Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Blog Rodeo 01/15/2011

© 2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Saturday Blog Rodeo 1/15/2011

Well, I somehow managed to get ahead of the game this week! Once again, as is my habit, I've roamed the ephemeral nether regions of the hunting and outdoorsmen's internet. And as you might imagine, I've picked out posts that I especially enjoyed this past week from all of blogs I follow, and some that I found.

(Remember if you bump into a post you especially like, drop me a note and I'll include it in the Rodeo. You can even feel free to copy this whole post and run it on your own blog; it spreads the word, and it's always nice to give a little link love to your fellow bloggers!)

Look, I've asked y'all to send me a link you would like me to highlight, point me in the direction of a blog I don't know about,  and not a single one of you has ever taken me up on that offer!

Let's see if we might change that this week eh?

First up is an old friend that I haven't visited in quite some time. As you know I once had a beloved Dachhund named Oscar who was deliberately run over by a POS in a red Jeep. My blogging friends John and Jolanta Jeanneny breed and use wirehaired dachshunds for hunting and tracking wounded big game in Berne, NY. Their blog Born to Track News and their sister blog Born to Track Puppies are favorites of mine. Whenever I want to smile, I meander my way there and look at the puppies playing and learning to track.  When I am finally done with Afghanistan, (Or it's done with me...) I am getting me one of those little fellows!

As I have mentioned a few times, Lake Ueilin near my home in Saratsota is home to some monster carp. Little did I know that they are pursued by flyfishermen! Carp on the Fly covers the exciting sport and art of enticeing Asiatic carp to take a fly. Not only does John tackle them on the fly, but so does McTage at FlyCarpin: "...Enter the most ultra aggresive carp feeding pattern. "Seek and Destroy". And yes Metallica should be ringing through your skull right now." I had no idea... Honest.

Here is one of SBW's compatriots! Rob Appleby is an accomplished saltwater fisherman who specializes in using a Kayak. His blog Saltwater Kayak Fisherman, is full of great reviews, tutorials, and opinion pieces, in addition to his fishing exploits. He has several videos that I am sure would be loads of fun and educational. Unfortunately I can't get them through the MilNet filters! But that's not a problem, as his writing more than makes up for it. Two posts have caught my I right from the get go: Fishfinders: Are They Worth It? and Shimano Charter Special 1000 Overhaul. When Rob blogs, it's worth reading. If you have ever considered kayak fishing I would suggest, no make that, insist that you check out Saltwater Kayak Fisherman.

Ian, over at the Wild Life, continues to entertain with thoughts of fratricde. It seems that Mr Hunting Expert's Dad has, shall we say, much better success at taking the wily Whitetail than does his progeny. Before that, Ian contemplated bow fishing. Let's just say that skewered sweet breads takes on a whole new meaning...

As I have mentioned I have taken a keen interest in the early American time period of the 18th Century. I have a big Rasch Outdoor Chronicles surprise for you all, but it may take me some time to put it all together, so be prepared! In the meantime I frequently stop by at Contemporary Makers. "When Robert Weil started collecting images for the Contemporary Makers book in 1973 the challenge to record contemporary gun work was daunting. Gathering material was difficult and time consuming. Few makers thought that there was any value in published documentation of their work. Electronic publishing has changed all that." CM chronicles the art of early Americana, not only in the gun making and accoutrements field but in all forms from textiles to woodworking. Well worth the time spent looking it over; it also gives you great project ideas!

Hunt Like You're Hungry
Did you know that the indescribably cute and irrepressable HLYH is freaked out by catfish and has really tiny feet and hands? And then come to find out she's Eskimo?  Totally out of left field, I know, but I think it deserves a post of its own. "Things that Freak Me Out or are Freaky About Me!" She hasn't written it yet, but I'm looking forward to reading it...

After losing the front sight on his Wild ED calls S&W/Walther and receives great customer service :"What a pleasant surprise from the usual customer service I have received here lately from some other companies. I can assure you my future firearm purchases will include S&W or Walther if they are available in the firearm I am needing" Read about the experience at Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors: Customer Service Alive and Well at Smith & Wesson /Walther USA

Chupacabra, The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
One of my long time bloging compadres, Ben G. Outdoors, has a new blog Abnormal Outdoors.  AO will Provide the outdoor community with news of the Strange, Weird, and Odd things that happen, live, or conspire in the Outdoors. If you have anything to share, please forward it to Ben; there's always something odd or peculiar going on somewhere, and Abnormal Outdoors will be a great spot to get your fill of the wierd, or my garage, which ever is closer!

Well that wraps it up for this edition of The Saturday Blog Rodeo. I look forward to another week of great reading and writng from y'all!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Endangered Whooping Cranes Killed by Gunshot Near Albany, Georgia

WHERE is Ducks Unlimited on This!
Endangered Whooping Cranes were Killed by Gunshots

All you fellows from Georgia, we need your help to track down the scoundrels that killed three Whooping Cranes on their initial migratory flight south from the breeding grounds. There's a mighty large reward being put up, $12,500 US Dollars to anyone providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of these poachers! (If you are able to get your hands on them before the authorities, lay a beating on them from me.) 

And why isn't Ducks Unlimited ponying up and helping out?!?!

Wildlife scientists at the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, have concluded through preliminary testing the cranes found dead near Albany, Georgia, on Dec. 30, 2010, sustained injuries consistent with gunshot wounds.

The cranes were shot sometime before Dec. 30, 2010. They were discovered and reported by hunters. This was the crane's first migration. They were banded and equipped with transmitters and were not part of the ultralight aircraft-led migration effort. Their identities were confirmed by the recovery of their bands. The three cranes, 20-10, 24-10, and 28-10, were part of a group of five 2010 Direct Autumn Release (DAR) cranes. According to Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership trackers, they had last been tracked in Hamilton County, Tennessee, where they roosted on December 10, 2010, with cranes 6-05, 6-09, and 38-09.

The cranes are part of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership effort to reintroduce whooping cranes into the eastern United States. There are about 570 whooping cranes left in the world, 400 in the wild. About 100 cranes are in the eastern migratory population.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents are leading a joint investigation with Georgia Department of Natural Resources conservation rangers.

Numerous organizations are contributing funds for the reward. They include: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Humane Society of the United States along with the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, the Georgia Ornithological Society, the International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration, the St. Marks Refuge Association, along with the St. Marks Photo Club, and the Georgia Conservancy. The reward of up to $12,500 will be provided to the person or people who provide information leading to an arrest and successful prosecution of the perpetrator(s).

In addition to the Endangered Species Act, whooping cranes are protected by state laws and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Any information concerning the deaths of these cranes should be provided to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Terry Hasting at 404-763-7959 and/or Georgia Department of Natural Resources 24hr. TIP Hotline at 1-800-241-4113.

For more information about the reintroduction effort, visit

Of the 10 whooping cranes led south by ultralights, five have already arrived at their wintering location at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, and five are still on the migration in north Florida, two stopovers away from their final destination, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge.

Biologists from the International Crane Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reared 11 other whooping cranes at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge released in the company of older cranes from whom the young birds learn the migration route. They were released on Oct. 25. One was killed on Oct. 30, by a predator at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. This is the sixth year the partnership has used this Direct Autumn Release method. These cranes generally follow other older whooping cranes, and sometime sandhill cranes, during the fall migration to find suitable wintering habitat.

The ultralight-led and Direct Autumn Release chicks are this year joining two wild-hatched chicks in the 2010 cohort.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit and here in the Southeast, visit .

USFWS: Tom MacKenzie, Mobile:(678) 296-6400
Georgia DNR: Rick Lavender, (770) 918-6787

Bring Those Jobs Back to America

© 2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

1 800 Get Jobs

Ok, I'm a little out of my usual Hunting and Fishing, Outdoor Activities venue here, but I received an email recently on one small thing we can all do very easily to help bring back some jobs to the USA! It's a small thing, but not to the hundreds of thousands of people unemployed in the United States right now.

I want to ask each of you to consider doing the following when you are talking on the phone to any US customer service representative that is based in a foreign country (like India ). I have done this several times and it works! Any time you call an 800 number (for a credit card, banking, charter communications, health insurance, insurance, you name it) and you are transferred to a representative (like in India), please consider doing the following:

After you connect and you realize that the customer service representative is not from the USA (you can always ask if you are not sure about the accent), please very politely (very politely - this is not about trashing other cultures) say, "I'd like to speak to a customer service representative in the United States of America ." The rep might suggest talking to his/her manager, but, again, politely say, "Thank you, but I'd like to speak to a customer service representative in the USA ." YOU WILL BE IMMEDIATELY CONNECTED to a rep in the USA . It only takes less than one minute to have your call re- directed to the USA . 

Imagine if tomorrow, every US citizen who has to make such a call and then requested a US rep, how that would ultimately impact the number of US jobs that would need to be created ASAP. Invision what would happen if every US citizen insisted on talking to only US phone reps from this day on.
If I tell 10 people to consider this and you tell 10 people to consider doing this - see what I becomes an exercise in viral marketing 101.

Remember - the goal here is to restore jobs back here at home - not to be abrupt or rude to a foreign phone rep. If you agree, please tell 10 people you know and tell them to tell 10 people they know.

For my friends in the UK, you know that your jobs have likewise gone overseas. You can do the same and get the same results!

Best Regards,
Albert “Afghanus” Rasch
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
Albert Rasch In Afghanistan

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Monsterous 5-Pound Yellow Bullhead Catfish New Florida Record!

2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

A yellow bullhead caught in the Crystal River on Dec. 17 is the new state record for that species, a type of catfish, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists.

Tom Flynn of Homosassa was fishing with minnows he had caught at a boat ramp when he hooked into the catfish. The new state record yellow bullhead weighed 5 pounds, .75 ounces and was 20 inches in length.

"Actually, I was fishing for mangrove snapper," Flynn said. "However, I started catching catfish and decided to keep them. I caught seven and took them home."

Flynn tried to convince his wife the fish were good eating.

"She's not really a big fan of catfish," Flynn said. "But she went online to check them out and discovered that the state record was 2.91 pounds. I knew I had bigger fish than that."

Sure enough, when Flynn checked his catch, he had two fish that weighed more than the standing state record.

Eric Thomas, an FWC freshwater fish biologist from the Ocala regional office, verified the new record yellow bullhead.

Yellow bullhead are similar in appearance to the more common brown bullhead, with a nearly square tail, but the chin barbels (whiskers) are pale yellow or pink, unlike the somewhat larger brown bullhead (state record: 5 pounds, 12 ounces) that has darker pigmented chin barbels.

The previous record was a 2.91-pound yellow bullhead. Michael Pace caught it in the Withlacoochee River in Levy County on March 7, 2007.

For a fish to become an official state record, an FWC biologist must verify the species and weigh it on a certified scale. However, the FWC also recognizes anglers who catch a memorable-size fish with a Big Catch certificate. These are issued for 33 different species of freshwater fishes and are subject to less stringent guidelines to allow an angler to be recognized if the fish's weight or length exceed minimum standards (see or the Freshwater Fishing Regulations Summary).

For a Big Catch certificate, an adult needs to catch a yellow bullhead that exceeds either 14 inches in total length or 1.5 pounds (youth standards are 10 inches and 1 pound).

The world record for this species is a 6-pound, 6-ounce yellow bullhead that John Irvin caught in Bates County, Mo., on May 27, 2006.

"I can't believe what good eating these fish are," Flynn said. "I think I'm going to keep going for them and see if I can catch the new world's record."

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Albert Rasch In Afghanistan™

The Chuitna Watershed Massive Open Pit Mine

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

Go to Hodgeman's Thoughts on The Great Outdoors and read the following post. While you're at it, follow his blog, as all of his posts are excellent!

An Alaskan Debacle...

"What the proposal calls for is the complete removal of the Chuitna watershed in one massive open pit mine. Not only will the Chuitna all but be consumed, it will alter the water table level for a region of some 30 square miles- or about the actual size of a medium US city. And to add insult to the injury they include in the proposal that they will remediate the entire area back to its original condition. That's akin (as one of my friends wrote in an op-ed piece) to disassembling a 6 layer wedding cake, moving it to another room and reassembling it...with a single spoon."

My friends, I wish I had the energy to write about this some more. Putting up HESCO Barriers all day has got me whipped! But for the time being please follow the links on Hodge's post and voice your opinion!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Albert Rasch In Afghanistan™

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Scouting for Hogs

© 2009, 2010, 2011 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.

"It looked bad, but it wasn’t like I was bleeding all over the place and in danger of imminent death."
You can only just make out the scars now, it has been that long.  Sun, wind and weather have faded them to faint lines on my forearm.
DumbAss Credit: Albert A Rasch
The splintered end of the branch had skewered me but good. About four inches of it had stabbed through me, just under the surface of the skin. It had, by sheer luck and happenstance, missed going through muscle, artery, or tendon. I pulled my impaled arm off the branch cursing and sputtering deprecations at anyone and anything I could think of. I had already dropped my rifle anyway so my free hand instantly wrapped around my forearm as it cleared the spearlike point of the broken branch. All I had time to see was the bloody splinter sticking out of my forearm before I pulled my arm off, and now my hand was clamped onto my arm and threatening to cut all the circulation off to the other hand. It’s as if it had a mind of its own.

Image Credit:
I had been scouting for hogs that morning. As usual, my route took me right up the railroad tracks going through the local ranches. The track maintenance crews use a mechanical, one-armed, articulated monster with a three-foot diameter circular saw on the working end to hack back the encroaching trees and brush. Among the shredded remains of the plant life are an innumerable number of branches that are left jagged and splintered, Punji stake like, waiting for an unwary idiot like me to impale himself. Which is exactly how I was now to be found.

At that particular point, I could have cared less if Britney Spears was prancing by me nude, naked, or disrobed. I was on the job, scouting for hogs, and now I was out of commission. Well, I might be curious why Britney was there and what brand of mosquito spray she used, or if she put on enough sunscreen and maybe needed some help making sure she had enough on, but that’s about it. Seriously... Maybe.

Scouting for hogs, or any animal for that matter, requires a bit of thought. When you are out their looking for hogs, you have to start by taking a broad view. I mean that both metaphorically and physically. Step back a moment and considering the hogs needs first. Then making calculated decisions based on your observations.
Image Credit: Mape_S
Let’s say you are scouting an abandoned farm or grove that you now have access to. Hogs move from cover, to feed, to water; that’s pretty much their routine. Throw in a wallow at the local mud hole and you pretty much got it. They tend to move early in the morning to their feeding areas, then quench their thirst with the regulars at the watering hole, and move into heavy cover before the day warms up too much and makes them uncomfortable. Breeding is a year round affair so there is no rut to contend with. But a sow in heat will attract every willing male in the county. Regardless, the first thing to do is determine if they are making regular forays into the property and why.

Image Credit: Stile di Pallanti

A great tool for pre-scouting or familiarizing yourself with an area is Google Earth. Back in the day we had to buy topographic or aerial photographs of the area in question. Now you can get all sorts of whizbang satellite imagery! My biggest issue is that I can’t seem to figure out how to save a screen shot or print it out. So I’ve used shrink-wrap and fine tipped markers to trace the terrain and landmarks directly on the plastic while on the screen and then transferred it to paper. Maybe someone will take pity on me and explain to me how I can do it on the computer.

Image Credit: Retro Traveler
Maybe if I had taken a better look at an aerial view, I wouldn’t have jumped off where I did, and found myself looking like an Hors d'oeuvre on an oversized toothpick. My arm was throbbing under my cold, clammy grip, and I could tell I was suffering from a mild case of shock. My face felt cold even though it was the middle of summer. I sat down, took a couple of deep breaths, and quickly decided what I should do. First thing on the list was: Get a better map… Hell, get any map! Next on the list is a shot of Bourbon, for medicinal purposes of course. Time to get a flask…

There’s a lot you can learn from an aerial or topographic map. The overall lay of the land is better understood from the vantage point of a satellite or airplane. You can see how land, vegetation, and features make natural corridors and lanes, which will guide any kind of traffic including air movements. You can see where thick vegetation may be, and how it might be accessed. It gives you a starting point for your scouting and helps you visualize the context of what your feet are standing on when you are there. Now you can see the forest and the trees!

Image Credit: Lucycat

Now that you have a broad view of the property, let’s look for the specific needs of wild hogs. Is there a food source for them right now; if so what is it. Food sources that are constantly replenishing themselves will have the hogs visiting regularly while the food is available. For instance, when nut trees ripen and drop their mast, it is over a period of time. Hogs will visit for the time that the trees are dropping their bounty. Once the nuts stop dropping, the hogs stop visiting, except by happenstance if they happen by to see if they can glean a few more nuts out of the ground. Old orchards will also be attractive to hogs for the same reason. Grain crops have a narrower window depending on the amount of grain and the size of the predation. Once millet or corn is ripe, it’s all ripe and that’s it. A hungry boar can chew up and destroy a substantial amount of acreage in a night, but when the food is gone, it is gone. Wild pigs will also graze and root for vegetative matter. In the spring time hogs will graze new growth and in the fall they will use those bulldozer noses to rip out tubers and roots.
Image Credit: Valeriep
One thing to be aware of is that rooted up areas are a sign that hogs were there, as in past tense. They are unlikely to be back in that general area. They’ll find another area to root up the following night, sometimes far away from the one you are looking at. It is a good sign that the pigs are in the area, but nothing more.

I hadn’t seen any sign like rooting, but I knew that there were plenty of hogs in the area. I thought I would scout out what looked from the ground to be a promising area, after crossing the overgrown right-of-way. Now I was sitting there like a dummy. I screwed up my courage, let go of the arm, and took a look at the carnage. It looked bad, but it wasn’t like I was bleeding all over the place and in danger of imminent death. So I took the water bottle, poured some over the holes and poked at it with my dirty fingers. The pale jagged edges of the punctures looked like I had tried to use a drill on my arm, and where the splinter had run me through, the flesh was bruising and full of dark blood. I washed it with more water, pulled the now famous do-rag off my head, and proceeded to wrap up my arm.

Image Credit: BamaWester
Water plays the most important role in animal movement, and of course affects how and where you scout. If there is a scarcity of water, it makes sense to concentrate your efforts on waterholes, streams, and rivulets that will attract a thirsty pig. Again, when scouting, look at the big picture. Where are the avenues from potential feeding areas to the water? Hogs will follow established paths to their preferred drinking areas. If you can determine how they get there, you are close to bagging your hog. Now if you don’t have access to the areas with water then your plan must by force, look elsewhere. In other words you must look to the food and shelter aspects.

Image Credit: Paul Voskamp

My preferred method is to find the wild boars’ travel corridors, and lie in ambush. Usually it is either from a bedding area to a feeding location, and these can vary according to season, or from the watering holes to the bedding areas. In Florida, during the wet season, food sources are the easiest areas to locate and prepare for. Water can be everywhere down here! But during droughts and the dry season it is very much like those pictures you see from the Serengeti plains. All animals go to the limited water.

What I had seen from the railroad tracks was what looked like an open corridor through the scrub and palmetto. It was hard to tell from the roadbed, which is why I had jumped into the right of way in the first place. I picked my .308 Mauser up out of the dirt where I had dropped it and climbed back out of the ditch. I could feel my forearm starting to swell, and I had to force my hand to make a fist. I knew I was in for an uncomfortable night.
Image Credit: Zedaxis
Look for corridors, natural or man made, that hogs travel on

Narrow or wide corridors create edge avenues that animals exploit for movement or even feeding. Animals will use the edges to move adjacent to the corridor, and then possibly feed in the open areas if they are grazing, or cross at certain points to access other routes or feed locations. Hogs in particular will move along the overgrown right of way, adjacent to fence lines, and on the edges of wooded areas, before stepping out or crossing into an area where they might feed. Look for a depression under the wire where hogs have scooted under, and also check out low spots on stone walls for places they have gone over.
Image Credit: Markeveleigh
My suggestion to you, and this works for any game animal, is to concentrate on how the animal gets to and from its food sources and water. Start with aerial views to help you narrow potential areas of interest, and then put in the footwork that is needed to confirm your hunches. Look for fence lines, hedgerows, timber edges and corridors that guide or funnel animals from one area to the next. Remember to minimize any disturbances. Don’t walk on game trails, keep your distance. Don’t push into bedding areas, skirt around them. Mind the air currents. Try to get out early, preferably before dawn, find a vantage point based on what you have determined, and observe what is going on. Keep a sharp eye out, and listen intently; wild pigs can be noisy! Many birds also sound the alarm and scold animals moving through.

Most importantly, go out there and enjoy what you are doing!

As for me, by the time I got home, I could no longer close my fist. I mean it hurt! I stuck the arm under the kitchen faucet, turned on the hot water, and proceeded to scrub the wound with dish detergent and a wash cloth. I grabbed my first aid kit and jeweler’s loupe and went to the table where the light was better. After a thorough examination, it looked like it was debris free, so I pushed some anti-biotic cream into the holes, stuck a couple of band aids over the holes, and poured some Bourbon over ice.

A few days later it opened up and left me with an angry, nasty, open gash, but it started healing right away and after a couple of weeks I could finally use that hand fully again.

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)
The Hunt Continues...

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles