‘Gum Wrapper’ Blamed for Flier’s Pain Was Not a Gum Wrapper

The Free Press WV

If you’re seated next to Quin Maltais on a future flight, forgive her if she’s a little jumpy. That’s because the Canadian student recently had another seatmate—an unwelcome one—on a recent Air Transat flight from Toronto to Calgary. On that Feb. 26 flight, Maltais initially dismissed what the CBC describes as a “fluttering motion” on her lower back, thinking maybe it was a draft from the plane’s AC. That movement, however, soon turned into a “piercing pain.“ “Oh, my God, something bit me,“ she recalls thinking. Maltais couldn’t take her seatbelt off right away, as the plane was landing, but once it touched down and the lights came back on, she got up and peered into the seat—and spotted a scorpion “in the fold toward the back of the chair.“

A flight attendant Maltais summoned at first thought a gum wrapper in the seat had been what had poked Maltais, but then she, too, saw the scorpion. Maltais figures the critter, which she says was about 4 inches long, had been in her sweater for a half-hour or so. The airline confirms to CTV News the incident happened as the plane was descending into Calgary, and that Maltais received paramedic attention at the airport after the plane landed; she wasn’t injured. The scorpion was captured after all the passengers had left the aircraft. In a statement to the CBC, an Air Transat rep calls the situation an “extremely rare” one and says the plane has since been fully checked and exterminated, though the airline hasn’t said how the creature is believed to have snuck into the cabin of Maltais’ flight. Maltais, for her part, says “I definitely will check under my seat” each time she flies now.

Wolves Are Airdropped Onto Island to Counter Moose Boom

The Free Press WV

Four Canadian wolves now find themselves in a strange habitat, an island in Lake Superior, after being airdropped there by the US National Park Service. Their mission is to whittle down the moose population in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, the Guardian reports, and help grow the wolf population. But first they have to learn to survive on the island. “They are being introduced to each other,“ says the American ecologist in charge of the operation. “It’s tense and nervous—and it’s tough to find food in a new place. It’s stressful.“ In the past, ice bridges linked the island and the mainland for at least 50 days a year, so wolves could migrate. Lately, the ice bridges have been less reliable, leaving the last two wolves effectively stranded on the island and preventing others from getting there. Another 20 or 30 wolves could be airlifted to the island in the next five years.

The wolf population in the continental US was down to a few hundred in the 1990s but has rebounded. “Our attitudes have changed enough to decide definitively that we want to live with wolves,“ the ecologist says. “But we haven’t decided how to live with wolves.“ The rebounding population of the gray wolf was given as the reason Wednesday, the New York Times reports, when the US Interior Department proposed taking it off the list of endangered species. The government called the the gray wolf’s story “one of our nation’s great conservation successes.“ The delisting can’t happen before a period of public comment, and arguments for and against are already being made. The matter could end up in court, which is what happened last time. The Obama administration tried to remove protections for the gray wolf in 2013 but lost in court.

West Virginia turkey call maker earns national honor

The Free Press WV

Nathan Taylor has been making turkey calls for less than four years, but already his creations have attracted national attention.

In fact, his calls attracted enough attention to earn Taylor the Amateur Call Maker of the Year award at the recent National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to win that award,“ said Taylor, an educator from Sandyville, in Jackson County.

Taylor makes pot calls, hollowed-out wooden discs that resonate when their slate calling surfaces are scraped with a stick called a striker. One of his calls captured the top spot in its division, another took second place, and another placed third in a separate category.

Awards were the farthest thing from Taylor’s mind when he took up call making as a hobby.

“I was getting tired of the calls I was purchasing from big-box stores,“ he recalled. “I stumbled across a place where I could find pot call kits. I started piecing those together and I thought, ‘Man, I really like this. This is neat.‘ After a while, though, I started thinking that maybe I could do things a little better.“

He became intrigued with the idea of turning his own pots on a wood lathe, but didn’t want to sink a lot of money into a pastime he wasn’t sure he’d continue. A visit to his wife’s parents’ house turned up a solution.

“My brother-in-law had gotten a lathe for pen turning when he was in high school, but by then he was in medical school and the lathe was just occupying space in my father-in-law’s garage,“ Taylor said. “I offered to take the lathe off his hands.“

Lathe accessories for pot-turning differ significantly from those used for pen-turning. Taylor took a prefabricated pot-call blank to a woodworker’s store in Parkersburg for advice.

“They set me up with exactly what I needed,“ he said. “I got excited and turned out all sorts of calls. They were terrible.

“I learned very quickly that a turkey call, even a pot call, is still a musical instrument. There are very specific dimensions that call has to have or it’s not going to make the right sound.“

Sound quality — matching the tone and timbre of a hen when she yelps, clucks or purrs — makes all the difference when it comes to a call’s effectiveness.

“So many measurements are important,“ Taylor explained. “The diameter of the call, the thickness of the wall of the call, the overall thickness of the call from top to bottom, the depth of the chamber where the sound resonates, the dimension of the pedestal your sound board sits on, and the gap between the soundboard and pedestal are all very critical.“

To make those measurements, Taylor uses a digital micrometer.

“There are some places where tolerances need to be between one to two thousandths of an inch, plus or minus,“ he said. “I’ve learned that I need to spend almost as much time measuring as I spend shaping a pot on the lathe.“

Such attention to detail is necessary, Taylor said, to produce calls with consistent tone.

“A lot of people don’t realize how exact you have to be,“ he said, “but if you want to recreate a certain sound, and do it time and time again, you have to get those measurements as close as they can be.“

Taylor also tries to make calls that look as good as they sound.

“I’m not an artist, so I’m not able to do wood burnings, drawings and paintings on my calls,“ he said. “But I also live by the motto, ‘Life’s too short to hunt with ugly turkey calls,‘ so I try to choose pieces of wood that have aesthetically pleasing coloration, grain orientation and character.“

Judges for the Turkey Federation’s Grand National Call Competition apparently liked what they heard and saw. Taylor wasn’t able to attend the convention, so he tried to monitor the contest results through an internet portal the federation maintains for call makers.

“When I logged in, I saw nothing next to the calls I’d entered,“ he said. “I figured none of them had made the top five. Later, I was chatting with a friend and asked him how he had done, and I told him I hadn’t seen anything posted about my calls. He told me I was looking in the wrong place.“

Taylor logged back onto the federation website. The results stunned him — first- and second-place medals for his pot calls, a third-place medal for one of his trough calls, and another medal for Amateur Call Maker of the Year.

“I sat there dumbfounded, in utter disbelief,“ he said. “I logged out and logged back in, just to make sure I was seeing everything correctly. As the reality of it set in, the disbelief turned into excitement.“

Taylor’s phone began ringing, and it hasn’t stopped since. Turkey hunters who heard his calls at the convention or saw the results of the competition called to place orders. That part of it is a little daunting to Taylor, who would prefer to limit the number of calls he produces each year.

“Last year I made about 320 calls,“ he said. “I don’t want to do many more than that. I don’t want my business to get so big that I lose touch with the art of it.

“To me, call making is an art. I want to make sure I’m the person who is hand-selecting the boards, who is picking out the parts of the boards the blanks will be cut from, and who is turning them out one call at a time. I put my heart, soul and passion into making calls, and I don’t want to change that.“

DNR announces schedule for Friday and Saturday trout stockings

The Free Press WV

In an effort to encourage families and new anglers to enjoy fishing during the spring 2019 season, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has announced the locations of 69 trout stockings.

These stockings are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays. Locations were selected based on proximity to state parks and adequate access points, and to accommodate anglers and hatchery staff.

“Friday and Saturday stockings provide a unique fishing opportunity for anglers who work or attend school during regularly scheduled trout stockings,” said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel. “Weekend stockings also help us recruit new anglers and help families make weekend plans at our beautiful state parks and forests.”

In addition to these announced stockings, DNR personnel will stock fish at unannounced locations on Saturdays this spring. Where feasible, efforts are being made to stock on Saturday instead of Monday.

Announced stockings will start Friday, March 15, and continue through Friday, May 17.They correspond with the annual stocking schedule, published in the 2019 West Virginia Fishing Regulations, and are not additional or surplus stockings.Anglers can anticipate the stockings to include the same amount and variety of trout typically stocked in these waters.

Anglers are not permitted to fish within 200 feet of WVDNR staff during a stocking event. Licensing requirements remain the same. Licenses may be purchased at agents across the state or online at

Announced Friday and Saturday stockings will take place at:

Audra State Park
Middle Fork River – March 22, April 12, May 10

Blackwater Falls State Park
Pendleton Lake – March 15, April 06*
Blackwater River – March 22, April 50*, April 26, May 10
Thomas Park Lake – March 15, April 06*

Cacapon Resort State Park
Cacapon State Park lakes - March 22, April 06*, April 19, May 10

Camp Creek State Park
Camp Creek – March 29, April 12
Mash Fork - March 29, April 12

Canaan Valley Resort State Park
Glady Fork – March 29, April 19, May 17
Shavers Fork (Lower/Bemis) - March 29, April 19, May 17

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
Greenbrier River – April 06*

Chief Logan State Park
Chief Logan Lake – March 15

Coopers Rock State Forest
Big Sandy – March 22, April 05, April 19, May 17
Coopers Rock Lake -March 22, April 05*, April 19, May 17

Holly River State Park
Laurel Fork [within the park] – March 22, April 05, May 03
Left Fork of Holly River – March 22, April 05, May 03

Little Beaver State Park
Little Beaver Lake – April 05*
Glade Creek of New River – April 05

North Bend State Park
North Bend Tailwaters – April 06*

Pipestem Resort State Park
Longbranch Lake – March 22, April 06*

Seneca State Forest
Seneca Lake – March 22, April 05*, May 03

Stonewall Resort State Park
Stonewall Jackson Lake Tailwater – March 22, April 06*, May 03,
Sutton Tailwater – March 22, April 06*, May 03
Burnsville Tailwater – March 22, April 06*, May 03

Tomlinson Run State Park
Tomlinson Run Lake – March 15
King Creek – March 15
Tomlinson Run – March 15

Tygart Lake State Park
Tygart Tailwaters – April 5*, May 03

Watoga State Park
Watoga Lake – March 22, April 6*, April 12, May 03
Greenbrier River (Marlinton) – March 22, April 12

* Dates marked with an asterisk indicate golden rainbow trout stockings during DNR’s Gold Rush Week, April 01-06.

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