Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors
June 22, 2005
A bald eagle carrying a large salmon in its talons crashed through the bay window of a house on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula last week, leaving its catch — and a scattering of feathers — on the living room floor of a surprised homeowner. We also have an update on Father Mariusz Zajac, the Outdoor News Hound’s favorite fishing priest, a story about a beer-swilling bear, and more!
The Eagle Has (Crash) Landed
Jean Stack of Ketchikan, Alaska, was lying awake in bed early last Monday when she heard her large picture window break with a thundering crash. When she finally made her way into the living room, she found it covered with glass, feathers — and one big fish.
“There was this huge fish carcass right where my dog usually slept,” she told the Anchorage Daily News. “It didn’t have a head. It was at least two feet long — just the back bone and the tail.”
Stack’s neighbor, Kurt Haskin, witnessed the entire event from his deck, where he stood drinking coffee shortly before 6 a.m. He immediately phoned Stack to alert her when he saw the raptor smash into her home.
“It just ‘grenaded’ that window,” Haskin said later. “The window didn’t even slow it down.”
Seconds after the impact, Haskin reported watching the bewildered, but unscathed, eagle take flight from the window, this time without his cargo — and minus a few feathers.
Father Mariusz Zajac, The Outdoor News Hound’s favorite man of the cloth, is at it again. Regular readers will recall that the Carrot River, Saskatchewan, priest holds the world record for a walleye caught in the ice-fishing category. It was an 18.3-pound fish he landed on Canada’s Tobin Lake earlier this year while he was praying “The Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55). (“On a Jig and a Prayer,” January 19, 2005)
Soon after he caught the fish he gained something of a celebrity status among walleye anglers, and he selflessly used the opportunity to raise funds to help victims of the devastating Asian tsunami. As a result, his Tsunami Fishermen Relief Fund recently donated $3,000 to purchase a fishing boat, motor, and nets that will support six families in India.
Fr. Zajak and his monster mount of a walleye.
Now, Father Mariusz has announced he has decided to sell the mount of his record to the highest bidder, using the proceeds to help fund youth outdoor programs in both Canada and the United States.
“Pope John Paul II said go into deep water, so I go into deep water,” Father Mariusz told outdoor writer Mark Henckel of The Billings Gazette. “I had a friend, a non-Catholic, ask me, ‘Is there any divine intervention in this fish? I’m not a Catholic.’ I told him you just have to be a man of faith. You don’t need to be a Catholic to be a man of faith.
“I think this fish was a blessing and it will bless whoever buys this fish,” he said. “I believe that God has a purpose in this.”
Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that Father Mariusz is definitely a saint among walleye fishermen — a real keeper!
On a dark night in the West Virginia mountains last week, two brothers were inside their tent at their fishing camp when they were awakened by a black bear raiding their ice chest and munching down all their food, including their supply of beer.
The Gaynor brothers, Larry and Billy Bob (yes, that was his name — you think we make this stuff up?) heard what sounded like someone looting their campsite at Summit Lake in the Monongahela National Forest.
Using a flashlight and peeking from inside their tent, they reported seeing a 300-pound bruin less than 10 yards away — with its teeth sunk deep into their blue cooler. They watched as the bear dragged the cooler 30 yards into the woods, flinging it against a tree, scattering a case of Coors Light beer across the forest floor.
“He only drank three cans,” Larry Gaynor later told The Charleston (W. Va.) Daily Mail. “He would’ve drank all of them if it would’ve been Budweiser.”
Billy Bob said the bear ate the brothers’ entire food cache, including bacon, lunchmeat, and a can of pork and beans.
By The Numbers
More guns, less crime — indeed.
The number of privately owned firearms in the U.S. has reached an all-time high at 300 million and continues to increase at about five million a year, according to recent figures from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
BATFE estimates there were approximately 215 million guns in 1999, when the number of new guns was averaging about 4.5 million annually. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 30.7 million approved (new and used) NICS firearm transactions between 2000 and 2003.
Meanwhile, the FBI reports that the U.S. violent crime rate declined in 2003 for the 12th consecutive year to reach a 27-year low. Similarly, a Bureau of Justice annual national crime victim survey found that violent crime reached a 35-year low for the same year.
In related data, the number of handgun “Right To Carry” states is also at an all-time high, up from 10 in 1987, to 38 today. In 2003, states with RTC laws, compared to other states, had lower violent crime rates on average. In those states, total violent crime was lower by 27 percent; with murder down 32 percent, robbery by 45 percent, and aggravated assault by 20 percent.
Quote Of The Week
“Of course, I’m a married man myself and, as a writer, have never held much of anything in the way of a steady job. When I contemplate the retirement benefits of my own profession, I tend to think of a fleabag hotel, a pack of Camels, a bottle of scotch, and my last unpawned shotgun.”
“Cocktails With Poops,”
“The Sporting Road,” 1999
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web sites, The Outdoor Pressroom (www.outdoorpressroom.com and The Outdoor Weblog www.outdoorweblog.com ) to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.