January 17, 2020
Cody Matson

is taking on

a new challenge

After more than a decade at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, and more than two years as manager of McGraw’s clay target program, Cody Matson is moving on.

He’s accepted an offer to manage one of the nation’s best-known clay target facilities, the Cherokee Rose Shooting Resort near Atlanta. While McGraw certainly is sad to lose Cody, it’s a tremendous opportunity for him to grow even more and make his mark in the world of sporting clays. His last day at McGraw is January 27.

“Over the course of almost 12 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the best people you could ask for,” Cody said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have been mentored by some individuals who saw my potential and helped me become successful. The membership and I have interacted in a way that has forever changed my life.

“I’ve developed relationships and friendships that resemble that of family. I sincerely appreciate the wonderful memories made and the generosity I’ve been shown. As difficult as it is to walk away from all that is McGraw, I’m excited at the adventure that’s ahead.”

Cody joined McGraw in 2008 as a team member at the old Game Farm. Over time, he became one of the Foundation’s most popular hunting guides and demonstrated an affinity for clay target shooting and instructing. When the Foundation completed the renovation of what is now the Slawek Family Clay Target Center, he was a natural choice to lead.

He became a Level II instructor under the auspices of the National Sporting Clays Association and learned more about course operations at some of the top facilities in the country, including Northbrook Sports Club in Hainesville, Illinois and M&M Sporting Clays in Pennsville, New Jersey. 

Along the way, he helped several McGraw members become better shooters and became an avid and successful sporting clays competitor himself. He is likely to be named to the Illinois All-State sporting clays team later this year.

“Cody did a great job running the Slawek Family Clay Target Center,” said Roy Raupp, McGraw’s director of outdoor recreation experiences. “He also developed a team in Braede Jacobson and Cody Jesse who are well positioned to carry on what he began.”

Now Cody will bring his talents to Cherokee Rose, a storied clays facility that was nationally famous when it opened in the late 1980s. New owners want to restore it to those glory days, and decided that Cody could make that happen.

“McGraw believes in investing in its people and helping them grow, and Cody is a stellar example of that,” said Charlie Potter, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Though we would rather not lose him, we certainly wish him well – and we know that he will continue to be an ambassador for McGraw, its programs and its conservation work.

“We are proud of him, and we will be cheering him on as he takes on this new challenge.”

A farewell for Cody will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, January 26. Details will be announced soon.

Scientists try to save rare birds, using song
The Washington Post
Wikimedia Commons Photo
Up on the treacherous cliffs of Hawaii’s island of Kauai, the last few Puaiohi thrushes on Earth pose a tricky question for researchers: How do you know a species still exists if you can’t find it?

The small, elusive birds play a vital role in the health of the island’s forests. So a consortium of agencies put together a rescue plan to save the thrushes from extinction as soon as they could figure out where they nested.

To do that, they tried something unusual. Researchers placed small recorders along the base of the cliffs. Then they used the same algorithms the big tech companies developed for Internet searches to sort through weeks of sound files for the distinctive call of the Puaiohi.

“This is just an incredibly rugged, difficult area,’’ said Chris Farmer, a conservation biologist with the Plains, Va.-based  American Bird Conservancy , a partner in the project that has pinpointed the birds’ locations. “These new techniques are critical.’’

What are hippos doing in Colombia?
By Brandon Keim/Anthropocene
Photo by Michael Levine-Clark/flickr
With origins in the private zoo of cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, Colombia’s growing hippopotamus population is easily dismissed as an anomalous footnote of natural history. Yet they’re also an provocative ecological case study.

Originally native to sub-Saharan Africa, hippos are considered ecosystem engineers in their homeland—but they’ve never before lived in South America. How will their impacts translate? This “novel introduction of a megaherbivore onto a new continent,”  write researchers in the journa l Oryx , “raises questions about the future dynamics of the socio-ecological system into which it has been introduced.”

Led by Amanda Subalusky, an ecologist at Yale University, the researchers review what’s known about hippos in their native range, with an eye to how the enormous creatures—full-grown females weigh around 3,000 pounds, and males several times that—may fit into the vast wetland plains of Colombia’s Magdalena River, into which they wandered following Escobar’s 1993 death and their subsequent abandonment.

Why we need more crossings for wildlife
By Ula Chrobak/REI
Photo by Thomas Dwyer/flickr
Washington’s Cascade mountain range houses some of the country’s most intriguing mammals, including black bears, cougars, grey wolves and wolverines. But when Interstate 90 was built in the 1950s, running east-west across the state, it spliced ecosystems between the northern and southern Cascades. The highway also cut across streams, impeding fish passage. “Even though the South Cascades is a lot of land, it’s not enough to maintain a viable population of a lot of carnivore species,” says Patricia Garvey-Darda, a Forest Service wildlife biologist. Cougars and other carnivores need large territories to hunt and search for mates.

That’s why Garvey-Darda and a team of wildlife and transportation officials are pleased that a long-dreamed-of effort is underway: The $1-billion Interstate 90 project aims to widen a 15-mile stretch of highway, located about 50 miles east of Seattle between Snoqualmie Pass and Easton. In addition to making roads smoother and safer for drivers, the plan also helps wildlife move.

Since 2009, it’s created numerous routes under the road in addition to one massive, highly visible bridge over the pavement. The overcrossing, expected to be completed next fall, will be vegetated with native plants. Garvey-Darda says the project team will even transplant soil samples from nearby areas into the crossings to inoculate the crossing with fungi to help the plants grow. While a simple bare bridge might suffice for deer and elk, smaller and slower-moving critters—like snails and salamanders—need the forest floor to essentially extend across the highway to move to new areas on the other side.

Getting started
in hunting:
1 person’s story
By Marnee Banks/TRCP
CLfT photo
Whenever I tell people that I grew up in Montana, the first question I’m always asked is whether I hunt.

Up until this year, I’ve always sheepishly answered “no,” thinking that my reply in the negative would undermine my credibility as a Westerner.  
Growing up at the base of the Rocky Mountains, I was surrounded by big antlers on the wall, game meat on the table, and camo attire at weddings and funerals. But I didn’t hunt.
I was intimidated by the sport. I didn’t have anyone in my family who could teach me. I didn’t own a gun. I didn’t have any of the right gear. I didn’t know how to get a license or what I might need one for. 
But I knew I needed to learn when I began working at TRCP. If I wanted to talk the talk, I had to walk the walk. And with an office full of potential mentors, there was no excuse not to give it a shot.

“Hunting is the noblest sport yet devised by the hand of man.” 

-- Robert Ruark

To read past McGraw Reports click here.