Gadling gear review: Bushnell HD Torch flashlight

The Bushnell HD Torch flashlightLets face it, a flashlight is one of the most useful pieces of gear that we can own. Who amongst us hasn’t found themselves caught in the dark and wishing we had a bright light to help find our way. Flashlights come in handy around the house, in the car, and even when we travel, and the HD Torch from Bushnell is one of the most versatile and useful of all, even if it does come with a hefty price tag.

Built from lightweight, yet very rugged, aircraft grade aluminum, the first thing you’ll notice about the HD Torch is that it feels very solid and tough in your hand. The high quality construction inspires a sense of confidence that this light can take a beating and still be ready for action when you need it, whether that’s around the house during a power outage or at your campsite at the end of a long day on the trail.

Cranking out 165 lumens, the HD Torch offers plenty of light when and where you need it, but that level of illumination isn’t the only thing that sets it apart from the competition. While the output from most flashlights is round in shape, Bushnell’s offering is actually square. The result is a very focused beam of light, that provides more intensity across the length of the beam than most other offerings, which tend to see their light diffuse more on the edges. When I first read about this feature, I thought that it was simply a marketing ploy, but seeing it in action, the square design does indeed make for a more efficient light. It was actually quite astounding to see it in action.
Bushnell incorporated some other nice features into the HD Torch that users will appreciate as well. For instance, the light has a very useful “find me” feature which illuminates the “B” on the rear of the cylinder, making it easy to locate in the dark. That same “B” changes color from green to red to indicate the remaining battery life on the light too. When it turns red, its time to change the power cells. The HD Torch is waterproof and has both high-beam and a safety strobe modes, the latter of which can be used to signal for help in an emergency. While burning at full strength, the Torch has a run time of about 90 minutes, although while I tested the flashlight, I found that it managed to eek out a bit more time than that.

While the HD Torch is indeed a well built, rugged, and bright flashlight, there are a couple of things that may give travelers pause. First, it is a bit large, measuring over nine inches in length and weighing in at about 10 ounces. For a high performance light those specs are actually fantastic, but when compared with other travel options, the HD Torch may not be the best choice to take along on your trip. A small headlamp remains a better option for those who want to pack light.

The other thing that sticks out about this flashlight is the price tag. With an MSRP of $109.95, it is more expensive than other options for travelers, even if it does perform at a higher level. Depending on your needs however, the Bushnell HD Torch is a fantastic alternative. Hunters and campers will definitely appreciate its rugged build and very bright light, which truly show their strength while out in the field. This is a piece of gear that will prove itself useful around the house or in the car, and I more than recommend it in those situations. That said, there are clearly less expensive options available for travelers.

Alaska may ban the use of Tasers on wildlife (Yes! Wildlife!)

Alaska could become the first state to ban the use of Tasers on wildlifeAlaska may become the first state in the U.S. to ban the use of Tasers on wildlife after the state’s Board of Game passed a proposal that would prohibit the use of “electronic control devices” for hunting. That’s a rather generic term to describe a Taser, a device that uses electricity, delivered by two electrodes on the end of wires, to incapacitate its victim. The weapons are often used by law enforcement to safely subdue a person without doing permanent damage.

Park Rangers and wildlife management officers in Alaska have been carrying Tasers for a number of months now, and the devices have proved quite useful, particularly with bear and moose. Rangers on the Kenai Peninsula for instance, equate carrying a Taser to having an “electric fence in a person’s hand,” using them regularly to scare the animals out of areas they shouldn’t be in. The weapons have even been used, from time to time. to stun an animal to assist it in some way. One ranger recently Tased a moose for instance, so that he could remove a chicken feeder that had become stuck on its head. Before letting the moose go, he was also able to check the overall health of the creature as well.

Now, the fear is that private citizens may start using Tasers to subdue an animal in order to get a picture taken with downed creature. Since the devices can be unreliable at times, especially without proper training, this opens the door to all kinds of potential problems, including permanently injuring or even killing the animal. The hunter could find themselves in trouble as well if the animal were to shake off the effects of the Taser while they’re standing next to it for that photograph.

If the new proposal becomes law, then only properly trained law enforcement officials would be able to use Tasers on wildlife. Perhaps we should rethink this plan however, as anyone who is crazy enough to try to use a Taser on a grizzly bear, just to get close enough for a photograph, may need an introduction to a little concept known as “survival of the fittest.”

Native Americans in Oregon hunt buffalo for first time in a century

Native Americans, buffalo, bison, native americans, native american, Native American
In the old days, the Cayuse people used to rely on the buffalo hunt. Like many other Native American tribes, the buffalo gave them meat, hide, bone, grease, bone, and other materials. But once European settlers swept across the continent the buffalo all but disappeared. The Cayuse haven’t had a buffalo hunt in a hundred years.

All that has changed now that the Cayuse have won the right, initially given to them in a treaty dating back to 1855, to hunt buffalo on Federal land. It’s the latest in a string of victories for Native Americans in various states pushing for traditional hunting rights. In 2006, the Nez Perce and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai won the right to hunt on Federal land outside Yellowstone National Park, although they are forbidden from hunting within the park.

White settlers hunted the buffalo nearly to extinction by the early twentieth century. A couple of generations of careful management has helped the population rebound, and they’re now classified as “Near Threatened“, which is a lot better than “Endangered”.

Now the Cayuse and Shoshone-Bannock of Oregon have begun to hunt again. In addition to hiking, swimming, bird watching, logging, and a host of other uses, Federal land now has a new use, or an old one.

[Photo courtesy John Hill]

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Roadkill cuisine: a guide to why and where you should pick up that possum

roadkill cuisineReduce, reuse, recycle is hardly a new concept. Except when it’s applied to roadkill. Oh, sure, backwoods folk, the itinerant, and gritty survivalist types have been making good use of roadside casualties for years. Slowly but surely however, the benefits of roadkill cuisine have been creeping into the public conscience.

Witness the popularity of The Original Roadkill Cookbook and its ilk, or the new Travel Channel series, “The Wild Within,” in which host/outdoor journalist Steven Rinella travels the world channeling his inner hunter-gatherer (see “San Francisco Roadkill Raccoon” clip at the end of this post). It’s only a matter of time before hipsters get in on this, mark my words.

Lest you think I’m making light of what is essentially a tragic waste of life: I’m an animal lover, grew up on a ranch, and my dad is a large animal veterinarian. I’ve slaughtered livestock, and admittedly have a somewhat utilitarian outlook on the topic of meat. That said, few things upset me more than seeing a dead animal or bird on the road.

The first time I ever thought of roadkill as having a purpose is when I visited Alaska a decade ago. A guide informed me that the state not only permits the use of roadkill for human consumption, but that there’s a waiting list. Think about it: a moose carcass can feed a family for a year. It’s only fairly recently that I learned every state has different regulations that apply to roadkill (more on that in a minute).

If you can overcome your initial disgust at the thought of plucking a carcass from the road and doing the necessary prep to render it casserole-ready, utilizing roadkill makes sense. No, seriously.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Irargerich]roadkill cuisinePros

  • It’s economical.
  • It utilizes a perfectly good (usually) protein source that would otherwise go to waste.
  • It’s giving a purpose to an otherwise wasted life
  • It’s ecologically responsible.
  • It’s a free, nutritious food source that can help sustain anyone, including individuals or families in need.
  • Many roadkill species taste great, and command premium prices when farm-raised and sold retail (elk, venison, boar, certain game birds).
  • It’s free of the hormones and/or antibiotics found in factory farmed meat and poultry.
  • It’s a better, kinder, more responsible alternative to poaching.

Cons

  • Parasites and disease

Obviously, if the meat looks bad, don’t use it. But wild animals can also play host to a wide variety of parasitic and bacterial critters invisible to the naked eye. It’s critical to thoroughly cook meat to kill any pathogens (fortunately, braising is the best method of preparing most roadkill species, as it renders the meat more tender). If you’re freaked out by the thought of ingesting roadkill for this reason, think about how often ground beef recalls are issued due to E. coli. Personally, I’d rather eat roadkill, when I think about what’s in the average fast food burger.

So now that you know roadkill is generally fine to use as long as it’s fresh and not too damaged, what are the rules? Well, it depends upon what state you’re in (for the record, roadkill cuisine isn’t just a U.S. thing, waste not, want not being a global concept). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website has a state-by-state directory of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Game/Fish and Wildlife/Division of Wildlife offices; each state has different rules as to which office oversees roadkill regulations. In many states, permits are issued by state troopers or county law enforcement.
roadkill cuisine
Be aware that in many states, collection of roadkill is illegal, although drivers are asked to call and report dead animals so they can be properly disposed of. The most expedient thing to do if you hit an animal/see fresh roadkill is to call local law enforcement.

For your perusal, a sampling of regulations for states that permit collection (or “salvage”) of roadkill:

Western U.S.
Alaska: Sets the bar for philanthropic roadkill rules. All specimens are considered the property of the state, and by law, drivers must alert state troopers if they spot roadkill. If the meat is fresh and in good condition, the carcass is butchered by volunteers, and distributed to the needy. Roadkill wait lists are also available for the general populace living in rural areas.
Wyoming: As long as you have it tagged by a game warden (to deter poaching), it’s yours.
Colorado: Obtain a “donation certificate” or tag issued by the Division of Wildlife, first.

Midwest
Illinois: If you hit it, you can keep it, as long as you’re a resident, not delinquent in child support payments (um, okay…), and don’t have your wildlife privileges suspended in any other state. Deer must be reported to the DNR prior to claiming.
Nebraska: If you hit a deer, antelope, or elk, report it to the Parks and Game Commission to obtain a salvage permit before you butcher the carcass.

Northeast
New Jersey: Get a permit by calling a state trooper, and you can collect deer.
West Virginia: If you report the fatality within 12 hours; it’s legal to remove and consume any and all roadkill. There’s even an annual roadkill cook-off.

Southern U.S.
Georgia: Hit a bear, report it, and it’s yours. Deer don’t have to be reported.

A few states that prohibit collection of roadkill
California
Texas
Wisconsin
Tennessee
Washington
roadkill cuisine
An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of roadkill
Ideally, the goal is to avoid creating roadkill at all. In 2008, the Federal Highway Administration estimated between one and two million vehicular collisions with large wildlife species occur annually in the U.S.. Only a small number of those result in human fatality, but it can certainly wreck or mess up a car. When you also consider smaller animals/birds, collisions can have a devastating impact upon wildlife populations, especially on already threatened species. Many states have instituted wildlife tunnels underneath highways that are considered high impact zones (this could be due to migratory patterns, easy road access, etc.).

Please drive carefully in designated wildlife or rural areas (you know, where you see those glaring yellow, triangular road signs with deer or cows or elk pictured on them), and try to avoid driving at dawn or dusk, which is when large game head out to feed. Night driving should also be avoided if you can avoid it, or undertaken with extreme caution. Trust me, after years of living in the mountains of Colorado, I’ve seen more than my share of wildlife road death (and unfortunately contributed to the early demise of a few prairie dogs and rabbits). I’ve also seen what a run-in with a moose can do to a car, and it’s not pretty.

Obviously, it’s not worth causing a multiple-car accident to avoid an animal in the road, but stay alert, don’t text or use your cell phone without a headset, drive within the speed limit, and odds are, you’ll never have a problem. Worst case scenario, please be a responsible citizen, and pull over to make sure the animal is dead. Regardless of how you feel about animals or eating roadkill, no living creature should be allowed to suffer. Have a heart. Then take it home and cook it.

[Photo credit: bbq, Flickr user The Suss-Man (Mike), deer, Flicker user Eric Bégin]


Man sues tour operator for failing to let him shoot an elephant

tour operator elephant

A Polish hunter has taken a trip to court to file charges against his German tour operator. According to the hunter, the tour agency failed to help him fulfill his dream of shooting an elephant.

Feel free to read that last part again – he is suing the company, because he was not able to kill an elephant.

The company in question, German based Jaworski Jagdreisen specializes in hunting trips, allowing tourists to shoot wild boar, red stag, sheep, pheasant and more. Their trips are organized all around the world, but they claim Latvia is currently a “hot destination”.

In his complaint, the customer identified as Waldemar I. claims there were absolutely no elephants anywhere near his hunting location in Zimbabwe. The tour operator fired back saying:

“From what I know, (the hunter) should have seen elephant excrement there”

Mr. I. is claiming damages worth $130,000 and will know whether he’s entitled to the money on February 15. To top it all off, he’s claiming these damages after the tour operator sent him on a second trip where he actually did manage to kill a male elephant. Some people are just never happy with anything…

[Photo: AP]

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