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Recent entries


Through the Lens

Hunting is Indeed an Affordable Outdoor Activity!

Fri, September 26, 2014

I think we can all agree that a day spent hunting beats a day at slaving away at work.

  • Did you know though, that a day spent hunting in many cases is more affordable than a day spent on the golf course, at a major league ballgame, or any other number of outdoor and recreational activities?

    Statistics in NSSF’s (National Shooting Sports Foundation) latest report, “Hunting in the 50 States: Regulations, License Fees, Species and Methods of Take,” clearly show that you get more bang for your buck hunting than in other competing hobbies and activities.

    “There’s a misperception about hunting being a very expensive pastime. It can be in some circumstances, but for the most part hunting compares very favorably with the costs of other popular activities like playing golf, attending professional sports games and even going to the movies,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF Director of Industry Research and Analysis.

    The report estimates the average cost of a day of turkey hunting at $37.54 for license, tags and ammunition, placing it far lower than a round of golf, estimated at $72.54 for greens fees and a sleeve of balls, or a day at a major league ballpark, which will set you back $57.45 for a ticket, parking and a drink and a hotdog. While 10 days of hunting costs essentially the same as one day afield, taking in 10 movies at your neighborhood multiplex will add about $185 onto your credit card.

    Of course, “Hunting in the 50 States” includes much more information than these comparisons—information that is valuable to manufacturers, retailers and shooting ranges.

    To gain a better understanding of the expenses associated with hunting, NSSF combed through the regulation guides of all 50 states to produce “Hunting in the 50 States,” which consolidates data regarding big and small game, and provides both state-specific and national information.

    The new report includes resident and non-resident license and tag costs, number of species available to hunt (more than 40 in some states), available hunting days and legal firearm use by state. The report’s pages contain interesting factoids on hunting—nine states, for example, allow the hunting of white-tailed deer with an air rifle—and there is an entire page on feral hog facts (population estimated at 5 million).

    The report reveals how states provide many economic incentives to encourage hunting. Sportsmen and women in South Carolina, for example, enjoy two free days on which they can hunt without purchasing a state hunting license. In many states, licenses for apprentice hunters, juniors, seniors, military and the disabled are modestly priced, including for non-residents.

    “Hunting in the 50 States” is available to NSSF members at under the Industry Intelligence Reports tab, and non-members can contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for additional information.

    Source – National Shooting Sports Foundation, (2014, September 24), NSSF Report on ‘Hunting in the 50 States’ Shows Hunting Is More Affordable Than Many Outdoor Activities, Including Golf! [Press Release]

    That’s certainly something to keep in mind this weekend as a great many of us will be attending some type of National Hunting and Fishing Days event.

    I always get the eye roll from my dearly beloved when he hears me mention that I am headed off to a show or event such as Hunting and Fishing Days. That eye roll is usually followed by some moaning and groaning about “How much is this going to end up costing us?” I get the same eye roll and mumbling when I start exploring and planning a hunting trip especially if it’s in a new location or for a species I haven’t hunted before.
    Thanks to the research from National Shooting Sports Foundation I can now counter those eye rolls and grumbles with hard facts. Hey honey – Hunting is indeed more affordable than any other number of things I could be doing recreationally, and big bonus, we end up with healthy food in the freezer !


    The Heartland crew will be at Southern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days in Carterville, IL on the campus of John A. Logan College, both Saturday and Sunday.  Please come by our booth, visit a little, and pick up a free copy of Heartland Outdoors magazine. You never know, we just might help you explain to your significant other that hunting is indeed a most affordable, healthy, and tradition filled way to spend time in the great outdoors!


    (3) COMMENTS

    Farmers Urge Drivers to “Share the Road”

    Wed, September 24, 2014

    All night I could hear combines running, dryers buzzing, and the occasional tractor and wagon rattling past the house. The farmer that lives here is looking a little ragged, he’s tired, he’s crabby, and there’s not enough hours in the day right now.

    Harvest is in full swing and that means sharing the roadways with farmers, and sharing them safely. As a part of National Farm Safety and Health Week farmers are urging motorists to share the road safely and exercise patience, courtesy, and caution to avoid any ag related accidents on highways.

    Most farmers honestly try to move equipment during low traffic periods, but sometimes that just doesn’t work. Time is money and rural motorists just have to face the fact that its harvest and farm equipment will be on the roads.

    Farm machinery and equipment should display a “slow moving vehicle” emblem on the rear when traveling on public roads. Motorists should slow down as soon as they see the triangular orange sign with the red, reflective border.

    Think about it -  a car traveling 55 mph requires roughly 224 feet to stop on dry pavement, assuming average reaction time. A car traveling 55 mph can close a 300-foot gap – the length of a football field – between it and a tractor moving at 15 mph in about five seconds. It’s imperative that you start to slow down as soon as you see the slow moving equipment sign to avoid a collision.

    Said one Randolph county farmer, “We try to pull off the road, or move over to allow let people pass, it’s just that our equipment can be so high, wide, and heavy, it’s not always possible to pull over on a soft shoulder.  All we ask that motorist please be a little patient with us this time of year. A little bit of patience goes a long way in making sure we all get home safe for supper.”

    According to a 2003 study cited by the National Agricultural Safety Database, two out of every 100 crashes involving tractors, which may or may not be towing other farm equipment, and one out of every 100 crashes involving other farm equipment leads to a traffic death.

    Here are few “gentle reminders” and tips to help motorists safely share the roads with farmers this harvest season.

    Drive defensively, and recognize that you’re in an agricultural environment where you are likely to encounter ag equipment on the roadway. If you can see folks and equipment busy in the field, you’ll likely encounter ag equipment on the roadways in that area. Be aware of your surroundings.

    Use caution at intersections where tall crops may obscure your vision. Look twice! Before entering an intersection with tall crops surrounding it.

    Slow down. Farm vehicles are usually travelling at slow speeds. To reduce the risk of a collision, begin braking when you see the slow-moving vehicle emblem.

    Keep a safe distance behind farm equipment so that farmers can see you. Equipment may be loud, wide, have limited rear view capabilities. If you can’t see the farmer and his mirrors, he cannot see you. Stay back at least 50 feet when following ag equipment.

    Large equipment may make wide turns, including swinging to the right before making a left. Look for lights and hand signals from the farmer, and do not assume they are pulling to the right to allow you to pass.

    Pass carefully. Passing farm equipment can be very tricky as the equipment can obstruct your view. Wait for a safe passing zone, watch for oncoming traffic, signal and return to the lane once the vehicle is in your rearview mirror. If the vehicle is extra-wide, wait to pass until the driver pulls over and signals that it’s safe. Honk your horn beforehand in case the driver can’t see you.

    Yield.  Always give a wide farm vehicle the right-of-way when it’s traveling the opposite direction.  If possible and practical, consider pulling onto the shoulder or into a driveway or turn out to allow the farm equipment to pass.

    Most of all, be patient.  Offering a smile, a wave, a bit of consideration and understanding to the farmers working so hard this harvest season goes a long way to making sure everyone arrives home safely at the end of the day.

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    Fond du Lac For Fall Migration

    Wed, September 10, 2014

    My first visit to Fond du Lac and Horicon Marsh was in late September last year and I immediately fell in love with the endless parade of migrating birds. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay until the last migrator was winging it’s way south. Fond du Lac and Horicon Marsh are not just the place to be for birders and birdwatchers in the fall, but also for waterfowl hunters.

    My introduction to Horicon Marsh began with a beautiful early drive from Fond du Lac to the Heron’s Landing. It’s a quick, less than half hour drive from Fond du Lac to Horicon, and you will be treated to excellent wildlife viewing if you take some of the less traveled county rounds that will have you to your destination in a jiffy.

    My first stop at Blue Heron Landing was for a guided boat tour through the Marsh. Our guide was not only able to point out excellent viewing and photography opportunities for the migrators that call the Marsh home in late September and early October, but also provided me with an excellent history of the marsh and it’s human inhabitants. Trust me when I tell you, no visit to Fond du Lac or Horicon Marsh is complete without taking one of these five star boat tours.

    Following the boat tour I met with Jeff Bahls of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club at the Horicon Marsh Educational Center. Jeff is a lifelong resident of Dodge County, Wisconsin, and has been an avid waterfowler for nearly 40 years. His vast knowledge of the Horicon Marsh where he works part time for the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources, enabled me to see whooping cranes and sand hill cranes feeding and flying in the wild. Jeff has been a Member of Horicon Marsh Bird club for the past 15 years and is the current President. He currently sits on the board of the Wood Duck Society, a nationwide organization devoted placement and care of wood duck boxes and wood duck habitat.  Additionally, Jeff was a member of Cornell Lab of Ornithology 2007 search team, for Ivory Billed Woodpecker in Arkansas. You can well imagine that I had so many questions for Jeff about so many topics related to migrating birds and waterfowl that our day together simply was not long enough!

    The marsh, often called the Everglades of the North, is an important rest stop for migrating ducks, geese, warblers and other birds. It’s also the home of great blue herons, egrets, redhead ducks and more than 200 other species. Each fall, amid the gently swaying waves of cattails, stretching 14 miles from north to south, hundreds of thousands of Canada geese and other birds stop at Horicon Marsh to refuel along their journey.

    Nearly a century ago, farmers tried to claim the marsh for themselves, draining it and planting crops. But, alas, the wet, peaty depression, scoured out by a lobe of the last glacier, was no good for farming, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began to buy up the land. Interestingly enough following the resoration of the marsh, Canada geese soon found it so attractive that they simply refused to leave, and were there in such numbers that they became a bit of a nuisance. Not only were they considered nuisances, it had a very detrimental impact on the number of geese winging it on down to Southern Illinois. Consequently there was short time in the history of Horicon known as the “The Great Goose Haze” and a large variety of hazing methods were employed to send the geese on south during their migration.

    Today, the 21,000 acres in the north is the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, and the 11,000 in the south is the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, administered by the Wisconsin DNR.

    Both areas have hiking trails, observation decks and visitors centers. A 50-mile auto route girds the marsh, and the 34-mile Wild Goose State Trail skirts its western edge. From April to November, naturalists and local birders lead tours and programs, delving into every aspect of the marsh’s flora and fauna.  Upcoming events this year include Audubon Days, Learn to Hunt Waterfowl programs, and guided hikes.

    Fond du Lac makes a great location for a fall migration to Horicon and the surrounding areas, whether you visit to bird watch or to hunt, contact the Fond du Lac Convention and visitor’s bureau for assistance in planning your trip to maximize your bird watching and water fowling opportunities. One visit to Horicon and Fond du Lac in the fall will certainly leave you longing to return to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding Fond du Lac during each season of the year.

    Travel Tips: Horicon Marsh

    Getting there: Horicon, on the south end of the marsh, is about an hour northwest of Milwaukee. Waupun, at the northwest side of the marsh, is about 20 minutes southwest of Fond du Lac.

    Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area: The DNR field office on Palmatory Street, just north of Horicon, has information on birding and maps for hiking and canoeing. 920-387-7860.

    Horicon National Wildlife Refuge: The Visitor Center in Mayville is open weekdays year-round and also weekends during fall migration. 920-387-2658.

    Boat tours: From its landing off Wisconsin 33 in Horicon, Blue Heron Landing gives pontoon-boat tours from May through late October, 920-485-4663. This is must do when visiting the area for bird watching. The guides are excellent and the boat tour offers an insiders look at the Marsh that is not available by foot or auto.

    Accommodations:  Fond du Lac offers a wealth of lodging styles to fit every budget. For those interested in history, the Historic Retlaw Plaza in downtown Fond du Lac can’t be beat as a great place to begin all of your adventures in the Fond du Lac area.  Just imagine walking the same halls that Eleanor Roosevelt walked!

    Dining: No visit to Fond du Lac is complete without a stop at the famous Schreiner’s. Consider it for breakfast lunch, or best of all an afternoon rest break at their Pie Happy Hour!

    Bicycling: The 34-mile crushed-limestone Wild Goose State Trail goes between Fond du Lac and Clyman and cuts through many different bird habitats. This is an excellent way to view even more birds and wildlife at a leisurely pace.

    Canoeing: Canoeing is allowed in the 11,000 acres of the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, the southern third of the marsh. Blue Heron Landing also rents canoes and kayaks and provides shuttle service, 920-485-4663.

    Hiking: The two-mile Horicon Habitat Trail at the southern tip of the marsh is just north of the town of Horicon; from Wisconsin 33, or Lake Street, turn north on Palmatory Street.

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