Sunday, November 5, 2017

Follow These Wild Game Chefs for Thanksgiving Recipes

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As hunters, anglers, farmers and foragers, a Thanksgiving feast has a deeper meaning than those who toss a Butterball and a box of Stovetop Stuffing into the shopping cart, then head for the register. The holiday offers the opportunity to give thanks for the harvest season, and share the bounty with our friends and family. With tales of blood, scales, and dirt on our hands, we are also sharing a connection to the foods that not only sustain, but enrich our lives. As the rebellious youth at the table discusses their plan for tomorrow's "Buy Nothing Day," remind them how much of their meal didn't come from the grocery store.

It's interesting how a concept as simple as gathering your own food in the natural world rather than under the beam of fluorescent lights has evolved to be a subversive way of living. Using every last piece of an animal, preserving food, or making something as simple as soup stock may not be the most popular cooking methods, but they haven't lost their luster. In a culture of modern conveniences, these are simple acts that even your yuppie relatives can admire. The resurgence of wild foods as a boujee, bohemian culinary style has allowed for a few talented chefs to emerge from the landscape, representing an expression of that hunter-gatherer culture with mass appeal. If you plan on sharing your harvest with family and friends for the holiday, study from these gurus and step outside the box this Thanksgiving.

Hank Shaw
His first book "Hunt, Gather, Cook" has quickly become recognized as a staple in the world of wild foods. His website, highlights his Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook cuisine, giving a detailed view of his passion for this lifestyle. Shaw's intimate connection with wild foods and their historical relevance is captured with text that would make foodies like Michael Pollan want to pick up a rod and a rifle. His fascination with forgotten foods also expresses no fear in his will to be weird. Shaw also engages his readers in a Hunt, Gather, Cook Facebook Group as an open-source exchange of information with those who share a similar interest. His second book, "Duck, Duck, Goose" is an alternative guide to the big bird feasts, and his most recent book, "Buck, Buck, Moose" includes "recipes and techniques for cooking deer, elk, moose, antelope and other antlered things." You can also look forward to the release of his book "Pheasant, Quail, and Cottontail" in the spring of 2018.

Steven Rinella

As an outdoorsman and advocate for public lands, Rinella's NetFlix television show "Meat Eater" has fueled the appreciation for wild foods by giving a point of view from the journey that led to the meal. Rinella leads a narrative through film that few of us can put into words. He speaks to the inner-monologue that hunters and anglers experience in the wild. A true ambassador to this lifestyle, he identifies with the simplistic nature of humans as just another omnivore in the circle of life. Beyond being a face on camera, the Meat Eater website provides tips on field dressing wild game, recipes, and podcasts that are an extension of the narrative on his television program.

Jeremiah Doughty
If you think you need to wrap everything in bacon to appease your relatives that complain about that "gamey" taste, Doughty will challenge you to think outside the box while you're in the kitchen. Doughty's website will open your mind to less traditional methods of cooking your wild game. If you want to try a recipe for Wild Turkey Mexican Pizza this Thanksgiving, he has one. Like other wild chefs, Doughty enjoys knowing the origin of his meals, and expresses the gratitude for them in a manner that is spiritual to him. A From Field to Plate cookbook is in the works, and you can follow his From Field to Plate Facebook Page for updates, as well as butchering tips, recipes, and an inside look into his personal hunting expeditions.
As a TV personality for the Sportsman Channel's program "The Sporting Chef," Leysath first entered television by scripting for HGTV's "Homegrown Cooking with Paul James." He is also the cooking editor for Ducks Unlimited magazine, and the author of the "Sporting Chef's Better Venison Cookbook" and "The Sporting Chef's Favorite Wild Game Recipes." A extensive library of helpful tips for the everyday hunter and angler is available on the website, including suggestions on how to package everything from your small game birds to your underwear.

Sean Sherman
Founder and CEO of the "Sioux Chef," Sherman's commitment to indigenous foods shares the voluntary omission from industrial farming and shines a spotlight on traditional Native American cuisine, and the meticulously labor intensive processes of creating things like salt and sugar from scratch that modern conveniences have afforded us to take for granted. While many non-traditional wild game chefs highlight depression-style cooking techniques, the historical relevance of Sherman's cuisine speaks to the truths about colonization. "There's no Joy of Native American Cooking cookbook," says Sherman. In an effort to give visibility to Native American cuisine, his culinary ventures have drawn the attention of National Geographic. The significance of revitalizing indigenous foods is culturally empowering, and pays homage to the ways of Native American ancestry. The Sioux Chef cookbook, "Indigenous Kitchen" co-authored by Beth Dooley, is an exodus from the modern culinary cultures that excessively call for flour, dairy, and domesticated livestock. The website provides a calendar of events for book signings and speaking tours. You can even book the Sioux Chef for catering options.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Mushroom Hunting 2017

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Rains that appear early in the fall paired with periods of warm, dry weather, are ideal conditions for producing some of the season's first flushes of wild mushrooms. Sulphur shelf, or “Chicken of the Woods,” along with lobster mushrooms, and the ever popular white and yellow chantrelles begin to show in increasing numbers. Some pigs ear, bolete, and coral mushrooms follow, rising from the substrate of the forest floor. As the season progresses into winter, hedgehog and yellowfoot chanterelles begin to show themselves.
Chantrelles are one of the most common varieties, and there is an abundance of them along the coast range at higher elevations. Closer to the coast early in the season, and further inland as rains progress. When you stumble upon one, stop and look around in your immediate area. Where there's one, there's probably more. Be careful not to trample several other mushrooms while zeroing in on your first find. Look for mossy areas under old growth, evergreen debris, and where salal grows.
While having enough rain for the moisture to penetrate the soil is vital to activating the mcyelium, you will find that some mushrooms that are more exposed to the elements tend to deteriorate, become moldy, soggy and inedible. The best days for harvesting are during periods of warmer weather after rains have saturated the soil enough that it still remains damp. When the ground is really wet, look underneath the gaps of fallen logs that have made contact with the forest floor. The areas in which the log shields the ground from rain creates a dryer environment that will produce firmer mushrooms that tend to keep longer. When the ground is dry, look for slopes that don't get as much sunlight and won't dry out as quickly, or areas near springs or streams.
Here's a few more tips when looking for mushrooms…
-Be aware of your surroundings; keep in mind that’s it’s fairly easy to wander into private property on accident if you don't know your boundaries. Check your local regulations on harvesting and entry permits for public lands.

-Keep in mind that a lot of public land is also used for hunting, so wear bright clothing and try to avoid areas where it appears someone else might be exploring.
-Do not consume any mushrooms you can not identify with confidence. Learn to identify not only your target species, but lookalikes as well.

--Don't forget to look up. It's easy to spend the day focused on the ground beneath you and miss out on a lot of scenery, as well other wild edibles like huckleberries and elderberries that appear during the early fall.
-If the quality of your find is in question, employ rule of “When in doubt, toss it out."
-While on your hike, keep track of time and your path so you don’t get lost in the woods after dark. If you are unsure about how long your hike will be, bring a headlamp or flashlight.

Mushrooms: Pick 'em and preserve them

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With the bounty of fall harvest season also comes the dilemma of food preservation. When wild mushrooms appear, they usually appear in abundance. Generally speaking, fresh is best, but in the event that you end up picking more than you can eat, you'll have to find ways to extend their shelf life. Wash your harvest thoroughly and explore these options to figure out what works best for you.

Saute and freeze
If you have the freezer space, this is by far the best way to preserve the natural flavor and consistency of wild mushrooms. Melt some butter in your skillet and add some fresh cut herbs like thyme, basil, oregano or rosemary to infuse the flavors in the butter. Cut your mushrooms into bite sized portions along with some sliced onions and toss them into pan with the butter and herbs. Add salt to taste. Ideally, you'll want to cook them on a medium heat just long enough to reduce the moisture content of the mushroom and avoid over cooking. Once the onions are transparent your mushrooms should be fully cooked as well. Place them in a glass pan or bowl and sit them aside to cool. Once cooled, place the ingredients into meal sized appropriate vacuum sealed bags, or a sandwich bags, remove the air from the bag, seal and freeze.

Preserving the flavor of dehydrated mushrooms is a tricky process, but ideal for smaller varieties like black trumpets, morels, candy caps and yellowfoot chanterelles. Place them on trays in a food dehydrator in a manner where they can get air flow around all sides. Heat will reduce flavor. Run your dehydrator on the lowest setting, and if necessary, remove the door or cover from your dehydrator to maintain the lowest drying temperature possible. If working with larger mushroom varieties, slice them into smaller, thin pieces. Leave them to dehydrate, checking their texture until it turns crispy and brittle. Once they're completely dried, place them in a jar and wait several days for them to continue fully drying before placing on a lid. If you're low on shelving space, or you simply want to try something different than dehydrating and reconstituting, put your dried mushrooms into a coffee grinder and turn them into powder, which can be used as a seasoning, dry rub, in sauce, stock, etc.

Dehydrating is simple, easy, and doesn't take up freezer space, however canning is another option that better preserves texture and flavor of meatier varieties like chanterelles, boletes, hedgehogs, etc. There are a couple different options if you're choosing to preserve your mushrooms in jars depending on the canning method. Regardless of the method, the USDA recommends using smaller jars in the half pint to pint size. Cutting your mushrooms into smaller pieces is also universal, but smaller mushrooms can be left whole. Pressure canning is a little more time consuming, but a simple recipe only using the mushrooms and water. Place the mushrooms in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove and place them into sterilized jars, leaving an inch of headspace before wiping the rims and placing on the lids. Pressure cook at 10lbs for 45 minutes, adjusting pressure to 15lbs for higher altitudes. While pressure canning is simple, pickling and water bath canning is a better way to preserve the complex textures and flavors from wild mushrooms. Pickling will allow you a little more creative license to add herbs and spices to your liking within the jars themselves, also giving the final product more of a visual appeal. There are a few different processes to explore depending on your personal taste. If you're going for a milder flavor appeal, this marinated mushroom recipe from involves boiling and straining the mushrooms, as well as an element of added oil to the brine to tame the flavors. If you want to preserve the full intensity of the flavors and textures, a dry saute and vinegar based pickling brine would be a better option. I would recommend following Hank Shaw's recipe at Hunter, Angler, Garderner, Cook. Either way, the water bath canning process only takes about 15-20 minutes, adjusting time for altitude.

Fall is the best season.

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Fall is a time to 
recondition your raingear, as well as your mind. The changing colors of the leaves are a signal to nature to begin preparations for winter. While some of us are caught up in the consumption of pumpkin spiced lattes and halloween costumes, fall has special meaning to outdoor enthusiasts. Escape the noise of everyday life and pay homage to the tie-dyed kaleidoscope of deciduous trees that paint the landscape of public land. The Smoky Mountains National Park website has an amazing Fall Foliage Forecast Map that allows you to slide a chronological scale to display peak times for peak colors in your area. This could be your last chance to store some vitamin D from the sunshine with the coming of cloudy days, take advantage of it.

As the leaves turn and you begin to dread the chores of raking, blowing, and mulching your lawn, keep in mind that wildlife geeks like David Mizejewski of the National Wildlife Federation actually recommend that you leave them on the ground where they fall. "A leaf layer several inches deep is a natural thing in any area where trees naturally grow. The leaf layer is its own mini ecosystem! Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food and other habitat," says Mizejewski. What a great excuse to skip that chore and enjoy the outdoors beyond the perimeter of your immediate surroundings. Do it for the critters!

The late Greta Wrolstad's poem 
Fontaine de Vaucluse says, "The season of rain is coming, hold out your hand." Fall is harvest season, and not just for farmers. Deer and Elk hunters are packing their freezers while salmon fishermen are filling up their smokers. Mushroom hunters are plucking fungus from the forest floor, while other foragers are focusing on the last berries that are ripening at the end of summer. If you're hoarding the remnants of previous harvests, now's a good time to start rotating your stock and burning through it to make room for more. While the weather may not be dependable, one thing that remains reliable is the inevitability of change. Make the most of your days and enjoy the seasonal bounty. The harvest season is a season of abundance, and it's abundantly clear, that fall is the best season.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Your Next Meal in the woods is on the House

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With backpackers chasing summits and hunters chasing big game, sometimes it's best to pack light when you've got to haul your meals along with everything else you need to survive. Dry goods that can boiled in water are popular choices, but not exactly the most appetizing, and they can become a bit monotonous eating them day after day, night after night. Mountain House meals are often viewed as the five star restaurant of camp cooking, but it's a luxury to have that kind of meal while out in the bush.

However, for a limited time, your next meal in the woods could be on the house, Mountain House that is. The company is offering it's consumers a one-time rebate offer of up to an $11 purchase for one of their dehydrated, pre-packaged culinary camp meals.

With camp cuisine like biscuits and gravy, lasagna, chicken teriyaki with rice, breakfast hash, and a chicken fiesta bowl, Mountain House has become one of the top choices for outdoor adventurers for over 50 years.

Just like any other kind of outdoor gear, you'll probably want to do some background research on the products you plan on using before you head out into the woods. Why should your meals be any different? A quick search of Amazon reviews will reveal a 4 out of 5 star rating, with most of the complaints being based around the price. One 5 star rating reads: "Mountain House is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to freeze dried food for backpacking, camping, or whatever other occasion might call for quick, easy to prepare meals. The down side is their cost."

With that being said, if you're tired of boiling oatmeal, grits and ramen noodles, what do you have to lose? Give it a shot! Most of the individual packages weigh between two to four ounces, can be prepared in 10 minutes, and eaten directly out of the bag.

The promotion ends on Halloween, so you'll have plenty of time to stock up for hunting season, camping, or if you're a survivalist that just wants to add a great last meal to your bug out bag! Rebate requests must be post-marked by November 14th, so get to your local outdoor outfitter and stock up now. Once you've got your proof of purchase, mail it with this rebate form to Mountain House, and they'll pick up the tab. Bon Appetit!

Young women are the fastest growing demographic of hunters

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Young women are the fastest growing demographic of outdoor enthusiasts. Research from a 2016 report by the Outdoor Foundation surprisingly shows that among all age groups, 18-24 year olds showed the most significant increase in participation of outdoor recreational activities. Within that 18-24 year old demographic, the participation rate among females was 16 percent higher than their male counterparts.

Rosie the riveter would take pride in seeing modern women break through age-old stereotypes, moving into the forefront of the typically male-dominated culture of hunting and gathering. Just in the state of Oregon, the Statesman Journal reported that the number of female hunters increased 16 percent within a decade, in spite of the purchases of hunting and fishing licenses being on a steady, historical decline.

Michelle Bodenheimer is one of those Oregonians, and the draw of the hunt transitioned her from living a vegetarian lifestyle to eventually becoming the regional director for the National Wild Turkey Federation. She believes that it's becoming more socially acceptable for women to become hunters because society as a whole is tearing down conventional stereotypes. "The outdoor sports help women gain confidence and a sense of purpose." She explains each milestone as a snowball effect that makes women only want to do and conquer more feats as hunters. Bodenheimer also credits leaders in the outdoor industry for recognizing the growing number of female participants, and providing the resources to encourage that growth. "Female participation continues to rise due to accessibility. More and more companies are making clothing and gear specifically for women, making their pursuits easier. Organizations are offering classes and clinics to help women and strengthen their skills (which helps build confidence) to get them outdoors."

Hunter Asha Aiello explains the appeal of hunting not just as an experience, but an offering of something tangible. "Women want to know where their food comes from. We want to be able to participate in the process, and there's no better way to access organic meat. You can push yourself to limits you never knew you had, and beyond, walking away with not only a stable of memories, but food for your family."

As a Cabelas Marketing Manager, Aiello's business is understanding what makes new hunters tick, and what experienced hunters want. She points to growing educational opportunities in the outdoor industry like Ladies Hunting Camp as a great resource for introducing new hunters to the sport, as well as strengthening the skillsets of experienced hunters, and offering a venue for women to network and access environments where they can develop the opportunities to mentor and learn from each other.

"I will never judge anyone if it's pink camo or a purple handgun that gets them outdoors. If you like to wear sparkly stuff because it makes you feel cute when you shoot, then go for it." However, she recognizes that kind of marketing will only take things so far. "I once had a knife maker tell me that for years the outdoor industry thought all it had to do to grab women's interest was pink it and shrink it." While those initial impulse purchases might still have their place, she's had to respond to the demand of providing quality gear that is specifically designed for women. "Women need pants that fit properly so we can move quietly in the field, boots that fit our feet, and knives that we can comfortably hold in our hands." While several companies have taken feedback to create lines for women, she says that, "The challenge is that many companies have simply assumed what women want, when in truth, they've never been out in the field with a woman to see what challenges we face, and/or what opportunities there are." Female consumers are often an untapped demographic in the outdoor industry, in spite of making up nearly 20 percent of all hunters in the United States, increasing 85 percent from 2001 to 2013 from 1.8 to 3.3 million hunters according to the NRA.

The growth of female hunters also means that they are taking on multiple roles in the outdoor industry. In 2015, the Outdoor Industry Association named Amy Roberts as their Executive Director, who also serves on the boards of The Conservation Alliance, the Candadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. A recent story in USA Today highlighted several women that are changing the face of the outdoors, including Jennifer Drake, Michigan's first and only female hunting guide, and Angie Reisch, the first female game warden in the state of Kansas. Both mention the challenges of working in an outdoor industry that is primarily dominated by men. However, the growing number of women not only participating, but stepping into leadership roles in the outdoor industry has led to organized, collaborative conservation efforts.

Jessi Johnson began volunteering with organizations to preserve public land opportunities, which eventually led to creating Artemis, a conservation group named after the Greek goddess of the hunt, geared towards the purpose of conserving resources and preserving public lands while building leadership among sportswomen to give them a collective voice when lobbying public officials. While the organization is still in it's infancy, it's already been well received at public events, with lines forming by women interested in signing up to participate in a conservation group that respects and amplifies their voices. The group also recently received a grant to further develop membership engagement, and has plans for a National Sportswomen's Summit in the Spring of 2018.

It's easy to see how the outdoor industry faces it's own challenges in keeping pace with the growing number of female hunters, but with women participating on multiple levels, their voice is one to be heard as both consumers and leaders by companies and public officials.

Fallen Outdoors Archery Event

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While hunters are preparing for the upcoming bow season, I spent an afternoon with The Fallen Outdoors veterans group at the E.E. Wilson archery range near Adair Village, Oregon. All ages and skill levels attended the event, which is as much about the camaraderie as it is becoming better archers.

A crowd of about 30 adults and 15 kids spread across the range, as the smell of burgers and hot dogs from the grill filled the air. A family friendly event, there was guidance and instruction available for everyone, as well as encouragement. Although some attendees drove an hour or two to get there, events like this one are being held regularly by the organization in all over the country. TFO is a non-profit that caters towards providing outdoor recreational opportunities for Veterans, and currently offers hunting and fishing trips in all 50 states. Since the organization was conceptualized in 2009, over 3000 veterans nationwide have been participated in the program.

Eli Cronin helped organize the event. Cronin says he got involved with TFO after seeing a request for volunteers in Oregon in a fishing group on Facebook. "I was going through a rough time in life, and helping get vets out was also helping me. Since the first trip I've been hooked. I'm now the state lead for Oregon, and we're working hard to build up our Oregon team. I'm excited for what the future of this organization holds."

Jared Mikoleit, another event volunteer says he was approached by a friend he fished with in Washington to become a staffer for TFO Oregon when the organization was still very new. "I thought it was a cool opportunity to help vets and service members get outdoors who are new to the area," says Mikoleit.

TFO is run exclusively by veterans, with the help of guides, land owners, and everyday outdoorsmen and women that offer these recreational opportunities as a way of saying thanks. Founder Eric Bakken, a Washington resident originally from Minnesota, says, "Most guys join (the military) and leave what's important to them at home or lose touch with their hobbies because they get to a new place in a new state and it's hard for them to learn the elements of hunting and fishing in their new surroundings." The organization aims to provide knowledge, leadership, proper gear, and the opportunity for these experiences in each state.

As the surviving family member of a veteran suicide, I personally understand the necessity of programs that support our troops as they return home and resume their everyday American lives. The epidemic of PTSD is a constant struggle for returning veterans, many years after their service ends. A veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes, and nearly 70 percent of them are over the age of 50. A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine points out that veterans may be less likely to seek help from a mental health professional. Meanwhile, research from the University of Essex shows that "ecotherapy" benefits mental health and reduces social isolation, aiding those with mental health issues to improve their physical health, gain confidence, and return to work. A key factor to the approach of introducing veterans to outdoor recreational activities like hunting and fishing as a form of therapy, is that it can be effective simply because it's more likely to be utilized by veterans who would be less likely to seek out other forms of therapy.

You can get involved by making a donation to the Fallen Outdoors, or joining their online community on Facebook. TFO facilitates outdoor recreational hunting and fishing opportunities for veterans of all branches of the military.

PETA's Facebook Frame Fiasco

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Soon after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a Facebook profile picture filter reading "Shoot Selfies, Not Animals," hunters caught on quickly and claimed the frame for their own profiles. Many prominent hunting figures in the outdoor industry as well as weekend warriors, even fishermen followed suit.

Wild Chef Jeremiah Doughty was one of the first to adopt the frame, and added it to a photo of himself butchering a fallow deer. Doughty, who owns the website has made a career out of his meal choices after discovering he developed an allergy to beef, and began choosing to harvest all of his own free-range meat. His culinary works are a cultural reflection of the popular "Farm to Table" movement, popular among organic farmers that want to offer a locally sourced food directly through their own kitchen, providing an optimal dining experience that gives meaning to the work that goes into producing each meal. However, Doughty says that within 24 hours of using the PETA filter on his profile photo, he received well over 200 death threats.

Many hunters like Doughty have their own personal reasons for choosing wild game as part of their diet. In an article about the growing number of female hunters published here on OutdoorHub just 48hrs before this viral PETA frame fiasco took place, hunter Asha Aiello explained that, "Women want to know where their food comes from." I think we can all agree that knowing the source, or being connected to the source that our food comes from instills a confidence in the freshness and quality of what we're consuming. "We want to be able to participate in the process, and there's no better way to access meat," Aiello adds.

Just as any vegan foodie has a special connection to picking kale and tomatoes from their own garden, hunters are connected in a similar way to the meat they put on their tables. Whether it's dirt under our fingernails or blood on our hands, that primal connection to our food is inherently instinctual, and arguably more human than pushing a shopping cart through the grocery store, regardless of whatever processed and neatly packaged food products you're putting in it.

While hunting is a historical and traditional means of gathering food that dates back thousands of years, the concepts of factory farming as well as omitting meat from our diets are both relatively new human experiences. Hunters are the largest contributors to conservation efforts worldwide, and the biggest threat to wild animal habitat is industrial agriculture. The small group of people who hunt acquire their meat in a distinctly unique manner that in the grand scheme of our society seems absurd for PETA to direct hostility towards.

In our current political culture where opposing sides are quick to shouting their differences without taking a moment to identify with each other, vegans and hunters might find they have more in common than they think. In 2012, "Meat Eater" Author and TV Show host Steven Rinella responded to a vegan that publicly challenged his ethics as a hunter during a book signing, explaining "I admire the deer, but I admire the idea of deer more than the individual deer. I can assure you that I know more about deer than you ever will, and I've learned that from hunting them. I probably care about them in a deeper way than you're going to experience from having a removed perspective." He goes on to explain to the vegan, "I've always had respect and admiration for the cohesiveness and clarity of veganism. It doesn't strike me as being unusual, or anything other than a perspective. I'd rather have you over for dinner than someone who feeds their pets chunks of meat from a store while acting like I'm some kind of viscous animal for killing a deer." You can watch the full video of that interaction here:

While many hunters joined in mocking the organization as a show of solidarity to their fellow hunters, some spoke out about their hesitation to jump on the bandwagon. Some hunters (who wished not to be named) expressed concern over whether the organization was using the filter as a ploy to trap hunters into becoming a target for harassment. Others had their own reasons for ignoring the viral trend. Hunter and angler Matthew Dickason said, "I don't feel like this is an effective way to change anyone's mind about hunting, fishing, or conservation. I do love seeing people doing their outdoor thing and getting it done, but am wary of taking part in what boils down to hunters using hashtag activism. Join an organization like the TRCP or Backcountry Hunters and Anglers if you want to show solidarity to your fellow hunters." Fishing guide and hunter Ashley Nicole Lewis said, "I chose not to use the filter. There are some good activists with good intentions there too, whether you agree with their views or not. For myself, I can live in a world where people don't agree with me, and I would never give publicity to something I want to go away."
PETA released a statement on the same day this article was written, saying "More than 250,000 people have used the frame, and it’s currently the most popular one on all of Facebook. As if that weren’t enough, PETA's Facebook page saw a more than 50 percent increase in “likes” from Tuesday to Wednesday.
“PETA owes a big thank-you to the would-be trolls who are spreading our message of compassion,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman says. “The supportive messages are pouring in from kind people who agree that only bullies or cowards get their kicks from gunning down beautiful wild animals.”

Seasonal Transition Wild Berries

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Philosopher Bernard Williams once said that "The day the lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring." He also said that, "September tries it's best to have us forget Summer." As the change of seasons takes place and outdoor enthusiasts lament the passing of sunny days and warmer weather, there's a bounty of hunting, fishing, and foraging opportunities. If you enjoy eating wild foods, this is the time to summon the squirrel as your spirit animal, take part in the harvest, and begin hoarding away your stash for the winter.While most foraging fanatics see the oncoming of Fall as an opportunity to scan the forest floor for signs of color, plucking mushrooms from the duff and debris, don't forget to look up if things are slow.

While the Western native Vaccinium parvifolium or "red huckleberry" is in it's final stages of fruiting by the end of July, you should still be able to find a few well into the end of September. Because of it's low tolerance for root disturbance, this wild treat is not commercially cultivated. Although the berries are quite small, the pack a punch of unique sour candy flavor.

The more commonly known Gaylussacia or black huckleberry is native to the eastern United States, while Vaccinium Membranaceum and Vaccinium deliciosum blue cascade huckleberry inhabit western coastal habitat and mountain ranges. These wild edibles are a prized fruit for food preservers to make jellies and jam. This transitional period of seasons is prime time for picking.

Sambucus, or elderberry is also in it's prime during this transitional period. Elderberry has been used in a syrup as a natural remedy to treat a number of minor illnesses. Although the ripe, cooked skin and pulp from the berries is edible, other parts of the plant itself are toxic, containing cyanogenic glycosides that make you ill if ingested. If you're going to use elderberry for wildcrafting projects, extra care should be taken to remove all stems and debris, as well as thoroughly cooking the berries themselves as a preventative measure.

All of these berries can also be dried for storage and future wildcrafting projects. Use this transitional period of seasons to get out and soak up some rays (or rain) and squirrel away these wild fruits on days when the hunting, fishing, and mushroom picking are slow. The abundance of harvest opportunities this time of year offers mass appeal to outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds to make the most of their days, rain or shine.

More than one way to can a fish

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Nothing beats fresh fish, but canning is a great way to preserve your catch while saving precious freezer and fridge space. Putting up cans of fish will allow you to take them with you as meals on the go, send them to friends and family in other parts of the country, and worry less about them being freezer burned or spoiling during a power outage. There are a few different methods, but the two most common are to place fresh meat directly into a jar with your spices, or brine and smoke the fish first, and then place the final product into jars for canning. Either way, these require a pressure canner. All-American pressure canners are highly recommended by most food preservers for their durability, reliability and simplicity. All-American pressure canners do not require a rubber gasket, which can easily be lost or damaged, and does not always stand up to the test of time. 

Keep in mind what you plan to do with your canned fish when you're deciding what size jars to put them in. If you want snacks on the go, try smaller jars. If you're planning to feed a family, try larger jars. Keep in mind that your fish will last several years once you've canned them, so you want to make sure you are sizing everything appropriately so that it's used and isn't just sitting on a shelf because the jars they're in are too big or too small. Jars should also be sterilized first, even if purchased new, along with lids and rings. Use a water bath canner for the jars and a small pot for the lids and rings. You'll need a pair of jar tongs as well as a magnetic lid lifter for the lids and rings. These tools, along with a little tender loving care during the process will prevent you from burning yourself while removing your items from their boiling water bath.

If you're choosing to can your fish fresh, you'll need to add some salt to each jar. You can experiment with dill, lemon, peppers, etc. but my personal experience with this is that while most of these items are aesthetically pleasing when you place them in the jar, then they end up being mush when you pull them out after they've been cooked in the canner. A little bit goes a long way when you're working with spicy peppers, because they infuse with the fatty oils from the fish. Try a few different things to see what you like, and set aside a few jars that are simply meat and salt, so you have a basis for comparison.

If you're choosing to can your fish smoked, keep in mind that it doesn't take long for the flavor to take hold when it's in the smoker. You can adjust your run time in the smoker to keep the fish from overcooking during the canning process, but if you don't fully cook the fish in the smoker, you'll need to can it within 24hrs. Doing this will prevent moisture loss in the final product, and lessen the intensity of the smoked flavor. Add your spices to the fish after you remove it from the brine, and allow the fish to air dry (use a fan to speed up the process). Once the meat becomes tacky and develops a pellicle, place it in the smoker and cook it low and slow, between 120 and 150 degrees, depending on the thickness of the filets. After a 2-3 hour smoke, remove the fish and let it cool. I personally prefer to remove the skin so scales don't end up in the canned fish later, but this is also optional.

Regardless of the process you decide to use to can your fish, you'll need to run the pressure canner for 110 minutes with a 10 pound weighted gauge and 11 on the dial gauge, adjusting for altitude. You can check Ball/Kerr's fresh preserving altitude chart on their website. Allow the canner to cool and the dial gauge to return to 0 before you take off the weight and open it. Then pull your jars out and place them onto a towel to cool. The "pop" sounds the jar make during the cooling process is the sound of success. If they don't seal, the lid will budge when you press is it in the center. This shouldn't happen, but on the rare occasion it does, put that fish away in the fridge and enjoy it tomorrow. Once they have cooled, check to make sure they have all sealed, and pack the rest away for a rainy day.

Dove: A game bird meant to be eaten

Please view the full version of this article on OutdoorHub

The international symbol of peace just happens to be one of America's most abundant game birds. Fish and Wildlife Service data estimates that over the past two years, hunters harvested nearly 10 million mourning doves in the Eastern United States alone. In spite of those harvest numbers, these bird populations remain resilient, mostly because of their prolific reproduction methods. They're basically flying rabbits.

While commonly only producing a pair of eggs for each nest, a mating pair will produce up to five broods of young annually, nesting from March until November. Eggs take just two weeks of incubation to hatch. Once they hatch, their parents work together to feed their offspring "crop milk." (Doves have an enlarged esophagus, known as a "crop," that allows them to hoard additional seed for digesting later) The lining of the crop produces a secretion that is rich in protein and fat and resembles cottage cheese. The young are quickly weaned within a few days, and begin eating seeds themselves, becoming fledged within a few weeks.

"Their ecological role is to be prey. They are born to be eaten, and humans are just one of their predators. Hunting has not caused any decline in the various dove species," says Phillip Dickerson, a Biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Dickerson adds that some gradual historical declines are the result of large scale changes in existing habitat and loss of habitat due to agriculture and human developments.

Dickerson also told the Sibley Nature Center that Eurasian collared doves might be competing with the mourning doves for resources. While checking traps, he noticed that the two species seem to utilize different feeding times to utilize the bait as an artificial food source. "I have not witnessed any physical battels between the species here, but folks have told me they have seen whitewings chase mourning doves away from food at backyard feeding stations. With the increase in Eurasians, maybe the mourning doves' access to food and water is being limited."

Either way, they are both tasty species, and although dove hunting and harvest has actually been on a historical decline, the tradition of these hunts as community gatherings and a wild game food resource remains alive. Fields are planted with seed-rich plants like sorghum and millet, and the hunts are meticulously scheduled and arranged to place hunters where even missed shots will send the doves flying in a circle to the next hunter. Being small morsels, it takes a few birds to make a meal, and a little work to prepare them for the kitchen.

From Field to Plate wild game chef Jeremiah Doughty recommends bleeding out your birds in the field to remove the "gamey" taste from the meat. Removing the head quickly after the bird is taken down will drain the blood from the chest cavity, producing a visible difference in the breast that will also leave a recognizable change in the flavor of the table fare. Doughty also says that over-cooking the meat dries it out, adding to the gamey flavor.

Breasting out the birds and making dove poppers are the most common and popular way of cooking them. The breast is placed on top of a halved and de-seeded jalapeno pepper with cream cheese, then wrapped in bacon and placed on the grill. Don't get me wrong, dove poppers are a delicious way to eat these birds, but Doughty prefers to think outside the box when it comes to culinary creativity.

While it seems tedious and messy, plucking makes the juice worth the squeeze. You can cook the birds whole, place them in a crockpot until the meat falls off the bone, or cut the meat free from the bones and grind it, using the remaining meat and bone to create a broth. Either way, utilizing the full extent of the meat from each bird will allow you to branch out and try some new dishes.

"5 (dove) Recipes to Impress Your Friends and Family that don't Include Bacon" is an excellent how-to guide for preparing your doves From Field to Plate. If you're still hellbent upon your love for the traditional dove popper, I also highly recommend checking out Doughty's recipe for "Dove Popper Meatball Subs."

While emphasizing the importance of maintaining hunting traditions and the community "dove shoot," it's worth the effort to branch out sometimes, remembering that this wild food resource is as versatile as it is abundant.

Prep for Fall and Recondition your Raingear

Please view the full version of this article on OutdoorHub

While most people dread the end of summer, it's a different story for outdoor enthusiasts. Campers and hikers look forward to campfires and hoodie weather. Hunters look forward to tracking game and waking up to waterfowl. Fishermen look forward to the rains that bring rising rivers, and with them, salmon and steelhead runs. We all want to be prepared when the first rain or cold snap hits, so now is the time to pull out your raingear and give it a once over.

Waterproof gear isn't cheap, but it's worth the money to stay dry and comfortable. While you're pulling out those old rain jackets, waders and bibs, you'll be tempted to make use of what warranties you can, and maybe even toss a few items out that just don't have the same life they used to when it came out of the box. If you really want to save a few bucks and extend the life of your gear, invest in reconditioning it yourself.

Last fall, I got to sample a line of Nikwax products for review, and I put my gear to the test through the winter. Their product line is specifically engineered for each type of material, from rain-jackets and base-layers to boots. While investing in each individual type of wash might be an investment, you'll be able to preserve the life of your clothing and gear, rather than making new purchases every year to cover you from head to toe.

As we transition into changing seasons, preparing for the weather is all about layering. As you're pulling out those synthetic fiber base-layers that have been in the back of the closet since early spring, you're probably going to take notice of your own brand. Those poly fibers are extra "stank-grabbin" and you will not be able to get rid of that lingering odor with your typical detergents. The Nikwax Basewash revitalized garments I had been using for several years. I also found it useful bringing back to life my double-breasted fishing shirts and summer gear that had soaked in quite a bit of sweat and fish slime. The basewash is designed to remove and block odors, as well as revitalizing the breathability and wicking qualities of synthetic fibers to accelerate drying. There's also a specially designed wash for wool as well.

Although it's tough to beat the repelling quality of rubber slickers, they're heavy and bulky. I prefer a softshell when the weather permits, but the weather isn't always predictable either. I have a soft-shelled fleece jacket that I probably wear more than anything else, and it does a satisfactory job during a light rain. At least it used to. That softshell got used and abused as my favorite jacket, and needed to be washed often. The combination of the washing machine (along with commercial detergents) and dryer quickly evaporated it's water repelling qualities (no pun intended). However, a healthy dose of the Spray-On Softshell Proof was like dipping it into a layer of wax. The jacket performed like it was brand new all season. I've even pulled it out a few times recently and it's continued to perform a year later, after many washes. I was able to stretch one bottle to use on several jackets, and even if I have to purchase a new bottle and recondition them again this year, it's still significantly less expensive than purchasing new gear, and well worth the investment. For best performance, combine the use of their Tech Wash product to wash your softshell materials first, then coat them with the Softshell Proof. The application of the Softshell Proof does best when it's applied to a clean surface, much like you would only wax a car after it's been thoroughly washed.

The Tech Wash also works well in preparing your hardshell layers too. Materials like GoreTex are extremely durable and water repellent, but they will perform better with a little loving care. Using the Tech Wash for an intial wash, then doing a second round in the TX.Direct Wash-in Waterproofer will properly clean and recondition your hardshell materials. Removing any collected debris that may absorb water and dampen the outer layer will reduce the breathability, and cause the inner layer of your material to absorb sweat. Combining the two products will eliminate residual debris and improve the breathability of your hardshell layers, reducing sweat issues with your bibs, waders, and rain jackets.

In similar circumstances, properly cleaning your boots will improve your ability to recondition and waterproof them. Using the Nikwax Cleaning Gel & Fabric and Leatherproof products in unison will allow you to do just that. The cleaning gel has a special applicator that will remove any stuck on grime with a little elbow grease, and the Fabric and Leatherproof will improve water repelling qualities as well as adding additional protection to the seams.

Best of all, Nikwax products are environmentally safe. Nikwax is celebrating it's 40th year of operation by carbon balancing the entirety of it's operations since 1977. A decade ago, Nikwax started working with World Land Trust to offset it's annual emissions, as well as offsetting it's emissions since inception. "We recognize that climate change is going to be one of the greatest challenges for future generations," says Nikwax founder, Nick Brown. "It is already destabilizing the outdoor industry, influencing snow and rainfall, and bringing extreme and unpredictable weather. We decided 10 years ago to balance the carbon emissions coming from our manufacturing and operational processes by restoring forest cover in partnership with World Land Trust. By restoring forests, the trees capture the CO2 we emit, while also providing protection for endangered species and promoting bio-diversity. By the end of 2017, our operations will have been carbon balanced for 40 years."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

8 Travel Tips for Visiting the Lower 48’s Largest Salmon Fishery


The Swimming Dead - Zombait


This year at ICAST, Zombait made it's debut with a unique gadget made to be inserted into dead bait to bring it back to life with a natural swimming action. Made from corrosion resistant materials that operates at depths of up to 200 feet in fresh or saltwater, the Zombait's battery life lasts about 3 hours.

Ideal for mullet, ballyhoo, ladyfish, mackerel, and other common saltwater baits, you can spend less time fishing for fresh bait and more time fishing for your intended target species. Being able to bring your dead bait back to life also makes it less hassle to keep your bait alive.

The Zombait is inserted into bait seven inches or larger and a small peg on the end of the power cell wiggles back and fourth at the tail, producing a natural movement that will make your fishing excursions more like a Weekend at Bernie's.

The Zombait retails for $69 and includes a battery, USB charger, and a carrying case. If you're planning on fishing for extended periods of time on the water or running multiple Zombaits, the premium pack includes 3 zombaits with batteries, USB charger, and a carrying case for $159. Following the ICAST event, they expect to be sold out of their current stock by the end of the month and increasing production to meet demand.

The batteries are AA sized, but they're actually a 14500 rechargeable cell with an integrated power control module that provides a higher voltage for stronger motion with the Zombait. The outer casing is made from a durable polycarbonate plastic, similar to what is commonly used on underwater cameras and football helmets. Because it's a significant investment, you can attach a secondary leader from the end of your Zombait to your mainline to prevent losing it in the case of a snag or fish that takes your leader.

While the current design debuted at ICAST is more ideal for larger baits and offshore fishing, the company intends to produce a smaller version of the Zombait for inshore anglers. You can find out more about the product at

Friday, July 7, 2017

Environmental Concerns of Rainbow Gathering at Malheur National Forest

One can only fully understand what this event is about by being fully immersed. Outside perspectives are constructed by conclusions drawn from hearsay, as well fragments of information dispersed by the media and other outsiders. I fully acknowledge that my own experiences are merely another fragment of that truth, but this is not my first time attending this event. However, it is the first time I have attended this event with a press pass and an open mind.

I have seen and read the gripes from locals, hunters, and ranchers about the potential environmental impacts of the Gathering. For every valid claim, another is sensationalized. There is no doubt in my mind that human interaction on that scale does have some impact on the immediate environment. Ironically, the same areas where concerns have been expressed regarding water quality being affected by the digging of latrines, human waste, as well as soil compaction from foot traffic are also the same lands that have been the source of controversy over permitting free-grazing cattle. Concerns about using small streams as water sources for the gathering are minuscule by comparison to massive irrigation operations to maintain grazing forage for nearby ranches. With that being said, I don't dismiss those concerns. These are without a doubt delicate habitats, and gripes from opposing ends of the spectrum are valid.

Inside the gathering, I witnessed a great deal of care that went into burying not only human waste, but pet waste as well. The spread of diseases from one canine to another, as well as canine predators in the area is taken seriously, and the community polices itself with these ethics. "Bury your shit" was scrawled everywhere, and made very clear that this was not only commonplace, but the standard. If someone was walking their dog by our camp, and it took a squat, they were told to bury it. If they did not have a shovel handy, one would be provided to them. The latrines are everyone's personal responsibility to maintain. The sanitary threats that they create are very real. Signs with cartoon poop, flies on cartoon poop, and flies on cartoon poop on a plate carefully illustrate that not covering your waste means it will draw flies, and those flies will then travel to food, creating health hazards. Latrines were constructed far from water sources, and hand washing was the standard before using water stations. The phrase "Don't touch your thing to the thing" was muttered constantly, mostly in reference to canteens and other containers not touching the spout of the water station.

Cow excrement was visible everywhere
On the other hand, while walking the woods, I witnessed massive cow patties everywhere. They were as much as part of the landscape as pine needles and twigs. In May, there was a story in the Oregonian about roughly a dozen dead cattle floating in the nearby Owyhee Reservoir that had died from lack of forage during the winter. Every low-lying wetland in the surrounding area was occupied by cattle.

While I have little doubt that 20,000 people traveling to the area will impact the land and water quality, efforts have been made to minimize that impact. Wetlands and creek areas were clearly marked as off-limits, not by the Forest Service, but by other members of the Rainbow Family. Camps, kitchens, even pets and foot traffic were encouraged to stay beyond 200 feet of all streams in an effort not to disturb nesting birds and spawning fish. While not everyone follows those rules, there was a great deal of respect for those areas. I saw woodpeckers feeding their young inside holes in trees only a few feet off the ground in busy areas, and adult trout swimming in Wickiup Creek, which runs along the gravel road where the parking areas were at the entrance of the gathering. I also saw Mule Deer and Antelope a few miles outside the National Forest area. I had heard concerns prior to the gathering about big game being driven out of the immediate area, but I also did not find it a coincidence that the big game I spotted was not within site of any cattle either.
Trout in Wickiup Creek

Having left with a majority of the participants on the 5th of July, I was not witness to the cleanup efforts, although I have many friends that stayed behind specifically to break down structures, remove trash, and restore the area to it's original condition. Soil compaction is unavoidable with that much foot traffic. The dust was unavoidable as well, and much of the vegetation from the immediate area will without a doubt suffer from the occupation of that many people. But for how long?

Gatherings have mixed reviews from public officials, but many have complimented the clean up efforts. The Salt Lake Tribune published an article after the 2003 Rainbow Gathering at the Wasatch-Cache National Forest that provided insight from several public officials. "The Rainbows did a good job of cleaning up the site and following through with their commitments to restore the site," said Stephen Ryberg, district ranger for the forest's Evanston and Mountain View districts.
"Things went well from a resource standpoint." Bob Swensen, Environmental Director for the Summit County Health Department concludes, "My opinion is, it looks as if no one had been there. I'd have to give them an 'A' for their cleanup."

The following letter is from a district ranger in nearby Prineville regarding the 1997 Rainbow Gathering was printed in an ad-free publication called "All Ways Free," which distributed without charge at the gathering.

Big Summit Ranger District
33700 Ochoco Ranger Station
Prineville, OR 97754
File Code 2720
Date July 28, 1997 
Rainbow Family of Living Light 
Dear Rainbow Family Participants, 
We have been extremely pleased with the Cleanup and rehabilitation efforts by the Rainbow Family volunteers following the 1997 Gathering on the Big Summit Ranger District. Your commitment to caring for the land is recognized in your thoroughness and attention to detail and the District appreciates your hard work and cooperation in meeting the resource objectives. 
When the number of Rainbow gathering participants rapidly decreased from some 15,000 to about 500 between July 8 and July 15, kitchens and camps were dismantled and activity areas were cleaned up very quickly Garbage was centralized; recycling and trash removal efforts were initiated and continued, until completed. 
Evidence of trails disappeared, water bars were constructed where necessary, and slash was scattered. Rocks were effectively dispersed from fire rings, circles, and ovens. Latrines, grey water, and compost areas were backfilled, kitchen structures were dismantled and little to no evidence remains of their locations. Compacted areas, particularly around the kitchens, were spaded and slashed and the heavy traffic areas around Welcome Home and drum circles were reseeded. In many areas, vegetation was recovering within two weeks following peak of the gathering. Fences were spliced and repaired. Abandoned vehicles were identified and towing was coordinated with the Forest Service and the Rainbow Family participants. 
Cleanup efforts and rehabilitation were thorough and occurred mostly within two weeks following the peak of the gathering. Our post-gathering walk-through inspections showed that the cleanup volunteers had high personal standards for completing the job.
Those of us on the Big Summit Ranger District enjoyed working with you before, during and after your gathering. Thanks again for your commitment to leaving Indian Prairie in excellent condition. 
District Ranger
The same publication that printed the above letter also includes images of the regrowth from the 2016 Vermont gathering site as it appears only a few weeks later, rich with green vegetation. While the environmental impacts and concerns are certainly significant, so should be the efforst to restore these natural areas to their original condition.

Friday, May 26, 2017

RE: Spokesman Article on Harvesting Columbia Smallmouth

I fully understand both sides of this issue and have had this debate with both sides regarding the best possible scenario for an ideal plan to manage the bass population on the Columbia. There is scientific evidence that supports my arguments regarding the matter, which are as follows:

1. You will never rid the Columbia of bass species. They are here to stay, regardless of angler retention limits, or any other form of removal endorsed or funded by the state(s).

2. Reasonable slot limits are the most scientifically feasible way to positively impact the population in a manner that will likely reduce the consumption of smolts.

If the matter truly interests you in finding a solution, I would suggest studying some of the research that has been done in areas where the strategic eradication of smallmouth has been attempted through more extreme means. Over the course of five years, 48,000 smallmouth were removed from an Adirondack lake via electrofishing, an average of 300 per trip, which would be difficult for any angler to match that CPUE. If you want to read the entire study, I'll leave a link at the bottom, but here's a summary of what the researchers discovered during the course of the study, which can be found on the bottom of page 10, and continued on page 11:

"The optimal harvest strategy is highly dependent on the control objective. If the goal of the harvest is to reduce the
overall population abundance (regardless of demographic structure), then in situations in which the population’s reproduction rate at low spawner abundance is large, harvest will not be effective until very high levels are achieved. In such cases, it may not be beneficial to remove any individuals unless it is possible to remove nearly all of the population.
In other situations, the structure of the population may be of greater importance. For example, increased abundance of
large smallmouth bass (>200 mm) in Little Moose Lake has altered food web linkages and has had a measured impact on the abundance of other littoral fish species (Lepak et al. 2006; Weidel et al. 2007). Therefore a key management
goal is to minimize the impact of large bass (and reduce the total biomass of the bass) rather than simply reduce the
overall population abundance. In such cases, a management tradeoff exists between a reduction in abundance of one life stage and a potential overcompensatory response in another. In this scenario, continued regular harvesting may be necessary to maintain a reduction in adults. If it remains impossible to eliminate all bass from the lake, the best Little Moose Lake smallmouth bass management strategy may be to reduce the proportion of adult fish (>200 mm) that are harvested. The sensitivity analyses showed that removal of adults caused the largest increase in yearling and juvenile abundances. Because we do not have annual population abundance estimates, it is difficult to determine exactly how many adults should be harvested to both achieve the management objectives described above and not produce an overcompensation of yearlings or juveniles. However, some reduction in the harvest of adults would likely mitigate the observed overcompensatory response without producing large increases in adult abundance, as well as reduce the effort necessary to maintain the positive affects of the removal."

If you made it this far, thanks for taking an interest in being informed on the best possible management strategy, which also just so happens to be an ideal compromise for anglers of both fisheries. The most effective plan to significantly reduce the population of bass is one that specifically reduces the retention of adult-sized "trophy" bass. Compare this scientific data with the statements made by the biologists in the spokesman article:

"walleye and bass –notably the younger ones – take a lot of young chinook in the two-inch range as they hold in shoreline rocky areas, said Anthony Fritts, a department biologist who’s conducted research on smallmouth predation in the lower Yakima River."

^ This statement further supports evidence that an ideal strategy is to specifically target smaller bass (and walleye) for retention in order to reduce predation of smolts.

A reasonable approach to preserving a trophy bass fishery while maintaining retention of the abundant population of smaller fish in the system is a win-win for everybody, and all the fish species that inhabit the Columbia River.