- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Once a year I get a chance to tell my family and close friends what I’d like to receive for Christmas, but before I start I must tell you that all my family members have been told not to buy so much as a button from any store or catalog that uses the word Xmas. I consider it an insult to Christians everywhere, and since we’re constantly being pounded with political correctness and are urged not to hurt others’ feelings, I say let’s not upset the Christians, especially a curmudgeonly Lutheran like me.

That out of the way, Field & Stream magazine insists that I should ask for the new Briggs & Stratton outboard motor. Holy cow! I didn’t even know Briggs & Stratton powered anything other than lawn mowers and gas generators.

But I don’t want one of the outboard motors even though all the magazines have bestowed “best buy” status on the little four-cycle overhead valve engines. However, you might want to look into this. Go to briggspowerproducts.com.

What I do want is a complete Dry-Plus Silent Suede hunting clothes outfit in Break-Up camouflage pattern. I’m talking bib pants, jacket and parka. Fat chance me getting this, because it would cost about $560 for the three items. So I’ll dream about being warm and dry while out in the elements.

A pair of camouflage-pattern, insulated, knee-high rubber boots would come in handy for sloppy hunting days. Cost: about $60. No, I don’t need new hip-waders. Already own good ones.

A stainless steel jerky slicer that makes perfect strips is what I could also use for my lesser cuts of venison. The Cabela’s catalog price is $199. (Ouch!)

Finally, what about a Chef’s Choice Diamond Hone Sharpener No.120? I’m a knife-sharpening fanatic, and this one costs only $129.99. (The Model 2000 costs more than $300, so you can see I’m being reasonable.)

That’s it — unless you’re looking at pickup trucks. You are? Go for the F-250 Ford with a V-8 engine and a short bed in two-wheel drive, not four-wheel; yes, the Chevy or Dodge 3/4-ton trucks also are fine, but Ford is my first choice. Cost: $28,000.

Was dead whale struck by boat? — The federal government’s National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is investigating the death of a pregnant female North Atlantic right whale found beached two weeks ago along the North Carolina coast.

Preliminary results from an examination of the carcass indicate that the animal likely died from blood loss owing to a massive wound to the left tail fluke probably caused by a strike from a ship. NOAA Fisheries is the federal agency charged with recovering and protecting marine mammals in U.S. waters.

A necropsy was performed on the beach in Ocean Sands by mammal researchers from the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

The whale has been identified through the New England Aquarium right whale catalog as No.1,909, born in 1989 and most recently sighted off the southeastern U.S. in 2003.

Historic Chesapeake meeting — The Chesapeake Executive Council will meet Jan.10 at Mount Vernon to discuss policy initiatives aimed at accelerating the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

The council is expected to establish expanded goals for reopening the bay’s rivers to migratory fish, adopt a new native oyster management plan and implement recommendations from the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel.

The council — composed of Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael O. Leavitt, District Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus, Chesapeake Bay Commission chairman — meets annually to lead restoration efforts throughout the 64,000-square miles of land that drain into the bay.

Fisheries conference — A national fisheries management conference will be held March24-26. Sponsors include the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils, the three Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions, and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries).

The conference is at Omni Shoreham Hotel and Conference Center, 2500 Calvert St. NW, and is open to the public. You might wish to see how your natural resources are being doled out to commercial fishing interests and how — quite often — the recreational sector is blamed for downward trends in fish stocks.

More information will be available soon on the conference Web site, managingfisheries.org.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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