Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New (and very different) Hunting Show coming July 3rd

On Your Own Adventures – What’s in a name?

A lot of people have asked, “How did you arrive at the name On Your Own Adventures?”

Well, the easy answer is that On Your Own, is how I hunt. It is also how most of you hunt. In fact, the most recent study shows that 97% of big game hunters in the United States are On Your Own hunters.

Whether it is on public land or private land, most hunters go non-guided. For whatever reasons, whether it is the sense of personal accomplishment, cost, available opportunity, or a host of many other reasons, non-guided hunting is the way most of us hunt.

I have been on guided hunts and have had some great times. In spite of meeting some great people on these hunts, having a guide do all the research, all the scouting, the planning, and taking care of all the logistics, I never got the same feeling from a guided hunt as I have from my On Your Own hunts.

Most of the hunts you will see us doing are on accessible lands. That is merely for the purpose of transparency for the audience. Most hunting in the US occurs on private land. I have access to some great private land and when I do get a chance to hunt those lands, it is always On Your Own hunting, the same as it is for most other guys hunting private lands.

I am blessed to live in the West, where we have millions of acres of public lands for On Your Own hunting. As such, you will see most of our hunts occurring on these lands, as a big part of our mission is to show people that On Your Own hunting is available and accessible to all Americans, for a fraction of the cost of most guided hunts.

In doing these hunts on public land, or accessible private lands, many people get the impression we are promoting only public land hunting. Not the case. We are promoting On Your Own hunting, whether it is on public land out West, or in your family’s 80-acre whitetail grounds.

Why has the On Your Own hunter been ignored by popular hunting TV shows? Well, non-guided hunting is hard. You know that better than anyone.

Hunting on accessible lands with competition from other hunters is even harder. And, hunting with camera guys following you along, is extremely difficult. Add all three of these elements into one show concept, and you are talking about what many in the industry have called “the impossible show.”

I spent three years filming my own hunts, and those of family and friends, before a production company saw the concept and asked me to start a TV show around the idea of On Your Own hunting. We knew it would be hard. In fact, it is much more difficult than I had ever expected. If we were willing to compromise our production quality and cut other corners, it would be easier, but there is enough low-budget footage on the outdoor networks. Though our concept is not impossible, it is extremely difficult. And that difficulty and much higher cost is why no other shows have made On Your Own hunting their exclusive concept.

In spite of the difficulties, it is a project worth pursuing. Why?

Because there are over 350 hunting shows on the outdoor TV networks, and not one of them are exclusively dedicated the hunting as it occurs for the average guy - On Your Own hunting. Some shows will have some episodes as non-guided hunts, or a few episodes on accessible lands, but none dedicate their entire concept to On Your Own hunting on lands the average guy can hunt.

Our goal is to be different. Different in terms of our concept, our focus on the hard core hunting audience, and our extremely high level of production quality. I hope we have succeeded.

You will see all types of hunts for many different species. Elk, muleys, whitetails, antelope, bear, turkeys, with bow or rifle, on both private and public land. Over the course of time, we hope to show hunts on limited entry tags, over-the-counter tags, and in some instances, landowner tags where the landowner will let us hunt On Your Own. All of these represent affordable options available to the non-guided hunter.

We will get some comments by those who are offended that we promote non-guided hunting, outside of high fences, and without the benefit of private estates. There is already enough of that on TV.

For those who find it offensive that we would talk about not using high fences or the benefit of outfitters, I hope you see that we are promoting another style of hunting. Is our promotion of On Your Own hunting any different than the guy show stands in front of the camera and shamelessly goes on and on about XYZ outfitter or ACME deer preserve? I don’t think so.

I do know this. The feedback we have received as we have tried to tell the story of hunting as it occurs for most Americans has been resounding, and overwhelmingly favorable. We will have our struggles where we don’t find the big buck, or maybe we don’t find one at all. We will miss some shots. Maybe make a bad shot, and all the other things that are hunting reality for our viewers. Why should our hunting be any different than yours?

And, we will do all we can to tell the most important conservation story in the world – the story of the On Your Own hunter in America – your story.

Thanks for watching.

Click to see some clips

The Outdoor Channel and will start airing on July 3rd. The airtimes (Eastern time) are Fridays at 1:30 PM and Midnight, and Sundays at 5:00 PM. Those will be the airtimes every week, until the end of the year.

Note: Randy is a board member of Orion-The Hunter's Institute and lives in Montana.

Why Hunt? A new video in support of hunting

Go to the following link to see a very well done video produced by California Waterfowl in support of hunting. Pass the link on to other hunters and non-hunters, it is worth seeing!
click here

VT Sportsmen Win Round One

Vermont Sportsmen Win Round One

As the Vermont legislative session drew to a close, catastrophe for the states sportsmen and sporting dog owners was averted - at least in round one of a battle with the anti’s.

As the 2009 legislative session was in its final hours, Vermont sportsmen and sporting dog owners were ambushed by last minute amendments to unrelated legislation that would have devastated sporting dog kennels throughout the state.

In HB 136, and later in HB 313, the anti’s tried to slip in language that would have classified nearly all sporting dog owners, even those with as few as just one dog, as kennels and pet dealers. This even after the language attached to both bills was removed from a senate bill earlier this year, due to its controversial nature.

Thanks to the efforts of the many dog groups who came out opposed to these efforts, including the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and the Vermont Federation of Dog clubs, the last minute attack was defeated.

“The anti’s tried to stifle debate on these outrageous amendments and rush them through in the closing minutes of their session,” says USSA vice president for government relations Rob Sexton. “Thanks to the efforts of Vermont sportsmen, the anti’s were unable to avoid that debate and lost.”

Despite winning round one, Vermont sportsmen will undoubtedly be under attack again in the next legislative session. This means sportsmen will need to remain on guard for future bills seeking to restrict their rights to hunt with dogs.

Friday, May 22, 2009

VT Board rescinds muzzleloader season vote

Congrats to Bob Shannon and the VT Fish and Wildlife Board! Wednesday night they did the right thing and rescinded their vote from a month ago to amend the 2009 deer regulations to allow for an early muzzleloader hunting season. The problem with this amendment was not so much with the merits, but the fact that no biological assessment had been done on it and it comes just as the new 10 year deer plan is coming out. The amendment offered by HAT's Ed Gallo caught the Board and the Department by surprise. I'm sure some folks would like muzzleloader season prior to the rifle season, but others like bird hunters and trappers would feel the competition. I also suspect that many rifle hunters would not be happy having another group working on "their" bucks before they get a chance.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Maine Lynx and Logging

from Boston Globe
Lynx and logging share interests
Natural habitat is at risk as clear-cutting fades

By Murray Carpenter, Globe Correspondent | April 27, 2009

The good news is that Canada lynx are thriving in Maine. Hundreds of the leggy, snow-loving cats are breeding in the state's vast north woods, perhaps a historic high.

The bad news is that the population is heading for a crash, and logging industry clear-cut practices seem to be the reason.

Strangely, it's not an excess of clear-cutting that is the problem; this time, it's a lack of clear-cutting that is creating environmental worries.

Environmentalists may hate clear-cutting, but lynx love it - because when trees are cleared away, a dense spruce-fir thicket often crops up in their place, and those thickets attract snowshoe hares, the lynx's primary prey.

Biologists say lynx are thriving in Maine because massive industrial clear-cuts following a spruce budworm epidemic 30 years ago have grown into hare-rich thickets. But regulations reducing the size of clear-cuts in the Maine woods - products of state legislation passed in 1989 and amended after a divisive environmental campaign in the late 1990s - are now eliminating those thickets, and eventually, the hares that live in them.

Over the next decade, the unintended chain reaction is expected to dramatically reduce the number of Maine lynx - the only lynx in the Eastern states, and listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

"The prognosis for future habitat for lynx is not terribly good," said Mark McCullough, a US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist.

William Krohn, a University of Maine professor who has been studying the state's wildlife for decades, said that with recent reductions in clear-cutting, "We've created something that isn't the optimum for lynx habitat."

Canada lynx are lankier than bobcats, with tufted ears, dangling lamb-chop sideburns, and big feet that act as snowshoes. Lynx populations tend to be cyclical. McCullough said it is hard to count wild cats, but his "very unofficial" estimate of the peak Maine population two or three years ago was 250 to 500 lynx.

Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council, which represents the business interests that own nearly all of Maine's timberland, said extensive clear-cutting has become a thing of the past, as the lumber industry shifts to partial harvesting.

"The Forest Practices Act really began to limit the size of clear-cuts, and as a result, there's very little clear-cutting that occurs today," Strauch said.

Maine Forest Service statistics show that more than 100,000 acres of Maine timberlands were clearcut in 1988 and 1989. That dropped to 54,000 acres in 1994, 18,500 acres in 2002, and 12,000 acres in 2007.

Poorly sited clear-cuts can cause significant environmental harm, including erosion, sedimentation, and warmed and acidified streams. They destroy the habitat of forest-dwelling species and scar the landscape. Outcry over the huge clear-cuts of the 1970s and 1980s led to the logging restrictions in Maine.

Environmentalists who fought for changes in logging say it's an oversimplification to credit aggressive logging with creating good lynx habitat.

"It's probably a little premature to come to the conclusion that that's the only reason we have a healthy [lynx] population now," said Sally Stockwell, Maine Audubon Conservation's director.

But McCullough, the Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, said that like it or not, the massive clear-cuts boosted lynx populations significantly. "The science is very much behind that, and the landscape ecology very much supports that," he said. Lynx can live in mature forests, he said, but at much lower densities than now seen in Maine.

The change in logging industry practices is not the only troubling thing for Maine's lynx population. Climate change could reduce snow cover, pushing lynx habitat farther north. Some lynx are caught incidentally by trappers each year; a federal judge recently ordered Maine to revise its trapping program to reduce the catch. And Maine hares have recently declined in a separate trend that might be associated with their cyclical patterns of abundance.

The changes in forest management affect more than just lynx. Alec Giffen, director of the Maine Forest Service, said regenerating clear-cuts provide habitat favored by many species, including moose, ruffed grouse, and many migratory warblers. "If people care about certain wildlife species, not just Canada lynx, they ought to care about the creation of early successional habitats," he said.

But, he added, plans to use Maine's working forest to help store carbon - so it won't be released into the atmosphere, fueling global warming - will add another factor to forest management. And will not be conducive to more clear-cutting.

"This situation is probably going to become only more complex as we go down the road," he said.

Erin Simons,, a University of Maine doctoral candidate, used satellite images to analyze forest-management changes in Northwest Maine and ran computer models to project habitat for lynx and pine marten. (Just as managing for lynx benefits most species that use similar habitat, some biologists say managing for marten benefits most forest-dwelling species.) Not surprisingly, as lynx habitat increased in recent decades, the mature forests that marten and other forest-dwellers prefer declined.

Simons's analysis shows that lynx habitat will soon decline.

Krohn said it's time to start doing more sophisticated planning for wildlife habitat in Maine's working forest, considering which species to manage for, where, when, and in what proportions.

"We now have the tools to assess the options. We can look into the future," Krohn said. "It's an issue of balance more than anything else." cid:image002.gif@01C9CD62.394D8300

© Copyright The New York Times Company

Gayle is a founding board member of Orion- The Hunter's Institute. This article is from the Woman's Outdoor Wire:

First Lady of Montana Wildlife Management - Gayle Joslin

Gayle Joslin, of Helena, Montana, became a wildlife biologist in the early '70s when women were uncommon in the wildlife management field.
By Tammy Sapp

Hunting, fishing and camping all came natural to Gayle Joslin, who grew up in an outdoorsy family around Helena, Montana. As a young woman, she added a new dimension to her outdoor experiences by becoming a cook at an outfitters camp where her father guided in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

"That allowed me to experience backcountry camps with the horses and wall tents," Gayle reminisced. "It was a precious, special time."

While Gayle said she was content being camp cook, her parents encouraged her to go to college.

"I flipped through the university catalog and found biology, ornithology, and all the other "ologies" listed. I signed up to study fish and wildlife and was the one and only girl coming into the curriculum.

"Some professors didn't think it was appropriate for women to be in this field. They wanted me to find a more appropriate curriculum."

While it wasn't always easy, Gayle did find the experience to be a bit of an adventure. The following year, two other women opted to study fish and wildlife and the threesome became a source of support for each other.

"All the women stuck with the curriculum," Gayle recalled. "The dropout rate was high. It was a boot camp washout program. The professors really gave a discouraging picture of what the opportunities would be. So many dropped out. However, the women were an independent sort and stuck with it."

Gayle graduated from college and immediately began working on a grizzly bear project for the University of Montana. For the next two years, she worked on evaluating grizzly habitat and population dynamics.

In 1977, Gayle accepted a job with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and became the first female in a biologist position at that department.

"I was happy to get the position. I was hired by the ecological services division to do baseline research on the effects of dams, mining, and oil and gas exploration and development."

Her specific research focus was evaluating the effects of oil and gas exploration on mountain goats. Ultimately she was absorbed from the mountain goat project into the wildlife division, a part of the agency Gayle described as a "very staid, traditional boy's club." The project she was assigned to was studying the effects of energy development on the Rocky Mountain front along the Continental Divide.

"They needed the experience I had gained through my work on mining and dam development related to mountain goats, mountain lions and osprey."

Gayle's work moved her around western Montana before settling in the Helena area as a regional wildlife biologist. Beyond breaking the glass ceiling for women wanting to pursue a career in fish and wildlife, Gayle achieved many other milestones.

She produced a document outlining guidelines for mountain lion management along the Rocky Mountain front that was adopted in several US Forest Service plans. In addition, she worked with The Wildlife Society coordinating the efforts of 35 other biologists to look at the effects of recreation on Rocky Mountain wildlife.

"I coordinated all the biologists to put together benchmark information for wildlife regarding the impacts from recreation during a time when the use of off-road vehicles was exploding. This information was used by a variety of agencies and elevated the concerns and issues and connected people to data so they could understand the problems and develop solutions."

The resulting report, "Effects of Recreation on Rocky Mountain Wildlife: A Review for Montana" which Gayle co-authored with Heidi Youmans, earned the Montana Chapter's Wildlife Society Communications Award in 2000. The effort also won the prestigious Touchstone Award presented by the Wildlife Management Institute in recognition of advanced sound science for wildlife management in North America.

During her career, Joslin also fought hard for elk regulations that allocated branch-antlered bulls and a quota of cows on a permit basis while allowing any hunter to harvest an un-branched spike bull. As is the case with nearly any hunting regulation, a storm of controversy broke out with some outfitters claiming the uncertainty of drawing branch-antlered bull permits would ruin their business. Gayle stuck to her guns, though, and ultimately prevailed.

"It was always an uphill push but I'm stubborn," Gayle said. "It was important to me to do something for wildlife on my watch. It allowed elk to achieve a natural population diversity which they don't otherwise do in a hunted population. And this regulation meant that nobody got an unfair advantage."

Retired from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Gayle is now using her experience and go get 'em attitude as a board member for Orion-The Hunter's Institute. Gayle was actually a founding board member for Orion, which was established in 1993, to sustain hunting by developing programs that address the hunter's tradition as conservationist, hunter ethics, and the preservation of resources essential to an ethical hunting environment.

"One of the things I'm invested in now is having the public - both hunter and non hunter - understand the North American model. The foundation and history of wildlife conservation comes from the concept that wildlife belongs to the people. A lot of folks are lined up to get privileges or fringe benefits. However, wildlife is to be shared by all and has needs that we should all work together to assure."

Gayle is also working to protect a linkage corridor used by wolverines, wolves and grizzly bears on the crest of the Continental Divide. The Army National Guard has proposed converting this area into a training facility complete with roads, parking lots and other developments. Gayle and Orion firmly believe a better spot should be found.

"One of the things I feel strongly about is if we don't have wild lands, we will all suffer. Montana hasn't had a new designation for wilderness in 24 years. We need to take steps to assure designation of roadless lands. If we don't keep the status quo, tomorrow you could have a ski development there.

"The process is as onerous as it can be, but it's a privilege to be involved, and we have an obligation to participate. The North American model is something we've been building on for decades. It's our turn to step up to that evolutionary history and do something proactive to benefit the landscape."

To learn more about Gayle's work with Orion, visit

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Third Year is the Charm

After 3 years of hard hunting and scaring or boring a lot of turkeys, I finally killed one. He came in just like they say they should and met a load of #6 Heavyshot at 22 yards. He weighed in at 17 1/2 lbs, had a 9 inch beard and a wing span of 4 feet. I don't think I'll figure up how much time and money went into this, but I do know it was worth every penny! It felt especially good doing it on my own, on public land and after a lot of effort.
While carrying him out I watched an osprey dove bombing an immature bald eagle. Throw in a pair of northern orioles and a lot of goose music and you've got a memorable day.
In 1972 when I was a warden trainee with Bill LaCount, we made the first turkey case in Vermont when a guy from New York state shot one in a field with a rifle. They had only been stocked 2 years before in Pawlet. Now we have turkeys everywhere plus nesting osprey and eagles. Who says modern wildlife management doesn't work?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Door May Be Shut on Open Fields

from the Wildlife Management Institute newsletter:

Door May Be Shut on Open Fields PDF Print E-mail

photo of hunterFunding for the Open Fields program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill is proposed to be terminated in the administration’s fiscal year 2010 budget, according to the Wildlife Management Institute.

Language in last year’s Farm Bill authorized a $3 per acre additional payment on lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program if the lands were opened to public hunting. The Obama administration has reasoned that, because many states pay landowners to open their lands for hunting access, the additional federal payments would simply provide more funds to landowners already enrolled in state-sponsored programs. The Open Fields dollars, therefore, would not contribute to creating more public access.

However, a number of states do not have adequate resources to implement an effective public hunting-access program on private lands. Many of these states worked hard to get the Open Fields language included in the Farm Bill and were counting on the program to boost recreational access opportunities.

The full document of "Terminations, Reductions and Savings" can be found at (pmr)

Vermont does not have any landowner incentives for keeping conservation reserve land open. Open fields funing would have enabled us to start a program. I hunted on these lands in CO, KS and South Dakota. It was great.
Seems like a good time to write the President and urge him to support hunters and landowners by letting this program go forward!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

VFWD funding OK, staffing down

The VT state budget has passed and sent to the Governor for his promised veto. The question is how did the Fish and Wildlife Department fair?
It looks to me like the personnel issue was not fixed. Positions already eliminated like my old job the Hunter Ed Training Coordinator and the 5 new ones are still gone or going. This means more federal money will be left on the table in DC and much needed work such as a meaningful range program will not happen. Bad news for sportsmen and shooters.
The VT Wildlife Partnership worked hard to restore these positions but to no avail. Broad based, sustainable funding also did not emerge. We had agreement from some key lawmakers to include 1/8 of one cent on the sales tax for FWD, but as far as I can see it did not happen.
On the positive side, there is over a million dollars in general fund money in the budget for FWD. This is down from 2 years ago and about the same as what they got last year after cuts. This shows continued support by the legislature and Governor for what FWD does for non-license buyers in VT, but still underfunds them to a huge degree.
So it looks like back to the drawing board for Dept staffing and funding. We all knew it would be a long haul. I'm prediting if we keep the pressure on and keep at it we will prevail in 3 years.

From H441 (Budget bill) funding for Fish and Wildlife Department:
Sec. B.705 Fish and wildlife - support and field services
Personal services 12,337,985
Operating expenses 4,482,575
Grants 774,333
Total 17,594,893
Source of funds
General fund 1,127,419
Fish and wildlife fund 16,230,474
Interdepartmental transfers 237,000
Total 17,594,893
Sec. B.706 Fish and wildlife - watershed improvement
Grants 125,000
Source of funds
Fish and wildlife fund 125,000
To see H 441 click here

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Federal support for hunter recruitment and training

President's Budget Supports Hunter Recruitment

Recognizing the important role hunter's play in society, President Obama has called for increased funding for hunter and angler education programs, with an additional $28 million in spending proposed for FY2010. Making clear the president's views on the importance of hunters and anglers, the budget summary states:

"Hunting and fishing have helped forge conservation values for years.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

101 Ways to Scare a Turkey

Several years ago I started on a project to determine the top 101 ways to scare a turkey. To the unsophisticated hunter this research may be mistaken for regular turkey hunting, but they simply don’t understand the scientific method and the role of experimentation in testing the hypothesis.
Take yesterday morning. I woke up at 0 dark thirty and headed into the wet woods by my house. I set up under a big maple and stroked out a soft tree call. So far this call has not scared any turkey that I am aware of, but hope springs eternal. As I gazed into the falling rain it occurred to me that it would be a bit dryer under the softwoods about 50 yards away. So I gathered up my stuff and slipped into the hemlocks. Finding a nice big one with a reasonable view I sat down and hit my tree call on my slate again. Immediately there was a rush of wings and a thud behind me. I turned in time to see a hen scooting off like she had a coyote on her tail.
I’m racking this up as an assist for walking under a roost tree and a full point for scaring a turkey with a tree call. So in three years I’m up to a confirmed 39 ways to scare a turkey. Only 62 to go… and who knows, maybe I’ll even kill one before I reach my goal. Now that would be a neat way to scare a turkey!