T H E O F F I C IA L PU B LIC ATION OF H OUS T ON S AFARI CLUB F OUND AT I ON â€¢ S P RI NG 2020
ii HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
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HUNTER'S HORNâ„˘ 3
2020 HSCF CONVENTION
54 A SPORTSMAN’S VOICE IS
18 FROM THE
CRITICAL TO COMBAT THE ANTI-HUNTING AGENDA ACROSS THE NATION
By Jeff Crane
58 WHAT’S IN YOUR WILDERNESS FIRST AID KIT?
By Global Rescue
62 A DAY WELL SPENT: VISITING L’ATELIER VERNEY-CARRON
By M. Arnold
19 CONVENTION CHAIRS 20 CONVENTION SPONSORS
34 FRIDAY NIGHT 38 PHOTO AWARDS 44 HUNTING AWARDS
24 THURSDAY NIGHT
45 YOUTH HUNTING
26 2020 HUNTERS OF THE YEAR
28 2020 OUTSTANDING
71 LOOKING BACK
30 2020 CONSERVATIONIST
By Tommy Morrison
22 EXHIBIT HALL
68 THE BIG PICTURE
By Grace Orellana
32 YOUTH WILDLIFE
PROFESSIONAL HUNTER OF THE YEAR
72 THE WILD BRUNCH
46 HUNTING AWARD SPONSORS
48 GAZELLES LUNCHEON 50 SATURDAY NIGHT GALA
By Scott Leysath
78 TURKISH DELIGHTS By Tim Herald
82 LIKE FATHER LIKE SON: A
FAMILY GETAWAY TO OAK CREEK WHITETAIL RANCH
By Gayne C. Young
86 OCEANIA DRIVE: NEW ZEALAND AND THE COOK ISLANDS
By Esplanade Travel
94 HSCF MEMBER SPOTLIGHT By Chad Germann
95 HSCF PH SPOTLIGHT
By Peter and Stephen Tam of Tam Safaris
96 NEW ZEALAND: THE FIRST
108 MATLABAS CONSERVATION INITIATIVE: BUILDING SAFE HAVENS FOR WHITE RHINO
By Louis van Bergen
112 ARCTIC ALASKA: NO PLACE FOR MOOSE OR MAN!
By John Wootters
116 CALL OF THE
By Chester Moore, Jr.
120 CHASING THE GOBBLE: THE NATIONAL WILD TURKEY FEDERATION
By NWTF Staff
TIME, NOT THE LAST
By Joe Betar
102 POWDERHORN FOREVERMORE By Tyler Sharp
106 EPIC CONSERVATION: EXXON VALDEZ RESTORATION AT 30
By Tim Richardson
Suzanne Hixson, 2020 Best in Show Photo Awards Winner
4 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 5
OUR MISSION Preserving the sport of
hunting through education,
conservation and the promotion
of our hunting heritage.
6 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
2019-2020 HOUSTON SAFARI CLUB FOUNDATION OFFICERS JD Burrows–President Mitzy McCorvey–Immediate Past President Matt Pyle–President Elect Eric Grunwald–Vice President Gib Surles–Vice President Mark King–Treasurer Monica Williamson Mills–Secretary HOUSTON SAFARI CLUB FOUNDATION DIRECTORS 2019–2021 Jeff Birmingham Hunter Comiskey Bryan Ray Travis Simpson Kevin Ormston 2018–2020 Darrell Kainer Shaun Nelson 2019–2020 Ross Melinchuk Trey White HISTORIAN Jerry Henderson HEADQUARTERS STAFF Joe Betar, Executive Director Angi McCarthy, Director of Administrative Services Carla Nielsen, Marketing & Publications Manager Nancy Oka, Director, Events & Membership Sarah Hagman, Editorial Consultant Nate Silva, Design Consultant Alliance Printing and Graphics Hunter’s Horn™ is published quarterly by Houston Safari Club Foundation 14811 St. Mary’s Lane, Suite 265 Houston, Texas 77079 713.623.8844 (p) 713.623.8866 (f) firstname.lastname@example.org wehuntwegive.org
2019 American Graphic Design Award for Publication Design
2018 Communicator Award for Print Distinction
© Copyright 2020 Houston Safari Club Foundation Houston Safari Club Foundation welcomes contributing articles, photos and research. Houston Safari Club Foundation reserves the right to edit submissions for spelling, grammar, clarity, organization and punctuation and to abridge length. Houston Safari Club Foundation reserves the right not to publish submissions. Content may not be repurposed without the express written consent of the author and publisher. Please submit materials with a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you wish materials to be returned. Houston Safari Club Foundation is not responsible for lost or unsolicited submissions. Digital submissions are preferred. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Houston Safari Club Foundation, its members, employees or affiliates. Houston Safari Club Foundation reserves the right to refuse any advertisement believed to be incompatible with our mission or deemed competitive or contrary to the best interests of Houston Safari Club Foundation.
U PCOMING EV EN TS MAY 2020
HSCF May Meeting Featuring Eric White from YO Ranch May 6, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm Location TBD 2020 HSCF Sporting Clays Tournament May 15, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm Greater Houston Sports Club
HSCF June Trophy Room Reception June 23, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm Home of Stephanie & Will Perry
HSCF August Meeting Featuring Travis Carter of Carter’s Country Cotton Mesa Trophy Elk Ranch August 12, 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm Location TBD
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 7
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE JD BURROWS, HSCF PRESIDENT
ow that the dust has settled, I have a moment to reflect on our Houston Safari Club Foundation 2020 Worldwide Hunting Expo & Convention, and I am thrilled to report that it was a huge success! Our theme this year was Together 2020, and the first thing I want to do is recognize all valiant efforts of our staff, countless volunteers, passionate committee chairs and the never-ending commitment of our exhibitors and patrons. From Angie and I, a huge thank you to each and every one of you for making this year a success. You did me proud. The money raised and the lives changed at our convention reinforce our commitment to hunting, conservation and youth education. This year we featured more than 300 exhibitors and our banquets had record attendance. I wanted to briefly reflect on a few memorable moments, and hope that you each created some lasting memories. First, seeing the expo hall full of vendors and patrons on Saturday, and looking back at the hive of activity on Thursday during movein—what an amazing accomplishment. Thanks to volunteer chair Bryan Ray for his efforts and personal sacrifice to always come through for our club. Second, sitting in the audience on Friday night and listening to Dan L. Duncan Scholarship chair Gary Rose and reveling in the accomplishments of our recipients made me very proud. Next, Don Felder’s rendition of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy” was a personal life moment for me. On Saturday night, seeing the Rigby 375 H&H, HSCF President Rifle go to Life Member Terry Hurlburt, with his beaming smile, delivered on a personal dream to bring a little nostalgia of the big game hunters of the past into our club. Thank you to the generous artisans at John Rigby & Co. and Jens Krogh of Blaser USA for their craftsmanship and generous donation. Lastly, my personal high point for the entire weekend was when Ms. Aurelia Skipwith, director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, spoke to us about her mission and how she stands up for hunters and our abundant natural resources. What memories do you have for the weekend? Share them with your friends. This entire weekend would not have been possible without the dedication and faithfulness of our exhibitors and gracious donors. This year, I heard on numerous occasions that the foot traffic on the expo hall floor was really good. Walking the floor, I found many interesting people from around the world all
8 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
involved in our way of life, and I truly felt among friends. That’s what’s great about our club: It is like a family. The secret to the success of any convention is the dedication and passion of the convention chair. I want to personally thank Mr. Trey White for all of his work in preparing for the weekend and his constant engagement to make sure everything ran according to plan. Standing on the expo hall floor on Sunday evening, as the last exhibitor was moving out, we shared a warm, heartfelt handshake and said, “We did it.” Last but by no means least, I would like to thank our HSCF office staff for their continued professionalism and hard work to make our most important fundraiser of the year a resounding success. Led by Joe Betar, the team did an outstanding job handling all of the details. Nancy Oka was absolutely fabulous working with the exhibitors and managed our interaction with the Hilton and the George R. Brown Convention Center. Angi McCarthy was very dependable at the registration desk and did a great job with our finances. Carla Nielsen’s creative work on all displays, publications and on-site social media made our event very professional. Our convention and expo would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of our office staff. In my opinion, we are blessed with the best staff in the business. Great job, Joe and team! Now that spring is just around the corner and things are warming up in Houston, I would like to wish everyone a safe and fun spring turkey season. And for everyone traveling to the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you create great memories together on your safari. Registration is now open for both the 2020 HSCF Clay Shoot, which will take place on May 15 at the Greater Houston Sports Club, and the 2021 Convention, happening on January 22-24, 2021 at the GRB. In your service;
JD Burrows HSCF President
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 9
JOE BETAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
elcome to your Spring 2020 issue of Hunters Horn®! Please allow me to express my sincere thanks to everyone that made the 2020 HSCF Hunting Expo & Convention such a great success. Our board of directors, committee chairs, volunteers and attendees—you guys rock! Trey White did a fantastic job in his first year as our convention chairman—that’s right, I said first year. Trey has graciously agreed to serve again as our chair in 2021. Thank you, Trey! Trey and HSCF President JD Burrows will provide further details about the convention in their columns for this issue. However, I will proudly say that expo attendance almost doubled compared to 2019 and that we raised more than $1 million this year to fund HSCF’s efforts to support the future of hunting through grants, scholarships and youth education. We will do it again January 22-24, 2021, and hope to see all of you there. I would like to once again say thank you to our 2020 Convention sponsors. Space (and word count) will not allow me to list every individual who stepped up to sponsor YWCE, Gazelles, scholarships and our annual hunting awards, but here’s a big THANK YOU to each of you—you know who you are! Thanks to our corporate and convention partners: Capital Farm Credit, WildLife Partners, S & B Engineers and Constructors, Enterprise Products, Shoppa’s John Deere, Conroe Taxidermy, Global Rescue, B&B Taxidermy, TWG Travel, ProCargo USA, NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum, Texas Hunt Lodge, Alliance Graphics & Printing and Let It Fly. Elections for your 2020-2022 Board of Directors is fast approaching. In April, you will receive ballots in the mail. This term, there will be four HSCF director positions to fill. Contact us if you would like to be considered to serve on the HSCF board. Please be sure to complete and return your ballot when received. Results will be announced in May 2020. While we are on the subject of service, how about signing up to chair a committee? I would be glad to meet with you and discuss the various committees and how important they are to your organization. Here are some legislative items of note that should be on your radar: H.R. 3742, RECOVERING AMERICA’S WILDLIFE ACT This critical bipartisan legislation continues to gain momentum. The more sponsors, the better. Reach out to your representatives and senators and encourage them to cosponsor now! This legislation establishes a 21st-century funding model for the proactive conservation of fish and wildlife. This legislation redirects $1.3 billion annually in existing revenues to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-driven wildlife action plans, and an additional $97.5 million to tribal wildlife managers to conserve species on tribal lands and waters. This funding will ensure those with a proven track record of success in species conservation and recovery can proactively conserve at-risk fish 10 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
and wildlife in a voluntary, non-regulatory manner. To date, there are 157 cosponsors. H.R. 925, AMERICA’S CONSERVATION ENHANCEMENT ACT HSCF joined many other hunting and conservation organizations in submitting a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, encouraging their support of America’s Conservation Enhancement Act and urging its approval by the House as reported by the Senate. H.R. 925 includes high-priority conservation provisions and its passage by unanimous consent in the Senate on January 9, 2020, marks a significant step forward in addressing growing challenges to species and habitat health. Final passage of the America’s Conservation Enhancement Act by the House will not only have wide-ranging ecological impacts but will facilitate enhanced wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation by millions of Americans, strengthening conservation funding streams for years to come. Houston Safari Club’s Political Action Committee (PAC) is a vital part of our organization—this election year more than ever. You should have received an HSC-PAC brochure in the mail recently. Please take a moment to read it and donate to the HSC-PAC, through which you can help put prohunting federal legislators in office. To learn more or donate, visit HSC-PAC.org. Have you been to an HSCF monthly event lately? Join us at one coming up! Monthly events chair Tommy Morrison has done an outstanding job securing entertaining speakers. Plus, meet new people, network and gain valuable hunting knowledge! Check the calendar on your HSCF app or visit hscfdn.org/upcoming-events. As a final comment, let me say what a pleasure it is to be your executive director. This will be my fifth year serving you and HSCF. HSCF, HSC and the HSC-PAC are anchored by a tremendous staff and board of directors. It is exciting to see how we have grown as an organization. Some of you may not know that HSCF has been approved as a U.S. Delegate of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC). We will be considered for membership, as an independent organization within the international organization, in July of 2020. We hope to attend the international conference in Budapest, Hungary, as a full voting member in 2021. Also, I was recently asked to participate as part of a task force for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), providing comments to IUCN to (1) address human-wildlife conflict and foster a safe and beneficial coexistence between people and wildlife and (2) engage the private sector in combating wildlife trafficking. While we do many things in many arenas, our core mission is to protect the future of hunting. This is an exciting time for our organization. We want you to be an active part of it! In support of hunting and conservation,
Joe Betar Executive Director, HSCF/HSC/HSC-PAC
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 11
HSCF LIFE MEMBERS Bob Abernathy John Abraham Charlotte Alexander Richard Alexander Crystal Allison Shannon Alston Michael Ambrose Anne Avara Jacob Avara Skip Avara Paul Babaz Camp Bailey Cope Bailey Freddie Bailey Kenneth Bailey Frank Baird Jo Baird Mike Baird Jack Barksdale L. Irvin Barnhart * Wendy Barnhart-Lamplough James Bell Lyndel Berry Tony Bessette Charlotte Betar Joe Betar James Biggerstaff Jeff Birmingham Craig Boddington Werner Boeer Jay Bonano E. Bond Greg Bond Pete Bonora Jeri Booth Frederick (Tony) Box Luanne Bozeman W. Steven Bozeman James Braus John Bridgwater Jack Brittingham Elizabeth Brueggeman Mark Brueggeman Joe Bruno Aaron Bulkley Matt Burke Robert Burke Byron Burris Grady Burris Quint Burris Prentiss Burt Daniel Butler Turner Butts Don Byrne C. Cagle Dennis Cain Thomas Cain Rick Callison Alex Campbell Bill Carter * Ivan Carter Paul Carter Ben Case Barbara Cavender-Lewis Preston Cavner 12 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2019 2020
Chris Caywood Tracey Cearley Alan Cegielski Doug Centilli Christopher Clark James Clark Steve Clark Craig Clendenin Michael Clifford Stephen Coale Keith Coleman Randall Coleman * Russell Coleman Joe Collett Dwayne Collier Frank Comiskey Hunter Comiskey Kevin Comiskey Alan “Bink” Cooke Dian Cooper Rocky Cooper George Councill Steve Crawford Steve Crawford Kenneth Crockett Gary Crouch Deb Cunningham Ford Cunningham Linda Cunningham Ralph Cunningham Ralph Daigle Joe Davis Laurent Delagrange Armando DeLeon Armando DeLeon Charlie Desautels Elliot Desautels Gregory Desautels Perry Dillon Randy Donato Barry Donoho Tim Doucet Megan Doyel James (Red) Duke * Dannine Duncan Jan Duncan Scott Duncan Bruce Edwards Robert Elkins Walton Eller Susan Ellerbeck * Gary Ellison Will Ellison Shaun Essery Travis Findley Charlene Floyd Tommy Fogle Randy Fowler Nathan Foyil * Michael Franklin Bobby Frederick Aaron Freeman Nichol Freeman Donald French Warren Gallant
Randal Garrett Scott Garrett Tanya Garrett Zachary Garrett Paul Geiger Frank Giacalone Salvatore Giannetti Gary Glesby Carl Godfrey Russell Gordy Jeff Gorski William Gouldin Sandra Green Kevin Gregory Edward Guinn Dodd Hackman Clayton Hagerman Cory Hall James Halley Greg Harvey Vickie Hayes Charles Head Jerry Henderson Mark Herfort Heinert Hertling Robert Hibbert Greg Hill Loren Hill Steven Hill Nicholas Hinze Edward Hoffman William Holder Bill Honza Toby Huerta Gene Human Tanya Hurlburt Terry Hurlburt Harold Inman * Justin Itzel Keith Itzel John Jackson Jack Jensen W.A. “Bill” Jentsch Clay Johnson Todd Johnson Robert Jones Harris Junell Darrell Kainer David Kalich Susan Kalich Kirk Kanady Michelle Kangas Gaye Kelsey John Kelsey Julianne King Mark King Rick Kirk Jim Klentzman Robert Kneppler Philip Koehne George Kollitides Tommy Kolwes Phil Koonce George Kopecky Keith Lake
HSCF LIFE MEMBERS Fred Lamas Wayne LaPierre Joel Latham Kyle Lehne Richard Leibman John Lindholm Tom Lipar Bryant Littlefield Mark Livesay Ricardo Longoria Cody Loverin Doug Luger David Mafrige Shane Mahoney Paige Manard D Martin John Martin James Masten Chad Matherne Wyatt McBride Mitzy McCorvey Tony McCorvey Ed McCrory Travis McWilliams Gerald Meinecke Lewis Metzger Greg Mills Brook Minx Howard Monsour Forrest Montealegre Paul Montealegre G.L. Moore Reed Morian Tommy Morrison Ron Mostyn Dustin Mykyte Shannon Nash Bob Neese Rob Neilson Scott Nelson Shaun Nelson William B. Newlin Rudy Nix K. Nunnally Carol O’Day Kerry O’Day Charles Onstead Kevin Ormston Neal Overstreet John Painter Michael Park Michael Parr Steve Pate Trevor Penny John Pepper Melanie Pepper Stephanie Perry Timothy Peter Bryce Phillips Carson Phillips Dusty Phillips Wilson (Woody) Phillips Thomas Powell Kevin Poynter Andrew Pratt
Kymberly Pratt Charles Prince Sharon Propes Carlos Ramirez Bryan Ray Christina Ray Lawrence Rearick William Reed Gayle Rettig Keith Riggs Theresa Riggs John Robberson Larry Robinson Mike Robinson * Chuck Rod Robert Rod * Stephen Rogers William Rohrbach William Roosevelt Gary Rose Mark Rose Jerry Rubenstein Chris Ruhman John Rulon Gerald Russell Byron Sadler Sandra Sadler Michael Sample William Sample Michael Sandeen Joseph Sayers Corey Schaefer Scott Scheinin Robert Scherer Wade Schindewolf Adam Schindler George Severence Wayne Sheets John Shelby Richard Shepherd Jason Shrieve William Simmons Austin Simpson Autumn Simpson Barret Simpson Becky Simpson Dawn Simpson Jacob Simpson Jody Simpson Michael Simpson Mike Simpson Travis Simpson Tristan Simpson Weston Simpson Sam Skipper Aurelia Skipwith Carter Smith Jason Smith Mandy Smith Steve Smith Tom Snyder Norman Speer James Stacy Kaylee Stacy Mary Edith Stacy
Larry Stifflemire Mark Stouse Randy Strickland H. Stuart Greg Stube David Swan Anushka Sweeney Dr. Lloyd Swiedom Lloyd Swiedom Leah Symens Tyler Symens Peter Tam Stephen Tam Larry Tatom Terry Taylor Mark Terpstra Robert Thomas Heidi Thomas-Kersh J.B. Tinney John Tobin Pete Trammell Ted Trout * Hal Tryon Don Turner Aart Van Den Brink Phillip Veale Thom Venus Amanda Vick William Vick Juan Villaveces Glenn Vincent Jeffery Vinson Pierre Vorster Joshua Walker Greg Walla Rob Walsh John Waltz Dana Weber Rick Weber Larry Weishuhn Brian Welker Denise Welker Robert Wells Brian Welsh Lawrence West Matt West Bruce Whitmire Bill Wilkinson * Ron Willenborg Steve Willenborg Gregory Williamson Alan Winslette Robby Winstead Kurt Wiseman John Wood Bill Woodall J.D. Woods Patricia Woods Debi Young Preston Young Brian Zaitz
* Deceased SPRING 2019 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 13
HOUS T ON S A FA R I C L U B F OU N DAT ION
COR POR ATE MEMBER S TH A NK YOU F OR SU PPORTING HSCF
Brush Country Studios / Prairie Mountain Wildlife Studios brushcountrystudios.com
Alaska Skookum Guides alaskaskookumguides.com
Arkitektura Development arkdevinc.com
The Blake Wilcox Group Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene theblakewilcoxgroup.com
Capital Farm Credit capitalfarmcredit.com
Champion Ranch huntchampionranch.com
Clay Time claytimebaycity.com
Gsellâ€™s Whitetails gsellswhitetails.com
Hawkeye Hunting Club hawkeyehunting.com
HomeLand Properties homelandprop.com
Republic Boot Co. republicbootcompany.com
Ruple Properties southtexasranches.com
TEMPER A S E M P E R A T U R E C O N TA T U RO E XW . T E X A S T L. C
R EO M
JFD Cattle Company
Safari Specialty Importers, Inc. importinghuntedtrophies.com
Soele Texas Best Ranches texasbestranches.com
Tech-Mark Sales tech-marksales.com
Trophy Shippers trophyshippers.com
WildLife Partners wildlifepartners.com
Texas Temperature Control texastemperaturecontrol.com
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS John Allison Lars Allison Orlando Alvarez Joel Antonini Kandra Armstrong Jason Armstrong Charles Atkinson Edward Baca David Batson David Baxter Susan Bell Kenneth Bitner Robert Black Edward Bluestone Tyler Bond Thomas Booth Douglas Bricker Brett Burgin Stephen Burton William Bussey Anthony Cannata Ireneo Castillo Chad Chapman Michael Clifford Stephan Cloete Daniel Corredor Chase Councill Steve Crawford Dustin Cross Joseph Crouch James De Roulac Rick Doak Johan Dorfling Francois Dorfling Sharon Dugey Amy Dunn Sasha Durant Quentin Dyson Jeffrey Elliott Mike Elliott Scott Engel Curt Enns Tammi Fayle Alton Fisher Herman Flinder Charles Fontenot Troy Foster Nichol Freeman
Robin French Ken Garner Stephen Gegenheimer Robert Gegenheimer Ben Gervais Marcelle Giacalone Margaret Giannetti David Giurintano Marc Gregory Brad Hancock India Hancock Scott Harton Jacques Hartzenberg Mike Howard Toby Huerta Robin Human Stephani Hunt Rod Hunter Mark Ivy Ray Jackson Shane Jahn Gary Kaiser John Keith Hendrik Johannes Louis Kotze Robert Lake Lawrence Lee Timothy Lee Darin Lee Wade Lemon Robert Line Scooter Long Juan MacDonald Andrew MacKay Michael Mares Nathan Marx Brandon McDow Sam McHard John Miller Rusty Minchew Craig Moon John Moore Bo Morgan Mark Morgan Thomas Moyers Louise Muller Frederick Murdock Angie Nelson Gary Newton
James Nugent Donna Oliver Kendall Ormston Cheryl Ormston Larry Peters Nathan Pierce Vanessa Pierce Ross Polk Thomas Poynter Daniel Pretorius Johannes Raubenheimer Theresa Riggs Marilu Robbins Tim Robertson Tim Rowe Marla Rowe Weston Salyers Joseph Sayers Chase Schaefer Franklyn Schaefer Leslie Semler Weldon Sheard Ricky Simmons Aurelia Skipwith Louis Skrobarczyk Justin Skrobarczyk Glenn Slaven Morgan Smith Brian Spicer Alexis Spicer Ken Stadler Darrin Stanton Karen Strahan Adam Suhr Cherri Teutsch Aart Van Den Brink Pecos Vaught Chastity Vinson Ewert Vorster Justin Walker Christopher Webb Daniel Weis Bud West Paul Williams Michelle Wood Floyd Woodson Ryan Zuerner
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„˘ 15
SCT CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE JEFF BIRMINGHAM, SPORTING CLAYS TOURNAMENT CHAIRMAN
he 2020 HSCF Sporting and the proceeds support HSCF’s Clays Tournament mission of preserving the sport of will be held on Friday, hunting through education, conMay 15, 2020, at the servation and the promotion of our Greater Houston Sports Club. This hunting heritage. Funds raised go tournament has become one of the toward programs benefiting habitat HOUSTON SAFARI CLUB FOUNDATION and species preservation, youth edulargest and most fun-filled charity sporting clays tournaments in the cation programs, veterans’ hunting Houston area, and we are hoping programs and more. We still have for even more shooters this year. The many sponsorship opportunities tournament provides numerous sponsorship, marketing and and would greatly appreciate your support. networking opportunities for individuals and companies Please mark your calendars and register for the event. alike, as well as prizes, games, raffles, great food and fun. We guarantee you will have a great time of shooting, fellowThe tournament will kick off at 9 am and conclude ship and fundraising for a worthy cause. We look forward around 2 pm. Food trucks will be available for breakfast to seeing you there! and coffee, and we will finish up with BBQ, beer and other beverages. At the end of the tournament, there will Sincerely, also be an opportunity for the top shooters to participate in an Annie Oakley Shootout for the 2020 HSCF Jeff Birmingham World Champion title. The tournament is a 501(c)(3) event 2020 Sporting Clays Tournament Chairman TM
SPORTING CLAYS TOURNAMENT
16 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
From the Convention Chair
he Houston Safari Club’s 2020 Convention is in the books and it was a rousing success. This year we broke all new attendance records for our World Wide Hunting Expo. On Friday night, we had a great awards banquet and live auction. To cap off the evening, Don Felder put on an amazing show that brought the house down. The Saturday Gazelles lunch was its usual fun and fancy affair, and both the live and silent auctions were huge successes. Our entertainment for the weekend at our formal banquet was once again the highlight of the convention. Comedian Tom Papa put on one of the best shows that the Houston Safari Club Foundation has seen in many conventions, and the live auction was an action-packed good time. But the highlight of the night was the keynote address given by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service head Aurelia Skipwith. Ms. Skipwith’s speech blew away the audience in its important call to action to preserve our nation’s sport hunting tradition. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our generous sponsors; your steadfast commitment to our mission of hunting and the outdoors is greatly appreciated. I would
18 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
also like to thank all of our 2020 Convention chairs; your leadership and hard work were an inspiration to us all, and without you our convention would not have been possible. Our volunteers are tireless, and their support for this club and its mission are boundless; I would like to thank each and every one of you for making our convention a success. Finally, I want to thank our staff, Joe, Carla, Nancy, and Angi. Our staff is small but they do the work of 20 people and we are very lucky to have them. You all have my eternal thanks and gratitude for making our convention go; you are truly the best people in the world to work with. Next year will be here before you know it and that means we’ll need people to serve on committees and be volunteers. If you are interested in getting involved for the 2021 Convention, email Nancy Oka (nancy@wehuntwegive. org) or myself (email@example.com) and we will get you connected. See everyone next year! Trey White Convention Chair
Convention Chairs 2020 CONVENTION CHAIR
DAN L. DUNCAN SCHOLARSHIP SELECTION
Trey White Gary Rose
Kevin Ormston Mark King
YOUTH EDUCATION, HUNTING & FIELD ACTIVITIES
Deb Cunningham Rebekah Boone
YOUTH EDUCATION & HUNTING
Monica & Greg Mills GRANTS
Shaun Nelson ART
Julianne King VOLUNTEER
Darrell Kainer Mark King
Susan & David Kalich Jody Simpson Dawn Simpson Leah Symens
BANQUET & DECORATIONS
HUNTRESS OF THE YEAR AWARD
HUNTER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Steve Smith Travis Simpson
ANNUAL HUNTING AWARDS
YOUTH HUNTER OF THE YEAR AWARD
2020 SPORTING CLAYS TOURNAMENT
Tommy Morrison MERCHANDISE
PROFESSIONAL HUNTER OF THE YEAR
JD Burrows Mitzy McCorvey Trey White PRESIDENT
Thank you! SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 19
Convention Sponsors COR P OR AT E SP ONS OR S
PL AT IN UM SP ONS OR S
G OL D SP ONS OR
SU PP ORT ING PA RT N ER S
U N DERW R I T ING SP ONS OR S
20 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
866.377.3000 Lowland Nyala The Nyala was first imported to the United States in 1927. There were 11 original founders. In zoos, there have been 2250 births from this group. Based on historical records, Nyala arrived in Texas between 1967-1976. In Texas the estimated population as of 2019 is 2000-3000 animals.
A breeder of Nyala in Texas could expect the following: Retail Price per Animal Herd Size
Total Capital Investment $135,000
Average Wholesale Price per Animal - $7000
Original Herd Wholesale Value
Total Return Before Supplemental Feed
Cost of Initial Investment
Annual Offspring to Sell
$355,000 Return - 262% Annual Income 41%
Still wondering if we can produce results? Text
you a2020 brochure. 210.373.4611 and weâ€™ll send SPRING HUNTER'S HORN
2 1: Even our younger attendees enjoy the expo! 2: Raffle winner Michael Simpson, Jody Simpson and Raffle Chairman Kevin Ormston 3: Meetup at the HSCF Expo 4: Darrell Kainer, Kevin Ormston, JD Burrows, Eric Grunwald 5: Bill Clem tests out Shoppa’s John Deere tractor 6: Thousands came through the door for the 2020 Convention making it a huge success! 7: The gentleman in charge of the official volunteer pin, Earle Freeman 8: Thank you! We can’t wait for next year! 9: Ask the experts at MG Arms 10: Bill and Rhydonia Clem
4 22 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
10 SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 23
1: Ann Anderson, Becky Simpson and Carol O’Day 2: Evan Heusinkveld, Cheryl Ormston and Kevin Ormston 3: Attendees took to the pitch for games 4: Carolina Carrizosa and Roland Orsak 5: John Bowers and Vickie McMillan-Hayes 6: Food and fun for all! 7: Chris Gilroy, Kevin Robertson, Gib Surles, Barret Simpson and Jeff Birmingham 8: Winning! 9: Jeremy Davis and Noah Davis
4 24 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
9 SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 25
Hunters of the Year Gary Glesby
here do I begin the saga? I guess it all started when I was 10 years old and got a BB gun. There wasn’t much to shoot in the Braeswood area of Houston where I grew up outside of shooting my sister—so I did. My life with my BB gun was, as you can well imagine, shortlived. Though during the summer of 1964 at Camp Greylock for Boys in Becket, Massachusetts, one of the activities was shooting .22s at the rifle range where the targets were all of 25 yards away. I was a helluva shot! Fast-forward to 1981: I was getting divorced (I am now very happily married to my lovely second and final wife, Nancy, for almost 37 years) and, feeling sorry for myself, called my travel agent, Connie Burke, and said, “I need to go somewhere and recharge.” Her husband, Leonard Burke, was a past president of Houston Safari Club and they both were avid African hunters. Connie suggested that I go on a full bag safari to Botswana for three weeks. I confessed that was not my concept of recharging, but Connie and Leonard invited me for dinner at their home in Greenway Plaza to see their African trophies and some fascinating pictures. Shortly thereafter, we went to the rifle range—and I was still a helluva shot. So I caved in and went to Botswana in May 1981, the beginning of an extensive and unbelievably expensive 39-year hunting career as, I now call myself, a professional client. I stayed in five different camps and every day was more exhilarating than the one before. I was hooked. Over the next several decades, the safari saga continued in the wilds of Africa for more than 30 safaris—and, in many cases, repeat safaris—in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Ghana, Liberia, Cameroon and Kenya (my first photographic safari in 1975, with a little bit of hunting as well). I eventually discovered there were other parts of the world where one could hunt, and there I have gone. I’ve hunted in England, Spain, Austria, New Zealand, Tajikistan, Turkey, Romania and Mexico, and I’m off to Macedonia in November. Oh, and let me not forget my polar bear in the Northwest Territories. I’ve also done my fair share of hunting in the U.S. I have had the good fortune to hunt many times with my wife, my daughters and several dear friends. My younger daughter, Tracy, who got married this past New Year’s Eve, is an avid hunter, especially in Africa, and she is willing to hunt any place
26 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
on the planet and shoot any animal that I’m willing to pay for— I’m thinking she’s got the better deal! Her husband, Will, is also a hunter and they will be honeymooning in South Africa this April—that I am not paying for! I’ve also had the great pleasure of introducing some people to hunting, and every time I take a newbie for an African safari, their wife always tells me, “Thank you, Gary. Wow, he’ll finally get hunting in Africa out of his system!” My forever response is: “You couldn’t be more wrong.” Here’s the deal I offer to everyone that goes hunting with me in Africa: If you’re not planning your next safari by the third day of the hunt, I’ll pay for your airplane ticket for this safari. I’ve never had to pay up and, no doubt, never will. Shout-outs: The entire Simpson family, who have been my hunting consultants for lo these many years for my trips all over the world. Their guidance has been critical to my hunting success. Connie and Leonard (a blessed memory) Burke, you’ve cost me a small fortune—not only for the dozens of hunts, but then the need to build a house with a major league trophy room. Nonetheless, I love you both. To my many, many professional hunters, exploring the wilds of Africa with your knowledge, assistance and, most importantly, patience has been an irreplaceable experience in my life and I thank you all. Nancy, thank you for sharing so many of my trips and indulging my passion—it would absolutely not be the same without your encouragement and understanding. Finally, I am extremely grateful to Houston Safari Club Foundation for the 2020 Hunter of the Year award and sharing it with my cousin, Jerry Rubenstein, who far deserves this award more than I. Any hunter of any merit would be jealous of his fabulous collection of goats and sheep from around the world. I am proud to be a long-standing lifetime member of the Houston Safari Club Foundation and Safari Club International. Although it seems I have done more than my fair share, I am still not done. In the words of Robert Frost, I have miles to go before I sleep. ★
hat a shocking and wonderful surprise! When I was told by my cousin, Gary Glesby, to wear a tux, I thought I was wearing it in honor of him receiving a hunting award. And when I saw my kids at the event, I thought they were attending in honor of Gary, their cousin. I was absolutely dumbfounded when I was called up to receive an award because that’s just not my style! I am a behind-the-scenes person, not an in-the-spotlight person. Plus, I was always taught by my parents that actions speak louder than words. So, timidly, I accepted the Houston Safari Club Foundation’s 2020 Hunter of the Year award and on behalf of my family, I would like to formally thank you. Animals and hunting have been a big part of my life for more than 60 years and to be honored for something that I love so dearly is quite special to me. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 27
HSCF Outstanding Professional Hunter
Pierre C. Vorster
was born in Kimberley in the Northern Cape of South Africa and grew up on my grandfather’s cattle ranch. From a very young age, I developed a fond love and appreciation for nature and all it means to a boy who loves the outdoors. My father was a keen hunter and showed me the way to hunt ethically and with respect to all animals. I started off hunting rabbits and ground squirrels with my .22 rifle. At about 12 years of age, I shot my first antelope, and from then on I knew that this was something I would want to do when I grew up. After high school, I studied law in Bloemfontein. In 1984, while in college, I had the privilege to do a dangerous game hunt in Botswana for lion and buffalo. This was a safari with friends who introduced me to the wonders not only of the Kalahari and Okavango regions, but also the thrill and excitement of tracking lion on foot. At the time, professional hunting was a field unknown to me, and little did I know as an 18-year-old student that you can follow that as a career and actually make a living from it. During my college years, I met Amanda, whom I later married in 1990. During those years, South Africa still had a compulsory draft so I joined the police force and did my military service in Pretoria. I never practiced law but ended up teaching criminal law at the police academy. During this time, I decided to do a professional hunter course in the then old Northern Transvaal bushveld. Here, I met a professional hunter who came down from Zambia to start a career in South Africa. I was gobsmacked to actually meet a real-life PH who did this for a living. After the
28 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
course, time went by and one day I got a call from this guy offering me an opportunity to chase my dream to become a PH. I was blown away to think that I could actually follow my dreams and do this for a living, so I jumped at the opportunity that was presented to me. I will always be grateful for the late Allan Howard who gave me the opportunity to do and become what I am today. In the course of my 25-year career, I have had the privilege to hunt with some of the most amazing clients one can dream of guiding. I’ve loved every moment of my time guiding and helping hunters achieve their dreams and wish lists in all of what Africa can offer. To start and finish the Big 5 or Dangerous 7 with a client is really an amazing adventure. The countless nights around the campfire, talking about the day’s hunt and planning the next day, and going to bed knowing that tomorrow holds a new challenge and opportunity to be alive and hunting in the dark continent is what life is all about as a PH. I’ve always loved hunting the dangerous and challenging animals, as that is what I truly see as testing your ability as a PH in all aspects of the sport of big game hunting. Taking your time to put the client in the right spot and allowing him to take a shot to ensure a clean and speedy end to the chase is what makes us true professionals in applying our craft to the best of our ability. In the middle stages of my career, I had the misfortune of being severely mauled by a leopard in Botswana. This was a pivotal moment in my career, as it gave me a wake-up call. No matter how careful you are, when man meets nature it is not always an
equal match. I walked away from the incident with a bruised body and was thankful for not having sustained long-term nerve and tissue damage. Needless to say, I was back on the proverbial horse the next year and applied all the lessons learned from that incident to all future hunts. Last year I had the opportunity to achieve my lifelong dream of owning a ranch in Botswana. I am now living the dream of having a wild unspoilt part of the Kalahari I can call home. Lion, leopard and elephant are in abundance, and to provide a sanctuary for these wild creatures is an absolute privilege. I feel my life has made a full circle as I am now where I started 25 years ago, owning a ranch very close to where I was mauled by the leopard several years ago. A word of advice and support to the next generation of clients and professional hunters: Our love for the outdoors and the sport we all hold so dear are under an enormous attack from people who are trying to “protect and save” the wildlife in Africa and the world to the point of collapse. We need to always try to do the right thing while out hunting, be that in the woods of North America, the snow-capped mountains of Canada, chasing the goats and wild sheep of the world or on safari somewhere in my beloved Africa. Be honest with yourself, uphold the ethics we all try to maintain and be a true hunter in every sense of the word. I would like to make use of this opportunity to thank each and every client from the early Houston Safari Club days to the present HSCF who supported me during my career. Doing my
first show at the JW Marriott on Westheimer in the early ’90s as a very intimate gathering of guides, outfitters and professional hunters to the present show it has grown to is a very special journey. I want to single out a couple of people from Houston who meant a great deal to me in my career as a young PH: Dan Duncan, his family and all the support from Enterprise; Ralph and Deb Cunningham; Mike Simpson, his family and Conroe Taxidermy, a word of enormous gratitude to you for the kindness and friendship you provided to me and my family. To my wife Amanda and daughter Megan, you guys were always there for me when I had to pack my bags and ride off to another adventure somewhere in Africa. I missed a great deal of Megan’s life and upbringing, but with a very special and awesome mother and wife in Amanda, she single-parented Megan for a long time and managed to turn her into a beautiful young lady who I am very proud of and love dearly. Amanda, I am eternally grateful to you for standing by me 25-odd years ago when I took a dive into the unknown world of professional hunting. Little did we know that it would lead to achieving this great honor of being called the HSCF Professional Hunter of 2020. I love you both more than words can describe. A warm and very sincere thank you from the bottom of my heart to y’all. Yours in hunting, Pierre C. Vorster SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 29
Conservationist of the Year Tim Richardson
uring my brief award acceptance remarks, my aim was to get on and off the stage quickly yet also remind the audience that President George H. W. Bush’s administration secured $1 billion from Exxon for Alaska coastal habitat protection after the Exxon Valdez spill, and that former Attorney General of Texas and current Governor Greg Abbott obtained more than $1 billion from BP for coastal Texas after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Both lines received applause! What I didn’t have time to explain is why I’ve sought Houston Safari Club Foundation support since the beginning of the Exxon Valdez restoration process in the early
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1990s when Tony Houseman would sign on to letters urging large-scale coastal habitat protection in the oil spill region and especially on Kodiak Island. Houston Safari Club Foundation continues to impact national conservation with Joe Betar recently on the American Wildlife Conservation Partners’ steering committee, and with Ross Melinchuk on the HSCF board. Ross is on a first-name basis with all 50 states’ natural resource agency directors, plus the Canadian provinces and in Mexico, I’m sure. So that is why I was deeply honored to receive HSCF’s first Conservationist of the Year award and look forward to future collaboration with HSCF on important conservation outcomes. ★
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Wild About Wildlife BY MONICA MILLS YWCE Co-Chairman
is early morning, and we have been here since 7:30 am setting up registration and putting on the final touches in anticipation of the first day of the HSCF Hunting Expo and Convention. It’s my first year as co-chairman and I’m a little more than stressed, hoping I remembered to do everything and that I’ve anticipated any problems we might have. I’m trying to fill some pretty big shoes left by David and Susan Kalich, as they did an outstanding job starting and running the YWCE program for many years. Thankfully, I have a great group of volunteers who have stepped up and helped ease some of the stress of wanting to host an event that the students will look forward to every year and go home energized with their new-found knowledge. As our first students arrive, there is a flurry of activity to get them registered and hand out lunch tickets, badges, goodie bags and bandanas. This year, we have expanded the program to two new schools, making an anticipated total of 200 students attending from six area schools, including Deer Park High School, Dr. Kirk Lewis Career & Technical High School, Pasadena Memorial High School, New Caney High School, Baytown High School and Channelview High School. I am touched by how much the teachers care for these students as they shepherd them into the grand ballroom. When it is time to begin, loud chatter gives way to the opening remarks by HSCF executive director Joe Betar. Joe provides a background of the HSCF youth hunting and fishing program and introduces a video from some of the past hunts. Several of the students in the video are in the room, as well as one of the teachers who are instrumental in having such a successful program. Their friends give them a hard time with their newfound celebrity status, but I can tell they’re pleased. After some housekeeping remarks, the students make their way to the first of their three 45-minute workshops. The speakers are professionals and some of the very best in their fields. Many of the volunteers are as interested in attending some of
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the classes as the students. Participants chose from seven topics: Caleb Townley of Conroe Taxidermy leads one of our most popular workshops, the Art of Taxidermy. Students tour the expo floor to see the vast assortment of wildlife being presented, many of which they have never seen nor even heard of. Game wardens Mark Bane and Drew Steward host Texas Wildlife Law Enforcement, always drawing a huge crowd with tons of questions. I listen in and find myself thinking, “Wow, I should have been a game warden!” Wildlife Biology and Management always draws a lot of interest as biologist Gary Rose walks participants around the expo floor while using displays to demonstrate his topic. He also shares his life experiences and puts the vendors on the spot as he draws them in to participate with the students. Briana Nicklow’s Sustainable Hunting: A Conservation Tool works through the Texas Youth Hunting Program with landowners and volunteers to coordinate opportunities for youth to learn about population management of game species, shooting safety and wildlife biology. It is obvious she sparks some interest here with the participants wanting to go hunting, and now they have learned of several options for opportunities. Heidi Rao created her small business North American Outdoors to introduce people to the outdoors. Heidi’s class on Hunting Opportunities for Texas Youth highlights outdoor opportunities like hunting and shooting as well as other ways participants can become involved. Heidi likes to instill the traditions of hunting, shooting, trapping, camping and all things outdoors. Wild about Wildlife provides urban participants some straight talk about the wildlife around them. Tracey Prothro, superintendent of Natural Resource Programs for the City of Baytown, shares facts and fiction about wildlife, including animals in their own backyards. During Texas Brigades, Lauren Brooker, Joe Brooker and Briana Tej speak on a range of summer programs, including Bobwhite Brigade, Buckskin Brigade, Bass Brigade, Waterfowl Brigade, Ranch Brigade and Coastal Brigade. Texas Brigades is a collection of wildlife- and natural resource-focused leadership development programs for youth. Texas Brigades has challenged
them to spread the word about this incredible program, therefore this class is taught by students to students. Everything appears to be going smoothly, only a few lost students in the hallways who need assistance to find their correct classroom. As the final classroom adjourns and they wander into the grand ballroom for lunch, we are ready for closing activities. I have been anticipating this moment for months. I have what I think is a very special treat in store for the students. Tyler Sharp is to give our closing remarks. Mr. Sharp is the CEO and editor-in-chief of Modern Huntsman, a media and publishing company focused on improving the perception of hunting traditions amongst non-hunters. The fact that Tyler was able to clear his busy schedule to spend time with these students shows his commitment to his message and life mission. Tyler is great at telling his story through photography and his eloquently written words and his message is spot-on. I think the students are in a bit of awe as they’re too shy to ask any questions, though he shares his email, Facebook and Instagram account, so I know he’ll gain many new fans who will follow his every movement around the world and listen to his podcasts. As we adjourn and the students are free to wander the exhibition hall for a few hours, I have a bit of time to reflect on the morning. Did everything go perfectly? No, it did not! I was so excited to see who could come up with the most ideas to use a bandana that I forgot to give clear enough instructions for them to understand the contest. Then I forgot to give my list of 102 ways to use a bandana. No worries, I will email it to their amazing teachers to share with them! Were there things
we will do differently next year? Of course, but that is how we grow and get better! I am so grateful to all of the volunteers for their hard work, dedication and willingness to participate. We all believe in the YWCE program. It is about wildlife, conservation and experiences, but it is also about introducing and exposing 200 young people to our love of the outdoors. I believe that by showing them a diversity of volunteers and instructors (young, old, women, men, etc.), they can see themselves where we are someday. We could not do any of this without the teachers and their willingness to take time from their classrooms to expose their students to new environments where they can develop their own ideas, express their feelings, see the world through different viewpoints and expand their horizons. Also, a huge heartfelt thank you to all of the sponsors who supported our YWCE program this year, including MidwayUSA Foundation, Sheryl and Ross Melinchuk, Texas Women on the Wing Quail Forever, Monica and Greg Mills, Surface 2 Surface North Houston/Jim and Vanessa Hock, David and Stacy Fleig, Wulfe Management Services, Shaun Nelson and Eureka Energy Advisors/Carl and Holli Cramm. As we grow this program and expand to more students and schools, it’s imperative that we have financial support! YWCE is dedicated to preserving the future of conservation through youth mentoring programs and education. It is our responsibility to keep the tradition of hunting and conservation alive and instill it in our youth as they are the future, and we need to provide them with opportunity and education so that they make intelligent decisions based on facts they have learned. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 33
5 34 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
2 1: Photo award winner Suzanne Hixson and Photo Award Chairman Bryan Ray 2: Hunters Creek Retrievers championship puppies 3: Hunting Award Chairman Travis Simpson and hunting award winner Viola Bulkley 4: Jerry and Carole Henderson 5: Darrell Kainer and PH of the Year Pierre Vorster 6: Trevor Burrows, Charlotte Burrows, Angie Burrows and Juan McDonald 7: Gary Rose and the 2019 Dan L. Duncan Scholarship recipients 8: 2020 Hunting Award bronzes 9: John and Chrissie Jackson 10: Mike Gilroy, Jared Steinbach, Brock Gilroy and Brian Gilroy 11: Cheryl and Ross Melinchuk
11 SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 35
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PHOTO Awards P H O T O AWA R D S S P O N S O R
Julianne & Mark King
38 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
BEST IN SHOW: Suzanne Hixson
LANDSCAPE WINNER: Terry Rathert
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WINNER: Patricia Power
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 39
WILDLIFE WINNER: Suzanne Hixson
HUNTING WINNER: Meagan McElya
40 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
IPHONE/IPAD/SMARTPHONE | WINNER: MaryAnn Russell
YOUTH | WINNER: Kaylee Stacy SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 41
2020 Honorable M entions
WILDLIFE | HONORABLE MENTION: John Tobin
HUNTING | HONORABLE MENTION: Suzanne Hixson 42 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
LANDSCAPE | HONORABLE MENTION: Terry Rathert
IPHONE/IPAD/SMARTPHONE | HONORABLE MENTION: MaryAnn Russell SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 43
Hunting Awards Whitetail
North America Estate
GOLD: KEVIN COMISKEY
GOLD: MIKE AMBROSE
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK
North America Free Range
EURASIAN BROWN BEAR
GOLD: MARY EDITH STACY RIFLE ESTATE
Alternative Methods GOLD: DALLAS MUNROE
SILVER: DAVID KALICH
GOLD: RUSSELL STACY ROCKY MOUNTAIN MULE DEER
Archery Free Range GOLD: TERRY RATHERT ROCKY MOUNTAIN MULE DEER
SILVER: LLOYD SWIEDOM BLACK BEAR
SILVER: MIKE AMBROSE
BRONZE: AARON BULKLEY KAMCHATKA BROWN BEAR
MEXICAN DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP
BRONZE: CRAIG POWER
GOLD: CHAD GERMAN
ROCKY MOUNTAIN BIGHORN SHEEP
North America Introduced
SOUTHEASTERN SPANISH IBEX
SILVER: DAVID WIEGEL
BRONZE: LLOYD SWIEDOM
GOLD: MARY EDITH STACY
SILVER: JAMES HOCK
GOLD: AARON BULKLEY
BRONZE: BRYAN RAY
SILVER: ANN LAIRD
BRONZE: ROBBIE FAYLE ROOSEVELT ELK
Africa: Plains Game
Texas Farm & Ranch Real Estate
Hunting Ranches • Recreational Properties • Farms Serving All Points of the Texas Land Markets
GOLD: TOM PEDEN COMMON SPRINGBOK
SILVER: DONNA RHOADES ROAN
BRONZE: WESTON SIMPSON KALAHARI SPRINGBOK
Steven J. Bilicek, ALC 281-497-2774 firstname.lastname@example.org
Africa: Dangerous Game GOLD: KEITH RIGGS LION
SILVER: RUSSELL STACY AFRICAN LEOPARD
44 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
Youth Hunting Awards YO U T H 13 & B E LOW
GOLD: Kaylee Stacy Limpopo Bushbuck
Viola Bulkley Sable Antelope
Nolan Anders African Civet
Chase Comiskey Spotted Fallow
Emeric Pepper Japanese Sika
Kendall Ormston Whitetailed Deer
YO U T H ( 14 -1 8)
Forrest Montealegre Whitetailed Deer
BRONZE: Blue Pepper Scimitar Horned Oryx
Trevor Burrows Pronghorn Antelope
Colton Comiskey Whitetailed Deer
Tristan Pepper Red Stag
Barrett Ratliff Whitetailed Deer
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 45
Hunting Award Sponsors Presenting Sponsor Michael & Patravadi Aarvua Ambrose
Stacie & Mark Erickson Stealth Precision Firearms Craig Philips Melanie & John Pepper
Sheila & Jeff Birmingham
Connie & Stephen Coale
Angie & J.D. Burrows
Mitzy & Tony McCorvey
Cheryl & Darrell Kainer
Amy & Kevin Comiskey Youth Hunting Award Sponsor
Carolyn & William Newlin
Cheryl & Kevin Ormston
Deb & Ralph Cunningham Anita & John Colglazier
Tommy & Anna Morrison Sporting International, Inc.
Dan L. Duncan Scholarship Program Sponsors Legacy Sponsors
Deb & Ralph Cunningham
Mackenzie & Rudy Nix
Ann & Randy Fowler
Denise & Brian Welker
Edwin E. Smith
Cokinos Young - Craig Power
Ellen & Hank Bachmann
Connie & Stephen Coale
Mitzy & Tony McCorvey
46 HUNTER'S HORNâ„˘ SPRING 2020
PROUD SPONSOR of ‘This is Africa’
‘The hottest Hunting show on the Pursuit Channel’
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 47
GAZELLE SPONSORS Presenting Sponsor PresentingSponsor:
Platinum Sponsors Conroe Taxidermy Ann & Marc Laird Leah & Tyler Symens Hal Watson Air Conditioning Co.
Gold Sponsors Laurie-Leigh & Trey White Gay Rod Angie & J.D. Burrows Sandra & Byron Sadler
Silver Sponsors MaryAnn & Gerald Russell Ron & Pug Mostyn
Nancy & Gary Ellison Mitzy & Tony McCorvey Sporting International Tommy & Anna Morrison William & Carolyn Newlin Rummel Creek Builders Steve Smith & Suzanne Hixson Christina & Bryan Ray John Bowers - State Farm Insurance Agent The Forrest Group LLC, Gib Surles, CLU
Bronze Sponsors Cindi & John Rulon - Pro Cargo USA Rebecca Booth Diana Cardenas Town Center Automotive
Cheryl & Darrell Kainer Susie & Matt Pyle Julianne & Mark King
48 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
1: Capital Farm Credit supporting the Gazelles 2: Ashley Lachterman, Nathan Preston, Bruce Lachterman and Soly Lachterman 3: Carnival, y’all! 4: Angie and Shaun Nelson 5: Renee Bevirt, Rebekah Boone, Richard Kyzar and Patricia Kyzar 6: Carolyn Newlin, Gay Rod and MaryAnn Russell 7: Gazelles Co-chairs Jody Simpson and Dawn Simpson
7 SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 49
Saturday Night Gala
2 1: Comedian Tom Papa 2: Tom Papa had the entire crowd laughing 3: Gary Duffey, John Rigby & Co. U.S. Sales Manager; JD Burrows, President of HSCF; Terry Hurlburt, 2020 HSCF President’s Rifle auction winner; Simon Barr, CEO/Owner of Tweed Media International; and HSCF/HSC Executive Director Joe Betar 4: Mark King, Dr. Scott Scheinin, Julianne King and Kevin Ormston 5: HSCF President JD Burrows and Aurelia Skipwith, Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 6: Capital Farm Credit 7: Good Manners dog trainer Pete Stewart and Jack Russell terrier 8: Conservationist of the Year Tim Richardson 9: Gary Rose, Ralph Cunningham and Eda Rose 10: President’s Award winner Kevin Ormston and HSCF President JD Burrows
4 50 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
10 SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 51
11: Magnolia NJROTC color guard, led by Master Chief Seymour 12: Gene Human, Robin Human, Terri Smith and David Smith 13: Executive Director Joe Betar and Convention Chairman Trey White 14: Tommy Morrison and Frank Green Award winner Julianne King
13 52 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ SPRING 2020
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 53
A Sportsman’s Voice Is Critical to Combat the Anti-Hunting Agenda Across the Nation
BY JEFF CRANE, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESSIONAL SPORTSMEN’S FOUNDATION
we participate in, and draw attention to, the profound successes that the sportsmen’s community is experiencing within the halls of government, it’s equally important to make passionate sportsmen aware of harmful legislation that is in opposition to our traditions. In 2019 alone, nearly 900 anti-sportsmen bills were introduced at the state level across the U.S. This is a major threat to the sportsmen’s heritage, especially if this number continues to rise. Our unrelenting efforts to keep the sporting heritage thriving are still being challenged, and sportsmen’s rights are slowly being infringed upon. We must celebrate the successes and triumph over the legislative obstacles that can gradually hinder our sporting rights. If the trend continues, these bills, among others, will have large implications in the years to come, as they are chipping away at our hunting heritage. Anti-hunting groups are pushing their agendas, but the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) States Program Team (SPT) continues to rebuke unsound anti-hunting policies that are being proposed across the nation. The western region of the U.S. is wrestling with rules and changes proposed by anti-hunting groups and advanced by public officials who are restricting access to hunting. In November of last year, an anti-hunting group submitted a citizen petition to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to ban the use of all traps. While Colorado voters passed Amendment 14 in 1996 to create significant constitutional restrictions on the use of foothold and body gripping traps, this proposal claims that existing regulations that have allowed the use of cage or box traps since 2006 are unconstitutional. Consistent with the anti-hunting playbook in other states, this organization has vowed to pursue legislative action should the Parks and Wildlife Commission fail to comply with their request. The management of furbearers in Colorado is highly regulated and based on the concept of sustainable harvest. In New Mexico, several changes are being proposed to limit hunting and trapping liberties. Some officials are going as far as to step outside of contractual agreements. In November of last year, New 54 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
Mexico land commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard withdrew more than 200 acres of Rio Grande Bosque state trust land from an agreement with New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), disallowing hunting and trapping from occurring on the land parcel, effective immediately. Commissioner Garcia Richard cited public safety of nearby residences, public complaints about noise associated with firearm discharge, perceptions of interference with educational programs on the property and misplaced concerns about negative effects on wildlife resources in the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge south of Albuquerque as reasons for prohibiting hunting and trapping. NMDGF director Michael Sloane submitted a letter opposing the decision, stating that the “withdrawal of the property during the hunting season is contrary to the terms of the Easement” and requested that the land be reopened immediately. Unfortunately, his request was denied. Additionally, in January of this year, the New Mexico Game and Fish Commission voted to pass changes to state trapping rules and regulations. Trappers and hunters pursuing furbearers are now required to complete a trapper education and species identification course. Set-back distances on public land are now a half-mile from campgrounds, boat launches, trailheads, picnic areas, roadside rest areas and occupied dwellings without written permission; 75 feet from public roads or trails, except on private land; and 150 feet from manmade livestock and wildlife water sources, except on private land. These regulations are in addition to a previous decision that bans recreational cougar trapping throughout the state. In the Midwest, Oklahoma Senate Bill 703 (carried over from the 2019 legislative session) and Nebraska Legislative Bill 863 would both severely limit their state wildlife management agencies’ ability to acquire additional land for public recreation opportunities. Though hunters and anglers use both public and private properties, an agency’s ability to provide access to public lands that are readily available for new sportsmen and women is important for the successful recruitment of hunters and anglers who wish to continue to explore these activities but do not have access to tracts of private lands. This may be especially true for potential participants who reside in urban and suburban areas, a target population for many R3 programs, that have limited or no contact with those who own the private lands. Passing such legislation would effectively deny
landowners, who would be selling or donating their land willingly, the ability to provide these opportunities to those who do not have the luxury of hunting or angling on private property. CSF’s States Program Team members in the Northeast are pushing back on anti-hunting proposals in every state, though presently the states with the most activity are New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. New Hampshire HB 1571 would amend the required qualifications for members of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission, potentially allowing anti-sportsmen to have a seat at the table. The language in HB 1571 calls for the commission to permit “non-consumptive recreational club” representation within its ranks, which would open the door to obstructionist behavior on a regulatory entity with a very narrow focus on rules pertaining to the The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s States Program Team works across the nation to taking of wildlife. protect and advance the interests of sportsmen and women in the halls of government. Also in New Hampshire, HB 1115 would adjust the current discharge distance for a firearm from 300 feet from an occupied dwelling to an astounding 900 32 degrees or above 85 degrees. Dogs have been used to hunt and feet, closing off a significant amount of land to hunters across the track game in Virginia for hundreds of years, and these bills would state. This arbitrary modification to the current law reflects a comresult in many hunters not being able to keep hunting dogs. Hunting mon trend in the Northeast, as the anti-hunting community seeks dogs are conditioned to live outdoors, and hunters often own mulways to restrict access for sportsmen and women. Additionally, New tiple dogs which could not effectively be housed indoors. Hunters Hampshire SB 588 would prohibit sportsmen from organizing, protake great care in providing for the well-being of their dogs, and moting and soliciting participation in “any contest that results in these bills would hinder hunters’ ability to keep and maintain dogs the taking of fur-bearing animals, game animals, migratory game conditioned to hunting outdoors. birds … or any other wildlife, except for fish.” Similar legislation is Perhaps it’s easy to read this and remain somewhat comforted also being discussed in New York and New Jersey. because these issues aren’t relevant to your home state. Maybe you In Vermont, HB 582 would marginalize the history and comassume that other concerned sportsmen will take action, or that the mitment of the state’s hunters and anglers. This bill provides a anti’s will never overcome the long-standing traditions of hunters misguided account of the historic and present role of Vermont’s in this generation. sportsmen and women in conservation, and should be seen as an However, all of these proposed policies create a larger problem for affront to the community’s long-standing commitment to all fish the heritage of hunting. The anti-hunting public has a mission to and wildlife species and their habitat. put an ultimate end to hunting, trapping or shooting in every state. In Virginia, a number of bills have been introduced to restrict Passive assumptions are ammunition for the anti-hunting public to access to firearms and would have negative implications for huntsucceed in the halls of government. With nearly 900 bills introduced ers and recreational shooters. HB 961 would make it unlawful to at the state level last year alone, this trend could continue to grow import, sell, transfer, manufacture, purchase, possess or transport a without the voices of sportsmen and women advocating for their modern sporting rifle, suppressor or magazine with a capacity to heritage. It is a vital duty for constituents who support hunting to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Modern sporting rifle express their concern, as actions that reduce hunting and angling owners as of July 1, 2020, would be required to register their fireopportunities will also directly reduce funding through the American arms with the state. Suppressors, which are regulated under the System of Conservation Funding. National Firearms Act, are important tools for reducing noise to More sportsmen need to pay attention to policy and legislation protect against hearing loss. Modern sporting rifles are a popular being introduced in the government at a state and national level type of firearm used for hunting and shooting sports, and standard and use their voices when they encounter a bill or rule change that capacity magazines are particularly popular among recreational burdens their privileges as a hunter or public land user. Constituents shooters. In addition to placing undue burdens on responsible fireshould encourage their state legislators to oppose anti-hunting legisarm owners, HB 961 would negatively impact conservation funding lation that does not reflect ethical and humane wildlife management, as firearms and ammunition sales provide the lion’s share of conand the ecological, societal and economic benefits that hunting reaps. servation funding for the state’s fish and wildlife agency through If you want to keep up with state-based regulations of your sportthe “user-pays, public-benefits” structure known as the American ing rights, sign up for Tracking the Capitols (TTC), a free service System of Conservation Funding. provided by CSF that sends personalized email alerts about sportsVirginia HB 1552 and SB 272 would impact the ability of sportsmen’s legislation, or contact your regional CSF representative. The men and women to keep dogs for hunting. These bills would redefine Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation States Program Team has “adequate shelter” requirements to prohibit dogs from being tethered representatives in every region working tirelessly to preserve the outdoors between 10 pm and 6 am or if the temperature is below heritage of sportsmen. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 55
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What’s in your wilderness first aid kit? Here are a few ideas if you’re traveling in a remote area. It pays to be prepared when you are traveling. While it is impractical to pack for every single contingency, it is possible to create a first aid kit that takes up minimal space in your travel bag. This preparation may mean the difference between life and death when traveling in a remote location.
START OFF THE SHELF
An easy starting point is to purchase an off-the-shelf product that contains items to treat minor travel illnesses and injuries, including blisters, scrapes and cuts, stomach ailments and orthopedic injuries like ankle sprains. Global Rescue has customized a list of must-have items for an everyday, travel-friendly first aid kit. • Tweezers are perfect for removing splinters, bee stingers or debris (such as glass or dirt) from a wound • About 8 alcohol pads • A dozen Band-Aids • Regular and finger/toe-size blister pads • A few small 2- or 3-inch gauze pads • Superglue works in a pinch for skin tears and is handy for getting a few more miles out of your shoes • There is little you can’t splint or bandage with two well-placed cravats (standard-size triangular bandages) • A sewing kit is TSA-approved for carry-ons if needles and scissors are under 4 inches • Chapstick with SPF can be used as sunscreen for your lips, nose and ears and is also useful on zippers • An EpiPen is especially essential if you or a member of your group have potentially life-threatening allergies
ADD WILDERNESS ITEMS
For trips to a wilderness setting, augment a commercial first aid kit with other items, namely medications and more bandaging materials. “You can buy a commercially available first aid kit, but a lot of 58 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
Contributed by www.globalrescue.com/hscf
times it has only very basic wound care equipment. If you get a bump or scrape, that’s great,” says Jeff Weinstein, medical operations supervisor at Global Rescue. “If you have a more serious situation, you really need to flesh out these kits. Determine how remote you are going and what the resources are around you. Then make your kit specifically for that trip,” he says. “Also determine what your training level is,” says Dave Keaveny, medical operations specialist at Global Rescue. “You don’t want to pack a first aid kit with a bunch of gear that you don’t know how to use.” Global Rescue recommends adding these five items to a commercial first aid kit.
ONE: A TOURNIQUET
“The injury that will kill you the soonest: bleeding out within minutes if you hit the right artery,” says Weinstein, a critical care paramedic with an Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS) certification. “You should always have a commercially available tourniquet with you. Don’t buy the cheap ones. It needs to have some kind of support, some steel in there, called the windlass of the tourniquet.”
TWO: A SPLINT
“Do not walk on a fractured extremity unless it is splinted. That is a really good way to turn a fracture into a life-threatening emergency,” says Weinstein, who recommends purchasing a SAM splint. “It rolls up, it’s in a nice little ball. You can unroll it, fold it in half and you don’t even know it is there.”
THREE: OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICATIONS
Adding a few common medications might prevent a simple illness from ruining your trip. “In a remote place, traveler’s diarrhea or a really bad case of food poisoning can become an emergency,” Weinstein says. “Bring things like ibuprofen to treat headaches and
mild pains, Tylenol for fevers, Imodium and electrolyte packets. You don’t just need to drink water when you are dehydrated; you need to replace your electrolytes.”
For trips to a wilderness setting, augment a commercial first aid kit with items like medication and additional bandaging materials.
Other helpful medications include: • Ondansetron (8mg ODT) is an antiemetic for nausea and vomiting • Cipro (500mg) is the gold standard for traveler’s diarrhea, unless you’re in Southeast Asia (then consider azithromycin) • Doxycycline (100mg) is a multipurpose antibiotic for malaria prophylaxis, tick-borne disease and skin infections • A non-drowsy antihistamine like Zyrtec or Claritin can treat hives, itching, watery eyes, rash, runny nose and sneezing due to allergies or the common cold. They can also be used for motion sickness and anxiety
have their own preferences. I prefer a military-grade lensatic compass,” he says. “The most important part is training with it and making sure you know how to use it.”
Remember: As our Hunter’s Horn summer 2019 article, “Precautions for Traveling with Medicine,” mentioned, check in advance which over-the-counter medications are allowed in your destination country.
FOUR: A COMPASS
Keaveny recommends adding a navigation compass, a map— and the knowledge to use both. Weinstein agrees. “Everyone will
FIVE: DUCT TAPE
Duct tape is handy for any wilderness situation, from boot repairs to splints and tent patches. If you don’t want to carry the whole roll in your backpack, Weinstein suggests unrolling the duct tape, then folding it in on itself to make a smaller rectangle. You can also wrap a length of duct tape around your water bottle or a pencil, and peel off what you need later. Some folks even cut the cardboard roll out of the center and step on it, making the duct tape flat and easier to pack and store. “I always carry duct tape in my kit,” Weinstein says.
THEN VACUUM PACK OR DOUBLE BAG
Wilderness first aid kits can be packed anyway you like—case or bag, zippered pouch or closeable box, soft or hard case—though Weinstein suggests this method: “A trick I learned in wilderness paramedic training is that you take your first aid kit and put it SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 59
Jeff Weinstein (left) and Dave Keaveny (right), medical operations specialists at Global Rescue, sit down to provide valuable insight when assembling your wilderness first aid kit.
in a vacuum-sealed pouch. It shrinks everything and makes it waterproof,” he says. “It also makes it light, small, compact and easily packable.” Says Keaveny: “I didn’t go the vacuum seal route, but I recommend a good double bag. It’s not waterproof, but at least you have a second bag to use if you need it. When you are out in the wilderness, it’s about getting the most out of what you have.”
IMPROVISED EMERGENCY MEDICINE
Maybe you didn’t have time to pack a first aid kit, or you lost the one you brought. Don’t worry. If you’re injured in the wilderness, channel your inner MacGyver by making use of whatever is at hand. This is called improvised emergency medicine and you’d be surprised what you can do with common gear. Broken legs or arms are common for adventure travelers and those extremity injuries are going to need a splint. Weinstein suggests looking for rigid items to support the injury. “Hiking poles make a great structure for a leg splint. Sticks, if they are straight and hard, can be good,” he says of making use of the materials around you. “Improvisations are the name of the game with emergency medicine in the wilderness, whether I am out on my own and come across someone needing help or responding to someone in a medical capacity,” Keaveny says. “The first thing I do is work out of the patient’s bag. Even my 19-liter office backpack has a foam soft frame in it. Anything larger than 30 liters has some sort of foam plus a rigid frame inside. I’ve done numerous splints from backpacks.” If you need a fast solution for an arm injury or shoulder dislocation, Weinstein recommends this improvisational sling: “If you are wearing a t-shirt, pull the arm into your body, grab the bottom of the t-shirt and pull it up over your arm and put a safety pin in it.” Once you’ve improvised a splint, it will need padding. “You don’t want the rigid materials of the splint to rub against the injury and create a problem,” Weinstein says. “You can take the fluff out of a pillow, or use leaves, or tear apart a shirt. Anything to pad 60 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
the structure supports it from making contact with the body.” Keaveny checks backpacks for padding materials. “Take their extra clothes to pad a splint. If they have a puffy in there, use that puffy for splints. There are a lot of commercial products out there, but use what you have,” Keaveny says. Sometimes we think wilderness skills are more applicable if you go to super remote spots, but the reality is that a trip to your local stream—two or three miles off the road—can turn into a backcountry situation. “Don’t think it is only for those folks who are traveling around the world,” Weinstein says. “A situation can pop up with you, or someone you are with, at any time.”
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
When you are really out there and away from society and civilization, remember that you are your first responder. “You don’t want to be found in a situation where the guide or group has a fight-or-flight response—and decides to run instead of responding,” Weinstein says. “You want to make sure you’re trained, or at least have the knowledge to be able to make a difference.” Improvised emergency medicine looks so easy in the movies, but what you see on the silver screen doesn’t always happen in real life. Belts are not tourniquets, bullets should not be dug out with the tip of a knife and CPR is not gentle—it can break ribs. Keaveny and Weinstein recommend practicing your splint, padding and other improvised medicine techniques at home. “I practice with my family all the time,” Weinstein says. “I’ll walk into the room, I’ll throw that tourniquet down and I’ll say, ‘Tourniquet training! You’re shot! Go!’ and my daughter and wife have to apply a tourniquet to their legs. It is important to make sure you are familiar with the skills in that emergency situation.” Adds Keaveny: “It all comes down to practice.” Houston Safari Club Foundation highly recommends purchasing a Global Rescue membership prior to your next trip. Single trip, annual and family options are available. For more information, visit www.info.globalrescue.com/hscf or call 617459-4200 and mention you’re a Houston Safari Club Foundation member. ★
When you travel, anything can happen. When it does, Global Rescue gets you home safely. info.globalrescue.com/hscf
Did you know? 10% of your Global Rescue membership purchase is donated to Houston Safari Club Foundation conservation initiatives.
SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„¢ 61
Above left: Jérôme looks down the sight line during the fitting for the author’s double rifle. Above right: Laurent, the head of the workshop and a master gunsmith, teaches Angelo how to properly install the rib on the .470 Nitro Express rifle.
Visiting L’Atelier Verney-Carron | By M. Arnold
the world of firearms manufacturing, names such as Westley Richards, Holland & Holland, Turnbull and Purdey occupy places of honor. Such is also the case for the St. Etienne-based L’Atelier Verney-Carron. Within a nondescript building in an industrial section of this small French city, L’Atelier’s gunsmiths ply a fast-disappearing art form. The artisans craft exquisite handmade rifles and shotguns tailored for each of their clients. Though these firearms are true works of art, the master gunsmiths do not imagine them as display pieces; the rifles and shotguns are built for hunting. The application of the highest level of gunsmithing artisanship as well as a passion for hunting added to the excitement I felt as I walked into the Verney-Carron workshop. My wife Frances’ and my visit to L’Atelier Verney-Carron came about after a brief, random conversation over breakfast at the 2019 Dallas Safari Club convention with Ken Buch, an importer of L’Atelier Verney-Carron shotguns and rifles as well as Chapuis Armes’ Manurhin revolvers. I mentioned to Ken my interest (as a shooter, hunter and writer) in the Verney-Carron dangerous game caliber, side-by-side rifles. As he headed out the hotel door to catch the bus to the convention, Ken asked me to drop by their booth for a chat with him and Jérôme Lanoue, the director of L’Atelier Verney-Carron. 62 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
To clarify, Verney-Carron includes three divisions: machinemanufactured sporting firearms, security firearms and the handmade sporting rifles and shotguns division known as L’Atelier VerneyCarron. L’Atelier was formed in 2008 to reestablish the tradition of artisanship begun by founder Claude Verney in 1820. It was Claude’s “merger” in 1830 with a member of another French gunsmithing dynasty, Antoinette Carron, that gave rise to the highly respected moniker Verney-Carron. There were many sub-plots for our visit to L’Atelier. The first was to interview Jérôme Lanoue, the master gunsmith and director of L’Atelier Verney-Carron. During the interview in Jérôme’s office-cum-display-cum-fitting-room, one thing became patently clear: Jérôme is the originator and driving force behind the vision that all of the fine rifles and shotguns produced by L’Atelier should be used to hunt game animals. As we sipped espresso, photo after photo was passed around showing Jérôme’s recent hunting trophies; he presented illustrations of his most recent hunts for elephant and Cape buffalo in which he carried his PH-model side-by-side in .700 Nitro Express. He also exhibited with unbridled pride the roe bucks collected in 2019 by his two sons—ages 4 and 9—again using a L’Atelier rifle, but this one in .222 Remington. In fact, though I expected Jérôme to mention elephant, Cape buffalo, chamois or another “more exotic” species as his favorite to hunt, his immediate answer
Above: Every bench within the workshop’s niches, occupied by different artisans, is covered in many hand tools. Below: A second buffalo harvested by Jérôme Lanoue with the beautifully-engraved Verney-Carron .700 N.E.
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Above: Jérôme also used a second .700 N.E. from Verney-Carron to harvest this Mozambique Cape Buffalo (Jérôme shown with PHs Karl Stumfe and Josephus Fourie).
was roe deer. I suppose he is exactly like so many of us in North America who would unequivocally answer whitetail when asked the same question, and maybe kudu by our South African colleagues. The second goal of our visit to the Verney-Carron workshop was to observe and record—in photographs and text—the work of L’Atelier’s artisans. Elsewhere, I have covered in some detail the painstaking work by the master gunsmiths and their apprentices at L’Atelier. All of the work in assembling and adorning the shotguns and rifles is accomplished by hand. While wandering the niches occupied by the artisans, we observed time and again the detailed work that goes into the custom firearms. Whether the initial stages of connecting the barrels of a side-byside rifle or the final sanding of the walnut stocks and forearms, each movement of the gunsmiths’ hands has to be precise. If not, the finished product would be less than the quality demanded—both in terms of beauty and function. For example, we watched the timeconsuming handwork by Angelo, the current apprentice, needed to prepare the rib before its attachment into the barrel assembly of a .475 Nitro Express, side-by-side rifle. After making certain that the exact thickness of lead was present on the rib, Angelo was instructed by Laurent, the head of the workshop, in the painstaking steps to position the rib between the two barrels. This must result in a perfectly horizontal arrangement before soldering, or the close regulation and thus coaccuracy of the two barrels will be impossible to obtain.
After we completed our time with the workshop’s artisans, we moved back into the fitting room where Jérôme measured my dimensions with the aid of various rifles constructed to fit a range of body shapes and sizes. He first showed me how he wanted me to position the rifle on my shoulder and face—specifically with my cheekbone lodged firmly on the top of the comb. He then asked me to close my eyes and bring the stock to my shoulder and cheek. I then opened my eyes to see if the front sight was high, low or perfectly placed into the notch of the rear sight. I need to mention that it became very apparent that, like a master tailor, Jérôme knew beforehand which dimensions would best fit my gestalt. In fact, he referred to me as possessing “the Jérôme” specifications. However, I asked him to go through all of the steps in determining my custom fit, and the last step involved him gently grasping the ends of the double rifle that I had shouldered to view the alignment of my eye with the sights. The fact that I was Jérôme-esque in my measurements made the next phase of the tour much easier. This involved firing Jérôme’s personal, PH-model, Verney-Carron side-by-side chambered to the behemoth .700 Nitro Express. I had never held, let alone fired, a .700 N.E. In fact, the only time I had seen a .700 N.E. was on one of Craig Boddington’s DVDs. I later sent Craig the photos showing the results of my trial with Jérôme’s .700 N.E. Craig responded: “Bill Jones’ .700 almost went vertical on me! Under the heading of ‘never again.’ ” But, that’s getting ahead of the story.
“He explained that he was going to simulate a charge by a Cape buffalo—‘Oh, great. Nothing could go wrong with this,’ I thought.”
64 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
Above: After a practice run–which the author fails by flinching!–a cigar-sized cartridge is dropped into the first barrel. Top right: As instructed, the author fires when the buffalo hesitates. Bottom right: Jérôme tells the author that he should consider the two half-targets as the boss of a Cape buffalo and to aim between the bottom of the targets as it charges.
Jérôme shouldered the 20-pound rifle as we started our journey to the lower level of the building that housed the firing range. When we entered the long tunnel that contained soundproof walls, tracks for the target and a very reinforced backstop, I immediately began to feel the tingle associated with the fight-or-flight response. In other words, my body was asking my brain if I had just committed to another “hold-my-beer-and-watch-this” episode that often ends badly. Jérôme retracted the target from the end of the tunnel until it was positioned close to the firing line. He explained that he was going to simulate a charge by a Cape buffalo—“Oh, great. Nothing could go wrong with this,” I thought. I was to aim level and between the bottom of the halved targets. He would send the target consisting of the top half of two targets to the end of the tunnel and then race them toward my position. I was to shoulder the .700 and then fire as soon as the buffalo hesitated in its charge. I thought to myself, “OK, I can do that!” So, we ran a practice round. Jérôme sent the target to the end of the tunnel, he raced it toward where I was standing, I shouldered the rifle and when the target hesitated I pulled on the empty chamber. The barrel dipped as is expected from a complete newb who has never handled a firearm. I looked around embarrassed, and said, “Oops, I flinched.” Jérôme encouraged me: “Don’t worry, let’s do it for real now.” I slid one of the Montecristo No. 2-sized cartridges into the chamber and closed the action. Again, the target raced to the end of the tunnel away from the firing line. With the merest of pauses, it raced back up the tunnel toward my position. I shouldered the big double once again and when the target paused I tried to concentrate on burying the front sight into the back V. At the report, the muzzle lifted and the recoil carried me back a step. The time-lapse photos see me carried most of the way out of the frame. As I am driven back a step, a 1,000-grain diameter hole appears a bit right from where I was attempting to aim. When I sheepishly pointed out that my shot was wide-right, Jérôme answered, “Your shot went close to where you were aiming and the 1,000-grain bullet received there would have certainly killed the buffalo.” I’ll trust Jérôme, but I still wish the hole had been more to the center. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 65
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THE BIG PICTURE BY GRACE ORELLANA
he future is unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen until it happens. I grew up with Hispanic parents whose only wish was for me to succeed academically, so I was never taught about proper hunting gear and most definitely not how to handle a rifle. My introduction to the world of wildlife conservation was an accident, really. I picked Outdoor Education as an elective class because I thought it would be fun, not knowing how many doors it would open. Through joining the team that branched off of this class, I formed bonds with not only my teammates but also with my coaches—who would later gift me the trip of a lifetime. When Coach Love and Coach Mills called me into their office, my first thought was, “Uh oh, what’d I do?” So when Coach Love revealed he was inviting me and three others— Danali, Timmy and Cameron—to go on a hunting trip, I was shocked. The idea of hunting had never even crossed my mind. He went into detail about everything that it would involve and what this experience would do for my future. Although it seemed interesting, I was still a little wary. I decided to go home, put on my detective glasses and research where we would be hunting: the Patio Ranch. I discovered that Richard Friedrich’s company, Friedrich Refrigeration, suffered during the Great Depression. Instead of releasing his employees, Friedrich opted to employ them and their families to build the main lodge of what is now called the Patio Ranch, the first exotic game ranch in the state. A president of the San Antonio Zoological Society, Friedrich was deeply interested in wildlife, which led him to stock foreign game species—but the story doesn’t end there. It turns out, in 1951, America’s very own World War I fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker bought the ranch to expand it. The ranch went through several hands, ultimately going to H.E. Stumberg and his sons, Louis and Edward, in 1961. To this day, the Patio Ranch is still under the Stumberg line. It now encompasses 1,855 acres and holds 14 exotic species— including the Stumberg sheep, a breed exclusively developed at the Patio Ranch. Through more digging, I found that the Patio
Ranch hosts many hunts, including specialized hunts for veterans, which I found incredibly admirable. With my research done, I decided that I wanted to go on this trip—I just had to convince my parents. When we first went to the gun range, I felt nervous and, admittedly, a little scared. Coach Love told me I would be shooting a .243. At that time, I didn’t know what that looked like, but I went along with it. Three classmates and I lined up at our places. One by one, Coach Love taught us the steps without loading the gun, making sure we were comfortable. Time flew, and before long it was time to actually load the gun. Because I was the last one to start, I would be the last one to shoot. By the time it got to my turn, my heart was racing, and I could feel the blood pounding in my ears. However, I would not let my fear dictate what I could and couldn’t do, so I took a deep breath, relaxed and squeezed the trigger. Surprisingly, the recoil wasn’t painful at all. It felt oddly comforting and somewhat therapeutic. It almost felt like a friendly pat on the back, but on my shoulder. I’d like to say my first shot was perfect, but it wasn’t, and that was okay—I just had to practice more. The second time we went shooting, my classmates and I met up at the Outdoor Education building and waited for Coach to get everything ready. Soon enough, we began the drive to meet David and Susan Kalich of Houston Safari Club Foundation at Carter’s Country. The ride was shorter than I expected. When we arrived, we entered the building with the rifles in the safe position and the bolts open. Coach then led us to meet David and Susan. Now, standing at 5 foot nothing, I was somewhat intimidated since they’re both pretty tall. However, I didn’t want to seem rude—especially since they were among the few that were allowing me to go on this experience—so I took the initiative to be the first to go up to them, shake their hands and introduce myself. Once the introductions were out of the way, we got to our shooting posts, placed the paper on the targets and shot. Throughout the time that we spent together, including the time at the ranch and the dinners, I found that David and
“When we first went to the gun range, I felt nervous and, admittedly, a little scared. Coach Love told me I would be shooting a .243.”
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Grace with her classmates, HSCF sponsors and teacher at the Patio Ranch.
Susan are extremely caring people who express a deep interest in wildlife conservation. They made sure that everything progressed smoothly, and they took on a parental role during the hunt. I will be forever grateful that they had a part in an experience that I will never forget. We left for the Patio Ranch on a cold, rainy morning. The ride there was calming. With the soft, gentle sprinkle of the water droplets on the window, it was easy to be lulled into a dreamless slumber. When I was awake, Coach Love and I played a game of spotting deer by the road—which Coach won since, according to him, I was too distracted. I did notice that the scenery was constantly changing. One minute we would be in the midst of a highway, the next we would be surrounded by buildings, only to later be surrounded by nature. Ever since my childhood, I’ve loved to travel and explore new places, and this drive exposed me to a multitude of new terrains. As we got closer to the ranch, the atmosphere slowly evolved into pure nature. The trees were covered in gorgeous shades of red and highlighted by vibrant shades of orange and yellow. There
were streams and rivers and hills and, in some places, there were rock walls surrounding both sides of the road that made it feel as if I were in a completely different part of the world. But the truly ethereal part was the ranch itself, which contained a stunning lake that shimmered under the sun, and a variety of wildlife, including a ridiculously cute armadillo that was so adorable it should be illegal. As we pulled into the ranch, I was speechless. From the outside, the lodge had a beautiful historic look to it. As soon as we unloaded, one of the guides, Marshall, welcomed us and showed us to the entrance. The inside of the lodge possessed an incredibly cozy and homey atmosphere. A pool table sat in the center, and off to the side, I saw some bar stools with jockey saddles as the actual seats. All of us gathered around the bar and sat on the bar stools. I thought they were a bit uncomfortable, but I later found out that I was sitting on it backwards … oops. Soon, my classmates and I signed some paperwork, and we were told to settle in and get changed into our gear to go on the first hunt. We quickly changed and met up in the main area to be assigned to our guides. Everyone SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 69
loaded into their respective trucks. Our first stop was a small range to make sure we were acquainted with our rifles and knew how to properly shoot. Everything went smoothly, and before I knew it, we split up and went with our guides. My guide, Cody, and I were joined by Sydney, a wildlife conservation enthusiast who was representing the Houston Safari Club Foundation. The ride to our blind was bumpy but interesting, opening a few gates in the process and watching the wildlife as we drove by. We parked a few minutes away from the blind and walked over to it, making sure to make as little noise as possible so that we didn’t startle the animals. Although the walk to the blind was peaceful, I’m not going to lie, there were moments I felt as if an animal was going to pop out and trample me (novice hunter, remember?). But then I really thought about it and realized they probably wouldn’t do that … right? Eventually, we reached the box-shaped blind. I got in, and, being the exact opposite of my name, “Grace,” I tripped on the treacherous first step—a great start, if I do say so myself. The three of us squeezed into the two-person blind and thus began the wait. At first, it was a little boring. I could see no wildlife yet, and in order for them to gather, we had to remain quiet. This meant no talking and no moving. However, after a few minutes, a couple of cute little blackbuck gathered to nibble on the corn that Cody had laid out. As the sun began to set, the sky turned into a pool of crimsons, corals and gradually mixed with a deep lavender. Suddenly, we found a winner—a lovely whitetail buck with a beautiful set of antlers grazing in a sea of blackbuck. After a bit of thought, we decided that I should shoot it. Cody helped me set up the rifle, and I started to track the buck with the scope, but the stubborn little thing would not stop moving. With my heart pounding and my hands shaking, I couldn’t find a good spot, and when I finally found an opportunity and my nerves had calmed, the sky had darkened in a way that couldn’t guarantee an ethical shot. This forced me to make the decision to not shoot the whitetail deer. I told Cody and Sydney of my concerns, and they understood and supported my decision. I still wonder how everything would have gone had I shot the buck, but I don’t regret my choice. We remained at the stand for a little while, but eventually made our way to the truck. The walk back was fun. Being far from the city, the stars shined brightly against the dark sky. Having been stuck in a box for hours together, we were all comfortable with each other and joked all the way back to the truck. Afterwards, I learned that my classmate Cameron had shot a Stumberg ram, which we checked out after the drive. I thought seeing the ram strung up would’ve affected me more than it did, but I guess the endless trips to the Hispanic market helped me tolerate the sight and the smell that emitted from the animal. Throughout the trip, we went on a total of four hunts. Our second one was the next morning, and it was filled with stomach growls—mostly coming from Cody—and laughs, but pretty much
nothing else. On another trip that same afternoon, Danali shot a Stumberg ram, and Timmy shot a whitetail deer, but I had no luck. That night was full of a lot of emotions. Of course I was happy for my classmates, but I couldn’t help but feel terrible. Like I hadn’t just let myself down, but everyone else around me. As we went to check out the animals that Danali and Timmy had shot, my throat closed up, and I felt tears build up in my eyes as they cleaned their animals. I tried my best to stop the tears because I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad, and I didn’t want to ruin the night for Danali and Timmy just because I was being sensitive. A moment when I really felt like I would start crying was when Susan was talking to me and cheering me up. Her words were so kind, and she was so incredibly caring and motherly that it made me want to burst into tears. When talking to Danali, Timmy and Cameron, I tried to use self-deprecating humor as a coping mechanism, but it didn’t work. I learned I would be going on one more hunt the next morning. Unfortunately, that wasn’t eventful either. We had moved to another spot, and, truthfully, I was in-and-out of sleep since there were no animals. And so, we made our way back to the lodge. I felt especially bad for my guide, Cody. I could tell he felt terrible, and I would later come to learn that he and Coach Love spoke about the hunt, and he would express his remorse about everything. So, Cody, if you’re reading this, it’s okay! I want to thank you for being there, and to make sure you know that it’s not your fault—it’s not anyone’s fault! Sometimes, the important thing is the memories made and the experiences shared. Thank you for your guidance; I don’t think you realize how much I appreciate it. On a happier note, the meals we shared at the Patio Ranch were probably the best I’ve ever had and showed me the country culture. The dinners included salads, meatloaf made from the wild game of the ranch, chicken fried steak, crème brûlée, and chocolate cake. Our lunch was Frito pie and hot dogs, but the breakfasts were my favorite. We had the most delicious breakfast tacos and the softest, fluffiest pancakes with fresh fruit and orange juice. I don’t what it was, but the breakfast was like an explosion of flavors in my mouth. Thank you, Robert. Your food was heavenly. Not only was this trip fun, but it also taught me a lot of valuable lessons. Not getting a trophy animal was hard, and it was sad, and it was kind of embarrassing, but it taught me that you don’t always need a physical reward for what you do. This experience has shown me that there’s a completely different way of life outside of my own little bubble. For that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you, David and Susan, for allowing this trip. Thank you, Sydney, for the laughs we shared. Thank you, Robert, for keeping our stomachs happy. Thank you, Daniel, Marshall, and Nathan, for opening the doors of the Patio Ranch to us. Thank you, Cody, for believing in me. Thank you, Coach Love and Coach Mills, for thinking of me and giving me a chance. Finally, thank you, Houston Safari Club Foundation, for opening my eyes to this exciting world. ★
“This experience has shown me that there’s a completely different way of life outside of my own little bubble. For that, I am eternally grateful.”
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1: Ross Harrington and Sarah Cordray 2: Past Presidents Ralph and Deb Cunningham 3: Ed Steadman and his wife with Gisela Houseman and past President Tony Houseman 4: Paul and Peggy Rundle 5: Cecil Hopper, Lloyd Swiedom and Becky Simpson 6: Past Presidents Frank Green and Jack Carter 7: Past Presidents Jerry Henderson and Ray Petty
BACK By Tommy Morrison 3
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The Wild Brunch BY SCOTT LEYSATH
Venison Breakfast Sausage
THERE WAS A TIME WHEN MY WIFE AND I WOULD go out for brunch every Sunday. Our favorite joint was within walking distance and we would show up around noon, eat and drink too much, walk home and take a long nap. Life was simpler then. Our lives werenâ€™t being pulled in several directions and writing off a Sunday afternoon didnâ€™t affect anyone else. Eventually, life got more complicated and we decided that the time spent overindulging could probably be used for doing something more constructive.
Fast forward a few decades and we now prefer to make brunch at home, but it seems we’ll still go out for the standard holiday brunches: Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day … OK, maybe not Father’s Day. Many fathers, myself included, would rather do something besides spend too much money on so-so food and come home for a long nap. The nap sounds good, but I’d be better off resting after a day on the water or in the woods.
Most folks don’t think of adding fish and game to breakfast or lunch dishes, but any domestic protein can be substituted with wild-harvested critters. Breakfast sausage properly made with ground antlered game, feral swine or waterfowl is indistinguishable from storebought sausage. It is important to add enough fatty pork or beef to the grind to balance the leanness of most wild meats. Making breakfast sausage for the first time doesn’t require any special equipment other than perhaps a food processor, and sausage-making kits are available at most outdoor retailers. To make breakfast sausage with game meats, first trim away any gristle, fat or discolored parts. Cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces and pulse in the food processor until the meat is mostly pea-sized. When adding fatty beef or pork, do so when processing or add to the processed game and mix well. Season well with any basic sausage seasoning blend, form into patties and surprise your friends with your tasty homemade sausage.
Smothered Venison with Sweet Potato Fries
VENISON HUEVOS RANCHEROS 4 servings
Huevos Rancheros has always been one of my favorite brunch dishes. A pair of fried eggs sit atop crisp corn tortillas, refried beans, salsa, shredded cheese and fresh cilantro. This version includes spicy ground venison, tomatillo salsa, black beans and queso fresco. Any ground game meat works well with this dish and, as always, I include about 20 percent fatty pork or beef in the grind to add some flavor to lean game meats. You’ll want to loosen your belt a notch or two before getting up from the brunch table. In the tradition of one of the more popular brunch dishes, huevos rancheros, made even better with spicy ground deer, elk or other game meat. • • • • • • • • • • • •
Venison Huevos Rancheros
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil 2 cups ground venison 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, minced 1/3 cup onion, minced Salt and freshly ground black pepper Pinch cumin 1 bell pepper, any color, sliced 2 cups green chile or tomatillo salsa 8 crisp corn tortillas 2 cups warm black beans 8 fried eggs 1 cup queso fresco, or any shredded cheese Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
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Add ground meat and brown evenly. Add jalapeno pepper, onion, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and salsa. Cook until hot. To serve, arrange 2 tortillas on each plate. Top with black beans, ground meat, eggs and cheese.
SMOTHERED VENISON WITH SWEET POTATO FRIES (4 to 6 servings)
I borrowed this recipe from a friend of mine, Stacy Lyn Harris, who’s also a regular contributor to The Sporting Chef TV show on Sportsman Channel. Stacy Lyn is all about sustainable living, cooking fish and game and feeding her husband and seven kids. She’s also a cookbook author, engaging speaker, attorney and believes that topping a meat dish with a fried egg is almost alHollandaise Sauce ways a good thing. This is one of Stacy Lyn’s signature dishes. The combination of crisp sweet potato fries, marinated venison, pan gravy and fried eggs is unbelievably delicious. Sweet Potato Fries • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick fries Heat oil to 325 degrees. Dry sweet potatoes well. Add dried sweet potato fries and fry for 5 minutes. Remove from oil and allow to drain. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Add reserved fried sweet potatoes and fry for 2 to 3 more minutes. Drain on paper towels, season with salt and keep warm. They are best served ASAP. Fry them twice for extra crispiness. The Gravy • 1/4-pound butter • 1/4 cup flour • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken broth • Salt and pepper Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook while whisking for 2 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth and heat while whisking until gravy is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Grilled Venison and Fried Eggs • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed venison. Can be backstrap, sirloin, top or bottom round. Slice into pieces about 1/2-inch thick. • Salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning • Olive or vegetable oil • 4 eggs • Chives or green onions, thinly sliced Cook for 3 minutes on one side, flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Once cooked to desired doneness, slice thinly across the grain. Fry eggs to desired doneness in a little butter. Season with salt and pepper. Most prefer the eggs a little runny. 74 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
For each serving, arrange sweet potato fries on plates or bowls. Top with sliced venison and drizzle gravy over. Place fried egg on venison and garnish with chives.
SALMON EGGS BENEDICT (4 servings)
Eggs Benedict is usually made with a toasted English muffin, Canadian bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise. I prefer to substitute the Canadian bacon with salmon, crab, shrimp or even a crab cake. What you load onto your English muffin is entirely up to you. Besides the hollandaise, making perfectly poached eggs for a large group can be a bit daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. No special equipment or poaching gizmos are required—just a pan of water, a little vinegar and eggs. How the salmon is prepared is a personal choice. This recipe works well with grilled, pan-seared, smoked or cured lox-style salmon. • • • • • • • • •
1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 4 4- to 5-ounce salmon fillets, skin removed Salt and pepper 8 halves toasted and buttered English muffins 8 thin slices tomato 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced 8 warm poached eggs 1 cup warm hollandaise sauce
Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season salmon with salt and pepper and brown on both sides in the skillet until it is just-cooked and not dry and overcooked. To serve, place 2 English muffin halves on each plate. Top with tomato, basil, salmon and 2 poached eggs. Spoon hollandaise over and serve immediately. Easy, No-Fail Blender Hollandaise (about 1 1/2 cups)
Many people shy away from making hollandaise sauce
because they’ve been told it requires a higher degree of skill. When preparing this sauce the usual way, egg yolks, lemon juice and melted butter are vigorously whisked over a doubleboiler until it forms into an emulsified, creamy sauce. Too hot and the eggs will break into something more reminiscent of scrambled eggs. Not hot enough and the sauce will be thin and runny. Fortunately, there is a foolproof way to make hollandaise sauce in just a minute or two. For variety, whisk other ingredients into prepared sauce like minced basil, orange zest or minced jalapeno pepper. • • • •
4 to 5 egg yolks 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 cup butter, melted and hot (microwave until hot and bubbly)
Place egg yolks, mustard and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until well blended. While motor is running, add hot butter a few drops at a time and then increase to a slow, steady stream until all butter is incorporated and sauce is smooth.
Serve at room temperature over hot foods. To heat, place in the microwave for 1 minute on one-half power level. Stop and stir at 30 seconds. If it gets too hot, it will break. Cooled hollandaise can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. How to Poach Eggs Crack eggs into separate bowls or ramekins. That will make it easier to slide them into the hot water. Use a deep skillet so that they are not crowded in the pan. Add at least 3 inches of water and a tablespoon of white vinegar for every quart (approximate) of water. The vinegar helps set the whites. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so that it is just below boiling. Carefully slide eggs into water. Poach until whites are set and yolks are poached to desired doneness, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to drain. NOTE: Eggs can be poached ahead of time and reheated. Once poached, submerge in an ice water bath to cool completely. Store covered in water in the refrigerator. To reheat, bring water to a boil. Turn off heat, add eggs and allow them to warm for 30 to 45 seconds. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 75
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On left: Chad with a beautiful billy taken in a breathtaking location Above: The author and Chad with two super boars
TURKISH DELIGHTS BY TIM HERALD
I led a group of clients on a bezoar ibex hunt in Turkey, and we had an incredible experience. When I got home, I told so many people about it that within a month we had another group planned for December 2019. There were 11 of us that went, thus we had to be scattered into a number of different hunting areas. I would be hunting in an area of Anatolia with a few others, and then I planned to fly further east and hunt the giant wild boars for which the area is famous. My trip started out on a rough note. My rifle arrived in Istanbul, but my bag with clothing and ammunition did not. One of the other guys received his bag but no rifle, and a couple of the other hunters arrived on a delayed flight, so we missed our connection to Anatolia. Honestly, I wasnâ€™t too worried as the hunting had been so good before that time was not a big concern. It also gave us most of the next day to look around Istanbul and eat at one
of my favorite restaurants in the entire world. We stayed in Old Town and went to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia the next morning, and saw some of the ancient sites of Constantinople before eating an incredible late lunch of delicious seafood right on the Sea of Marmara. The octopus and sea bass in Turkey are beyond compare. Later that afternoon, I retrieved my luggage, flew to Antalya and drove into the mountains where I met up with friends Cindy, Dale and Frazier. Cindy had taken a great ibex the day before, and Dale and Frazier had only hunted half a day at that point. The next morning, we were high in the Taurus Mountains, and I must say the terrain was quite a bit steeper than where I had hunted before. I went to an area where Frazier and his guides had seen a nice billy the afternoon before. Within 30 minutes, we spotted a small band of ibex and began a slow move toward them. When we got to about 425 yards, we came to the edge of SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORNâ„˘ 79
a large, deep ravine that stopped our progress, so we glassed for the big billy. He popped up on a huge rock on the far side of the ravine behind a hot female, and quite quickly, Frazier made a fantastic shot, and he had his ibex. I walked back to the truck with the game ranger and Frazier went with the guides over to the ibex. The plan was for us to take the truck up and around the ravine on the ridge, and the team would skin and butcher the ibex and pack it to the top. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the
GREAT GEAR FOR HUNTING
THE MOUNTAINS Hunting the mountains can be very gearintensive, and your choices can often make or break your success and overall experience. For this trip I utilized multiple layers of Kuiu clothing, but my Axis Hybris jacket and pants were my go-to outer layer. Designed for the late season hunter, the Axis line features high-stretch fabric, warm fleece and waterproof panels. I also wore my trusty Kenetrek Everstep boots that I don’t go into the mountains without. They give me great ankle support and with 400 grams of Thinsulate, they keep my feet warm. I chose a .338 Win mag for this hunt because I knew that some of the boars in Turkey can weigh more than 600 pounds. I topped the rifle with a 5x20x50 Trijicon with a green illuminated dot and thin crosshairs. The scope has a custom turret setup for my load, and I can dial it out to 650 yards. The great light-gathering ability of this scope and the illuminated aiming point were key to my success on the difficult shot on my first boar.
I shot hand-loaded 225-grain Cutting Edge Bullets Lazer bullets that, as usual, performed perfectly on both ibex and two massive boars. None of the animals went more than 40 yards after the shot. These bullets do not mushroom, but instead fracture. After 1 to 2 inches of penetration, three large petals will break off and radiate outward in a star pattern, while the base continues through for even deeper penetration. They are devastating. HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
rendezvous point, but it took the other guys more than 6 hours to meet us. It was steep! Dale ended up killing a nice billy at the very bottom of the mountain, and he and his group didn’t make it back to the ridge until just a few minutes before sunset. I glassed a really great ibex across the massive canyon we were hunting, but there was literally no way to get to him. He was 1,000 yards away, but it would have taken two days, plenty of mountaineering gear and a lot more skill than I have to go down and back up the cliffs that separated us. The next morning, we tried the lower end of the canyon about 10 miles from where we had been the day before. We saw a few potential shooters, but they were all on the far side, and again, we couldn’t get there. That afternoon we went back to the general area where Frazier had taken his billy and found another group of ibex. There were probably two dozen animals and three decent looking males. I told the guys I wanted at least an 8-year-old billy. I wasn’t worried too much about horn measurement as I have a 48-incher on the wall from my previous trip. We eventually belly-crawled onto a ledge that overlooked a brushy hillside where the ibex were feeding—they had no idea we were there. We picked out the best billy (about 43-44 inches), and I waited almost 10 minutes for him to give me an open shot. I was prone, rifle on my pack, locked in and I felt rock steady with my target just over 300 yards. I squeezed the trigger and was confident in my shot, until my guide Cenk told me that I flat-missed the ibex. I have never professed to be more than an average shot, and I have missed plenty of animals. But my .338 topped with a Trijicon 5x20 Accupoint scope and shooting hand-loaded CEB Lazer bullets is an absolute tack driver, and I felt as confident in the shot as I have any in the field that I can ever remember. I still have no idea what happened because I absolutely missed. We went to the range on the way back to the lodge, and the rifle and scope were dead-on, so it was 100 percent user error. As I said, I have missed plenty over the years, and it usually doesn’t bother me at all, but this one did. It made things worse that Cindy, Dale and Frazier had left that day to do some sightseeing and begin their trip home, so I was alone at the lodge with nothing to do but beat myself up. The next morning, we hit the mountain, and I had completely lost confidence in myself. We again saw some nice billies on the far side of the canyon, and one looked really good. We took a landmark or two, went back to the truck and made a 1.5-hour drive to the other side. Thankfully, we could drive to the ridge, and when we got to where the guides thought we should be, we headed over the edge. This mountain was as steep as any I have ever been on without being a sheer cliff. We made our way down about 300 yards, peaked over and found the group of ibex below us. I got into position and we waited for the big billy to show up, but after 30 minutes he had not appeared. One of the local guides slipped around the mountain and came back and said that he could see the big guy in some heavy brush with a female, and we should move to have a better shooting angle. We went down another 100 yards, and I set up. I wasn’t nearly as comfortable as I had been on my miss the day before, but you can’t always choose your spot. After 10 minutes, the female stepped out into the open on a big rocky slide area and worked toward some of the other ibex. Momentarily, I saw the billy step out. He was still in the shade of the brush, but he was magnificent with long curving horns and a beautiful blond hide with dark saddle
Left: The author and his 46-inch bezoar ibex Right: Some of the largest boars on earth are found in Turkey
over his shoulders. There was no doubt: This was a big boy and a trophy in anyone’s book. He was standing almost broadside, and I settled the crosshairs and tiny green illuminated aiming point just behind his shoulder and sent the 225 grain CEB Lazer on its way. The ibex showed no sign of being hit, dashed out into the open slide as I looked at Cenk and asked, “Did I miss him too?” Just as he was about to answer, the big billy began to stumble, and then he crashed for good. He hadn’t gone 40 yards. What a relief ! We couldn’t go straight to the downed billy, so we climbed to the ridge, and it was almost straight up. It was about 3 pm, so we had a quick lunch of walnuts, cold meat, cheese and olives, and then after walking a half-mile, we dropped off and headed toward the ibex. The guides tried to get me to stay at the truck, but there was no way I wasn’t going to go down and help recover the prized ibex. The farther down we stumbled and slid, the more I secondguessed my decision. When we finally got to the billy, he was better than I thought (a solid 46.5 inches), and we admired him and struggled to take some photos. The angle was so severe we had to wedge the ibex in place with rocks, and we all slid down while taking the photos. Did I mention this mountain was steep? After skinning and deboning and a solid hour hike, sometimes on hands and knees, we got back to the truck just after dark. That evening, one of the other hunters, Chad, came and stayed at the lodge as he had taken a nice ibex that day on the cliffs right above the Mediterranean. He and I went back to Antalya the next morning, and we walked around the harbor area and sampled food in a number of restaurants, did a bit of shopping and just relaxed. The next morning, we flew to Elazig in the interior of Turkey where friends Serkan Mert and Cemgil Cevahir picked us up and took us to the area where we would hunt giant Eurasian boars. Turkey produces some of the world’s largest wild hogs, and I had been dying to hunt them for years. We went out late afternoon and drove the countryside. I was with Serkan and Chad went with Cemgil. Serkan explained that the population of hogs is so high in the area that the swine regularly come out of the mountains and can be seen at night in the streets of the town where we were staying (a small city of 33,000). Just before dark, we spotted a
group of pigs about 800 yards away on a hillside that had a few openings but was mostly covered in thick oak brush and small trees. We quickly made our way toward them, and the wind was perfect. We were able to use the terrain to hide our approach and then popped up just above the animals. Most of them were in the brush, but a smallish pig was in the open. It was almost dark, but we had a full moon and I had my 50mm objective Trijicon scope. A puff of wind hit the back of my neck, the small pig grunted and ran into the brushy ravine, and then a big boar ran out the far side and up the other side of the hill. Serkan told me to shoot, and I swung on the fleeing pig. In the low light he just looked like a big black blob, so when the green dot in my Trijicon swung just past him, I touched off the .338 Win, and the boar did a backflip and tumbled down the hill. The Lazer bullet hit him square in the shoulder and chilled him on the spot. I absolutely could not believe the size of the boar when we got to him. He was massive and solid end to end. He had good tusks, but it was the huge body and long, shaggy coat that really impressed me. I think he was as big as a couple of the grizzly bears I have shot. It took four of us to drag him downhill to a place where we could get the truck, and loading him was a serious chore. We got a message a little while later that Chad had also connected on a nice boar, so we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep. The next day, we met up with some of Serkan and Cem’s ibex hunters from Texas who had taken great billies with bow, and we took daylight photos and enjoyed a big cookout on the mountain. It was truly one of the highlights of the trip. Different people from different cultures sharing food, hunting stories and camaraderie is what traveling around the world is all about for me. The next evening, I was able to take another nice boar, and that ended the trip. Chad and I departed the next day. Our group was 10 for 11 on ibex, and Chad and I got three great boars. Turkey is a super hunting destination with wonderful and inviting people, great food, lots of history and high game populations. I have been twice now, and I sure hope to be able to visit again in the future. ★ To book a high quality hunt in Turkey or anywhere else worldwide, Tim Herald may be reached at email@example.com. SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 81
LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
A family getaway to Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch By Gayne C. Young The road from Fredericksburg, Texas, to Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch in Bland, Missouri, and back again is littered with the remains of 29 raccoons, 27 deer, eight coyotes, and a host of other dead animals. I know this because my 15-year-old son Barrett kept count during our weeklong Thanksgiving road trip. We made the 14hour one-way journey so that my son would have the opportunity to take one of Oak Creek’s massive whitetails (spoiler alert: he did) over the holidays. Our journey began early on the Saturday before the holiday. We had yet to exit the city limits when Barrett spotted a dead racoon on the road. He morbidly decided then and there that he’d keep track of the dead animals we saw along the way and began keeping a tally. As this kept him off his phone and alert and talking to me, I encouraged the idea. Other ways in which he passed time included eating and drinking two days’ worth of snacks in four hours, poking fun at odd people we encountered at gas stations, complaining that he was out of snacks, napping and giving small towns the once-over at 70 mph and declaring, “Man, I’m glad I don’t live here!” 82 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
Above: Oak Creek Guide Jacob Osborne had the patience of a saint, even when dealing with 15-year-old boys. Below: Hunter Barrett Young with a massive 14 point bruiser of a whitetail.
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Although relatively young, this Oak Creek whitetail is still super impressive.
In Oklahoma, Barrett snickered at how every other billboard seemed to sell a casino or the best place to buy legal marijuana. In Missouri, the billboards promoted the carrying of Narcan in case of a heroin overdose, and the many wonders of the town of Uranus. “Oh my God, dad,” Barrett almost exploded. “We have to stop at the Uranus Fudge Factory.” We didn’t. The last thing I needed to see is someone making fudge in Uranus. The next day we made our final push toward the ranch. Located in the center of the state and just north of the Mark Twain National Forest, Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch is renowned by hunters the world over as the premiere whitetail deer property. We were welcomed by owners Donald and Angi Hill and Barrett’s guide, Jacob Osborne. We unpacked in our five-star accommodations then made our way to the rifle range where Jacob had Barrett put a few shots downrange with his borrowed Remington custom rifle from Apache Rifleworks in Comfort, Texas. Barrett’s shots were true, and Jacob exclaimed that it was time to hit the field. “Now?” Barrett nervously questioned.
“No time like the present,” Jacob said. “Come on, let’s get to it. You never know … you might get lucky.” Barrett and I geared up and hopped in Jacob’s truck ready for the adventure to begin. Although two o’clock in the afternoon and sunny, the temperature was quickly dropping from the day’s high of 60, and a gray sky was on the horizon. The pasture below and before our tower blind was a mixture of ankle-high soft green grasses that held a narrow vein of soybeans and clover. A trio of axis deer ambled from an envelope of darkness at the edge of the hardwoods to our right. The two females edged out into the opening while the elder male scraped the limbs above him with a set of broken antlers. Some 200 yards before us, a line of turkeys that eventually numbered six walked single file from the woods into the narrow stream of a food plot. Barrett and I were watching the birds feed when Jacob motioned to a group of whitetail does to our left. We watched as the harem exited the dark hardwoods and then held our breath after spying the buck that followed.
“Located in the center of the state and just north of the Mark Twain National Forest, Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch is renowned by hunters the world over as the premiere whitetail deer property.”
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Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch abounds with wildlife. Here, a hawk studies the ranch for its next meal.
He was a monster compared to those found in Texas with a bruiser build of more than 200 pounds. He wearily walked into the pasture to feed, then ran in fright from something neither of us in the elevated blind could see. The three of us watched as an even larger buck exited the thick. He was a 14-point beast with a refrigerator neck and a hide crisscrossed in spider web after spider web of scars. Jacob studied him in his binoculars and told Barrett to get into position. Barrett waited until his guide said, “Take him when you’re comfortable.” He put a shot just behind the animal’s shoulder and the impact knocked the animal backward and over. Somehow the buck rebounded and ran into the woods—but not very far. The old fighter was well past his prime; Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch owner Donald Hill put him at well over 6 years old. The buck carried countless scars from fighting, the longest of which ran some 16 inches along his spine. He carried 14 true points, another five that according to Jacob “almost qualified,” and pushed the scales at more than 250 pounds. It was a great—and very surprising—ending to our first day of the hunt. We celebrated with the Oak Creek staff at dinner and listened as Barrett and Jacob each put their spin on the story of the day’s hunt. We listened as the other hunters at the lodge told of their successes and their failures. After dinner, Barrett followed Jacob to the skinning shed for a lesson on caping and to ask about the life of a guide.
The next day Jacob drove us across the 2,500-plus acre property so I could get some pictures of flora and fauna. It was a fun time and we saw an abundance of wildlife. In addition to humongous whitetail after humongous whitetail, we saw gray and red squirrel, owls, one luckyas-hell woodchuck, crows, porcupine and racoon. It was an easy day and Barrett and I were appreciative to have it. We rose the next day at dawn and bid goodbye to Oak Creek. We drove south to Springfield, Missouri, where we paused to visit Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. Created by Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris, the 350,000-square-foot facility holds a 1.5-million-gallon aquarium that boasts 35,000 fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, and a museum featuring taxidermied animals from the world over. Most of these are featured in 4D dioramas that include smell and sound in addition to elaborate landscapes. The museum also features the Boone and Crockett Club’s North American heads and horns collection of big game mounts, Native American artifacts and replicas of Ernest Hemingway’s boat, the Pilar, and Theodore Roosevelt’s woodland cabin. One could spend days in the facility and not see everything, but we were worn out after four hours so we hit the road again. It was on the last leg of our trip home that we decided to make the same pilgrimage the following year—and hopefully the year after that. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 85
AITUTAKI LAGOON RESORT OVERWATER BUNGALOW
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OCEANIA DRIVE Esplanade Travel tailors epic excursions in New Zealand and the Cook Islands
hether it’s your first or fifth time heading to Oceania, planning a few unique experiences is essential. New Zealand is quickly becoming a popular destination, with more travelers heading to the continent each year. Make your trip stand apart with these luxurious, exclusive opportunities. Allow Esplanade to plan a completely bespoke itinerary and open your eyes to the wonder of New Zealand. STOPOVER IN PARADISE
Of course, you could do the 15-plus-hour flight to Auckland on Air New Zealand and have a comfortable trip—though planning a stopover in the little-known but endlessly beautiful Cook Islands is so easy that it’s a wonder they’ve remained such an insider’s gem. Air New Zealand offers a weekly nonstop flight to the Cook Islands on Saturday nights from Los Angeles. You’ll arrive at 6:30 in the morning, so opting for Business Premier or Premium Economy is well worth the expense. Showing up on the island rested and
bright-eyed means you can start vacation right from touchdown: Kayak on the crystal-clear lagoon, sip on your first cocktail or relax poolside at a beautiful resort. Being in the Cooks feels like taking a step back in time in the best way possible. Here, the mesmerizing beauty of Polynesia seems to still be untouched. Take your pick of the Cooks’ 15 islands—all of them are renowned for hospitality, culture and unspoiled natural beauty. Esplanade recommends spending time on Rarotonga or Aitutaki—or both! There’s plenty to explore in Rarotonga, the hub of the SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 87
islands. If you want exquisite beaches and crystal-clear water but don’t want to miss out on restaurants, shopping and culture, this should be your first stop. Get your bearings with a scenic flight. See the inland valleys and plantations, the reef and the drop-off into the deep blue, the emerald green motus (small islets) and turquoise lagoon. Consider staying at the Little Polynesian Resort; romantic, private and luxurious, it’s a perfect way to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Located on the southern tip in the idyllic village of Titikaveka, this resort is stretched across golden sand, fringed by palm trees and offers captivating lagoon views. If you’d rather avoid the hustle and bustle of Rarotonga and get straight into relaxing, we suggest making Aitutaki your destination. The flight takes just 45 minutes and once you arrive, you’ll be in awe of the surrounding lagoon and motu, or uninhabited islands. While you may be tempted to spend your days completely unplanned, beach-hopping from white sand to white sand, make sure to go on the Vaka Cruise, which visits two fantastic remote islets and a snorkeling area where you can feed tropical fish and see giant clams. Relax, enjoy warm tropical waters and be amazed by the tranquility of Aitutaki’s world-famous lagoon. The Vaka Cruise includes a substantial barbecue lunch with freshly caught fish. Take your stopover in the Cooks to the next level by staying in the overwater bungalows at Aitutaki Lagoon Private Island Resort. Drink in the panoramic views of the lagoon from your own personal paradise on your own private island.
GETTING BETWEEN NEW ZEALAND AND THE COOK ISLANDS
INIMITABLE FISHING EXCURSIONS
New Zealand is one of the top destinations in the world for fly fishing. If you’re an angler, you’ll want to head to the North Island. Make sure to book with Esplanade for the most unique, one-of-akind fly-fishing adventures you’ll ever have.
Lake Taupo, North Island
Huka Lodge on the North Island is a favorite. The Taupo region has some of the best fly fishing in the world and is the most popular spot in New Zealand for trout fishing. Taupo works for both experienced and novice anglers as the scenery is beautiful and the Waitahanui, Hinemaiaia and Tongariro rivers offer an exciting challenge. As Huka Lodge likes to say, disappointments are rare. The adventure doesn’t stop there, though. Add something special to your trip by heading out in a helicopter. Competent anglers with adequate fitness can go on a wilderness heli-fishing excursion with helicopter transfers, a picnic lunch and access to the most remote and beautiful streams in the country. On the South Island, Kaikoura offers a plethora of water-based
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EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO DO … BY HELICOPTER
Do you like to hike, visit national parks, fish, ski or do yoga? Now ask yourself: Would you like to do those activities by helicopter? If so, there’s no shortage of special experiences Esplanade can introduce you to.
New Zealand is one of the top destinations in the world for fly fishing. If you’re an angler, you’ll want to head to the North Island.
From the Cooks, you can take several flights a week to Auckland or, on Thursdays, directly to Sydney. As a bonus, Air New Zealand includes the departure tax in the ticket so you aren’t rummaging for cash at the airport. The route can also be done in reverse so that you stop in the Cook Islands on your way home from Auckland. Air New Zealand makes the process simple and painless in either direction.
Kaikoura, South Island
activities. Give your time out on the water a little something extra by adding a marine “safari.” Every whale watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary, from giant sperm whales to fur seals, dusky dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales. Kaikoura often hosts the world’s largest dolphin, the orca, and is home to the world’s smallest and rarest, the Hector’s. There’s no better place to stay in Kaikoura than the tree houses at Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses. Set on a farm at the base of the Seaward Kaikoura mountain range, there’s plenty of rugged coastline along Mangamaunu Bay. Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses offers a place for you to relax in an intimate indoor/outdoor setting after a day of fishing, whale watching and exploring.
Wanaka, South Island
Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Homestead and Eco Sanctuary, a luxurious homestead on the South Island, offers some of the most intriguing helicopter excursions. As the lodge says, “With such an expansive area to yourself, helicopter is the absolute best way to get to know the Mahu Whenua landscape and the nearby regions of Fiordland National Park, Mount Aspiring National Park and Milford Sound.” From Mahu Whenua, you can be lifted by helicopter from the property, along with your guides and e-bikes, and taken deep into the Motatapu valley. Arrive at a back-country hut, strap on your helmet and ride down the mountain amid the spectacular scenery. The chef will provide a picnic to enjoy on the mountain top. Mahu Whenua itself has a lot to offer. It is essentially its own private national park, with 55,000 hectares of pristine, untouched terrain. In complete privacy, the Homestead boasts captivating views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains. Behind the Homestead and stables you’ll discover grand mountains, alpine lakes, meandering rivers and winding valleys. There are endless spaces to unwind: a sprawling farmhouse kitchen, a large open living room with uninterrupted views, a dining room, a library and numerous outdoor areas, which allow you to simply sit and absorb the surroundings, dine outside or lounge poolside.
Lake Taupo, North Island
Huka Lodge, mentioned above for fly-fishing, offers many special heli trips. In addition to heli fly-fishing, go on a wine tour of Hawke’s Bay to visit wineries and have a leisurely lunch before taking the heli home over the Kaimanawa Forest Park and Mohaka River. If you are more into culture than wine, then Huka Lodge can arrange a panoramic flight over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. You’ll enjoy aerial views of many mountains (including Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings!) and finish the trip over Lake Taupo and Huka Falls.
Nelson, South Island
Another bespoke adventure via helicopter awaits in Nelson.
FLY FISHING HUKA LODGE
There are many options here, but two stand out: private heli tours over the national parks and heli yoga. There are many options to visit national parks, but the Wild North West Helicopter Excursion is perhaps the best overview. It comes with a nice perk as well—a gourmet picnic lunch on the wild northwest coast. First, stop at a remote alpine location to enjoy the overwhelming surroundings of Kahurangi National Park, then descend to Westhaven Inlet and track the rugged wild northwest coastline. Land on the beach to explore sand dunes and enjoy a sumptuous picnic lunch and glass of local wine. After lunch, lift off to Farewell Spit and Golden Bay before finally landing at Awaroa Bay in Abel Tasman National Park. A short bush walk through aged manuka forest takes you up-close to the immaculate waters and golden sand beaches that make the Abel Tasman world-famous. Another heli adventure worth considering is to Kahurangi, New Zealand’s second largest national park. Tracking west into the mountains, enjoy a picturesque flight over unspoiled country before landing at a remote alpine location. Descend further northwest to land in the secluded settlement of Puponga, situated at the base of Farewell Spit. Enjoy a spectacular horse-trekking experience that takes climbs above the beach and crosses over the lush green hills of the Puponga Farm Park. This is a great opportunity to explore one of the country’s most beautiful coastal landscapes on horseback. It might seem odd to combine helicopters and yoga, but this new experience brings mindfulness to extraordinary locations, made accessible only by helicopter. Go on a scenic flight through untouched mountains and over rugged coastlines before landing on
a remote mountain top for a private, relaxing session. Continue to a private beach for a peaceful personalized yoga session. Recharge your body, mind and spirit and peacefully reconnect with the natural beauty of the land. While in the Nelson area, staying at Edenhouse Luxury Lodge is a must. As Ksusha Levkovich, director of Asia-Pacific at Esplanade, says, “The food at Edenhouse is absolutely exquisite and the wine is carefully matched to both the meal and your preferences. Peter and Bobbie make you feel like part of their family—between the hospitality and the spectacular property gardens, you’ll never want to leave.” In addition to these amazing heli excursions in Nelson, spend a day biking around vineyards along the Great Taste Trail and make sure to go on a private tour to Abel Tasman National Park.
Fiordland, Glenorchy, South Island
Milford Sound is one of the most iconic spots in New Zealand, but getting an aerial view makes it even more magnificent. This excursion takes you over secluded alpine lakes, lush rainforest, through deep valleys and past rocky mountain peaks. See the grandeur of the Southern Alps up-close as you experience unparalleled views of Milford Sound and iconic Mitre Peak. Land at Milford Sound to experience this wonder from various angles. The route home goes past stunning glacial landscapes, one of which you will get to land on and explore before returning to Queenstown. A few nights at Blanket Bay is the perfect accompaniment to Milford Sound. An ultimate alpine escape, Blanket Bay is on the shores of Lake Wakatipu amidst the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. The estate is part of Wyuna Station, a working SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 89
sheep and cattle farm that’s a 45-minute drive from Queenstown and at the heart of the Southern Lakes region. It provides relaxation and adventure in equal measure and an escape from the hustle and bustle of central Queenstown.
West Coast, South Island
The West Coast region is a weathered stretch of native forested land, lakes, mountains, farmland, wild coastline and the location of Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Whether you stay for a few nights in the West Coast or want to visit for the day from Queenstown, these glaciers are a wonder to see from the air. After ogling the towering ice formations from above, top it off with a snow landing and stand on the ancient ice. For those with a moderate level of fitness, spend a few hours hiking on to the surprisingly undulating ice terrain in the shadow of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps. Equipped with glacier boots and crampons, lose yourself in another world in the mountains. On return, fly over the Tasman Glacier on the eastern side of the Southern Alps and close to Mount Cook/Aoraki.
MAKE YOUR TRIP A HOLE-IN-ONE
A round of golf invites you to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy your surroundings with good company. New Zealand has numerous golf courses—but, for the serious golfer, some are a step above the rest.
Queenstown, South Island
NEW ZEALAND BY THE VINEYARD
Most people enjoy visiting a winery or two, and connoisseurs will happily spend days testing their palates. However, we can offer you an experience a step above the rest with a private, full-day wine tasting tour that goes behind the scenes in various parts of the country. Visit three of Waiheke’s top wine producers and do more than
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Marlborough, South Island
Marlborough Lodge is a luxurious accommodation option with unique touring opportunities. Spend a full day cycling through picturesque vineyards with six to eight tastings along the way. You could also spend a full day with a local winemaker visiting a variety of wineries, learning from their experience and expertise. For something truly special, enjoy a private tasting right at Marlborough Lodge’s Wine Shack. You can request a specific winemaker or give us your wine preferences to be matched with someone who shares your palate. Marlborough Lodge offers elegant, contemporary suites, gourmet local cuisine and 16 acres of beautiful gardens that run into the surrounding vineyards. The skilled and attentive staff round out an extravagant experience. Nestled in the heart of Marlborough’s scenic vineyards, the Lodge is a perfect base to do as much—or as little—as you desire.
Most people enjoy visiting a winery or two, and connoisseurs will happily spend days testing their palates.
Twenty minutes away from Queenstown, Jack’s Point is set amongst the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu. The 18hole, par 72 course has views so beautiful you might get distracted from your swing! If you want to turn the 18 holes at Jack’s Point into 19, test your luck at Over the Top Golf. An experience like no other, you’ll be picked up from your hotel or from the golf course and taken by helicopter to tee off from 4,000 feet above Queenstown. Once you golf on the most remote hole in the entire world, you can’t stay at just any lodge. Eichardt’s Private Hotel offers a premium lakeside location and luxurious suites. From the in-room fireplace to the underfloor heating, a stay at this Queenstown icon is not to be missed. While at Eichardt’s, head to Botswana Butchery for dinner, considered one of the best steakhouses in the country. The stylish restaurant is located in Queenstown’s historic precinct with spectacular lake views and signature roaring log fires inside and out. After dinner, hit the Bunker’s rooftop deck for a cocktail. The discreet exterior of this favorite Queenstown establishment makes it a bit hard to find, but it’s worth the search. A mix of rustic fine dining and cocktail lounge, the Bunker is complete with open log fires and leather couches to keep you comfortable late into the night.
Waiheke, North Island
just taste—meet the winemakers, chef and artists who make this region a top destination worldwide. Experienced, professionally trained guides add to the overall experience and make for a day that is not only relaxing and enjoyable, but educational and interesting for the wine lover. Stay at the Boatshed, a chic, luxury boutique hotel sitting just above the sun-drenched bay and white sandy beaches of Oneroa. The casual yet elegant atmosphere features private designer luxury suites with panoramic ocean views.
Wanaka, South Island
While staying at Mahu Whenua, with its gorgeous scenery and plethora of heli tours, take a day to go on a wine tour of Central Otago. This is the ultimate tour for wine aficionados, encompassing the iconic Gibbston Valley, Bannockburn and Lowburn winemaking regions, a welcome balance to more strenuous excursions.
RED CARPET TREATMENT
Everything mentioned thus far has a tinge of intimacy, exclusivity, and absolute specialness. However, the team at Esplanade has a few more offerings up our sleeves to make your time in New Zealand completely one-of-a-kind.
Marlborough, South Island
While wine tasting in the Marlborough region, stay in the Marlborough Sounds at Bay of Many Coves in their spectacular Kereru Suite. The suite offers a private entry that extends to a secluded spacious spa deck, sheltered beside a Kowhai grove and the tranquility of the native landscape. Suffused throughout with natural light, uncompromisingly generous comfort pervades every corner of the apartment. Spend your mornings gazing across Arthur’s Bay to the mountains of Queen Charlotte Sound, and enjoy quiet evenings stargazing in this truly peaceful location. From Bay of Many Coves, spend a day on a personalized, private gourmet wine and food tour that includes both experiences and education. Stops may include the Seresin Estate, Hans Herzog Estate and even Makana Chocolates. For less of a focus on education and more on enjoying the scenery, choose to go on a Water, Wine, and Wilderness Tour. Start with a 2-hour walk through native forest followed by a morning tea picnic with views over the Marlborough Sounds. Your private
MARLBOROUGH LODGE CYCLING
guide will be sure to have wine for tasting as you take in the vistas. End your day with the Sundowner Cruise, a 2-hour private charter featuring fresh local seafood and produce accompanied by Marlborough sauvignon blanc. Cruise out from Picton into the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound aboard a luxury launch for this unwinding pre-dinner cruise, the perfect end to your day in Marlborough.
Nelson, South Island
One of the trademarks of Esplanade Travel is fully customizing your tours to your interests. In Abel Tasman National Park in Nelson, one of our favorite excursions is for those who want to be more active and see the area by water—both by kayak and by cruise. In order to see the most diverse sea and landscapes, walk from Torrent Bay to Bark Bay through beautiful forest alive with birds. Take your time, as there are breathtaking views along the way. Enjoy lunch on a golden sand beach before hopping into kayaks and exploring lagoons, rock gardens and islands with an eye out for fur seals, dolphins, penguins and stingrays. Kayak back to anchorage where you’ll meet a water taxi for a final cruise to round out the day.
Queenstown, South Island
Take some time to be truly pampered at the Onsen Hot Pools. It can be hard to get a reservation, so be sure to plan ahead with Esplanade to get a soak time. Onsen Hot Pools is located high on a cliffside overlooking the magnificent Shotover River canyon, providing stunning views of alpine scenery. Each private pool can comfortably accommodate up to four adults and a soak is a great way to relax and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings. In addition
to cedar hot tub access, you’ll receive a drink and snack. There are many options for your soak, but Esplanade recommends booking after sunset, when the pools are lit by Japanese lanterns and starlight. Arrive early to enjoy the views from the sundeck before a romantic and serene evening at Onsen Hot Pools.
TIME TO GO!
New Zealand and the Cook Islands offer so many opportunities to customize your trip and take it from ordinary to extraordinary. Don’t face the stress of creating the perfect trip alone—contact Esplanade Travel and work with an experienced travel consultant. Esplanade Travel focuses on international luxury travel; unique custom-designed trips have been our trademark for 60 years. Our staff has collectively traveled to more than 150 countries, and we sell the destinations we know the best and love the most! Our primary destinations include Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, Italy, France, South America, India, United Arab Emirates and the islands of the South Pacific. ★
ESPLANADE TRAVEL 800-628-4893 | esplanadetravel.com firstname.lastname@example.org Instagram: @esplanadetravel Jacky Keith, President Jkeith@esplanadetravel.com SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 91
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Include HSCF or HSC in Your Estate Plans Supporting the future of conservation and Houston Safari Club Foundation (HSCF) or Houston Safari Club (HSC) as part of your legacy is a thoughtful and meaningful way to preserve the future of sport hunting. There are several giving options available to you!
Your commitment helps ensure your legacy to protect the future of hunting. hscfdn.org/legacy-program-hscfdn Contact Joe Betar at 832.841.0022 or email@example.com to learn more!
Get To Know Me!
5 Minutes With HSCF Member Chad Germann
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A MEMBER OF HSCF?
WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN HSCF?
I have always enjoyed hunting and the outdoors and wanted to learn more about hunting in Africa and other international destinations.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT BEING AN HSCF MEMBER?
I really enjoy the monthly meetings, especially when we have a hunting celebrity or outfitter that speaks.
WHAT IS OR WAS YOUR CAREER FIELD?
Medical device sales for Medtronic.
PREFERRED HUNTING WEAPON — RIFLE, SHOTGUN OR BOW? Rifle. WHAT IS THE ONE ITEM YOU WOULD HAVE IF YOU WERE SHIPWRECKED ON AN ISLAND?
A girl! If that doesn’t count as an item, then I guess a fishing pole.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST CHALLENGING HUNTING EXPERIENCE?
A bezoar Ibex hunt in Turkey. We had a 6-hour hike on the first day to our base camp. We slept in caves for six nights and had hours of up-and-down hiking each day.
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OF ALL THE SPECIES YOU HAVE HUNTED, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?
Cape buffalo. I love the fun of tracking and trying to get close for a shot, along with the potential danger of it.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?
Anything ethnic—Pakistani, Sichuan, Ethiopian and Korean are my favorites.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF? Study harder in college and don’t take things for granted. The harder you work in those early years can make the rest of your life much easier.
Meet Peter and Stephen Tam of Tam Safaris
WHAT IS THE PRIMARY AREA AND GAME FOR WHICH YOU GUIDE?
Eastern Cape of South Africa. We hunt more than 50,000 acres of family-owned wilderness. We offer dangerous game hunts along with a multitude of plains game species.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE A CAREER AS A PROFESSIONAL HUNTER?
Growing up in this wilderness instilled a love for the outdoors and from an early age, we learned to hunt and fell in love with it.
tremendous stopping power. For clients on a dangerous game hunt, we mostly suggest .375 H&H.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT HUNTING?
Spending time with family and friends is important and we try to make up for the lost time. As for the rest, most of our attention is focused on marketing and preparing for the following season. Repairs and maintenance of our facilities and vehicles and tending to the land keep us pretty busy.
WHAT HAS DANGEROUS GAME HUNTING TAUGHT YOU?
Always be aware of your surroundings and never get complacent.
WHAT DO YOU WANT A FIRSTTIME CLIENT TO KNOW BEFORE HUNTING WITH YOU?
It’s hard to describe or to tell any hunter what to know or to expect prior to coming. Africa is a place one has to experience first-hand and you’ll acquire the knowledge shared by your PH during the hunt.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING HUNTING AND HUNTERS TODAY?
Regulations set forth by the government both locally and internationally, along with the increasing pressure from anti-hunting lobbyists.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HUNTING WEAPON AND/OR CALIBER?
Our backup of choice is .470 NE as it offers
E M EMBER
African game meat prepared over coals, or a braai as we call it back home.
WHY DO YOU HUNT?
We hunt because we have a love for nature, a passion and a responsibility toward the animals to which we are stewards. Through hunting, we are able to conserve the wildlife we have sworn to protect.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU COULD NOT DO YOUR JOB WITHOUT?
Our expert group of support staff, trackers, skinners and our entire team.
Peter & Stephen Tam TAM SAFARIS
Peter: +27 82 412 6766 Stephen: +27 155 0570 firstname.lastname@example.org www.tamsafaris.com SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 95
The First Time, Not the Last BY JOE BETAR
THERE ARE JUST SOME PLACES UNLIKE ANY OTHER you have ever experienced. A destination that becomes part of your being, a place that takes you away and instills a sense of peace and wonder. New Zealand proved to be one of those places for my wife, Charlotte, and me. We headed across the world in May on a trip that was a birthday present to me from Charlotte. Our destination would lead us to connect with our friends Paul and Chrissie Bamber of Wanganui Safaris. With this trip being our first in the country, we really had no idea how to optimize our time, but we knew we wanted to see as much of the two islands as possible. Chrissie was kind enough to make recommendations for places to stay and how long to stay in various locations; this proved to be a tremendous help. Also lucky for us, Air New Zealand flies direct from Houston, Texas, to Auckland. From there, we took a short hopper to Wanganui where we were greeted by Paul. After a quick, delicious lunch in town and a stop to pick up a few supplies, we headed out to Paulâ€™s place. The drive there was incredible as we talked about the latest events, what to expect over the next few days and encountered many animals and flora we had never seen before. 96 HUNTER'S HORNâ„˘ SPRING 2020
Paragliding over Queenstown, New Zealand affords a completely different view of the city and the surrounding incredible landscapes.
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Above: Consuming the breathtaking views in places only reachable by helicopter. Right: Charlotte and our expert pilot Toby Wallis, of Alpine Helicopters, take in the views as we fly into the mountains of the Southern Alps and the world famous Mt. Aspiring National Park.
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On the North Island, Wanganui Safaris is set in New Zealand’s predecessors. We would connect with each other every night, spectacular, remote Whanganui River valley, surrounded by sharing the day’s adventures. 250,000 acres of lush forest and breathtaking views of the Knowing my time at Wanganui was running out, I approached Ruapehu volcano. This land has been in Paul’s family for five Paul during dinner one evening. I expressed my concern that generations. He is part of the land and it is part of him. I was not going to get the job done with a bow and perhaps When we arrived, we were greeted by Paul’s should move to the rifle. Without hesitation, staff. Soon after, we were shown to our quarters he looked at me and said, “You came all this “Wanganui Safaris is way to shoot a stag with a bow and we are and immediately noticed the scenery from our set in New Zealand’s going to get it done for you.” Enough said. back door—simply amazing. We stored our gear and were given the lay of the land by Paul With a renewed confidence, I headed out spectacular, remote and his team. Over the next four days, I was to the next morning. No close shot opportuWhanganui River be in pursuit of a red stag, to be taken by my nity presented itself, so we headed back for valley, surrounded preferred method of hunting, stick and string. lunch to set our afternoon strategy. Later, we Paul has a stable of local guides who know the repositioned ourselves into a valley we had by 250,000 acres countryside like the back of their hands, and yet to hunt. As we walked and glassed, my of lush forest and he offers hunting opportunities for animals of guide, Angus, spotted two bulls. We dropped breathtaking views of to a bear crawl position and eased our way any preference, including sika, fallow, Arapawa sheep, goats and wild boar. the Ruapehu volcano.” across a ridge for a closer look. Both were That same afternoon, we set out on our first shooters, he whispered. Slowly, we crawled trek in pursuit of stag. I changed clothes excitto a more comfortable distance. The bulls beedly, not really knowing what to expect. With my bow unpacked came spooked and curious. They began to traverse up and down and broadheads applied, I turned my attention to supplemental the hillside, struggling to identify us and our movement as we items. Wanting to be sure I had the necessary gear, I rechecked crept toward them. my day pack, grabbed some cheese and fruit from the dining area and took to the field. We took off across the countryside, my mind and eyes consuming its beauty, wondering if I would be up to the task should a shot opportunity present itself. We saw several animals but none in range of my bow. As light faded, we headed back to the lodge for the evening meal and liquid refreshments, as well as conversation of the day’s hunt. Each night, we enjoyed gourmet meals, New Zealand wines and superb lodge accommodations. I found it fantastic that each day Paul wanted to recap the events, the experience and the satisfaction of his clients. He would repeatedly ask if we were having a good time, if we were pleased with our guide and so forth. I found Paul’s attention to detail and his desire to provide an optimal experience to be very satisfying. Over the next three days we covered various types of terrain under varying weather conditions. Some days we took to the lower valleys and flatlands. Other days we climbed mountains and hills of varying steepness and difficulty. It was a true pursuit and adventure. We stopped and glassed several valleys and hillsides throughout the day. Some days were sunny with a soft breeze rising from the valleys and some were shrouded with menacing clouds and intermittent rains that made traversing higher elevations a challenge in the softened earth. We spotted several magnificent animals but could not get close enough for an opportunity with the bow. Charlotte spent the days with Chrissie, touring the property, helping manage their domestic goat herd or beehives and embarking on excursions into the surrounding small villages. From Chrissie, she was able to learn of some of the Above: Charlotte and I with my beautiful tahr, shadowed by the backdrop of the beautiful southern Alps. local history of the land’s people and of Paul’s SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 99
Above: Success! A tremendous red stag, taken by bow, after 4 days of scaling the elevations of Wanganui! It meant so much more to have my best friend with me! Below: Fur seals, within arms reach, on the coast of the Tasmin Sea.
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Above: Small, quick and ever so agile, this chamois completed my New Zealand slam. Right: Charlotte has her hands full with fresh lobster from the Tasman Sea!
Finally, one bull had enough and took out across the valley. The on a north face of the Southern Alps. Later that afternoon, we second stag, however, let his curiosity get the best of him. He crept took a good chamois. back to the top of the ridge to take a closer look at us. By this We spent a second day with Toby and Alpine Heli and were time, we were within 45 yards. As I moved into position, kneelable to see more than if we had driven by car for two weeks. We ing on one knee, I was able to go to full draw and let my arrow took in the sights of Fiordland, Milford Sound, the Southern fly. The shot found its mark with a complete pass through shot. Alps and the Tasman Sea, where we checked Toby’s lobster The stag bolted along the ridge and fell about another 50 yards traps and stood within inches from a large seal colony. We away. We were fortunate that he did not decide to run into the hovered next to waterfalls, dipped into hidden forests, walked steep valley, a direction that would have surely on glaciers and more. The day culminated meant a pack trip late into the evening. Angus when we landed in a rainforest and set up a “We spent a second and I cheered at our success and the animal’s late lunch next to a stream. It was an incredday with Toby and decision not to run down the steep slope. ible meal of lobster just pulled from the sea, After briefly stopping to admire the incredAlpine Heli and were fresh New Zealand lamb, wine, cheese and ible stag, we called back to the lodge by radio It was an incredible day to say the very able to see more than more. and, within a few minutes, Charlotte arrived to least. Later that evening, as we sat on the balif we had driven by share in the joy of the experience. After taking cony of our apartment overlooking Wanaka, photos and field dressing the stag, we headed Charlotte said it was one of the best days she car for two weeks ... back to the lodge for the evening meal to celhad ever experienced. We hovered next to ebrate the hunt with Paul, Chrissie and the rest Our final night in New Zealand was spent waterfalls, dipped into overlooking the harbor in Auckland, watchof his team. The next day was to be our last at hidden forests, walked ing the sunset and the night lights of the city Wanganui. I was able to take an Arapawa sheep with my bow that afternoon—a bonus to our on glaciers and more.” come to life as ferries moved locals from work stay. We reminisced about our time there over to home or out for an evening of fun. New our last meal at the lodge. Zealand gave us so much more than we could The next day, we began the next stage of our adventure. Paul have ever imagined. Even though we struggled to understand helped arrange our itinerary to round out our experience and the rules, we became fans of New Zealand rugby, especially the see various places on the South Island. We took in the flavors, All Blacks team. We fell in love with the delicacy of Bluff oyssights and sounds of Queenstown, Christchurch and Wanaka, ters, the most prized of all mollusks, from the ice-cold Foveaux where we spent a few days with our buddy Toby Wallis of Alpine Strait. The wine country was everything we expected, and the Helicopters. Day one was spent in successful pursuit of tahr and treasures of the country’s beauty and its people enhanced our chamois, as a recent snowfall pushed the animals into the rut. I abiding love for adventure and the outdoors. We will never forget have always had a love of tahr and was able to take a great animal New Zealand and someday will return to its welcoming arms. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 101
POWDERHORN FOREVERMORE BY TYLER SHARP
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MY HOME STATE OF TEXAS, THERE are few who have done more to fund conservation and the protection of wildlife, habitat and natural resources than the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF). As the official nonprofit partner of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD, or “the Department”)—the state agency that conserves land and water resources and provides outdoor recreation opportunities—the Foundation has since 1991 raised more than $190 million in private funds to support the Department and other conservation partners. These dollars have been applied to myriad projects across the state, and TPWF’s commitment to fundraising has created collaborative partnerships that have produced some of the most successful and diverse wildlife and habitat management programs in the United States. It is a true conservation story with many chapters. Less than 3 percent of Texas is accessible to the public. In partnership with the Department, TPWF seeks to improve that number by increasing access to wild places, and provide more hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities in the state. One of the most exemplary projects to date is the Powderhorn Ranch, situated about 110 miles southwest of Houston on the coast. In the past few years, TPWF has raised nearly $50 million to acquire, restore and help manage this 17,351-acre piece of land—one of the last contiguous pieces of native coastal prairie left in Texas. A large landscape-scale management and infrastructure development plan was created in collaboration with the Department, and in October 2018, 16,000 of those acres were endowed to the state as a publicly accessible wildlife management area. Unique to the region, Powderhorn Ranch represents one of the most critically threatened habitats in the state. A haven for songbirds, migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, it also acts as a filter for the bays and estuaries. Additionally, it is a proven wintering ground for one of the world’s famed but endangered bird species: the whooping crane. Where much of the Texas coast has been heavily altered through commercial, residential and agricultural development, Powderhorn is a vitally important ecosystem that exemplifies the best in biodiversity that this coastal region has to offer. Largely thanks to TPWF, it is now conserved in perpetuity. “We are so proud to have been able to play a significant role in making Powderhorn a reality, and it’s a great example of our strategy to partner with other organizations to achieve long-term conservation goals. We worked with the Nature Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Conservation Fund on this project, and it exemplifies the impact of public/private partnerships in conservation,” Susan Houston, the executive director of TPWF, told me during a recent catch-up. I’ve had the privilege of working with Susan and her team over the past few years, and have observed this project in various phases. Their vision for conservation in Texas is a remarkable one, and it is encouraging to see this project come to life and set the stage for a legacy of conservation and wildlife management. Hearing about it is one thing, but you really have to see Powderhorn for yourself to appreciate the ecosystem’s intricate beauty. To increase awareness and communicate the complexities of this project, TPWF invited a group of us to visit this past fall, conveniently timed with the opening day of teal season.
I was joined by JT Van Zandt, a famed fly fisherman and son of legendary Texas singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt, Phil Lamb and Josh McKee of Stewards of the Wild—a TPWFsponsored group of young professionals promoting conservation and the outdoors in Texas—and Colonel Grahame Jones, the director of law enforcement who oversees the 550 game wardens serving in the state. Arriving at the gates in a deluge of coastal rain, we were met by Gene McCarty, TPWF’s property and project manager for Powderhorn. He’s the man behind the restoration and management success of the project, having overseen it through the transition from private land to wildlife management area, and is the best person to communicate the significance of the property. “Powderhorn is a really unique property because it’s about as pristine as you can get in Texas with the fundamentals of the landscape and ecology still intact. With this as a classroom, you can do a lot of education on landscape scale management,” Gene told us in the matter-of-fact manner of someone with a long and storied career in fisheries and wildlife biology. In the first few hours, we drove around chasing a slowly sinking South Texas sun, and Gene showed us the ropes. “While the SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 103
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ecosystem was mostly pristine to begin with, there was a lot of work that needed to be done to develop infrastructure, improve certain aspects of the habitat and increase public access readiness prior to handing it over to the Department.” Gene pointed out how they had applied prescribed burning techniques to 8,000 or so acres to control running live oak—a thick, woody underbush that allows for little biodiversity and makes access nearly impossible, especially for hunting—and promote the recovery of native coastal grasslands. They also applied herbicide and prescribed burns to an additional 3,800 acres to create more open areas, and installed 7.5 miles of interior fence to allow for rotational grazing of cattle to aid habitat restoration. That management plan, created in conjunction with the Department, is working. The native habitat and wildlife are thriving. Apart from the abundance of bird life, we saw whitetail, axis and sambar deer, feral hog and quail, as well as amphibians and reptiles like the American alligator throughout the 200 or so freshwater pothole wetlands that pepper the area. Gene took great care in explaining the details of their management strategy, and while it seemed like a staggering amount of work to get it ready for the Department to take over, the transition was successful. Though our visit was before public hunting officially opened on Powderhorn, there are a number of hunting opportunities available through its designation as a wildlife management area. Apart from learning about the significance of Powderhorn, we were also there for the opener of teal season, and only had a short drive to some amazing waterfowl habitat. Packing up long before dawn, we headed to an adjacent inlet, where 17 inches of rain had flooded crop fields and was tempting ducks to descend from the flyway. It isn’t every day that you get to hunt with the Colonel Game Warden, and as he demonstrated his shotgunning prowess by routinely beating JT and me on the wing, I got a chance to hear more about his personal philosophy on hunting and conservation. “I love to hunt and fish, and take every opportunity that I can to get into the field and participate in the system of support created by the purchase of licenses and duck stamps. A lot of people don’t realize that the funds created from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses are what rebuilt our wildlife and fishery populations,” Grahame told me in a whisper between the dive-bombing buzz of teals overhead. “We want more people to enjoy the outdoors, whether it’s through hunting, fishing, boating or hiking, and I try to convey that to my team. People never forget the first time they get checked by a game warden, and I think it’s really important that we’re as friendly and welcoming as possible, because we’re ambassadors of the outdoors and wildlife. Of course there are situations where good people make mistakes and we have to write citations, but the important thing is that we explain why it’s necessary for conservation—why they shouldn’t have an undersized speckled sea trout or redfish, because it negatively affects the populations.” Grahame is ardently dedicated to conservation, and when I asked him what it meant to have the support of TPWF, he took a deep breath, collected his thoughts and replied in an emotionally tinged tone of gratitude. “I’m not aware of an organization that supports Texas game wardens more than the Foundation, and I just could not be more thankful for their efforts to champion us, the Department and all of the people who hunt and fish in this state. Apart from the fundraising, they are such a strong voice, and just to know that they’re always there to support our mission, I’ve just got no words for that.” As we cleaned our ducks and prepared them for the freezer, the same sentiment was shared by JT Van Zandt, a member of TPWD’s Saltwater Fishing Advisory Board and ambassador for TPWF’s We
Will Not Be Tamed (WWNBT) campaign, which aims to raise awareness and encourage more Texans to get outdoors and involved in conserving wild things and places. “As a professional fly-fishing guide, my livelihood depends on the health of our coastal fisheries. The fact that TPWF gives guys like me a voice to promote sustainable fishing practices and respect toward our precious resources is incredible. Conservation starts with awareness, and the way that WWNBT is engaging with new audiences is really encouraging. That and the fact that they’re preserving habitat and improving public access with places like Powderhorn really gives me hope for the future of conservation. This is a truly special organization, and I’m honored to be a part of this campaign,” JT beamed as we sat on the screen porch in rocking chairs, overlooking the night sky in Matagorda Bay. Pausing in conversation, we could see a sambar stag wading into the shallows, the moonlight glimmering off his antlers as he attempted to drown the ticks on his undercoat in the ebbing salt tide. While Powderhorn Ranch is certainly a success story, it is only the beginning of a replicable model that will serve Texas for generations to come. According to executive director Susan Houston, their efforts are now focused on the Big Bend region, where there are three million acres of federally and state-protected land that is some of the most rugged, diverse and beautiful terrain in North America. “We have the opportunity to conserve the last remaining piece of pristine acreage connecting Big Bend National Park with the Black Gap wildlife management area. It’s 16,000 acres of incredible habitat along the Rio Grande River, and is home to desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, black bear and mountain “ While lion. The estimated purchase price Powderhorn is $8 million, and we’ve committed Ranch is certainly to raising $2 million. It may seem like a lot of money, but 60 percent a success story, of the donations for the Balmorhea it is only the project were less than $100, and were beginning of mostly from people who just cared a replicable to see that beautiful place preserved. We’re hoping to see the same success model that will with the Black Gap project,” Susan serve Texas for told me with an optimism backed generations by a track record of fundraising to come.” success and a vast network of dedicated conservationists. We can contribute to that success, and we should. A major part of starting Modern Huntsman was so that I could help people like Susan, Grahame and Texas Parks and Wildlife share their stories with more people from diverse backgrounds and have a shot at raising awareness, inspiring change and actually saving something when many things are disappearing. Lofty? Sure. Worth an effort? Absolutely, with everything I’ve got. Especially if it’s for friends and a cause I believe in, like TPWF. Texans are pretty proud as it is, but it makes me a hell of a lot prouder to know that the future of our wildlife and wild places is being looked after by an organization like the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation. And given the lasting legacy that projects like Powderhorn and Black Gap will leave, it’s likely that our grandchildren will feel the same way. ★ For more information on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, or to learn how to donate and become more involved in conservation in the state of Texas, make sure to visit www.tpwf.org. SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 105
CONSERVATION Exxon Valdez Restoration at 30 BY TIM RICHARDSON, WILDLIFE FOREVER GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS LIAISON
late-night news blip from Alaska about a tanker accident on Good Friday, March 24, 1989, was how the saga of a massive oil spill disaster began. During that weekend the media reported that the supertanker was named the Exxon Valdez and Joe Hazelwood was its drunken skipper. Soon, Americans became riveted by a “tragedy in slow motion” as 11 millions of gallons of crude oil flowed from the ripped-open supertanker into pristine, wildlife-rich Prince William Sound whose mountains shores and idyllic islands were still blanketed by snow. Appalling images of oil-soaked sea otters, bald eagles and migratory birds commanded front pages of newspapers and broadcast news’ opening segments. Enraged fishing towns such as Cordova and Kodiak and befuddled politicians and Exxon spokesmen underscored the pain and anxiety. One Native Alaskan elder described the spill as “The day the water died,” adding to a reporter, “I never thought they could kill the water.”
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Alaska’s big spill stood out as a top-of-mind, gut-wrenching, preventable tragedy amidst one of nature’s Edens in a historic year that included the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square, availability of GPS and the invention of something called the internet on the World Wide Web. The aftermath spawned decades-long legal and economic cleanup, costing Exxon around $4 billion in the attempt to make Alaska whole—to almost no one’s satisfaction. Nonetheless, amid all the furor, a significant wilderness conservation success gained momentum in Alaska, a red state with a natural resource-dependent economy. It also reached Washington, where the George H. W. Bush administration pulled Arctic refuge drilling from the White House agenda and the Department of Justice began collaborating with Alaska Governor Walter Hickel to reach an unprecedented $1 billion environmental settlement with Exxon. The six-member Exxon Valdez oil spill trustee council was established to spend the $900 million civil fines while Alaska and Washington each received $50 million in criminal funds. The trustee council’s mission blended environmental restoration goals while seeking a sustainable economy for the spill region:
PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
G U AL LF A S
AFOGNAK ISLAND Ouzinkie
F A K
Afognak Island State Park
KODIAK ISLAND Kodiak NWR
Exxon Valdez Trustee Council HABITAT PROTECTION PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Alaska Peninsula NWR
Trinity Islands LEGEND
This map is a representation of habitat protection acquisitions. For specific legal descriptions and rules and regulations related to use of these lands, consult the appropriate land manager.
State, Municipal or Private Lands
National Wildlife Refuges
Bureau of Land Management
Municipal & Private Lands Native Lands
State & ANCSA Land in Same Section
Valdez Chugach National Forest
Shuyak Island State Park
Katmai National Park and Preserve
to protect the environment and provide economic opportunities for Native peoples, we are taking another step in preserving this natural treasure.” The two Native Alaskan village corporations retain Alaska Peninsula some land around their village to allow for subsistence NWR hunting and fishing, to preserve traditions, and for economic development. A third Kodiak agreement with Aniakchak Koniag, Inc. is being finalizedNational at press time and will Monument protect an additional 58,000 acres. Cordova
Wrangell - St Elias National Park and Preserve
VICTORY ON KODIAK
According to Wilson: “As a result of this policy inconsistency in dealing with private inholdings within the Kodiak refuge, the Kodiak bear population once again faces the prospect of rapid decline. “The Kodiak Native leaders and shareholders see the commercial development of their refuge inholdings as a last resort, but also as an inevitable outcome if actions are not taken to have the United States require ownership of these lands.” “I am hopeful that the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus can play a role in discovering alternative means of reacquiring the world’s Wasil best brown bear habitat, and placing these lands under the control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in exchange for fair market value granted to the Kodiak Native corps.” Anchorage The Boone and Crockett Club, Camp Fire Club, Izaak Walton Tyonek League, Ducks Unlimited, National Rifle Association, Safari Club Lake Clark International, Wildlife ForeverNational and many others strongly endorsed Hop Park and Preserve the buybacks. Rainforest activists and leading environmental groups including the World Wildlife Fund, Audubon Society, Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation agreed that holding buybacks Kenai Cooper La throughout the spill region using the Exxon settlement would Soldotna The Karluk is one of the most storied rivers in all of Alaska. The highest meet their key objectives. Commercial salmon fishing and support Kenai known brown bear densities in the world occur in the Karluk drainage National industries provided the region’s largest sustainable employment Wildlife including Karluk Lake. The river typically produces one third of opthe Refuge portunities, andharvest keeping riversthe intact wasrefuge. their top commercial of salmon salmon from Kodiak The priority. mainstem Karluk Ninilchik Sew River is 21 long and drains an area of 236 square miles. It provides In addition tomiles the habitat conservation accomplishments, the trustee spawning or rearing habitat for all fiveresearch speciescapability of Pacific salmon, council decided to create a substantial to devel-rainbow/ steelhead trout, and Dolly Varden/Arctic char. op baseline dataIliamna on species and habitats in theAnchor spillPoint region and the The River is one of two drainage systems in the refuge (and one of the Gulf ofKarluk Alaska. Ken Homer few such Ldrainages within the boundaries of an Alaskan national wildlife ke Fjo aValdez The Exxon Oil Spill Restoration Plan is reviewable on the a Seldovia n Nat m a refuge) where both steelhead and chinook salmon populations occur in i Il Augustine Is Nanwalek trustee council’sAverage websiteannual and offers both a compelling overview the salmon abundance. escapement of all five species ofof Pacific Port spillcombined disaster and details about the monumental taskfish thatduring governments have reached or exceeded 2.5 million the even years Graham nearly a half million in odd yearalternative returns. methods of seeking andand stakeholders faced in weighing environmental recovery within a sustainable regional economy. ★
“The mission of the Trustee Council is to efficiently restore the environment injured by the Exxon Valdez oil spill to a healthy, productive, world renowned ecosystem, while taking into account the importance of the quality of life and the need for viable opportunities to establish and sustain a reasonable standard of living.” Once the Trustee Council was established, an array of Alaskan and national stakeholders began pitching their competing versions Excerpt from Fair tables Chase, of restoration. As voices rose, tempers flared and meeting Summer 1995 were pounded. It was at this early stage that sportsmen’s including Scoregroups, a big one for theTony Boone Houseman of the Houston Safari Club, offered a plan to collaboand Crockett Club’s conserrate with the Native Alaskan corporations that owned 95 percent of vation agenda! Last May, the spill region’s private land and to permanently protect the best of Interior Secretary, Bruce those areas through purchase or conservation easements. Reagan Babbitt, signedThe agreements administration’s megatrade proposal towith purchase and valuable the large presidents of two private inholdings within wildlife refuges, forests and parks was reAlaska Native corporations vived, minus the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling that would to protect more than 150,000 have funded the inholding buy backs from Native corps. acres of prime habitat for Instead of using and gasbald revenues from theother Northspecies Slope’son brown bear,oilsalmon, eagles and coastalKodiak plain, theIsland. sweeping land transactions would be paid of a The historic land transactionsout were the $1 combination billion settlement. The public would gain access to worldof fee acquisitions and conservation easeclass recreational areas within federal important and state conservation units the ments protecting habitat to fish and wildlife combined size ofinjured two andby a half Land-rich, species theYellowstones. Exxon Valdez oil spill.cash-poor Native corps could be $60.5 paid tomillion keep their coastal used rainforests The package fundsstanding from the and salmon rivers whichbetween aided the the indigenous $1 bill ionundeveloped, 1991 settlement federalpeoples’ governsubsistence lifestyle, commercial fishing jobsCorporation. and the long-term ment, State their of Alaska and the Exxon Lands goal ofacquired not being overrun by outsiders movingInc. to their areas from Akhiok Kaguyak, andhome Old Harbor they’d lived in for as long as 7,000 Native Corporation wereyears. deeded to them by the Alaska EastNative Texas Congressman Charlie theare ideareturned from the to Claims Settlement Wilson Act andtook now back rooms to the nation’s front porch through a Congressional Record the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. statement that“These used the Kodiak brown as the poster child habof agreements willbear preserve important what could lost if coastal habitatsopportunities were developed.for Hehunting, also pointed itat,be provide additional subto whatsistence, could be commercial gained by large-scale private inholdings purchases and sport fishing, and other outdoor and conservation easements using the Exxon settlement. activities, and strengthen the local economy on Kodiak King Salmon Wilson’s Congressional Record statement that of because Island,” Secretary Babbitt told explained an audience Native of the Alaskans, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, the Kodiak sportsmen and environmental groups present National Wildlife Refuge created by Franklin Roosevelt in 1941 was at the ceremony in his office. “President Franklin Roosimminently by economic development. Congress had aleveltthreatened established Kodiak National Refuge a half-century Egegik Becharof ready forced remoteofvillages to select land claims from ago atKodiak’s the urging hunters and their conservationists, NWRthe within Eisenhower FDR’s refugeAdministration boundary and mandated that those enlarged it inthey theuse 1950s, and Be c ha lands tonow, create profits. rof inshareholder keeping with President Clinton’s commitment La
This map depicts the general location of Trustee Council-funded Imminent Threat, Large Parcel and Small Parcel acquisitions. Acquisitions depicted include fee simple acquisitions, conservation easements, and timber easements. All fee acquisitions provide for public access as do many of the conservation easements. All small parcels were acquired in fee. Additional details regarding these acquisitions, including a description of the rights acquired, can be found in "Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration, Habitat ™ Protection & Acquisition Catalog," prepared for the Trustee Council, February 2007.
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MATLABAS CONSERVATION INITIATIVE MEM
BUILDING SAFE HAVENS FOR WHITE RHINO BY LOUIS VAN BERGEN THE HEAT RISES FROM THE RED EARTH AS IT BAKES in the unforgiving African summer sun. There is not a speck of green grass, no leaves on the trees, no foliage to soften the scorching sunlight. It is yet another hot, dry day in the Western Bushveld of South Africa. The winter has been too long; in the last seven years, we have been facing the worst drought to hit the continent in recorded history. The drought has had a suffocating effect not only on the animals but also on the farmers and their staff. Around midday, we receive intel that a vehicle commonly associated with rhino poaching has entered our area. Immediately, a protocol chain is set into action, as farmers, police and the anti-poaching unit deploy to apprehend the vehicle. We learn that suspects have already been dropped off close to a private reserve that has rhino. The tracking team is activated and pursued on foot. As they continue to follow the track, it becomes clear that these are professionals—jumping roads, walking backward, taking off their shoes to walk barefoot—but step by step, we are tightening the noose. With the sun beating down, a farmer’s wife shows up with cold water and a quick snack to keep everyone going. A young boy, sitting on the back of the truck, is there to show his support, but still too young to be out tracking these poachers. International gangs outfit these criminals; they have big caliber rifles and sometimes high-tech equipment that makes them all the more dangerous. A neighbor’s helicopter is on its way to help survey from the air. Finally, we spot the suspects from the aircraft, and they are confronted on the ground. We won this battle, but the war against rhino poaching is very far from over. Unfortunately, not every battle ends this way. Some days we lose, and the effects are devastating to the rhino population, farmers and rangers, the people who love these animals so much that they will do everything in their power to protect them. These poachers have no mercy. They do not care to execute this barbaric killing with precision. The animals are wounded and hacked to death. Too many times, their tendons are 108 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
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slashed off with a panga, a primitive hacking tool, and then the horn is cut off. Sometimes this happens while the animal is immobilized but still alive. South Africa holds nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhinos and has been hit hardest by poaching criminals: More than 1,000 rhinos were killed each year between 2013 and 2017—that is two to three rhinos every day. These brutal, unnecessary killings happen to supply a distant country with horns grounded into powdered keratine (similar to your hair and nails) so that it can be brewed into a tea that supposedly treats all kinds of diseases and illnesses. These killings affect every member of our community. If there are rhinos on our land, or even on the neighbor’s property, we, our families, employees and their families may be threatened with our lives to provide information on the whereabouts of the rhino and the rangers. According to the International Ranger Federation, an estimated 1,000 rangers have died in the last 10 years, and that figure excludes unreported casualties. In 2015, while 17 percent of ranger deaths involved wild animals, 42 percent resulted from attacks by poachers. The statistics indicate a decrease in rhino poaching, but we believe that it is not a result of better conservation efforts, but rather the decrease in rhino numbers. The battle is becoming more heated daily. Now more than ever, we need to conserve the rhinos held in private hands. Private game farms are usually smaller properties that have better infrastructure and are easier to monitor and manage, but have no funding from the outside world. At this moment, only the hunters and tourists that visit these areas and support the private landowners directly through hunting safaris are contributing to protecting our rhinos and other wildlife. With more than 50 percent of today’s white rhino population held in private ownership, the cost of protecting these animals is a significant factor when considering having them on your land. An intensive protection program is more than $1,500 per month per rhino. As a rhino owner, you cannot generate funds from photographic safaris, as it is too risky to allow busloads of strangers onto your property, making the whole world aware of the fact that you have rhino. The law prohibits any legal sale of rhino horn, so even though it is possible to (safely, and without harming the rhino) harvest this completely renewable product every two to three years, it is not possible to sell the horns to generate funds to keep the rhino safe and fed. Rhino are losing their terminal value, and as the rhino horns’ value on the black market is growing, it seems clear that conserving these species for future generations is an economically inviable task. Unlike other anti-poaching initiatives, the Matlabas Conservation Initiative is not a third party. These are our rhino, our wildlife, our community and our families. This is our home 110 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
and our livelihood. Without this initiative, our rhinos have no future. We are fighting back with force, but we desperately need all the help we can get. Our corner of the world is small and desolate, void of substantial funding and publicity the well-known NPOs receive. We have to fend for ourselves and our wildlife. The Matlabas Conservation Initiative was put into place by private landowners for the aid of species conservation and safety of our communities in the Western Bushveld area. The Matlabas Conservation Initiative is working diligently to combat poaching and other crime-related activities in our area. We are actively participating in patrols and roadblocks alongside the South African Police Service. The Matlabas area consists of more than 3 million acres, from Stockport in the North, Thabazimbi in the South and Dwaalboom in the West. We covered our whole area under LPR (License Plate Recognition)
To get involved in making positive change possible, contribute toward: • The building of the Rhino Refuge • TRAINING » $20 trains an individual in one course that covers topics such as first aid, self-defense, tactical awareness and use of a handgun » $100 prints preservation brochures that double as coloring pages » $2,000 goes toward further training of our ProtoTeam that is the first on the scene • JOB CREATION » $6,600 supports an underprivileged child through the GameWays Anti Poaching course and employs him for one year » Equipment, including LPR cameras, medical bags, dash and body cams, drones and aerial-based detection sensors, cell phone-based network censors, shot detectors, night-vision equipment and more
cameras, which links with SAPS and other law-enforcement initiatives. We have also put together a trained specialist team that is the boots on the ground when needed; they are trained in first aid, crime scene handling and tracking. We have a great working relationship with SAPS, and our police stations have won awards for the lowest crime rates in the Limpopo province, mainly due to cooperation between the Matlabas Conservation Initiative and themselves. During the past six months, we have assisted the SAPS in several arrests and found missing persons and stolen vehicles. We have also prevented several poaching incidents. Because our area is safe and remote, our vision is to create a secluded refuge for orphaned animals and to further aid farmers in raising orphaned rhino in a protected environment with the level of expertise needed to rehabilitate and re-introduce them back into their herds. Doing so directly aids the private landowners who are taking the massive risk of having these beautiful animals on their land. We are working to bring expert geneticists, veterinarians, and scientists together to plan a space that is safe and practical. We learn from other similar orphanages to not repeat the same mistakes that have already been made. To deter poaching, the Rhino Refuge will be guarded 24/7 under camera surveillance, increasing the risk of poachers being caught, and the animals will be dehorned regularly to decrease the possible profit to be made selling the horn. We are fortunate to have GameWays anti-poaching training school as part of our community. They are committed to making a difference in the lives of our youth. The private game reserves already employ some of these students who have qualified in our area. Our aim is for Matlabas Conservation Initiative to permanently employ some of these trained students, who will then be placed in our community when and where necessary. GameWays is also playing an integral role in the planning and preparation of our Rhino Refuge. The Matlabas Conservation Initiative is working toward a safer environment for our rhinos, which will also be a haven for all our local and international guests. We know that South Africa has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Our community is set on changing the way we are perceived in the public eye. ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 111
No Place for Moose or Man! BY JOHN WOOTTERS Originally published in Petersen’s Hunting, April 1982 112 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
he Alaskan Arctic is a harsh and unforgiving land, demanding a very high price of those who would take her magnificent big-game animals in fair chase. All this has been said before, but it bears repeating as illumination for the tale I am about to tell. Five of us, mostly members of that group of blackpowder hunters jocularly known as the Deep East Texas Bear Hunters Association, decided to “go for the big one” with our muzzleloading rifles; we booked a hunt for Alaska moose, afoot and unguided on the south slope of the Brooks mountain range. As a group, it’s only fair to say that we bit off a mite more than we could chew. It wasn’t the rifles. Nobody with a sense of history could doubt that .54-caliber, Hawken-style frontstuffers can put “paid in full” to a 1,200-pound bull moose; that was proved nearly 200 years ago. And it certainly wasn’t the outfitter. Paul Mooney agreed to furnish us with basic camps in known game country, with a wrangler-cook to help with the chores and in getting trophies and meat properly taken care of, and with pack animals to transport gear and game. For these services, he charged $1,700 per man, something like one-third the going rate for a guided, mounted, 14-day hunt in the same country for the same species. The actual hunting was to be up to us, along with caping, butchering and boning the various beasts we assumed would be dropping like flies before our muzzles. Paul delivered on everything over which he had any control—but a couple of items proved to be beyond his or anyone else’s influence. Our theater of operations was to be the Crow’s Nest Creek drainage, about 30 miles northwest of Arctic Village, some 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle. A careful study of the topo maps sounded no warning bells in my cranium. The country is not particularly high (averaging perhaps 3,000 feet above sea level) or particularly steep. It alerted me to the likelihood of muskeg in the bottoms, but I figured that if horses and mules, with their small hooves and great weight, could make it, it wouldn’t be impossibly tough for me, even though I’m in my fifties and not in the physical condition I used to enjoy. What the maps didn’t show was the muskeg and tussocks everywhere—on steep slopes, on flat ground, even in the high mountain passes. Those who have hunted in the Far North are, by now, nodding their heads sympathetically and making chuckling sounds. Those who haven’t cannot conceive of what I’m talking about. Muskeg can be thought of as the eighth plague visited upon man for his sins, ranking somewhere between the locusts and the boils. It consists of hummocks of moss, lichens and a little grass, up to the size of a volleyball and similarly shaped, separated by spaces of uncertain depth and occupied by anything from half-frozen muddy slush to jagged rocks. You can rarely step from one tussock to the next. You step up on one and then down into the muck between it, then up onto the next one, and so on. And you never know how far down your foot will go; it may be to your crotch on one step; on the next, your heel may bottom with a spine-jarring crunch only 6 inches below the “surface.” You flounder and struggle and sweat and curse under the weight of rifle and pack and, sooner or later, take
Packstrings were used to transport meat and gear, but their efficiency in the Arctic is questionable—few animals survived.
a header into the mire. Speaking only for myself, I’d rather walk 100 yards barefoot over hot coals than 100 yards in muskeg, and there’s not a game animal on the face of the earth that I want badly enough to navigate a mile of really bad muskeg. Maybe 20 years ago, but I’m old enough to know better now. The above description—believe me, it’s an understatement and phrased in the mildest of terms—will explain why my companions and I found the terrain limited our hunting radius, afoot, rather severely. On reasonable footing and at low elevations, I’d consider myself capable of carrying light pack and rifle at least 5 to 7 miles and of returning to camp on the same day. On Crow’s Nest Creek, I came to regard my radius as maybe a mile-and-a-half or two, outside. And even that left me utterly spent, almost too tired to eat dinner. All of which brings up another problem. The Arctic has a short growing season—a 5-inch spruce log lying around camp as firewood showed its age, by ring count, as 192 years!—and simply cannot support much biomass. I don’t know how many thousands of acres are required for each large grazing animal, but I do know that if you happen not to be in the right place at the right time you can glass a hell of a lot of country and see nothing. Which, in turn, means that the lack of mobility mentioned above can destroy a man’s chances of getting any kind of game, putting aside all thoughts of looking over a number of heads in search of a trophy-class specimen. On the other hand, if you are in the right place at the right time—if you happen to catch the caribou migration, for example—you may see hundreds of fine animals in a single vista. For us, that was not to be. The weather was mild and the caribou simply didn’t come. For me, neither did the moose, nor any other mammal larger than a ground squirrel. For Dunlop Farren and his father, Paul, things went better, as we shall see. They hunted from a spike camp a couple of miles from base, overlooking a secondary drainage, and saw half a dozen or so moose, including one monster bull, one very good one and a couple of mulligans. Dunlop, the youngest and strongest member of the party, lost the monster on a wind change while stalking within muzzleloader SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 113
range—or what he thought was muzzleloader range. A couple of days later, he successfully stalked within 60 yards of a pair of bulls as they rested in a willow thicket. When they rose, he fired at the larger with his .54-caliber handmade Hawken, and both bulls ran. Dunlop ran after them, reloading as he went, and when he saw the pair again, breaking out of the willows on the hillside at a little less than 200 yards, one animal was falling behind, his head lowered. Thinking he was shooting at a wounded animal, Dunlop led the trotting beast, calculating trajectories, and fired again. The 410-grain Maxi-Ball took the bull behind the shoulder, ripped up the vitals in the chest and came to rest under the hide on the far side. The moose went down almost in his tracks, all four legs stiff, and turned out to be the smaller bull of the pair, with a 47-inch spread. The next day, Farren followed the running tracks of the other bull about four miles and concluded that his first ball had deflected from some dead tree branches and, at worst, punched a hole in the antlers. The distance of his successful shot actually measured 190 yards, a range at which he would never have fired unless convinced he was firing at an animal that was escaping wounded. As he said later, if he’d known then what he knew after that shot about the performance of the .54 at long range, he’d have collected that monster he’d passed up a few days earlier. Actually, the larger bull of Dunlop’s pair happened to run right by Paul Farren, who was watching from a nearby hilltop, and whose unfamiliarity with the muzzleloading rifle cost him what he described as an easy shot. That moose came to be known as the “enchanted bull,” and he’s still there in Crow’s Nest—and, as far as I’m concerned, you can have him if you can get him! Dunlop’s was not to be the only bull moose taken by the Bear Hunters, however. The other one committed suicide, more or less. On the day we were supposed to rendezvous with a float plane to return to Fort Yukon (we’d started calling it the “Day of Deliverance”), Francis Winters and Jack Clauder were riding from camp to Portage Lake with the wranglers and a couple of pack mules. In a creek bottom en route, one of the packs began to slip, and the wrangler, a husky and cheerful 22-year-old named Joe Letarte, called a halt to adjust it. As the packstring stood there in the snow, a bull moose grunted 200 or 300 yards out in the willow flat along the creek. The wrangler instantly replied, but nothing more was heard until the party had moved on another quarter mile. Then the bull grunted again, closer, and this time responded to answering calls. Shortly, his antlers appeared over the willow tops. Now, it will be remembered that this party was traveling, not hunting, and Francis Winters’ Allen Fire Arms Co. Santa Fe Hawken, although loaded, was cased and packed on one of the mules. When the bull actually appeared, things got a little lively around the pack string, with Joe trying to get Winters’ smokepole uncased, Winters trying to find his capper, all the humans trying to look like a cow moose and the mules trying very hard not to look like a cow moose. Joe got the rifle to Francisbut without the ramrod. Francis dropped his capper in the snow, retrieved it, and found the first three percussion caps he thumbed out packed with snow. So was the fourth, but the moose was now only about 75 yards away, in full view, and still coming, so Francis blew the snow out of the cap and rammed it onto the nipple. Knowing that without a ramrod there would 114 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
One item that can’t be doubted is the efficiency of the .54-caliber muzzleloaders on Alaskan moose. Left, Francis Winters’ moose was called up and taken with an Allen Fire Arms Co. Hawken. Above, Dunlop Farren dropped his bull with one shot at 190 yards.
be no quick second shot, and without a live cap there wouldn’t even be a first one, he advanced a few yards and knelt. The bull now stopped and began to turn back toward the willows, and Winters held behind the massive shoulder, prayed and pulled. To his astonishment, the rifle fired perfectly, and by the time the smoke cloud drifted to one side, the moose was down and stone dead. The specially designed 385-grain Maxi-type bullet had broken a shoulder, wrecked the vitals and exited on the far side. Later, the wranglers—both experienced hunters—would confess that they had had no idea that muzzleloading rifles could be as deadly on animals the size of Alaskan moose as this one proved to be. Although not particularly hard to dispatch, the moose is hard to put down quickly and keep down, and it seems impervious to shock. For just that reason, however, it can be argued that a 385-grain, .54-caliber slug at about 1,500 fps is possibly even more effective on this species than a high-velocity magnum. Francis’ bull was mature, but no candidate for the record book (51.5 inches, outside). Still, both the bulls collected on this trip—on foot, without guides, in the Brooks Range with muzzleloading rifles—qualify as trophies in the truest sense of the word. We’d thought that was the last day of the trip, but we were wrong. Weather closed in over the lake, and the plane didn’t
come. It didn’t come the next day, either. On the third day, we of the Portage Lake Rod and Gun Club! heard the distant drone of a light plane engine and rejoiced, There are lessons to be learned from the Bear Hunters’ inbut our joy was short-lived; the aircraft, when it appeared, had vasion of the Arctic. One is that transportation—from mules wheels, not floats. It circled our impromptu camp on the shore to aircraft—is dicey, and travel schedules should be kept flexof Portage Lake and dropped a message. ible, to say the least. Leave at least five or six days leeway in It was not exactly the best news I ever received. It said the schedule. Another is that Arctic hunting is mostly a young the float plane was out of commission mechanically, that the man’s game, and then only for those truly motivated hunters Arctic Circle Air Service had nine other hunters stranded in who are in the finest possible physical condition. the wilderness (we made the backlog 14), that the weather It’s hard country—hard on men, hard on stock and hard on prediction for tomorrow was bad, and that they hoped the equipment. Only the very finest gear will serve, and it must be lake wouldn’t freeze. carefully chosen in light of conditions. In the Arctic, a small We hoped not, too. The water temperature at that moment mistake or a moment of carelessness or lack of foresight can was 34 degrees, and there was no wind. If the surface froze be disastrous. What seems at the moment to be a minor insolid, there was no way out except a helicopter. The way out on convenience can turn into a life-or-death situation in the foot was 100 miles of muskeg with deep snow in the passes, twinkling of an eye. It is different from any other hunting I’ve and none of us thought we could make it, carrying only the encountered in a lifetime of rambling all over the world, and barest necessities for survival in our packs. There was nothing tougher than any, too. Companions must be chosen with the to do but sit and wait. We were getting low on food, although same care as equipment, footgear and sleeping bags, because we had plenty of moose meat and a lake full of fish (as long you can count on being placed under some stress on a trip like as our lures didn’t bounce off the surface), and our supply of this. Fortunately, my companions were the salvation of us all, firewood was limited. The nearest timber in this barren land cheerful even under duress, supportive of each other, caring, was so far away that the existing supply had been packed in sharing, and, yes, brave. on mule back—and we had no mules at that time. We did All in all, I would not recommend an unguided, unmounted have shelter, plenty of warm clothing and hunt in the Arctic to anyone who doesn’t sleeping bags and supplies for a few more know from experience what he’s getting days, so it was not exactly a survival situinto. Our outfitter, Paul Mooney, although This Land of the ation … yet. The note from the sky didn’t highly complimentary of our bunch, says Midnight Sun is not tell us when the charter service hoped to that he’ll book no more unguided, dropalways the hunting fly us back to civilization. camp-type hunts, and I don’t blame him. heaven so many of us So we took pictures, hunted a little, comIf you want a first-class guided hunt with pared beards and formed the world’s most horses in the Brooks Range for grizzly, dream about. We got exclusive sportsmen’s society, the Portage moose, caribou, Dall sheep, black bear, moose, all right. But Lake Rod and Gun Club. And listened a wolf, and wolverine, you couldn’t do betwe also discovered lot—for the sound of a plane’s engine, for ter than with Paul—if you’re a young, very that sometimes you’re a north wind that might signal a weather hardy and hard hunter. change and move the cold, low-hanging And, if you think I’ve been exaggerlucky just to survive. clouds away, and, at night, for a grizzly that ating the Arctic, it may be worth a final might discover the moose meat. note: After we left, Joe Letarte and the All of us carried .44 magnum revolvers in our armpits, hopother wrangler began the annual ride to get the horses and ing we wouldn’t have to deal with an enraged bear, especially mules, gear, meat and capes out to the Alaska pipeline road. at night. It wasn’t until we got to Fairbanks that we learned, Enroute, they lost two more mules (that made five of the origiaccording to an official survey by the Alaska Game and Fish nal eight horses and mules that failed to survive the season) Department, no man in Alaskan history has ever defended and had to walk out, leaving both moose capes and a lot of himself from an attacking grizzly with a handgun of any dePaul’s equipment behind. They were four days overdue, and scription and survived. they barely made it. Even when the float plane finally appeared on the fifth day, To paraphrase Robert Service: our troubles were not over. On his second trip, with Dunlop and Francis aboard, the pilot discovered that one pontoon was The Arctic trails have their secret tales sinking during takeoff, and barely made it back to shallow water. That would make your blood run cold, The party then hauled the plane far enough out of the water to And the Northern lights have seen queer sights, reveal a gaping hole in the float, which they crudely patched But the queerest they ever did see … with aluminum from cooking pans, epoxy glue and pieces of Was probably the Portage Lake Rod and Gull Club firewood as braces. Believe it or not, the patch held despite the Dancing in the snow as the floatplane set down 20-degree weather, and everybody was safely delivered to Fort Coming for to carry them to town! Yukon, where a night landing was executed on the unlighted Sorry! ★ runway by means of gasoline smudge pots to mark the strip. And I gotta tell ya, it was a joyous moment when all five of us were reunited in the Arctic Circle Air Service operations Mr. Wootters, a former HSC President, passed away office in Fort Yukon that night—even if there was no place in January of 2013. HSCF greatly appreciates in town to sleep except the floor of that office and no place to his wife, Jeanne McRae Wootters, for sharing get a square meal. It beat the hell out of the accommodations his legacy and wisdom. johnwootters.com SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 115
CALL The Merriamâ€™s turkey can be found throughout mountainous areas from South Dakota to California. Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.
OF THE MOUNTAIN TURKEY BY CHESTER MOORE, JR.
Many hunters do not realize Rio Grande turkeys have been translocated to numerous states, including Hawaii. They are hunted in high elevations in California, Oregon and Colorado. Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.
bull moose crashed through the draw with no regard to the noise it was making. Making a beeline toward some tasty saplings, it did not stop until it reached its preferred food. The bull could not have cared less that I was glassing on an open rock outcropping 40 yards away. His velvet-covered antlers were in the early stages of regrowth, signaling that even in the harsh sub-alpine environment, just 1,500 feet below the tree line, spring promises regeneration. I couldn’t help but think this was an odd location to be looking for turkeys, but my research told me this was the place. Having taken Rio Grande gobblers with bows in South Texas and Easterns in New York, my search for the Merriam’s led me to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. And as a cold wind from the summit blew across my position, I saw something unusual a few hundred yards below.
Hunters identify turkeys with the forests of the southeastern United States and the scrub brush and rolling hills of Texas, but many inhabit mountainous regions in the West. The Merriam’s turkey—often considered the most beautiful of the grand slam, which also includes the Rio Grande, Eastern and Osceola subspecies—populates foothills, mountains and plains in many western states. They are abundant in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho, and Washington. Huntable, albeit lesser, populations exist in California, Utah, North Dakota and Oregon. A little-known fact is that Texas has a remnant population
of Merriam’s in the Trans-Pecos region. “There are probably fewer than 500 pure Merriam’s in Texas, but they are present,” according to Jason Hardin, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) turkey program leader. Most of these birds are found in the Guadalupe Mountains but also dwell among other ranges in the region. Rio Grande are also present in the mountainous country, including southwest Texas, Mexico, New Mexico and Colorado. Various wildlife agencies have translocated them into areas beyond their native range as well. This includes Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah and California, as well as Hawaii. The most elusive of mountain turkeys, however, is the Gould’s. Most abundant in northern-central Mexico, Gould’s are also present in Arizona and New Mexico and are a real prize for hunters. Getting a grand slam plus a Gould’s equals the coveted royal slam, and it’s the turkey hunting equivalent of getting a North American grand slam for sheep and bagging argali in Mongolia. The difficulty tracking the animals is evident in how New Mexico officials manage Gould’s turkey. “We counted 176 Gould’s in our 2019 survey, which was better than in 2018. We believe there are probably more out there due to the fact we do our survey on public land, and there are likely more on adjacent private properties,” says Casey Cardinal, resident game bird biologist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. Additionally, there is no doubt some migration from Mexico as one GPS-collared gobbler moves at least 25 miles back and forth along the border. Annually, New Mexico offers only two Gould’s tags. One is auctioned off at the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) banquet, while the state auctions the other. “It’s very similar to what is done with sheep, and the money goes directly back to SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 117
Gould’s turkey conservation work,” Cardinal says. Recently, New Mexico traded 100 pronghorns with Mexico for 100 Gould’s, which were on their way at the time of this writing. According to Arizona Game and Fish Department officials, Gould’s were an important food source for those who settled in the rugged lands of Southern Arizona years ago. “Between the Civil War and World War I, miners working in Southern Arizona harvested Gould’s for many of their meals. By the time Arizona had legal hunting seasons in 1929, Gould’s turkey had already disappeared from the scene,” Cardinal says. “However, these birds are making comeback tracks in the Huachucas and other mountain ranges in southern Arizona.” Arizona operates on a lottery draw-style permit for Gould’s turkey, and many hunters go through an outfitter to help with the process and improve the odds of the highly challenging hunting required.
HOW I GOT HERE
I ended up in the Rocky Mountains looking for turkeys because of something that has been burning in my heart. In 2019 I began a project called Turkey Revolution. The initial goal was to get high-quality photos of the grand slam to distribute through various media platforms to raise conservation awareness. After much study in the field, reading of scientific journals and talking with wildlife biologists across the nation, I believe that if we get turkey conservation right, America’s forests will flourish. As turkeys go, so do our forests. The Eastern wild turkey, for example, disappeared from East Texas by the 1980s. A combination of poaching, habitat degradation and more poaching left these great forests barren of its most vocal and majestic game bird. Restoration efforts that began in the 1980s helped boost numbers, but they never quite got to where they need to be. A new method of enhancement called super stockings seems to be making a difference. I decided to start my quest in a sprawling national forest with my friend and expert turkey hunter Derek York. We never bagged a bird or saw any up-close that day, but did see a hen running full blast across a hill. A few seconds later, a coyote came down the same path, undoubtedly hunting for an early Thanksgiving dinner. Derek hit his call, and the young predator came toward us, but it did what all coyotes do: It moved into a downwind position, smelled us and retreated quickly. On the hike out, I saw a sign that noted there was a redcockaded woodpecker colony on site. This endangered species needs the type of open, savannah-like forest that wild turkeys do. A few feet away from the sign I saw turkey tracks. Days later in an adjacent county, I saw another colony of red-cockaded woodpeckers in an essential turkey habitat. It was a fascinating link with an endangered species, but I didn’t score on a bird with a camera or shotgun on those trips. I soon turned my attention to the Rio Grande. Surely, these birds, which number 400,000 in Texas, would be easy to photograph. My search started super slowly with a trip to the area surrounding Palmetto State Park near Luling, Texas. I saw a lone turkey at about 200 yards, but despite calling we could not get it to come any closer. I was determined that the pictures for this project had to be magazine-quality—in other words, up-close and full of detail. Two weeks later, I ventured to the Hill Country with fellow wildlife photographer Gerald Burleigh and my hunting buddy Josh Slone. Just as the sun began to peek out of an early morning 118 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
The author photographed this ultra-rare bearded cinnamon phase Merriam’s turkey with her poults at nearly 10,000-feet elevation in Colorado to complete his photo grand slam and raise awareness of turkey conservation. Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.
haze, I spotted three turkeys on a hill on a remote country road. I ran down below the birds’ line of sight, walked up to a bush and shot a few pics. Then down the fence line came a loud gobble. I spun around to see two large gobblers trying to get over the fence to follow the hens that had just flown over. Apparently, these guys were so lovestruck (after all, it was the breeding season) they forgot they could, you know, fly. This worked to my advantage as they paced up and down, and I slid down about 30 yards and waited. The birds eventually moved into range, and I took dozens of shots before their pursuit of the hens continued. Next, I headed to New York for another shot at Easterns. The state is also home to around 180,000 turkeys, and that is why I found myself hunkered down in a blind for the opening of the spring season. I had the dual goal of shooting a gobbler and photographing it, so I hunted with my good friend and bowhunting writer Lou Marullo. He is a great caller, having taken dozens of birds over the years, and he brought in a 20-pound gobbler that popped up 350 yards away in a field. It was cold, drizzling rain and windy and the bird seemed completely disinterested. At one point it started walking away from us, but a little box call work by Marullo and the enticement of a MAD Shady Baby decoy brought it within range. This allowed me to pull the trigger and deliver a load of No. 6 shot to take the majestic bird down. Well, that’s after I took a photo. Marullo told me I was crazy for first shooting a picture of the wary bird on such a nasty morning, but I had a goal to accomplish here. A trip to Florida saw me enjoying warmer weather and seeking the Osceola turkey, which only inhabits the southern two-thirds of the Sunshine State. While Florida has plenty of forested lands, it also has many highways, businesses and tourist destinations. Things changed once I found myself along the banks of the Myakka River. It felt wild, although I was only three miles from a subdivision. It was an interesting dichotomy—tourist Florida vs. turkey Florida. I had done a great deal of research to end up in this location to find Osceola turkeys. And since I am doing this all on
my coin, I was low on time. I had from sunrise to noon to make something happen. One particular area looked seriously promising, and within 30 minutes, I spied my prize. They made their way into a clearing and fed toward the edge of the river. It was great to see a brood because much of this habitat was thicker than I suspected. Prime turkey habitat has relatively open forest. The suppression of natural fires has created enormous undergrowth and that allows predators a better shot at turkeys and destroys some of the turkey’s best forage opportunities. So far, I had captured three-quarters of the grand slam on camera and got a bonus Eastern to cook up for the family. Now it was time to head West.
BACK ON THE ROCK
The Merriam’s has always been my favorite of the grand slam for its beautiful, abundant white markings and penchant for hanging out in the mountains. And as I glassed from the rock outcropping, I saw something unusual. It was definitely a bird and it appeared turkey-like, but the color was off. It was facing away from me, and I was wondering if I was looking at perhaps a vulture—and then it turned around. Hanging from its chest was a beard. This was a Merriam’s turkey! But it was not just a regular one. After carefully making my way closer, I saw it was a bearded Merriam’s hen, but she was the super rare cinnamon color. According to most experts, this is even rarer than albino on the grayish-smoke phase sometimes encountered by hunters. I truly felt blessed by the Lord that the end of this quest would come with such a rare and elusive bird. And then it got better: She had a brood with her. She had successfully bred, and there was a chance that some of those super rare cinnamon genes had been passed on to her little ones. After capturing numerous photos, I paused for a moment to take it all in. Wild turkeys are fabulous game birds, but finding them in this habitat was something special. Seeing moose a few minutes earlier and bighorns later that day added a high-country flavor that quite frankly hooked me in. I knew I had to have more. The call of the mountain turkey was beckoning.
In 2020 I will work on completing my grand slam, hunting Merriam’s in South Dakota and Colorado. I plan to take them with a bow, which will undoubtedly prove extremely difficult. But that’s the beauty of it. I am, however, even more excited about heading to New Mexico and Arizona to capture photos of Gould’s turkeys. My Turkey Revolution project continues and heads back to the mountains to get the photo version of the royal slam. This quest has taught me much about turkeys, from the link to the endangered redcockaded woodpecker to the shocking decline of turkeys in many states. New York and Louisiana, for example, have seen serious turkey declines despite substantial numbers in some areas. I only learned this after hunting there and doing deep research. Some states like Florida do not even count turkey populations but use harvest estimates from annual mail surveys to indicate population size. In-depth information on wild turkeys is harder to come by than I ever imagined. From my investigations, Gould’s turkeys in New Mexico and Arizona and Merriam’s are getting adequate attention from state
The author’s Turkey Revolution quest ventured to New York where he captured the photo of an Eastern gobbler and then harvested the 20-pound bird that sported a 9-inch beard. Photo by Lou Marullo
wildlife agencies, and due to their highly prized status by hunters also have an active voice from the hunting community. When I was a little boy, I used to sit on my dad’s lap and cut out photos from outdoors magazines to paste into scrapbooks. We would do this for hours and talk about the places we wanted to hunt together. Dad passed away from natural causes on a hunt with me six years ago, but memories of the scrapbooks hit me in a powerful way when I found them at my parents’ home last year. I thought they had been lost forever. There were all kinds of animals on the pages, but the two that dominated were wild sheep and turkeys. Finding the scrapbook rejuvenated my pursuit of these animals and served as an inspiration to begin this quest. I know my dad would love the idea of me setting out into the mountains to get an excellent photo of a big Gould’s gobbler. Cutting out those images planted seeds that I am harvesting 35 years later. They have inspired me to seek the higher calling of mountain wildlife, and in this case, the call comes in the form of a stern “gobble, gobble, gobble.” ★ SPRING 2020 HUNTER'S HORN™ 119
The majestic gobble of the wild turkey elicits a response from hunters like nothing else. The NWTF, established in 1973, helped increase the wild turkey population from about 1.3 million at its inception to 6 million today. Photo by Monte Loomis/NWTF
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Chasing the Gobble The National Wild Turkey Federation is about more than turkey hunting. That’s a big part of the conservation organization’s passion, but research, wildlife habitat improvement and education have been a driving force for the past 45-plus years. ›› By NWTF Staff AS DAY BROKE, THE CHILL OF THE DARK
began to fade. Hidden against a towering, ancient oak on the edge of a clearing, the hunter settled against the strength of the tree as soft yelps drifted across the air. Indulgent beams of light illuminated drops of morning dew on the tips of the grass blades creating a dance of light. A faint distant gobble echoed in response to the earlier yelps. What began with one man chasing a longbeard in a scene just like the above became a national conservation organization that is nearing its 50th anniversary. An organization dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey had danced across Tom Rodgers’ mind since 1968, when he first realized the detrimental effect massive development and bursts of human growth were having on the wild turkeys he pursued. Rodgers pushed forward and on March 28, 1973, he chartered the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) in Fredericksburg, Virginia, as a research and conservation education organization. At the time, an estimated 1.3 million wild turkeys roamed the U.S. and earnest conservation work began.
In the early 1980s, the U.S. was reeling from economic recession, with 10.8 percent unemployment nationally and a stunning 25 percent in especially hard-hit areas. Funding for state and federal wildlife agencies also took a hit, as did their ability to move forward with managing wildlife. They often turned to conservation organizations such as the NWTF for help in buying supplies, funding wildlife management activities and supporting hunting heritage activities.
Local NWTF chapters sponsored habitat improvement projects, purchased rocket nets for biologist trap-and-transfer efforts, held hunter safety seminars, raised funds to support research and volunteered time and labor to improve habitat. In 1985, the NWTF developed the Wild Turkey Super Fund program to support state wild turkey projects. As the NWTF approached its 20th anniversary in 1992, it had invested more than $24 million in support of wild turkey projects through the Wild Turkey Super Fund program. NWTF membership swelled, and by 1993, the NWTF was hosting more than 400 banquets annually, while raising more than $3 million that year alone to fund national conservation projects. Although conservation work was continuing, some problems needed solving to successfully move the needle on wild turkey populations. First, more research was necessary to understand the history and biology of this native species. Second, biologists needed the ability to move turkeys, taking birds from sustained wild flocks in one location and putting them into habitat-rich areas where there were few or no wild turkeys. Third, the NWTF had to define how to best manage the resource. As staff and volunteers overcame those challenges, the NWTF found itself moving to the forefront of conservation and building important partnerships with state wildlife agencies, both of which helped establish the organization’s credibility among wildlife professionals. Born from those partnerships was Target 2000, a cooperative agreement among the NWTF and state and provincial agencies to release wild turkeys into all suitable habitat in North America— more than 65 million acres—by the year 2000. The result: North America had an estimated 7 million wild turkeys roaming the
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countryside, the highest estimate since the pre-Columbian era and a rebound from unregulated hunting in the early 1900s that saw the turkey population dip to around 200,000. It was a remarkable turnaround.
FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE
The NWTF’s 10-year Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is now in its eighth year. The returns have been substantial. One year after surpassing the goal to open access for 500,000 acres for hunting and recreational access, the NWTF eclipsed its goal of recruiting 1.5 million new or lapsed hunters ahead of schedule, thanks to Families Afield, a program created by the NWTF, the Sportsmen’s Alliance and the National Shooting Sports Foundation in 2005. Each year NWTF chapters across the country offer women, youth and people with disabilities opportunities to explore the outdoors through local hands-on events and hunts designed to pass on the traditions of safe, ethical hunting and teach conservation principles. In 1981, the NWTF began the JAKES ( Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) program, and later added Xtreme JAKES to provide teens with more advanced outdoor opportunities. JAKES Take Aim gives youth the chance to try target shooting, clay target shooting and shotgunning in a safe, fun environment. Prior to the implementation of Women in the Outdoors, the NWTF supported female-focused outdoor skills training programs through various organizations. Seeing the demand for such activities, the NWTF expanded its outreach efforts to include a formal program in 1998. Wheelin’ Sportsmen launched in 2000 after the NWTF recognized a need to introduce or reintroduce people with disabilities to the outdoors. There are 60 million people in the U.S. with disabilities, and Wheelin’ Sportsmen aims to introduce them all to hunting. With license sales dwindling over the past few decades—a direct hit to wildlife agencies’ purse strings and conservation funding—the NWTF has helped lead the way in the recruitment, retention and reactivation effort, known as the R3 movement. R3 coordinators have been hired in multiple states to coordinate mentored hunting opportunities for new hunters, and the NWTF Hunting Heritage Programs staff is building blueprints for programming that more than 1,600 chapters can use locally. After attaining benchmarks in opening access acreage and hunter recruitment in year six and seven, respectively, the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative goal to converse or enhance 4 million acres for wildlife habitat continues to close in on its final mark. Since tracking began in 1985, the NWTF has impacted more than 20 million acres, improving habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife on a landscape scale. And the NWTF has no interest in slowing the pace of conservation. The NWTF’s highest conservation priority in the America’s Western Wildlands Big Six focal area is water. Healthy forests are critical habitat for turkeys and other wildlife, and in the arid West, they also provide water for drinking, wildlife and agriculture. Through the boots-on-the-ground work being accomplished across the U.S., the NWTF was ranked fourth nationally among all purchasers of federal commercial timber by volume last year. In addition, the NWTF is ranked first among all purchasers of standing dead timber in the U.S., which helps reduce forest fuel that wildfires consume and is useful in a variety of commercial products. The NWTF also currently holds more than 100 stewardship agreements with the USDA Forest Service and is one of the few conservation organizations to advocate for policy benefitting the Forest Service, 122 HUNTER'S HORN™ SPRING 2020
Nearly 3 million turkey hunters chase the male wild turkey each spring, spending millions on licenses, guns and ammo. These dollars return to state wildlife agencies to help fund the conservation of America’s greatest game bird. Photo by Rick Meoli/NWTF
while also working on the ground in conjunction with the agency. The NWTF and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are working together to improve forest health and forest ecosystems on private lands and manage the forestry-related workload derived from the farm bill. The NRCS and the NWTF have a longstanding partnership that is built upon promoting and implementing the conservation and wise use of land, water, wildlife and related resources across the nation. As part of the National Forestry Initiative agreement, the NWTF is positioned to improve forest health on about 350,000 acres of private land in a number of regions throughout the country by providing a cooperative staff of experienced forestry professionals to bolster NRCS staff in 23 states over a five-year period.
From homemade box calls to a thriving multimillion dollar turkey hunting economy, the restoration of the wild turkey had impacts far beyond a fine bird to bring home for dinner. Today, more than 2.5 million turkey hunters take to the woods each spring in 49 states (Alaska does not have a turkey season) to chase that elusive gobble. While turkey populations have dipped in areas of the country in the past decade, state wildlife agencies and the NWTF continue to fund research of population declines and push active forest management to improve turkey habitat, which also benefits many other wildlife species. Weather, disease and predation are all elements being studied for their effects on wild turkeys, but one factor remains central to the bird’s success: quality habitat. NWTF field staff and partners collaborate with land managers and hunters to help provide as much secure nesting and brood-rearing cover as possible. It is the key to poult (wild turkey chick) survival and, ultimately, the health of future wild turkey populations. Habitat conservation coupled with the recruitment and reactivation of new hunters while increasing license sales and conservation funding has and will continue to stabilize robust turkey populations. The NWTF, its partners and its dedicated members and volunteers are committed to this mission, as strongly now as they were nearly five decades ago. ★ Learn more at NWTF.org or by contacting the NWTF at 800-THE-NWTF.
THE (EAST) TEXAS TWO-STEP By Matt Lindler, NWTF national director of conservation communications For the first 25 years of the NWTF’s existence, assisting state agencies with wild turkey restoration efforts was a priority for the organization and its volunteers. The Federation worked hand-in-hand with state agency partners to re-establish turkey populations in areas of suitable habitat, but where few or no wild turkeys existed. The energy among the states, the NWTF and its volunteer base was palpable: People were getting their hands dirty for a good cause and turkey populations were steadily growing. When the NWTF was founded in 1973, there were 1.3 million wild turkeys in America. By the early 2000s, wild turkey populations were at their modern-era peak of about 7 million. The turkey trap-and-transfer program, Target 2000, was a huge success across the U.S. and hunting seasons were bountiful in gobbles and filled tags. Of the five subspecies of wild turkeys, three are found in Texas—Eastern, Merriam’s and Rio Grande. The Rio Grande is found mainly in the central and western region; a small population of Merriam’s live in the Davis and Guadalupe mountains of West Texas; and historically, the Eastern wild turkey roamed the piney woods of East Texas in large numbers. Rio Grande wild turkeys prosper in Texas, making it one of the most valued destinations for hunters wishing to complete their wild turkey Grand Slam by taking each of the four huntable subspecies in the U.S. In East Texas, success seemed to move farther and farther out of reach. Early stocking programs from the late 1970s to early 2000s brought wildcaught Eastern wild turkeys from neighboring states and from even farther, but the original seeding formula of 15 to 20 birds (a few gobblers and mostly hens) didn’t take off as it did in many other parts of the country. There’s little understanding of why turkeys didn’t thrive and grow as their counterparts did in similar habitat, but some point to low poult survival following restocking efforts as one cause, and heavy predation on nesting hens as another.
“Habitat also plays a factor,” says Annie Farrell, NWTF district biologist in Texas and Oklahoma. “The piney woods of East Texas is a pyric ecosystem, meaning it depends on fire, and the lack of it has led to habitat that is way too thick for turkeys to survive. Through active habitat management, the NWTF and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are working together to combat this issue to give the translocated birds the greatest chance of success.” In the past decade, through Upland Game Bird Stamp Fund Habitat Enhancement Grants, NWTF’s Texas Super Fund grants for habitat work on public hunting lands, Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration match funding, special projects such as customized prescribed burning trailers, plus support for NWTF district biologists in the state, the NWTF and TPWD have accomplished more than $5 million in work on public and private lands, impacting at least 150,000 acres of habitat in Texas to benefit wild turkeys and other species. Habitat is always the most critical factor in the restoration and management of a species, explains Jason Hardin, TPWD’s wild turkey program leader. “Once habitat is suitable, controlling predators can also play a role when in restoration mode,” Hardin says. “Another issue, which is beyond our control, is that Texas marks the westernmost edge of the Eastern wild turkey’s historic range. This may have influenced the success of past restocking efforts.”
restocked before the breeding season ever began. The super stocking approach, however, assures that an ample number of birds survive going into years two and three.” There’s also security in numbers in the fall and winter when wild turkeys congregate and flock together in segregated gobbler flocks and hens/ young flocks. This provides some protection from predators. Second, more gobblers breeding hens and more hens laying eggs means more opportunities for successful nesting, poult survival and recruitment (surviving the first year). “It’s a numbers game and, sometimes, the more numbers you have the more opportunities you have for success,” Farrell says. While there are limited hunting opportunities in 13 counties in East Texas, most of the region no longer offers turkey hunting opportunities. This is a problem the NWTF hopes to assist TPWD in correcting through this intensive restocking program. “The Eastern wild turkey once occupied up to 60 million acres in East Texas,” Hardin says. “Texas hunters, through their purchase of hunting licenses, are footing the bill for the restocking efforts. To date, the vast majority of funds tied to the restocking of this valuable bird have come from the purchase of TPWD’s $7 Upland Game Bird Stamp. Many of Texas’ citizens will ultimately benefit from the success of this restocking effort, but hunters will have once again paved the way.”
In recent years, however, a new approach is showing some promise. TWPD has embarked on a super stocking program, where its staff intensively restock birds in three designated focal areas in East Texas. The goal for 2020, for example, was to release 160 Eastern wild turkeys (80 per site) in two targeted release sites for this year. These turkeys have mostly come from North Carolina, where USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service personnel trapped them on airport properties where they posed a safety hazard, but some also have come from Missouri and West Virginia.
Sustainable populations resulting in the survival of adult wild turkeys, their nests and recruitment of poults into the population is critical if we are to one day open turkey hunting seasons in more areas across East Texas, Hardin explains.
“Stocking in higher quantities provides a couple of benefits to help encourage population sustainability and growth,” Farrell said. “First, this helps the restocked birds overcome typical mortality levels and poor nest success often seen the first year the birds are released. During block stocking, it was common to lose all the toms
“The energy surrounding this restocking effort is reminiscent of the old days of the NWTF, when the agency, NWTF staff and volunteers were all focused on bringing the wild turkey back from the brink of extinction,” Farrell says. “It’s exciting and builds a sense of community surrounding the wild turkey.”
“Wild turkey hunting currently provides close to $64 million annually to rural Texas communities,” he says. “Expanding hunting opportunities in East Texas will benefit hunters and landowners and will, in turn, improve habitat for many game and nongame species that share the wild turkey’s range.”
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