All posts by wildlifejournalist

Chester Moore is known as The Wildlife Journalist® for his cutting-edge articles, videos, lectures, television appearances and radio broadcasts involving wildlife around the world. He has won more than 100 awards for writing, photography, radio and his conservation efforts. He was named a "Hero of Conservation" by Field & Stream magazine and won the Mossy Oak Outdoors Legacy award for his work with children and wildlife in the conservation field in 2017.

Encountering The Bloody, Bearded Man In The Woods

“Encountering The Bloody, Bearded Man In The Woods”

Sensational title, huh?


After hearing my friend’s story of encountering an actual, bloody bearded man in the pre-dawn darkness on a hunting trip in upstate New York, that title just flowed out of me.

The podcast above is a must listen and continues my investigation into human dangers in the wildlands of North America.

The corporate wildlife media doesn’t broach the subject because they’re too busy selling you on climate change and ridiculous “reality” shows.

The hunting and fishing industry won’t touch it because..well I don’t know why, but these issues are glaringly absent from publications, television shows, and the blogosphere.

A few years back, someone asked me what I consider the most dangerous thing to encounter in the woods.

Without blinking I didn’t’ say bear, hog, or rattlesnake.

The answer was “people”.

After being chased off a mountain by drug runners in California in the early 2000s, finding structures in the woods on two occasions that were either meth labs or Jason from Friday the 13th’s shack and having a standoff with 100 plus drunk, high gun-shooting people on an island, it should be easy to see why.

There are a few goals I have in my exploring remote places.

  1. Make It Back Home (self-explanatory)
  2. Make It Back Home Without Being Ned Beatty’s Character In Deliverance (Watch the movie. You’ll understand. It scarred me.)
  3. Not run into a modern-day Ted Bundy. (A friend of mine found a tree carving of his in a remote area of national forest in Utah-you know the state where that monster killed eight women.

And sadly with the increasingly deranged state of the world, these types of things are possible. I want to use my platform as an internationally-known wildlife journalist to raise awareness to human dangers in the woods.

I don’t want folks to be scared but to be aware and make wise decisions based on knowledge.

If the only outdoors source of information you’re getting is some guy telling you how many shiners Mawmaw has left at the bait camp, it’s a good thing you’re reading this blog. It’s time to do some deep digging into what’s really happening out there which I have been doing for two years now.

I will be sharing more on this topic on this blog in the coming weeks.

I did a two-part series over at Higher Calling for the hunting and deep hiking community you can read here. It’s got my steps for staying safe which I will detail more here in coming posts.

Make sure and check out the podcast. If the bloody guy story is not enough, one of a man trying to get a woman in a van in a wooded area will.

After that,  if you’ve ever ran into a dangerous person in the woods, on the water or email me at chester@chestermoore.com.

I”d love to share your experiences with others. It might save someone’s life to know these things actually happen.

Chester Moore

 

 

 

 

What is America’s Most Remote Location? The Ultimate In “Social Distancing”

Have you ever wondered what is the most remote spot in the United States?

Well, if you have you will want to join Chester Moore and the founders of Project Remote on a fascinating podcast on remote locations.

In the age of “social-distancing”, this is a can’t miss show that asks the following question.

Have we developed America too much?

COVID-19 And Its Impact On Wild Turkeys

COVID-19 started making a strong impact just as turkey seasons around the country were opening.

With public land, border and even hunting season closures it changed the dynamic of this season.

But it will have an even greater impact on turkey conservation as spring is the peak fundraising season at the local level for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).

Check out his podcast with Chester Moore and Becky Humphries, CEO of the NWTF as they discuss this and why turkeys are a cornerstone species for conservation in America. Listen below.

Coronavirus And Its Shocking Global Impact On Wildlife

COVID-19-the coronavirus has caused historic lockdowns of access to countries, states and communities around the world.

And while the human risk should be the first priority, there is huge concern for an impact on wildlife. This is the first in a series of podcasts on this topic as we see how the loss of hunting and ecotourism dollars in Africa could spell disaster for rhinos, elephants and many other species.

Listen here.

Please share this message. It needs to get out there. This podcast is a must listen and so is this series.

More to come…

Chester Moore, Jr.

COVID-19 And The Wild Sheep Decline: An Interesting Parallel

The impact of COVID-19, the coronavirus on humanity, is nothing short of historic.

While the death toll has not and hopefully will not reach the levels of the Spanish flu of 1918, the potential is there, and the grip it has on government, commerce, and private citizens is unprecedented.

That’s why I can’t help but make parallels between COVID-19 and the near-catastrophic decline of wild sheep of the 1800s.

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The author photographed this bighorn at 12,000 feet in an area where grazing is restricted but these sheep don’t stay here all the time. Moving into grazing areas is a highly dangerous proposition. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

When Lewis & Clark set out on their epic expedition, there were around two million wild sheep in North America. By 1900, there were fewer than 25,000 according to some estimates.

And while it would be easy to blame it on unregulated hunting and market killing which no doubt had some impact, by far the biggest killer was pneumonia.

Coming from domestic sheep, it hit wild herds as they co-mingled in the valleys and mountains during the westward expansion of European settlement. Millions of sheep died, and if it were not for conscientious hunters and fish and game departments around the nation, there would likely be no wild sheep left today.

Listen to Chester Moore discuss this issue and give some inspiration on wild sheep conservation at his new podcast “Higher Calling”.

It’s a story few have heard outside of wild sheep hunting and biologist circles, but now is the time.

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Notice the mountains in the background of this sheep lot. Have wild sheep mingled with herds in this area? (Public Domain Photo)

The decline of wild sheep is second only to the government-sponsored bison slaughter in the depth of impact on a species in North America.

Humans are now quarantined, and in effect, bighorns are in many areas.

In 2016, Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) officials killed six bighorns because backpackers saw them co-mingling with domestic sheep. The bacterial form of pneumonia can be brought back to the herd and transmitted to lambs.

“When you have the lambs dying, it’s hard to build a population,” said CPW spokesman Joe Lewandowski in The Durango Herald.

“As wildlife managers, we look at populations, not individual animals. In this case, we know an individual animal could spread the disease to the larger herd, and then we have a bigger problem.”

This is not an uncommon practice in wild sheep management.

While translocations, strict herd management, and grazing restrictions have brought sheep numbers continent-wide into the 150-175,000 range, pneumonia is still the most significant threat. Still, there are no specials on Animal Planet or Nat Geo Wild or any other mainstream media outlets. This pandemic has been going on with wild sheep for 150 years, and only the hunting community, fish and game agencies, and biologists seem to care.

The focus should now be on saving people and the economies of the world, but there is space to teach a valuable lesson on wildlife conservation. There has never been a point in recent history where this particular story of wild sheep has such a great chance to touch the hearts of millions of wildlife enthusiasts.

During the downtime from work and school, people are looking for things to occupy their time and inspired, informative media on some of the beautiful animals in North America can help fill some of that void.

That is what this post is all about. I’m doing my best to let people know that when the dust settles on COVID-19 (and me and my family are praying daily that will happen soon), sheep will still have their own pandemic to face.

Concerned conservationists have done a remarkable job building herds throughout North America, but these conservationists are aging quickly, and new blood needs to step up to the plate.

Maybe something good that can come out of this tragedy is that some young person is motivated to get involved with sheep conservation. Perhaps being isolated, afraid of mingling with others and under the potential threat of death itself because of an unseen force will inspire action.

Sheep, of course, have no way to conceptualize these things, but they don’t need to when caring conservationists are in place in fish and game departments, conservation groups, and halls of the legislature.

COVID-19 may be momentarily stealing our freedoms, but it can’t rob the wild and enduring spirit of those thoughtful enough to make a bold stand for bighorns and their thinhorn cousins.

That force is as majestic as the sheep themselves.

Chester Moore, Jr.

COVID-19, Wild Sheep And Chester’s New Podcast

While the coronavirus dominates headlines and causes great fear around the world, there is an interesting parallel in the world of wildlife.

Join The Wildlife Journalist® and award-wining conservationist Chester Moore as he discusses the connection between what we are experiencing in this pandemic setting and what nearly wiped out wild sheep in America in the 1800s.

Also hear a a heartfelt story of how Chester and his Dad bonded over hunting scrapbooks and how it pointed him toward a higher calling of wildlife conservation.

Wildlife Journalist Wins For Bighorn Writings

Wildlife journalist Chester Moore has been honored for his writings on bighorn sheep hunting and conservation.

He won first place for the “Outdoors Column ” category in the Texas Outdoor Writers Association Excellence in Craft awards for his bighorn sheep story entitled “New Life For New Mexico’s Bighorns”. The story appeared at Higher Calling and in the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Mountain Minutes newsletter.

Moore at home with his two “Excellence In Craft” awards. 

He also received a second-place award in the “Feature” category for his “Desert Homecoming” story in Sports Afield that detailed the comeback of Texas’ desert bighorn herd.

“I’ve been doing a lot on wild sheep, trying to get the word out on their conservation needs and the absolute triumph that hunter-based conservation has been for all wild sheep in North America. It’s a real honor to be recognized for these writings.”

Moore is a staunch supporter of sheep and mountain wildlife conservation is a member of The Wild Sheep Foundation, Texas Bighorn Society and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society as well as the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance.

Additionally, in January at the National Wild Turkey Federation-Texas state convention Moore was awarded the “Advocatus Magni” award for his work as an advocate for wild turkey conservation.

Chester won the “Advocatus Magni Award” from the National Wild Turkey Federation for his work as an advocate of wild turkey conservation.

“This is such a tremendous honor,” Moore said.

“Wild turkeys are a passion of mine and I believe if we get turkey conservation right all forest species will benefit. Even wild sheep benefit from certain turkey enhancement projects like controlled burning. To get an award like this is truly inspiring.”

“Jaws” Is In The Gulf

In 2005, Tide magazine published an article I wrote about great white sharks in the Gulf of Mexico.

Entitled “Jaws in the Gulf”?” it won a first place prize in the Texas Outdoor Writer’s Association Excellence In Craft competition that year but it was quite controversial.

Naysayers said I was crazy for claiming great whites existed in the Gulf, despite both scientific and anecdotal proof in the story.

In 2014, the claim of great whites in the Gulf was vindicated when “Katharine” and “Betsy”, two young great whites were verified in Gulf waters.

Both of these sharks were fitted with SPOT transmitters by research/conservation group OCEARCH. These tags communicate with satellites and when the information from those tags if fed back to OCEARCH, it allows the public to view their movements at OCEARCH.org.

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Unama’ki at time of capture in Sept. 2019. (Photo Courtesy Ocearch)

When, Katharine, all 2300 pounds of her, staked out the stretch of coastline off of Panama City Beach, Fla., people paid attention. More than four million logged onto the OCEARCH website, crashing the server the week and causing a media firestorm.

“Those two sharks, Katharine in particular, drew an enormous amount of attention to great white sharks in a very positive way and the interactive nature of the site, gave people a way to see great white movements take place in a way never before possible,” said OCEARCH founder Chris Fischer.

“We are solving the life history puzzle of ‘Jaws’ out of the Cape Cod area for the first time in history and it has been interesting to see unfold.”

And that story is continuing to unfold as Unama’ki, a massive adult female that was 2,076 pounds at the time of her capture off the coast of Nova Scotia moved into the Gulf and at the last “ping” of her tag was offshore somewhere west of the Mississippi River in Louisiana.

This is the first mature great white tagged by Ocearch to show up this far west in the Gulf and it is possible it could head all the way to Texas.

There is much to learn about great white behavior and Ocearch’s cutting-edge approach has made knowledge of them formerly out of reach, possible.

Historical records from the 1900s show great white in catch records from Florida to Port Aransas, TX.

While there is no question these giants are not abundant in Gulf waters, its obvious they don’t mind swimming in its warm currents and I have a feeling Unama’ki, isn’t the only one out there.

More to come.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Moore Honored For Turkey Conservation

The Wildlife Journalist® and Higher Calling blog publisher Chester Moore was awarded the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) “Advocatus Magni Award” for being an outstanding advocate of wild turkey conservation and hunting.

Moore received the award at the NWTF Texas banquet in College Station, TX and said it a true honor to be recognized by such a prestigious organization and for something he believes in wholeheartedly.

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“As turkeys go, so do America’s forests. If we get turkey conservation right then everything from whitetail deer to gopher tortoises and wild sheep benefit,” he said.

In 2019 Moore embarked on a quest to raise awareness to turkey conservation and began by photographing the Grand Slam of turkeys around the nation in one year.

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Two Rio Grande gobblers the author photographed on his Turkey Revolution® quest in 2019.

“There’s much more to come. This award inspires me to do even more and explore things like the link between turkeys and sheep in their shared range. It’s going to be a great year,” he said.

The highlight will be taking a group of teen’s from Moore’s Wild Wishes® program into Colorado on a search for wild sheep, turkeys and elk in the mountains.

wwexped turkey

These Higher Calling Wild Wishes Expeditions will take these young people who have a critical illness or loss of a parent or sibling on a special conservation mission trip to raise awareness to sheep, turkey and elk habitat and conservation issues.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to support this important program click here.

 

The New Cat In The Woods

“I think I saw an ocelot. It crossed the road in front of me-just outside of Oklahoma City.”

“What do you think of these game camera photos? Is this a serval or maybe an ocelot?”

“What kind of wild cat species is this? Has something escaped from the zoo?”

These questions, comments and conversations have increased dramatically over the last 2-3 years.

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A meeting with a beautiful serval brought smiles to everyone at Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fl. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

People have always submitted photos of cats caught on game cameras or cell phones to ask for evaluation. They are usually to distinguish bobcats versus cougars or people thinking the might have the image of an elusive “black panther”.

I believe I have pretty much closed at least chapter 1 of the panther issue and you can read that blog here.

The phenomenon I mention now is different and I believe it involves a different kind of cat on the American landscape.

Hybrid and designer cat breeds are popular in America.

Everything from the relatively common Bengal cat (originates with Asian leopard cat/domestic hybrid) to savannah cats (serval/domestic hybrid) to designer cats like the ocicat all look wild, look exotic and to a certain extent are and they are now entering the woods and wildlands and confusing the public.

Here are a couple of photos sent to me by Amy Chambers in San Patricio, TX. She thought she might have captured an ocelot on camera but at closer examination this is without a doubt a domestic and most likely a Bengal or Bengal hybrid.

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Gamer camera photo from San Patricio, Tx. (Photo Courtesy Amy Chambers)
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Game camera photo from San Patricio, Tx. (Photo Courtesy Amy Chambers)

Bengal cats come in various colors, sizes and patterns. The basic look mimics the original stock of Asian leopard cat in terms of pattern.

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The Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® Bengal cat “Purity” interacting with kids.

Our Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® Bengal “Purity” is what is called a “snow leopard” morph with the white/gray mix and blue eyes. The pattern though is Asian leopard cat or even ocelot-like.

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Closeup of the Amy Chambers San Patricio Cat which the author believes is most likely a Bengal.

There are even breeders who specifically breed for the spot pattern close to ocelots or Asian leopard cats and interestingly we discovered one about 20 miles from where this cat was captured on a game camera.

Even though our Bengal is sweet she has a little wild in her and has incredible jumping abilities and predatory instincts. We never allow her near our birds or small mammals. And she is probably four generations removed from original hybridization.

Savannahs are out there that are half serval and some of them are wild enough in fact that they end up at sanctuaries due to them not being quite as cuddly as some domestic cats.

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A Savannah is a hybrid of a serval and domestic cats. (Public Domain Photo)

People allow their cats to go outside. Cats escape houses and pens and as we know with standard-edition feral cats they are everywhere.

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A lavender and chocolate color phase Ocicat. (Public Domain Photo)

I believe we will see more of these types of cats in the wild and they will contribute to many people thinking they have seen everything from a long-tailed bobcat to ocelots and leopards.

I will write more on this issue but wanted to get this out there to let people know some of the beautiful, spotted, long-tailed cats they are seeing in the woods may be exotic and even feral but not necessarily wild.

The era of the exotic hybrid cat has begun in the wild areas of America as I have personally received photos and videos to identify from Texas, Michigan and New York.

If you think you have a photos or videos. of one of these cats or a spotted cat you cannot identify email chester@chestermoore.com.

Chester Moore, Jr.