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Call me weird, but my kids and I enjoy looking at the fish in the grocery store and making fun of the people who buy it. I catch my own fresh fish on a weekly basis  I’ve got a freezer full of only top notch catches: tuna, yellowtail, white seabass, and lingcod. The fish I typically see in the market looks terrible. Cloudy with red eyes, they typically have poor color and texture. Then you read the label to find that they’re farmed fish with color added. Count me out.

I’ve been noticing a lot of fished marked as keta salmon. I’d never heard of keta salmon, so I looked it up. Keta salmon comes from the scientific name of Onchorhyncus keta, also known as chum or dog salmon. You won’t find Alaskans eating chum salmon, but as a sportfish, they’re another story. Learn about keta (or chum) salmon as a gamefish in this article from Orvis.

keta salmonThe chum salmon (Oncorhyncus keta) is familiar to most anglers only because of the unique “tiger-stripe” patterns of red, purple, and black that spawning fish develop along their flanks. Because the species is not known for excellent table quality, its popularity suffers, compared to the more desirable Chinook, sockeye, and coho salmon. But chums are second only to Chinooks in size, readily take flies, and fight by making tackle-burning runs.

Range and Life History
The chum salmon may have once been the most abundant of all the Pacific salmonids, and it still has the widest natural geographic range: it is native on both the North American and Asian continents, and it spawns farther into the Arctic Ocean than do other species. Originally, chums could be found as far south as Monterey, California, but the Golden State hosts only tiny, intermittently spawning populations today. Tillamook Bay, in northern Oregon, is now considered the southern end of the species’ effective range in the U.S., and there are fishable populations along the Washington coast. In Asia, chums can be found from Korea and far northern Japan north into Siberia.

Chums return to their natal waters to spawn after three to six years. Unlike other Pacific salmon, chums usually spawn at the mouths or in lower sections of rivers, with two exceptions—the Yukon River and Russia’s Amur River—where they travel as far as 2,000 miles upstream. The Yukon hosts two distinct runs, known as “summer” and “fall” chums, with the later fish being older, heavier, and traveling farther upstream.

Photos: Orvis (top); Green Polka Dot Box (above)

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This video captures an active and raging ice floe in New Hampshire.

This particular ice floe activity occurred on the Wild Ammonoosuc River, a tributary of the Ammonoosuc River, in Northern New Hampshire.

Sometimes you’ve just got to be in the right place at the right time, like Alex Geller was. Lucky for us, he had his camera.

At one point, Geller says, “Oh, I can’t wait to send this to my geography professors.”

If he ever did, I hope he looked up how to properly spell ice floe.

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After several years, Congress agrees to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area near Seattle by an additional 22,000 acres.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness area is located in the Cascade Mountains, north and east of Snoqualmie Pass. Most of the 22,000-acre expansion is located to the north and west of the current wilderness area boundaries.

This wilderness bill represents the largest one-time expansion of the national parks system since 1978. The wilderness area expansion also designates the Pratt River and a segment of Middle Fork Snoqualmie River as Wild and Scenic Rivers, affording them additional protections as well.

seattle-wilderness-mapThe wilderness area is located within a 45-minute drive of Seattle, making it convenient for city dwellers to retreat quickly.

Rep. Dave Reichert, who has been pushing the bill since 2007, said he hoped the expansion would economically benefit towns like North Bend and Snoqualmie, since visitors will likely be drawn by the new designation.

Rep. Reichert passed the bill through the House in 2010, while Sen. Patty Murray got the Senate to approve it in 2013. However, the bill never passed both chambers in the same congressional session. As a result, the Alpine Lakes expansion was one of nearly 100 public land measures that were inserted into an unrelated defense policy bill that ultimately passed on Dec. 12, 2014.

The new designation will permanently prohibit logging, roads, development and mountain bikes on these lands. During the course of negotiations with mountain bike advocacy groups, however, the boundary was moved to exclude the popular Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail. This trail was instead designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers program, which does allow mechanized and motorized vehicles on such designated lands.

Several other public lands measures in Washington were passed by the Senate. They include:

Illabot Creek in Skagit County, which will be designated a Wild and Scenic River.

Hanford’s B Reactor near Richland, which will become one of three sites for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

The boundary between the Stephen Mather Wilderness and North Cascades National Park, which will be reconfigured so a 10-mile stretch of destroyed road in Stehekin Valley north of Lake Chelan can be rebuilt.

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Camping presents a great opportunity for kids to learn and grow in the world’s greatest classroom. Go take your kids camping.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to think of camping as an extraneous activity. After all, it’s fun, and fun can often come low on the list of priorities behind work, school, practices, performances, etc. Camping is more than just fun though. It’s growth. It’s learning. It’s something every child needs to experience. Looking for a reason to escape reality and get out into the wilderness with your kids? We’ve got five of them.

1. Because the real world is more fun than the TV.

Our children face more electronic distractions than any generation before them. In a world in which cartoons are available on multiple platforms, and video games, apps and social media are everywhere, children often learn that fun comes in iPhone form. Camping can change that. Roasting marshmallows over an open fire, playing flashlight tag and going to bed with a view of the stars teaches kids that there are experiences waiting for them outside of the tablet.

2. Because self-reliance is easiest learned outside.

Many believe we may be raising a modern generation of coddled kids. Camping will fix that right up. Your child can learn to fish for the food he or she will be roasting over the fire that evening, or to build a tent to enjoy shelter from the elements that night. Kids gain confidence by completing tasks in self-sufficiency, so something as little as lighting the campfire can encourage them to continue taking on responsibilities that are the bricks that pave the path to self-reliance.

3. Because it’s easier to stay in shape.

You burn a lot more calories walking back and forth from the water supply than sitting in front of the TV. Camping requires a lot of physical output. Whether you’re just collecting firewood and setting up tents, or adding hiking, fishing and hunting to the mix, maintaining a proper campsite takes energy. It takes movement, and kids that are raised in an active lifestyle tend to continue that into adulthood. This means an increased advantage for maintaining good physical health.

bigstock-Kids-in-wilderness-walking-acr-140864244. Because time moves a little slower when you’re not looking at a clock.

Today, we are all busy. The work hours pass by slowly and the fun flies by. There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we want to get done because all too often, our lives are controlled by the clock, and the same is true of our kids. Let camping change that. The only times you need to know are when you’re arriving and when you’re heading out, and both are flexible. While you’re camping, you can let the sun and moon guide your priorities. Give your kids a chance to kiss the clock goodbye, if only for a weekend.

5. Because you find family outside of the phone.

My son learned how to operate an iPad at 18 months old, and was better at it than me by age four. Some days, texting his girlfriend and playing “Call of Duty” will probably seem a whole lot more important than hanging out with his mother, but not when we’re camping. Camping offers your family a unique opportunity to put down the electronics and rely solely on each other for entertainment, meals and discussion. I know someday he will outgrow me being the person he wants to do everything with, but he’s never going to outgrow our memories made around the campfire.

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These homemade rice bag hand warmers will have you outside quite a bit longer!

Check out how to make these rice bag hand warmers for your hunting and fishing adventures this winter.

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Start out with fabric squares that are 3″ by 3″. Choose color of choice.

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Sew 3 sides to start with cotton thread.

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Add bulk rice to your pouch.

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Sew the fourth side and cut the extra fabric off.

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Your hand warmer is done!

Place rice bag hand warmers in the microwave for up to 30 seconds, tuck them in your gloves and you will have warm hands for hours. Neat thing is with these hand warmers, is that your body heat will keep them warm too, extending the warming length of time.

Make the bags bigger sizes for back, knee or other pain while at home. They make great gifts too!

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Stay warm out there!

Photos: Eric Nestor

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Do deer really act differently during the hunting season? Biologists at Penn State say yes.

The Penn State deer study is being conducted by the college’s department of agricultural studies with the intent of studying deer-population management in the Keystone State.

Currently in its second year, the study will go on for five years, and so far, biologists have documented a certain change in the behavior of deer during the hunting season.

Several collars have been attached to does and bucks that live in the Bald Eagle, Rothrock and Susquehannock state forests to better understand this behavioral alteration. These collars track deer movements through GPS and transmit signals regarding their location every few hours in the summer, fall and spring, and more frequently during the archery and firearm seasons.

Duane Diefenbach, leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, told reporters of their early observations:

“There’s nothing to suggest these deer are being impacted by the hunting that’s going on to any great extent. But once the rifle season begins, we see some pretty dramatic differences. Some of these bucks will leave their home range and go places we’ve never seen them in the previous 10 months. It’s pretty amazing.”

These changes seem to occur exclusively during the week of the firearm hunting season. but where do the deer go? According to Chris Rosenberry, head of the deer and elk section for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, deer have been going wherever hunters can’t, don’t or won’t go.

The Penn State deer study subjects are making good use of their hiding spots, as only 10 percent of collared does and merely 20 percent of collared bucks have been harvested so far.

“The odds are stacked against the hunter,” Rosenberry told reporters. “These deer are not nearly as predictable as hunters would like them to be.”