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By James Drake

Many evenings, if I’m home, I often watch a half hour or so of the local news and then catch one of the national news broadcasts.

I’m not loyal to any one station or network, but rather just use the flicker to go back and forth between the local channels.

Lately, with all these political ads saturating the airwaves (most of them just trying to explain how awful the other guy is) I’m surprised our TV flicker doesn’t burst into flames being used so much. I’m actually getting pretty quick flicking away to another channel before the political ad can really get going.

However, I know I’d watch with great interest if just one of those ads was about hunting or fishing. That's probably not going to happen, but outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen absolutely ought to be informed about issues important to us and where the candidates stand on them.

With that in mind, about two weeks ago, the American Sportfishing Association angler advocacy campaign KeepAmericafishing released the answers from candidates President Barack Obama (D) and Republican nominee Gov. Mitt Romney regarding management of our nation’s fisheries and access to recreational fishing.

I’ll put just the first question and their answers below, but if you’d like to read the complete side-by-side answers to the eight outdoors questions posed, go to www.KeepAmericaFishing.org/youdecide.

You probably already know that neither Obama nor Romney are avid outdoors sportsmen. Here’s something you may not know: The Secret Service code name for vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan is Bowhunter. Obama’s code name is Renegade, Romney is referred to as Javelin and Biden is known as Celtic. Ryan chose Bowhunter himself because he is such an avid deer hunter and outdoorsman.

Question 1: Recreational anglers in America are always curious to know if their leaders are also recreational anglers. Please, tell our members about your angling experience.

Obama: “Although I grew up fishing with my friends and grandfather in Hawaii, I am not an avid sportsman and do not claim to be. I do, however, understand the importance of our nation’s outdoor heritage and the key role that sportsmen play in the conservation of our natural resources. On the campaign trail in ‘08, I had the opportunity to spend some time in Montana and decided that, win or lose, I would go back there and learn to fly fish. After taking office, I was fortunate enough to return to the state and fish the East Gallatin River.

“Despite having excellent guides and getting a few bites, the weather was tough that day and I didn’t land a fish. I really enjoyed the challenge of fly fishing and I’m looking forward to doing it more. I want to try for trout again but would also like to try saltwater and maybe catch a tarpon.”

Romney: "Growing up in Michigan, fishing was a prominent pastime in the area, and I truly understand the valuable role recreational fishermen play both in our economy and our environment. As a boy, I fished with my dad, and in recent years, I went fishing in Alaska with my son, Matt. Though my schedule makes these types of trips rarer than I would like, I realize that fishing is one of America’s great opportunities to connect with family, friends and nature.

“As president, those in my administration will work with fishermen to protect this great American heritage. I gained a better understanding of the concerns and motivations of fishermen as governor of a coastal state. In Massachusetts, I was able to work with both commercial and recreational fishermen to ensure that our state’s policies met their needs and that my administration understood their concerns. As president, I will draw on these personal and professional experiences to advocate for America’s fishing community."

In all, both candidates were asked eight questions. Take the time to read their answers to all of them and then show up at the polls on Nov. 6. In the meantime, just keep flicking away.

Hunting with pests

No, we’re not going to discuss going deer hunting with your annoying brother-in-law, but rather dealing with real little pests.

Marylanders are already well into the fall bow season for deer, and our squirrel season is also under way. Early muzzleloader cranks up in a few short weeks and the first split of duck season begins soon.

Unfortunately, there is also still a robust population of pests out there in our woods and fields. Mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers are three of the worst, and there really isn’t all that much we can do about them. We’re never going to get rid of these nasty critters, but we can protect ourselves.

A repellant containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-mata-toluamide) is very effective and the Environmental Protection Agency tells us it’s perfectly safe to use just so long as you follow the label directions. DEET works better than any other repellent on the market and it used to be just about the only real choice for outdoorsmen. Today, there is another option.

ThermaCELL has an appliance available that uses allethrin as the effective ingredient. This is a chemical twin to a naturally effective insect repellent called pyrethrin that is made from chrysanthemum family flowers.

You turn this little appliance on and within a few minutes it quickly forms an insect barrier around itself about 15 feet in diameter. If you’re next to the appliance and within that circle, you’re protected, too.

Inside the device is a little butane cartridge which fires up a heating pad that slowly cooks a little chemical-saturated pad. Those pads are only about as big as a large postage stamp and one pad will provide protection for about four hours. A single butane cartridge will effectively cook two or three pads.

I have an appliance and also one of the ThermaCELL lanterns that work on the exact same principle.

These things are great and work real well except under extremely windy conditions. You can even purchase an “earth scent” pad that both keeps away bugs and helps to mask all human odors.

The device costs less than $20 and you can purchase value packs containing multiple butane cartridges and several pads for about $20. They’re available at places like Walmart, Tractor Supply, Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods plus various hardware stores and even the Pax River Naval Exchange should have them in stock.

I’ve used mine for about a year now and have experienced no problems under a wide variety of conditions.

If you’re not too crazy about smearing DEET all over your exposed skin, give the ThermaCELL a try.

It absolutely works and will protect you from some awful diseases you can get from tick and mosquito bites.

Those little pests are still out and active and if you’re going to be outdoors with them, you should protect yourself.

zbasser@aol.com