The Outdoor News Hound: Baltic Fisherman Finds 100-Year-old Message In Bottle

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

May, 7 2014

Baltic Fisherman Finds 100-Year-old Message In Bottle
A fisherman on Germany’s coast plucked a corked beer bottle from the icy Baltic waters last month and discovered it contained a note that researchers have determined was scrawled by a 20-year-old hiker 100 years ago before it was tossed into the sea. You’ll also read about an unusual plant-poaching case in North Carolina, and much more!

Century-Old Message In Bottle Plucked From Sea
While on a hike along Germany’s Baltic Coast in 1913, 20-year-old Richard Platz scrawled a note on a postcard, shoved it into a brown beer bottle, corked it and tossed it into the sea. Last month, a fisherman found the bottle with the intact message in the Baltic off the northern city of Kiel, making it the oldest message in a bottle, according the Guinness Book of World Records.

A Baltic Fisherman Finds 100-Year-old Message In Bottle
A Baltic Fisherman Finds 100-Year-old Message In Bottle

Researchers working to identify the writer managed to track down his 62-year-old granddaughter, Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin, said Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg.

Most of the ink on the postcard had been rendered illegible with time and dampness.

Von Neuhoff said researchers were able to determine based on the address that it was 20-year-old baker’s son Richard Platz who threw the bottle in the Baltic while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913.

Guinness World Records previously identified the oldest message in a bottle as dating from 1914. It spent nearly 98 years at sea before it was retrieved.

Connecticut Sunday Bowhunting Bill Passes House
Legislation to allow Sunday bowhunting on private property with the permission of landowners in parts of the state with the highest concentrations of deer was passed by the Connecticut House of Representatives and was expected to see action in the Senate this week.

The bill, which cleared the chamber on a 111-30 vote after a short debate around 11 p.m. Thursday, May 1, drew strong support from Republicans in the House, who succeeded in passing a similar bill in 2013. That bill was not acted upon by the Senate.

Bowhunting deer on private property on Sundays as a means of deer management is supported by Connecticut Department Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), according to testimony presented to lawmakers earlier this year by Commissioner Robert Klee.

Currently, 10 states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia — still have some type of Sunday hunting restriction or prohibition dating back to “blue laws” originally enacted in the 1700s.

N.C. Poachers Target Carnivorous Plants
Authorities in Boiling Springs Lake, N.C., last week arrested and charged three individuals with poaching hundreds of Venus’ flytraps, a protected plant indigenous to a small area of the state.

Venus’ flytrap, Dionaea muscipula, is a carnivorous plant that grows naturally only in the subtropical wetlands of North and South Carolina, specifically within a 60-mile radius of Wilmington, N.C. It catches its prey — chiefly insects and arachnids — with a trapping structure formed by the terminal portion of each of the plant’s leaves and is triggered by tiny hairs on their inner surfaces. When an insect or spider crawling along the leaves contacts a hair, the trap closes if a different hair is contacted within 20 seconds of the first strike.

Acting on a tip from a woman walking her dogs, three individuals were arrested and charged with poaching the rare plants. Police Chief Brad Shirley said nearly 300 plants were found in the subjects’ vehicle and will be returned to the property by The Nature Conservancy.

One motive for the increase in poaching is the plant’s possible healing powers. Some have reportedly grinded up the plant and use the oil for to fight cancer.

There are reportedly only 35,000 plants remaining in the wild. In North Carolina, removal of a flytrap without the consent of the property owner is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $50 fine. Each illegal movement or distribution of a protected plant is a separate violation. For a second or subsequent conviction, in addition to criminal penalties, the offender can be assessed a civil penalty of up to $2,000.

Michigan Ruling Favors Sport Shooting Range Act
In a unanimous decision handed down last month, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that shooting ranges are protected by the Sport Shooting Ranges Act (SSRA), while confirming the right of existing range owners to operate their ranges regardless of township ordinances that have emerged since the statute became law.

Similar to legislation passed in other states during the late 1980s and early 1990s based upon a model provided by the NRA, the Michigan Sport Shooting Range Act (SSRA) became law in 1989 to protect shooting range owners and operators from lawsuits and closure as housing developments began encroaching on previously rural areas and existing ranges. In 1994, the SSRA was amended to permit owners of existing ranges to expand their activities if they complied with the NRA Range Manual, even if the range was not in compliance with local ordinances.

In the unanimous opinion by Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, the Michigan Supreme Court held: “In determining whether a range is a sport shooting range under the SSRA, the focus is on the design and operation of the range, not on the intentions of individual shooters in using the range; a range owner’s commercial purpose for operating the range is also irrelevant.”

Quote Of The Week
“Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.”

– Voltaire (1694-1778)

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


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