Sniffin’ Out The News

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

May 11, 2005

Sniffin’ Out The News

Once again, the ol’ Outdoor News Hound has tenaciously tracked titillating tidbits to share with our faithful readers. This week’s potpourri includes reports on a pair of milestones reached by hunters — a new hunter safety record in Pennsylvania, and a record number of participants in Missouri’s youth turkey hunt. And, in true ONH fashion, you’ll find offbeat tales about an equestrian who was cited for riding under the influence, and an angler who hooked drugs, while fishing.

Pennsylvania Hunting Milestone

The Pennsylvania Game Commission announced last week that 2004 was the safest hunting year in the more than 90 years that records have been kept in the Keystone State. Last year, there were 56 hunting-related shooting incidents (HRSIs), including four fatalities. In addition, the incident rate of 5.56 per 100,000 participants was the lowest on record.

J.R. Absher

In 2003, the year the previous records were set, there were 57 hunting-related shooting incidents, including four fatalities, and the incident rate was 5.63 per 100,000.

Of the 56 incidents in 2004, there were 42 incidents inflicted by another hunter, including three fatalities. The remaining 14 incidents were self-inflicted, including one fatal self-inflicted injury.

“While even one incident is one too many, we are pleased that hunters continue to improve on their safety record,” said Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director. “However, we must continue to strive to do better.”

In 2004, the incident statistics by species hunted were: deer, 23 (including four fatalities); wild turkey, 14; small game, 13; waterfowl, 4; and other, 2.

The announcement places Pennsylvania in league with many other states across the country that are seeing record low hunter-accident rates, making hunting one of the safest outdoor pursuits.

Kids & Gobblers

Missouri’s innovative program aimed at encouraging youngsters to participate in their own hunting season — held a week before the regular statewide hunt — continues to pay big dividends.

The state department of conservation announced last week that hunters age 15 years and under took a total of 3,894 turkeys during the state’s two-day, special turkey-hunting season. The figure is 20 percent more than last year’s youth harvest and 6 percent more than the previous record, set in 2003.

As in the four previous youth seasons, no firearms-related turkey-hunting accidents were recorded.

Boozy Rider

Note to folks in Somerset, Ky.: if you’re too drunk to drive, you’re probably also too drunk to ride a horse.

In a town where hard-nosed police officers already have cracked down on an alcohol-impaired bicyclist, and a tipsy riding lawnmower operator in recent weeks, a man was cited Sunday for riding a horse after drinking too many beers.

According to Somerset Police Lt. Allan Coomer, resident Millard Dwyer, 42, was arrested Sunday night after an off-duty state trooper observed him nearly fall from his horse as he rode into town. Lt. Coomer’s report noted that Dwyer admitted to being drunk, and told officers that he had ridden the horse into town from about 5 miles away.

A breath test indicated Dwyer’s alcohol level was .244, more than three times the limit for operating a motor vehicle. He was subsequently charged with “operating a vehicle other than a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants.”

The officer’s report failed to mention whether the individual’s horseback reverie was related to the previous day’s running of the 131st Kentucky Derby, which occurred up the road apiece in Louisville.

Hooked On Fishing

Here’s a real twist to the anti-drug angling promotion, “Hooked On Fishing, Not On Drugs,” aimed at turning kids away from dangerous lifestyles and toward healthy pastimes, such as fishing.

An Irish fly angler thought he’d hooked the catch of day while fishing on the River Liffey, south of Dublin last week. Police said an unnamed fisherman reported that he reeled in a package of cannabis resin wrapped in plastic. When divers later searched the area, 12 additional packages of the illegal drug — valued at $500,000 U.S. — were located.

“It was some day fishing,” said an Irish law enforcement spokesperson.

Legislative Update

On the last day of its legislative session, the Florida Legislature overwhelmingly passed House Bill 1697, an omnibus highway safety package containing a short, but important provision to change how the state’s new “Animal Friends” license plate proceeds are distributed and used.

Based upon a bill passed in 2004, fees from the plate were to be used exclusively for spaying, neutering, and animal welfare programs in Florida. However, due to specific legislative guidelines, the funds were distributed to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a group opposed to hunting and sportsmen’s rights that doesn’t operate a single spay and neuter program.

As a result, members of the Florida Legislators Sportsmen’s Caucus placed amendments in several highway safety bills limiting the use of funds to spay and neutering programs only and removed the HSUS as the recipient of the funds.

The important pro-sportsmen measure was also supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, and the Allied Sportsmen’s Associations of Florida.

Quote Of The Week

“Every country boy is entitled to a creek. If no creek is handy, maybe a meandering branch will do for a while. But it must have a few holes that he can’t see to the bottom of. That is an absolute requisite, and there is no getting around it.”

-Havilah Babcock

“You Can’t Go Back Again”

“Tales of Quail and Such,” 1951

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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