Outdoors just for kids: Dragonflies are fighter jet insects

Outdoors just for kids: Dragonflies are fighter jet insects

We take a lot of things for granted that some scientists spend a lot of time thinking about. One of those things is called “complex control.”

You are capable of complex control – information processing that allows your brain to figure out how far your arm should reach to pick up your glass of milk, how heavy that glass of milk might be if it is full compared to when it is empty, and how your arm would work with your hand to grasp the glass and raise it to your lips.

This is complicated stuff that scientists used to think only animals with backbones, called “vertebrates,” were capable of doing. Turns out they were wrong.

Scientists painted marks on a dragonfly so they could track its flight as it tried to catch flying prey. They used technology similar to what moviemakers use when they are creating animated films, as well as high-speed video to record the flight.

What the scientists discovered is that the dragonflies were not simply moving to intercept their prey like a guided missile would hit its target. The flies were adjusting their bodies in flight in a way to allow them to sneak up from underneath their prey, catching it in a basket they form with their legs. During flight, the dragonfly constantly keeps its eyes on its prey, like crosshairs focused on a target.

January 01, 2015 12:00 amLoading…
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Gear junkie: Chrome Industries takes cue from water sports world

Gear junkie: Chrome Industries takes cue from water sports world

Chrome Industries’ Bike Rolltop Backpack

Roll the top down, then buckle it shut — the procedure is common practice for anyone involved in kayaking or whitewater rafting. Not so much bikers.

But this year Chrome Industries took a cue from the water sports world with a collection of bags equipped with roll-top closures. Called the Knurled Welded line, they are constructed with heavy-duty poly/nylon and made for bike touring or foul-weather city commuting.

The line name, Knurled Welded, comes from a manufacturing process visible at the seams. The two sides of the material are knurled or dimpled to fuse together. Next, the material is welded with a radio-frequency process to create a permanent seal.

The result is a 100 percent waterproof bag. Perhaps don’t go swimming with it, as water might seep through if the top is not rolled tight enough. But in any kind of terrestrial weather your goods are safe inside.

Granted, this is not the first roll-top bike bag line. But Chrome’s take is sleek and performance-oriented, not simply an adapted dry sack with straps.

October 02, 2014 12:45 am Photos


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Wyoming outdoors: Time to offer suggestions on game birds' future

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been holding public meetings regarding the future of the game bird farms they operate. Each year the bird farms at Sheridan and Yoder raise and release more than 29,000 pheasants on habitat units such as Yellowtail Management Unit and Ocean Lake.

Birds also are released in Sheridan and Johnson counties on Wyoming state lands as well as some walk-in access areas.

The Sheridan Bird Farm has been in operation since 1937 while the Downar Bird Farm at Yoder has been operating since 1963. The pheasants raised at the farms are of top quality and have provided lots of hunting opportunity for many Wyoming hunters.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been in a fiscal bind for a number of years and has tried many different methods to balance the budget.

According to the video that Game and Fish has put out, it cost about $670,000 a year to operate the program. At present it takes about $22 to $23 to raise and release one pheasant.

October 02, 2014 12:30 amLoading…
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Pyramid Lake: A good first taste of Bob Marshall Wilderness

Pyramid Lake: A good first taste of Bob Marshall Wilderness

An unnamed lake in the Bob Marshall Wilderness makes a great rest stop on the way to Pyramid Lake. Hold out for the bigger basin, which features a look into the vast interior of the 1 million-acre wilderness complex.

SEELEY LAKE — Close enough to host a bachelor party, but far enough to experience the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Pyramid Lake serves many people their first taste of Montana’s backcountry.

A steep but relatively short hike from a trailhead above Seeley Lake, Pyramid Lake has a couple different trails to its basin. One has been decommissioned, but tracks show continued stock use on that most-direct route. The more recent alternative packs some nasty switchbacks, but nothing as rugged as the incline they replace.

There’s even an extra lake involved, although this can be a hazard if you’re hiking with younger packers. The unnamed water appears right at the point where it seems like a really good idea to quit carrying a heavy backpack. The fact that several nice campsites dot its shore and fish dimple its surface doesn’t help the argument that there’s more climbing to do.

Nor does the fact that the spur trail to Pyramid Lake has often lost its sign. While almost everyone passes near the Seeley Lake Ranger Station en route to the trailhead, that’s in the Lolo National Forest. Pyramid Lake resides in the Flathead National Forest, but is so far down its southern extent that maintenance crews from Kalispell don’t get there too often.

Keep an eye out for the spur shortly after cresting the ridge that guards the interior of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. It’s on the left, and delivers you to the lakeshore in a few minutes. Continuing down the main trail may deliver you to Choteau in a few days, if you brought enough food.

June 26, 2014 6:00 am Photos


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North Fork Flathead River: Floaters experience rare side of Glacier

North Fork Flathead River: Floaters experience rare side of Glacier

Floaters will find lots of mountain scenery, feisty cutthroat trout and good public campsites along the North Fork of the Flathead River, which borders Glacier National Park from the Canadian line to Columbia Falls.

POLEBRIDGE — It doesn’t have to be an “official” wilderness for your destination to provide a wild Montana experience.

Federally designated wild and scenic rivers run alongside many wilderness areas. The Flathead drainage provides three such waterways.

The Flathead River’s branches include 219 miles of wild, scenic or recreational passage. The Middle and South forks originate in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Hungry Horse Reservoir drowned almost half of the South Fork, but its upper reaches still qualify for wild and scenic designation. The Middle Fork has some of northwest Montana’s fiercest whitewater.

The North Fork is generally considered the main stem of the Flathead, and originates in British Columbia. Its entire 58-mile length along Glacier National Park’s western border has wild and scenic designation. While Fool Hen Rapids just north of Columbia Falls flips plenty of inexperienced boaters, only two other Class II rapids complicate the waters farther north.

The river’s west bank passes a mix of private and U.S. Forest Service land. Glacier Park manages the whole east bank, and requires backcountry permits to camp there. The passes cost $5 per person, and require users to bring a bear-resistant cooler, fire pan and personal waste removal system.

June 25, 2014 11:00 am Photos


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Drawing a Wyoming hunting tag is tough, even for Hitler

Even Hitler can't draw a tag in Wyoming. OK, so the video is politically correct, but the writing is very funny and any hunter who has applied for a tag will get the humor.

November 25, 2013 3:37 pm Video Loading…

Increases to walleye bag limits OK'd on Helena reservoirs

Adjustments were approved Thursday to yellow perch and walleye bag limits on Canyon Ferry, Holter and Hauser reservoirs in light of reduced perch numbers.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologists say that perch in Hauser and Canyon Ferry have tripped low-population trigger points and walleye numbers in Holter hit upper trigger points, which prompted them to propose changes in bag limits. The Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed with that rationale and approved the changes without comments. The changes go into effect March 1.

Walleye numbers on all three reservoirs are trending upward, and since perch are below trigger levels in the management plan, FWP is trying to help them out. Biologists believe that if they modify walleye limits now, it will reduce walleye abundance and increase perch numbers.

FWP officials believe that walleye, which were introduced into Canyon Ferry decades ago and are voracious predators, are eating the yellow perch and lowering their numbers. The state stocks trout into the fishery, but doesn’t have the capability to stock perch.

The perch bag limit on Canyon Ferry dropped from 15 to 10, and the walleye limit increased from 10 to 12. In addition, the slot limit for walleye has gone from one more than 25 inches rather than one more than 28 inches and there no longer is a limit of no more than four larger than 16 inches.

October 10, 2013 5:07 pmLoading…
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Backpacker Magazine's 'Get out more' tour stopping in Billings

Backpacker magazine’s “Get Out More” tour will make a stop in Billings at 6 p.m. on Monday at The Base Camp, 1730 Grand Ave.

Randy and Sheri Propster will present a 75-minute seminar covering these topics: Backpacking essentials, the latest in gear and apparel, survival skills and trail-tested tips. There’s no cost to attend.

The “Get out more” tour is stopping at more than 70 venues across the country over a nine-month period, inspiring hikers and backpackers to get out and explore the great outdoors.

For more information, go to: www.backpacker.com/getoutmore

August 07, 2013 12:42 pmLoading…

Community field trip set for Greater Red Lodge Area Project

The Beartooth Ranger District of the Custer National Forest is hosting a community field day on June 6 to review and gather input on the Greater Red Lodge Area Project.

The 2,150-acre fuel reduction project includes Red Lodge Creek, Nichols Creek and Willow Creek along the Beartooth Face in Carbon County.

Specialists with the Custer Forest have hosted community meetings, conducted public scoping and reviewed comments on the proposal, and this field day provides an opportunity for people to learn more about it, Beartooth District Ranger Traute Parrie, wrote in a press release.

The field trip also will provide district specialists with more information so they may incorporate comments into alternatives, she said.

Those attending the tour will be able to see firsthand many of the units where treatment is proposed.

May 20, 2013 10:00 amLoading…
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Triple-barrelled shotgun

If a double-barrel shotgun isn't comforting enough for self-defense, the Turkish gun manufacturer Chiappa has produced a shotgun with three barrels.

The Triple Threat retails for $1,629. There's also a sporting version called the Triple Crown. To see a video on it, check out the Field and Stream and Outdoor Life magazines' coverage of the 2013 SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

January 16, 2013 12:29 pmLoading…

First wildlife bills on committee agenda's on Thursday

First wildlife bills on committee agenda's on Thursday

Two bills dealing with Montana's wolf hunting laws will get their first airing at a House committee hearing on Thursday.

The Senate Fish and Game Committee and the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee will hold their first meetings of the 2013 legislative session on Thursday. Both groups meet at 3 p.m.

On the agenda for the House committee are two bills dealing with revisions to wolf hunting laws in Montana, HB 31 sponsored by Rep. Ted Washburn, R-Bozeman, and HB 73 sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend.

Among other provisions, Washburn's bill would inrease the number of wolf licenses, allow electronic calls for wolf hunting and exempt hunters from wearing orange outside of the general deer and elk seasons.

Flynn's bill includes some of the same language as Washburn's and also includes reducing the cost of a wolf hunting license for nonresidents.

One of the bills the Senate committee will consider is SB 83, sponsored by Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, that would set down new rules about transplanting bighorn sheep. Included in the bill's language is this statement: "with an emphasis on avoiding conflicts in existing land management practices and competition between mountain sheep and other species that may be detrimental to the success of the project."

January 09, 2013 10:21 amLoading…
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Amazing gigapixel photo of Khumbu Glacier

If you've ever wanted to go to Mount Everest, or just like amazing photos, check out this gigapixel photo of the Khumbu Glacier.

According to the website, the photo was shot by David Breashears during the spring of 2012 from the Pumori viewpoint near Mount Everest.

The detail is so good that you can zoom in on the Everest Basecamp to the right and see individuals, buildings and paths.

January 03, 2013 2:45 pmLoading…

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation creates elk hunting shot app

Hunters who download the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's new Lethal Shot app to their iPhone or iPad will be able to navigate 360 degrees around a virtual elk to gauge a shot's effectiveness.

Three-dimensional images allow the hunter to see an elk's body structure, both internally and externally, and improve his or her ability to acquire proficiency on shot angles. The app also provides a post-shot analysis by simulating the trajectory and learning what vital organs the bullet or arrow may have struck.

More than a year in the making, Lethal Shot is not a game. Instead, it shows elk anatomy and shot angles.

An Android version is soon to follow. The cost to download is $2.99. For more information, log on to iTunes and search for Lethal Shot.

January 03, 2013 10:34 amLoading…

New York Times produces insightful article on deadly avalanche

The New York Times has produced an excellent multimedia article on a deadly avalanche at Stevens Pass, Wash., in February that killed three skiers.

With snowpack building in the mountains, the article is a good reminder to be safe in the backcountry. One way to do that is to heed avalanche warnings. In the southwestern corner of the state, the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center produces a daily report with detailed information.

The other key is to be prepared with proper gear, including a shovel, probe, beacon and possibly one of the newer safety devices like an Avalung to increase the chances of survival if caught in a slide. It's also important to remember to not overload a slope, such as several snowmobilers playing at the same time on a hillside, and to remain out of a possible slide's travel path while others are playing.

December 24, 2012 9:59 amLoading…

Snow boosts ski areas

Snow boosts ski areas

It was a bluebird day at Big Sky last Thursday, Dec. 13.

Last week was great for Montana ski resorts as snow fell fairly steadily.

Big Sky Resort has 75 percent (2,866 acres) of its mountain open and is ahead of schedule for opening up more terrain. Last week, the mountain collected 20 inches in 10 hours at midmountain on Wednesday alone. That made for some great powder skiing.

At nearby Bridger Bowl Ski Area, the mountain is closing in on 100 inches of snow this season. Check out this crazy flyover video of the ski area.


December 17, 2012 4:59 pm Photos



Before duck hunt even starts, there's a lot to do

Before duck hunt even starts, there's a lot to do

Waterfowl season continues in Montana through this month.

BOISE -- There’s a lot to experience before the hunt begins

I stared at the 3 a.m. flashing on my bed-side clock as I set the alarm. The hour stressed me so bad I worried it would keep me awake. To make matters worse, I’m a night person, so dozing before about 10 p.m. is out of the question.

But my marching orders were clear. Be at the boat ramp on the Snake River at 5 a.m., and it takes about an hour and a half to get there.

My friend Joe Maloney of Mountain Home invited me to go duck hunting, and I wasn’t going to let a short night’s sleep stop me from going. Aside from being a great guy, he knows the Snake well, and I figured he would get us into some birds.

But 3 a.m.? Man, that gave me second thoughts. Was it worth it? 

December 07, 2012 4:30 amLoading…
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Bridger Bowl Ski Area to open Friday

Bridger Bowl Ski Area to open Friday

The snowpack may not be as deep as shown in this 2010 photo, but Bridger Bowl is still ready to open its doors for the season on Friday.

Bridger Bowl Ski Area is set to open on Friday after receiving 9 more inches of wet snow since last Thursday.

The Bozeman-area ski hill is reporting a 24-inch base at the top of its Alpine lift. However, the snowpack for the most part is still thin, so early season conditions are the norm.

The mountain will be open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. with all lifts running except for the Virginia City and Schlasman lifts.

December 05, 2012 12:40 pm Related Loading…

Stag party in Estes Park, Colo.

If you thought Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo., was an elk mecca in the fall, check out this BBC video from Estes Park, Colo.

I was particularly amazed by the people laughing after being chased by bulls. They wouldn't be laughing if the elk hooked them.

I feel sorry for the police in Estes Park, they must get tired of herding people and elk.

December 05, 2012 12:34 pmLoading…

Info sought on whitetail poachers

State game wardens are asking for help in finding who poached three white-tailed deer alongside a road south of Conrad.

On Nov. 15 an area landowner discovered two whitetail does and a fawn shot and left about 5 miles south of Conrad along a road known locally as Gravel Pit Road.

“They were shot multiple times,” said Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden Rod Duty. “It was a senseless shooting.”

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to call 1-800-TIPMONT. Rewards are available through the TIPMONT program and informants are kept confidential.

November 29, 2012 12:21 pmLoading…

Outdoor magazines support Tester's Sportsmen's Act

Montana Sen. Jon Tester's Sportsmen's Act of 2012 gained the support of two biggies in the outdoor publishing industry on Thursday.

Field & Stream and Outdoor Life issued calls to their readers and other sportsmen to contact their senators to support the act.

The bill was blocked earlier this week by Repbulican senators who said it cost too much money, although it originally had bipartisan support.

“The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 is so important to outdoor sports that it prompted us out of our reporting role and turned us into advocates,” said Anthony Licata, editorial director for Field & Stream and Outdoor Life. “This is not the time to be divisive or partisan because this is likely the most important piece of hunting and fishing legislation of our generation.”

According to Licata, the magazines do not typically endorse political candidates or legislation, so this move marks the first time in recent history that they have changed that policy.

November 29, 2012 12:07 pmLoading…
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GazOutdoors Blog

Brett French, the Gazette outdoor editor, brings you great outdoor info, advice, and events in addition to what you get in the Billings Gazette.


Brett French

Outdoors editor for the Billings Gazette.

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