Memorial Day 2017: Thank You Veterans and Heroes

vet honor w zaneGot this from a loyal blog reader this time last year. I could not have said any better myself. I reprint in honor of all those who have served and especially to those who gave all:

Mike: A nice blog for the weekend would be a dedication to the REAL HEROES of our country. The men and women that serve and have served in our Armed Forces are owed well-deserved respect and gratitude from us.

“To those who have fallen, you will never be forgotten.”

We WOULD NOT be able to pursue our dreams of freedom and hunting if not for the men and women that we honor this weekend. At a minimum, raise a drink during a celebration this weekend and remember our TRUE AMERICAN HEROES.

Maybe you could link some veteran’s organizations that could use some help from us, your faithful bloggers: 

Well said. One group I work with—I just joined its Board of Directors and am honored to do so—is the Virginia-based Veteran’s Outdoor Fund. Our sole mission is to provide hunting and fishing opportunities for America’s veterans and heroes. We take 300-400 troops on hunting and fishing trips each year, to get them outside and help them heal. You would not believe what good therapy a few days in the woods or on the water is for these young men and women. Any help you can give our group is much appreciated.

Again, thanks to all who have served and to those who currently serve. And to my son, Em, who is training and serving right now with the US Army at Fort Bragg, love you man and so proud.

Tough Buck: Arrow Is Splint for Deer’s Ribcage

arrow in deer ribI saw this unique trophy on the Drury Outdoors Instagram, here’s the gist of it:

The section of ribs shown belonged to a buck that was shot with a bow by Jackie Stegall in North Carolina 30 years ago.  Jackie had no idea what he would find when the skinned the 4-pointer, which looked healthy and acted normally. But sometime at the mid-point of skinning, Jackie saw that he was not the first archer to shoot the buck! Notice how the ribs had healed and grown around the arrow shaft, which had in effect become a splint for the broken ribs. Jackie recently gifted this amazing trophy to his son, Robert, for his 30th birthday.

Amazing. The broadhead looks like the Bear Razorhead I used to sharpen and shoot way back when (fyi, I didn’t use the bleeder inserts).

Do Deer Feed On Dead Human Bodies?

deer eatingSuppose a hiker or a hunter gets lost in the woods, dies and is not found for months. Or some thug murders a guy and dumps the body in a remote area.

Sure, a fox, coyote, bear or vulture or other scavenger would pick the body. But would a deer eat the decaying remains too?

Sounds absurd, but…

From an Abstract published in the Journal of Forensic Science:

Herein, we report on the first known photographic evidence of deer gnawing human remains. As described in nonhuman scavenging literature, forking of the bone characterizes the taphonomic effect of deer gnawing in this case, which is distinct from the effect caused by other scavengers. This type of osteophagia during the winter season is consistent with previously documented behavior of deer gnawing on nonhuman bone, possibly to obtain minerals absent in their diet.

Popular Science reports that in July 2014 scientists placed a human body in the woods of the 26-acre Forensic Anthropology Research Facility in Texas and set up wildlife cameras near it. (One of the most intriguing things I learned from the POPSCI story is that there are facilities in the U.S. dedicated to studying the decay of donated human remains, and sometimes their work involves leaving corpses outside to rot in order to better understand what happens during and after decomposition.)

On 2 different days in January 2015 they got 2 different pictures of a young deer standing near the carcass with a rib bone “sticking out of its mouth like a cigar.” They can’t say for sure if it’s the same deer, but studying the cam images it looks like it to me.)

The images are the first documented evidence of a deer scavenging human bones, likely to get a taste of phosphorus, salt, and calcium.

The treasure trove of whitetail data that we continue to amass here on BIG DEER is amazing!

(Deer photo credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Camping World Takes Over Gander Mountain

ganderTough times in the hunting/shooting retail world has led, sadly, to another mega takeover.

Earlier this year Gander Mountain, which had been outfitting hunters for more than 50 years, filed for bankruptcy and was placed up for auction. On April 28, Camping World, the nation’s largest RV retailer, was chosen as the winning bidder ($37.8 million is a lot of money to you and me, but seems cheap for a brand like Gander).

The big question: What does this mean for the 126 Gander stores built across the country?

Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis said bluntly, “All stores are liquidating, and the inventory in there is going to go away.” Some stores will likely close for good, but “my goal is to keep open at least 70 and keep them operating as Gander Mountain. I will not be picking stores that do not have a clear path to profitability.”

Lemonis says that moving forward, Camping World intends to “refine the inventory selection,” which many in the outdoor industry take to mean substantially less selling of firearms and shooting/hunting gear. Lemonis said one of Gander’s problems was that the retailer was a victim of its own misguided approach to inventory. “At the end of the day, this company failed because it made some giant inventory mistakes and just bought too much,” he said. “Not the wrong stuff, but just too much. And it didn’t necessarily understand how to operate in a low-cost environment.”

Gander Mountain stores will continue to honor gift cards until May 17, 2017. If you have a card, hurry to your local Gander and use it. After that, Gander Mountain gift cards will no longer be honored in store or online.

The list of Gander stores that will close (or survive) remains fluid, but here’s the latest.

This is sad news for me, because I always enjoyed getting the Gander Mountain catalog, and in recent years visiting Gander stores. How about you? Who shopped at Gander and will miss it?

Michigan: Buck With Third Eye Antler

unicorn eye socket@whitetailpress posted this picture on Twitter and asked: Found this crazy shed while out turkey hunting. Ever seen anything like this?

Yes. While a third beam/tine growing out of a buck’s face is rare, there have been quite a few unicorn bucks documented over the years.

What causes this rarity? It could be simply a freak of genetics, or scientists say a freak tine on the front facial bone of a buck can be caused by trauma, such as a tine puncture from another buck. Strangely, another tine then sprouts out from there.

Most  freak tines grow out from the long, flat facial bone on a buck, though there have instances of weird tines sprouting around and even out of an eye socket, like with the Kansas buck pictured below.

eye socket buck