Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

The Bear Essentials;

Salmon Carcass Wine

BAGGED BEARS: The bear hunt went kinda crazy -- if initial kill returns are any indication. Reports show that up to 1,000 bears might have been taken.

By my numbers, that might be half the state’s bruin population – and not 1/3, as based on a 3,700 bear population estimate. With 7,000 permits sold and folks hunting in what is essentially a very small geographical area, it is very conceivable that half of all the state’s bears were culled.

Concerning the bear hunt protest, I’m not huge on shooting lumbering beasts like bears. However, humanity has irreversibly modified entire ecosystems. There is no escaping the need to now modify all things natural, as to minimize impacts on mankind.

In a perfectly harmonious nature/human world, i.e. what Native American once fostered, the bear and deer and coyotes and wombats could proliferate to their hearts’ desires. Alas and alack, we can never go back. Unless an unbalance (favoring humans) is established and maintained, sh-stuff will hit the fan when animals get too underfoot, so to speak. In those instances, eradication responses could be evoked by less-calm minds. Culling is the only way to keep what should now be called a Balance of Humanity.

On a far more cynical note, I always marvel at the way there is such human compassion for certain species – Bambis and BooBoos and Thumpers and Willys and Nemos and Pepe le Pews and Daffys and Rikki-Tike-Tavis – but hearts of ice for, say, snakes, cockroaches, spiders, rats, bats and barnacles. Not always spoken: “It’s so cruel that you hunt and kill those wonderful creatures – of course, you can blast the ever-lovin’ crap outta those ugly ones over there.” Hmmm.

I will once again reference the fact that so many people protesting the bear hunt are doing so from new homes built at the expense of hundreds, if not thousands, of destroyed creatures, crushed by the frontloaders of progress. There’s something bitterly ironic there.

BEAR WITH ME MAN: I got a real interesting call from Robert M., a fanatic North NJ bear hunter. He had read a copy of my last column regarding the bear hunt. After sitting through a list of all the states in which he’s bagged a bear, he schooled me on bear hunting basics.

While he also questions the state’s black bear population count, he explained that there are (were) far too many bear for such a small region.

I tapped him for info on why the state’s bears aren’t spreading southward, joyously populating our wild and woolly 1.1 million-acre Pinelands. He said that black bear are not that big on wandering far and wide, unlike long-distance ramblers like brown (grizzly) and polar bears. “(Black bears) will go a long way exploring but usually quickly return to an area they’re familiar with – and where the food is easily found,” he said.

The hunter also duly noted that the Pines are no picnic when it comes to finding enough food to keep a 500-pound body in the fat. Point taken: Any area appropriately dubbed “barrens” could not sit well with an apex predator.

The bear-hunting expert wasn’t totally sold on my rogue bear concept, though he fully agreed it’s always a possibility—and that he has been called to take down seemingly psycho bears. The real problem, he explained, is younger bears feeling their oats. ‘They’re a lot like teenagers. They’re full of energy and really aren’t familiar with the dangers posed by humans. What’s make things worse is they’re also strong, fast and can be unpredictable.” He then modified that portrayal by saying that even younger bears aren’t out to kill humans. “Most of them learned from the sow (mother bear) to be wary of humans. Since younger bear are very uncertain of where they are in the pecking order, they can be aggressive, and then lose their friskiness real fast when they get confused.” He added that young bears are the ones most likely to fan out, territorially speaking. “When you hear of a bear in the south (Jersey), it’s usually a younger bear exploring for his own territory.”

As for hunting bear, Robert told me that going out and simply shooting a bear is a yawner for him. “I’ll first spend months tracking down the biggest bear in an area,” he said.

What interested me was the way he “tracked.” He, of course, used the standard techniques of humping the boonies for bear markers. But, just as often, he taps into input form the public sector. “In he East, the biggest black bear are almost always near population centers. I often do some door knocking in areas where bear are a problem. People are more than anxious to tell me about bigger problem bear that scare them,” said the former marine, Vietnam era. “I’ll be the first to admit bear are not the craftiest of game. That’s why I also target bear that are causing trouble for people.

This year, he bagged his bear out of the gate, as did many hunters who had been essentially watching bear activities for years -- awaiting the next N.J. hunt, which had been canceled by protestors since 2005.

So, what happens to the 700 or so bears that were shot this year? I asked a few local hunters heading up that way and it seems they were all going to go the rug route. A black bear rug is worth maybe $500 to $1,000, though the market often gets gutted, I mean glutted and the price drops to a couple hundred dollars for a smaller rug.

However, NJ prohibits the sale of parts from bears shot in the state. That doesn’t stop unscrupulous types from bagging a black bear gall bladder for top-dollar sale to the Asian market, which pays an emperor’s ransom for the truly gross-looking liquid within.

A course is required of anyone wanting to hunt back bear during the 6-day season. and no bear can be taken from height, be it a tree stand or even a geographical rise of land. Since the same guns are sued for bear and deer, if you’re on a rise or elevated in any way you’re a deer hunter.

Odd note of the year comes from some wine-tasting experts. And it’s easy to relate “odd” with rapacious wine connoisseurs, who are surely deeply immersed in their tasting when seriously bandying about descriptions like (taken from actual published descriptions), tactfully woody and ingeniously engrained with old-vine pathos; pithy while remaining spectrally advanced; freshly fruit kissed but instilled with historic undertones, giddy with ripeness yet in-synch with classic palettes.” What the frig are you guys talking about?! It sounds more like you’re smoking the wine.

Anyway, amid the always-oddness of wine people is a new very fishy hypothesis about why some of the planet’s finest wines come from California – and Calli wines truly kick best-of butt around the world. Confusing matters is the way wines from certain Left Coast venues repeatedly produce the best of the best. In an effort to home in on what delivers that world-class spectracality to the fruits of certain vines, scientists were hired. While systematically sniffing around for the magic ingredient that seasons certain vineyard soils, researchers came up with as stinky a supposition as one could imagine – even when blitzed on vino. The fine flavors might well come from rotting salmon. Let’s hear that one tastefully stuck in a wordy wine description.

Apparently, salmon during the spawn (when fed upon by a vast array of predators) and after spawn (when they seemingly die just for the fun of it) add their essence to the soil. Preyed upon salmon get dispersed through animal droppings or via unfinished body bits. Post-spawn DOAs essentially rot into the ecosystem. The roots of vineyards close to rivers end up receiving an endearing endowment of decomposing salmon -- so much so that the grapes can get 25-percent of their required nitrogen from salmon.

Per a paper on the subject, “In wine making, nitrogen affects yeast growth and sugar fermentation and they said there's no doubt some of the best California wine has salmon in it.”

So, can a wine taster actually detect the disintegrated salmon in a California burgundy? Hey, if those buggers can detect historic undertones and old vine pathos they sure as hell should be able to taste salmon pourri – that’s French for rot.

And, yes, vineyard owners up and down the West Coast are now scrambling to get at the waste from salmon cleaning businesses.

The entire salmon soil study was published in the journal Science.

DISASTER KEEPSAKE: As many second-homeowners make their final visits to their LBI abodes -- until the season of the thaw -- I want to duly remind those property owners (many of them anglers) to locate and latch onto the Long Beach Island Disaster Re-Entry Pass that was mailed earlier this year. If that Entry Pass doesn’t ring a bell, it looks a bit like an undersized two-tone “Do Not Disturb” hotel doorknob placard.

Duh alert: Do not leave the Long Beach Island Disaster Re-Entry Pass on your LBI property.

Heaven forbid we need to use “the card,” but it is the closest thing to “Home Free” pass we’ll have in the wake of a storm ravaging of LBI –and Causeway islands. Cedar Bonnet Island residents also need one of these passes to get back on, post-disaster.

And pity the naïve property owners who are convinced that those passes are meant mainly for hurricanes and similar summer crises. LBI’s storm history is hallmarked, highlighted as it were, by winter and spring storms.

SHACK-ROOTS EFFORT: I got a ton of good response concerning the Save the Shack effort. I do want to make a correction. Last week, I said the Ocean County Historic Society was picking up the effort but it is actually the Stafford Township Historic Society. There are actually crossover members between both groups.

Below is a compelling email from someone very welled school in financial matters -- and no slouch when it comes to offshore fishing either.

“Hi Jay, I read your column and saw the need to raise money for the Shack. However, we all have to stop asking for "free" money from governments. It ain't "free." That's how we got in the major national mess we are in. Why not have the builders come up with a project plan and a price? Then a Committee can be formed as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt to raise the money. We aren't talking about millions here. If the community is well informed about this project and thinks this is important, then the community should easily fund the build. In fact, getting the money should not be an issue. Because I have too much on my plate now, I could not serve on that committee but I would certainly support a citizen-funded rebuild, donate $250 myself, and talk the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association into chipping in a few bucks too.

If the cost is estimated at $30,000 after free architectural and engineering support plus free services from a variety of builders, if 300 donors each donate $100, we have the $30,000. If you allow TD Bank to put a neon sign on the thing, they will pay the whole $30,000, I'll bet. Once the building has been rebuilt, do you think it would be possible to work with the nearby billboard owner to get that billboard moved so the Shack can show in all its glory?

I strongly agree with your position that the existing materials should be used wherever possible.

Lindsay F., June Bug.”

(Very good points, Lindsay. Save the Shack would definitely profit as a grassroots effort. I now have no doubt that is highly doable, via the positive feedback from businesses, residents and visitors. However, on the legal front, we do need the approval of public officials. So they will be kept well within the loop. Methinks they’ll be more than a tad amenable to the concept of “No funding necessary.”

By the by, it looks like a specialized professionally–mastered “Save the Shack” website will soon be going public. It will also serve as a home base for the effort.

I’m not sure what’s what with that billboard. If the owner of that billboard happens to see this, please drop me an email at jmann99@hotmail.com -- just to offer me some incidentals, including what it might cost to permanently purchase that space.

BUY FROM OUR BUDDIES: This time of year I always make a fully sincere appeal – on my own volition – that you do your fishing-related shopping in local tackle shops. Not only is the variety far beyond anything Dicks and Whatever-Marts have but the service, the after-buy helpfulness and, most of all, the gift card potential of our very own tackle shops makes them the only smart choice.

I realize that gift card angle seems tired and uncreative, yet it truly is one of the best received and duly appreciated presents out there. It not only gives on Christmas day but it gives again when the card is being cashed in. And don’t be afraid to ask around the shops as to what’s hot this year. In fact, some of the shops might know the very angler you’re shopping for. Next issue, the last SandPaper of 2010, I’ll offer some Christmas tips.

HOOKUPMWITH THE TOP 50: For cold evening fun, cursor over to an article called “50 Greatest Lures of All Time.” It’s on Field and Stream Magazine’s website, http://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/gallery/fishing/bass/2006/04/5... -- or Google “50 greatest lures.”

It is an interesting rundown of pretty much every artificial ever made.

I use the term artificial because a number of the “lures” in this list are jigs and plastics. I relate the term “lures” to mainly hard plugs -- and, maybe, spinners and spoons.

One plug that didn’t show up on the list is an all-time ingenuity favorite of mine. Back in 1914, the Detroit Glass Minnow Tube was created. It was built from a glass cylinder, making the plug a small rounded aquarium of sorts. Water could run through it freely. It also had some mean hooks attached

Via a small trapdoor, a live minnow could be placed inside the Detroit Glass Minnow Tube. During retrieve, highly-aerated water would flow into the tube. That gushing action kept the encapsulated minnow active as all get-out. The tiny forage fish could easily survive all day, despite being ferociously attacked by gamefish after gamefish.

Of course, I have to think this concept through to the end. Imagine what that tube ride does to the psyche of the minnow. Sure, it renders the little thing permanently psychotic but it also instills it with this highly unadvised sense of invincibility, after weathering every predatory chomp down with nary a loosed scale’s worth of damage.

When released back into the wild, I picture the cocky un-tubed minnie ballsing up to two huge largemouth bass, named Darryl and Bubba.

Picking bucketmouth Bubba, the minnie zips up to him and arrogantly issues a “Hey, you’re so ugly you have to sneak up on a mirror.”

Bubba looks over toward Darryl. “What the …? Hey, Darryl, did this minnie just call me ugly?”

“Uh, I think so, Bubba,” says Darryl.

The minnie then gets right between Bubba’s eyes. “Yeah, I called you ugly, ugly. In fact, I’m thinkin’ about fin slappin’ you upside your ugly head?”

Darryl swims over and whispers in Bubba’s ear, “Yep, he’s definitely talkin’ to you. I think maybe you should bite him in two”

“What and risk gettin’ fin slapped upside the head. I think I’m outta here!”

“Not without my you ain’t. Wait for me, Bubba!” offers Darryl, going far around the minnie. Chuckling to himself, the mighty minnow glances over toward a 75-pound snapping turtle in nearby mud. “What are you lookin’ at, turtle breath?”

Christmas gift suggestion: Underwater microphones, called hydrophones, to pick up fish sounds – and seldom-heard wildlife conversations. Dolphin Ear makes some nice ones.

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