Episode 55: Tick Talk Ireland with Mary Ferry Smyth

Listeners to this podcast, outdoors people, are a high-risk group when it comes to Lyme disease, a serious bacterial infection that gets passed to humans through tick bites. Spending long hours in the wild, often off the beaten track, exposes us to insect bites more than regular folks. But Lyme disease is not only a threat to bushwhacking deerstalkers. Even children on the playground are at risk.

The consequences of untreated Lyme disease can be devastating and nothing short of life-changing. To make things worse, the diagnosis of Lyme disease is very difficult, knowledge about it among medical personnel is weak and treatment is prolonged and complicated. As always, prevention is a much better option. 

Listen to this episode where I talk with Mary Ferry Smyth of Tick Talk Ireland about everything you need to know about Lyme disease, ticks and how to decrease the risk of contracting this nasty condition.

Episode 54: The National Biodiversity Data Centre with Dave Wall

Many of us outdoors people like to keep records of the animal and fish species we have encountered, caught or seen during our time in the outdoors. To keep those records we use spreadsheets, databases, dedicated apps and, perhaps, a pen and paper if you’re a little old-timey chap. As it turns out, there is a website that can not only help you record and explore your sightings but also include your data in the national dataset that is used by scientists. This website is operated by The National Biodiversity Data Centre and, in this episode of the podcast, our guest is their Citizen Science Officer, Dave Wall.

Is Angling a Blood Sport?

Just the other day, my buddy and I were unpacking our gear and were about to take a walk to our fishing mark. A passing family with two small kids waved at us and wished us good luck. This was not an uncommon occurrence. Many times, over the years, I have been greeted by, and even gotten into friendly chats with, non-angling passersby. On that day, while walking to our destination, we began to talk about how nonparticipants accept angling much more than hunting. We agreed that if we had been pulling out rifles, instead of fishing rods, from the trunk of our car, we wouldn’t have enjoyed such friendly reactions. 

So why doesn’t angling spark such negative emotions as hunting? This must have something to do with the arbitrary scale each of us uses to assign value to the life of various creatures. We usually do so based on intelligence (elephants are so smart) or size (whales are so big) or perceived scarcity of the resource (there are not many lions left in the world). No matter how you cut it, fish usually rank pretty low on the scale. They are fairly simple creatures which are not fluffy or cute and in most cases are perceived as plentiful. So the public doesn’t mind seeing a dude with a fishing rod on the river bank.

Unfortunately, with the growth of radical environmentalism coupled with the recreational outrage culture, things have begun to change. Nowadays, anglers are criticised more often than before. The arguments are not new. Anti-anglers use the same rhetoric as anti-hunters: the causing of unnecessary pain to a fish, the allegedly negative impact on the environment, the supposed sanctity of all life, and all the rest of the quasi-ethical arguments. Social media platforms provide a slick echo-chamber for perpetuating such arguments. Alas, many people choose to shape their view of the world based on the shallow and uninformed opinions of their favourite celebrity, rather than scientific evidence.

It is somewhat worrying that this trend can also be seen among the hunting and fishing community. It is becoming more common for sportsmen to criticise each other based on what tackle they use or what quarry they pursue. For example, I have met a few anglers who were very critical about hunting, clearly blindfolded to the fact that angling is, itself, a form of hunting. So if you are a hardcore catch & release angler, criticizing fellow sportsmen, remember that you might be surprised, sooner than you think, to find yourself on the wrong side of this argument.

Episode 52: Angling Trust with David Mitchell

We have spoken many times about the need for advocacy for hunters and anglers, strong organizations that would represent sportsmen’s interests. Angling Trust is one such organization. Its aim is to represent anglers from England and Wales. Our guest is Dave Mitchell who is Angling Trust’s Head of Marine. He is also a board member of the European Anglers Alliance. In the podcast, I talk with Dave about angling advocacy, the state of the marine environment and the challenges faced by the angling community. If you are an angler, this one is worth listening to, even if you don’t live in England or Wales.

Episode 51: Fighting Illegal Salmon Netting with Bertie Brosnan

In this episode you will hear a fascinating account about one man who has spent most of his life fighting illegal salmon netting in the rivers and estuaries of the Irish South West. His name is Bertie Brosnan and he has joined me with his son Dan to tell his fascinating story. But be warned, it is not for the fainthearted. You will hear about personal sacrifice, threats, damaged property, court sentences and shots fired.

There is a lot more than we could possibly fit into roughly an hour-long podcast and we only scratched the surface. That’s why we might get back to this tale in the future. Please leave your comments if you would like us to dig deeper.

Episode 48: Green Party with Pippa Hackett

This is another episode of the podcast where I talk with the representative of a political party. The goal is, as always, to dig a little deeper into some of the issues affecting the outdoors lifestyle. This time our guest is Pippa Hackett who is a Green Party Councillor and a spokesperson on Agriculture, Food, Forestry, Heritage & Animal Welfare.

Once again I want to include the disclaimer that it is not my intention to promote any political party. Instead, I want outdoors enthusiasts to be aware of how their support for a particular option might impact the activities they love.