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Who paid for acquisition of, and management of, the place this mountain quail lives? We did.

Who paid for acquisition and management, of the place this mountain quail lives? We did.

A recent newspaper article finally pushed me over the edge … I wrote an op-ed for the paper that sums up my feelings – and maybe yours. The ignorance of so many so-called “environmentalists” and animal-rights supports is mind-boggling. If they understood the mechanics of wildlife management, well, read on …

Dylan Darling’s article of Dec. 29 on the decline of hunting and fishing license sales misses three key points: 1) When participation in these sports shrinks, all of Oregon’s wildlife loses. 2) Dwindling participation is only part of the problem. 3) There is a massive disparity between who benefits and who funds wildlife management in our state, and the nation for that matter.

Currently, hunters and anglers foot virtually the entire bill for fish and wildlife management at the state and federal level. During the Great Depression we convinced Congress to tax us with a “duck stamp,” to fund acquisition and management of federal wildlife refuges. We asked for – and pay – an excise tax on firearms, ammo, hunting vests, fishing rods and waders. When you see a new boat dock, songbird guzzler or wildlife viewing kiosk, you can thank sportsmen and women who probably funded it through these and similar mechanisms.

Almost annually, sportsmen and women consent to higher state and federal license, fee, and tag prices. This year alone, the cost of a duck stamp rose over 66 percent, an increase we were glad to endure. For almost a century, hunters and anglers have picked up the tab, and that’s before figuring in their massive contributions to conservation groups.

But other users of our forests, rivers, deserts and wildlife refuges pay a pittance, if anything, toward the management of public lands and wildlife. They are virtual freeloaders, riding the financial coat-tails of license buyers who fund management of songbirds, predators, endangered species, and everything else that swims, flies or runs through the trees.

In my book, it’s time those who kick into skinny skis, carry a camera, or pick up a paddle paid their fair share.

Why? The sad fact is, watchable wildlife, cute-and-cuddly critters, “charismatic megafauna”  … and the environments they depend … may well vanish without hunting and fishing license money. There are simply too many “takers” (non-consumptive users) and not enough “makers” (license buyers). If paddlers, skiers, and birders don’t step up to the plate,  their future outings may not include a breathtaking elk bugle or startling ruffed grouse flush.

Without hunting and fishing license sales, there would be little if any research on wolverines, wolf management, or protection of endangered suckers. All wildlife populations would decline further as habitat degrades and biologists take their place in the employment line. Sierra Club, PETA, and the Humane Society of the U.S. talk a good game, but they seldom put their money where their mouth is and certainly not at the level hunters and anglers do. Their shrillest fundraising campaign could never make up the deficit of plummeting hunting and angling license funds. Picket signs and protests won’t create buy critical habitat nor pay researchers’ salaries; sportsmen’s dollars do that.

If you ask mountain bikers, birders, kayakers, and backpackers, they’ll admit to enjoying their outdoor experience as passionately as anyone who waves a rod or carries a rifle. They’ll proudly share photos of gray jays perched on their hand, and mule deer fawns curled under a pine. But like the 30-something slacker still living in their parents’ basement, they simply don’t care who pays … as long as it’s not them.

It’s time to put up or shut up. Whether you’re vegan, pacifist, Buddhist, or Democrat, if you love our fish and wildlife and the places they live, you should be willing to finance their management. Save the philosophical discussion for later, when you’ve paid the price of admission.

Buy a hunting or fishing license or consider yourself a hypocrite. You might also try one of these wonderful sports and learn why so many are willing to invest so much.

Feel free to turn this into your own letter to the editor … or save it for that inevitable confrontation with someone who just doesn’t get it.

 

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One of the semi-finalists

One of the semi-finalists

A record number of entries and votes were logged in the third annual “Fiocchi Friends” photo contest conducted by Fiocchi USA and Wingshooting USA TV.

Votes are now being verified and winners selected by a judge’s panel, with an announcement to be made prior to Christmas. High vote-getters and judge’s selections win Fiocchi gear, and their photos may be used in the Fiocchi 2015 catalog. One voter or entrant chosen at random will win a Mossberg Silver Reserve over-under shotgun. Some images will also be featured in a Fiocchi television commercial that begins airing in January.

Over 13,000 votes were recorded, spread among over 600 photo entries. The photo contest “shows how deep the bond is between bird hunters and their dogs,” said Scott Linden, host/creator of Wingshooting USA. “These dogs are true hunting partners,” he added. The contest was promoted via his show and social media, launching in July.

Dozens of breeds were entered, pointing and retrieving in water and the uplands. Some are funny, others poignant, with many showcasing the intensity and energy of canine athletes performing at their peak. A number of “just for fun” entries featured family portraits and even a “hunting cat.”

Fiocchi of America is based in Ozark, Missouri with sales offices in Boulder City, Nevada. Fiocchi manufactures a full line of handgun, long gun and shotgun ammunition for hunting, law enforcement, military and competition.

The official TV series of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Wingshooting USA is also the most-watched bird hunting show on television. She program airs on seven networks including Discovery’s Destination America.

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Road Trip 2014 logo-003Almost 8,000 Wingshooting USA TV fans have already risen to the challenge in the third annual “Cabela’s Awesome Upland Road Trip … destination Kansas” contest. The sweepstakes is in its final stages, with prize values growing as the Dec. 31 deadline looms.

Fans of the show are asked to outfit host Scott Linden’s Amped travel trailer and his hunting dogs for a 6,500-mile journey across bird country. On the trip, Linden signs copies of his What the Dogs Taught Me and visits fans at Cabela’s stores, and makes future episodes of Wingshooting USA. Fan suggestions ranged from the ridiculous (hot tub for the Amped trailer) to the sublime (a day off and pampering for Linden’s hard working dogs).

Practical suggestions ranged from ammo to electronic dog training collars. A Stack-On gun cabinet and Rough-Tuff dog kennels and storage gear were added enroute due to fan suggestions. Early in the contest, fans also suggested stops along the way, including the Kansas City Cabela’s store and a hunting lodge in South Dakota where Linden dropped by for a meet-greet-hunt. Many entries are accompanied by photos of entrants and their hunting dogs.

Upcoming prizes in the run-up to contest end include a SportDOG Tek GPS collar, Mossberg Silver Reserve shotgun, and $500 Cabela’s dog gear gift card.

Entries and photos can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/wingshootingusa/app_451684954848385

Sponsors of the Road Trip included Cabela’s, Kansas Tourism, EverGreen RV’s “Amped” toy hauler trailer, SportDOG and Mossberg.

The most-watched upland bird hunting show in the U.S., Wingshooting USA is the official TV series of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. It is broadcast year-round on seven television networks. More information: www.scottlindenoutdoors.com.

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I doubt he knows the difference.

I doubt he knows the difference.

Why do you hunt?

“Being able to watch your young dog come into his own.”

“My Springer Bonnie. It’s not a day in the field without her.”

In my viewer surveys virtually all of you said something similar. Dogs rule, and we hunt so we can watch them perform magic in the field.

So why condemn pen-raised birds?

One reason might be our own biases. I’m not judging your leanings, mine are probably similar. But if we’re honest about the pre-eminence of dog work to our experience, why aren’t well-raised planted birds just as valuable?

Do dogs ignore the scent of a liberated bird, while pointing a wild bird? Show me the evidence. For that matter, can you distinguish a well-raised planted bird from a wild bird without looking at the peeper hole in the beak?

Does your dog’s tail droop when pointing planted birds? At a preserve, does he trot instead of gallop, boot-lick rather than range? When you command “fetch,” does he spit out planters?

“Watching a setter work in a beautiful field on a gorgeous day is always the best day.”

Maybe it’s all in our heads, and I get that. We love wild places, untrammeled ground, off-the-grid coverts. But that’s not what we’re talking about (or is it?). Unless a covert resembles something from a Mad Max movie, I wonder if your dog cares whether it is aesthetically pleasing or simply a bird-holding environment.

But how wild is wild? Beyond the quails and grouses, virtually every upland bird we shoot at was planted at some point. Do you shun chukar hunters because their birds were planted in Nevada in the thirties? Wild pheasants are simply descendants birds Judge Owen Denny “released” on his Oregon farm in the 1880’s, or similar, later efforts in Redfield, South Dakota, etc. Gotta problem with that?

“Wild hatched” might be a better description of the birds some cherish more than their domestically-reared cousins. But why can’t we value a released bird that acts just like its wild counterpart, much as our dogs do.

“Seeing the dogs do what they were born to do.”

We’ve all encountered bad planted birds, bad apples that spoiled entire barrels of good introduced birds. They flounder instead of flushing, our dogs catch them on the ground, and nobody’s happy, especially the birds. But many of us have also encountered released birds that thunder, tower and jink just like wild birds.

My dogs don’t seem to know the difference and truth be told, I’ll bet yours don’t either.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYour questions, my answers, such as they are:

Q: What is the best method to convince your children to not undo your dog’s training? Every bit of progress seems to be undone, for instance, by the kid’s uncontrollable urge to play tug of war with the dog, etc.

A: Train your kids too. Get them to help in your training and it might have more relevance to them. They’ll have to deal with their misdeeds.

Q: Is it easier for a dog to understand two commands “sit” and “stay” or is it easier to teach a single command for sit and stay by just saying sit or in spaniel circles hup?

A: I like to keep it simple. A dog should obey the command until released or given another command. When he “sits,” he sits, until told to do something else.

Q: Scott, I live in the big city and own a young GSP. What do you think is the best way for me to keep my dog in shape for hunting? Not only physically but also her bird finding skills?

A: Running alongside your bike (attached via a rig like the “Springer”) would be good for physical conditioning. Even a small backyard can be used for fundamental bird contact, especially combined with a long drive once a week to a spot where you can let your dog stretch out and find birds in a more natural setting.

Q: Is it OK to “rough house” with my dog while playing with him or does that hurt his discipline?

A: I do it occasionally, but not as often as I used to. I’m becoming a believer in “pecking order,” and that requires discipline on the human’s part as well as the dog’s. A dog that learns he can “play fight” with you is one step away from jockeying for the position of top dog.

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Road Trip 2014 logoYou’ve been very helpful – and creative – in the lead-up to our “Road Trip” … helping find gear for my dogs, customizing the Amped toy hauler trailer, and even picking destinations in Kansas. Now, it’s time to reap the benefits – let’s get together somewhere along the way.

Virtually every stop is a chance to visit, meet Manny and Buddy, talk hunting, and ask questions about birds, dogs and bird hunting. I can’t guarantee a right answer, but will sure try! I’ll sign your copy of my book – and have FREE goodies to give away.

(Speaking of great stuff, enter the Road Trip sweepstakes here, and you could win a Mossberg shotgun, SportDOG Tek GPS collar, or $500 in Cabela’s gear.)

Consider yourself invited to any of the following stops, no purchase or admission fee required – just stop by to say hello. Here’s the schedule so far:

– Oct. 9-10 Ruffed Grouse Society National Hunt, Grand Rapids, MN – making TV shows, visiting with fans – see you at the Saw Mill Inn

– Oct. 14 Owatonna, MN Cabela’s store: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. informal question-answer in hunting dog dept., meet the dogs

– Oct. 17 Mitchell, SD Cabela’s store: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. book signing and informal Q&A in store, meet the dogs

– Oct. 18 Mitchell, SD Cabela’s store: 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. book signing and informal Q&A in store, meet the dogs

– Oct. 25-26 Redfield, SD: making TV shows with the winners of our “Take Your Friend Hunting” sweepstakes – watch for meet & greet Friday or Saturday night
– Oct. 28 Kansas City, KS Cabela’s store: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. informal Q&A in hunting dog dept., meet the dogs

– Oct. 31 Sidney, NE Cabela’s store: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. informal Q&A in hunting dog dept., meet the dogs

– Nov. 21 Reno, NV Cabela’s store: 1 p.m. seminar: Upland Game Hunting Tips; 2 p.m. seminar: Hunting Dog Training Tips location: store meeting room, meet the dogs

– Dec. 20 Springfield, OR Cabela’s store: noon – 2 p.m. informal Q&A in hunting dog dept., meet the dogs

At every stop, just look for the tricked-out Amped trailer – I doubt you’ll be able to miss it.

See you down the road!

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He's on "whoa" so I can get a photo

He’s on “whoa” so I can get a photo

Terms from the world of training, trials and hunt tests …

Viszla: Shorthaired versatile breed from Hungary.

Wachtelhund: German spaniel originally bred to hunt quail.

Weimaraner: Shorthaired versatile breed from Germany.

Whoa: Command word to stop a dog and have him remain motionless.

Whoa barrel: Metal or plastic barrel laid horizontally on the ground on which trainers place dogs to encourage steadiness to the whoa command and to birds.

Whoa post: Metal or wooden post in the ground around which a checkcord is looped to stop a dog’s forward movement.

Whoa table: Another term for training table, typically a low platform trainers put a dog on to teach or enforce commands, often including the “whoa” command.

Wild flush: Bird that flies before the hunter or dog purposely flushes it.

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