Time to catch up with readers' letters.
First, we are asking readers to share their ingenious and simple "home handyman" solutions to outdoors problems. This DIY tip it comes from Jack Sullivan of Kenmore, who has cold feet (and, apparently, big boots).
"I use masking tape to attach (chemical) hand-warmers to my feet. First, I put on all the socks I am going to wear, then I take a 2-foot piece of tape, put the hand-warmer in the middle, place my foot on the hand-warmer and wrap the tape over the toes -- not tight, though. I then put on my boot. When done, I just throw the warmer and tape out."
I suspect this works best with roomy rubber-bottom boots, and while probably not needed on a long hike it is a sure bet to keep feet comfy while ice fishing or stump-sitting during deer season.
Second, we got a note responding to a column about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Our reader, whose name is withheld for reasons that will become apparent, said:
"I was interested in the column about animal rights people and fishing," he wrote. "Last year I met up with Charley Carp or whatever on a stream. When I fish I like to be alone. I fish to get away from things. I might say 'hi' to another angler, but I pass him by because I respect his right to fish his way in his part of the stream without being bothered."
Apparently the anti-fishing person made obnoxious comments.
Our correspondent made some comments back, then eventually took more direct action, which was not specified. However, the writer said he subsequently "paid the penalty" for his imprudent act.
But this fellow added a very interesting P.S.
"Why does the Department of Environmental Conservation issue fishing licenses that start in October? I know that the tradition is because hunting licenses came first," he wrote, "but in this day and age, one could issue an annual license for anglers in the spring when we start to fish."
Indeed, Seneca national and Ontario provincial fishing licenses run with the calendar year. In theory, licenses could run for one year from the date of purchase. The motor vehicles bureau has no problem issuing car registrations and inspection stickers that way.
Third there is the bird watcher troubled by hawks attacking her feeders.
"I wonder if you know anything about Harris hawks," she wrote. "And what you can do to keep them from swooping down on the feeder and taking small birds. It is a gruesome sight."
The first thing I know about Harris hawks is that I misidentified one last spring when I reported a hawk had been dive-bombing the feeders to snatch sparrows while I was having morning coffee. It turned out to be a juvenile Cooper's hawk. But as I said then, there's really nothing one can do since hawks are predators and what they do is part of the natural cycle of things.
Marilyn O'Connell at Wild Birds Unlimited in Blasdell says "feeders concentrate birds so they are a magnet for migrating hawks. But hawks only are successful 30 percent of the time and they eat what they kill to stay alive.
"Cats are a lot worse," she said. "They kill millions of songbirds at feeders each year. They kill for pleasure and are very good at it."
She suggests locating hanging feeders near shrubs or evergreens so the small birds -- seeing the predators -- can escape. If ground-feeding trays have at least 10-12 feet of open space around them, birds can see cats sneaking up and should be able to escape them.
Great news for deer hunters
Samples of two very clever items of use to deer hunters have come my way, and both have to do with bodily functions.
As all deer hunters know, deer urine -- "doe in heat" or "buck in rut" -- is very useful in attracting deer to your stand. There are dozens of brands and an equal number of methods to get that scent applied.
Code Blue now offers a jar of estrous urine gel that is said to be very easy to apply -- without leaking all over you and your gear -- and to last longer than pure liquid.
The company also claims that the urine from just a single buck is used -- not a "blend that can't possibly smell like a real, single deer."
Experienced deer hunters also know that human urine is a real put-off for wary whitetails; and, since success often means staying put for hours on end, the Spare Bladder by Rolling Innovations could prove a godsend.
The sample I have is in a tree-bark camo, and consists of a waterproof pouch that contains absorbent granular polymers that soak up and neutralize scent. The pouch has handles, can be used by either gender, holds up to 24 ounces (so it can be used more than once per outing) and zips closed so it does not leak. When you finish hunting, dispose of it in a trash receptacle.
This item also could be useful for boaters, in autos and small planes. And it might appeal to backpackers who really want to leave no trace.
If you need more help than this, a paperback book titled -- no kidding! -- "How to ---- in the Woods" is available at book stores and outdoors outfitters.