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The Outdoors A place to Get it Together By Gary Howey

 

I have always been somewhat of a sports enthusiast. Competing in about every sport a person can imagine.

In grade school, it was track, baseball, and football, in high school track and football and once I moved to Nebraska it was softball. 

I no longer compete in any of these sports, not because I do not enjoy them, it is just that I have slowed down a bit and I do not move quite as fast as I used to or heal up as fast.  I still think I can do these things, but my body tells me different.

I still spend thousands of hours each year watching or listening to sports on the radio and TV, so I have not lost my love for these sports.

As a youngster, growing up in Watertown, South Dakota, an outdoor paradise where my father, grandfather and our neighbor introduced me to hunting and fishing, which was the start of my lifelong love of being in the outdoors.

Many of my fondest memories as a youngster were those that I spent learning about it from Glen Matteson our neighbor and excursions into the outdoors with my dad Cal and my grandfather Butch Menkveld. 

I have always enjoyed the outdoors and since my early years have really gotten into outdoor activities.

I love fishing, I am hooked, and enjoy fishing with a rod & reel, it does not matter what species of fish I am after.  I have been very fortunate to have an occupation where I can fish for walleye and catfish in several provinces of Canada and walleye as well as fishing for smallmouth bass on several of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. On one trip to Mississippi, I caught crappies while keeping an eye out for alligators and had time to spend hundreds of hundreds hours pursuing walleyes, northerns and bass in the many Glacial Lakes of South Dakota and on the Missouri River and its reservoirs.

Therefore, it just makes sense that I also bow fish for paddlefish and rough fish on the Missouri River after the invasive species, the Grass, Big Head and Silver carp trying to put a dent, it may be a small one, but every one out of the river is one less we need to worry about. 

  Invasive species, devastating are waters, devouring much of the plankton available as they have a voracious appetite, feeding continuously. These fast growing plankton feeders compete and to the baitfish, young gamefish, and our paddlefish.

To some the outdoors is not successful unless you get your limit. To others it is the time spent with friends, in that special place as Mother Nature awakens the World. (Outdoorsmen Productions Photo)

When it comes to hunting, another of my favorite pastimes, I hunt with a rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader and bow, pursuing pheasant, quail, waterfowl, turkey, deer, antelope, wild boar, bear, predators and elk. 
  My family has probably eaten as much wild game as any family.  It is lean, low in cholesterol and when taken care of in the field and prepared properly makes for some excellent eating.

However, it is not the fish or wild game that I bring home that keeps bringing me back, it is the outdoors. I know some people will find that hard to believe, but it is a fact.

I head outdoors to get away, to get back to reality.  I have learned many of lives lessons in the outdoors as I watched and listened to the world waking up when a squirrel is chattering at the birds that are  bothering him  and as I watched a doe and her fawn making their way from where they were feeding to their bedding area.

  You might say the outdoors is my therapy.   Many people go to a therapist to get things figured out, to get their life in order.  I guess I am from the old school and feel that a little peace and quiet along with fresh air will solve many problems.

When I am outdoors, I have a lot of time to think and reflect on what I have done right and wrong with my life.

There is nothing like hearing a tom turkey gobble or a pheasant cackle as the sun is coming up.  The sound of a bull elk bugling in the distance will awaken senses that you never knew you had.

When I first got into the outdoors, it was great to be outside, but I was of that age where I had to be successful, to bring something home, hoping to get my limit, to prove to my folks and myself that I had accomplished something.

  Now days, I do not need to fill my tags or my limit in order to get something out of a day in the woods or on the water, in the outdoors.  The time spent with friends and family camping, fishing or hunting allows me to forget about the deadlines that I have given myself.

 I do not worry about things when I am in the outdoors.  I know that those things will still be there when I return to my office, but the time I am outdoors is relaxing and invigorating to me, it helps me to recharge my internal batteries.

I get just as much of a thrill out of introducing someone to the great things the outdoors has to offer as I do from bagging a big buck or catching a nice walleye.

That is the reason I have been a Nebraska certified fishing instructor and a certified hunting instructor for twenty-five years.

Learning about the outdoors is not hard as those who love the outdoors and there are thousands of them, individuals who have spent time in every aspect of the outdoors, more than willing to help you to discover the outdoors.

 Conservation groups such as Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation groups all have youth programs.

 Most states have hunter’s safety instructors, bow hunter education instructors and aquatic education instructors that hold classes throughout the state, every year. 

The outdoors is not just a male thing as there are programs set up just for the women.   The “Becoming an Outdoorswomen” is a very popular program that is given several times each year in Nebraska as well as in other states.

  In our hunter’s safety classes, we always have at least six girls and women taking the course as women are the fastest growing segment of the outdoors.

Getting into the outdoors is not very hard to learn about and has something for everyone. The next time you feel like you need to catch your breath and get yourself together, look into the outdoors, go fishing, boating, kayaking, bird watching or just hiking as the sunshine, fresh air and tranquility of the outdoors can help you to get back on track.

  Good advice, after this hectic week, trying to get everything taken care of before heading north to our writer’s conference, I need a break, think I need to spend some quality time in the outdoors, so I am going to head out to the pond I hunt to see if any new doves have migrated south!

 

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Predators Come in all Sizes By Gary Howey

  I have had numerous questions about predators; those furred critters adored by some and detested by others, they can become a big problem for man as well as being beneficial to him and the environment.

  Questions varied from, “why would anyone want to harm such beautiful animals”, what happens when there are too many predators or the animals they feed on”, what happens when there are not enough prey animals, or predators, and how does it affect the environment” and the list goes on and on?

  I am not an expert as once you think you are there are many people out there that can prove you wrong. What knowledge I have about the outdoors, its animals and the environment I gained by spending years studying and hunting wildlife.  What I was unable to learn from Mother Nature, I had to do research, talking with those that know much more than I do, both college educated individuals as well as interviewing hunters, outdoorsmen and women. Talking with those who have more experience in the outdoors, those I consider friends and mentors and whose opinions I respect.

  I hope that the information listed below will answer some of the questioned people have asked me about predators that are both large and small.

   Predators are an important part of a healthy environment, keeping the balance of nature in check, as too many animals will destroy their habitat, devouring all available food and slowly starve to death.  They cull prey, the old, the sick and young leaving more food for the healthy animals and by controlling the prey populations they help to stop the spread of disease.

  Too many of any animal species can be detrimental as overpopulation leads to the destruction of food sources and habitat.

  As food sources disappear, animals will herd up on the remaining food sources, which allow any diseased animal to spread their sickness to the entire herd.

  Predators come in all sizes, small, medium, large as well as aerial predators. Some of the small predators would be; skunks, raccoons, opossums and badgers

  Many of these predators inhabit much of the same area, feeding on many of the same things.

  Raccoons will eat just about anything but really enjoys feeding on the creatures in our creeks, rivers and ponds, which include clams, crayfish, frogs, fish, and snails. They also eat insects, slugs, carrion (dead animals), birds, their eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and when living adjacent to people will eat garbage and pet food.

  Opossums eat much the same types of food as the raccoon including; fruits, insects, snails, slugs, eggs, mice, rats, fish, frogs, crayfish, carrion and snakes as most snake venom has no affect on opossums.

  The skunk, a smelly creature, eats both plants and animals. Consuming insects, insect larvae, earthworms, grubs, rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, eggs, berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts.

  Badgers, Mother Nature’s digging machine feed on earthworms, insects, grubs, and the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as roots and fruit.

  Medium size predators could be the coyote, fox, and bobcats.

   The coyote are very adaptive, living almost anywhere. They primarily feed on small animals including mice, rats, gophers, , rabbits, and squirrels,  snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, birds, carrion (animal carcasses), and larger animals which can include beaver, sheep, your family’s dogs, cats, and if conditions are right deer fawns, calves, sheep  as well as grass, fruits and berries.

  Their smaller relative, the fox mainly feeds on mice, rats, squirrels, chickens, small fawns, wild birds, eggs, feral cats and rabbits.

  The larger medium size member of the feline family, the bobcat also preys on smaller game; mice, rats, squirrels, chickens, small fawns, wild birds, feral cats as well as rabbits.

  If the populations of predator’s get out of hand, they become a huge problem, needing to be controlled and if man cannot do it Mother Nature takes care of it with the mange, blue tongue and other diseases. [Read more…]