole.

    "On Day 4, hopes begin to drain off. On Day 5, we don't expect to find people in those conditions at that time of year in that wilderness."

    By Friday Helfferich decided to hike out of the mountains on his own. He met some pine-beetle researchers who drove him to nearby Stanley, where searchers and family were notified of his rescue.

    Helfferich said he became so hungry that he ate snowballs to fill his empty stomach. At one point he said he thought about shooting a pine squirrel with his elk rifle.

    "I decided I wasn't that hungry, yet," he said. FORUM | MAILBAG

    Arrowed buck turns tables on bowhunter

    An 8-point, 257-pound whitetail buck turned the tables on a stunned Maine bowhunter last week, charging at him with its head lowered in attack mode just seconds after being hit with a broadhead-tipped hunting arrow.

    Vito Coulombe said he thought he was about to be gored by the big buck after loosing an arrow at a distance of about 25 feet on Wednesday afternoon.

    "After I shot it, he came right at me," Coulombe told The Lewiston Sun Journal.

    "I threw my bow at him and hit him with it, and was backing away and fell over a log, and he just missed me. I was scared to death. I thought he was taking me out."

    Daniel Frazel, Coulombe's hunting partner, said he didn't believe his buddy's claims at first.

    "He came up to me, he was freaked out! He said, 'Dan! I almost got killed!'" Frazel said.

    The pair was unable to track the deer before nightfall, but returned early the next morning for a successful recovery.

    Coulombe, who has hunted since 1991, said it was the biggest deer he's ever taken with a bow.

    It's a sure bet it's also his most memorable one. FORUM | MAILBAG

    posted Oct. 23, 2006

    Colorado caribou mystery solved

    The caribou that was struck and killed by a vehicle 45 miles north of Denver last week had not wandered some 2,000 miles off course during its annual migration.

    According to a report in the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, a landowner from nearby Weld, Colo., has come forward to claim the animal as his.

    Last Tuesday, state highway employee Gene Fisher watched the bull as it grazed near U.S. 85. A passing train evidently spooked the animal onto the road and into the path of a car.

    "I was flabbergasted," said Fisher, an experienced hunter. "I began to wonder what was in my coffee that morning."

    According to Colorado Division of Wildlife manager Chad Morgan, the owner prefers to remain anonymous, and he was not cited for keeping the animal on his property.

    Division of Wildlife personnel investigating the incident said the unfortunate ungulate was apparently chased from its enclosure by a pack of coyotes.

    "Sounds like some coyotes got in and pushed him out," Morgan said.


    Retriever bloodied in close cougar encounter

    Kent Ferguson was hunting pheasants with his two Labrador retrievers near Lansford, N.D., last week when one of his dogs came face to face with a snarling mountain lion.

    "We saw some pheasants run into the cattails so we started working them," Ferguson told the Minot Daily News. "My 1½-year-old yellow Lab went into the cattails and I heard a growl and a yelp. She came flying back with blood on her nose."

    Ferguson said he caught a glimpse of the cougar in the thick undergrowth and quickly shot three times at the animal.

    Less than a minute after shooting at the lion using 2¾-inch, No. 4 shot pheasant loads, he heard it growl again and quickly reloaded his shotgun.

    Knowing better than attempting to search through thick cattails for a potentially wounded — and likely quite agitated — lion, the hunter rounded up his dogs and returned to his truck to phone for assistance.

    When his friends Vance Undlin and Don Bierman arrived, the three men, armed with shotguns, returned to the cattail patch.

    "Once the three of us got up there, we walked in pretty carefully because we didn't know what we were going to find," Undlin said. "We walked pretty timidly."

    They found the lion, dead, right where Ferguson had shot it.

    According to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Ferguson's lion was the second taken in the state's current season. The season will end when a quota of five animals is reached.

    Ferguson's dog came away with a gash on the shoulder and is expected to survive to hunt again — although we bet she'll be especially wary of cattail thickets in the future.

    "She's fine, though," Ferguson said. "She just might need a few stitches."

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    About the author: J.R. Absher shares his perspective while blogging about hunting, fishing, shooting sports, sportsmen's issues and the occasional offbeat outdoor tale. In more than 30 years of writing and a lifetime of enjoying the outdoors, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, photographer, mule wrangler, wilderness packer, magazine editor, political consultant, hunting-equipment copywriter, public-relations director and sportsman's advocate. You may contact him at jrabsher@psci.net.

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