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Hunter’s Corner: Getting outdoors, from Missouri to Lake Winnipesaukee

Every year come the end of April and beginning of May, Ranee and I recharge our batteries by taking a vacation. This year we opted for Branson, Mo.

We had an idea of what Branson was all about, but were completely overwhelmed at the enormity of the family-orientated entertainment and recreation opportunities. I had anticipated temperatures in the 70s and 80s, so I left all of my warm clothes at home. I can’t tell you the eerie feeling watching the Weather Channel flash tornado warnings. They moved around us and the temperatures dropped to between 30-40.

A quick trip to Bass Pro Shops in Springfield cured that. The Springfield location is Bass Pro Shops’ first store and was opened in 1982. By comparison, the new Hooksett location is about 10 percent the size of Springfield. Ten miles south on Rt. 65 is Tracker Boats.

On the way to meeting up with longtime friends at Lake of the Ozarks, I was surprised at the northward migration of armadillos. Hitting one on the interstate could cause front end damage or worse.

Southern Missouri is a mecca for hunters, anglers and golfers. If you are looking for the ultimate entertainment experience, give Branson a try. The commercials currently running on TV don’t give the full story.

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Turkey season appears to be off to a slower than normal start. Two veteran hunters complained at the silence they encountered, suggesting most of the hens are already on nests. Another series of hunters have pretty much given up because of the tick infestation problem.

But I had an interesting chat with Turkey Project Leader Ted Walski, and it appears the early results show the possibility of another banner year with some really big Toms being registered.

Ted, too, is concerned with the tick infestation and mentioned that there are 13 different ticks that frequent New Hampshire.

The biggest Tom checked in so far hit the scales at 26 pounds with plenty of 25- and 24-pound entries. Very few cases of the pox virus have been spotted, which is good news. Ted is a consummate field researcher and in his Keene region he totaled 39 coyote killed deer this winter.

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Today is the final day of the Winni Derby. As normal, my expectations are high. I checked in with master fly tier Ron Lacroix to restock some streamer flies. Ron’s mainstay is the Maynard’s Marvel, making one version with an orange head and one with a black head, which he has named “Old Blood and Guts.”

Last year, Robb and I had more hook-ups than ever, with the black head outscoring the orange head. Normally, Ron doesn’t alter a proven pattern, but this year he changed his “Blood and Guts” pattern to what I call “Blood and Guts II.” The whole crew will be converging on Naswa Resorts for some serious salmon fishing and camaraderie.

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Two bear-human conflicts of recent note give evidence to a much-needed change of attitude. The video of two English boxers went viral and I bet few noticed what attracted the bear to the backyard in the first place: a bird feeder. What caused the bear to kill a llama remains unseen. In 2006, Fish and Game established by administrative rule (FIS 310.01) the prohibition of a person from feeding bears, either intentionally or inadvertently, given that doing so causes nuisance situations, resulting in property damage and can become a human safety concern.

There is an old adage: A fed bear is a dead bear. This is so because once a bear becomes a nuisance, it is normally destroyed because relocating it to the north country is usually done when there is little natural food available, resulting in the bears going after human food or food stored in a fashion that allows for easy access.

There are limits on what Fish and Game can do to alter humans’ bad habits, and the “Something’s Bruin in New Hampshire” campaign has met with less than stellar success. The problem is too many people do not view the black bear as a valuable public resource. Picking up the Something’s Bruin guidelines at and sharing it with your neighbors would be a good starting point.

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The Merrimack River Atlantic Salmon restoration Project ended in September 2013 because of poor survival and shifting priorities within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a result, this is your last chance to catch one of the 700 brood stock salmon to be released in Bristol, Franklin, Concord and Hooksett. At 4 to 5 years of age, these salmon would be in the 10- to 15-pound range. To fish for brood stock salmon, anglers need a current N.H. fishing license and an $11 brood stock salmon permit. Only salmon marked by Fish and Game with a T-bar anchor at the base of the dorsal fin may be kept, and the bag limit is one per day and five for the season.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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