No disputing it's a wild, wild world


December 26, 2004|By CANDUS THOMSON

With a tip of the fur-lined cap to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks, we here at The Sun's Ministry of Silly Deeds proudly bring you another year-end collection of zany things that happened in the outdoors.

We did, however, add our own thoughts.

Hook 'em horns

A 60-year-old Texan received minor injuries in September after he startled a bull elk at Yellowstone National Park by snapping a flash photograph of it from 10 feet away.

The unidentified tourist at Mammoth Hot Springs then turned his back on the elk and began to walk away, park rangers said.

The miffed elk put its head down and charged the Texan, who glanced back just in time to get a face full of antlers. He suffered some cuts and bruises to his head, hands and chest.

Park rangers sawed off the elk's antlers to prevent further wildlife paparazzi incidents.

No word on what they did to the sexagenarian Longhorn.

The naked truth

A man fulfilled his ambition of walking the length of Britain naked, overcoming near-freezing temperatures and brushes with the law.

Steve Gough, 44, reached the northern tip of Scotland in January after a six-month, 901-mile walk that began in the southwest corner of England. He wore only socks, walking boots, a hat and a rucksack.

Gough said he was blazing a trail against fuddy-duddy British indecency laws and public attitudes. The unemployed truck driver was arrested several times for nudity.

Apparently the public, unlike Gough, was not willing to turn the other cheek.

Fire at will

Here's a dilly of a dispatch in January from the Associated Press bureau in Richmond, Va.: "A House of Delegates committee effectively killed a pair of gun control bills on Friday-one that would have kept domestic abusers from owning firearms and one that would allow local school boards to enforce zero-tolerance firearms policies on school property."

Makes you wonder if the legislature will have to rename the state song, I've Got Your Back in Old Virginny.

That healthy glow

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant outside Denver to be used for hiking, hunting and other outdoors activities after cleanup is completed in 2006.

But tests have found traces of uranium in mule deer that live at Rocky Flats, which built plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads. The finding is giving some health experts pause.

Health? I'll give you health. What if a hunter shoots one of these critters and sets off a venison chain reaction? And what happens if these critters mutate to the size of Tony Siragusa and begin demanding their own hiking trails?

This episode of The Twilight Zone is being brought to you by the Interior Department's Office of Oxymorons, which is renaming the nuclear site the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. That's as bad as calling New Jersey "The Garden State."

It's all downhill

Britain's most popular hiking magazine apologized early this year after an issue contained a route that would have caused climbers to plunge to their deaths off Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in Scotland.

Instead of pointing the way to a safe descent in bad weather, Trail outlined an alternative that ended abruptly on a cliff on the 4,406-foot mountain.

Editor Guy Procter acknowledged the magazine had inadvertently deleted the first of two crucial bearings during the editing process. But he said he was confident that the experienced hikers who make up most of the magazine's 36,000 readers would not blindly step off into space.

Let's hope he's right. Otherwise subscription renewals are bound to take a hit.

`Babe' in the woods

Donald "Babe" Winkelman, an outdoors columnist and TV show host, was busted for illegally using walkie-talkies at a deer hunt on his Minnesota property.

A game officer cited him for violating the "fair chase ethic" for radioing information about deer movements to other hunters.

Winkelman's columns appear in magazines and more than 450 newspapers, according to his Web site. His syndicated TV shows, Outdoor Secrets and Good Fishing, are broadcast on Fox Sports Net and The Outdoor Channel.

A judge ordered Winkelman to pay a $200 fine and write a column on hunting ethics.

An ethics lecture from Winkelman is like a course on self-discipline taught by Bill Clinton.

Mouse hunting

A Texas businessman wants to make killing big game as easy as point and click.

John Lockwood spent $10,000 to build a platform on his 330-acre ranch that holds a rifle and a camera that can be remotely aimed by a customer sitting at his or her office computer.

Click the mouse and the gun fires. A ranch hand will retrieve carcasses for shooters, who can have the trophy heads mounted by a taxidermist and the meat processed and shipped by a butcher.

"It's not intended for everybody," says Lockwood of his site,

Yeah, like ethical people.

No job too small

And finally, the best state job-posting memo, courtesy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. It begins: "There is currently a permanent Game Farm Assistant Superintendent opening for permanent employees interested in transfer or demotion."

Gee, it sure sounds like a dream job on paper, but I don't know. Hope they throw in a pay cut and longer hours.

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