Thursday, March 27, 2014

B.C. Government Allows Hunters To Shoot Feral Pigs Anywhere At Anytime

© By Othmar Vohringer

Wild and feral pigs have been spotted in the Kamloops, Okanagan, Peace, Kootenay and Lower Mainland regions, and the government doesn’t want any of it. In a media release the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced that the swine are now listed as a “schedule C” animal and hunters with a valid hunting license could shoot them anywhere and anytime they encounter this invasive species.

Having lived and traveled for a few years in America and seen firsthand how fast wild and feral pigs multiply and spread - and the devastation they create on habitat and agricultural crops - I can fully understand and appreciate our government’s drastic measure.

Where do these pigs come from? Wild pigs (like pheasant, fallow deer and many other species) are not native to North America; they were introduced by the first European settlers for sport hunting and agricultural purposes. The current “North American wild pig” is predominantly a hybrid of Russian wild boar and domesticated pigs that escaped. This interbreeding has created a particularly hardy animal that is able to survive in almost any condition from the desert to the lower alpine regions.

So far British Columbia is a small corner of North America where feral pigs are still small in numbers compared to other parts where the pig population, despite relentless hunting from ground and with helicopters, has gone totally out of control. The B.C. government views the “war on pigs” as a proactive measure to make sure we do not end up with the same problems that exist elsewhere.

Once established in an area wild pigs are extremely hard to control and keep their populations in check. Under the right conditions a sow can have two litters of piglets in any given year. While nursing one litter she is already impregnated with the next litter. The piglets are independent within six months and ready to reproduce. The average litter size can be as high as eight to ten piglets with the average surviving to adulthood being five to seven.

The good news for hunters is that wild hogs make for some very good and healthy table fare. Wild pork is some of the best meat that I ever had the pleasure to eat, and being wild it is also totally organic and is not dripping with excessive fat like domestic pork. Hunting wild pigs can also be very challenging. While pigs can’t see much beyond the tip of their noses their incredible sense of smell and hearing make them nearly unapproachable. Something else that makes pigs a challenge to hunt is their “bravery”. When cornered, injured, threatened wild pigs have no hesitation to attack their adversary with the ferocity one would attribute to a lion. There have been eye witness accounts that even a bear or cougar would run if he encountered an angry wild boar. It is for this reason that in Florida and some other American jurisdictions it is mandatory to hunt wild pigs from an elevated platform, like a treestand or shooting house.

In my forays throughout the Nicola Valley I have never seen feral pigs or any sign of them and can’t tell with certainty if we have any roaming around or not. Having said that, I will pay more attention to it in the future, it’s been a while since I had barbecued wild pork ribs and I wouldn’t mind having it again.
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If you have seen any feral or wild hogs in British Columbia or hunted them we would like to hear your story.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Will the BC mountain caribou be extinct in our lifetime?

© By Othmar Vohringer

That might very well be the case if drastic conservation measures are not enacted quickly. The emphasis here is on “quickly”, which is a bit of an oxymoron in politics. The southern mountain caribou populations are in rapid decline despite an extensive provincial recovery plan. Why? The caribou recovery plan is complex and contains important short and long term measures that need to be addressed and implemented if we hope to save the mountain caribou herd.

There are many contributing factors to the steady decline of mountain caribou populations that need to be urgently addressed. Obvious factors are logging of old growth forests, mining and snowmobiling in sensitive caribou habitat. If that wasn’t enough, caribou herds face voracious predation by overpopulation of cougars and particularly wolves. This is a problem that can be fixed right now and with little expense to the taxpayers and would help the caribou enormously to sustain their numbers.

Even more simply and effectively is the government’s own wolf management plan which is essentially culling. Culling however, is controversial to many city people (potential voters) and therefor is not being fully implemented nor promoted.

The science is very clear on what needs to happen right now to save the mountain caribou. It takes time to regrow the forests and restore the habitat to the point where the caribou population can thrive and prosper. However, even these measures are of little use if the wolf and cougar population continues to grow with no controls. The latest survey, conducted by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, suggests that only 1’5033 mountain caribou are left in BC. In 2007 the population count was 1’900, when the government announced a recovery goal to increase the herd to 2,500 by 2027. At the rate the caribou population loss occurs now there won’t be any caribou left within a few years from now.

Even the extensive captive caribou breeding program with animals transported from Alberta will fail if the wolves kill the caribou faster than they can be re-introduced back into the wild. A year ago, in addition to captive breeding, the government transplanted caribou from a “healthier” herd but that plan failed miserably: all the animals were killed by predators. The experts say that it would take approximately 20 years of intensive captive breeding and habitat restoration to bring our caribou herd back to its former glory but this is impossible as long as the wolf populations remain at such high numbers. Rather than trying to appease animal rights and anti-hunters, or worry about votes, it would be welcomed if the government would listen to wildlife experts and enforce the caribou recovery and wolf management plan. This not the time to worry about the opinions of the anti-wolf cull lobby and the misinformed. We need to implement the wolf management plan now or stand to lose the woodland caribou for ever.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Are We Destroying Our Wildlife And Nature?

© Othmar Vohringer

How many of you can remember the time during the 1960’s when news from around the world of eagles and other birds of prey falling dead from the sky terrified us? After much research it was found that the then commonly used insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was the culprit. The highly toxic insecticide was not only deadly to the insects but every other animal that ate insects, such as frogs, songbirds, fish and others. The birds of prey in turn ate the songbirds, frogs and fish. It was a deadly chain reaction all the way up the food chain. DDT also made its way into our food and scientists quickly found that DDT caused birth defects and cancer among other illnesses.

The outcome of the DDT aftermath research and how it affected nature, wildlife and humans caused an international outcry and started the “global environmental movement”. Eventually, after much political wrangling, DDT was internationally outlawed as an insecticide. Public opinion put a stop to the global poisoning, at least that is what we all thought.

Jumping forward from the 1960’s to 2013 and we are in a new crisis. Again we hear news from around the globe of fast declining honeybee populations and more recently of songbirds, frogs, salamanders and other small critters which at one time were plentiful but are now vanishing fast. Again the liberal use of pesticide is blamed for the decline of these animal populations. But what about larger animals such as our moose and mule deer populations right here in British Columbia? Are they affected too by the use of pesticides and other chemicals in the agriculture industry? Or are these animals the victim of the much hyped “global warming” effects? Not so if we are to go by what scientists say. We had global warming and global cooling before with little effect on wildlife. Animals, like humans, are very adaptable to climatic changes. What wildlife cannot adapt to is the poisoning of the food sources and the rapid loss of habitat. Both of these are plaguing our wildlife populations. DDT is outlawed but there are still tonnes of other equally deadly chemicals and poisons sprayed every day of the year all across the world, not to mention the genetically manipulated crop seeds killing every other plant growing nearby and insects eating from the plant.

Habitat loss occurs at a staggering pace. No matter how much we insist that we are environmentally conscious and how many laws and taxes we create in the name of “environmental consciousness”, when push comes to shove, we humans are not willing to forsake a new highway, shopping mall, golf course, housing projects and the extraction of renewable resources in the name of progress, prosperity and economic success. For as long as humans strive to make life easier with more gadgets and gizmos, bigger houses, easier access to shopping, more transportation networks and more use of renewable resources, wildlife always will be drawing the shorter straw. When wildlife and nature lose then so do humans and no matter how much we might believe ourselves to be above it all, we are an intricate part of nature and without it we’re as doomed as the honeybee. To think otherwise is simply foolish.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Boots That Are Made For Mucky Weather

© By Othmar Vohringer

Turkey hunting season, especially the early part, is notorious for constantly changing weather conditions, rain, snow and cold temperatures mixed with warm and sunny days are not uncommon. Quit often weather conditions can change during a single day from nice spring to cold winter conditions.

Because of that the avid turkey hunter has to be prepared for everything mother nature can dish out. For me this means, among other things, having a good pair of boots that can put up with the worst weather and still provide protection and comfort.

Is there such a thing? Yes there is! A year ago I purchased a pair of Muck boots and have grown so fond of them that I now own several pairs. I use to hate putting on rubber boots in wet weather because they made my feet sweat and cold. Another problem I encountered with rubber boots was that either they provided no ankle support or they when they did they were so tight that you needed Vaseline to in and out of them.

Muck boots are a very different story. These boots are made of Neoprene, of various thicknesses depending on the model, this fabric has a natural stretch that permits easy on and off despite the snug fit around the ankle. Neoprene also makes the boot much lighter than its rubber relative which in turn makes for less tiresome walking. This is especially important for turkey hunters as a lot of the hunting success depends on walking quickly from one to the next setup. For me a big plus of the Muck Boots is the fact that they a 100% waterproof and yet still breathable, which means, no more sweaty feet. Depending on the model the boots come insulated to keep your feet warm from departures as low as minus 60 degrees. While several features in the foot part of the boot make sure that your feet are comfortable. The aggressive sole of the boots lets you walk on just about any surface from a frozen lake to swamp without worries of losing traction.

Here I introduce you to the two models that I might use on any of my turkey hunts.

In cold weather with snow still on the ground, which happens often around here in early spring, I chose to wear Artic-Pro Muck boots (the brown pair in the image)
  • Fully insulated with 8mm Neoprene. This provides the optimal warmth, comfort, and waterproofing that you expect from a Muck Boot.
  • A fleece liner is added to keep your feet warm in down to -60 degrees
  • We wanted to make sure your feet were warm so we added an extra 2mm of thermal foam in the foot area.
  • The stretch-fit topline binding is snug around the calf to keep warm air in and cold air out
  • The seamless construction allows for easy cleaning with the simple spray of the hose
  • Double reinforcement in the instep, heel and achilles area where you need it most.
  • EVA midsole cushions with every step
  • Our specially designed Bob-Tracker outsole is molded to be rugged, aggressive and durable.
In warmer but wet weather I might wear my all-purpose knee high boots the Elite Stealth Muck Boots (camouflaged boots in the image)
  • Anti-microbial treatment prevents growth of odor causing bacteria
  • Inscentible® scent masking for improved concealment when hunting
  • 5mm NEOPRENE bootie with four-way stretch nylon, 100% waterproof, lightweight and flexible
  • Fleece lined
  • Additional Achilles overlay for added protection
  • 2mm thermal foam underlay added to the instep area for additional warmth
  • EVA molded midsole with contoured footbed
  • Reinforced toe
  • MS-1 molded outsole is rugged, aggressive and durable for maximum protection and stability.

To find out more about Muck Boots visit their website.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wolf Population Booming In The Nicola Valley

The following column has been previously published in the Merritt Herald in response to the wolf attack on a forestry worker near Merritt.

© Othmar Vohringer

Merritt has been in the international headlines again. This time it had nothing to do with feral cats or bobcats roaming in our city. This time it was much more serious. The headlines read: “Aggressive wolf pack attack near Merritt prompts warning”. The encounter was serious enough for the BC Forestry Safety Council to issue a warning to all their employees and people living in the Merritt area. As much as some try to convince us that this is just a singular case it happens more frequently each passing year. The provincial government has stated that the wolf population in our province is growing each year and in some areas has reached the point of over-population.

The regular readers of this column may remember my article about the peril of the BC mountain caribou. Part of the problem is a growing wolf population killing off these endangered animals at a rate that puts the survival of the entire herd in jeopardy. There are government reports that elk and moose population in some areas are facing similar pressure from wolves. With a growing wolf population the danger to humans increase dramatically too. Once the wolves have decimated their natural prey they quickly learn that human inhabited areas within their range are an easily accessible food source. Each year there are reports of farmers and ranchers that loose cattle and horses to packs of wolves. In one case it was reported that two wolves in a single night killed over 170 sheep. Wolf advocates try to convince us that wolves only kill what they need for food. Not quite true. Research has shown time and again that in areas where wildlife and livestock exist in large numbers wolves, for reasons not fully understood yet, will indiscriminately kill every animal they can catch. Humans in these areas are also attacked more frequently.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hunting Pheasants Without a Dog




There is no denying that hunting pheasants with the aid of a dog is a huge advantage. However not every hunter owns an upland birding dog or has the time and commitment it takes to turn an ordinary dog into a trusted and well-adjusted hunting partner. Does this mean that hunting pheasants without the aid of a dog is not possible? Far from it. It just means you have to adjust your hunting tactics. Hunting without a dog means you have to know how to read pheasant habitat and how the birds use available cover. Another aspect to consider is the recovery of downed birds. With the lack of a dog’s astonishing sense of smell it can be a bit of a chore to find a downed bird, especially if they come down in thick cover. This means you have to consider carefully when to shoot a flushing bird so that it does not fall, or manages to fly, into thick cover.

Without a dog at your service I find it best to hunt in pairs or in a small group. Personally I prefer a group to consist of not more than three hunters; any more and safety usually becomes an issue. My personal experience is that pairs work best when hunting along the edges of known pheasant habitat. Hunting in pairs still necessitates the establishment for some simple rules; one of the most important is to establish shooting directions. Usually this means to establishing the direction each hunter can shoot and can not shoot. For example, hunters never should shoot in the direction of the other hunter, regardless of how thick the cover is. Also, shooting over head of the other hunter regardless of the angle must be avoided at all times. It is therefore very important to know exactly the whereabouts of your hunting partner at all times. As a pair it is best to walk parallel to each other on either side of the cover. Remember that flushed birds often flush into the wind and then turn downwind to escape.
There are two different likely pheasant habitats that I would like to discuss here that are well suited for hunting without a dog. I will start with the forested habitat (thick cover) and then discuss farmland habitat (open cover). By the way, the tactics discussed here work equally well for other upland birds like the Ruffed Grouse and Blue Grouse among others.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Should Trapping Be Banned in British Columbia?

© Othmar Vohringer
(This column has been originally published in the Merritt Herald)

I got the idea for this column after giving an interview to Cam Donavin from the Merritt Radio station Q101. In the interview I was asked about my take on trapping and the anti-trapping petitions that are being circulated in Merritt, among other towns. After the interview I came to the conclusion that there is more to be said about the issue then can be said in two minutes on the radio.
In order for petitions to effect change to a particular law it needs several thousand signatures and they all must be from eligible British Columbia voters and not, as is often the case with animal rights engineered petitions, minors and foreigners. Often animal rights activists attempt to gain momentum for their agendas by using emotional appeals (think: “Bambi”) to bring their ideas across. To do that animal rights are often willing to fabricate information or grossly exaggerate.

Claims about phone calls from throughout the region to the petitioner regarding pet dogs having been killed or badly injured in traps have not turned up in police and conservation office reports.

Would a distressed pet owner in the face of such a scenario search the phone book for animal shelters in Merritt instead of calling 911? I find such an idea farfetched.

Pursuant to the BC Wildlife Act a person commits a serious offense to let a dog hunt or pursue wildlife, except as it is in accordance with existing regulations. A supervised dog is not likely to get caught in a trap …unless the owner of the animal is negligent and allows it to roam at will.

As a means of “non-violent” wildlife control animal rights often propose short sighted ideas in jurisdictions that find favour with them. But what they don’t mention in these proposals is that most “non-violent” measures they advocate do not actually offer solutions to wildlife population control. When we lived in Langley the town was approached by an animal rights group and persuaded to choose their solution of reducing the over population and consequent problems of beaver activity. Instead of allowing trappers to come in and remove the surplus animals permanently they chose to trap and relocate the beavers into other areas where they no doubt carried on as before…they continued to dam up canals and clog drainage pipes in other parts of the community. This was a hugely expensive “non-violent beaver management program” that simply put the problem off for two years; the city reversed its earlier decision and hired trappers to do the job correctly.

So should trapping be banned in British Columbia? Absolutely not! When we discuss wildlife management we need to approach it from a scientific aspect, not an emotional aspect, if we want to have any measure of balance. The reason why Canada, and America, is so successful in wildlife management, at a minimal cost to taxpayers, is because we realized that hunting and trapping are the only effective methods of wildlife management and conservation. For those that worry about the “humane” aspect of hunting and trapping, it is far more humane than any methods Mother Nature applies.

What's your take on this?

Monday, October 07, 2013

Melissa Bachman Bullied Off National Geographic Channel By Anti-Hunting Lobby Petition.

By: Othmar Vohringer

Melissa Bachman, known as the “Hardcore Huntress”, producer and co-host of Winchester Deadly Passion, has been dropped as a planned participant in the of an upcoming National Geographic production called “Ultimate Survivor Alaska”. The decision has apparently been made after a petition, calling for the dismissal of Mellissa, a “heartless trophy hunter”, signed by more than 13,000 anti-hunters has been sent to the TV channel management.

According to a news story National Geographic apparently wasted no time to deny Bachman to take part in the show. In other words they let themselves be bullied into a decision by a mere handful of extremists. What boggles my mind is why would National Geographic reach such a decision? Isn’t hunting a part of the “ultimate survival” in the wilds of Alaska? To my knowledge you can’t survive in the vast wildness on vegetables alone.

But what more important, at least it is to me. Is the fact that Melissa Bachman has been discriminated against and I can’t help wondering what a smart lawyer could do with that blatant ant violation of the anti-discrimination act. Have we really come that far in our “civilized” world that a handful of radicals can decide what or who we can see on television? It’s not that National Geographic makes excuses about dropping Melissa, they are quite open about it that the decision has been made because of a petition.

While anti-hunters celebrate their victory over the “death celebrating murderer” they themselves show the true radical intensions with hundreds upon hundreds of death threats against Melissa Bachman.

Here’s a small sample of the more printable comment left on a facebook page.

“We will find you bitch and skin you alive.”
“I hope you and your children die a horrible death.”
“I’ll hunt you down and the slowly torture and kill you the same way you do with the animals.”
“We need to kill all hunters as they do not deserve to breathe the same air as the rest of the decent humans.”

Shocking, and these are people that promote compassion and kindness to all living things on this planet. The fact it that animal rights and anti-hunters are some of the most vile, hateful and self-centred people anyone could encounter.

As hunters, regardless if we agree with trophy hunting or not, we should weigh in on this issue and contact National Geographic and let them know what we think. To be quiet about this means we’re easy bush overs and bow down to discrimination against us. The last time I looked it up hunting was still a legal activity all across North America.

What’s your take on this story?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Are We Destroying Our Wildlife And Nature?


I've been remiss posting on this blog of late and the only, but true, apology for it is that I have been over both ears in work the past couple of months. Here is my most recent column I wrote for the Merritt Herald.

Are We Destroying Our Wildlife And Nature?

© Othmar Vohringer

How many of you can remember the time during the 1960’s when news from around the world of eagles and other birds of prey falling dead from the sky terrified us? After much research it was found that the then commonly used insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was the culprit. The highly toxic insecticide was not only deadly to the insects but every other animal that ate insects, such as frogs, songbirds, fish and others. The birds of prey in turn ate the songbirds, frogs and fish. It was a deadly chain reaction all the way up the food chain. DDT also made its way into our food and scientists quickly found that DDT caused birth defects and cancer among other illnesses.

The outcome of the DDT aftermath research and how it affected nature, wildlife and humans caused an international outcry and started the “global environmental movement”. Eventually, after much political wrangling, DDT was internationally outlawed as an insecticide. Public opinion put a stop to the global poisoning, at least that is what we all thought.

Jumping forward from the 1960’s to 2013 and we are in a new crisis. Again we hear news from around the globe of fast declining honeybee populations and more recently of songbirds, frogs, salamanders and other small critters which at one time were plentiful but are now vanishing fast. Again the liberal use of pesticide is blamed for the decline of these animal populations. But what about larger animals such as our moose and mule deer populations right here in British Columbia? Are they affected too by the use of pesticides and other chemicals in the agriculture industry? Or are these animals the victim of the much hyped “global warming” effects? Not so if we are to go by what scientists say. We had global warming and global cooling before with little effect on wildlife. Animals, like humans, are very adaptable to climatic changes. What wildlife cannot adapt to is the poisoning of the food sources and the rapid loss of habitat. Both of these are plaguing our wildlife populations. DDT is outlawed but there are still tonnes of other equally deadly chemicals and poisons sprayed every day of the year all across the world, not to mention the genetically manipulated crop seeds killing every other plant growing nearby and insects eating from the plant.

Habitat loss occurs at a staggering pace. No matter how much we insist that we are environmentally conscious and how many laws and taxes we create in the name of “environmental consciousness”, when push comes to shove, we humans are not willing to forsake a new highway, shopping mall, golf course, housing projects and the extraction of renewable resources in the name of progress, prosperity and economic success. For as long as humans strive to make life easier with more gadgets and gizmos, bigger houses, easier access to shopping, more transportation networks and more use of renewable resources, wildlife always will be drawing the shorter straw. When wildlife and nature lose then so do humans and no matter how much we might believe ourselves to be above it all, we are an intricate part of nature and without it we’re as doomed as the honeybee. To think otherwise is simply foolish.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Duck Dinasty" A Reality TV Show Worth Watching

© By Othmar Vohringer

Amongst the many reality TV shows on offer today, many of which seek to entertain the viewers with an assortment of dysfunctional people engaged in various forms of self-destructive behaviours, there are some refreshing and (dare I say) wholesome choices available to those of us who enjoy HUNTING. Some of the best are “Swamp People”, “Mountain Men” and “Duck Dynasty” to name a few. I mention these not only because they are wildly entertaining but surprisingly they put forward some good life lessons and aren’t afraid of promoting values.

I will focus on my favorite: “Duck Dynasty”. The show is about the lives’ of a Louisiana family that have become famous in the hunting community for their duck calls which they market under the name “Duck Commanders”.

The company is operated by the Robertson family which consist of the family patriarch Phil, his wife Kay and their sons Willie, Jase, Jeb and Phil’s brother (Uncle) Si. The show plays out in the family’s native home of West Monroe, Louisiana. Almost every episode has a “plot” that revolves around family and work relationships with all the tensions it can create when ‘kin-folk’ have to work together.

Whether it is sibling rivalry, marital or parenting problems, it’s all played out before our eyes but with a noticeable difference when compared to many more mainstream reality shows: the Robertson’s all act surprisingly decent and respectful toward each other. While the show has no shortage of zany antics and disagreements between the members it always remains civil and in good humour.

With over 6 million viewers each week the show is one of the most popular reality TV shows currently on air. I believe that part of this huge success is the result of the show’s emphasis on strong family bonds and values. Each show features segments where the whole family shares time together, be that at the family’s big dining table, sharing a family barbeque on a lake or undertaking a trip into the countryside. Arising problems are not swept under the table, or worse, pretending they don’t exist; they are attended to and solved in a civil and humorous way.

TV viewers today are inundated by TV shows focussing on dysfunctional people. We’re exhausted with “relationships gone wrong”, “teenage pregnancy”, “drugs and family feuding”. Duck Dynasty with all its “redneck” antics is like a refreshing oasis that reminds us that “old fashioned” family values still work and that differences between people still can be overcome without vulgarity or resorting to violence. A family with strong bonds is a healthy and nurturing environment in which children can grow to become independent rational adults. Or as Phil Robertson put it, “A functional family is the fountain of individual strength and a good environment for children to grow up.”
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