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Monthly Archives: October 2013

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As a parade of camo-clad men boarded the short flight from Denver to Hayden, Colorado, a woman sat in the seat next to me and promptly asked if I was going hunting. “I’ve been waiting for this hunt for a long time,” she said, “even though I’ll be the only woman among ten men in camp.”

“You’ve hunted elk before?” I asked, trying not to sound chauvinistic.

IMG_0423.JPG“Only once, and loved it,” she replied. “But I’ve had to miss the last three seasons due to illness… a year and a half recovering from the surgery, and then another year and a half with the chemo.”

“Breast cancer?” I sheepishly guessed, not wanting to intrude.

“Yeah, but I think I beat it, and I can’t wait to go elk hunting again… even with all those guys.  I’d hoped to go hunting last year, but a bout with pneumonia stopped that.”

As an outdoors enthusiast, I’d been anticipating this elk hunt for two years and had worried about whether I’d be in shape enough to succeed. But all of that anxiety quickly disappeared when I considered the pain and agony Joan Rector, my seat partner, had suffered.  Suddenly, my cold mountain hunt seemed like a day at the beach compared to the difficult road she had traveled.

Shortly after arriving home I received an e-mail from her, saying she had gotten an elk and a mule deer. She shot her bull at 400 yards and took the mule deer while the men were in camp resting. Joan Rector is not just a survivor… but a thrive-or. Congratulations, Joan! That’s the ultimate means of celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month: wearing pink with a passion.

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Many hunters employ spot-and-stalk tactics for elk, but on public land you may reap more rewards by staying still, silent, and secluded. I recently returned from a hunt in the White River National Forest of Colorado, an area repeatedly slammed by early-season snow storms such that many resident elk had migrated to lower elevations. On the third day of the hunt, we encountered four men from Nebraska on horseback who had left the trail head at 3:00 a.m. to reach our remote spot. “We have cow tags,” the leader said. “We’ve been hunting for four days and haven’t seen a one.”

CO Rifle Elk 2013 147Although the number of elk in the area was much lower than usual, we stayed to our plans and selected areas of good visibility over likely travel and escape routes, counting on hunting pressure from outside to move elk into view. Dr. Steve Sachs (left) had previously hunted this region and had taken an excellent 5×5 bull by stand hunting. This year, he found a concealing evergreen that allowed a good look at two snow-filled faces that connected two patches of dark timber. The second morning, two bulls and a cow ran from the timber before he could connect. But he stayed the course and, an hour later, a 4×3 bull followed six cows that walked across the snow-covered opening.  Elk2013.bow 036

The next evening, Charley Toms (shown at top) assumed his buddy’s stand and took a 5×5 bull just before dark from the same spot. This success came from six eastern hunters with no guided assistance. The hunt was further complicated by brilliant lunar nights, which allowed elk to feed at will, and bluebird days that kept them in the dark timber longer than normal.

CO Rifle Elk 2013 083When hunting public land for elk, mule deer, or whitetails, hunter pressure can work for you if you can locate travel and escape corridors. Elk and mule deer in the West frequently cross at ridge top saddles and watching one or two is always a good bet. Whitetail hunters often select narrow sections of timber that funnel deer travel. Wind direction is important, yet by hunting a ridge top you may avoid detection. Even though you are “standing” if game is sighted at a distance, by seeing it first you can often move into a better shooting position. Patience is the greatest challenge to this type of hunting, and you need to dress appropriately and prepare to sit the entire day. Pack a Thermos of hot chocolate, sandwiches, and your favorite snacks to keep you satisfied and content. Check in every hour with your buddy by phone or walkie-talkie to make the day go faster. Walking may be more fun, but patience puts meat in the freezer.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” — John Muir

John Muir was considered the “Father of National Parks,” a conservationist and pioneer  of his time. Born in 1838, he lived 75 years fighting politicians, congress, lobbyists, and industry, saving our land for future generations to enjoy nature’s splendor. He gained such popularity through his conservation efforts that then-president Theodore Roosevelt sought out the woodsman for a few days of solitude camping out in beautiful Yosemite. Not only was Muir the founder of the Sierra Club, but he helped President Roosevelt establish the first National Monuments by Presidential Proclamation, and helped Yosemite become a National Park. One man’s passion for the wilderness turned into a lifetime commitment of preserving this beautiful land of ours. John Muir wasn’t the only conservationist to pave the way to our access to the majestic landscapes, but he surely is one to whom we owe a substantial debt of gratitude.

john muirWith my research on Muir, it got me to wonder about the beautiful landscapes of Hawaii. Pushed to become a park by Lorrin A. Thurston, grandson of the American Missionary Asa Thurston, Hawaii National Park (as it was then known) was established by President Wilson in 1916. Thurston owned The Honolulu Advertiser and paid for Congress and their wives to visit Haleakala and Kilauea. With endorsements from Muir and former president Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill that would create the nation’s eleventh National Park, and the first in a territory.

The park gathered the attention of such notables as Mark Twain, who described Kilauea Volcano thusly: “At night the red glare was visible a hundred miles at sea; and at a distance of forty miles fine print could be read at midnight…countless columns of smoke rose up and blended together in a tumbled canopy that hid the havens and glowed with a ruddy flush reflected from the fires below; here and there jets of lava sprung hundreds of feet into the air and burst into rocket-sprays that returned to earth in a crimson rain…”

lavaIn 2004, 88 years after its founding, I had the opportunity to visit the park myself. What I saw left me truly in awe of the creation of land that was being built before my own eyes. We spent four hours walking to and from the lava fields, making sure to take plenty of water and wearing proper hiking boots. The jagged lava would surely cut you open should you fall on the rock itself. Indeed, we did see an older gentleman take one particularly nasty spill, and had one mile more to hike out while applying pressure to his bleeding hand. Not necessarily the best way to spend your vacation in paradise.

There are two drive-in campgrounds at Kilauea National Park. The first, Namakanipaio Campground, is south of Hilo at 4,000 feet elevation. The campground has bathrooms, picnic tables, and barbeque pits. The campground does get cool at night, dropping in temperatures ranging from 30 to 50 degrees at night, so bring jeans to change into for those nights around the campfire (which are permitted only in the pits). Make sure you’ve got a good tent with a rain fly, as it rains frequently at this elevation.

The other drive-in campground is located at Hilina Pali Road, at 2,700 feet. There are only eight sites at this campground, two of which are wheelchair accessible. No dogs or fires are permitted at the site.

For the more adventurous, backcountry camping is permitted. All backcountry permits are free, but you must register with the park upon your arrival. Because of Hawaii’s ever-changing weather, it’s best to talk with a park ranger when you arrive to check the conditions of the mountains. There are seven backcountry camping areas. If you’re planning on camping on Mauna Loa, make sure that you check the weather forecast, as well as the park ranger, as high winds and snow are frequent in the rainy months.

These are strenuous hikes due just to the sheer magnitude of hiking on lava rocks. Make sure that you pack all essential equipment for any emergency situation: hiking boots (not shoes), emergency first-aid kits (don’t be like the man who split his hand on the lava), sun hats, and sunscreen. Don’t forget the most essential supply: water, water, and more water. I can’t stress this one enough. There no available streams, although some campgrounds have water-catchment tanks. Remember to pace yourself; it’s not a race, and you won’t receive any accolades to being the first person to reach the summit. Of course, follow this essential rule of camping: Pack out what you pack in, don’t be a litter bug. You are a guest in Pele’s park. Show kokua (respect) and she will, in return, watch over you.

With that, don’t miss Pele’s show of her fire and strength. Look for Pele’s hair, a geological term for volcanic glass that is strewn threw hardened lava in flecks of gold. Watching the lava flow at night is a spectacular sight, one you’ll never forget. Be safe, stay smart, be respectful, and enjoy the beautiful wonderments of what Hawaii has to offer. And remember to take a moment to thank the founding fathers of our National Parks for preserving nature for the generations before us, and for those to come.

Photo (top): National Geographic

Sarah Corell was born and raised in the midwest. She is an avid camper, hiker, photographer, and nature enthusiast. She has hiked her hometown trails of Michigan, rugged parts of the Appalachian Trail, the majestic Rockies, the arid deserts of the southwest, and the tropical rainforests of Thailand, Cambodia, Peru and Hawai’i. Sarah currently lives in Honolulu with her husband and their cat, Akasha. Read her personal blog and check out her Sarah Corell Photography Facebook page.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to expand fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, opening up new hunting programs on six refuges and expanding existing hunting and fishing programs on another 20 refuges. The proposed rule also modifies existing refuge-specific regulations for more than 75 additional refuges and wetland management districts.

“Sportsmen and women were a major driving force behind the creation and expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System more than a century ago and continue to be some of its strongest supporters, especially through their volunteer work and financial contributions,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. “Keeping our hunting and angling heritage strong by providing more opportunities on our refuges will not only help raise up a new generation of conservationists, but also support local businesses and create jobs in local communities.”

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service can permit hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation where they are compatible with the refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on more than 329 wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on more than 271 wildlife refuges.

“Hunting and fishing are healthy, traditional outdoor pastimes deeply rooted in America’s heritage and have long been enjoyed on hundreds of national wildlife refuges under the supervision of our biologists and wildlife managers,” said Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dan Ashe. “After careful consideration and review from the Service, this proposal represents one of the largest expansions of hunting and fishing opportunities on wildlife refuges in recent years.”

National wildlife refuges generate important benefits from the conservation of wildlife and habitat through spending and employment for local economies. According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, published every five years by the Service, more than 90 million Americans, or 41 percent of the United States’ population age 16 and older, pursued wildlife-related recreation in 2011. They spent more than $144 billion that year on those activities. Nearly 72 million people observed wildlife, while more than 33 million fished and more than 13 million hunted.

The Service manages its hunting and fishing programs on refuges to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering historical wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.

Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation and interpretation.

The Service proposes opening the following refuges to hunting for the first time:

New York

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Wyoming

Meanwhile, under the proposal, the Service would expand hunting and sport fishing on the following refuges:

California

Florida

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Maine

Missouri

New Mexico

Oregon

Texas

Vermont

Washington

Photo: WordlessTech

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With fall turkey hunting seasons starting in many parts of the nation, anticipation and adrenaline are running high.

Readying your hunting gear, scouting your hunting spots and practicing your calling are all part of the excitement of hunting. But as you prepare for opening day, and any day you plan to hunt, don’t forget the most important part of your hunting plan: safety.

Safety is a key element when you’re in the woods calling in a wild turkey. A safe turkey hunter is much like a safe driver: you must be defensive minded. Also, a safe hunter is an effective hunter.

Think safety; hunt safely!

Here are some tips from the NWTF to consider when you’re in the woods this fall:

  • Know your state’s hunting regulations and follow them.
  • Keep your firearm pointed in a safe direction, and leave the safety on until you are ready to shoot.
  • Positively identify your target, and know what is beyond your target before you shoot.
  • Avoid wearing white, red, black or blue since these are the colors of a gobbler’s head and body. This includes handkerchiefs, socks, T-shirts and even items such as candy wrappers and insect repellant.
  • Select a spot that is in open timber rather than thick brush. Eliminating movement and camouflage is more critical to success than heavy cover.
  • Sit against a large stump, blow-down, tree trunk or rock that is wider than your shoulders and higher than your head when calling wild turkeys.
  • If you imitate the sound of a gobbling turkey, you could call in other hunters. You should always be cautious, but especially when hunting public land.
  • If decoys are legal and you use them, place them off to one side and make sure you can see anyone approaching your decoys before the other hunter is within range.
  • Leave the area if you suspect there’s another hunter already working the same bird.
  • If another hunter enters your hunting area, never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert the other hunter. Remain still and call out to them in a loud, clear voice to get his or her attention.
  • Ensure your decoy is not visible when you are transporting it. Stash the decoy in your vest or a bag and make sure the head is not sticking out. If you harvest a wild turkey during your hunting trip, you also should cover the bird’s head and body when carrying it out from your hunting spot.

When hiking, fishing, camping, or hunting, your presence in nature leaves an impact on our natural resources. A group of concerned citizens in East Tennessee are working to minimize the impact on their greatest natural resource, Norris Lake.

Norris Lake is considered the cleanest lake in Tennessee Valley Authority’s system and stakeholders in the five counties that contain the lake want to make sure that it stays that way. They have been working for the last three years to conduct biannual clean ups and educate the Norris Lake residents and visitors about the importance of keeping the lake clean.

The stakeholders have adopted the Leave No Trace Principles and are working hard to educate the lake users on ways to implement the principles.

lntThe member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and is the most widely accepted outdoor ethics program used on public lands.  Through relevant and targeted education, research and outreach, the Center ensures the long-term health of our natural world. In its simplest form, Leave No Trace is about making good decisions to protect the world around you, the world we all enjoy.

The Leave No Trace Center has identified seven principles:

1.       Plan Ahead and Prepare

2.       Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

3.       Dispose of Waste Properly

4.       Leave what you Find

5.       Minimize Campfire Impacts

6.       Respect Wildlife

7.       Be Considerate of Other Visitors

For more information about the Leave No Trace principles, call 800-332-4100 or visit lnt.org.  For more information about the Norris Lake Stakeholders, their cleanups and other current projects, call 800-524-3602 or visit lakenorris.org.

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Finding the best ammunition for hunting can take hours of trial and error, which not only takes time away from hunting or spending time with family, but also wastes money. No one wants to waste their hard-earned dollars on boxes of bullets, shells, or cartridges than don’t fit the bill. And if your error happens to take place during a hunt, you’ve also lost an opportunity to bag a buck or tom. To remove some of the guesswork from choosing deer ammo, North American Whitetail have assembled their list of 10 best deer cartridges of all time.

7mm-08

Selecting a cartridge for deer hunting is largely a matter of opinion, but there are a number of qualities that make some cartridges stand out from the crowd. First, it must be powerful enough to humanely kill even the largest deer, but recoil shouldn’t be so great that it precludes smaller-framed shooters from becoming proficient with the cartridge. Each cartridge should have a proven track record on game, and should be versatile enough to use out to moderate ranges. Lastly, nostalgia and popularity also played a role in making selections for our list. If it’s a cartridge American hunters love, we had to include it.

Photos: Department of Environmental Conservation (top); North American Whitetail (above)

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In mid-October the trout stocked waters of Back Creek below Dominion’s Bath County Pumped Storage Station provided valuable recreation and rehabilitation for a special group of anglers on a two-day trout fishing trip in the Virginia Highlands. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), Dominion, The Guilford Foundation of Richmond and Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) hosted a combination of 12 active duty military personnel and veterans recovering from wounds and injuries incurred while serving their country. Warriors and vets from the following military medical facilities and Veterans Administration (VA) centers took part in the two day fly fishing event: McGuire in Richmond, Fort Eustis Warrior Transition Unit, Hampton, Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Salem and Staunton-Harrisonburg Community Based Outpatient Clinic. Service members and guides also participated from VA Medical Centers in West Virginia at Beckley, Huntington, Clarksburg and Wheeling. Volunteer Guides from the PHWFF programs provided one-on-one support for each warrior and vet fishing designated sections of Back Creek called ‘beats’. Another 40 plus volunteers from the sponsoring organizations pitched in to make this event a great success for a special rehabilitative and therapeutic fly-fishing experience.

Each warrior and vet was given a complete fly fishing outfit from rod to waders featuring gear provided by a number of outdoor retailers. For the fourth year in a row, Dominion overstocked the delay harvest section of Back Creek with very nice rainbow trout. This assured the new fly fishers an opportunity to hook up with nice fish on their new 5 wt. rods. This special stocking using private hatchery stock while immediately benefiting the event, enhances the fishery for all the anglers who come to fish Back Creek. Bath County Pumped Storage Station employees provide great support and they kindly allow the group to use their facilities for the event. Phil Johnson, PHWFF Virginia’s Regional Coordinator expressed a big “THANK YOU” to all the volunteers who help make this one of our program’s best trips this year. A special plaque was presented to Dan Genest, Dominion Coordinator for PHWFF sponsored events, in recognition of his service to the organization. Mike Puffenbarger and family who operate Maple Tree Outdoors and provide the home cooked meals for the group while visiting the Virginia Highlands, were recognized for their support of the event now in its fourth year. David Coffman, VDGIF Editor for The Outdoor Report e-newsletter provided goodie bags for the vets and volunteers featuring gear and information to enhance their outdoor activities and provided photos of the participants in a special CD following the event. The Warm Springs Inn was also noted for their contribution of accommodations for the service member guests.

The many volunteers who assist with the PHWFF events note that, “We’re not just taking them fishing…” The volunteer guides who assist the service members while fishing come from a variety of backgrounds and fishing oriented organizations including the Fly Fishers of Virginia, Trout Unlimited, and PHWFF Program Leads who hold fly tying classes and casting workshops at the veteran facilities and military hospitals. Many of these Program Leads are also veterans themselves who have been through rehabilitation and recovery and see this as a way of giving back to fellow service members working to recover from their injuries both physical and emotional. Participants in Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) programs and alumni receive therapy, physical and emotional rehabilitation and support for their recovery and transition back into their communities.

WSLS TV NBC Channel 10 Roanoke news anchor John Carlin, in his Virginia Crossroads news feature, came and interviewed the warriors at the Dominion sponsored event to get a feeling on what this program has meant to the lives and families of service members who have experienced post traumatic stress disorder – PTSD. Be sure and watch this video clip for a close-up, personal and passionate look at the healing power of fly fishing…

“Is it possible that flowing water (and a few fish) are more powerful than medicine? As helpful as group therapy? Perhaps more. For veterans returning from war the answer is often yes.

Visit the Virginia Crossroads Project Healing Waters website to see how you can support this valuable program. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is a 501 (c) (3) dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings. The 2-Fly Tournament is the organization’s headline event each May to raise awareness and funding for its 146 programs across the nation in 46 states. Visit the PHWFF website for more details. For outdoor recreation opportunities in Bath County visit their website.

Photos: The A Position (top), Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (all others)

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It’s a cross between the CSI and Cold Case TV show crime dramas: taking a look back through the thousands of dusty, old settled boat insurance claims files to identify patterns that can teach today’s boaters how to avoid becoming a statistic. That’s exactly what the BoatUS Marine Insurance publication, Seaworthy, did in the recent feature, “Top Ten BoatUS Marine Insurance Program Claims,” which appears in the October 2013 issue.

“The last time BoatUS did such a detailed analysis was in 2005, and this kind of information is not available from anyone else in the industry,” said Seaworthy Editor Beth Leonard, “The time seemed right to revisit our findings and share them with boaters so they can learn from other’s mistakes.” Here’s the list of the top ten claims in terms of dollar value over the last eight years, along with some tips that could help prevent becoming a statistic, or if you’re simply unlucky, lessen the damage:

#10. Lightning: Make sure to haul out your boat after a lightning strike to check for “exit wounds” that can compromise the hull’s integrity.

#9. Theft: 90% of boats are stolen on their trailers. Make it as difficult as possible to simply hitch up and run.

#8. Injury: Many injury claims involve inexperienced guests. Be sure to warn your non-boating friends about wakes, waves, slippery surfaces, and other hazards.

#7. Grounding: Accurate charts – whether paper, electronic, or on a mobile device – and a depth sounder are your best defense against grounding.

#6. Collision: Most collisions result from some combination of three factors: inattention, blind spots, and too much speed.

#5. Fire/explosion: Faulty wiring causes most fires; most explosions result from fueling issues.

#4. Striking a submerged object: If you hear a loud clunk from down under, stop and look in the bilge, and, if you find any water coming in, haul out the boat to check for structural damage as soon as possible.

#3. Weather/wind: Keeping your boat in a well-protected location away from trees is the best way to protect it from non-hurricane weather damage.

#2. Sinking: Check, squeeze, and tug all fittings below the waterline at least once a season to make sure your boat stays afloat.

#1. Hurricane: A well thought out hurricane plan can keep your boat safe in all but the most extreme storms (see www.BoatUS.com/hurricanes).

Go to www.BoatUS.com/toptenclaims for the full story.

Photo: BoatUS

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Of the 281 permits issued to hunters participating in the 2013 New Hampshire moose hunt, 18% were successful upon completion of the opening weekend of the hunt.

On Saturday and Sunday (October 19 and 20), a total of 50 moose were taken by hunters statewide – 33 bulls and 17 cows.

This year’s results were down slightly from last year’s 25% success rate for the 2012 opening weekend. This was due in part to warm temperatures and windy conditions over the weekend.

“Moose have very heavy winter coats and often bed down in the shade during warmer temperatures, causing them not to be as active,” said Kristine Rines, moose biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

The largest moose checked in during the opening weekend of the New Hampshire moose hunt was a bull with a dressed weight of 820 pounds and a live weight of approximately 1,200 pounds. The bull, which had an antler spread of 53 inches, was taken by Dan Nocella of Laconia, N.H., in the town of Dixville in Wildlife Management Unit A2.

The largest cow moose checked in during the two-day opening weekend had a dressed weight of 690 pounds and a live weight of approximately 1,000 pounds. This cow was taken by Scott Crathern of Hopkinton in Wildlife Management Unit C2 in Milan.

Frank Reedy, 58, of North Scituate, R.I. was one of the successful moose hunters. He shot his bull moose early Sunday morning in Wildlife Management Unit C1. He was about three quarters of a mile on a logging road and spotted the moose 300 yards away on a steep hillside. After taking the moose, Reedy hiked another 40 minutes over boulders, through briars, and over dead wood from an old logging operation. He boned and quartered the moose on site and packed out over 400 pounds of meat on his own. When Reedy came out with the last bag it was dark. “I had to work my way out with a pen light,” Reedy said.

A successful female permittee from over the weekend was Kathleen Brodeur of Londonderry. She harvested a bull with a dressed weight of 465 pounds and a live weight of approximately 680 pounds in the town of Millsfield, in Wildlife Management Unit B.

Fish and Game manages New Hampshire’s moose population in accordance with density goals defined in its 2006-2015 moose management plan. This plan seeks to meet regional moose population goals by balancing and incorporating social, economic, public safety and ecological factors, using the best available science.

New Hampshire’s nine-day moose hunt continues through Sunday, October 27, 2013. This year, more than 13,000 people entered the moose hunt lottery for a chance to win one of the 275 permits drawn for the New Hampshire moose hunt. In addition, five hunters had the chance to hunt moose because they were the highest bidders in an annual auction that benefits the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire, and two permits were granted to youth hunters with serious medical conditions through the Hunt of a Lifetime program.

For more about moose hunting in New Hampshire, including a list of check stations, visit huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_moose.htm.

Get into the spirit of the adventure with a limited-edition 2013 New Hampshire moose hunt commemorative shirt, available (throughNovember 23) at huntnh.com/mooseshirt.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state’s fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit huntnh.com.

Photo: Londonderry News