December 7, 2018
Remembering E.M. “Pete” Bakwin

The McGraw family is mourning E.M. “Pete” Bakwin, a longtime member and influential supporter of the Foundation. Mr. Bakwin, a retired banking executive and passionate angler, died on Thanksgiving at age 90.

Mr. Bakwin, who joined McGraw in 1972, “helped advance our fisheries research program through his generosity and also his curiosity,” said Charles S. Potter Jr., McGraw president and CEO. “He was the consummate gentleman, generous and thoughtful and always willing to help McGraw.”

When he purchased a 400-acre farm in LaPorte, Ind., Mr. Bakwin asked McGraw to help him evaluate and improve the property’s fishing lakes. Following the advice of McGraw’s Tom Harder and Gordy Gotsch, the farm became a showpiece of fisheries management known as “Seven Springs.”

“Tom and Gordy did what McGraw is most proud of – helping to put science to work,” Potter said. “In this case, it led to an exceptional fishery where only a modest one had existed. “The result was that Pete, who had long supported McGraw, became even more engaged in our research and advancing the careers of our fisheries biologists.”

What Pheasant Hunting Means to South Dakota
By Paul A. Smith/Journal Sentinel
McGraw photo by Alex Garcia
Cattail stalks slapped our ears and grabbed our boots, adding a physical challenge as we hiked and hunted in the prairie pothole region of South Dakota.

But the greatest test at the moment was visual. 
As our group pushed through the center of a dense slough, winged forms boiled skyward from the eastern edge.

"Look at that," said Anthony Hauck of Lino Lakes, Minnesota, as we stopped to admire the sight well out of shotgun range. "Got a few in here, don't you think?"

How Did the Octopus Get So Smart?
By Carl Zimmer/The New York Times
Photo by MaO de Paris/flickr
To demonstrate how smart an octopus can be, Piero Amodio points to a YouTube video. It shows an octopus pulling two halves of a coconut shell together to hide inside. Later the animal stacks the shells together like nesting bowls — and carts them away.

“It suggests the octopus is carrying these tools around because it has some understanding they may be useful in the future,” said Mr. Amodio, a graduate student studying animal intelligence at the University of Cambridge in Britain.

But his amazement is mixed with puzzlement.

For decades, researchers have studied how certain animals evolved to be intelligent, among them apes, elephants, dolphins and even some birds, such as crows and parrots.

But all the scientific theories fail when it comes to cephalopods, a group that includes octopuses, squid and cuttlefish. Despite feats of creativity, they  lack some hallmarks  of intelligence seen in other species.

The Fight for Access to Public Waters
By T. Edward Nickens/Field & Stream
Photo by Austin Kirk/flickr
Across the country, access to public waters is under siege, at a scale similar to the threats public lands have faced over the last few years. Court cases and legislative efforts are underway to change legal precedents and long-standing traditions concerning public-waters access. River by lake by creek by marsh, one stream at a time or through regulatory changes that could wipe away the public’s access across entire landscapes, outdoorsmen are increasingly being gated out of and litigated off some of the country’s most iconic waterways. It’s an issue that affects freshwater and saltwater anglers alike, plus duck hunters, river paddlers, and anyone else whose outdoor passions require access to water. And it’s an issue that could fundamentally alter opportunities for generations of hunters and anglers.

In Colorado, a lawsuit has been filed by a trout angler who was run off the Arkansas River, which he accessed from public land. In New Mexico, the attorney general’s office issued an opinion that all the state’s fishing streams are in the public domain, setting up potential court and regulatory fights. In North Carolina, the rights of the public to access the dry-sand beach went all the way to the state supreme court before being upheld in a dismissal. Issues of privatizing lakes are popping up in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and across New England, public waters where fisheries have been managed and enhanced with public funds are being increasingly gated off to the public. The message is loud and clear: Anglers and hunters stand to lose sporting opportunities. So they better stand up and make their voices heard.

Maryland Recruits Hunters to Aid Conservation
By Scott Dance/The Washington Post
Photo by Kansas Tourism/flickr
For Maurice Craft, the steps are rote as he begins a hunt at the Patuxent wildlife refuge outside Laurel, Md.

He sprays himself with a mist designed to disguise his human scent, shimmies his way 20 feet up into a green metal tree stand, and readies his crossbow. He rattles plastic deer antlers to attract the game, and waits.
It’s all new to Nasr Majid, who only started hunting this fall at  Blackwater
National Wildlife Refuge  on the Eastern Shore. He’s one of a relatively few new hunters who conservationists hope will help reverse a nearly four-decade decline nationally in what has become a hobby for fewer than 5 percent of Americans.

Natural resources and wildlife officials in Maryland are encouraging hunting of deer, turkeys and other game because they say it’s good for the environment. Though hunting may stir debates about firearms and animal cruelty, these advocates say it thins herds for the good of ecosystems and their human neighbors. It also promotes advocacy for land conservation.

 “I came by there five years ago and where I shot that pheasant there was a hotdog place and filling station and the north prairie, where we hunted snipe in the spring and skated on the sloughs when they froze in the winter, was all a subdivision of mean houses, and in the town, the house where I was born was gone and they had cut down the oak trees and built an apartment house close out against the street.” 

- Ernest Hemingway
To read past McGraw Reports click here.