10 Facts You Should Know About Hunting & Conservation

DIVING

Hunting is a great sport that provides you the opportunity to reflect on life in some of the most beautiful places on earth. One problem that surrounds hunting, however, is the fact that many people do not understand what it really means to be a hunter. Those not familiar with the sport think that hunters are simply looking to kill animals. In actuality, hunters will often times come home empty handed. Even if a hunt is successful, there is much more to the sport than killing. As you will see below, hunting actually is an influential part of conservation. Here are 10 facts that you should know about the sport of hunting.

1) President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter, created our national forest and grasslands. 230 million acres of nature and wildlife are now forever protected for everyone to use and enjoy.

2) Approximately $371 million a year is generated for conversation, though an 11% tax on guns, ammo, bows and arrows. This money puts a lot of people to work and helps fuel a number of great conservation programs.

3) Hunting supports 680,000 jobs, including game wardens, waitresses, biologists and motel clerks.

4) Through state licenses and fees, hunter pay, on average, $796 million a year for conservation programs.

5) If you tally up all the various fees, licensing and taxes, hunters raise over $1.6 billion a year for conservation efforts.

6) In a world that loves to go all natural and eat organic, hunting is the purest form of organic eating. Most game is high in protein and provides great nutritional value.

7) Over the past century, the populations of elk, whitetails, turkeys and ducks have grown from thousands to millions thanks to the help of hunters and programs funded by hunters. Without the efforts of hunters, many of the animals that are abundant today would have dwindling populations.

8) Hunters keep nuisance species in check and keep herd numbers healthy for a number of different animal species.

9) A study done by two individuals found that sport hunting offers great benefits to the inhabitants of the land. Most times, the rural natives are happy when a dangerous animal is harvested because the village becomes safer.

10) Eva Shockey, a Canadian hunter, said it best: “As hunters, we need to stand strong, unite as one and NEVER apologize for being who we are! We should focus our energy on being the best hunters we can be by challenging ourselves to be ethical, respectful and responsible so as to humbly uphold our proud heritage. Now, let’s get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

7 Surfing Tips For Beginners

mack prioleau

Surfing is an amazing sport. But just like any sport, it takes time, patience and physical coordination to learn how to do it. If you are new to surfing, there are probably a number of questions you are unsure of, including: what board to use, how to get up on the board, and how to behave around veteran surfers in the water? If you are looking to hit the water for the first time, here are 7 things that you should know.

1) What To Wear

When it comes to surfing wardrobe, the main factor to consider is the water temperature. If you are going to be in warm water, you will probably only need a pair of boardshorts and a rash guard – a shirt that prevents irritation from the sun and surfboard wax. However, if you are going out in some colder temperatures, you will want to invest in an assortment of surf wear to make the experience tolerable. You will want a sleeveless vest, a long-sleeved jacket and a head-to-toe hooded wetsuit. You should look for items made with neoprene, which is warm, tough and durable. Lastly, you will want to get a leash, which is a ankle strap that secures you to your board. The leash will save you from having to chase down the board when you wipe out.

2) The Right Board

Your first surfboard should be easy to handle and built to last until you are ready for something more advanced. The size and construction of the board are the two factors that impact the handling and durability the most. Longer and wider boards are much more stable. You should find a board that matches your size, however, even if you are small you will still want a board on the bigger side. As for construction, softboards, which are made of foam for extra buoyancy are good for true beginners. However, fast learners may want to consider an epoxy board, which consists of a foam core encased in epoxy resin. These boards are both buoyant and tough.

3) The Right Spot

The idea spot to learn to surf is the ocean equivalent of a kiddie pool: straight, sandy shoreline, free from hazardous rocks and reefs, with a few strategically placed sandbars. These conditions allow for waves to build, but not to overwhelming sizes. You will also likely avoid veteran surfers in these areas because the waves break up quickly. This means that you will not feel self-conscious or pressured while in the water. Veteran surfers can also be very territorial and often look at newcomers as a nuisance and a danger, which can be true. It is helpful to ask people where the place is very beginners wherever you go.

4) Get In Shape

Getting in shape makes it much easier to learn how to surf. Surfing is a whole-body surf, but certain muscle groups get worked much more than others. You need strong arms for paddling and core strength to pop up from lying on the board to standing. Balance is extremely important. If you want to be able to pop up and ride the waves you will need to have great balance to make your time in the water worthwhile.

5) Learn To Read The Weather

It is important to check surf reports and surf forecasts before you hit the beach. Surf reports and forecasts are readily available online or as a phone application. To apply the information, you will need to understand the key terms and some basic meteorology. Two important terms to understand are groundswells and windsells. Groundswells are high-energy waves, produced by strong winds far out at sea. Windswells, the products of local winds, are weaker. It is important to note that surf conditions are, in general, much less predictable than the weather.

6) Watch And Learn

You can learn a lot just by watching other surfers in the water. You should definitely take some time to observe from the beach before you get into the water yourself. Take note of physical features and objects, such as jetties, piers and fishing boats. Check for flags and signs that signal for hazardous conditions. You will also want to familiarize yourself with the line-up, which is the area offshore where surfers wait to catch waves. Avoid crossing the path between waiting surfers and the surf.

7) Obey Surfing Etiquette

Although it is an individual sport, surfing is very much a community where people share the waves. Learning and following the unwritten code of conduct is extremely important for beginners. It prevents accidents and shows that you respect your fellow surfers. For example, wait your turn in the lineup. It is also discouraged to catch a wave when another surfer is already riding it, so pay attention to what is going on around you.

For more information, please check out this article.

The Bloukrans Bridge Bungee Jump

Mack Prioleau

The Bloukrans Bridge Bungee is the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee at 707 feet above the Bloukrans River. The jump is situated at the Bloukrans Bridge on N2 Highway at the border between the Eastern Cape and Western Cape along South Africa’s Garden Route. The bungee jump is open 365 days a year and almost all weather conditions.

History

The Bloukrans River Bridge became the first African bridge for bungee jumping back in 1990. Since 1997, Face Adrenalin has operated the Bloukrans Bridge Bungee accident free.

World Records

There are a number of world records associated with Bloukrans Bridge. The following world records achieved at this location include:

  • Mohr Keet became the oldest person to bungee jump when he jumped from the Bloukrans Bridge on April 6, 2010 at the age of 96 years old.
  • Scott Huntly broke the world record for the most bungee jumps in a day when he jumped from the Bloukrans Bridge 107 times in nine hours. Scott completed this record on May 11, 2011 in an effort to raise funds for local communities.
  • Veronica Dean-Boschoff set a world record for achieving 19 jumps in a one hour span on May 9, 2002.

Famous Visitors

The Bloukrans Bridge attracts adrenaline seekers from all over the world. Face Adrenaline has played host to the following visitors:  Prince Harry, Jack Osbourne, Thabo Mbeki, the Zuma family, Bobby Skinstad, Hansie Cronje, Fanie De Villiers, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and The Amazing Race.

If you are up for an adrenaline rush then you need to take a trip to the Bloukrans Bridge. Check out some photos from my bungee jump below.

 

Table Mountain Sunrise Summit

Table Mountain Sunrise: Mack Prioleau

Last week a group of my Vanderbilt friends and I hiked Table Mountain for sunrise. We took the Platteklip Gorge route, which overlooks the Cape Town for the whole hike. The hike was tough and long (about 1.5-2 hours) but was well worth it once at the top. We summited right at 5:30 in time for first light and enjoyed the breathtaking views for a few hours before taking the cable car down. Thankfully the cable car was running this time.

The Platteklip is the most direct route to the top of the mountain, making it extremely difficult. However, the path is well constructed, with stone steps and anti-erosion gabions. But this route is by far the most steep, so it is recommended to give yourself some time to get up. The views while ascending the mountain are spectacular, which certainly makes it worth your time to stop and take in your surroundings.

Witnessing the views from the top of Table Mountain for the sunrise was certainly worth the effort. Watching the city of Cape Town begin to wake up and come to life while looking down from above is a pretty surreal experience.

Table Mountain is an amazing hike at any time of the day, as it provides amazing views of both the city, coastline, and the unique plants to the area. To put it in perspective, there are more plant species on Table Mountain then there are in the entire United Kingdom. While hiking up the mountain, you are likely to encounter rock hyraxes, colorful lizards and a variety of birdlife.

Check out some of the pictures of our hike up Table Mountain below.

  • Table Mountain Sunrise: Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau

  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau

Great Hikes In The Lone Star State

With such an expansive and diverse terrain, the state of Texas offers some of the best hiking trails in the country. From steep mountains to swampy grasslands, there is a wide range of trails to explore. There are over 70 national and state parks throughout the state, giving you a seemingly endless list of possibilities for those looking to experience the outdoors. I recently read this great article, which inspired me to list some of my favorite hikes from around the state of Texas.

1) Sam Houston National Forest

Lone Star Trail - Mack Prioleau

Located in Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston National Forest has a spectacular 128-mile Lone Star Hiking Trail that meanders through the forest. It will take you several trips to see all the trails within the park, making it a great place for regular hiking.

2) Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend _ Mack Prioleau

Located in Bend, Texas, this state park is home to over 32 miles of trails. Colorado Bend has a diverse terrain, featuring impressive hills, canyons, and a 60-foot tall waterfall (Gorman Falls).

3) Palo Duro Canyon

Palo_Duro_Canyon_Mack Prioleau

Palo Duro Canyon is located in Canyon, Texas near Amarillo. The canyon offers more than 30 miles of hiking trails. You will be able to find a number of challenging hikes as well as beautiful views and colors.

4) Wolf Mountain Trail

Wolf Trail _ Mack Prioleau

This hike is located in Pedernales Falls State Park, which is just west of Austin, Texas.The 7-mile loop trail is a great way to spend the day. The top of the mountain provides incredible views of the surrounding hill country.

5) Lost Maples State Natural Area

Maple Mack Prioleau

Located in Vanderpool, Texas outside of San Antonio, a hike through Lost Maples State Natural Area will have you feeling like you traveled to the northeast. The park’s name derives from the bigtooth maples; the best time to come is in the fall to witness the full display of fall colors.

6) Enchanted Rock

enchanted_rock_mack_prioleau

The Enchanted Rock, located north of Fredericksburg, is a must-see for all Texans. This giant mass of molten magma provides an extremely challenging hike. The panoramic views from the top, however, are truly worth the effort.

7) Guadalupe Peak

GuadalupePeak_Mack_Prioleau

Located in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 110 miles east of El Paso, you will find the highest point in Texas. While it is quite a long drive out west, the unparalleled views make it a place worth checking out. If you are up for the 3,000 feet to the top of the peak, you will be rewarded with breaktaking sights. On a clear day, you can even see the distant sierras on the other side of the border.

Hiking Lion’s Head In Cape Town, South Africa

Lions Head (1) Mack Prioleau

Lion’s Head is a mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, located between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. Lion’s Head, which peaks at 2,195 feet, is a great half-day hike that provides amazing views of the city of Cape Town and the Atlantic Seaboard.

Originally, the Dutch settlers had named the peak Leeuwen Kop (Lion’s Head) and it’s counterpart, Signal Hill, was referred to as Leeuqen Staart (Lion’s Tail). The two mountains the the space between them closely resembles a crouching lion or a sphinx.

The composition of the mountain, from the rocks to the flowers is both equally beautiful and interesting to observe. The lower portion of Lion’s Head was formed by the Cape Granite and the Malmesbury formation, while the upper peak consists of flat-lying sandstone.

While hiking Lion’s Head, you will be sure to see some people paragliding off the mountain. The slopes and idea wind conditions make it a very popular launching point for the paragliders as you can see in the video below.

The mountain has unique and rich biodiversity, with three main types that are vegetation that can only be found in Cape Town. Granite Fynbos, an endangered vegetation, can be found all along the hike. Peninsula Shale Renosterveld, which is critically endangered, can be found on the lower slopes towards Signal Hill. Sandstone Fynbos, which is also endangered, can be found on the summit of Lion’s Head.

The hike takes a few hours and can be quite challenging. The climb begins at Signal Hill Road, at the base of Forestry Road and winds around the head to a section with chains. The chains have been added to assist climbers over the steep, rocky section of the mountain. You can bypass the route with chains and take an alternative route, but this climb is challenging as well.

Check out some pictures from my hike up Lion’s Head here:

  • Lions Head (1) Mack Prioleau
    Lions Head (2) Mack Prioleau
    Lions Head (3) Mack Prioleau

  • Lions Head (4) Mack Prioleau
    Lions Head (5) Mack Prioleau

 

Largemouth Bass Fishing Tips

When I am back in Texas, one of my favorite things to do is spend time out on the water fishing for largemouth bass. These fish have a distinct appearance and are actually one of the most popular game fish in North America. If you are new to fishing or interesting in trying your hand at largemouth bass for the first time, I have compiled a list of some great tips, tricks and tactics to help make your fishing trip as fun as possible.

largemouth bass Mack Prioleau

1) Fish During The Pre-Spawn

The best time of the year to fish for bass is during pre-spawn, which starts in the spring when the water begins to heat up to around 55 to 65 degrees. During this time of the year, both the male and female bass will move to shallow waters, begin aggressively feeding and looking for the best place to next. The bass will actually move to such shallow waters, that you can usually locate the bass right from shore. There is no question that this is the best time of the year to catch your trophy bass.

Note: Remember to catch and release female bass so they can finish their spawn and continue the cycle of life for bass.

2) Know Bass Habits

If you want to have success out on the water, then it is important to understand the habits of the bass. The type of weather dictates where bass may or may not be, so you should base your location off the weather conditions. When the sun is out, the bass will look for shelter. When it is cloudy or there is little sun, the bass will move out from their protective shelter. Having an understanding for where bass would look for shelter in the water can help you locate the best place to fish.

Mack Prioleau3) The Best Time Of Day

The best time of the day to fish for bass is either during the early hours of the morning or the last few hours going into the evening. If it is a cloudy day, the bass will feed during the afternoon time. It is recommended that you get to your fishing hole of choice about an hour before sunup and/or sunset.

4) Always Keep An Eye On The Line

It is easy for your fishing line to get frayed from contact with rocks, gravel, branches, stumps or any other objects in the water. Therefore, you should frequently check your line right above the lure you are using. The last thing you want to do is lose a bass because your line broke.

5) Size Doesn’t Matter

The size of the lure does not dictate the size of the bass you could catch. A largemouth bass will strike prey that is 25% to 50% of its length. A large lure can also catch small bass. If you are not catching any fish on the lure you start with then you should try a smaller lure and see if that can produce some bites.

 

Info courtesy of Fishing Tips Depot.

 

Garden Route: South Africa

The Garden Route: Mack Prioleau

The Garden Route is the stretch of land that goes from Cape Town all the way up to Port Elizabeth. It is known for its scenery along with all the activity opportunities on the way.

We started our trip late Wednesday morning and drove four hours to our first stop, Mossel Bay. Because we got there relatively late in the afternoon we did not do much other than check out the town and the beach. We stayed at a hostel called Santos Express, which is actually an old train that has been stripped and made into a hostel. For dinner we ate at a braai restaurant called Kaai 4, where we all got meat platters and had a great meal.

Thursday was Heritage Day in South Africa, which is the reason we did not have school. We woke up on Heritage Day and drove to Wilderness, a town about 45 minutes east of Mossel Bay. In Wilderness, we rented canoes to go “kloofing” for the day. Kloofing is an African term for canyoning, which is pretty much canoeing up a river canyon, cliff jumping, swimming, etc. We canoed up the Touws River for 45 to the Cappuccino Canyon where we hiked to a swimming hole where we swam and cliff jumped. When we finished our kloofing trip, we drove to Sedgefield and surfed a little bit at sundown at the beach outside our hostel, Afrovibe. For dinner we celebrated Heritage Day, which is also National Braai Day by having a braai at the hostel.

Friday morning I woke up at sunrise and drove to Victoria Bay to surf. Victoria Bay is a nice little beach community that has a great right point break. When done surfing, I went back to the hostel to pick people up and drive to Jeffreys Bay, the surfing mecca of South Africa. It was a two and a half hour drive from Sedgefield and once we got there we went straight to SuperTubes, the location of the Billabong Pro, to check out the waves. I got in the water but unfortunately slashed my foot open on a mussel and immediately got out of the water in fear of white sharks after seeing what happened to Mick Fanning literally at the same place. The cut on my foot ended the surfing aspect of the trip for me and I was unable to surf J Bay, which was what I was most excited about.

Saturday we woke up and went to Bloukrans Bridge to bungee jump, which is the highest bungee bridge in the world at 216 meters. We all jumped and enjoyed the great views from the bridge. in the afternoon we went to an elephant park where we played with the elephants for a little bit before driving to Knysna for the night. We stayed at an Airbnb at Knysna before waking up early Sunday to make the long trip back.

Bungee Jumping: Mack Prioleau

All of the activities on the Garden Route were great such as surfing, bungee, and kloofing, but the drives we had were just as great. It seemed like we drove through different seasons and countries as there were so many different beautiful landscapes on the way from alpine forests to mountains to beaches to fields. The views were amazing and always changing.

Victoria Falls & The Gorge Swing

Victoria Falls: Mack Prioleau

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, is a waterfall located in South Africa on the Zambezi River. It is truly one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. Measuring up to 107 meters in height and dropping an average of 550,000 cubic meters of water every minute, the thunder from the falling water is loud, expressing its power to all of those in the surrounding area. The waterfall is 1,708 meters wide, making it the largest curtain of water in the world.

The falls has been declared a National Park and a World Heritage Site, which has helped preserve the area from excessive commercialization or destruction.

We visited Victoria Falls during September, which is when the dry season begins to take effect. The dry season lasts until January and during this time the islets on the crest become wider and more numerous.

When flood season comes around, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face. The spray from the falls rises to a height of over 300 meters and sometimes as high as 600 meters.

Gorge Swing – Victoria Falls from Mack Prioleau on Vimeo.

While visiting the falls, we went to the Gorge Swing which is suspended across the gorge. It is about a 70 meter free fall into a 85 meter long pendulum swing. It was an incredible adrenaline rush and offered a unique perspective of the river and the gorge.

United States Economy Is Better Than Advertisted

Over the last several years, the United States economy has experienced steady growth. While growth has been slow, it is evident that the American economy is making positive improvements.

Since President Obama’s first year in office, the unemployment rate has gone down from 10 percent to 5.3 percent. Gross domestic product expanded at a rate of 2.5 percent. Furthermore, the federal deficit is estimated to be $486 billion this year, which is about a third of deficit total in 2009.

However, as this article points out, if you follow the current political discussion, you would be likely to believe the economy is in horrible shape. Much of the discussion has centered around stagnant wage growth and growing income inequality. So why is there so much negative rhetoric surrounding the economy when we have clearly seen positive growth and encouraging signs?

This election cycle has no incumbent president running for re-election. The incumbent party has the difficult task of highlighting the successes of the party, but at the same time not appearing to be complacent. Therefore, the are more likely to highlight the weakness of the current policies and the president. In addition, the opposition party will focus on pushing the belief that the economy is in turmoil — as a result of the current president’s policies — and presenting their ideas for change.

The views of the United States economy are, undoubtedly, affected by the current outlook of the world economy as well. European nations are currently unstable, in large part due to the debt crisis in Greece. The future of the Chinese economy remains uncertain, as the currency has plunged and growth has slowed. Many are worried the troubles in China will begin to negatively impact the United States economy.

Lastly, the growth of the economy has not translated into any positive benefits for most Americans. Private investment has remained sluggish as companies struggle to generate more revenue for the top line. The investments are the main driver of productivity and as a result, wage growth. Therefore, wages have remained stagnant for many Americans leading to a negative outlook on the economy by many Americans.

Over the remainder of this election cycle, we will be sure to continue hearing about the many problems of the United States economy. Each presidential hopeful will continue to address and exploit these problems and introduce their plans and policies to address the concerns. However, it is important to understand that the economy is currently moving on a positive path while listening to these plans.

If you would like to learn more about the economic plans for some of the top presidential candidates, check out this website.