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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Striking facts about lightning

Many years ago, Tom Van Pelt and I were fishing for bullheads after dark in the remote southeast bay of Big Moose Lake. Bullheads were biting and we ignored the distant rumble of thunder and flashes of lightning on the northern horizon. A few minutes later the rain came down in buckets and the sky lit up like a July 4 fireworks display. Thunder echoed off the nearby mountains and it seemed like one continuous explosion.
Sitting in that aluminum boat with only a 2 ½ hp motor and the lightning cracking all around us, I was sure that we were going to be “toast” at any minute. But miraculously we escaped and the storm rapidly moved on. We escaped being a statistic that day but we have had a healthy respect for thunderstorms ever since.
Actuaries and statisticians will tell you that an average of 51 people per year are killed by lightning in the United States. They point out that many other common occurrences are more likely to kill you. That may be true but why tempt fate and become one of the unlucky ones?
Millions of lightning strikes bombard the USA every year. Although cloud to ground strikes are only about 25 percent of the total strikes, a typical lightning storm produces three or more strikes to earth per minute.
An average of 20,000 people in the world are hit by lightning each year. The amazing thing is that 90 percent of the people hit by lightning survive. They were evidently not in the main path of the electrical charge. Survivors often suffer severe injury to their internal organs and central nervous system.
Fishermen or boaters are the group in the USA that is far more likely to be hit by lightning than any other. Not only are they vulnerable by being a boat with fishing rods, antennae, etc. out in the middle of a body of water, they are often caught in a storm. Many fishermen will venture too far out on a large lake in search of fish and be unable to safely return to land before the fast moving storm hits. We also know some fishermen who stubbornly refuse to quit fishing and hope that the storm will pass around them.
Lightning is caused by an electrical build up of negative charges, usually on the bottom of a fast moving cloud. This negative charge travels to another positively charged area in another cloud or the ground. This huge spark of electricity follows the path of least resistance so tall buildings, trees, or the highest object in any area are likely to provide that route.
We all know that standing under a tall tree or being in a boat out in the middle of the lake are things that you want to avoid. You should also avoid unsafe buildings, carports, pavilions, tents or golf shelters. The electrical charge can also pass near or even through you in those areas.
Cars or enclosed shelters are the safest place to be during an electrical storm. Stay away from electrical wires, phone lines, water pipes and open doors or windows. If you are caught out in the open you should crouch low but do not kneel, sit or lie on the ground.
Despite the old saying, lightning does strike twice in the same place. Contrary to popular opinion you can be struck by lightning miles ahead of the storm. Lightning can strike 10 miles outward so if you can see it or hear the thunder you are already in danger.
This doesn’t mean that you should spend all season in your house with the windows shut and the air conditioning on! It does mean that you should be aware of conditions and storm warnings and not venture out too far from shore in your boat on those days. Wherever you are you can keep an eye and an ear tuned for storms approaching and seek safe shelter in a timely manner. With precautions and common sense (and luck) you can avoid being a statistic.
IFHCNY: The Independent Fur harvesters of Central New York held its August meeting with lengthy discussion of the club’s future. Members are urged to sell tickets on the bear hunt because this is the club’s biggest fundraiser. They will be attending the Carpenter’s Brook Sportsmans Days on Sept. 26 and 27. They will also have a Trapper Training Class on Oct. 3 at the Pompey Rod and Gun Club. The next meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 10 with food served at 5:30 p.m. and meeting at 6.
Youth Goose Hunt: The Oneida County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs and ECOs are again teaming up to offer a special youth goose hunt to youngsters who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go goose hunting. Youngsters must have completed their hunter safety course beforehand.
There will be a meeting with parents, ECOs and hunter mentors; target practice and other preparation for the next day’s hunt. This year’s hunt will take place on the weekend of Sept. 19 and 20. Youngsters will have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for goose hunting and then actually experience it with the guidance of an ECO or hunter mentor in the field.
The program is open to youths ages 12–17. A small game license and an HIP number is necessary for all youngsters. Youths ages 16-17 will also need a federal wildfowl stamp. Interested participants should contact Scott Faulkner (225-0192), ECO Steve Lakeman (734-0648) or ECO Ric Grisolini (240-6966) for an application for this program. Space in the program is limited so be sure to register early.
Ladies and Youth Day VNSP: Ladies of all ages and youths ages 12–16 (boys and girls) are invited to a day of adventure, fun and learning skills provided free thanks to grants by the local Friends of NRA. The day will be Saturday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Vernon National Shooting Preserve on Burns Road, Vernon Center. Activities include a pheasant hunt with guides, personal instruction in shotgun skills with certified instructors and shooting trap and sporting clays.
Meals include a light breakfast, lunch and snacks and beverages throughout the day. Participants need to bring a shotgun. Ammunition (12 and 20 gauge) will be provided. A Hunter Safety Course certificate is required for all youth shooting and for ladies to hunt pheasants. The event is limited to 50 participants. Reserve your spot early by calling Ralph Meyer (264-1087) or Lynne Pletl (527-4016).
DEC Pilot Project To Improve Public Input On Deer Populations: There will be an increased opportunity for public input in deer management decision-making under a pilot project launched by the state DEC. This new project will incorporate modern technology and gather input directly from a broader cross-section of New Yorkers.
DEC is initiating this pilot effort in Central New York and has selected a 1,325-square-mile group of three WMUs (7H, 8J and 8S). The pilot project will include embarking on a broad-scale education effort this fall to develop public understanding of the process, share results of the survey and convey information to the public regarding deer impacts, management issues and challenges in general.
Solicitation of input will be more far-reaching and representative than collecting opinions on a limited one-on-one basis. DEC biologists will base final objectives for deer population change on whether the public recommendation is compatible with existing levels of deer impacts on forests. Results of the process will be shared with the public, serving as an audit on the pilot system, and providing feedback for improving the process before expanding it to other WMU aggregates in the future.
The original process involved the selection of a relatively small group of citizens, usually 8 to 12 individuals, each representing a particular stake in the deer population level in a WMU. Members included farmers, hunters, motorists, foresters, landowners and others having an interest in the size of a unit’s deer herd. The group, as a whole then debated the merits of the various positions and settled on one collective recommendation to the DEC on which direction the local deer population should go and by how much.


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