For The Sportsman Who Had Everything

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

Feb. 2, 2005

For The Sportsman Who Had Everything

Today’s sportsman knows that a lifetime spent outdoors requires a significant amount of specialized equipment and gear — much of it with a hunting camouflage design. But what about when your time afield comes to an end, as it inevitably will for all of us someday? Well, thanks to a new company in Arkansas, you can go to your final resting-place inside a casket that bears your favorite camo pattern — for all eternity! Also this week, you will get an update on the priest in Saskatchewan who caught that monster walleye last month, a conceited buffalo in South Dakota, and a beagle pup that is helping Florida clean up its snake problem.

Happy Hunting Ground

Are you looking for the last piece of camouflage gear that you’ll ever need? Well, we believe we’ve found it.

J.R. Absher

Arkansas Casket Sales of Heber Springs, offers its customers high quality burial boxes that come in a wide variety of exterior hunting camo finishes, along with images of waterfowl, whitetail deer or wild turkeys on the inside.

The 18-gauge steel, gasketed caskets sell for around $2,995, according to company owners Hugh and Ruth Ann Graves. (Yep, that’s their name all right. You think we make this stuff up?)

Graves’ caskets feature the dearly departed’s choice of 11 different camo patterns around the edges the interior, with options of metallic, dark chestnut brown, metallic hunter green, metallic silver, and high gloss black on the top and bottom. The company literature states that the caskets “are built one at a time and are made in the USA. These caskets are made for and built by hunters, outdoorsmen and sportsmen.”

Hugh Graves says his camo caskets are appropriate for today’s trend toward more personalized funerals.

“Things are changing from the old, morbid way of gruesome funerals,” he says. “(Now) it’s a time to celebrate. When it happens to your family, it hurts. But we do something for the family that actually helps them.”

Graves said his caskets may be shipped anywhere in the country, and yes, they have a Website:

Father Zajak Update

After we published the story two weeks ago about Father Mariusz Zajak, the Roman Catholic Priest from Carrot River, Sask., who caught the new provincial record walleye on January 4 “on a jig and a prayer,” his photograph began making the rounds on the Internet — and the tale began to take on a life of its own.

Brad Dokken, outdoors columnist for the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, said he was inundated by e-mail from readers who were caught up in the big fish rumor mill.

“Every sender seemed convinced the anonymous angler caught the walleye ‘somewhere between Long Point and Rocky Point’ on Lake of the Woods (in Minnesota),” Dokken wrote.

Rob Drieslein, editor of Minnesota Outdoor News, wrote us to say he was also besieged by e-mails and queries about the whopper.

“Everyone in Minnesota seems to think the damned thing was caught on Mille Lacs, and I need to clarify it,” Drieslein wrote The Outdoor News Hound.

Now that all the rumors have been (hopefully) dispelled, here’s the latest news on the good padre’s walleye:

It appears the fish will qualify as the new World Record Walleye for ice fishing. Fr. Zajac has applied to the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Wisconsin for that record. It has already been officially recognized as the Saskatchewan record walleye.

Fr. Zajak and his pending world record walleye for ice fishing.

Fr. Zajak’s walleye weighed in at 18.30 pounds, had a girth of 22.5 inches and measured 36.5 inches in length. There are several categories for record fish, but the current world record for walleye in the ice fishing division for “kept and killed” by tip up is a 17-pound, 7-ounce walleye caught on Kinzua Dam in Pennsylvania in January, 1992. The previous Saskatchewan record walleye, at 18.06 pounds, was caught and released on Tobin Lake in 1997.

Crazy Critter Tale Of The Week

A full-grown buffalo that escaped from the Black Hills (S.D) Stock Show and Rodeo this weekend wandered into a nearby dressing room, where he calmly stared at himself in a mirror for nearly two hours before he was found and returned to the annual buffalo auction.

The bison jumped over a steel panel and into an alleyway that led to the visitor’s dressing room on the east side of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center arena, according to the center’s general manager Brian Maliske.

“The door happened to be unlocked, and he pushed the door open and went in,” Maliske said.

When a worker finally realized they were missing a bison, an auction crew member tracked him down — discovering the beast quietly admiring himself in a large, wall-sized mirror, where he’d spent a couple hours in narcissistic bliss. Livestock workers successfully coaxed the buffalo out of the dressing room and back to the auction — where some speculated he might be on his way to a career in professional sports, or a starring role in a remake of the “Dances With Wolves” stampede scene.

Python Pete In Training

Biologists in southern Florida are facing a growing problem in the subtropical parks and swampland in and around the Everglades — non-native pythons and other snake species set free or dumped by owners have grown into a self-sustaining population.

The problem of giant snakes in the Everglades is more serious because the pythons are competing with native species — including federally endangered ones — for food and living space. Burmese pythons, for example, may grow to lengths of 20 feet.

Now, park officials have come up with a new weapon to locate and eradicate the invasive species — a beagle pup aptly named Python Pete. The 6-month-old cur is being trained to track the discarded pets that threaten the ecosystem.

Park authorities say they have witnessed at least two serious battles between alligators and pythons. In January 2003, the two reptiles engaged in an epic 24-hour fight. The snake finally managed to escape.

“These are extraordinary times as the park faces a unique issue. We have to do what it takes to find these pythons,” said Rick Cook, public affairs officer for Everglades National Park. “The hope is that the dog will be able to pick up the snakes’ scent.”

Although this would mark the first time a dog has been used to track snakes in the continental U.S., the Department of Agriculture works in Guam with Jack Russell terriers that successfully track and capture invasive brown tree snakes.

Quote Of The Week

“Some lies about snakes are generated out of ignorance; some out of the wish to please. People were lying about snakes long before any alphabet was invented. Eve had already eaten the forbidden fruit when she tried to lay the blame on the snake.”

-J. Frank Dobie

“A Dissertation On Lying About Snakes”

“Rattlesnakes,” 1965

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web sites, The Outdoor Pressroom ( and The Outdoor Weblog ) to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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