ACROSS the nation, at this time of year, hunters everywhere are heading for the woods. Many of them will be carried back out on stretchers. As the 1956 bag mounts, so will the accident toll. The following report has been copied from the Hunting Accident Files of the Pennsylvania Game Commission:
Accident occurred: McKean County, Pennsylvania.
Describe injury: Flesh wound in right hip.
Victim required medical attention: Emporium, Pennsylvania.
Statement of offender: Bill...and I were hunting ground hogs. We had walked across the fields about ¾ mile when we saw the ground hog about 250 to 300 yards off. I fired four or five times and Bill shot once or twice, when one of us suggested (we don't recall who it was) that one of us would lay on his stomach and the other would rest the rifle across his hip. In this way he could hold the rifle steadier. We must have been in said position for five or ten minutes when the ground hog stood up. I told Bill I was going to shoot. He said O.K.
I looked several times during the time we were in that position to see if the rifle was clear across his rear end, and it was, at least 18 inches clear. But when I fired, it couldn't have been, and it grazed his right hip which required six stitches. I rushed him to the doctor and I will pay whatever is required to get him back in shape. He hasn't lost any work yet.
Weapon used by offender: .218 Bee. Offender's experience: 15 years.
What relationship, if any, exists between the victim and offender: Offender's statement: Friends.
Victim's statement: I was lying on my stomach and the offender was resting a .218 Bee rifle across my hind end and when the ground hog stood up he fired the rifle. It was accidentally back too far and shot a piece out of my tail which caused burns and six stitches.
Victim's experience: 10 years.
Requote the statement you made immediately following the accident: My God, you shot me in the tail.
What relationship, if any, exists between the victim and offender: Victim's statement: Good Friends.
FOR WHOM THE BELLS TINKLE
SIX MONTHS ago the California Fish and Game Department trapped eight coyotes, tied little bells about their necks and released them in a routine game management experiment to determine whether coyotes found in the high country in summer are the same animals found in the lowlands during winter. Today six of the coyotes are still at large but the original purpose of the experiment has been obscured by a bitter controversy concerning the welfare of the belled animals.
The Sacramento Union, which had been vigorously attacking Fish and Game Director Seth Gordon on other department policies, got wind of the belling scheme and saw in it a chance for further campaigning. The paper charged that although deer had been successfully belled to ascertain their migratory habits, the coyote is a predator and must "slyly sneak up on its prey and, with a quick snap of the jaw, sever the neck of its victim." The jingling of a bell as coyotes stalk their supper, therefore, can only disperse their victims.
The proof of the argument seemed to have come in when R. E. Robards, a Trinity County miner, came upon a gaunt, starving and belled coyote. "I gave it milk and dog meal," said Robards, "but it was too far gone, I guess, to pull through....It was the most sadistic thing I've ever seen."
Ben Glading, in charge of game management for the state, quickly admitted "it was very probable" that the Trinity coyote had died of starvation because the bell warned its natural prey. Director Gordon, though he personally didn't know anything about the project until the Union gave outraged editorial voice, backed his field personnel. Fish and Game headquarters stood firm, too, declaring that no disciplinary action was planned. "The fellows didn't get prior approval," headquarters admitted, "but they were doing a job as they saw it." The statement did little to shake the convictions of some sportsmen that belling coyotes, as one group put it, besides being a cruel scheme "would make them outcasts of the pack, thus proving nothing in the way of migration."
As weeks passed and no further coyotes were reported, things looked fairly glum for the embattled department. Then, last week, Coyote No. 2 was bagged at Big Bar in Trinity County, five miles from where it was belled. Unlike Coyote No. 1, this one was fat and sleek.
With this discovery James Stokes, Fish and Game fieldman immediately responsible for the decision to bell the coyotes, came quickly to the experiment's defense. He pointed out that coyotes, if they have to, can live largely on fruit, berries, crickets and grasshoppers and that belling does not affect the ability of the predator to get his food. He added that the sound of the bell is not unusual in nature because wildlife is accustomed to the presence of belled cattle.
"If we eartag them," he said, "the only possible way to get information is when they are recovered. Belling them gives us dual reports. People who hear the bells can report to us, the same as they do on dyed geese." He said that the department has already received sufficient reports of tinkling bells in the forests to determine that coyotes in the high elevations do migrate to the low country and become a threat to ranchers.
The ultimate answer to the controversy depends now, it seems, on the fate of the remaining animals, which, one way or another, still have to go jingling about the handicapped business of getting a square meal.
POUR LE SPORT
OVER in Visalia, Ill., Game Warden E.P. Becas and Judge Hal Broaders are still a little bit agog over Hunter Philip E. Gholson. Last week Gholson shot an illegal deer and promptly drove 38 miles to report his transgression. Before the judge he explained why. "I had my son with me," said Gholson, "and I certainly never intend for him to learn bad habits or see me commit an unsportsmanlike act. I want him to respect me and the law." The judge agreed, reluctantly imposed a $25 fine.
GUNNERS began harvesting a record crop of wildfowl last week (we page 40) and a record crop of odd occurrences, too. For example, Arthur Goulais and Tom Banghard were gunning at Portage Bay, Mich., when a lovely teal paddled right into their blind. After some debate on the sporting merits of bagging teal without shooting, Goulais grabbed the bird by the scruff of its foolish neck. Still other gunners experienced the zenith in improbable frustration. A hapless ducker at Memphis Lake in eastern Nebraska lost his spanking new, $100 golden retriever so thoroughly that in spite of all the efforts of Game Warden Dick Wolkow the animal could not be found. It had fled at the first shot and has yet to be seen again. Then, there was Clarence Hyde of Oshkosh, Wis. Very proud of the goose he had bagged, he put it in the trunk of his car and drove off to work, warm with anticipation of the admiration that would come his way when the boys took a look. Hyde opened the trunk, the boys tooktheir look, and with an indignant honk the goose winged away.
SO—season opened (or opens); SC—season closed (or closes). C—clear water; D—water dirty or roily; M—water muddy. N—water at normal height; SH—slightly high; H—high; VH—very high; L—low; R—rising; F—falling. WT50—water temperature 50°. FG—fishing good; FF—fishing fair; FP—fishing poor; OVG—outlook very good; OG—outlook good; OF—outlook fair; OP-outlook poor
LOUISIANA: Fish to 40 pounds moving through coastal passes to spawning grounds with FG particularly in the Grand Isle area where anglers are tying into exceptional run; OVG.
NORTH CAROLINA: Surf between Nags Head and Hatteras Inlet ideal with casters reporting an abundance of hefty fish. Hatteras Inlet charter boats also connecting as last week one boated 11 bass which topped 40 pounds each; OVG.
WISCONSIN: In spite of or because of splendiferous autumn with temperature in 80s, few anglers are whacking lakes and flowages, but those that are report FF/G, as Arthur R. Ergeson of Milwaukee last week pridefully displayed a 35-pounder he hoisted from north Twin Lake last week; OG.
MONTANA: Fat natives snatching streamers and FG in Yellowstone, Big Hole and Georgetown and Canyon Ferry lakes; state-wide OVG.
CALIFORNIA: Thunder showers and snow in high country slowing down Sierra fishing especially in Bridgeport area and on Owens River from Benton Crossing to Arcularius Ranch. OG on Hot Creek for big browns. Bushy creeks south of Bishop producing on bait. West slope hot spots still upper Kern and Kaweah as well as remote creeks in Yosemite National Park; OG.
WISCONSIN: Brule L and C but diehards averaging two sleolhead and brownies per man ranging from 3 to 6 ½ pounds. Fall rainbow run not up to par and grizzled oldtimer reports fishing is horrible and OP.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: Interior lakes yielding fat kamloops with FG and OG. In coastal areas cutthroats moving in behind salmon with Oyslor and Salmon rivets best bets on Vancouver Island. Fraser Valley Streams are the most torrid mainland locales with OVG generally.
NEW BRUNSWICK: Unemotional timber cruiser advises OVG for fall salmon on Big Tracadie and the Tabusintac rivers but. SC October 13.
NEW BRUNSWICK: Campbell River area still producing big silvers with OG for Qualicum and Oyster and OVG for Cowichan. FG in Howe Sound for both springs and silvers and fish are beginning to enter Cheakamus. Lower Fraser streams bursting with fish but they are coy; OVG as rain has improved most waters.
CALIFORNIA: Smith River now best for chinooks where last week Albert L. Hoke of Oakland grassed a 50-pounder. Trinity Run heavy but rain needed before fish will hit; OG.
IDAHO: A few fish being taken near Riggin's on the main Salmon from above Sawmill to French Creek. FF for chinooks on Snake below Murphy Bridge but heavy rains have dampened activity throughout state and OP/F.