Tag Archives: conservation

State Park Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer opportunities are a great way to obtain marketable skills and expand one’s network reach in today’s ever-evolving society. It is also a great avenue to explore possible jobs that you hold an interest in and learn more about that position as well as the organization that you’re working for. Not only will you be gaining some experience, but you also gain a multitude of benefits, such as skills that can be used even after you stop volunteering.

In this sense, your state parks offer numerous volunteer opportunities. The opportunities are diverse and can range from acting as a public contact to becoming a part of the Cultural Resource Protection team to being an interpreter. The opportunities also offer a nice incentive, such as the possibility of earning a free campsite or a free park pass after a certain number of volunteer hours have been fulfilled. Check below for possible volunteer options that you can do in your local state parks!

Natural Resource Protection

habitat restoration

Volunteers happily participating in habitat restoration efforts. [Image: www.projects-abroad.org/]

The California State Parks offer their volunteers the opportunity to assist in critical resource protection for various aspects of their state parks. These can range from trail construction and maintenance to native plant enhancement and nurturing to habitat restoration and beach cleanup.

Adopt-A-Trail Program

trail clearing

Trail clearing is done in groups for it to be successful. Not only will you be helping your fellow state park enthusiasts clear their favorite trails, but you’re also becoming an expert in that trail and getting your dose of daily exercise—now that’s killing two birds with one stone! [Image: www.post-gazette.com/]

The Wisconsin State Parks system has a program called Adopt-A-Trail. What does that entail, you ask? It’s simple! You essentially “adopt” a trail and become a crucial member with a group of people who take care of the trails to ensure that they are clean and properly maintained for the thousands of visitors in the area annually. Your job responsibilities can be as simple as reporting any trail obstructions and hazards to acting as a handyman and providing assistance in trail reconstruction and renovation.

Group Volunteer Opportunities

group volunteer

Thought that group volunteering is only for young adults? Think again! Above, a group of enthusiastic senior citizens volunteer together as park rangers. [Image: www.prescot-az.gov/]

Don’t want to volunteer by yourself? Don’t worry! Florida State Parks has an option for friends, families, or you with other members of your community to do group volunteering in nearby state parks. Simply contact a park’s Coordinator of Volunteer Services for more information to begin organizing your own group today.

Youth Volunteers

youth volunteer

Joining youth volunteer groups is often a great way to boost your resume as well as meet new friends with the same interests. [Image: www.yvc.org/]

For parents with young children or students looking for volunteer/internship opportunities, these are for you. Most state park systems offer internship opportunities for you to be involved in. Simply check with the individual parks for more information regarding their policies, and for those under 18 who are interested in volunteering, be sure to acquire parental permission from your parent(s)/guardian(s) beforehand.

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, particularly with your local state parks. You can gain more knowledge about the importance of preservation within the state park systems and will have memories and skills that are transferrable to other areas in your life, be that now or later. If you wish to volunteer for your local state park, check out the individual park websites, your state’s state park website, or your Pocket Ranger® apps (downloadable in Google Play and Apple Stores) for important information on how to be more involved.

Wildlife Extinction and Endangerment

Since the rise of the Industrial Revolution, human advancements have been catapulted to undeniable heights. Renewable energy, dams, bridges, sky rises, and housing created and now dot the skyline. But with the rise of these developments came continuing damage to multiple wildlife ecosystems, causing wildlife extinction and endangerment. Many areas that were previously home to various wildlife were manipulated, condensed, or in certain circumstances even completely eliminated in order to accommodate the needs of the human population.

By the turn of the 21st century, thousands of animals have gone extinct and even more entered the status of critically endangered as identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Poaching and requisitions for believed, though often unfounded, medicinal effects or even just for internal decoration and clothing have caused an alarming degradation of these animals’ numbers, with some even going completely extinct. Below are a few of these animals that experienced a problematic decline.

Baiji Dolphin

baiji dolphin

A male baiji dolphin typically was around 7.5 feet long and 8.2 feet for females, with a record length of 8.1 feet. They had a bottle-nosed, slightly upturned beak and a bottle-shaped body.[Image: http://mnn.com/]

The baiji dolphin was native to the Yangtze River in China. It is currently declared extinct, with the last verified sighting reported way back in 2004. There was evidently a supposed sighting of a lone baiji back in 2007, but with no other sightings since and with no other known baiji in the area, it is said to not have any possible way of maintaining its population. Their extinction was due to massive pollution in the Yangtze River and the building of dams and land reclamation that illuminated their niche. The further industrialization of China has made the baiji a popular hunting target as its skin and eyes hold a high monetary value as well. Although hunting was not the most significant factor in the extinction of the baiji and it was instead caused by massive human industrial expansion, a lack of of knowledge and timely conservation ultimately led to the demise and extinction of the species.

Western Black Rhinoceros

western black rhino

A western black rhino weighed as much as 1.5 tons in its prime. It primarily resided in Africa and was a kind, social animal. [Image: http://i.imgur.com/]

The western black rhinoceros was native to Africa and was rich in population up until around the 20th century when hunting for their horns became more common. Their decline was such that their numbers deteriorated to just 10 within a century, and just a year after that sharp decline, only five were left before their complete demise in 2004. The major cause of the western black rhino’s extinction was poaching and hunting for their horns. Some cultures held the belief that their horns contained medicinal attributes, and with a lack of conservation efforts and the demand of the horn and skin from the rhinos in the black market, they were hunted extensively to extinction.

As of now, other rhinos are also facing a critical endangered status, and preservation efforts are currently underway to keep them from following in the tracks of the western black rhino. Unfortunately, preserving them is proving to be difficult due to a lack of sufficient conservation efforts in place. Hopefully with more awareness, these ancient creatures can be saved and left to peacefully roam in the lands where they have thrived for millions of years.

Tiger

tigers

Tigers are probably one of the most elegant creatures in the wild, its white, gold, and black stripes a staple of the animal. Part of the charismatic megafauna, it is commonly the face of conservation advocacies. [Image: http://spiritanimals.wikia.com/]

While tigers are generally prohibited from being hunted and are well protected by conservationists, they are still subject to poaching, their continuously dwindling numbers a testament to this. Like rhinos, tigers are also subject to being sold in the black market as medicine, ornaments, and aphrodisiacs. While conservation efforts are strict, there is still a large case of tiger poaching and selling them within the black market.

Sumatran Elephant

sumatran elephant

Sumatran Elephants are social, gentle mammals. They have an average length of five to nine feet and can grow up to 20 feet and weigh approximately five tons. [Image: http://www.berdiri.org/]

Another critically endangered species is the Sumatran elephant. The decline in their numbers is primarily caused by poaching for their ivory tusks as well as an immense loss of habitat due to agricultural efforts. Found in the Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia, these elephants once roamed the island widely before poaching led to their sharp and continuous population regression; they lost 50 percent of their population in just 22 years due to poaching. In certain local places in Sumatra, they are now locally extinct where they once were widespread. A combination of these factors continues to threaten their existence even today.

These animals are only a few examples of those that were badly affected by the illegal poaching and industrialization efforts of mankind. It is important to be aware of the proper rules and regulations toward wildlife in order to continue the preservation methods currently in place. Head on over to our Rules & Regulations sections in our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to help you stay informed of the proper do’s and don’ts. With combined preservation efforts, we can still assist in keeping these beautiful creatures safe and sound.

Endangered Species: An In-Depth Look at Elephants

Elephants mean different things to various cultures, ranging from being seen as simply a gorgeous animal that lives in your country to a revered god-like symbol to a token of good luck. Unfortunately they are also often idolized for their thick, leathery hides and gorgeous ivory tusks, which has led them to be listed as an endangered species.

Differences between Asian and African elephants.

The difference between Asian and African elephants. [Image: http://www.thomsonsafaris.com/]

African elephants are the largest mammals walking the Earth today, growing up to 11-feet tall, between 19 and 24 feet long, and weighing usually around six tons. There are two types of African elephants, the Savanna (bush) elephant and the forest elephant. Savanna elephants are the larger of the two and have tusks that curve outward, while forest elephants are smaller, darker, and have straighter tusks that point downward. Asian elephants, on the other hand, are very different from African elephants. They are noticeably smaller and their ears don’t fan out at the bottom like an African elephant. And while all African elephants, male or female, have tusks, only some male Asian elephants do.

Elephants are social creatures, living in herds made up of mostly females and calves while the males opt for isolation, usually leaving the herd at around 13 years old. The calves live with their mothers for a large portion of their early lives and are cared for by many of the other females in their herd. The females have the longest gestation period of any animal, lasting 22 months from conception. Throughout those 22 months, other females help the laboring mothers up until birth, acting as midwives to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly. Calves weigh about 230 pounds when they’re born, and the females don’t usually have more than four babies.

Adult elephants with a baby.

“Hey, I want to hug, too!” [Image: http://www.buzzfeed.com/]

They’re also incredibly sensitive animals. They have been known to express grief and sometimes cry, like in this heartbreaking video of a baby elephant crying after being rejected by its mother; show compassion, such as having a “greeting ceremony” for elephants they haven’t seen in awhile where they’ll “hug” by intertwining their trunks; and they also mourn the loss of fellow herd members. It’s true what they say—elephants have excellent memories, which is apparent in their varying emotional responses.

Elephants mourning.

When elephants come across the remains of a herd member, they’ll feel the crevices of each bone. [Image: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/]

These large creatures are also very resourceful. Although they’re the only mammal that can’t jump, they’re fantastic swimmers and can move swiftly and quietly, despite their enormity, due to soft pads protecting the bottoms of their feet. Their bodies have natural cooling methods as well, and they can sustain hot temperatures due to the many blood vessels coursing through their ears. On top of all this, elephants also use their tusks for many things, such as digging for water, finding food, defense, and lifting items. Similar to how humans are often left-or right-handed, elephants prefer using one tusk over the other.

Aside from utilizing their physical features in everyday life, both on a conscious and subconscious level, they’re also quite connected to their environment through the use of their senses. Their eyesight isn’t very strong, but their other senses make up for that. They have hearing capabilities that go far beyond a human’s limitations, opening them up to spatial experiences that we can’t quite begin to process. And they don’t just hear from their ears—elephants are able to pick up on sub-sonic sounds through their feet and can be found “listening” by pressing their trunks to the ground and positioning their feet in a certain way. Their trunks are also very fascinating and useful beyond its physical potentiality. Made up of more than 40,000 muscles, trunks can help elephants smell better, especially when waved from side to side, and can also help the creatures sense the size, shape, and temperature of an object.

Elephants hugging trunks.

Now don’t you wish you could get a hug from an elephant? [Image: https://www.pinterest.com/]

Although elephants don’t have any natural predators (aside from lions that sometimes prey on the weak or young), humans have led this amazing creature to become endangered. Asian elephants have been listed as endangered since 1975 and African elephants since 1989. Much of their population decline comes from poaching to support illegal ivory trading. Ivory trading was made illegal in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), but there is still an unregulated market demanding it. Additionally, loss of habitat is also negatively affecting elephant populations. As humans expand further into their environments and practices like commercial logging continue, elephants end up on the losing side of the battle for more space.

Elephants.

Such a happy little family. [Image: https://iso.500px.com/]

Maintaining the areas that we visit and leaving the wildlife alone are the best ways we can help elephants and many other endangered species continue to thrive. Often we’ll see others partaking in experiences with these amazing creatures, such as viewing them in contained settings or riding on them—this is not the capacity that they were meant for, however, and we should do our best to let them live naturally. Wildlife viewing is an enjoyable part of any outdoor experience, and you can partake in it by using our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to explore parks that have diverse wildlife populations. And remember: The best approach when interacting with wildlife is to look and not touch.

Arf or Awoo? Distinguishing Wolves from Coyotes

Wolves have been the subject of conservation efforts in the United States since their alarming decline in the 1900s brought on by intensive predator control programs. Following this decline, conservation efforts were made to restore wolf populations; the Endangered Species Act (ESA), for instance, granted to wolves in 1974 helped elevate their population count in various states.

However, an accidental killing of a nursing red wolf just this past year arose concern in environmentalists while coyote hunting contests in some states stirred up more tensions between conservationists and hunters. Sparks of disagreement are clearly in the air, with one of the main stances being that some wolves might be killed during the coyote hunting contests. Therefore, this article will strive to tackle how to distinguish wolves from coyotes in the wild.

For visual reference, here is an image detailing differences between a wolf—a grey wolf, in particular—to a coyote:

A visual reference summarizing the major differences between a grey wolf and a coyote.

A visual reference summarizing the major differences between a grey wolf and a coyote. [Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

The grey wolf is the most common wolf in North America. Wolves have a variety of colors; the grey wolf, specifically, ranges from light grey to black with some cream-colored wolves, similar to Arctic wolves, among the pack as well.

A lone gray wolf happily running through a snowfield.

A lone grey wolf happily traversing through a snowy field. [Image: http://i.kinja-img.com/]

The grey wolf is the largest wolf subspecies in its family. Running up to 2.5 feet tall, it can grow to five to six feet long, with males averaging from 95–99 pounds and females 79–85 pounds. They are generally the ones found throughout North America and Eurasia. They also have a broader snout and less pointed features when compared to the red wolf.

The red wolf can also be easily confused with coyotes, seen with the recent incident involving the accidental shooting of a red wolf mistaken as a coyote. The red wolves are also commonly known as Florida wolves or Mississippi Valley wolves. They have been the subject of legal battles between nature conservancies due to their continually dwindling numbers and critically threatened conservation status.

A visual reference of the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) vs. a Coyote (Canis Latrans) showing differences between the two species.

A visual reference of the red wolf (Canis rufus) vs. a coyote (Canis Latrans), showing differences between the two species. [Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/]

Red wolves are about 26 inches up to the shoulders, have a length of 4.5–5.5 feet long, and weigh about 50–80 pounds at maturity. They are much longer and more slender than the grey wolf, and their fur is grey-black with a reddish or tawny cast.

Red wolves.

A pack of three red wolves curiously watching their observers. [Image: http://b68389.medialib.glogster.com/

The coyotes, on the other hand, are much smaller in comparison to wolves, with body lengths averaging from 3–4.2 feet. Large coyotes are present, but rare, with the largest one recorded at 5.3 feet. Their fur color is a rich, fulvous red, usually interspersed with black, white, and light grey. It is much smaller than the grey wolf, with its defining characteristics being longer, pointier ears and a thinner frame, face, and muzzle.

A coyote is easily distinguishable through its much smaller and slender frame, long snout, and pointed ears.

A coyote is easily distinguishable through its much smaller and slender frame, long snout, and pointed ears. [Image: http://www.gpwmi.us/]

The vocalizations are also a give-away between wolves and coyotes. Wolves generally communicate through howls while coyotes communicate through yips, yaps, growls, yelps, and high-frequency whines. There isn’t much of a common ground between these two species. Wolves are pack hunters and considered to be apex predators—that is, predators that are at the top of the food chain in their habitat. Powerful muscles run through their broad bodies, like oiled machines that operate with an alpha pair and young pups. Perhaps the more common objections raised by farmers are because wolves can, at times, prey on livestock, although this happens somewhat rarely as wolves in large eat deer, boar, and caribou. Exceedingly territorial, wolves do not treat coyotes kindly, particularly when they are caught overstepping wolf boundaries or trying to take advantage of a wolf kill.

Grey wolf pack.

A beautiful grey wolf pack posing like well-versed models. These creatures are even more majestic in real life, but don’t confuse their tame appearance in this photo for a weakness—this pack will delightfully tear their prey apart if given the slightest chance! [Image: http://gb.fotolibra.com/]

At the moment, the wolves’ conservation status is still embroiled in a heated discussion on whether or not they should be kept on the endangered species list. It has been an on-and-off status battle between endangered and threatened since its first status assignment in 1974. The wolves play an important role in the ecosystem, with sufficient research finding that an introduction of wolf population regulates, and even is a cause of, declining coyote populations.

Wolves are generally aversive to humans due to a long-standing history of hunting. As such, due not only to their protected status but also to the history between wolves and humans, wolf sightings are generally uncommon except in designated wolf recovery areas. One of these more popular recovery areas is Yellowstone, which has about 95 wolves in the park alone and approximately 450 wolves in the entire Yellowstone ecosystem. If you wish to view these wondrous creatures in the wild, more information can be gathered by visiting Yellowstone’s website or the United States Fish & Wildlife’s page on wolf preservation efforts.

Don’t forget to utilize your Pocket Ranger® Rules & Regulations for related information on these wolves in your own state parks! Stay informed, and happy hunting!

Fighting for the Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse.

Image: http://www.wyofile.com/

On September 22nd, it was decided that the greater sage-grouse will not be protected under the Endangered Species Act. This news comes as a delight to ranchers, big industry leaders, and some conservationists while other environmentalists think this decision isn’t doing all it can for the sage-grouse.

These birds call eleven Western sagebrushes (the Sagebrush Sea, approximately 165 million acres) their home and are not keen to human development. They depend on the sagebrush for food, especially in the winter, and conservation of the sage-grouse would benefit many other species that also rely on the sagebrush for survival. Watching their unique mating ritual is a treat for visitors as well, one that shows the sage-grouse strutting and fanning their tail feathers about theatrically.

Greater sage-grouse doing mating dance.

A greater sage-grouse showing off his feathers and dancing in an attempt to woe some females. [Image: http://naturemappingfoundation.org/]

As development continues out West, the greater sage-grouse suffer and have been steadily declining for decades. In 2010, their populations were low enough that they should have been protected under the Endangered Species Act, however, the federal government claimed to have other priorities that led to it not being added. Some environmental groups believe this was done out of economic pressure from the oil, gas, mining, and agriculture industries.

The greater sage-grouse avoided being added to the list again due to heavily managed land-use plans by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, which ensure that public and private land will be protected and improved with the greater sage-grouse in mind. Again, however, there is a split on opinions with this ruling. Some environmental groups are saying that the ruling isn’t strict enough while big industries affected by these limitations are saying they’re too harsh. In the end, these big companies face less constricting restraints than what they would have had to endure if the bird had been listed as endangered.

Greater sage-grouse mid-flight.

Image: http://www.natgeocreative.com/

In the meantime, both sides are threatening litigation to either reduce the limitations or have the sage-grouse be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The sage-grouse’s eligibility for being listed as an endangered species will be reevaluated in five years, in which time its population will hopefully start to grow regardless of what happens in court.

National Public Lands Day

National Public Lands Day 2015 - Square Banner - Solo Hiker [Image: www.publiclandsday.org]

Image: www.publiclandsday.org

Each year, Americans are asked to set aside one day—the last Saturday in September—to “lend a hand to the lands” that we use to enjoy the outdoors. National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands, and this year, it’s taking place on Saturday, September 26th.

You can join thousands of volunteers who will gather at parks, forests, reservoirs, and other public areas to help improve and steward our nation’s natural resources. There will be opportunities to build bridges and trails, plant stream banks, restore lakes and wetlands, remove invasive plants, improve wildlife habitat, repair cultural resources and recreational facilities, and carry out hundreds of other projects. Volunteers will also learn about the importance of public lands to the nation’s environmental, economic, and social health as well as get a firsthand perspective on the problems and issues facing land managers.

If you love the outdoors, here’s your chance to give back to nature! Mark your calendar for September 26th, and find a NPLD site near you by checking the list below or visiting publiclandsday.org. And don’t forget to use our Pocket Ranger® apps during your visit to our beloved parks, forests, and lakes!

Red Rock State Park – Sedona, AZ

Maintenance and cleanup of park facilities, trails, and Oak Creek riparian areas. Park interpreters will be available for questions regarding the Oak Creek and its importance to Arizona.

Call 928-282-6907 or click here for more information.

Lake Dardanelle State Park – Russellville, AR

Join Lake Dardanelle State Park to celebrate this national cleanup event in conjunction with the Great Arkansas Cleanup to help pick up trash along the lake and throughout the community. Volunteers clean trails, shorelines, and public parks around Russellville. Following the cleanup will be a ceremony for all those who volunteered and a free lunch along with activities for the whole family.

Call 479-890-7479 or click here for more information.

The Barnacle Historic State Park – Coconut Grove, FL

Partake in a morning of park cleanup, landscape beautification, and exotic plant removal. At the conclusion of the event, Park Rangers will provide free lunch and a tour of the historic house for registered volunteers. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Call 305-442-6866 or click here for more information.

George L. Smith State Park – Twin City, GA

Saturday, September 26th is Your State Parks Day. Come out and help with park cleanup and beautification projects. Free T-shirts, water bottles and other goodies will be given to all volunteers.

Call 478-763-2759 or click here for more information.

Sterling State Park – Monroe, MI

Help collect native prairie seed from grasses and wildflowers to restore Lakeplain Prairie.

Call 517-719-2285 or click here for more information.

Tombigbee State Park – Tupelo, MS

Beginning in 2015, Toyota Mississippi will kick-off a five-year NPLD project at Tombigbee State Park. Kids Camp will be offered to children under age 12 with projects that include an interactive water conservation activity provided by Mississippi 4-H as well as painting and building bird houses and feeders. NPLD will conclude with a volunteer celebration including a BBQ lunch, fishing, disc golf, live music, and door prizes (must be present to win). Over the five years, the park will be completely renovated including cabin restoration, bridge construction, installation along nature trails, removal of invasive vegetation, planting flowers and shrubs, welcome center renovations, and overall park beautification.

Call 662-317-3038 or click here for more information.

Onondaga Cave State Park – Leasburg, MO

Attend the Green Living Fall Festival and National Public Lands Day Bio-Blitz! The day’s activities will center around villages and will contain a variety of topics, including educational activities, hands-on activities, vendors, displays and demonstrations, green products, local farming, and sustainable living. The bio-blitz, in honor of National Public Lands Day, will feature experts in a variety of scientific and ecological fields leading groups to identify and record species of flora and fauna throughout the park. The public is invited to voluntarily participate in any group. The Onondaga Friends Association will be demonstrating the making of apple butter and freshly canned jars will be available for sale along with many, many other vendor items.

Call 573-245-6576 or click here for more information.

Elk Knob State Park – Todd, NC

Head over to Elk Knob State Park for National Public Lands Day where you can help work on maintaining the Summit Trail or the new Maple Run Trail. Tools will be provided. Bring water, lunch, and work gloves and wear close-toed shoes.

Call 828-297-7261 or click here for more information.

Black Moshannon State Park – Philipsburg, PA

Help beautify Black Moshannon State Park! Projects include trail maintenance, native plant gardening, litter pickup, and planting. Pre-registration is required. Lunch will be provided and free camping is available that weekend for volunteers.

Call 814-342-5960 or click here for more information.

Bledsoe Creek State Park – Gallatin, TN

Help put together playground equipment at Bledsoe Creek State Park!

Call 615-347-3639 or click here for more information.

5 Great Nonfiction Books for Hunters and Anglers

Now that you’ve got those Christmas giftcards, it’s time to treat yourself or that uncle you forgot about to a great read. Here at ParksByNature, not only do we love nature, we also love good prose. Whether it’s hunting, angling, or general nature writing that interests you, these five essential nonfiction books for hunters and anglers will dazzle readers with their style, wit, and insight into the mysterious realm of nature.

image: www.dogeardiary.blogspot.com

Image: www.dogeardiary.blogspot.com

1. The Hidden Life of Deer by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Whenever we recommend this book to serious deer hunter friends of ours, the usual response is: “you mean that tree hugger?” If a tree hugger is somebody who spends more time in the woods than shopping at Cabelas, then count us in. Instead of telling you how deer should behave, this book records how deer actually behave. In The Hidden Life of Deer, Thomas weaves personal memoir, anthropological perspective, and a certain observational grace into a beautiful and revealing portrait of deer in the woods of New Hampshire. We’re not ashamed to say that a lot of what we know about deer hunting and behavior comes from this unique book.

image: www.goodreads.com

Image: www.goodreads.com

2. The Founding Fish by John McPhee

John McPhee is master stylist who has chronicled everything from basketball to the history of the Florida orange. He also happens to be a lifelong shad fisherman. The Founding Fish is a cultural history of American shad fishing that seamlessly blends meticulous scholarship with the ease and locality of travel writing. The book follows McPhee as he travels up and down the Eastern seaboard fishing for the mercurial shad and meditating on the fish’s importance to America’s dietary past. Did you know that George Washington’s Continental Army might have starved if it wasn’t for the spring shad run of 1778?

image: www.3riversarchery.com

Image: www.3riversarchery.com

3. A Man Made of Elk by David Petersen

This is an unusual and still obscure entry into the annals of hunting literature. One of the reasons for its slow reception is that Petersen is a dedicated traditionalist who only hunts one animal, elk, and does so with longbow, a form of technology unchanged since the 1300’s. Since longbow hunting requires getting up close and personal with the animal, Petersen has learned to act and think like an elk. This is probably the closest thing we have to a book on elk hunting written by an elk.

image: www.azstateparks.com

Image: www.azstateparks.com

4. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold

Leopold was a rare combination of philosopher, naturalist, conservationist, and hunter. A Sand County Almanac (1949) is a collection of personal essays about the wilderness of Wisconsin in which Leopold developed the modern philosophy of land conservation or “land ethic”. The book describes that era of conservation history when it was believed that the eradication of certain predatory species would increase the overall abundance of game. Leopold, as a hunter, was one of the first to see that an ecosystem was a far more complex matter.

image: www.biographile.com

Image: www.biographile.com

5. The Longest Silence by Thomas McGuane

You don’t have to be a trout fisherman to appreciate the tension and tug of McGuane’s prose. The Longest Silence is composed of 33 essays written over an equal number of years that take you everywhere from trout ponds in Michigan to fly fishing for bone fish in Florida. But the real subject of McGuane’s book is that mysterious and infinite silence between bites that every fisherman knows.