Outdoor Recreation – Traditional Hunting for Small Game Animals

Outdoor hunt sports are experiencing renewed interest today. In the 1960′s there was an awakening and recognition of a need to return to nature and traditional ways of living. Those who left the city, returning to the country, discovered two things. First, a lot of folks still lived in the country where hunting and fishing were a way of life, not just an activity during vacation. Second, there is great aesthetic, even spiritual satisfaction from harvesting what you consume from your own garden, from the woods, and from the lakes and the ocean.

Hunting large and small game has been at the core of a natural lifestyle forever. Although it is a classic traditional American recreation, it is much more than that. Each year millions of parents take to the woods with their kids and grandchildren to enjoy the outdoors, to learn about wildlife and to teach them how to hunt and fish, and to appreciate and respect nature and our place in it. If you ask a wide cross section of the population you’ll hear that many of their best memories are of hunting and fishing with dad and grandpa.

Hunting rabbits, ducks and squirrels put food on the table for our great grand-parents and grandparents. It was a way of life then and still is.

If you pick up an outdoors or hunting magazine there are a lot of pages devoted to deer hunting. One hunter is likely to ask another, “Did you bag a deer this year?” That’s a little misleading. Today the most widely-hunted game animals in the country, now and for generations, have been rabbits and squirrels. There are a number of good reasons for this. These animals are everywhere, widely distributed, abundant, easy to bag and prepare, and they’re delicious.

Rabbits and hares are found virtually everywhere throughout North America and into Central America. Every state has at least one species. Most states have more.

Rabbits are highly adaptive. They’re found in most every environment. As a result they are often abundant. While all species eat only vegetable matter, their diet is flexible. What they eat depends on their home territory. They have a deserved reputation for eating just about anything, sometimes everything. When food is plentiful, rabbit populations explode. Hunters can count on finding them near agricultural areas.

Rabbits are not true nocturnal feeders. They feed at dawn and dusk when both night and daylight predators have difficulty seeing. That makes those twilight hours the best times for us to hunt them. When food is readily available and predators are few, rabbits become less alert and are fairly easily taken, even by less experienced hunters.

Rabbits, like all small game, should be field dressed as soon as possible so the meat doesn’t become tainted. They are fairly easy to prepare for cooking. Skinning them is not a major chore, but is easier before they become cold or frozen.

Rabbits, squirrels and some other small game can contract tularemia, a bacterial infection, transmitted from ticks. Gloves should be worn when skinning and preparing them. The meat should always be fully cooked prior to eating it.

Squirrels are the second most-hunted game animal in North America, for most of the same reasons as rabbits. Hunters focus almost exclusively on the three dominant species of tree squirrels, of which the eastern and western gray squirrels are the most available.

Like rabbits, squirrels will adapt their diet to what’s available. They can also become pests to farm crops.

Most states confine hunting to the Fall season, but a few have a Spring hunting season, as well. Wildlife management departments in those states say that two hunting seasons have no negative effect on the populations.

Squirrel is very easy to prepare for cooking. The meat is delicious. There are dozens of traditional recipes, many with distinctly regional accents and ingredients.

Much has been said and written to praise the many merits of small game hunting. It emphasizes a close relationship with and appreciation of the natural world in which we live, It teaches responsibility, tradition and strengthens family bonds. One of it’s greatest rewards is the simple pleasure of sitting down to a meal of food you’ve grown and game you’ve brought home and cooked.

If you can hunt, there’s no need to fear the higher costs of living today. You will be self-reliant. Take along a practical outdoor survival knife just in case you need it. Afterward, your game will make a great meal.

Top 10 Big Game Animals at Kruger National Park in South Africa

1. Cape Buffalo – One of the biggest attractions for visitors to Kruger National Park in South Africa is the Cape Buffalo. This is one of the top game animals for any hunter or wildlife enthusiast, and there are more than twenty-five thousand of these animals in the park. The Cape Buffalo is large and impressive, and is one of the top animals that big game hunters look for.

2. Lion – The majestic African lion has always held an allure for big game hunters, and for those who enjoy watching wildlife. A visit to the Kruger National Park offers around fifteen hundred opportunities to see these big cats in their natural habitat. Watch them hunt and frolic, and listen to their roars fill the air as you explore the park.

3. Elephant – Elephants are one of the largest and most difficult animals to hunt, and watching them in their natural habitat in Kruger National Park is a scene you will not soon forget. The park is home to almost twelve thousand elephants, and they are a common sight on safaris.

4. Leopard – The leopard is one of the top big game animals in South Africa, because of the danger, cunning, and quickness of this big cat. Kruger National Park has a population of around one thousand leopards, and these cats are an incredible sight to watch as they run across the terrain in search of food, or use their speed and cunning to take down a meal.

5. Rhinoceros – Kruger National Park features both white rhinoceros and the much rarer black variety, and these big game animals are a must see for anyone on safari or a big game hunt. You will find between three and four hundred black rhinoceros, and more than ten thousand of the white variety.

6. Crocodiles – Crocodiles can be viewed as one of the deadliest animals on earth, and there are many of these animals in the Kruger National Park. The wildebeest, impala, and other natural food sources make the park ideal as a habitat for crocodiles as well.

7. Impala – Impala have always been a favorite big game for hunters, because of the quickness and difficulty in catching this animal. With more than ninety thousand of these animals in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, sighting them is not difficult. Seeing the animal in their natural setting allows you to fully appreciate their grace and speed.

8. Hippopotamus – The hippopotamus is one of the most impressive creatures found anywhere, and they are not known for a sweet disposition. One of these animals can kill a crocodile, making them one of the top game animals found in Kruger National Park.

9. Cheetah – The cheetah is considered one of the top predators and fastest animals in South Africa, and watching one run is incredible. There are only around two hundred in the entire Kruger National Park area, and they are elusive in many cases.

10. Blue Wildebeest – Blue wildebeest can be found in the Kruger National Park in large numbers, with almost ten thousand within the park borders. They are very fast, and during the migration can be seen in large herds traveling together.

Alaska – Bison Big Game Animal

The American bison is one of several big game animals in Alaska. The bison was transplanted to Alaska from Montana in 1928, after becoming almost extinct in America. Twenty of these animals were delivered to an area around Delta Junction and by 1985 the population had grown to approximately 700.

The bison is a spectacular animal in size, measuring six feet at the shoulders, almost ten feet long and weighing over a ton. The head and front quarters are the largest part of the body, making this section look out of proportion to the hind quarters, which are smaller.

The bison sheds its coat in the spring of the year, after winter is over. Then, in the fall, it grows its winter coat, which is a rich, dark brown color. The coat changes color during the winter and by spring is a lighter color. Bison bulls have large, heavy horns that curve upward. Cows’ horns are lighter and not as large.

Calves are born anytime from May to August and at first have a brownish red coat. At ten weeks old, this brownish red coat starts to darken and about five weeks later, turns to the dark brown color. They are very active almost immediately after birth, being able to run and kick their hind legs up in the air about three hours after birth. They also begin grazing at an early age – about six days old. They will stay with their mother, following her until the next spring, when they are about a year old, before they venture out on their own.

These animals are natural grazing animals, but in Alaska, their food is only found along rivers and areas where fires have burnt old vegetation growth and created fresh foliage. They eat various grasses, also silverberry, willow and ground birch. Since Alaskan winters are extremely severe, it can be hard for the bison to survive. Their thick layers of hair and plenty of stored fat are an advantage to them in surviving the cold winds and temperatures. In fact, strong winter winds tend to benefit the bison, as the winds will blow the snow, preventing it from accumulating and becoming too deep. The healthy bison usually survives the winters.

They migrate to a winter range in the northwest around Farewell Lake, where there are many small rivers and ponds with vegetation available for them to eat. They are able to smell food beneath deep snow and they use their huge bodies to push the snow away to get to the food.

Bison hunts have to be controlled to prevent the population from overburdening the limited range areas. Hunting bison is a challenge, as stalking them is difficult; and bringing them down also is quite a feat. They are the hardest of all Alaska’s big game to bring down. Their meat tastes much like beef and is delicious to eat.

Bears and wolves are predators of bison calves, but usually do not have much luck, as the adult bison will fight to protect the calves. All predators will leave adult bison alone, because of their size, which intimidates and their large horns, which they use to fight with, and can easily kill another animal. They are second only to the black bear for viciousness towards any threatening creature.

Approximately sixty million bison roamed the Great Plains from Mexico to Canada and north into Alaska up until the nineteen century. Then came the insurgence of settlers crossing the United States. They killed thousands of bison mainly for their hides. Before this, the Plains Indians depended on bison for their food and hides. The Indians used the hides to make their clothes, their tents, etc. The bison had a great economical value for the Indians.

Alaska is proud of this big game animal and provides conservation to preserve their herds of bison, with some living on ranches and others in protected areas.

Tips On Professional Video Game Testing

Being a professional video game tester is a dream job. Most gamers would love the chance to be able to play great video games and get paid for it. Unfortunately though, most gamers think that paid video game testing is too far out of reach and will remain a dream forever. Well luckily, it’s not a �dream� and anybody can be a paid video game tester with the right amount of experience and guidance.

The following tips should help you get started with a career in professional video game testing.

Tip 1: Don’t Wait For Jobs to Find You, Get Out There and Find Them.
Video game tester jobs are not going to fall from the sky, so you can’t expect to find them with a few glances at the Sunday newspaper. Therefore, instead of just sitting around and waiting, be proactive and actually chase those high paying testing jobs.

Make a beeline straight toward the game developers and present your case, no matter how poor or excellent it might be. Let them know who you are, what you do (game tester), and why you would make a great addition to their team/project.

It’s important to remember that developers aren’t going to hire you on the spot; so, don’t let rejection get you down. They have lots of video game testers applying for projects and jobs, which means they can literally be as picky as they want to be. With that being said, be as confident as you can and be sure to let them know of all your gaming accomplishments and deeds. They should know about what games you play frequently, what consoles you own, what communities you are apart of, and any websites/blogs you own or help operate. No matter what the gaming accomplishment, big or small, it will help with landing you a job.

Tip 2: Don’t Think “Hobby with Pay”, Think “Career With Benefits!”
You have to keep in mind that developers pay video game testers as part of a job. They are not paying testers to merely enjoy video games at their own expense. Therefore, when you land a testing job, don’t simply play it to have fun; play it like you are earning a paycheck. Does that mean you can’t have any fun? No; it simply means you shouldn’t make “fun” your top priority while testing video games.

If you take each and every testing job seriously and give it your all, you should have a much more successful game testing career.

Tip 3: Know What To Expect
The biggest part of being a professional video game tester is knowing the golden rule; which is “You are paid to test games, not to play them.” There may be a fine line between the two, but any real game tester will tell you that the difference is definitely there.

The subtle difference between testing and playing is, well, work. A game tester will have to do actual work, such as filing reports & filling out questionnaires; as opposed to a regular game player, who will just relax and play the game at a leisurely pace. Admittedly, the work isn’t back breaking, but it is work nonetheless.

The questionnaires are the easier part of game testing, as all the video game tester has to do is answer some general questions about the game and give his/her honest opinion. The reports, on the other hand, are a bit more difficult to do. These reports need to be filed on every bug/glitch that the tester comes across, and they have to be remarkably accurate. In each report, the video game tester has to describe what happened, where it happened, and how it happened. With this detailed information in hand, the developers & programmers will then fix the problem and find out why it happened in the first place. Every video game goes through this basic cycle, which is precisely why video game testers are so vital to the gaming industry.

As you can see, there really isn’t all that much work involved with video game testing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious profession.

Tip 4: Build up a Network of Reliable Contacts.
Networking is a crucial part of professional video game testing. Although it is quite possible to have a prosperous career without a reliable network, having one just makes things easier.

A network of contacts can actually help your career in many different ways. The biggest thing it can do is give you heads up about new job openings and testing assignments that have been announced. Also, some of your contacts can even act as valuable references when applying for testing jobs. And, as if those two things weren’t enough, your network can give you the inside scoop about what’s going on behind closed doors.

Much like a video game tester job, a reliable network is not going to just jump out at you. Therefore, you will have to build it up all on your own. The best way to do that is by getting to know the industry and the people who work in it. Anyone that spends time around video games (professionally, of course) can be included in your network; game testers, developers, programmers, concept artists, art designers, graphics designers, technical support specialists, audio specialists, etc. Basically, if they know video games and work with video games, you want them in your network.

Tip 5: Don’t Give Up. Keep Trying!
The unfortunate fact is that you are not going to land a video game tester job whenever you want one. As a matter of fact, it may be weeks or even months before you land your first testing job. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have what it takes; it just means you have to keep trying & giving it your best. Not many newcomers start off at the top of their game, which means you likely won’t either. Hence, just give it time. After a few months and a few jobs, you should be able to get your footing and begin advancing in your career as a professional video game tester.

Why It’s Important To Know The Droppings Of Each Big Game Animal

Just the other day I was out hiking with a few of my friends in the mountains. We happened to come across a big pile of droppings that had been left by a very large big game animal. At first we were stumped as to what it could’ve been. The shape of the droppings looked like elk but the pile was way to big to be elk. So we were kind of left dumfounded for a few minutes, then it hit us that it was left by a big moose. And about an hour later that theory was confirmed. As we spotted the culprit a few hundred yards down the trail slowly grazing along.

The reason that it stumped us was because we’ve been hiking and hunting this same area for about 15+ years and have never seen elk this high before but it was not uncommon to see moose on this trail. However the droppings looked very similar if not almost an exact match in shape to elk. And as we continued hiking we began to look out for other droppings to see if we could identify them. We did come across some other droppings that were also huge, but were separated instead of bunched up like elk or moose and were much more oval shaped. And we knew that those could have only been left by a big mule deer buck. Also it was way too high on the mountain to be elk and a moose would also never venture that high. However they were big enough that they could’ve been elk if the shape wasn’t a dead give away.

So why is it important for us hunters to know what the droppings of the animals that we hunt look like? There are a few reasons but one of the obvious reasons is so that you know which type of big game animals are or aren’t in the area. Especially if it’s a new area to you. If you live out west then there are a variety of big game animals to hunt that could possibly be living in the same area. But usually where the elk are the deer aren’t – at least in Utah. So you may be scouting out a new area for mule deer and it may be an area where the majority of the animals living there are elk. So not an ideal place for you to hunt mule deer. As a matter of fact the place that I hunt elk every year has very few if any mule deer. I’m very surprised if and when I do happen to see mule deer in this area. And it’s usually only one or two does every couple of years that are just passing through. But the area looks like it could be a great place for mule deer.

Another reason is because when you find fresh droppings which we all do, you want to know which animal just left that pile. It can definitely aid you in filling your tag. I’ve killed several animals by first finding their fresh droppings then making a stalk on them.

Some big game’s droppings look very similar so it’s good to know the difference between all of them.

I recommend doing an image search on the internet for the various kinds of droppings left by all of the big game animals in North America. It’s also fun just to know which animal’s droppings you’re looking at whether they’re elk, deer, moose, mountain lion, bear or coyote. I learned each animal’s droppings by my father teaching me as we would be out hunting or hiking. This was way back before the Internet though. Now we can easily do a search and find hundreds of great photos.

Be safe and good hunting my friends.

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