Archaeologists Uncover Ancient Fishing Evidence

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

Sept. 23, 2015

Archaeologists Uncover Ancient Fishing Evidence
Anthropologists in Alaska have discovered the earliest-known evidence that ancient man caught fish and used it as a food source – more than 11,000 years ago! This week you’ll also read about encouragement to shoot feral pigs issued by the Wisconsin DNR, and much more.

Fishing Traced Back 11,500 Years!
Think fishing has a rich tradition and history? How about more than 11,000 years?

Researchers in Alaska have found the earliest known evidence that Ice Age humans in North America used salmon as a food source, according to a new paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The findings refute traditionally held beliefs that Ice Age Paleoindians were primarily big-game hunters.

Salmon bone specimens from the Upward Sun River site in Alaska. Credit: Ben Potter, UAF
Salmon bone specimens from the Upward Sun River site in Alaska. Credit: Ben Potter, UAF

“Salmon fishing has deep roots, and we now know that salmon have been consumed by North American humans at least 11,500 years ago,” said lead author Carrin Halffman, a University of Alaska Fairbanks anthropologist who helped analyze the fish bones with UAF’s Ben Potter, Brian Kemp of Washington State University, and others.

Their conclusions are based on analysis of 11,500-year-old chum salmon bones found at the Upward Sun River site in Interior Alaska. Excavation of the site (pictured above) revealed human dwellings, tools and human remains, as well as the salmon bones.

“We used ancient DNA analysis to identify the fish specimens as chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), and stable isotope analysis to confirm that the salmon were anadromous (sea-run),” the researchers wrote in their study. “The exploitation of salmon at this early date is noteworthy because Paleoindians are traditionally portrayed as big-game hunting specialists.”

The research also suggests that salmon spawning runs were established at the end of the last Ice Age, or the Pleistocene epoch, which is much earlier than earlier believed.

Wisconsin DNR Issues Feral Pig ‘Shoot on Sight’ Order
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding hunters and landowners in northern Wisconsin to be on the lookout for feral pigs as they head into the woods for fall hunting seasons – and suggesting they shoot them on sight.

Pigs gone wild have numerous negative impacts on the landscape, including disease, habitat degradation, competition with native wildlife for food sources, crop damage, threats to human safety, and many more.

Feral pigs are an unprotected wild animal in Wisconsin, may be harvested year-round, and have no hunting hour restrictions (except during gun deer hunting seasons, when normal hunting hours must be followed). A hunting license is not required to shoot a feral pig on your property, but it is important to remember that a small game, archery, sports, or patron license is required to shoot a feral pig elsewhere.

For more information on hunting feral pigs, visit

City: Houston Zoo Must Remove ‘No Guns’ Signage
This week, The City of Houston, which owns the property, ordered the Houston Zoo to remove its “No Guns” signage, effective immediately.

Attorney Edwin Walker with Texas Law Shield, a legal services firm for gun owners, sent a demand letter to the Houston Zoo, its corporate entity and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, September 3 requesting that all 30.06 (guns prohibited) signs at the zoo be removed.

A 30.06 sign may be utilized by a business owner to prohibit a Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holder from bringing a firearm into business. The signs refer to Texas Penal Code 30.06, which forbids CHL holders from bringing firearms into locales with 30.06 signs in plain sight at the entrance or a “conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.”

A new Texas state statute effective September 1 allows private citizens to make official complaints about the presence of “No Guns” signs they believe to be unlawfully posted on state or public land.  When a complaint is filed, the locality has 15 days determine whether the sign is in violation of the law. If the sign is in violation of the law, it must be removed. If the sign is determined to be unlawful, but is not removed, the locality will face a $1,000 per day fine on its first offense and $10,000 per day on each subsequent offense.

The zoo said it was reviewing the legal implications of the city’s request but would comply with it in the meantime.

Poll: Guns Not Too Easy to Get
For the first time since its inception, a CNN/ORC poll has found that most Americans do not believe current gun laws make it “too easy” for Americans to buy guns.

When asked: “In your view, do existing laws make it too easy for people to buy guns, too difficult, or are they about right?” 49 percent of respondents said “about right.”

Forty-one percent of respondents said current law made it “too easy” for people to buy guns and 10 percent said they made it “too difficult.” Only 1 percent of respondents had no opinion.

The poll has asked the question periodically since 1989. This is the first time fewer than 56 percent of respondents have said guns are “too easy” to buy. In August 1993, 70 percent of respondents had answered guns were “too easy” to buy, the poll’s all-time high.

Quote of the Week
“The squirrel hunter, at his best, is an American traditionalist. Unlike the quail man, whose hunting manners come, like his shotgun design, from Europe, the squirrel hunter is a rifleman. His exemplars are Boone and Crockett; he moves well and quietly through the woods, or waits with great patience for the chance to place a difficult, well-calculated shot.”
– Vance Bourjaily,
The Men Out Hunting,”
NY Times Magazine, Nov. 29, 1964

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 You may contact him at


Top Photo: Researchers work on excavation at the Upward Sun River site in Alaska. Credit: Ben Potter, UAF



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