Monday, September 05, 2016

British Columbia: Hunting Season Is Finally Here

© By Othmar Vohringer

Today, September 1st, is the official start of the fall hunting season in our, and some other regions of the province. Until September 9th, when the general open season starts, only bowhunters can go out hunting. Having missed the spring season this year due to house and property improvement tasks, I am really looking forward to spending some time with my compound bow and crossbow in pursuit of mule and whitetail deer during the early part of the hunting season.

There are a few changes this year to the regulations for the Thomson region (Hunting Region 3). Bag limits of whitetail deer have been increased to two of either sex. The operation of all motor vehicles, excluding snow mobiles, has been prohibited anywhere over 1,700 meters above sea level, except on existing roads and designated trails. Hunting for Sharptailed grouse is partially closed in MU 3-30. Other changes to the hunting season are the dates for moose and other wildlife in certain management units of our region. Make sure you read and understand the regulation changes before you head out on a hunting trip in any particular management unit or to a different region. Fines for violations can be very steep and depending on the case, carry jail sentences and prohibition from hunting from one to several years.

The bulk of my hunting time this year will be spent with my younger brother who will be visiting us from Switzerland for three weeks. While I accepted the fact that I lost my twin brother earlier this year, two days after our birthday, I would be lying to say that I am fully recovered from this loss. More than that though, my brother’s passing made me realize that we all live on borrowed time and should spend more time with our family and friends. In this regard I look forward to spending more time with my wife and brother. There will be more fishing, more hunting and hiking together in our beautiful province than in previous years. It is these times that bring us memories that we will fondly remember for many years to come.

Most hunters have a “bucket list” of hunts they would like to go on. My bucket list is not very big or ambitious. I don’t dream of some exotic hunt in a foreign land. Mine includes a hunt for mountain caribou, a moose hunt in the northern tundra of our province and an elk hunt somewhere in the Kootenays or Peace region. I am hoping that I will be able to go on these hunts by next year and of course would like if my brother could join me in this endeavour. The planning for these hunts and information gathering has already begun.

To this day I’ve never forgotten how fortunate I am to share my outdoor passion with my wife Heidi and my brothers. There is no better way to enjoy the outdoor activities than with your spouse and family. With this in mind, I wish you all a safe and enjoyable start of a new hunting season during which you hopefully will make many great memories with your family and friends that will be treasured for a lifetime.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

British Columbia - The Best Place On Earth To Fish

© Othmar Vohringer

Image: Copyright Heidi I. Koehler
It is no secret that British Columbia is one of the most sought after fishing destinations in the world. Annually thousands of anglers from all over the world travel to our province to fulfill their dream to at least once in their lifetime have been here. With over 400 million dollars in revenue annually added to the government coffers from recreational anglers proves that fishing is very popular and important to our economy.

Considering that British Columbia has more than 20,000 kilometers of coastline, tens of thousands of kilometers of streams and rivers and over 50,000 lakes and ponds that hold a large variety of all kinds of fish species you can say without brag: “BC is the best place in the word for fishing”.

Having said that, the best place to fish in British Columbia is without question right here in the Thompson – Nicola District. Be that one of hundreds of lakes and ponds, the rivers Fraser, Thompson, Coldwater or Nicola or any of the many other streams that flow though our region you can be assured there are fish to catch. From the prehistoric sturgeon to salmon, trout and many other fish species we have it all here. It has been said, and I believe this to be true, that you can fish in the Thompson-Nicola Region every day for all of your life and you still have not managed to fish every place.

The long warm season plus nutrient-rich and clean water in our area are a perfect mix to sustain large and healthy fish populations. In addition, many of our lakes are annually stocked by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC with millions of trout of different species. The diversity of fishing opportunities offers a variety of angling experiences for both the beginner and the expert. There are many lakes with a large population of smaller catchable trout that can reach up to four pounds with the average being 15 to 20 inch fish for the angler wanting to catch many fish and for the beginner who is learning how to fish. Then there are the lakes that are managed for large fish, with trout of up to 15 pounds and higher, providing the opportunity to catch the biggest trout of a lifetime. Most of our lakes are easily accessible for fishing from shore and most also feature boat ramps. Some other lakes, often where the best trophy fishing is to be had, are not those easily accessible making a four-wheel drive vehicle a necessity. These lakes also usually have equipment use restrictions (such as fly fishing only) and reduced limits or are catch and release only.

Some years ago Merritt used the slogan “Fish a lake a day for as long you stay.” That was a good slogan because it was factual. It also was a testimony to the fact that the majority of the people living here are avid outdoor enthusiasts. As anglers we’re a truly privileged people to live right here in the best place on earth to fish. Unlike the thousands of anglers traveling hundreds and often thousands of kilometers from all over Canada, the USA and the world to come to British Columbia we are never more than an hour’s drive away from world class fishing. Best of all this has been made possible because anglers provide the millions of dollars needed to keep and manage our fishery. For those of you that are not into fishing and wonder what the long lines of vehicles pulling boat trailers are all about on the highway heading towards Merritt, now you know; they are all coming to the place where fishing dreams come true.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Firearm Owners Are Targeted After Orlando Shooting

© Othmar Vohringer

It has become a common scenario to target firearm owners after a mass shooting and it is no different with the recent shooting at a gay bar in Orlando. Mainstream media and politicians fall over themselves promoting the urgency of more gun control laws, using buzz words like “gun violence”, “assault rifles”, “AR-15” and “semi-automatic weapons”. The latter three phrases are often used interchangeably to create the illusion that are all the same. This strategy works well to scare a largely ignorant population into thinking that drastic measures are needed to prevent people from getting murdered with firearms.

Of course there is no such thing as “gun violence”. Firearms are not violent, people can, and often are, violent and they use whatever means they have to commit murder or harm. If you look up the FBI statistics about murder rates by weapon type it turns out that a large number of homicides are not carried out with firearms but with an array of other weapons too. The knife, for example, ranks the highest after firearms. Next are blunt instruments (baseball bat, crowbar and such). Yet, nobody in their right mind would use the phrase “knife violence” or “baseball violence.” According to an article in the Washington Post, privately owned legal firearms number as high as 360 million, compared to that stands an average of 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000 people).

The simple truth is that stricter firearm laws do not lower violence. Here in Canada we had a very strict gun control law for over ten years: the $2,000,000,000 Firearms Registry. When the conservative government finally abolished it there was a big outcry with fears fueled by the media that now ‘gun crime’ would rise. Statistics show that this has not happened. The crime rate involving guns did not rise in fact it went down. Even the RCMP, in charge of gun control and enforcing the law, had to admit that not a single registered firearm, of the millions of guns on the registry or their owners, was involved in any firearm related criminal activity. England, next to Germany, has the most restrictive firearms control laws in Europe, they even banned carrying a knife, and yet the man who murdered British MP Jo Cox last month did so with a firearm and a knife. In China civilians can’t own any firearms whatsoever, even the police officers must store their firearms at the police station at the end of their shift, yet China experiences a relatively high number of violent crimes involving firearms.

If stricter laws don’t work to reduce violent crimes then what is the problem? The system is the problem! In several interviews Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, points out that the system is broken, more specifically the information exchange between law-enforcement agencies. For example, in the case of the Orlando shooting the FBI knew for the two years that Mateen was a radicalized individual and put him on a “no-fly” list. However, according to Sherriff Clake and others, the FBI did not pass that information on to other law-enforcement agencies in the country. Neglecting to pass information on made it possible that Mateen could legally purchase a firearm. When the firearm store owner made the mandatory criminal background check Mateen’s name came up clean.

We don’t need more laws; we need to fix the broken information system, enforce the laws we have and enforce them to the fullest extent instead of making up the usual excuses for criminals. Above all, let law enforcement do their work uninterrupted by politically correct agendas. This would serve much better to protect people from violent offenders then vilifying millions of law-abiding firearm owners. With issues like gun- control I am always reminded of a line I read a few years ago “For every problem there are hundreds of people chopping away at the leaves and branches, but nobody tackles the root of the problem.”

For a better understanding let me explain the terms “assault rifle”, “semi-automatic firearms” and “AR-15”. Knowing the difference may make you less vulnerable to the lies and myth you hear and read.

An ‘assault firearm’ is capable of select and serial fire, meaning, by the flick of a switch it can be turned from a single shot into serial fire capability. Serial fire capability lets the shooter pull the trigger once and the weapon keeps on shooting, like a machine gun, until the trigger is let go again or the magazine is empty. There is no need to ask for a ban on assault firearms because they are already forbidden to own, sell and purchase, even in America. However that does not stop the anti-gun lobby from suggesting that these types of firearms are legally owned by private citizens.

A ‘semi-automatic’ firearm (also called ‘self-loading firearm’) uses recoil or gas from the spent cartridge energy to automatically load a new cartridge into the chamber. Unlike the ‘assault rifle’ the shooter must pull the trigger each time to fire the gun. Many hunting firearms are semi-automatic, including shotguns and .22 caliber sporting rifles. The much maligned AR-15 rifle is also a semi-automatic rifle but cosmetically dressed up to look like an assault rifle, the “AR” stands for ArmaLite Rifle, not as often deliberately described by mainstream media, for “Assault Rifle”.

On a closing note I suggest that people should not give too much credit to the constant spread of deliberate misinformation and outright lies about firearms and lack of firearm laws. And finally, we don’t solve problems of escalating violence by vilifying and discriminating against the millions of law-abiding firearm owners. Problems are solved by targeting the root of the problem, not by looking for scapegoats.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Alien Fish Invading British Columbia

© Othmar Vohringer

© Ken McBroom. ramblingangler. com
The designation “alien fish” is given to any fish species that is not native to British Columbia. If they are not native then how do they get here? Some fish species have been legally introduced many decades ago for a variety of reasons- mostly for commercial purposes. Others have been introduced illegally, meaning they have been transported from their natural habitat and released in our waters or are disposed-of pet fish, such as the snakehead and the Asian carp.

While not all alien fish species pose a problem to our native fish and aquatic animals (such as crappie and other members of the sun fish family), some do. The small and large mouth bass can become problematic if their numbers take over a smaller body of water. Even worse, the Snakehead, a ferocious predatory fish from Asia, can literally wipe out native fish species in a matter of just a few years and pose a serious risk to other species such as ducks, beavers, muskrat and frogs that live a great part of their life in the water or on the water surface.

Angler’s opinions are divided whenever alien fish species come up in a discussion. There are those that accept them as a welcome addition to the angling sport and others that feel the government should undertake every possible effort to destroy these alien species. Interestingly, the latter segment of anglers often refuses to target alien fish. Yet, if they are that concerned they should try to catch as many of these fish as they can thereby doing their part to reduce the population.

I am one of those anglers that welcome some of these alien fish species as an additional fishery to our native species. Having lived for a number of years in America before making Canada my permanent home I became quite fond of fishing for crappies, large and small mouth bass. There are several lakes in our region that hold small to good populations of these two species and if you’re willing to travel to the Lower Mainland there are even more lakes and streams with good populations as well.

Crappies are not only fun to fish they are also among the best-tasting fish and with generous bag limits of up to 20 per day in regions 2 and 8 you’re bound to stock up on your fish supply fast.

While spring and fall are the best times for fishing this species they are active in summer as well. Crappie live and travel in groups, so chances are that if you catch one there will be others around in that vicinity. Crappie love structure such as weed beds, submerged trees, rock piles and other forms of cover. Finding structures like these are a good start to begin your fishing day.

Crappies have a very small mouth and hits are not often that obvious. Choosing the right equipment is important. My favourite is a light seven foot rod fitted with a small reel filled with 4 to 6 pound test line. Hook size should be small too, not larger than a number 8 hook. Crappie can be attracted with a variety of lures ranging from plastic baits over small spoons to spinners and live bait, such as worms, maggots and, where legal, live minnows. My personal favourite are small jig heads in various colors tipped with 1 to 1 ½ inch plastic curly tails and other plastics that imitate live food sources. Depending on the situation I may use the regular jigging method or float jigging. Other methods such as trolling, casting and retrieving or the good old float fishing can work just as well. Give fishing for alien fish a try this summer. Be aware though, you may get hooked on it.

Talking about fishing; I would like to remind you all that this coming Sunday (June 19th) the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club hosts their annual Father’s Day Fishing event. This great family fishing event is held at the children’s pond between Kentucky and Alleyne Lake. The event begins at 9 am until 2 pm. There will be lots of prizes available for the children plus refreshments and a fish cleaning station where children can learn how to safely clean their catch. At the event there will also be volunteer instructors in attendance to assist newcomers to the fishing sport with useful tips and hands-on-expertise. This is a great event for the entire family to enjoy and have a great time.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Ticks Are More Than Just A Pesky Nuisance

© Othmar Vohringer

Tick season is here and they seem to be more plentiful than in previous years. Health Canada and the health ministers of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia issued warnings that the tick populations in the respective provinces experienced a drastic population increase. The blacklegged tick, also called the deer tick, is of particular concern as it carries the bacteria Borrelia budoferi, which is responsible for causing Lyme disease in humans.

It is assumed that the relatively mild and short winters we experienced over the past few years may have contributed to the unexpected population growth of the ticks. The affected provinces keep monitoring the continued expansion of blacklegged ticks which are most often encountered from early spring through late fall. Lyme disease is passed on to people by a bite from this particular tick. The symptoms of Lyme disease can start within three days of a tick bite and the symptoms range from an expanding rash which then fades away and can include headache, neck stiffness, muscle aches, fatigue, fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes. If you experience one or more of these symptoms it is advisable to get in contact with your doctor and arrange for an examination and blood test. Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics if it is diagnosed in the early stages. Patients with advanced Lyme disease infections are more difficult to treat and rarely can the disease be completely eradicated and may become chronic.

Ticks are most commonly found in rural and forested areas, where they reside on the tips of grass and leaves in tall grass meadows and brushy areas waiting for a host, animal or human, to come by. In urban areas ticks reside mostly along trails bordered by tall grass and thick brush vegetation. When a host walks by the tick simply crawls on the animal or human as it brushes up against it.

The best prevention against ticks is to avoid areas that are preferred tick habitat. Of course if you’re a hunter, angler, camper or other outdoor enthusiast it is practically unavoidable to come in contact with ticks and you have to take extra precautions to protect yourself.
  • Apply an appropriate tick repellant(containing DEET) to exposed skin and clothing.
  • If possible, wear long thin silk underpants, socks and t-shirts (ticks cannot penetrate silk) and tuck pant legs into the socks.
  • After returning from a trip outdoors check yourself over for ticks on your body; you may need assistance from your spouse or a friend to check your backside and hair.
  • Take clothing outside and spray liberally with a product that contains permethrin that kills ticks. Simply washing your garments will not kill ticks that are hiding in your clothing.
  • Treat you dog regularly with products that kill ticks on contact. Ask your veterinarian for product advice.
To remove a tick from your body that already has attached itself refer to the tick removal procedure information provided on the BC government/ HealthLinkBC website. Caution: if you have never removed an attached tick do not attempt it until you know how it is done correctly. Removing a tick the wrong way could cause a nasty infection if a part of the tick remains in your skin.

While tick transmitted Lyme disease are rare (it is estimated that only one in 500 ticks carry the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease) there’s always a chance, and it is just not worth taking. Be prepared and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having now to be outdoors.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A long walk down memory lane

© Othmar Vohringer

On May the 9th my world was turned upside down. The short message I received from Brazil, where my brother lived with his family for over 25 years read; “Your twin brother Gabriel passed away this morning”. I had to read it twice and then again to realize what I had just read. Then it hit me with full force, the person, with whom in spirit I just celebrated our birthday three days ago, is no longer with me. Having had to deal with a few deaths in our family, including my parents, I felt that this was much harder to deal with. Was it because Gabriel is my twin brother and as such we share a closer spiritual bond or was it the fact that we just celebrated our birthday? I don’t know. I just knew I had to deal with it and get the emotional turmoil under control again.

There are many different ways for people to deal with loss. My way is to take a long walk down memory lane and remember shared experiences. The things that stand out the most are outdoor activities- like my first fishing trip with my brothers. Gabriel, my younger brother Roland and I went off on a four kilometer hike at the age of seven to fish on a lake that over the years would become our favourite hangout place during the hot summer months. Back then children were not so much fretted over and pampered as they are today, so it was common for children to undertake their own adventures without constant parental supervision and there were no cell phones back then. Parents trusted their children that they would use what they learned and knew what consequences it would have if they don’t.

There are many memories like this because our parents, despite long working hours, always made sure to spend as much time with us as possible, even if that meant they had no time to themselves . Another such early memory that flooded in my mind was the day my father taught us how to swim at age five or six. My twin brother took to water like the proverbial duck. I on the other hand was not too keen on it but eventually with lots of coaxing I learned to swim. A certain dislike for the water is still with me to this day, although I am a good swimmer. I take my “sweet time” to get wet, much to the enjoyment of my wife, who also takes to water like a duck. The way I look at it water is for fish and as long I can sit in a dry boat and catch them I am as happy as can be to be on the water rather than in it. Besides fishing, swimming, skating and skiing, my parents taught us about nature and how things in nature work together. With that kind of upbringing it was no surprise that we would turn into outdoor enthusiasts.

Another fun memory that readily resurfaces in my mind was the annual friendly competition my twin brother and I had each fall. It usually started with the delivery of the firewood for the winter and which of us two had split more wood at the end of the day. My father used to fuel that competition and it took me a while to realize why…it meant less work for him. Gabriel also had a great sense of humour too and could bring laughter to the dullest place within minutes. He knew how to cheer you up and for him the glass was never half empty, it always was half full; every dark side had a lighter side, not the other way around. One day on a school outing I fell out of a tree. I ended up with a broken arm and collarbone. While the teacher ran off to the nearby schoolyard to get her car to drive me to the hospital my brother and the other kids stayed with me. Gabriel was not like the others making long faces. No, for him it was all about making jokes and fun of the way I tumbled out of the tree and that in turn cheered me up too. I assume my thinking back then was: if my twin brother is not upset and worried, why should I be?

Walking down memory lane has brought many wonderful events back to my mind that I was able to share with my parents and brothers. I am eternally grateful to have had a brother like Gabriel to share our joint love and appreciation for all things nature offered. To this day sharing wonderful outdoor experiences with family and friends remains a vital part of what hunting and fishing is all about.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fishing For The Future

© Othmar Vohringer

Here in British Columbia fishing is without a doubt a very popular outdoor activity, perhaps the most popular outdoor activity overall. This did not happen by sheer chance. Sure, we are fortunate in this province to have an abundance of publicly accessible lakes, ponds, streams and rivers covering a total of 19,549 square kilometers of our total landmass. The real reason why fishing has become such a popular activity is largely due to the efforts put forth by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) in the conservation of the fishery and the promotion of the fishing sport.

The FFSBC is a private organization created in 2003 by concerned anglers as North America’s first private not-for-profit fishing agency. The independent board of directors and professional staff work in partnership with government fishing agencies to ensure the long-term health of our fish population and promote ethical and sustainable fishing practices. In 2015 the BC government announced an agreement that the FFSBC will receive 100% of the annual revenue generated from the sale of freshwater fishing licenses, which amounts to 10 million dollars. The minister for told the media “The additional funding will allow the society to work with provincial biologists to improve angling opportunities in small lakes, large lakes and rivers. This includes angler access improvements, stock assessment to help inform management decisions, and resources to enhance capacity for compliance monitoring and enforcement on both stocked and wild waterbodies.”

Each year the FFSBC stocks thousands of lakes across BC (over 100 lakes alone in the Thomson-Nicola region) with millions of trout. In addition the society stocks many rivers with millions of steelhead. Where do these fish stocks come from? The FFSBC raises over eight million fish annually in six fish hatcheries owned by the society in Duncan, Abbotsford, Summerland, Clearwater, Fort Steele and Vanderhoof. The fish eggs are collected from wild stocks in nine egg collection stations situated throughout the province. The fish eggs are then distributed among the society owned hatcheries. When the fish reach a size that permits them to survive in the wild they are transported in specially outfitted tank trucks to the various lakes and ponds in our province and released.

The money for this large scale operation comes from the licence sale of the 270,000 recreational anglers to the tune of 10 million dollars and though partnerships with other organizations and commercial sponsors. Raising hatchery fish and stocking lakes and rivers with fish is one aspect of the society. The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC also undertakes critical and widespread work and research on fish conservation and habitat programs.

Some may ask “Why stock fish for the purpose of fishing?” The answer to that question is quite simple. Stocking fish goes a very long way towards accommodating recreational anglers who contribute 546 million dollars to the provincial economy and more importantly, it eases the pressure on our wild fish stocks. With such an abundance of fish available through this work the needs of all anglers can be met.

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC gets support in the promotion of the fishing sport from the hundreds of clubs across our province. Locally, the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club in Merritt organize FFSBC events such as the “Learn Fishing” and “Fishing the City” programs that are an integral part in educating people about fishing and fish conservation while attracting new and young anglers to this family orientated outdoor activity.

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC is a shining example of how to manage a sustainable resource (our freshwater fisheries) by funding acquired through end user license fees rather than the tax payer. The FFSBC is continually working towards ensuring a viable fishery far into the future for generations to come. To learn more about the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC and the important work they do visit their website;

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Preserving The Memory Of A Hunt

© Othmar Vohringer

© Copyright Steven Beckley
Preserving the memories of a hunt is a long standing tradition among hunters that can be traced back to the famous cave drawings of Lascaux in France, estimated to be about 18 thousand years old. The drawings depict, among accurate animal profiles, hunting scenes and images of hunters posing with game animals they’ve killed. As time went on the memories of the hunt included preserving the skin of the animal and we see the first head and full body preservation of animals in ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. In Egypt it was not uncommon to kill and mummify the favourite pet or the prized war horse, of a deceased individual. Diseased Pharaohs were given whole menageries of carefully mummified animals to entertain and serve the King in the afterlife. Some of these mummified animals displayed in museums today look as lifelike as they did two-thousand years ago.

In many early cultures hunters would prepare the skin of an animal they hunted and wear it because they believed that the spirit of the animal would give them strength and wisdom, but also as a memorial of sorts to honour the animal whose life they took, and as a way to thank the Gods for providing them with important sustenance.

Throughout the times and in various cultures the skill to preserve the skin of an animal or bring it “back to life” was a highly respected craft in the hands of priests or shamans. The ancient Greeks called these skilled professionals “Taxidermists”, a title still in use today. The word “taxidermy” is made up of the Latin word “taxis” (arrange, arranging the order of things) and the word “derma” (skin).

Modern taxidermy is a multi-faceted practice that involves a great many skills and crafts ranging from carpentry, molding and sculpting to painting and drawing which requires an intimate knowledge of animal anatomy and movement. All these talents combined are required to create a replica of an animal that looks so real and natural you wouldn’t know the difference at a cursory glance. Good taxidermy work is expensive but the memory of that special animal you took will last with minimal care for many generations to come.

It is common for many hunters to point out that a particular mount on their walls was “shot by my grandfather.” Often there is a handwritten note attached to the back of the mount telling the story of the hunt. Memories don’t get better than that.

I always have been a great admirer of good taxidermy and continually marvel at the skill that it takes to create a replica of a live animal that is the perfect likeness down to the minutest detail. Seven years ago when Heidi and I moved to Merritt I was surprised to learn that this city, with its long and lively hunting tradition, didn’t have a taxidermist in town.

Well the good news is that this has changed. Two years ago Steven Beckley, a very talented taxidermist from Mckenzie, B.C moved to Merritt. Steven began his taxidermist career mainly for the reason of preserving the animals he has taken in North America and Africa and because he was fascinated by the art of taxidermy. Steven loves perfection and that is another reason why he chose to mount his own trophies. A phrase that kept coming up during our conversation was: “It has to look real.” How dedicated Steven is to his work becomes evident when you see the many certificates of excellence and awards hanging on the wall and of course there are the finished mounts and works-in-progress in his garage that look so real that you’re inclined to touch them to convince yourself that they are not alive.

Steven Beckley has learned his trade from the best in the business: Brian Dobson who operates Artistic Taxidermy in Alberta. Brian Dobson is considered the dean of North American taxidermy artistry with a long list of prizes and awards for his outstanding work and craftsmanship. Steven is destined to follow his tutor’s and mentor’s footsteps; his work is an outstanding testament to this fact. To see Steven’s taxidermy, go online to Facebook and see “Beckley’s Wilderness Taxidermy Studio”. I am glad we finally have a good taxidermist in Merritt, it was a long time coming and in this case well worth waiting for. I know who will preserve the memories of my future hunts- welcome to Merritt Steven Beckley.

Monday, February 08, 2016

It’s Show Time

© Othmar Vohringer

The four seasons of the year are a bit different for me than the regular person. The seasons are divided into outdoor trade show season, spring hunting season, fishing season and then fall hunting season. The outdoor trade show season starts right about now and lasts approximately until the middle of April.

Outdoor trade shows are a great way for me to see new hunting and fishing gear that will soon be available in the shops. The trade show season is also the time in which I partake in seminars and various workshops and events. Meeting other hunters, anglers and industry people is always a special highlight of that time. Seminars are another way for me to reach out to hunters and educate them about our rich hunting heritage and our responsibilities as ethical hunters, stewards and conservationists of wildlife, and the importance of passing this honoured tradition to the next generation.

When it comes to outdoor trade shows our province is somewhat of a sleeper. The biggest show in B.C. is the Boat & Sportsman’s Show held annually at the Trade-Ex in Abbotsford. This year the exhibition runs from March 4 th to 6 th; it is also the show’s 25th year anniversary.

For that occasion the show has been enlarged with additional exhibitors from the boating, fishing, hiking and hunting sector. In addition, the archery shooting range will be expanded and the famous hunting and fishing film tour is free of charge and so the many hunting and fishing seminars/workshops presented by some of the most recognized experts in the industry.

Much closer to home, in Kelowna, the BC Interior Sportsman Show is scheduled to open its doors from April 9th to 10th at the Capital News Centre. After two years of planning this will be the inaugural opening for this show. I am particularly honoured that I’ve been slated to appear at this venue with my turkey hunting seminars. I hope to see many of my more regular readers at the BC Interior Sportsman Show… stop by and say hello. Daily admission is a modest ten dollars for adults and youth (13 and older) or you can purchase a family pass for 25 dollars (2 adults and 2 youth); children under the age of 12 years get in free. The BC Interior Sportsman Show focuses on fishing, outdoor recreational activities and hunting.

That rounds up what’s on offer in British Columbia. Alberta and Ontario in contrast have huge and well established outdoor oriented trade shows. If you happen to be in Calgary between February 4th to 7th be sure to take in the Calgary Boat & Sportsman Show at the BMO Centre Stampede Park. Besides the Calgary Boat & Sportsman Show there are affiliated shows in Edmonton on March 10th to 13th at the Edmonton Expo Centre, Northlands and the Toronto Sportsman Show on March 16th to 20th at the International Centre. These three shows are as big as they get in Canada attracting millions of visitors with thousands of exhibitors, activities, entertainment and a long line up of who’s who in the outdoor industry.

Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the other provinces have their own outdoor trade shows of various sizes and traditional status. All in all these trade shows are a sign that the hunting and fishing heritage is alive and well in this great nation of ours. For me it is of particular interest to see that each year more young people visit these shows across Canada, a sure sign that our hunting and fishing heritage is being successfully passed on to the next generations and with that will continue into the future.


To learn more about my seminars and availability please visit my website.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Gradual Evolution Of A Hunter

© Othmar Vohringer

Copyright ©Heidi Koehler Photography 
In the second week of December I planned to go hunting one more time before the season closes. As usual, the night before I got all my gear together and consulted my notes in preparation for the next day. My alarm awoke me at 4:30 in the morning. While the coffee was brewing I started to load up the truck with hunting gear then went back into the house. While sitting at the kitchen table sipping the fresh coffee in front of me I decided I would rather just go back to bed. I unloaded the truck and did just that.

That morning I had reached a certain point in “the evolution of a hunter”. As with all things in life the perspective of a hunter changes as time goes on. These stages are broadly recognized as the “Shooter Stage”, “Limiting out Stage”, “Trophy Stage”, “Method Stage” and finally the “Sportsman Stage”.

As a hunter matures the factors of what he may consider to be a successful hunt may change, so may his goals, ethics and often his role models and hunting companions too.

The “shooting stage” is the phase where a young or new hunter ties his success closely in with getting a lot of shooting done or at least seeing lots of game animals that provide him with exiting opportunities. A young or new hunter is also very inquisitive, constantly observing and investigating everything that happens around him to learn from it. It is at this beginning stage of his evolution where it pays to keep a close watch and guide the hunter in the right direction and tame his or her trigger happy eagerness.

When the hunter reaches the “limiting out stage” the satisfaction is still somewhat guided by the numbers of animals that he is able to take in a given season. It’s called the limiting out stage because at this stage the hunter is driven by the desire to fill his allowable game limits, but unlike the “shooter” this hunter has learned much about hunting tactics and will employ that knowledge with almost religious eagerness to achieve his goals.

The hunter who reaches the “trophy stage” is very selective about what he wants and what he regards as “success”. These hunters look for a very special animal and for that they are prepared to travel far and wait for years until the opportunity arrives to take that very special animal that they have set their mind on. For them the “kill” becomes less important than the search and hunt itself. In this case even a hunt without a kill is a success because “success” is also measured in experiences made.

“Method hunters” have accumulated all the equipment and knowledge they possibly could or would need. The satisfaction for these hunters still comes from the game they take but more so from the methods they employ. Method hunters can spend days, weeks and months planning a hunt or particular strategy. Quite often the planning and strategy becomes more of a focus than the “kill”. They may make it more challenging for themselves simply because they are bored with what they consider the “easy way” of achieving success. At this stage of a hunter’s life it’s often just the knowledge that he could have pulled the trigger if he wanted too that provides the satisfaction.

And finally, when a hunter reaches the “sportsman stage” he tends to mellow out. This hunter has achieved everything and accumulated an immense knowledge about wildlife, nature and conservation. Now it’s time to slow down and smell the roses a bit. This hunter’s satisfaction often comes from the total experience of being out in nature with friends and family. The Sportsman stage hunter does not have the inner urge anymore to go hunting at every available moment at his disposal. If he wakes up on the morning of a planned hunt but doesn’t feel like it anymore he goes back to bed, knowing there will be other days to go out to hunt.
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