Tag Archives: featured content

Dove Season Is Almost Here: Early-Season Opportunities

CDFW file photo.

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

California’s dove hunting season is rapidly approaching, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for special dove hunts throughout the state.

The first half of the split season will be open statewide from Sept. 1-15, 2017. The second half will be open statewide from Nov. 11 through Dec. 25, 2017.

For mourning dove and white-winged dove, the daily bag limit is 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged doves. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There is no limit for spotted dove or ringed dove, but the season dates are the same as for mourning dove and white-winged dove.

Eurasian collared dove is the only dove species that can be hunted year-round, with no limit.

Dove hunters may be interested in CDFW’s specially managed hunt opportunities throughout California during the dove season. Please note that applications for these opportunities must now be filed through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunt drawings will be held for opportunities at the following locations:

  • Merced and Stanislaus counties: North Grasslands Wildlife Area (China Island and Salt Slough units), Los Banos Wildlife Area
  • Sacramento County: Cosumnes River Preserve
  • Fresno County: Pilibos
  • San Bernardino County: Camp Cady Wildlife Area
  • San Diego County: Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve, San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area
  • San Luis Obispo County: Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve

The application deadline for all hunts is midnight on Aug. 12. Applications can be filed online, at CDFW license sales offices or through retail license agents. Applications may also be filed over the telephone at (800) 565-1458. Additional information is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds/Hunts.

All hunters must abide by California’s nonlead requirements. Currently, nonlead ammunition is required for hunting doves on any CDFW-managed property, but is not required to hunt doves on private property or public lands not managed by CDFW. Starting on July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required to take all wildlife anywhere in California.

Fresno-Area Poachers Plead Guilty

Photo by CDFW

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Three Fresno men face jail time and fines after being caught poaching and unlawfully trafficking sport-caught fish, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Kue Her, 36, Leepo Her, 33, and Michael Vang, 31, all of Fresno, all pled guilty to charges of illegal poaching of wildlife for profit. Kue Her was sentenced to 52 days in county jail and four years probation, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation. Leepo Her was sentenced to serve nine days in county jail, four years probation and a $1,050 fine, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation.

Vang was sentenced to one day in county jail, six hours community service, four years probation and a $1,050 fine, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation.  

Over the course of a year, CDFW wildlife officers made contact with the three men on multiple occasions as they were fishing throughout California’s Central Valley. The men were frequently found in violation of various laws, including possession of gross overlimits and retention of undersized striped bass. The egregious nature of their poaching activities led wildlife officers to suspect they might be selling fish on the black market.

Wildlife officers analyzed the suspects’ citation history and began a focused investigation into their activities. The investigation uncovered an abundance of evidence that the men had made thousands of dollars through the illegal sale of wild-caught striped bass and other local fish species. The investigation culminated in multiple search warrants served in December 2016, where wildlife officers located live crappie and bluegill in an aquarium, frozen striped bass, marijuana and evidence of a marijuana cultivation and sales, and methamphetamine and evidence of methamphetamine sales.

“The cases are a result of wildlife officers’ recognition of each independent poaching offense for the egregious offenses they were as a whole,” said Assistant Chief John Baker, Central Enforcement District, Fresno. “From there it was good old-fashioned investigative work.”

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and Deputy District Attorneys Sabrina Ashjian and Adam Kook prosecuted the case. Ashjian displayed particular vigilance, perseverance and tenacity in her handling of this case. These efforts, along with multitudes of other environmental and poaching prosecutions, contributed to her selection as the 2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year by the California Fish and Game Commission.

Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting or pollution is encouraged to contact CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, is printed on the back of every hunting and fishing license. Tips can also be relayed by text to 847411 (tip411). Text messages allow for a two-way conversation with wildlife officers, while preserving the anonymity of the tipster. Texts should begin with the word “CALTIP,” followed by a space and the message. There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and the CalTIP app, please visitwww.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

Q&A With CSULB’s Shark Doctor

Members of Long Beach State’s research team release a juvenile tagged shark. Southern California’s coastal areas have seen an increase in great whites in recent years. (CSULB SHARK LAB)

The following appears in the July issue of California Sportsman. Sharks and the City: LA airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel:

By Chris Cocoles

Photos by Long Beach State Shark Lab 

For scientists like Dr. Chris Lowe, the increased sightings of great white sharks in the Pacific are a boon to continuing to understand these fascinating fish. 

Granted, more sharks patrolling the beaches dotting Southern California have surfers and swimmers taking notice, but their presence can not only help us comprehend why sharks might occasionally attack humans but also how they affect the oceans’ food chain.  

“At the time when scientists were really starting to break ground, believe it or not, there really weren’t a lot of sharks to study. And that made it really hard to do,” Lowe says, citing so many parts of the world where resident shark numbers declined rapidly due mostly to overfishing. 

But imagine how scientists are rejoicing during a time when – especially off the Southern California coast – shark populations are back at levels unheard of in recent decades, thanks primarily to conservation awareness. 

Let’s face it: We’re intrigued by sharks, whether we appreciate their longevity, marvel at their abilities as a predator or are scared to death of coming face to face with them while treating the Pacific as our personal water playground. Discovery Channel’s latest Shark Week lineup is upon us this month, and the California coast will play a part in the programming again. 

Lowe spearheads the shark lab at Cal State Long Beach (he proudly says Jaws director Steven Spielberg, a Long Beach alum, visited the school’s shark lab in the 1970s to collect research for his iconic film) and studies sharks while sharing his knowledge with the next generation of biologists. 

“We have great opportunities to make major strides in understanding shark behavior,” says Lowe, who will share some of his research when Discovery airs Sharks and the City: LA, on July 25 (9 p.m.). Lowe and others will explore the waters off the Southland and Mexican coast, near famed shark gathering place Guadalupe Island, and explain an abundance of great whites making themselves comfortable.

We had a fascinating chat with fishing fanatic and shark savant Lowe about these remarkable, feared and often misunderstood bad asses of the sea.   

A double of great whites just off the Southern California/Mexico sharks hotbed of Guadalupe Island, site of the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week special, Sharks and the City: LA, which features the shark lab team from Cal State Long Beach. (CSULB SHARK LAB)

Chris Cocoles Do you think Shark Week has positively impacted how we understand and perceive sharks? 

Dr. Chris Lowe Well, sure – I think it’s kind of been influential, along the lines of the book and the movie, Jaws, right? It’s kept sharks in the mainstream. And, of course, people are interested, which is great. What I’m for is getting good scientific information and education out to the public, because I think (now) they fear them less and want to protect them more. 

CC But are sharks still so misunderstood by a lot of people?

DCL Absolutely. I think that’s still a battle that we fight and wage all the time. And part of it is because of the way sharks are often portrayed in popular media. I always like to say that you can’t blame Discovery and (Jaws author) Peter Benchley for all of it. Frankly, I think a lot of people like to be afraid of things. They like that little buzz you get from being afraid of something. So in a way, we’ve kind of created the beast in our heads. In reality, they’re not, quite often, the way we make them out to be. And I think the more that people actually interact with sharks – they go to aquariums, they’ll get in the water and they’ll see a shark on vacation or something like that – the more they understand that a lot of that (negative perception) is just hype.

CC To me, a shark is such a fascinating creature when you consider how far back sharks are in the ecosystem. And I’m so envious of you and your Long Beach State students who get to study these fish. That’s got to be an awesome subject to dive into.  

DCL I think that will be always be my greatest achievement as a scientist; it won’t be what I achieve but what my students achieve. So that’s why I do what I do. Just going out and doing the work is great, but being able to share what I’ve learned with my students – it’s really what keeps me going. 

CC Tell us a little about your research lab at Long Beach State?

DCL The shark lab’s been around since 1969 and was founded by Dr. Don Nelson. And he was kind of a pioneer in studying shark behavior. He was a diver back when scuba diving just came out. He always wanted to figure out why sharks do what they do. And a lot of his early research focused on how they behave. One of the things he became frustrated about was, when you go diving, you’re lucky if you can spend an hour in the water. 

When you’re a scuba diver you’ve got bubbles and you’re really noisy and clanky; it’s really hard to observe sharks because, frankly, divers disturb sharks’ natural behavior. So he began to realize that we needed new tools if we really wanted to understand shark behavior. 

He was one of the first scientists to start to build his own acoustic transmitters, and at the time that was state of the art. That technology had been declassified by the military, and biologists with any sort of electronics inkling were trying to make their own transmitter that they could put on sharks to use. And they could have a receiver and hydrophone so that they could follow those animals around and see where they go. Back in those days you had to make that equipment yourself. So Don decided that something that was needed to move to the next step and ask, “Why do sharks go where they go, and how do they do it?” He started building his own transmitters, and when I was a grad student in the shark lab back in the late 1980s, I learned how to build transmitters through Don … which I no longer have to make myself, by the way. 

At the time, that was kind of revolutionary, but the transmitters were kind of large and the only things big enough to put them on were sharks. The cool thing was, we could put a transmitter on a blue shark for 24 hours and it was exhausting to do the work. At the end of the day, all we figured out was that the shark went from point A to point B, which was very cool. But we didn’t know why they were doing that. What we focused on was developing new technology so that we could answer why they were doing that. Now we’re using satellite transmitters; we’re building autonomous underwater tracking robots. 

“I’ve been working in Southern California for 30 years, and I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be able to go the beach in my front yard, basically, and catch and tag baby white sharks,” says Lowe, a Massachusetts native who received his master’s degree from Long Beach State’s program. “The recovery of the great white population is probably our greatest conservation success story.” (CSULB SHARK LAB)

CC So would you say sharks are complicated to understand?

DCL Yes and no. They’re difficult because they’re predators. The key to being a good predator is you’ve got to be sneaky and stealthy; you’ve got to move. If you’re a really successful predator and feeding on smart, evolutionary-driven prey like mammals, you have to change up your game because those animals learn very quickly. So what makes it so tough to study sharks is that they have all those features of a predator, like a hunter. The first time somebody goes out hunting, if you don’t know something about what you’re hunting, your chances of being successful are really low. But the more you learn about your prey, the more you can begin to strategize – how to sneak up on the prey and successfully take one down. It’s that predator in us that helps us better understand that behavior in sharks. It gives us framework to begin to understand how they go about taking down something like a seal, which, by the way, is one of the fastest and most maneuverable species in the ocean. 

But I wouldn’t so much say that they’re complicated; I would say they’re really well evolved for what they do. In that sense, we have to up our game as scientists, because studying them becomes that much more difficult. And it’s why technology has opened up doors for us. 

CC So often, sharks are considered “villains” when there’s an attack, especially a fatal one. When something like this happens, how does it make you feel from a biologist’s perspective?

DCL Every time those things occur, it’s horrible; nobody wants to see anyone go through something like that. But the reality of that is, we lose perspective. When I give talks – and this could even be grade-school kids – I’ll ask, “OK, how many people here are afraid of sharks?” A bunch of hands will go up and I’ll ask “Why?” to get a little bit of information as to what their understanding of sharks is. But then I’ll ask if anybody has been a car accident, and a bunch of hands will go up, and if they know anyone who’s been killed in a car accident, and a few hands will go up, and you’ll think, “wow.” And when I ask if they know anyone who’s been bitten by a shark, and they’ll look around the room because no hands are up. I’ll ask, “Are you afraid to ride in a car? Because cars are dangerous; why would you ever want to ride in a car?” When they says cars aren’t dangerous, I’ll say, “Why wouldn’t you ever go in the water? In this room, nobody knows anyone who’s been killed, let alone bitten, by a shark.” 

So it’s a matter of people getting that perspective. That’s hard, because the difference is we drive vehicles every day and people are literally killed in vehicles every day, but it no longer seems like a risk, and our ability to evaluate that risk is really proportionate to our overall use. When I ask hardcore surfers and people in the water all the time, I ask if they’re afraid of sharks, it’s, “Well, I have to admit it does cross my mind every now and then.” “Does that keep you out of the water?” “Absolutely not … My chances of dying driving to the beach so far outweigh my chances of dying while surfing.” So they understand that perspective, but one of the things that I find is people who use the ocean less have a harder time putting that in perspective. 

CC You’re from Martha’s Vineyard off Massachusetts and became an avid fisherman. How has the fishing industry had an impact on the ecosystems?

DCL Growing up recreational fishing and now my entire life, and having a grandfather and other family who were commercial fishers, I totally understand the challenges of balancing those things. I’m a fisheries biologist by training; that’s what I teach, and when you look back at how we managed resources, we didn’t do a very good job of it. But I think we’ve turned a corner. We have a better understanding of how things work ecologically in the ocean. We’re regulating fisheries in the ways we need to in order to keep populations sustainable and making the resources accessible for the next generation. That has required some hard decisions and choices over the years. 

But I think there are signs that many of those have worked, because we’re seeing recovery in many of our fisheries in the United States. But this gets more complicated because those resources are shared. You have commercial interests with people going out and fishing for those so other people can eat those resources. But there are also those who want to go out there and catch fish themselves, and those resources have to be managed to accommodate both groups. I think it can be done and we’ve gotten much better at it, but that took a lot of learning and a big investment on our part. We’re starting to see the dividends of that. I’m afraid that one of the ways we went about in solving the problem was we outsourced part of our problem. We now import about 85 percent of our seafood in the U.S. We put a lot of (American) fishermen out of business and increased regulations to try and make our existing fisheries sustainable. 

But what we’ve done is increased pressure on stocks outside the U.S. and we’ve made it cheaper to import those, which puts commercial fishers at greater risk. Instead of getting a nice, fresh ecological cod product that was caught by U.S. fishermen, we’re now importing it cheaper from other countries, where they do it in ways we wouldn’t allow our fishermen to because it’s not sustainable. 

And that even gets back to recreational anglers. As somebody who loves to fish myself, a lot of times when I work with (sport) fishers, they’ll say it’s commercial fishers’ fault; commercial guys say it’s recreational anglers’ fault. And the reality of it, it’s all of us. But even recreational anglers can have impacts too. There is a lot we can do to sustain our fisheries and make that resource available to our kids and grandkids. When I talk about those resources, sharks can be a big part of those. Quite often, conservation groups want to protect sharks but to the point where they say no sharks can be harvested, which is where I disagree with them. Shark fisheries can be sustainable but have to be managed differently than others. I think we need to do it smart, use good science, and we need to do is sustainably. And if we do that, there’s no reason why people can’t catch sharksand eat them. 

Ryan Logan (left) and Connor White try to deploy a CATS tag at Guadalupe Island. Dr. Chris Lowe says that sharks returning to California waters represents promising news, but, “Are we completely out of the woods? Absolutely not; we still have problems with trash and pollution, loss of wetlands and global climate change. But we can solve those problems both regionally and globally. (CSULB SHARK LAB)

CC So what can we expect on your Discovery Channel show?

DCL It’s based on a hypothesis that we have – that the great white population has increased, and I have colleagues who have been studying adult white sharks in the Farallones (just off the Golden Gate in San Francisco) and Guadalupe Island for 20 years. Everything we know about great white sharks comes from those two locations. But if the population is going up like we believe – and we know those places are starting to get a little crowded – researchers are seeing fewer and fewer new individuals coming in there. And there are several possible explanations for that – one is that the population is not growing anymore, which I would disagree with. In Southern California, we see more babies every year. The other is that those places are saturated and there’s no more space for adult or subadult white sharks in those locations. And that means those kinds of “teenagers” coming into that population that can’t compete with the old-school sharks that have been in that location for decades now, have to find a new place to eat. 

In Southern California, if you look at locations like the Channel Islands, the numbers of seals and sea lions are maybe some of the greatest densities anywhere on the West Coast. So if I were a white shark and I couldn’t compete (where great whites are known to be) and I wanted to eat marine mammals, where would I go? I would go to the Channel Islands … So our goal for this project was to go out there and tag some sharks.   

CC Right off the coast in your backyard, sharks, even great whites, have become common. Is that pretty cool to have that kind of access?

DCL I’ve been working in Southern California for 30 years, and I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be able to go the beach in my front yard, basically, and catch and tag baby white sharks. I could never imagine that I would ever see this day. So for me it’s really exciting to see sharks come back, white sharks in particular. The recovery of the great white population is probably our greatest conservation success story. Predators are at the top of the food chain, they’re never super abundant and they’re dependent on everything else in the food web. So if your food web is messed up, those predators just can’t come back, so the fact they have is really a sign that we’re doing some things right. In Southern California, when we those success stories, that’s impressive. We have 22 million people who live within 60 miles of the coast, and this is one of the most populated coastlines in the world and heavily urbanized. When you see those animals coming back here, that’s a sign. 

Are we completely out of the woods? Absolutely not; we still have problems with trash and pollution, loss of wetlands and global climate change. But we can solve those problems both regionally and globally. We’ve got to be smart. 

CC What’s the feeling like to tag a great white just off the beaches of
the Southland?

DCL You should see the smile on my face [laughs]. I love it, and I love doing it with my students. For them, it’s the most exciting thing because they do it for free. 

CC Are you still learning something new about sharks all the time?

DCL As fast as we’re developing new technology and better tools to answer questions that have been on the back burner for decades, as soon as we answer one, five new ones pop up. Every single day that we go out and do something, I’ll go, “I never expected that,” or, “What does this mean?” It’s nonstop. CS

Editor’s note: For more on Long Beach State’s shark lab, go to csulb.edu/explore/shark-lab. Follow on Twitter (@CSULBsharklab). Check out Discovery’s Shark Week lineup at discovery.com/tv-shows/sharkweek.

Connor White (left) keeps a firm grip during a tagging exercise. (CSULB SHARK LAB)

Sidebar USING TECHNOLOGY TO BETTER UNDERSTAND SHARKS

Massive upgrades in technology allow shark experts like Cal State Long Beach shark lab director Dr. Chris Lowe to better understand the majestic fish he and his colleagues study. 

State-of-the-art robotics sent into the ocean depths allows scientists to get even closer to sharks and analyze their behavior. But with new gadgets come new challenges. 

“I work with a roboticist, Chris Clark, at (Claremont’s) Harvey Mudd College, and it’s kind of tricky because an autonomous operation requires a lot of information,” Lowe says. “When we were designing the tracking robots, Chris kept asking me, ‘Well, what do sharks do and how do they behave?’”

 Lowe started looking at old shark tracks in search of trends to help establish a starting point for programming the robot with what the shark is going to do – or at least educated guesses about what it might.

“What we want the robot to do is, while it’s tracking the shark, it never gets within, say, 100 yards of the tagged shark,” Lowe says. “And we know the shark can hear the robot because it has a propeller and it makes a low-frequency sound. So if the sharkactually is curious about the robot and starts swimming towards it, the robot’s programmed to move away.”

The thought process is that even if the shark continues to snoop around the device that’s backing away, eventually boredom will sink in and the fish will return to whatever its brainwaves were convincing it to do before the robot entered the water, allowing the fish to be followed again by the robotics. 

“A lot of that programming is from basic information that we’ve already learned from the patterns that we see in sharkmovements,” Lowe says. “So now, to get at how do sharks make decisions, we can instrument those robots with all sorts of oceanographic sensors, so while the robot is tracking the shark, it’s moving up and down the water column while measuring (data). And it has a video camera for us to see schools of fish, other sharks and other species that are around the shark that we’re tracking.” 

And as more data piles up from these tendencies, the notion of getting into a shark’s complex head isn’t such an outrageous concept anymore. CC 

 

Online Process Available To Secure Upland Bird Hunts

Pheasant photo by CDFW.

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

California hunters can now apply online for specially managed upland game bird hunting opportunities on private and public lands.

Starting with the 2017 fall hunting season, hunters will need to apply through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) for special hunt drawings for pheasant, chukar, quail, wild turkey and dove. The new, automated application process replaces the Special Hunts Application process for wild bird hunts.

Applications for apprentice pheasant hunts will remain in the current location at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/DFGSpecialHunts/Default.aspx. For updates and information on wild upland game bird hunts, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds/Hunts.

All hunt applicants must have a valid California hunting license and adult hunters must also have a valid Upland Game Bird Stamp to hunt upland game birds.

A non-refundable $2.42 fee will be charged for each application. Hunters may select their top three hunt choices per application and apply in parties, but may only apply once for each available hunt date. Duplicate entries will be disqualified.

Applications may be purchased:

All hunters must abide by California’s nonlead requirements. Currently, nonlead ammunition is required for hunting doves on any CDFW-managed property, but is not required to hunt doves on private property or public lands not managed by CDFW. Starting on July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required to take all wildlife anywhere in California.

Discovery Series Brilliantly Captures The Fascinating Unabomber Saga

Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski. Manhunt: Unabomber episode 102. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

“Betrayal after betrayal after betrayal. Until I couldn’t trust anyone. I want them to listen to me. I want them to pay for what they did to me. Well, let them hate me… They WILL NOT ignore me.”

-Ted Kaczynksi, as played by actor Paul Bettany in the new Discovery Channel series, Manhunt: Unabomber.

——————————————————————–

It’s funny: I consider myself a diehard history buff, but I also feel like I avoid being more aware about current events. It seems like the older the subject, the more comfortable I would feel if engaged in an intelligent discussion on the subject without looking uninformed and ignorant.  Sometimes I feel like current events are nothing more than current events and not worth my time. I was wrong about that

Until, of course, I had an inside look at something that happened fairly recently, although so much has changed over the past 20-odd years (most, sadly, have not been for the better in this guy’s opinion, but that’s a different story entirely).

I had the chance to get an advance peek at the upcoming miniseries, Manhunt: Unabomber (see the trailer above) by our friends at the Discovery Channel.  And as I stated, I really didn’t know a damn thing about this story until I watched most of the episodes that will air in the coming months (it premieres on Aug. 1)

Here’s what I claim to remember about Ted Kaczynksi (AKA The Unabomber): His crazy mugshot and playoff hockey-style beard, his being taken down in part by his brother, who ratted him out, the predictable Will Ferrell-led Saturday Night Live skits when the Unabomber was still a thing,  a memorable reference to the story in one of my favorite movies, Good Will Hunting, and a lot of mysteries about who this guy really was and why he was filling packages with bombs and mailing them around the country, killing three and injuring others.

But like most of the stories of the time, which usually eventually faded and were replaced with the next sensationalized story that captivated us, so too did Ted. The Unabomber’s place in the news cycle eventually faded. His 15 minutes – peaking in 1997 when he was finally apprehended – was post OJ and pre 9-11, and just like Twitter finds itself outraged one minute, and then moves onto the next headline shortly thereafter, eventually the Unabomber became yesterday’s news (but can you imagine the GIF’s, memes and hijinks the social media mob would have engaged in had Kaczynski come along a couple decades later?)

Sam Worthington as Jim Fitzgerald and Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski. Manhunt: Unabomber episode 102. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

So I had planned to watch the first episode Discovery sent me and tease it a little bit (Ted was an outdoors lover at an early age and a skilled hunter and angler ), but once I watched that two-part block, I was hooked. I binge-watched the remaining five episodes (I have yet to see the series finale and am already having withdrawals waiting for it!).

Discovery told me most of the series sticks to the factual events of the case, with a few liberties taken, such as creating a face-to-face meeting between Kaczynski and FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald, who masterminded the search, (much of what the Unabomber says during their confrontation was spoken during his trial). And what you watch from director Greg Yaitanes is compelling. 

This a series worth watching and getting hooked on, even for those a little out of the demographic who were  too young to remember it.  A great supporting cast – including one of my personal favorites, Mark Duplass, as the Unabomber’s brother, David,  gives Manhunt: Unabomber some acceleration and horsepower, but the underneath powering the engine are the two leads, Brit Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski and  Aussie (though born in England) Sam Worthington as “Fitz,” the FBI agent who obsessively leads the team attempting to crack the case via the Unabomber’s complicated manifesto, which reflects a man’s brilliance and tortured soul.

Bettany, in particular is spectacular as the title character. He is wonderfully sinister, and a far cry from when I had just watched the likeable Englishman show his charming side in 2004’s Wimbledon, a fun, sappy and harmless flick about a washed-up tennis player who wins one of the sport’s prestigious Grand Slam tournaments and finds love with Kirsten Dunst’s racket-swinging brat. But riding along with Bettany’s turn as one of the most infamous characters of our time was a fantastic change of pace from a versatile actor.

Worthington has more screen time and was  also excellent. but for me, the series’ high-water mark is Ted Kaczynski’s backstory, which criss-crosses a timeline from the days living in his Montana cabin – where he befriends some locals – his elementary school experience and ill-fated time as a whiz-kid Harvard student. It provides an opportunity to understand a little better as to the why and how of the story.  

Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski. Manhunt: Unabomber episode 102. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

“I was doomed to be a freak from the start,” Bettany’s Ted says during the episode while reciting a letter to his brother. In this context, we see a side of Kaczynksi that successfully humanizes him and broke my heart to see him endure. No longer do I envision the bearded freak hiding out in the Montana wilderness plotting his next act and baffling the FBI with his manifesto. Instead, I see a bright and sweet young boy in suburban Chicago struggling to fit in with his classmates, two years older than he was. I see a mathematical genius who suffers heartbreaking backstabbing from his best friend  (you can probably figure out how young Ted would avenge his buddy’s treason). I see him enter Harvard at an age when he should be taking high school AP trig classes and applying for Ivy League admission.

“David, I keep asking, how did I go from this innocent little kid to this? I think it was Harvard that did it. You don’t know about that either.”  

His early 1960s Harvard experience and psychological experiments conducted by Professor Henry Murray are depicted in chilling fashion. It was another case of an impressionable and gifted teenager being exploited, used and tormented by a role model he believed in and trusted. It was a sad moment and one of many turning points and triggers that turned a modern-day Einstein into a bitter, self-destructing troublemaker railing against the establishment.

Somehow, at least for me, that episode allowed me to feel sympathy as to why someone so brilliant could snap like that.  When I emailed back and forth with a Discovery Channel contact about what we love about this series, we both agreed there was a case for buying into what Ted Kaczynksi was thinking when he wrote his manifesto and why he went off course as tragically as he did.

Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski. Manhunt: Unabomber episode 107. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)

Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski and Jeremy Bobb as Stan Cole. Manhunt: Unabomber episode 107.

At one point, Murray (Brian d’Arcy James), after treating his subject like a disposable lab rat, tells young Ted some prophetic words that would eventually haunt him for the rest of his life.

“Theodore, you did a wonderful job; you truly exceeded my expectations. … I couldn’t have asked for more from a subject or as a friend. I can’t wait to see how well you do next time.”

“Next time?” the shaken young student replies.

“I’m anticipating more great things from you, Ted.”

For more on Manhunt: Unabomber, check out the Discovery Channel’s website. 

Final CDFW Waterfowl Survey Confirms Drop

CDFW file photo

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual waterfowl breeding population survey.

Mallards, gadwall and cinnamon teal comprised 54 percent of the ducks observed, down 30 percent from last year. The number of mallards decreased from 263,774 to 198,392 (a decrease of 25 percent) and total ducks decreased from 417,791 to 396,529 (a decrease of five percent).

The most notable decrease occurred in the Sacramento Valley area, where mallards were estimated at a record low of 31,000 (73 percent below the long-term average).

Given the abundant precipitation, one might expect the numbers to be higher. In some parts of the state, it did indeed increase available habitat (uplands and ponds). But in many areas, last winter’s heavy rains largely resulted in deep, fast-flowing water, which is not ideal for dabbling ducks. Other reasons for low duck observations could include winter flooding of nesting habitat that normally remains dry, the late-season flooding of the rice fields in the Sacramento Valley and the conversion of rice fields and pastures to tree crops.

CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. This year’s survey was conducted from April 3 through May 4 in the Central Valley, and May 9-10 in northeastern California. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.

The full Breeding Population Survey Report can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in early August. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

Taking At-Risk Kids Fishing

 

 

Great story by NBC 4 in Los Angeles on the L.A. Rod and Reel Club getting some less fortunate kids out on the water for a day of fishing.

Here’s more from NBC Los Angeles reporter John Cádiz Klemack:

Despite living close to the beach, many low-income and foster youth in Southern California have never been fishing — let alone seen the ocean.

But one Los Angeles-based nonprofit is changing that one trip at a time. For the last 50 years, the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club has taken about 150 at-risk youth, mostly foster kids, from Los Angeles County, Orange County and the High Desert on an annual deep-sea fishing expedition.

On this year’s trip on July 10, 7-year-old Odyssey Valdez caught her first fish off the coast of Long Beach and filled the boat with infectious laughter.

“It builds lasting memories, she’ll have this forever,” said the girl’s mom, Aida Valdez. “I’m very grateful for that.”

Great work, L.A. Rod and Reel Club!

Of Marlins And The Military

Southern California native Mike Nares (back row, left) was among seven wounded service vets who went marlin fishing out of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico earlier this year. (LOANDEPOT)

The following appears in the July issue of California Sportsman:

By Chris Cocoles

Amid a spectacular backdrop – the luxury yacht, the azure blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, the leaping marlin – some of the most important moments Mike Nares spent off the Baja coast were sitting at a table.

Southern California native Nares was one of seven veterans invited on a Cabo San Lucas, Mexico-based trip in April. All of them had been wounded in battle and, like Nares, suffered from various symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and/or major injuries. The boat, donated for the trip by Anthony Hsieh, CEO of lending company loanDepot, was just as much floating cathartic vessel as it was fishing vacation craft. 

“We were down there on the boat and everyone was just sitting around the table and sharing their stories. They were able to connect with each other and how they’re handling the parts of their recovery,” says Calvin Coolidge, executive director of the Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit that helps wounded veterans and assisted in setting up the trip. 

“They were able to offer each other advice – that peer-to-peer counseling, ‘This is how I got through this particular struggle.’ It really set up a great environment to not only revitalize but also help them heal – find new strategies for that healing journey. And believe me, it is a healing journey.”

For Nares, the hardest part of his journey – he hopes – is behind him. But even after three memorable days of fishing, fun and friendship, he and his brothers in arms understand what they’ve been through, what they lost and what they have found on their journeys.

“Getting out of the military wasn’t something that I wanted. I wanted to do 20-plus years and didn’t get the chance,” Nares says. “But just being able to be around other people who have served, it’s like being back in the military, which I think is the greatest honor in the world to serve the glorious flag. It was a great experience to be able to be around everybody else. To hear their background and know what they went through was important.”

 

“This is who I am. I had PTSD and a traumatic brain injury and other things. I don’t mind telling my story to anyone who asks – civilian or someone in the military,” Nares says. “It’s just a better way to heal for me.” (LOANDEPOT)

FOR AMERICA’S VETERANS, WHAT today is known by the acronym PTSD has likely been affecting troops since at least the Revolutionary War (terms like nostalgia, shell shock and battle fatigue have all entered the lexicon over time), if not before. But nobody really acknowledged it officially by that name until 1980, just seven years removed from U.S. withdrawal in Vietnam. It’s now become an accepted reality of the difficulties servicemen and -women are susceptible to after their time in combat ends.

Nares, who grew up in suburban Vista, 40 miles north of San Diego, served in the Army from the time he graduated high school until being medically discharged in 2011. Between that time, he had three deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A staff sergeant when he left the Army, Nares was awarded two Purple Heart and two Bronze Star medals. In 2010, he suffered traumatic brain and back injuries when he was caught up in an ambush in Afghanistan. Nares also saw combat in Ramadi, Iraq, site of some of the fiercest fighting of the Iraq War in the mid-2000s and was once controlled by ISIS before being driven out of the city by Iraqi forces in 2016.

“I fought in Ramadi twice, in 2004 and 2006, when it was then considered the most dangerous place on Earth. I always thought that I saw more stuff than anyone else did, and for a long time that’s what I (assumed),” Nares says. “But then hearing all these other people and other veterans tell their stories, it made me realize that I’m not the only one that experienced that type of war. It’s actually really awesome to hear their stories.”

That’s one of the most difficult aspects of overcoming the effects of PTSD. When Nares was discharged, he shut down completely in terms of sharing the details of what happened on the battlefield. Save for his mother, nobody seemed worthy of a recreation of events. 

He was hardly alone in his silence. The last thing returning veterans want to do is recall the atrocities they witnessed, the wounds they suffered and the memories of fighting alongside comrades they’d left behind.  

“A lot of times, that first time where you’re willing to tell the story, it’s going to be amongst people who were over there in similar circumstances, who understand than it would be with a civilian or with someone who never served,” Coolidge says.

It took Nares two years of silence before he began to interact with other wounded vets, the only others who could possibly relate. Still, all Nares wanted to do – futilely, given the nature of his injuries – was return to the Middle East. 

“Getting out was the hardest thing, knowing that I couldn’t be there with my soldiers or anyone that I served with anymore, and not being part of a family. I was living with a family and now I was all by myself,” he says. 

“All I knew was the military; as soon as I’d gotten out of high school, I joined. When my time was up – sorry, this is bringing back memories – I missed it, a lot.”

So it was only fitting that Nares’ first step in the right direction was to open up once he began interacting with others who had similar experiences to his. Who else could understand the hell these brave men and women endured over there? 

How far has Nares come? If you ask him about his tours of duty, he’ll gladly talk about some – not all – of his time in uniform. 

“I don’t like to tell everything that I’ve been through, because some of it is too intense to even want to put out there into words. But now if anyone has the time to listen, I’m willing to tell my story,” he says. 

“It’s my healing process now to be able to let everyone know what I’ve been through and that I’m not messed up – that this is who I am. I had PTSD and a traumatic brain injury and other things. I don’t mind telling my story to anyone who asks – civilian or someone in the military. It’s just a better way to heal for me.”

Cpl. Josh McCart, who spent five years in the Army and was injured in the Middle East, shares a moment with loanDepot CEO Anthony Hsieh (below right), who hosted the trip on a luxury yacht, the Bad Company. (LOANDEPOT)

 

LONG BEFORE HE PUT his life on the line for his country, Mike Nares was a fisherman. Vista was just inland from the coastal city of Oceanside, so it was a convenient destination for saltwater fishing. 

“I was always down in Oceanside, where my Uncle Frank would take us fishing in the harbor. We’d go out 3:30 or 4 a.m. and catch live bait; we’d go in with our little shrimp pumps and stick it in the water and grab shrimp for at least an hour,” Nares says. “And then we’d go fishing from there on and out. And we’d stay out until it was time to go back in, which was usually around 6 at night.”

Once he came back for good, fishing wasn’t exactly Nares’ priority, but the methodical return to a more civilian life – he now calls Ventura home – has provided enough peace to where fishing can be a normal part of his life again. 

“I’ve got my friends here in Ventura who like to fish a lot too. We’ll try to get back out there and try to catch some perch and halibut,” Nares says. “It’s relaxing to be on the water. I don’t like to go too far out into the ocean because I’m actually afraid of sharks, but since I got out and I’ve been going back out quite a bit. I want to go out more now after being out on that boat. It made my drive for fishing a little bit bigger than it was.”

Coolidge and his colleagues at the Freedom Alliance regularly arrange outdoor adventures for injured veterans like Nares, who also went to Alaska in 2016. Hsieh was honored to lend his yacht for the seven vets (a combination from the Army and Marines).

“These brave Americans have sacrificed so much for our country,” he said in a press release. 

“It’s truly life-changing. It provides camaraderie for these veterans out of the service and who have been wounded,” adds Coolidge of the trips his organization offers. “It provides them with time together, to talk to each other and to often work through a lot of the things that they could be struggling with.  It refreshes them and gives them energy to keep on healing. And it helps them to thrive in this post-military stage in their lives.”

That the fishing was epic proved to be a bonus, but the seven participants had an experience they’d never forget. Cabo is known for its marlin fishing, and the majestic fish that make anglers work hard to get them back to the boat didn’t disappoint. 

“Just being able to be around other people that have served, it’s like being back in the military, which I think is the greatest honor in the world to serve the glorious flag,” says Nares, who suffered head trauma and a back injury during an attack in Afghanistan, winning two Purple Heart and two Bronze Star medals. (MIKE NARES)

“The passion for marlin was incredible. It’s crazy – I’ve never fished for marlin before, and to see the excitement, and when I caught my first one was at the end of the trip. It was probably one of the coolest things ever. My arms hurt, that was for sure. And they still hurt for a couple days after,” Nares says.

“I grabbed the reel and rod and I went to town. If it weren’t for the captain, Steve, bringing the marlin to me, it would have been a longer fight, that’s for sure. He was an amazing captain who really knows what he’s doing. Without that I probably would have had to switch off because my arms were already starting to burn by the time we got the marlin up.”

Everyone got emotional watching the scene unfold.

“Oh gosh, it’s heartwarming; it’s encouraging; it’s humbling,” Coolidge says. “It was all a team effort. They helped each other out. To see that, and all the things that they learned in the military and how effective they are as a team, it was awesome. When they weren’t fishing they were telling stories to each other, opening up. Just being able to be a small part in making something like this happen, you know you’re doing something good and making a difference in service members’ lives.”

The guys were excited with the thrills of fishing for marlin off the Baja coast, but some of the most poignant memories were spent sitting around a table sharing stories about their experiences in battle. “You can see that when they start to open up, that yes, they’re making their way forward in that recovery,” says Calvin Coolidge, executive director of the Freedom Alliance, a nonprofit that helps wounded warriors. (LOANDEPOT)

 

YOU DON’T EXPERIENCE THE horrors of war, carry around the physical and mental scars from Iraq and Afghanistan and return to normalcy without veering off course more than once. Even Nares, while in a far better place than others who continue to battle their war-time demons, needs a rock like his girlfriend, Kimberly Schrader, to help him get through every day. 

“It’s nonstop. I’ve had lots of highs but I’ve had my lows. There have been days where I’ve been feeling good, and then two minutes later I’ve been in depression because of just something that reminded me of being over there,” Nares says. “My girlfriend’s been a really big supporter and she’s always trying to help me. She can tell when I’m not feeling right; my face changes, I guess, and I never knew that. And she always spots it out and helps me through it.”

More than once during a conference call interview, Nares apologized as he struggled to put into words answers to questions about the past, the present and future. “I’ve not very good at this.” 

But he knows support is there, whether it’s a confidant in his inner circle such as Schrader, the brothers in arms who caught marlin with him and made each other feel connected during those tableside chats, Coolidge and his partners at the Freedom Alliance who work tirelessly to make veterans feel appreciated, and philanthropists like Hsieh. 

“I just wanted to say thank you to Anthony and also to Freedom Alliance for putting this trip together. Without these guys I think there would be a lot more struggles,” Nares says.

“It’s amazing to see someone like Anthony, who’s a true patriot. You don’t have to serve to be a patriot.” CS

 Editor’s note: For more information on post-traumatic stress disorder, go to ptsd.va.gov. For more on the Freedom Alliance, check out freedomalliance.org.  

CDFW’s Waterfowl Survey Sees Mallard Breeding Numbers Drop

USFWS/CDFW mallard drake photo

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual waterfowl breeding population survey.

The breeding population of mallards decreased from 263,774 to 198,392 (a decrease of 25 percent) and total ducks decreased from 417,791 to 396,529 (a decrease of five percent).

The decline was not expected, given the abundant precipitation. Low duck observations could be attributed to winter flooding of nesting habitat and the late flooding of rice in the Sacramento Valley.

CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.

The full Breeding Population Survey Report is can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in early August. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

Double X Tackle Launches New Website With New Gear

 

Double X Tackle has relaunched its website to bring all of its brands together in one place.  Double X Tackle is proud to announce that all four American-made fishing tackle brands, Vance’s Tackle, CAGI Sonic Attractors, ClearBoard planer boards and Double X Tackle (formerly Rainbow Plastics) are now all on one site.  Offering the full catalogs of all of these brands makes it easy to reach the $50 limit for free shipping, and that includes the trolling rods!

The new website also provides the opportunity to snag more savings by buying in larger quantities.  Most items offer a larger pack quantity that comes with built in savings, take for example the 1/4-ounce A-Just-A-Bubble, a 12-pack offers an awesome 18-percent discount over the single-pack price!

Now through the end of August, Double X Tackle is offering a special discount to all followers of Media Inc. Publishing magazines; enter code NWSAUG at checkout and receive an extra 5-percent off along with the everyday free shipping for orders over $50.  America- made fishing tackle done right!.

Look for us at  www.doubleXtackle.com