Thursday, June 29, 2017

Outdoor TV Personality Pleads Guilty to Wildlife Violation

Unless you live in a vacuum, you have probably heard the news of another outdoor television personality being convicted of a wildlife crime. This time it is Bill Busbice Jr. Co-founder of Wildgame Innovations and co-host of the television show Wildgame Nation carried on the Outdoor Channel.

Outdoor Hub and many other outlets carried the news when it broke earlier this week. Here is a link to the whole story. In short, Busbice was hunting on his ranch in Wyoming for his television show. He had with him a camera man who captured the entire event on film and audio. The crime was also witnessed by two other anonymous hunters who reported the crime.

Busbice is charged with shooting a cow elk, and leaving it to rot. He was shooting at a trophy bull elk, and in the process shot the cow. But continued shooting at the bull until he finally killed it. Then Busbice instructed his ranch manager to drag the cow to an irrigation ditch to hide the kill and to hide the intestines of the bull. He was sentenced to 1.5 years of "unsupervised probation" which I really do not know what that is. and ordered to pay a fine of $23,000. He also lost his hunting and fishing privileges for 2 years which is reciprocal in 45 additional states including his home state of Louisiana. It is important to note that earlier in 2016, Busbice was cited in Wyoming for purchasing a resident tag as a nonresident and also purchasing more than the legal allowed number of deer tags.

As the news broke, Outdoor Channel sent out a statement that can be read here, but says basically, they are severing all ties with Busbice, his brand and his TV show will be removed immediately.

Now for my take on the whole mess.

Personally I have never been a fan of Busbice's show. It has always appeared to me that he comes across as someone that is far more concerned with killing stuff than about promoting the lifestyle of hunting. His arrogance and "better than you" attitude exudes through the screen. I believe this is even noted in his response to the whole incident where he apologized for not tagging the cow elk. But makes no mention of the wanton waste of leaving the cow to rot. He makes no mention of his ordering his ranch manager to dispose of the cow or the mess he put this man in. He makes no mention of his stating on audio the need to delete the portion of the killing of the cow. He makes no mention of the ethical dilemma he placed on his camera man.  In short, had this event not been witnessed by other hunters, Busbice would have gotten away with this crime. And he would have no remorse for his actions. His remorse is in being caught. His remorse is in loosing his sponsorship's, and his TV show. Which leads to the obvious question, what else has he done that was not witnessed? How many other wildlife crimes were committed to make his TV show? How many other animals were laid waste by his arrogance?

The hunting industry needs to come down hard on the likes of Bill Busbice Jr. In an age when hunting is loosing membership, when recruitment of the younger generation is as difficult as it has ever been. The hunting industry needs to speak loudly against this type of action and as the old saying goes, "remove the cancer before it spreads."

His actions not only place doubt in the mind of many about him, his company and family. It also places doubt on the entire industry. How many other TV personalities have done similar for the chance of getting good footage? How many other TV personalities have killed over the limit, have bought the wrong tag, shot the wrong animal, etc and not corrected it?

A few months ago another TV personality was convicted for killing a turkey under the wrong license. As soon as it was brought to his attention, he immediately corrected the situation. Paid the fine and he brought it to the attention of his fans. We all know mistakes can happen. Especially in the maze of getting a  hunting license in different states. Which license covers what. For example, my home state is the only one in the nation where a big game permit is required to hunt turkeys. If you are hunting here from another state, most people would never think of a turkey as a big game. Its a bird for crying out loud. Why would you need a big game permit to hunt a bird? But you do. So we understand mistakes can happen. We do understand poaching. Poaching is not a mistake, it is intentional. We do not understand wanton waste. Wanton waste is not a mistake, it is intentional. We do not understand disposing of a cow elk in an irrigation ditch. We do not understand lying about your resident status to get a tag. These things we do not understand.

If Bill Busbice Jr. is really the upstanding man he claims to be, he would issue another statement that says he made a series of decisions that led to his dismissal. He takes full responsibility and because of the damage done to his brand, himself, his family and the Outdoor Channel, he will remove himself permanently from any role within Wildgame Innovations and Wildgame Nation from any future programming. In essence he needs to step down and sever all ties with the brand he created.

I never wish ill will on anyone. I do not smile when others are hurting. I am not smiling now. Truth be told, I am very sad. I am sad for the Busbice family. I am sad for the Outdoor Channel, and for the hunting industry. I am sad for the image it brings to all hunters. But I am not sad for Bill Busbice. He made these decisions and now he must live with the consequences of those decisions. I pray that he find peace and use this opportunity to teach others about the downfall of poaching.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Mind of a Mature Buck

This past weekend I was awarded a Pinnacle award from the Professional Outdoor Media Association for a story I wrote. Several people have asked that I post the story. Here is the story that won the award.

The Mind of A Mature Buck

            Over the past thirty five years or so, I have spent an inordinate amount of time tromping and plodding through forest and fields chasing mature whitetail bucks. Thousands of hours studying maps, analyzing weather patterns and wind currents. Dozens of pairs of boots worn thin scouting, tracing routs, marking rub lines and scrapes. Locating bedding areas, feeding paths, cutover hideouts, staging areas and all to sit in a tree in a well thought out location to see……..well nothing.
            Mind you, I have had a fair amount of success. Some would say, I have had my fair share of success since I only hunt a small piece of ground locally. But if truth be known, the majority of my time spent looking for a mature buck is passed by admiring does, ‘want-to-be’ bucks and of course the array of small game that seems to appear in biblical proportions during a deer hunt along an acorn ridge. Through all of this idle time of sitting, looking and thinking, I believe I have come to realize just how an old buck thinks. And this could actually be the game changer I have sought for so long.
            It has become evident that old bucks are really not that different from old hunters. Especially when it comes to the way they see the world around them. Old bucks are solitary creatures for most of the year. They like to get away from all of the noise, all of the confusion. Their lifestyle is not one of isolation, as it is one of independence and of all things, irony. I believe that the old buck likes to get away and think about things. To spend time on his ridge, looking over his territory and marvel at how his world has changed around him. The girls he has chased for years and the ones that got away. He lays and ponders his territory. “Will I walk the creek line today, or just stay close to home?” He thinks to himself. If the temperature is too cold, perhaps he will just take it easy so his old bones and joints won’t have to work quite so hard against the bitterness. Or when it rains, he decides to wait it out to keep from getting wetter than he already is.
            I can remember clearly one frosty November morning, back when Novembers were cold. Trying to ease into an afternoon stand early and enjoy the warming thermals. I was too late, the old boy had beaten me there. As I moved along the ridge, there he lay, beside the old blowdown just watching me. Hoping I wouldn’t see him and he could just let me pass him by so he too could just enjoy the warming of the day. Our eyes met at a mere twenty yards. He blew out of there like a boy late for a prom date and I just stood marveling at his grandeur. It was then that I started to understand that these old bucks are really not that different from me.
            As the weather begins to turn, and the oppressive heat of long summer days wane. The winter solstice approaching, he starts to feel young again. Just as October invigorates my soul, so too the mature buck. The cool air reminds him of days long gone when he could prowl for days on end looking for love. Days when one girl wasn’t enough, he needed more to make some jealous or to show off to the rest of the boys. The cool air invites him to parade his territory again, rubbing his growing antlers against the same trees as before. Making an exclamation point to all new comers that he is still here and very much alive. From time to time he will clean out a patch of ground beneath a licking branch along a forgotten field or logging road and say to all who pass by “this is mine!”
            But as his days increase, his ability to love decrease. His desire is there for sure, but the passion is gone. He now dreads the cold that is to come. So he eats even when he isn’t hungry because he knows. He knows what those half his senior could care less about. Winter is long, food is scarce and love is fleeting. So while he sneaks in a moment of romance for a brief period, his main concern is survival. His genes have been passed for several years, his work there is done. Now, just as a grandfather teaches his grandchildren different lessons than he taught his children. The old buck passes along lessons of longevity to other generations. Without knowing it, young bucks learn that the wisteria thicket is safe because that is where he lives. The impenetrable vines hold refuge, comfort and protection. They know this because this is where he determined years ago was the best place to be. From here, he can see every truck that enters the property and sneak away or lay still as he’s done hundreds of times before. He knows the knob near the creek is safe because the wind always swirls and prevents anything from approaching undetected.
            He’s learned that as his night grows longer and the mercury seldom climbs to freezing that the most important thing is food. The girls he sought for so long are gone, taking his heart and his genes. So he sleeps near where he eats. Saving energy from traveling great distances from one to the other for more important tasks.
            He’s seen a lot through his life. Great pine stands erased for cash then restored to provide a home for his children. Loosing friends who made poor decisions. Teenage romances that never ended well. He’s seen those who chose to play hard and love hard only to return to see their empty beds. He’s watched as mothers stood helpless as their young died way too soon. He’s worked hard and for a long time, and now just wants to rest in peace. To spend a few more cool autumns on his ridge and watch the bounding of children as they romp through meadows. He longs for days when his mere presence brought a sense of awe to the forest. But for now, he passes his days with the pleasure he finds in himself, knowing all too well these fresh springs are fleeting. That summer is coming with its hordes of bugs, sweltering heat and plentiful food. He knows water will be scarce, predators abundant and he knows the necessity of protecting what is rightfully his.
            Yes, I sat there in my tree stand and I watched as the old man, seeming to have let his guard down, or perhaps had a momentary lapse in judgement but more likely was moving slower than he should. I watched as his old weathered body struggled to walk down the steep ridge. One shaky foot in front of another, not really trusting himself. At the bottom of the ridge he pauses. At first I thought it was to catch his breath. His panting was obvious as the mist from his mouth poured into the morning air. Then I realized, he is not catching his breath, he’s admiring. He looks around his creek bottom soaking it all in for what could be his last time, Suddenly in what seemed to be a moment transfixed by time. He turned his head and as matter of fact as it could be, he looked straight into my eyes. One old man looking at another. When we locked eyes I did not see fear, I did not see trepidation or anxiety. I saw an old man wanting one more time to stroll through his creek bottom on his way home after a long night.
            It never crossed my mind to raise my rifle. This is the old buck that had filled my dreams. The one that caused so many sleepless nights, thousands of hours and dollars of my time and money. And there he stood, thirty yards away. His grey muzzle revealing what I had already known. This was an old buck. His eyes had seen so much. He seemed to know when he looked at me that I would understand. But also did not care if I didn’t. He was determined he was going home, on his time and at his pace. So he turned ever so slightly and wandered through the open hardwoods, passing by me at fifteen yards. Each labored step was methodical and glorious. I sat and watched as he drifted out of sight along the ridge that he called home.
            As I sat there, taking it all in, it dawned on me, that indeed we are not that much different at all. Now I am on the home stretch of my life in the out of doors. I am still not that old, but enough to realize that these moments are precious. So I savor each day, each moment and I hold onto them with vigor. I do not regret at all not raising my rifle. On the contrary, I cherish the moment greater than any trophy. A moment when two old men met in the woods. Looked at one another and understood that for now, that was enough.
            No the old buck is not that different from us at all. As our hair starts to turn, and our muscles begin to ache at the slightest of movements. We savor each day, and pray there is another day coming where we can again feel the freshness of cool autumn mornings.       


Monday, June 19, 2017

POMA 2017

This past week I was fortunate enough to attend the annual business meeting of POMA the Professional Outdoor Media Association. The conference attracts writers, editors, broadcasters and journalist from across the country for four days of fun.

At this years conference, we spent a day at the range where we got to test several awesome guns and brands of ammunition. Some of my favorites were the CVA muzzleloaders. Having never shot a muzzleloader i was quite the novice. Thanks to Tony Smotherman for his patience in showing me all of the details of how to load, shoot and clean their guns. Before the week was over I bought a CVA Acura Muzzleloader! 

I shot the Optima and their Optima pistol. A fifty caliber handgun that is one of the most fun to shoot handguns I have ever fired. I will definitely be owning one of these soon.

In addition to the CVA, I also was able to shoot some Bergara rifles. These high end rifles are designed for extreme accuracy and long range power. They shot like their reputation suggests.

Then there were the Crosman air rifles. These are not your child's BB gun. On the contrary. These fine firearms are extremely powerful and accurate. Whether you are shooting the break barrel .177 caliber or the Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP) in .22 caliber these are excellent guns for small game.

Lastly was the Aguila Ammunition. Both in the 20 gauge, 12 gauge shotshells and in the multitude of handgun ammunition I shot the ammunition was excellent. The shotshells were extremely fast. As soon as I pulled the trigger the targets exploded. With the handguns it was a little different. Our targets were close and static. But in the 9mm, the .380 and the .40 all shot extremely well and cycled through the semi-autos flawlessly. Even the new .38 Super shot very well.

All in all, the day at the range was beneficial and one that I took away a lot of knowledge of brands that I knew little about. But suffice it to say, I will be spending my money on these products for a long time to come.

After the gun range we had other activities to keep us busy. On Friday evening we were having a silent auction and a live auction. An awards ceremony and food. During the ceremony I was fortunate enough to win the Piccacle award for the Newspaper / Web Category.  A special thank you to Mossy Oak for sponsoring the awards.

I must admit that I was humbled and honored to have won this category at the event. Still, God is good and the sun will come up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

National Senior Games

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to compete in the National Senior Games that were held in Birmingham, AL. 

The National Senior games began thirty years ago as a way to get seniors more active and more involved in activities. These games are similar to the Olympic games and simulate the same atmosphere and activities. Much of the competition replicates the same activities found in the Olympic games. In total there are 18 categories of sports plus track and field. Everything from Archery (my sport) to swimming, bicycle races, road races, pickleball, softball, basketball are played. 

The Senior games are open to anyone over the age of 50 and there are age categories for all age classes up to and beyond 100 years old. In our games there were several centenarians participating. 

Competition is withing certain five year age classes to make the competition more fair to all who are participating. 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, 95-99, 100+. In the 2017 games over a thousand seniors are participating in these events stretched out over ten days. 

As I said earlier, I competed in Archery. I shot in the Compound release category in the 50-54 age class. There were over 150 archers in the compound release category participating. It was so exciting to see so many seniors out enjoying the spirit of competition and the camaraderie of fellow participants. I met some wonderful people. 

While I did not do as well as I hoped, I still had a thrill participating in these Games. It was an honor of mine to participate and to meet so many great people. I am already counting down the days until 2019 when the National Games will be held in Albuquerque New Mexico. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Water Filter vs Water Purifier

A few buddies of mine and me are in the process of planning a back country fishing trip with Kashabowie Outposts in Ontario, Canada. Part of the planning process includes providing potable water for four grown men for a week. Yes it is true we will be fishing on a very remote lake in the boreal forest of Canada where human interaction is  minimal but that doesn't stop the bacteria from infiltrating these pristine lakes. 

In doing research for some sort of water filter or purifier I came across an article written on a backpacking website that sells water filters and purifiers. MSR - Mountain Safety Research ( explains rather simply the differences between water filters and purifiers. 

Quite simply, it is the difference in protection they provide. "A water filter is designed to remove waterborne protozoa and bacteria, but not viruses. A water purifier is designed to combat all three classes of microbes, including viruses." 

Viruses are much smaller and simply slip through most filters designed for bacteria. In order to remove the viruses traditionally we needed to use ultraviolet light, purification tablets or boiling the water for five minutes. This would either kill the viruses or scramble their DNA and render them ineffective. However some new mechanical pump filters are able to remove viruses also. 

When to choose a filter over a purifier. When traveling in the US and Canada a filter is all that is recommended. These filters will remove all traces of protozoa like cryptosporidium and Giardia, and bacteria such as E-Coli and salmonella. 

Waterborne viruses that we are concerned with are largely transferred by human waste. Making the use of a purifier where human traffic is minimal not necessary. However it is very important that your filter is designed to remove these protozoa and bacteria. Some filters are designed only to remove unpleasant taste and not the contaminants. 

The EPA recommends filters to remove contaminants down to 0.2 microns. 

If you are traveling to third world countries or concerned about the purity of the water and are unsure of the quality, err on the side of the purifier. It is important to remember that boiling and ultraviolet light and tablets do not remove sediment from the water. In these cases it is recommended that you purify and filter the water. A personal preference is to filter first and remove all sediment before purifying the water. 

For our trip we are going to use the filter system. Research is showing that there are several that fit the bill. We are opting for the gravity flow filter systems. It is simple. We fill a 4 liter bag with dirty water and hang it higher than the clean water bag. The dirty water flows through a filter removing the contaminants and deposits the clean water into the lower bag. We are looking at two different models, the Platypus Gravity Works, ( the MSR Gravity Flow Filter.  (

We are leaning towards the Platypus ( because it is a 4 liter system while the MSR is a 2 liter system. Either way, it is important to understand the difference between a filtration system and a purifier. There is no need to purchase a purifier when a filter will do the job.