Outdoor News

Wade Bourne passes
Wade Bourne died last December, apparently of a heart attack. He was famous as the lead outdoor writer and TV personality for the DU magazine and hosted many of their waterfowl hunting shows. Although our paths never crossed, I always admired his professional work and friendly manner. In that way I feel as though I’ve lost a friend. Wade will be missed.

DU migration map is a puzzler
One of the most interesting attractions at Ducks Unlimited’s website is the migration map. Updated continuously, the map features hunters posting reports of conditions in their area regarding weather, migratory progress and hunter success. In anticipation of upcoming writing assignments, I’ve been monitoring this map very closely for some years now and have noticed that most reports lately have been poor. It seems that successful waterfowl hunters keep it to themselves, while those not in on the action all the time are eager to complain about it. One good example is the Southern Zone in Illinois, where my contacts tell me they’ve had tons of birds and high success-rates through December. Yet, there were no reports on the DU map from that area during that time. Southern Illinois has always been a waterfowl hunting hot spot, so it’s very odd that not one hunter put a report onto the DU map. I also found the same thing in a report from Niobrara, Neb. on the Missouri River. Every report posted was the same: “No Birds.” Yet, a group of friends traveled out there anyway and literally slaughtered ducks and geese. I can’t really blame DU for the lack of the reports.

Get ready for salmon season
It won’t be long before the “big lake” shrugs off any remaining ice. The cohos will then swarm inshore and the 2017 open- water season will be underway. You have reels to clean, line to replace, and hooks to sharpen, but perhaps the most important item on your list should be to join or renew your membership in Salmon Unlimited. This is a fishing club that will put you in touch with hundreds of other big-lake trollers, providing networking. There’s also a membership card entitling the bearer to all association benefits, an embroidered Salmon Unlimited membership patch, boat and auto decals, Salmon Unlimited Hook ‘n Line newsletter, fishing seminars, participation in all club competitions and activities, a family membership and membership roster. Check it all out at salmonunlimited.com.

Michigan enacts new wolf hunting law?
Michigan had its first-ever wolf hunt back in 2013, but Great Lakes gray wolves found themselves back on the Endangered Species List in 2014 thanks to anti-hunting petitions. Since nothing is “forever,” if the status ever changes again this new legislation would allow the Natural Resources Commission to designate wolves as a “game species,” which could pave the way for a new wolf hunting season. There are still hoops to jump through, but wolf hunting is one step closer to becoming a reality in Michigan.

President Trump selects Ryan Zinke as Secretary of the Interior
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is the nation’s principal conservation agency. The DOI is a large decentralized agency with over 67,000 employees and 280,000 volunteers. Its operation and decisions affect sportsmen and sportswomen throughout the nation. This is a challenging position, and the selection choosing Zinke last December was an important one.

That is one expensive duck dinner
In Michigan, four Ottawa County men ticketed recently for poaching nearly 60 wild ducks from a private agricultural pond near the Grand River watershed were sentenced this week in district court.

“These four individuals used over 200 pounds of corn to illegally entice these ducks in for the kill,” said Dave Rodgers, DNR conservation officer.

The ducks poached included 35 wood ducks and 23 mallards, including 13 hens.

The four men were each ordered to pay $5,000 in reimbursement, plus a $10 judgment fee. This total of $20,040 will go into the State of Michigan’s Fish and Game Fund, which is used to support healthy populations of fish and game through various activities ranging from fish stocking to improving wildlife habitat.

In addition, the men were each ordered to pay $880 in fines and costs to the court. They were sentenced to serve 18-month probation terms, in lieu of 90 days in jail. If the men violate any condition of their probation, they will serve jail time at the discretion of the judge. The convicted poachers have lost their hunting privileges for the rest of this year and the next three years. The firearms they used in the incident were condemned by the court and will go to state auction this spring, with proceeds going to the Fish and Game Fund.