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A whole lot of first-time boat buyers

by Outdoorsnews Staff

The National Marine Manufacturers Association and Info-Link, a market intelligence firm serving the recreational boating industry, reported that 420,000 first-time boat buyers of new and pre-owned boats entered the market in 2021, on par with 2020 – levels the industry hasn’t seen since 2007.

First-time boat buyers accounted for 34 percent of boat sales in 2021, driving growth for the recreational boating industry and further reinforcing heightened demand for boats since the outset of the pandemic.

“The boating industry has seen tremendous growth the last two years as more Americans discovered the freedoms, special moments and accessibility of the boating lifestyle, giving us valuable momentum and creating a strong foundation. Maintaining this momentum is especially important given potential headwinds including competition for consumer spending in the leisure market, inflation on everything from gas and groceries to furniture and apparel, continued supply chain disruptions, and the war in Ukraine,” noted Ellen Bradley, NMMA senior vice president of marketing and communications.First Time Boat Buyers

“The industry should be thinking strategically about how to manage through these impacts while reinforcing efforts to retain new boat owners, engage long-time customers, and attract the next generation.”

“This is the second consecutive year we’ve seen the number of first-time boat buyers surpass 415,000 – reaching pre-recession levels – an encouraging indicator of growth for the boating industry,” noted Jack Ellis, managing director, Info-Link Technologies. “We expect the trajectory of first-time boat buyers to soften as boat sales begin to normalize following a record couple of years. However, 2022 should see healthy levels of new boat owners enter the market as manufacturers work to refill the pipeline and fulfill the backlog of new orders.”

— Fishing Wire


Introduction to Water

Patience and encouragement are the keys to this fundamental step in your retriever’s training

by Tom Davis

In the popular imagination, retriever puppies take to the water immediately and without hesitation. They’re as happily at home in it as ducks are.

In the real world, though, it’s not always that simple. “I’ve seen three-month-old pups swim 25 yards to retrieve a bumper,” acknowledges professional trainer Chris Yielding, of Backwater Cypress Retrievers in Ward, Arkansas. “But most pups need more time than that to develop their confidence in the water. It’s something you have to work up to gradually.”

The importance of introducing your pup to water at an early age can’t be overemphasized, Yielding says. “You want him to get his feet wet when he’s young and impressionable. A pup that’s been exposed to the water at an early age, say two months old or so, has a real leg up in his training compared to an eight- or nine-month-old pup that’s never seen the water.”

Here’s how Yielding describes his basic process: “After you’ve had your pup for a couple of weeks, take him to a pond or other body of water where the bottom slopes down very gradually from shore. Wade out into it yourself, splash around a little to pique the pup’s interest, and encourage him to join you in the fun. Toss a small bumper or tennis ball a few feet from shore and let him get accustomed to wading out to get it. Then, when he does, praise him up one side and down the other. You want this to be the most positive, enjoyable experience he can possibly have, and you never, ever, want to insert anything negative into it. All that will do is set you back.”

Once your pup is comfortable splashing around in the shallows, you can start to increase the distance that you toss the bumper. What frequently happens, says Yielding, is that the pup will get to the point where he can retrieve the bumper while still keeping all four feet on the bottom, but that’s as far as he’ll go. This is when Yielding begins stretching the distance in the smallest possible increments, literally inches at a time, to let the pup’s desire to retrieve conquer his fear of the unknown.

“You have to go at the dog’s pace,” he adds. “It may not be the pace we as trainers would like to go, but you can’t be in a hurry. I worked with one dog for nearly three months to get him to overcome his fear of the water. I can still picture him stretched out on his tippy-toes, trying his darnedest to retrieve that bumper without leaving his feet. Once he got past his fears, he became as automatic a water retriever as you’ve ever seen.”

If your pup needs some extra help in taking that last step, Yielding recommends donning your waders, wading out just deep enough so that the pup will have to swim, and calling him to you while clapping your hands, using the most encouraging, enthusiastic tones you can. “A lot of pups,” Yielding explains, “feel more confident swimming toward you than away from you. You’re their security blanket at that age, so you can turn that to your advantage.”

Another proven tactic is to get the pup’s competitive juices flowing, whether by holding him on a lead while an older dog makes a few retrieves or even letting him get in the water with the older retriever.

You can also sweeten the pot by taping a wing to the bumper, throwing an actual bird (although a mallard-sized bird may be too big a mouthful for a young pup), or tossing a wing-clipped pigeon, whose frantic action on the water is irresistible to all but the most reticent pups.

“I’m a schoolteacher as well as a dog trainer,” Yielding notes, “and I tell my training clients that dogs and kids aren’t that different. They all learn at their own pace, and what works with one may not work with another. The bottom line is that you need to do whatever you can do to entice that pup to pull the trigger and decide for himself that he’s going to do this.”


Minnesota Moms Fish Free May 7-8

During Take a Mom Fishing Weekend Saturday, May 7, to Sunday, May 8, moms who live in Minnesota can fish without purchasing a license.

The Minnesota State Legislature established this special weekend in 1988 to coincide with Mother’s Day. Most years, the fishing opener and Take a Mom Fishing Weekend are on the same weekend, but not this year. On Take a Mom Fishing weekend, fishing is open for many species like crappie, sunfish, catfish, or native fish like buffalo, sucker, bullhead or sheepshead. Walleye and northern pike seasons will open the following weekend on Saturday, May 14.

More details: Find fishing information and regulations


DNR researchers optimistic about moose population well-being, immediate future

by Minnesota DNR Reports

For the 11th year in a row, Minnesota’s moose population remains relatively stable. The 2022 population survey estimates the moose population at 4,700, statistically unchanged from the last survey, which was conducted in 2020.

Although there is no statistically significant change in the estimated population relative to 2020, this year’s estimated number of moose is the highest since 2011, when the population was midway through a steep decline.

Additionally, calves comprised an estimated 19% of the population and the estimated calf-cow ratio was 45 calves per 100 cows. This is the highest both indicators have been since 2005, when the population was near its peak and considered healthy. Both factors are indicators of potential improvement in reproductive success, which has a positive impact on population numbers.

While the continued population stability and indicators of reproductive success are good news, DNR researchers point out that Minnesota moose remain at risk long term. Presently, the moose population is 47% lower than its peak in 2006.

Both the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the 1854 Treaty Authority contributed funding and personnel for the 2022 annual survey. The survey is available on the DNR’s moose management page (


Should I stop feeding birds because of avian flu?

by Sharon Stiteler

The short answer to the headline atop this blog: Yeah, probably.

Long answer: Am I going to judge you if you keep your bird feeders filled because it is the one damn thing that got you through the past two years? Nope.

If you stop offering seed will the birds starve? Not a healthy bird. They know how to find food from a variety of sources.

Will closing down your bird feeders stop the spread of the virus? It won’t stop it, but it will slow the spreas.

Pandemics just don’t seem to stop do they? And now we have HPAI or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (it’s highly contagious to other birds). There have been lots of reports of waterfowl with a new highly contagious form of avian influenza this year, and they migrating north and spreading it to other species this spring. Birds already are affected in Minnesota. The main wildlife rehab center in Minnesota has stopped taking in certain species of birds including ducks, geese, herons, and gulls. As of this writing, they have not advised people to stop feeding birds. The University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center has stopped all public tours and sees a 90 to 100% fatality rate in infected birds of prey brought to them. They have advised people to stop feeding birds. There have been reports of blue jays, crows, and ravens all testing positive for it. Most recently, a well-known great horned owl nest at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis failed with all the owlets and adults dying as a result of the virus.

This is just what we know about wild birds. As of this writing, seven flocks of poultry in Minnesota have tested positive for HPAI and all have been killed. Millions of poultry around the country have been culled due to HPAI infections.

The virus is so contagious that an infected duck could fly over a yard, poop, and that poop landing in the yard could spread very easily to other birds. Ducks that are congregating on open for migration are spreading it to each other. Birds of prey like great horned owls that would see a sick duck will eat it and feed it to their young and all get the virus and die. Blue jays and crows could scavenge a duck carcass with HPAI and then they have it. Blue jays will also visit your bird feeder, potentially spreading it to other birds. We don’t know what effect HPAI will have songbirds – this is all happening very fast and we don’t have the resources to study it. And study takes time. We don’t know if HPAI will be as lethal to songbirds as it is to waterfowl, birds of prey, and domestic poultry.

I’m getting ready to move to Alaska this week so my bird feeders already were scheduled to go empty. But I have lots of native plants in the yard specifically to attract birds. There are certain areas the sparrows congregate to get seeds that fall from my native plant seed heads. Two days ago I was walking the neighborhood and two dozen robins and a few waxwings were all concentrated in a crabapple feeding around each other. Red-winged blackbirds and grackles are passing through in large flocks, making stops in wetlands around ducks and then visiting our yards with or without bird feeders. They may forage on the ground alongside a pair of robins. This will all spread HPAI regardless of bird feeders. Even though my bird feeders are coming down this week, I still have set up situations where they will congregate. Heck, when it rains, any puddle is a huge bird magnet. I can’t control the puddles.

This time of year, Upper Midwest wildlife biologists recommend that bird feeding stop anyway to prevent hungry bears from scavenging the feeders. You should absolutely stop feeding birds if you or your neighbors have backyard chickens, ducks, or even pet birds inside. If I still had my cockatiel, I would even consider taking shoes off outside and keeping them outside and have a shoes that are for inside the house only.

You should absolutely stop feeding birds if you see a bird that is showing signs of illness in your yard or at your feeder. Signs include sitting puffed up and eyes half closed for long periods of time. A bird that allows you to approach too closely, or is having trouble walking or flying, or is shaking its head or has trouble maintaining any kind of balance is also showing signs of illness. When this happens you should cease feeding for at least week regardless if it’s HPAI, house finch conjunctivitis, or salmonella. And your feeders should be cleaned with a mild solution of bleach and water.

In some ways this feels like the start of West Nile Virus. Back then I did pick-up for The Raptor Center and so many birds of prey were affected, I wondered if we would have any red-tailed hawks left when it was over. I remember dead crows all over the place. Those species bounced back. I hope if we stop feeding birds for a time that will slow down the spread to give birds with immunity a chance to catch up and put more chicks into bird populations.

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