Derek Mueth of Padderborn with the 71 pound bighead - photo provided
Brian Glauber with the various carp shot during the Lucky 13 outing. - photo provided
Friday the 13th proved to be a lucky day on the lower Kaskaskia for Derek Mueth of Padderborn. Not only did Mueth take a pending state record bighead carp weighing 71 pounds, he quickly followed up with a pending state record silver, at 33 pounds. Mueth also arrowed a 47 pound “yellow” bighead. Bowfishing records are being broken in both Illinois and Missouri at a pretty good clip this spring!
All fish weights were verified and witnessed via a USDA certified scale as required by IDNR .
Congrats to Derek on such a lucky Friday the 13th!
NOTE: This originally appeared in the May 2016 print version of Heartland Outdoors. After discussing the article with Larry Reid on his radio show “Outdoors with Larry Reid” I have had multiple requests to also place it online.
I’ve had this feeling for some time now – sort of creeping up on me that the face of the outdoor world is changing. Perhaps it’s due to technology, perhaps it’s due to social media, perhaps it’s due to the fact that the outdoors and all of its associated activities are now an “industry”. Whatever the cause, what I’ve been seeing of late is more than a bit saddening.
Somehow, it seems so many are on a quest to be the next big star, the next big name and will stop at very little to get there. Daily in my news feeds, social media feeds, etc. I see articles and posts that yet another “Name in the industry” or highly thought of competitor in various tournament and competition circuits has been found to be either cheating or outright violating fish and game laws, or both. Often it seems during the filming/recording of some sort of show or advertisement.
During the “big” tournaments and competitions polygraphs are required, marshals, referees, and in general folks who simply are part of the competition are needed to keep a watchful eye over everyone in hopes to keep everyone following the rules and staying legal.
How is it we have devolved into such a group of people that this is required? Money and fame would be the first answer that pops into my head.
When money and the perception of fame enter the equation it seems that ethics have flown out. Anything to get the sponsor, the trophy, the contract, or the footage – however it can be achieved.
BUT – It’s not just those in the competitions and tournaments. In the past six months I have seen more terrible behavior by people in the outdoors than ever. Average Joe folks who exhibit an utter disregard for fish and wildlife laws, utter disregard for any regulations, no trespassing signs, all with the ME, ME, ME , MINE, MINE, MINE, mentality. A sense of entitlement and rudeness that segues into aggressive behavior among users that is absolutely dumbfounding.
Many of these folks are relatively new to outdoor activities. Is it a lack of education that perpetuates this behavior? In some cases, perhaps. But I think the problem runs deeper and this may sadly be a reflection of a larger societal issue in general.
Is it that more people are finding enjoyment in the outdoors? That would be a good thing – but only if they understand the basic ethics and principals of outdoor behavior. It is up to us as veteran ethical sportsmen and women to lead by example and educate new folks. Simply taking them out to explore, hunt, fish etc. is not enough – we must instill in them a love and respect for the outdoors as well as acceptable behavior.
Is it possible that we simply don’t have enough publicly accessible land for everyone to enjoy without issues associated with crowding? Based on the data I could find, Illinois ranks 44th out of the 50 states for public land available for hunting – with a whopping 2% of the state open to public hunting (and that includes federal lands as well).
When talking with others who have spent their entire lifetimes in the outdoors I find the same feelings – the same “What is happening to us” question being asked.
Some feel that social media plays a large part as well as the need to “Be Somebody”. It seems that every outdoor activity is now a competition, thanks to social media. Sportsmen are chasing likes and views and praying their post or tweet goes viral – in hopes that someone will notice them and offer them a giant contract. Alternately, other sportsmen are falling into the name and shame routine in an effort to make themselves appear better, more ethical, or to get a leg up on on their perceived “competition” . Far too often social media feeds are filled with posts that degrade and tear down each other, rather than standing together as sportsmen and women.
It’s all been a bit much for me lately. I have lost respect for those I once looked up to. I find myself tossing aside what once were my favorite outdoor publications because every article has become one long infomercial for the writer and any and all products that were used.
How do we turn this disturbing trend around? While we want to keep introducing people to the outdoors and all the benefits of enjoying the outdoors – we absolutely have to be mindful of how we are doing it, and how we are presenting ourselves to new users.
I’ve been told by readers that I shouldn’t talk about, write about, or offer up any photos of poor behavior because it gives people the perception that all outdoor enthusiasts behave like that. I’ve also been advised to play the internet name and shame game with those who violate fish and game laws, and behave badly. I think the answer falls somewhere in the middle. The more attention we give those behaving badly the more of a star it makes them believe they are. Yet to ignore it completely will not make it go away.
How do we make folks understand that It’s not a giant competition for the biggest trophy animal, the most tournament wins, that time in the outdoors is not a means to the end of becoming a star?
Well, stop the hero worship for thing. Cut back on the viewing of the TV shows, reading the publications that glorify this sort of thing and routinely are nothing more than one long infomercial. When we find out that someone who has broken fish and game laws is sponsored by one of our favorite product manufacturers – take the time to write them and let them know that we can’t support a product that supports that kind of behavior.
Most of all we have to lead by example. WE have to set the tone and show others what is and is not acceptable behavior in the outdoors. WE have to educate newcomers, not just in the rules, but the reasoning behind those regs. WE have to demand from our judges that those found guilty be prosecuted fully. WE have to show the newcomers how to best interact with others on public land, how to be courteous, civil, polite.
The future of the outdoors is at a tipping point, and it’s up to us to keep it from falling over the cliff and shattering into a free for all where it’s everyone for themselves, and the most fame and fortune.
Nothing says spring in Southern Illinois like wandering through the creek bottoms listening to the hoot owls call, the turkeys gobble and mushrooms underfoot.
Ever since my beloved friend Skippy died, a barred owl has been my nearly constant companion in the woods. Call me crazy – but I feel like it’s Skippy, going along like always, keeping watch like always. Some places the owl is very, very tolerant of me. Sits next to me on fence posts and tree limbs while I rest.
Shortly after we lost Skippy I noticed that a barred owl was frequently tree hopping, hooting and always seemed to be around. Friends have grown accustomed to me answering a hoot owl in the distance “Hiya Skippy – hope all is well on your side…”. It’s gone on long enough that no one questions it anymore.
While it’s a somewhat crazy belief, it brings me comfort. It makes me happy so…so be it.
Spring is one of those times when I miss my friend acutely. Acutely enough that at least once or twice each spring I find myself sitting on a creek bank, having lengthy conversations with my owl companion. An extremely tolerant and curious companion.
Yesterday was one of those days. I was tromping through the places that Skippy and I spent hours upon hours, I missed him. I missed everyone that’s now gone. All those that I had ever hunted with, spent time afield with, every damn dog I have ever owned. And every log I sat on to rest, there was the owl – fluttering in just over head.
Apparently my constant yammering and wandering even wore him out a bit - and at times he appeared to be sleeping.
As we headed back out, the owl parked himself on fence post and commenced. I felt like Skippy was trying to tell me that all was right with the world, and that as long as I was heading home with stringer of fish, a sack of mushrooms, and knew where the turkeys were roosting, life was good.