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Alberta: New World Record Bighorn Sheep

alberta sheepA bighorn sheep killed in a highway collision in Alberta has the largest horns ever recorded for the species. Boone and Crockett Club measurers recently certified it as the new world record.

The horns’ final score of 209 4/8 B&C edged out the previous record, another ram from Alberta that scored 208 3/8. That animal was shot by hunter Guinn Crousen in 2000.

The new #1 ram was hit by a vehicle on a highway west of Longview, Alberta. A local rancher who knew of the ram and found the animal on his property obtained a possession permit from Alberta Fish & Wildlife.

He said, “This ram and a younger ram had lived on the ranch where I worked since 2009. The older ram would go down to the highway a couple times a month, but the younger ram would rarely follow. We always wondered if one of these trips to the highway would be his last.”

Bighorns are unquestionably one of the most magnificent animals on Earth. We encountered and filmed two nice rams on a mule deer hunt in Oregon last fall. It’s cool and unique footage for a new episode of #bigdeertv to air later this year.



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Hunting TV: Why I Air No-Kill Episodes

tx sunsetIn the last couple of seasons of BIG DEER TV, we have aired episodes from Wisconsin, New York, Montana and other places where we hunted hard, had fun and did not shoot a buck. Those “no kill” shows were some of our most popular and highly rated episodes.

One good trend in hunting TV is that more and more viewers want to see and hear the real story, whether it ends with a buck or not, and more and more producers and network executives are getting that, albeit slowly.

Every time somebody questions me on whether we ought to air a no-kill episode or not, I point them to this letter I got one time from a viewer:

Mike: I want to tell you that I appreciated and enjoyed your recent show at Mouse River, ND. I enjoyed it for reasons you, and your producers likely did not–you didn’t get a deer. I appreciate you showing the truth and reality that the vast majority of us experience. Most of us hunt for days and weeks, and sometimes we come home with nothing but knowledge, experience and memories…also known as the important stuff.

I’m sitting in a cheap motel room in St. Ignace, MI. I’m here for 2 days to scout and set up some natural ground blinds on State Land for the upcoming bow and gun season. Two days in the heat, bugs, poison ivy and spiders just to increase our group’s chances of harvesting a deer this year. The State Land we hunt on doesn’t hold a lot of deer, but we’ve taken 3 mature bucks in the 4 past years. That equates to each dedicated hunter with a 1 in 4 odds of taking a mature buck in a given year. Last year I left empty-handed, but full-hearted. I spent over 120 hours hunting w/bow, rifle and muzzleloader. I passed on some spikes, couldn’t shoot the does, and never had a shot at the big boys.

We have access to properties in southern Michigan and have better luck putting venison in the freezer. But just shooting a deer isn’t what we’re after. We love the challenge of hunting the big northern woods. We accept the fact that our chance for the traditional definition of “success” is limited, but the experience is worth that sacrifice.

Your shows support that ideal; that “success” is no substitute for a challenge accepted.

For your producers and sponsors who wonder if my opinion is worth a damn in their financial models: I’m a 33 year old white male with an MBA from a Big Ten school working in the finance department for a major US corporation in metro-Detroit. I spend $1,000 a year in hunting equipment and fees. I spend roughly 25 days afield hunting whitetails. I watch the hunting channels religiously. I’m tired of seeing people shoot huge bucks in private, high-dollar, sometimes high-fenced places. I cannot relate to that experience. But I can relate to a hard hunt that doesn’t come to fruition. Thanks again for showing it once in a while. Kind Regards, —Paul from MI.

New Science: Deer Eat Eggs, Baby Birds

quail eggsFor years here in VA we have been blaming critters like raccoons, skunks and opossums for for preying on quail nests and contributing to the decline of wild birds here, but could another nest predator be to blame?

Whitetail deer!

Nola.com: Pam Pietz, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in North Dakota, set up miniature video cameras that ran 24 hours a day to document the fate of grassland songbird nests. She was surprised to find deer raided as many nests as badgers, and more than weasels or red foxes.

I can see a deer munching songbird or quail eggs if it happens across them, but Pietz’s research found they will also eat tiny unborn birds in a nest!

Biologists say that whitetails probably don’t go looking for nests to raid, but if they stumble across a nest full of eggs or babies they consume them and move on. And It does not appear to happen enough to be a major factor in the decline of wild quail or other bird populations.

The world of the whitetail sure is fascinating.

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