Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors
Dec. 30, 2015
Outdoor News Hound’s Wildest Stories of 2015
Just as we have for every year since The Outdoor News Hound first began to appear weekly on Sportsman’s Guide’s website in 2004 (a dozen years ago!), this week, marking the final column of the year, we present the wildest outdoor stories of 2015 for your reading pleasure.
“Hey, Everybody! Watch This!” Moment of The Year
The Outdoor News Hound has brought readers many stories over the years depicting the actions of shoe-in candidates for Darwin Awards, but none more deserving than a Florida teenager (pictured above) who thought it would be a neat idea to kiss a captive venomous water moccasin and post the photo on his social media page.
Orlando Weekly reported April 24 Austin Hatfield removed the captive snake from a pillowcase and attempted to kiss it in front of his friends at his Wimauma, Fla., home.
“He ripped it off his face, threw it on the ground and he started swelling up immediately,” witness Jason Belcher told Fox News in Orlando. “It was pretty frightening. We’ve done a lot of stuff together. This is the one thing that scared me the most.”
Once Hatfield recovered from his “swell” experience, the folks with The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission were prepared to discuss his violation of state wildlife law. In The Sunshine State, it is strictly illegal to possess a venomous snake without a permit.
Back-To-The-Drawing-Board Product of The Year
A prominent outdoor footwear company vowed to revisit its testing procedures after a contractor demonstrating a new “snakeproof” boot was bitten by his reptile presentation partner and required medical treatment.
As a result of the botched test, Rocky Brands, Inc., recalled its Silent Hunter Rubber Snake Boot.
According to a May 19 statement issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Rocky Brands is recalling the latest entry in its line of “snake-proof” boots after a contractor hired to demonstrate the footwear’s effectiveness was bitten by a snake (also contracted for the demonstration, we assume), sustaining non life-threatening injuries in the process.
To its credit and giving something of a clinic on how to react under pressure to professionally handle a potentially volatile (not to mention, embarrassing) situation, Rocky Brands moved quickly to address the recall.
“Fortunately, no one was hurt and we immediately pulled the product from the market,” CEO David Sharp said in a company statement.
Most-Excessive Over-Limit Case
It was a fishing over-limit case that far exceeded anything we’ve ever reported here at The Outdoor News Hound.
A Clovis, N.M. man convicted of illegally possessing more 1,600 trout – more than 160 times the limit — has agreed to pay $8,110 in civil penalties after accepting a plea agreement.
Bounchanh Bounsombath, 63, was arrested after Department of Game and Fish conservation officers seized the trout during a search warrant at his home. Bounsombath admitted to catching all of the fish at Green Acres Lake and Denis Chaves Pond in Clovis. Most of the trout were in one-gallon Ziploc bags containing two- to four trout per bag. All of the trout had been salted and dried before being frozen.
Under the plea agreement reached in Clovis Magistrate Court, Bounsombath pleaded guilty to 10 charges of exceeding the bag limit and one count of unlawful possession of rainbow trout. He also was placed on five years of supervised probation.
All the trout were caught from two municipal lakes where they’re annually stocked for citizens to enjoy catching during the winter months.
“Never in my whole career have I encountered this before,” NMGF Col. Robert Griego said. “The extreme excess of this case is aggravating. The department stocks these fish for all sportsmen and women, young and old, with the desire that everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the fish.”
Most Valuable Wildlife Lesson Learned
A Sandpoint, Idaho, woman learned a valuable lesson in 2015 about living in bear country: Don’t leave food inside your unlocked vehicle or you may pay the consequences of extensive damage to its interior.
Vivian Swansen looked out her window one spring night and saw the dome light was on in her car.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh my God somebody’s stealing my car.’ And then my second thought was, ‘Where’s the loaded gun when you need one?” she told local television station KXLY.
Concerned about her purse, Swansen went outside to investigate.
“The door was open on the driver’s side,” she said. “So I got in the car and I looked to see if they took my purse, but my purse was still there.”
Then she noticed the condition of her car’s seats.
“I saw this big chunk of foam in between the seats and I was like, ‘What kind of a thief comes in breaks in and leaves something for you?’ So then I turned and saw the damage,” she said.
She examined the car for further clues, spotting big paw prints on all the doors and a missing Tupperware container that had been full of beef stew.
With damage to the car estimated at $5,000, Swansen said she’s learned her lesson.
“Don’t leave food in your car, don’t leave the doors unlocked,” she said.
And finally, we reprise a story from earlier in 2015 about a Barred Owl notorious for swiping runners’ caps and sometimes clawing scalps at Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, Ore., inspiring the installation of bright yellow “bad owl” warning signs.
The raptor apparently preferred the early morning hours and had a special attraction for collecting trophies — in the form of running hats.
Local surgeon Ron Jaecks, the owl’s first reported victim, was running through the park at 5:15 a.m. in March when he was suddenly hammered from the air. Someone – or something – grabbed his stocking cap and scratched his scalp.
“It was like a huge electric shock ran through my body, but also like I got hit in the head with a two-by-four all at the same time,” Jaecks told the Statesman Journal newspaper. “Or maybe a strike of lightning.”
Another victim, Brad Hilliard, was jogging on a track in the same park at 5:45 a.m. when his favorite running hat was snatched from his head. Fortunately, he escaped with only scratch on the back of his neck.
The local newspaper ran a contest to name the feathered celebrity.
The winning entry in Statesman Journal’s Name the Owl Contest was “Owl Capone,” though “Rachel Madowl” and “Owl Pachino,” also proved popular among participants.
Happy New Year From The Outdoor News Hound!
And there you have it for another year, dear readers. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait another 52 weeks for the 2016 edition. Happy New Year!
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.