Filming has begun for WildLifers 2019 hunting season. We have three trips in the can and they have all been blessedly successful. The first trip of the year was to Florida where Stephanie and Dustin went spearfishing for Lionfish. This was a first for them and they had a remarkable time. The stories I got each night when they called me were both exciting and hysterical. There was Stephanie’s story about breathing nitrox for the first time. Then Dustin thought he was going to be eaten by a grouper. I’m sure the show is going to be hysterical and something different than the norm. Some days the water clarity was great and other days the visibility wasn’t so good. On the less then good days I think their imaginations had them slightly terrified of what lurked beyond where they could see. When Stephanie told me that she wanted to go dive and spear lionfish for the show, I was questioned why. I mean it is a hunting show and normally we don’t hunt anything a hundred feet under water. She said that it was hunting because they had to hunt them to spear them. Secondly, she gave me the reasons as to why people in the area wanted them hunted and after that I was all in.  Lionfish are not native to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico; they are native to the Indo-Pacific regions of the world. No one really knows how this evasive species made it into the Atlantic Ocean system but it is speculated that much of the problem began by people throwing their aquarium fish out into the ocean. These fish are carnivorous and mostly feed on small crustaceans and small snapper and grouper. The snapper and grouper is a vital part of commercial fishing and the depredation by lionfish negatively impacts the fishing opportunity for commercial fishermen. Data on the amount of impact lionfish actually have on native fish and reef life is still under investigation. However, we do know that non-native species have a huge negative impact on ecosystems and local fisheries. Lionfish are venomous and have been known to cause finger loss as well as infection. With that information and the fact that spearfishing is a lot of fun, why not go hunt them down and have fun doing it?!

The second hunt that’s been filmed thus far was a bear hunt in New Mexico. In years past, this hunt has been one of the hunts that we get the most grief over concerning those that disagree with hunting. Comments such as, “Hunting with dogs is unfair”, “This is hunting” along with many other less then positive comments come our way every year after this hunt. I don’t know if it is a lack of knowledge about using hounds to catch bear or what causes people to feel the need to speak negatively towards it but it is unwarranted. If one knows a hounds men they will see that the hounds are cared for better then most people. Aside from that the use of hounds almost always ends with the ability to see the bear in very close proximity and decide if it is one that needs to be taken or one that needs to be let go. More often then not we release more bear then we take on this hunt. Aside from that it is a passion for the hound owner and the single most effective way to control this type of predator. Negativity towards the use of hounds is unwarranted and needless commentary.

The annual female veteran and law enforcement antelope hunt went off with yet another year of 100% success in New Mexico. I attended this hunt as one of the still photographers for sponsors and am not sure that I’ve ever had a better time on a hunt.  It is nothing short of a privilege to help these first responder and veterans have a wonderful experience.  We laughed, some cried, and all had a great time. Tri State Outfitters, whom we have hunted with for almost 30 years continues to be, in my opinion, the best big game operation in the entire USA.

We are currently in Utah and Colorado looking for mule deer, and I’m not going to ruin the surprise about how it is going. More mule deer, whitetail, and elk are in the near future. Tags were finally drawn in Iowa and I can’t explain my excitement level to hunt this state. Kansas and Colorado have whitetail awaiting our arrival. Of course, waterfowl season is approaching. We have a great line up for that as well. We look forward to adventures and pray for success. We are beyond blessed to be able to do this each and every day.