Monday, March 29, 2010

VT Mentored Hunting License in the Senate

Final Push needed to pass H.243

A strengthened Mentored Hunting bill. H 243, has passed the House and is now in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. We have a window of opportunity to get this important recruitment and retention legislation passed this year, but our Senators need to know that we want them to take action.
Some folks, including the VT Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, are concerned about this bill for safety reasons. They reason that parents and adult mentors can't be trusted to demonstrate and teach folks who what to try hunting how to do it safely. They contend that only certified hunter education instructors can do this. As a HE instructor and the former HE Training Coordinator in VT, I respectfully disagree. 30 years ago I would say they were mostly right, but today with over 80% of our hunters having taken hunter education and our hunting related shootings at all time lows, I find this argument insulting to VT hunters. Admittedly, we still have some bad actors out there that are not safe. But they are not the people that will give up their time and share their bag limits to mentor a new hunter. These are the folks that look for short cuts and violate fair chase, game laws and safety practices.
The evidence from other states who have enacted similar legislation is compelling. Wisconsin's program started last fall. They sold 70,000 mentor licenses and had no accidents - zero. Nationally the figure is the same, mentored hunters are the safest group of hunters by far.
Call to action - If you want to help Vermont's efforts to build support for hunting and recruit new hunters, please contact your local Senator and tell them you support H. 243. Then contact a member or two from the Senate Natural Resources committee and urge them to take positive action on this legislation.
Groups supporting this bill include, Ducks Unlimited, US Sportsman's Alliance, NRA, National Wild Turkey Federation and the VT Traditions Coalition.
The amended bill can be found at the Legislative tracking site.

Monday, March 22, 2010

People. Animals. Nature. Why Hunt?

An excellent discussion going on over at Animals, People and Nature on The Why of the Hunt.

People. Animals. Nature.

The why of the hunt
Mar 18th, 2010
by Tovar.

When I was a vegetarian, I had no clue why modern people hunted.

Now that I hunt, I still puzzle over it. Every hunter has his or her own reasons, of course. I wonder mostly about my own, and even there it’s often hard to lay claim to certainty.

Photo credit: Robert Bryan

Of two things, though, I feel sure.

First, the labels we ascribe to ourselves say very little about why we hunt.

When, a few years ago, a local hunter told me he was a “meat” hunter, he wasn’t saying that “meat” explained his hunting; he only gets a deer once every few years, and enjoys his time in the woods for its own sake. He was saying that he was perfectly willing to shoot a doe if he got the chance. In other words, he was telling me what kind of hunter he isn’t. He’s not a trophy hunter. He doesn’t hunt for antlers.

This way of defining ourselves—by marking the boundary between “us” and “them”—is a human habit long studied by anthropologists. “Identity,” after all, comes from the Latin idem, meaning “the same.” We say who we are by saying who’s different: who we are not.

Read more

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Apprentice Hunter Bill Headed for a Vote

From US Sportsman's Alliance:

Vermont Apprentice Hunter Bill
Headed for a Vote

On March 12, House Bill 243, the Apprentice Hunter bill, passed out of committee opening the door to a possible vote before the full House of Representatives this week.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Steve Adams (R- Hartland), is part of the national Families Afield initiative designed to allow newcomers to try hunting under the close supervision of an experienced mentor prior to the completion of hunter education.

“Apprentice hunting programs have proven to be an extremely safe, effective and popular tool across the country in recruiting the next generation of sportsmen,” said Evan Heusinkveld, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) director of state services. “Vermont sportsmen should voice their support for this measure which will allow them to become the 30th Families Afield state.”

House Bill 243 passed the committee by a vote of 8 to 1 and could appear before the full House of Representatives as soon as this week.

“The creation of an apprentice hunting license modeled after such a successful, nationwide initiative is exactly what is needed to help secure the future of hunting in Vermont,” said Frank Stanley, director of government affairs for the Vermont Traditions Coalition. “We applaud the efforts of Representative Steve Adams for his dedication to Vermont’s sporting heritage.”

The Families Afield initiative was established by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation to reduce barriers to new hunters entering the field. Also giving key support to the Vermont effort are the National Rifle Association, Vermont Traditions Coalition, and Ducks Unlimited.

Take Action! Vermont sportsmen are encouraged to contact their state representatives and urge them to support HB 243. Tell them that this bill is an important step to ensure the next generation of Vermont hunters take to the field. To find your state representatives’ contact information, visit the USSA Legislative Action Center at

For more information regarding the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alert Network, call 614-888-4868, or email Greg R. Lawson, director of communications at or Sharon Hayden, assistant director of communications at

U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance
801 Kingsmill Parkway
Columbus, Ohio 43229

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kansas hunter education instructors welcome guest speaker Dr. James Tantillo

Hunting is one of the safest ways to enjoy the outdoors, and making it ever safer will be a primary topic at the 2010 Kansas Hunter Education Instructor Academy, held March 26-28. Volunteer instructors from Kansas and neighboring states also will delve into the topic of hunting ethics with invited guest speaker Dr. James Tantillo.

Tantillo, who teaches ethics and environmental philosophy at Cornell University and sits on the board of directors for Orion – The Hunters’ Institute, will deliver a keynote address titled The Morality of Hunting: “A Damnable Pleasure.” Plus, participants will get the chance to examine the differences between hunter ethics and hunter preferences during breakout sessions hosted by Tantillo.

“Most people today who think about hunting tend to lump all value questions together under the heading "ethics" without regard for whether that classification is accurate,” Tantillo said. “In reality, hunting ethics usually involve more aesthetic than ethical issues.”

Tantillo went on to say the tendency for sportsmen and women to impose their personal hunting values or behaviors on others to improve the image of hunting may be well intended but can cause infighting and ultimately erode efforts to uphold our hunting traditions.

Orion – The Hunters’ Institute has long supported the work of hunter education programs across North America starting with Jim Posewitz, the organization’s founder. The partnership between Orion and hunter education programs has been responsible for shaping millions of new hunters.

During the weekend hunter education academy, a variety of other breakout sessions on safety, hunter ethics and responsibility will be conducted by representatives from the Treestand Manufacturer’s Association and Kansas and North Dakota volunteer hunter education instructors. Awards presentations and program updates will round out the weekend.

For more information about the academy, contact Wayne Doyle at

About Orion — The Hunters’ Institute
Orion is a 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to ethical hunting and the wild resources essential to that purpose. Founded by Jim Posewitz in 1993, the organization is dedicated to preserving hunting as an important part of our North American conservation heritage through teaching hunter ethics and expanding society’s knowledge of the conservation legacy that was born in the embers of the hunter’s fire.

Orion is best known for its strong stance on ethical hunting and promoting the value of North American's hunting heritage. “Beyond Fair Chase,” which was written by Posewitz, is a standard for hunter education classes in North America with 500,000 copies in circulation. For more information, please contact us at 802-730-8111 or visit

To schedule an interview with Dr. James Tantillo, contact him at:

To schedule an interview about hunter education efforts in Kansas, contact:

Kansas Hunter Education Program
Wayne Doyle


Kansas Hunter Education Instructor Association
Tim Boxberger, President

Stop VT FWD position cuts & Support H.243 Hunter Apprentice Bill

The following is copy of an email I just sent out to 150 sportsmen and women in Vermont:

Call for Action:

1) The House Appropriations committee is taking up the Fish and Wildlife Department's budget this week. I contains cuts to two positions. Neither position will save the State General fund any money. It appears at least in part the Department is being a good soldier for the Governors push to reduce the number of state employees. Although I have no interest in taking away the Commissioners authority to manage his Department, this appears to be beyond that.
Please read the below reasons and if you agree contact your local representative and the chair of the appropriations committee and urge them to restore these two critical positions.

Two positions slated to be cut: 1) Conservation Planning Biologist (Jens
Hilke) - works with dozens of towns and hundreds of municipal officials
on fish and wildlife issues; and 2) Landowner Incentive Program
Coordinator (Jane Lazorchak) - works with hundreds of willing landowners
on habitat acquisitions to protect wildlife and enhance public access to
the outdoors.

* Sportsmen and conservationists work closely with the department as a
partner on a number of fish and wildlife projects designed to implement
the department's many wildlife plans - big game, non-game, and the State
Wildlife Action Plan. Mr. Hilke is the project lead on may of these
projects and the loss of this position will have a negative impact on
the department's ability to carry out its core functions.

* The department has a rich history of wildlife habitat conservation
through acquisition of priority parcels from willing sellers. Ms.
Lazorchak drives this work for the department and the loss of this
position will have a negative impact on the department’s ability to
protect Vermont’s priority wildlife habitats.

* 75% of salary and benefit costs of these positions are paid by
federal funds. 25% are paid by state funds.

* The amount of State funds involved in total is approximately $41,000
per annum.

* These cuts will not result in a savings of any general fund or other
Sate dollars. The State dollars involved are generated by the sale of
hunting, fishing, and trapping dollars. By law, these dollars must be
spent by the fish and wildlife department for purposes related to its
mission. They may not revert to the general fund nor may they be
reallocated to other departments.

* The department has several other options, including not hiring (two
to three) seasonal employees, which will save more money and not put on
going department staff, projects and programs at risk.

* If these two cuts are occur, the department will loose access to and
the ability to fully spend out specially earmarked federal monies (for
example there is $600,000 in Landowner Incentive Program funds which are
awaiting allocation and will go unspent).

* Cutting these positions will leave federal money on the table and
further hinder the department's efforts to insure that private land will
be open for public hunting and recreation access.

Heath of Westford, *Chair*

Heath, Martha, Westford, VT
(802) 893-1291

Larson of Burlington, *Vice Chair*
Helm of Castleton, *Ranking Member*
Acinapura of Brandon
Crawford of Burke
Johnson of South Hero, *Clerk*
Keenan of St. Albans City
Manwaring of Wilmington
Miller of Shaftsbury
Minter of Waterbury
Winters of Williamstown.

email and home phone numbers available here or

2) Also scheduled is a hearing on H.243 in the House Ways and Means committee. this bill is endorsed by the NRA, the Fish and Wildlife Dept and most hunting related groups in VT.
for more visit my blog:
is it time for vermont's apprentice hunting effort?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

8:30 AM H. 243 - An act relating to the creation of an apprentice hunting license

Michael O'Grady, Legislative Counsel, Legislative Council
Rep. Michael J. Obuchowski, Chair
Rep. Janet Ancel, Vice Chair
Rep. Carolyn Whitney Branagan, Ranking Member
Rep. Alison H. Clarkson, Clerk
Rep. Jim Condon
Rep. Adam Greshin
Rep. Steve Howard
Rep. William F. Johnson
Rep. Jim Masland
Rep. Dave Sharpe
Rep. David Zuckerman

It is critical for both of these bills that you contact the committee chairs. Send and email or call the Sargent of Arms (802- 828-2228) and leave a short message saying in the case of H243 that you support and for the FWD budget you oppose the position cuts. Please call or email today as the cross over deadline is this Friday.

Thanks for caring,

Eric Nuse

Monday, March 8, 2010

Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Fatally Shot

This sad release from the Outdoor Wire. There is a price for the wildlife we all enjoy. For some it is much higher than others...

A USDA Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer was fatally shot Friday, March 5, at the Ocmulgee Bluff Equestrian Recreation Area on the Oconee Ranger District of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Jasper County, Georgia. | For More...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Can Wild Bison Repopulate the Plains?

This article from Dot Earth in the NY Times
I just finished reading American Buffalo by Steven Rinella. He raises this possibility at the end of the book.For those that don't think hunting a buffalo can be a challenge you should read about his hunt in the wilds of Alaska.

March 4, 2010, 7:28 am
Can Wild Bison Repopulate the Plains?

After three years of meetings and study, a broad array of conservation groups, government scientists and other experts on North American wildlife policy have produced a road map for restoring some large free-roaming populations of bison in the North American plains. The hurdles are many, with one of the biggest simply finding ways to acquire broad stretches of land that can accommodate the wandering species. Another is consolidating a maze of local, state and federal policies that treat the animals in different ways. Many Western states, for instance, classify bison as livestock and not wildlife, the report authors say, hampering how they can be managed in the wild. Here’s the full report on restoring bison. (The video above is courtesy of the Wildlife Conservation Society.)

In Canada, there is a proposal to establish a roaming herd in the Rockies between the Banff and Jasper National Parks.

In the United States, elbow room is the biggest challenge. As wild bison herds in Yellowstone National Park have expanded, they have spilled into nearby grazing lands for cattle, with more than 1,000 of the animals slaughtered in 2008 as a result.

read more

Spirit of Fair Chase video

This video clip is part of a series of training clips from the School of Outdoor Sports Orion founder Jim Posewitz is quoted from his book Beyond Fair Chase.

Spirit of Fair Chase from Mark Strand on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Walk On The Wild Side ... Of The Plate

I found this on the NPR site Weekend Edition Sunday

A Walk On The Wild Side ... Of The Plate

by Bonny Wolf

February 28, 2010

A venison steak served over smashed cauliflower. Dishes including venison and other wild game have become increasingly popular in the movement to eat more locally grown foods and free range animals.
text sizeAAA
February 28, 2010

The first wild game dinner I ever went to was in 1973. The second one was ... last week. In the 37 years between meals, public perception of hunting has changed.

Oddly, an overwhelming majority of Americans approve of hunting, while there are actually fewer hunters. Many states rely on hunting to control the deer population and are recruiting new hunters.

Want to have your own wild game dinner? Get a recipe for venison tenderloin.

They're getting help. Some young urban dwellers are getting in touch with their inner hunter. A couple of 20-somethings in San Francisco started the Bull Moose Hunting Society — and I quote — "for those of us who have lost our instincts, our predatory skills and our connection to the wild world."

Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma and other writings make a good case for conscious eating — awareness of what you eat, where it comes from and where you fit into the food chain. If you eat meat, your choices are grass-fed, free-range operations, factory farms or — hunting.

As the food world was being Michael Pollanized, my husband and I began renting a house on Maryland's Eastern Shore. I quickly became all about nature — eating only local corn, cooking fish caught nearby, searching the woods for wild persimmons.
Bonny Wolf
courtesy of Bonny Wolf

Bonny Wolf contributes a monthly food essay to Weekend Edition Sunday, and is editor of the Kitchen Window

Hunting and gathering is part of the natural rhythm in a place blessed with abundant water and rich farmland. For some it's sport. For others it's survival. For all, it's a better way to eat. Local. Organic. Free range. So when a friend at the shore offered to host a game dinner I was — well — game.

None of the guests have to hunt to feed their families. But they do eat what they kill or share with it others. For which I am grateful.

Appetizers were venison meatballs and goose taquitos, followed by stuffed dove breasts, wrapped in bacon.

Will Shannahan is an artist in the kitchen as well as the field. His grilled goose was delicious — and his venison puts the tender in tenderloin.

The hunters I've talked to have tremendous respect for the animals they hunt. One said he feels a moment of sadness when he takes a deer and promises the animal he won't waste any of its meat. Another says the worst thing a hunter can do is cripple an animal.

I doubt I'll take up hunting, but now that I know my place in the food chain, I won't wait so long between game dinners.

Head over to NPR to hear the broadcast and get the venison tenderloin recipe

Understanding Issues: It’s Complicated

This post comes from Orion board member Tammy Sapp's Outdoor Scene blog

Understanding Issues: It’s Complicated

If you ever took a moment to watch the reality show drivel known as “Denise Richards: It’s Complicated,” you immediately understood it was anything but that.

What is does suggest, though, are the lengths some Americans will go to avoid topics with any complexity. Thank goodness there are people willing to do the deep thinking for those trapped in a haze of crappertainment.

There does seem to be an uptick in the willingness to tease through the tricky details whether it is understanding the ramifications of the health care bills or how McDonald v. City of Chicago will decide whether or not the 50 states are required to obey the Second Amendment, by testing the 14th amendment.

Hunting is not without its share of difficult issues as well. What constitutes fair chase and the legal intricacies associated with access are just a couple of the matters we have to grapple with. In many ways the privileges we enjoy as hunters depend on our ability to tune in, understand and take a stand.

Being someone who helps shape the future means you should have some understanding of the past. Our wildlife history is a riches to rags to riches story that includes a group of conservation forefathers who pioneered a blueprint known as North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

read more

Ethical Hunting - Every Hunters Resposibility

I found this article over at the Seminole Brass and Bullet blog

Ethical Hunting – Every Hunters Responsibility
Author: Bob Darrah
Article Source:

As I look at my hunting equipment a couple of things occur to me. First, My goodness I am spoiled! I have rifles, scopes, rangefinders, binoculars, shooting sleds and a bunch of other equipment to numerous to mention. Second, at one point or another I felt I absolutely needed every one of these items to become a better hunter. Do I really? Probably not, but it sure does make me feel better when I use them to fill my tags.

As a young boy growing up in the Midwest I can still remember getting my first gun and the responsibility lessons that came along with it. Most of it made sense but some of it I had to figure out. My first gun was at age 7 and it was a BB gun. I was only allowed to shoot at cans, flowers, pieces of wood, or any other non-living things that I could find that did not require too much clean up. I begged my father to let me shoot coots on one of our ponds so I could have the feeling of shooting something that reacted. I was always told no because the BB gun would not kill the bird, it would only be inflicting pain and besides that we could not eat it if I were to kill it. Well, being 7 I knew I was much smarter than my father so I snuck down to the pond one day and lined up a coot in my sites. After checking to make sure nobody was around I let him have it. That bird flew away, after squawking, flailing and making enough noise for everyone to hear within a mile radius. Of course, my Dad was only about an eighth of a mile away. Needless to say I understood what he meant about the inflicting pain part for a few days after that.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Book Review: Gut It – Cut It – Cook It

Book Review

Gut it – Cut It – Cook It, the Deer Hunter’s Guide to Processing & Preparing Venison, Eric Fromm & Al Cambronne, Krause Publications, Inc. 2009 254 pages.
            Co-author Al Cambronne sent me this book after I responded to a LinkedIn post of his looking for ways to market it. His enclosed letter stated, “…if you like it, you can thank us by simply helping to spread the word.”  I was pretty skeptical as I opened the book. Most of these how-to books are poorly done, with mediocre writing, simplistic content and less than useful illustrations, But, at first glance this book was looking OK
The first thing that hit me was the binding – spiral bound – you could open it flat and it stayed that way. The pages were heavy and glossy- as in waterproof. Maybe Al wasn’t just trying to sell books when he said it was a book to be used while working up your deer. The print size is also big enough to read at three feet and the pictures are clear.
But what about the content? As a former game warden I’ve handled more deer than most and always cut my own game. I might not be the sharpest guy on the block, but I’d been around the block plenty of times.  A picture on page 33 had me wondering. It showing a square beam with thin poly rope over it clinched to a boat dock bracket and attached to a gamble. The only way you could hoist and tie off a deer with that set up is to have your buddy give it a bear hug up while you tied it off- not the most practical set-up.  But the description in the text on hanging your deer turned out to be right on.
The equipment section is well done. I liked the fact that they didn’t push all the extra stuff; they were mentioned but the focus was on the basics, as in a good sharp knife. As I read I thought, right here would be a good place to talk about Chronic Wasting Disease. I turned the page and there it was, with the subtitle “The Threat is Real”. This was followed by a four-page spread on what you can do to deal with it. It included enough science to understand the disease and help the reader think through the threat in a common sense way without being alarmist.
By now I’m thinking this book is the real deal. An hour later I know it. From shot placement pushing the clean kill ethic while minimizing meat spoilage (even talking about the latest findings on lead fragments) to clear pictures on where to cut off the lower legs, this is a book for beginners to the most experienced. I picked up a great tip on holding the knife for maximum control and safety when reaching up to cut the windpipe while gutting. How come I never thought of that?
Another thing I liked was the use of real deer carcasses. These are not sterilized game farm deer, but look like the deer we shoot. Not bloody road kill but good examples of what hunters really work with.  They also do a good job with fully using the deer from ribs to shanks. They did overlook making stock from the marrow bones. I know lots of hunters don’t do this but they are missing some wonderful food. The stock you buy is not much more than salty water compared to the rich meaty stock you can get after a few days of simmering your own deer bones on the wood stove.
Also included is a bonus CD with recipes and some charts. It is ok but the layout and quality of the recipes doesn’t match the rest of the book. Seems like a last minute add on.
But enough of my nitpicking. Gut It – Cut It – Cook It is a terrific book and well worth adding to your library.
I forgot to mention the low-key humor woven into the text. Here is how the book ends in a section titled Why We Hunt:
“..although antlers and trophies can be a great way to remember the hunt, these souvenirs are not by themselves reason enough to hunt. For most, the challenge of the hunt is reason enough. If you need more reason than that, we’d like to remind you why hunting deer is so challenging in the first place.
“There’s just one reason deer are so wary and so elusive. It’s the reason they’ve learned to watch their back and watch the wind. It’s the reason they’ve learned to hide so well and run so fast.
“Somehow, instinctively, they know…
“Venison is delicious.”
This is a pretty delicious book. I suggest buying a copy for a friend – but read it first, you just may want to get another copy for your buddy.