The Dunbar family has acquired Hofmann’s Lures Incorporated – a brand that has been in the fishing lure industry since 1952.
Thursday The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), announced the addition of 11.25 acres of shoreline habitat to Michigan’s Hiawatha National Forest Research Natural Area. Located along Lake Michigan, the property features important habitat for at-risk wildlife and plant species.
New polling out Thursday from Colorado College that shows Montanans and Americans throughout the West support conservation of wildlife habitat and collaborative strategies to protect and preserve vital migration corridors.

Clenzoil is pleased to announce that Clenzoil will be exhibiting for the first time at this year at the Mid-States Winter Rendezvous in Phoenix, AZ.
The DSC Convention, Mogambo: Dagga Boy Danger, held in Dallas in mid-January at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, saw a healthy increase in day traffic and brisk business for most exhibitors. 
The Ozark Prairie Chapter of Quail Forever has announced it will host the first annual Quail Forever Banquet on Feb. 9, 2019 in Fayetteville.
The 2019 Western Hunting & Conservation Expo (Hunt Expo) hosted by the Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife will open in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah and is open daily starting at 10 am from Thursday February 14 through Sunday February 17.

Rock River Arms expands their LAR-9 line of 9mm-chambered semi-auto pistols. These new models come with new handguards and are fitted with SB Tactical Pistol Stabilizing Braces.
The 2019 Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River is scheduled for Feb. 7-10 with daily takeoffs at 7:30 a.m. ET from Palatka City Dock and Boat Ramp and weigh-ins at 4:10 p.m. each day at Palatka Riverfront Park.
- GEAR -
Streamlight, Inc. introduced the Siege X USB, a multi-function, ultra-compact USB rechargeable lantern with multiple lighting modes, including a forward flashlight setting. The new light delivers up to 325 lumens in lantern mode and up to 300 lumens in its flashlight setting.
After a brief halt Saturday, Feb. 2, for the waterfowl youth hunt, the 2019 Light Goose Conservation Order will again be in operation in Arkansas.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering free hunter safety internet-completion courses in Bay, Escambia, Leon, and Santa Rosa counties in February.
The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, the firearms and ammunition industry's technical standards-setting organization, is pleased to announce the acceptance of a new cartridge and chamber standard, the 350 Legend -- 350 LGND-- introduced by Winchester Ammunition.
ERGO Grips enjoyed crowds at the SHOT Show, showing the redesigned booth and the latest product innovations. These included the new line of Remington and Mossberg Shotgun Adapters and Rail Systems.
More than 150,000 people visited a NMMA boat or sportshow this past weekend to browse and buy the latest in boats and accessories.

On Wednesday, February 27, NMMA – in coordination with the Congressional Boating Caucus – will host an event in Washington, D.C. to highlight the recreational boating industry’s economic impact at the national, state, and local level.
Bill Hicks & Co., Ltd. received the 2018 “Top Performer” Award from Savage Arms.
Lipsey’s and Athlon Outdoors have partnered to create an innovative distribution platform for firearms and sporting goods dealers. This retail magazine program provides Athlon Outdoors a firearms friendly bridge to the gun dealers in all 50 states that will be exclusively supported by the Lipsey’s team.

- JOBS -
Smith & Wesson is seeking a District Sales Manager for the California, Oregon and Nevada territory.
Smith & Wesson Precision Components has a position open for Operations Manager in Deep River, CT.
The American Outdoor Brands Corporation seeks candidates for associate brand manager at the Columbia, Missouri location.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation seeks a passionate conservationist and team player to fill our Assistant Editor position.

The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) Thursday applauded the introduction of H 124, sponsored by Representative Pat Brennan, R-Chittenden 7-2, which will repeal the burdensome state laws that impede on the rights of law abiding citizens of Vermont.
Pachmayr introduces the Gripper Slip-on Grip, with fits for a large variety of popular medium to full size pistols. Made from tough rubber compound, the Gripper is impervious to weather, sweat, oils & solvents.
Gill’s latest season is spearheaded in the fishing category by the brands’ iconic Fusion Jacket, designed to meet the needs of the professional angler with advanced technological details for the ultimate protection.
Mossy Oak GO is now streaming “Try” and “Sixty-Three Dog Night,” two short films presented by B&W Trailer Hitches.

Leica Sport Optics has unveiled a new ‘Customized’ edition of its Ultravid HD-Plus binoculars, which features a coffee-brown leather trim and a titanium color finish housing. Available in four versions: Leica Ultravid 8x32 HD-Plus, 10x32 HD-Plus, 8x42 HD-Plus and 10x42 HD-Plus, the package includes a premium calfskin bag and a neoprene carrying strap.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is pleased to announce that its Patron members have elected Jeanelle Westrom to its Board of Governors. Ms. Westrom is the owner of Davenport Guns & Shooting Club, a full-service firearms range, training and retail facility in Davenport, Iowa.
Wildlife Forever is proud to announce a corporate conservation partnership with Big Frig Cooler Company out of North Sioux City, South Dakota, as their 2019 premier supplier of outdoor coolers and mugs.
Dwayne Charron, former Director of Research and Development at Smith and Wesson, passed away on January 16th four months short of his 94th birthday. Dwayne was instrumental in the design of many of Smith & Wesson’s most notable firearms, including the Model 41 target pistol, the Model 76 SMG, the Model 59, the Model 469 compact and his crowning achievement, the Model 52 Master 38 Special Wad-Cutter pistol.
Join Jim and Trav this week on The Revolution as they discuss backcountry DIY hunting adventures and world record whitetails.
This week, Outdoors Radio features kayak instructor Jon Small, fishing guide Tyler Chisholm, pro angler Duffy Kopf and NRA safety instructor Starla Batzko.
It’s an important Second Amendment case heading to the Supreme Court, an essential concealed handgun book, a reloading roadshow coming soon to a city near you, a gun safety program proposal for school kids in Illinois, and more, this week on Tom Gresham's Gun Talk Radio.
This week on America Outdoors Radio we'll talk to Alaska big game hunting guide Tia Shoemaker, an experienced female outfitter who literally grew up in the business.
The self-feeding Wallenstein BX36S Wood Chipper in Realtree EDGE Camo automatically pulls in limbs and branches up to 3.5 inches in diameter. Chipping action is powered directly from your tractor’s PTO.
Moultrie, a leader in game management products including game cameras, feeders, and attractants, has re-signed as a Whitetails Unlimited national sponsor.
Wyoming Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott announced his retirement after 34 years of service with the agency.
Led by the efforts of 2012 Knife Rights Freedom's Point Award winner Mike Vellekamp of V Nives, a bipartisan Switchblade Ban Repeal bill, SB 5782, has been introduced by Washington State Senator Hans Zeiger.
Several of Indiana's state parks, state-forest and state-recreation properties are looking for volunteers to serve as campground hosts in exchange for free camping during their service.
The latest edition of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s fishing and trout fishing guidebooks are being distributed to AGFC offices and license dealers around the state.
Kevin Condon, 34, of Brattleboro, Vermont, is the lucky winner of the 2018 Vermont Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License Lottery.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will hold a public meeting Thursday, Feb. 7, in Little Rock, to present an update on proposed regulation changes concerning importing, breeding, selling and keeping of captive wildlife species and educational animals in the state.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is holding several public meetings to gather community input about the agency’s aquatic plant herbicide treatment program.
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – Anglers discover that topwater redfishing is a lesson in quick thinking and accurate casting in Top Redfish, the upcoming episode of “Chasin’ The Sun.” The latest episode of the show, featuring co-hosts Justin Leake and Travis Holeman, is presented by Visit Panama City Beach, and will air on Saturday, February 2 at 8:00 a.m. EST / 7:00 a.m. CST on Discovery Channel.
Terry and his good friend Joe Beal travel to the Brite Ranch in Texas for their annual Mule deer camp. Located in Marfa,Texas the Brite ranch boasts some of the most scenic views in the entire state. Not only is Terry hoping to fill his Mule deer tag, he hopes find some success Predator Hunting.
It’s now official, Timber Creek Outdoors will continue as the Title Sponsor of The High Road with Keith Warren for 2019.
This weekend on Discovery Channel, don't miss new programming from The Fish Guyz, The Next Bite, Operation Fishing Freedom, The Experience and more
The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies is excited to see the reintroduction of legislation to modernize the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act (HR 877). This bipartisan legislation clarifies that the Pittman-Robertson(P-R) Fund can be used by state fish and wildlife agencies for outreach, communication, and education of hunters and recreational target shooters.
For landowners who enjoy a nice fire in their hearth or woodstove, the best time of year to cut next winter’s supply of wood is during late winter. With a little extra thought to the resulting woodlands, this can also be a great time to add valuable wildlife habitat on the ground.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and partners are hosting a “Prescribed Fire & Wildlife Stewardship” workshop for private landowners in northwest Florida, on Feb. 26-28 at the North Florida Research and Education Center, in Quincy,.

Dozens of hunters and anglers gathered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, yesterday for their annual “Camo at the Capitol” event. Sponsored by the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, the day-long event helps sportsmen and women cultivate a strong conservation voice. Their day started with advocacy training (above) and was followed by meetings with state lawmakers. Bow hunter Stine Richvoldsen of Jackson (below) said she was eager to make her voice heard. “I don’t have 20 million dollars to fund lobbying, but I can show up…I’m here to become an ambassador to the public lands and wildlife that I cherish.” 

As President Trump and the Congress wage war about building a wall to curb illegal immigration along the southern border, there are some other issues involving illegal immigration that don’t seem to be making the news very often, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana being smuggled into the US through the southern border, along with people to sell and manufacture drugs in the US. 

Marijuana and its legalization is currently a hot topic. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have broadly legalized marijuana in some form, and 10 other states have adopted  expansive laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. 

Where does the marijuana come from that people are now using? It used to be largely smuggled across the border, but that’s been decreasing because people are growing pot here. Supposedly, legalizing marijuana will make illegal marijuana disappear. Actually, as border security has increased, manufacturing meth and growing black market marijuana in the US has increased. Legalization makes it okay for people to openly own and use recreational marijuana, but where they get it is another matter, and how do you track down easily where marijuana comes from? Law enforcement agents in California and Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, they say that illegal marijuana is readily available as it’s cheaper. 

Passing laws to allow for recreational use of marijuana may be intended to reduce the black market, but in California, less than 1% of the estimated 69,000 growers statewide have received a permit to farm marijuana since the beginning of 2018. And, according to the sheriff of Humboldt County, the epicenter of black market pot in California, there are at least 10,000 illegal grows in his county alone. 

Some illegal marijuana is grown in homes, abandoned buildings, barns and farms, but the biggest grows are found on wildlands, where the grow is more likely run by an international cartel that uses illegal toxic chemicals to get their pot to grow faster and bigger. 

According to Stacey Montgomery, District Attorney of Lassen County, California, “because of the legalization of marijuana in California, now we’re seeing those same individuals working with other criminal groups—the Asian groups, the Russian groups, the motorcycle groups—all kinds of organized crime….They are killing wildlife. They’re diverting streams. The damage that they’re causing, both to the economy and to our public lands, is going to be generational.” Actually by opening up sales and ownership of recreational marijuana, illegal timberland conversions to cannabis violations have skyrocketed 200% since the passage of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act in 2015. 

The US Forest Service says that every National Forest and National Park in California has been claimed by an international cartel, for their use growing marijuana, making meth and smuggling. The same is true for BLM lands, US FWS wildlife refuges and some of the Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs. If cartels don’t agree who runs grows in a certain wildland, the matter is usually settled there, resulting in graves of growers who lost.

This isn’t just a problem in California. Almost four million plants are removed from illegal grows on public lands nation-wide every year, and this is estimated at less than 20% of what’s actually out there. As of 2016 cartel marijuana gardens have been found in 67 National Forests in 21 states. Other states with significant cartel gardens on state and federal wildlands  include: Colorado, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky—especially in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Hundreds of meth labs have also been found on wildlands in all 50 states.

Taking On Protecting Our Wildlands

Just who removes illegal grows? The first things that may come to mind are police SWAT teams or heavily armed DEA agents. They do some eradication, but they have a lot of other things to do. Wildlands law enforcement agents are the primary removers of illegal pot gardens in the woods.

A decade ago there were nearly 1000 Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (LEO’s). Today there are only 550 to cover all National Forests.  The BLM is responsible for managing more land than any other federal conservation agency and yet there are only 300 BLM law enforcement officers for the entire country. There are 1500 Rangers for all the US Army Corps of Engineers made-made lakes and recreation areas for the entire US, and most do not carry firearms.  In 2005 there were 1548 National Park Service Rangers. By 2014, there were 1,322 and less than 400 seasonal rangers. 

The bottom line:  Some of our most active wildlands drug enforcement warriors are game wardens -- who many Americans mistakenly assume spend their time checking fishing and hunting licenses, and limits of fish and game, and looking for poachers. Right now there are approximately 8,000 state game wardens for the entire US and about 1000 in Canada; about as many men and women as the New York City Police Department deploys on Times Square at New Year’s Eve.

MET squad. All photos by Lt. John Nores with permission.

In part due to the shortage of wildlands law enforcement officers of all types, the land area where many criminal cartels are growing marijuana in our regional, state and federal forests, parks and wildlife refuges is increasing and California is the leader. The Forest Service reports that in 2012 nearly 83% of the 1,048,768 plants eradicated from national forests were eradicated in California. California is a leader in illegal marijuana grows, but California’s game wardens have also become a leader in combating them. Nation-wide there are three states with tactical units of game wardens – Florida, Texas and California. California’s tactical unit, the MET squad specifically targets trespass marijuana grows.

California’s MET unit began to form in 2013, but did not become fully operational until 2014. (Previously the wardens worked in an interagency team with other federal and state law enforcement agencies.)

“We estimate less than half of the California trespass grow sites in operation each year are detected and eliminated,” says Lt. John Nores, Jr., who has headed the California Fish and Wildlife Department’s tactical Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) until his retirement in December of 2018.

According to Lt. Nores, at least 3,000 to 5,000 organized crime-operated “trespass grows” are identified each year on California’s wildlands.  Many of these sites are typically in excess of 1,000 plants per site, some have more than 200,000 plants.

Trash at a grower camp.

The fact that an armed tactical unit is needed for our wildlands may seem surprising, but taking down illegal marijuana grow sites in remote areas is dangerous work. Each “grow” is manned by several armed growers. Between 2005 and 2015, California’s game wardens were involved in at least six gunfights with armed growers.  In recent years hikers, fishermen and hunters have been killed when they stumble into a grow. The FBI now says that game wardens are seven times more likely to be attacked than police officers in urban areas. 

People may think of game wardens as “fish cops,” but MET includes a sniper unit (Delta team), developed to support marijuana enforcement operations, homeland security and other public safety missions throughout California.

MET has produced results.  From 2013 to 2017 the unit completed 583 missions that included:

    eradicating 2.1 million poisoned marijuana plants;

    arresting 745 armed felons;

    confiscating 433 illegal firearms;

    removing 335 tons of grower waste;

    removing 41 tons of fertilizers, toxic poisons and pesticides (like EPA banned pesticides  Furdan and Metaphos), as well as 311 miles of black plastic irrigation pipe; and

   removing 614 illegal dams that consumed approximately 756 million of gallons of  California water during the state’s peak drought. 

Anti-personnel "Punji" pit booby trap on path leading into a grow.

The danger in these grow sites is high. Not only are growers armed, but the sites are frequently booby trapped by punji pits (underground beds of sharpened and poisoned sticks camouflaged on the trail to severely injure those that walk into the grow site), or tripwires attached to guns. 

“Approximately 85% of the trespass growers apprehended by the MET are here illegally,” says  Lt. Nores.

The felonies black market growers are typically charged with include: marijuana cultivation for sale, using firearms in the commission of a felony, assault on law enforcement officers, and using banned and highly toxic poisons illegally on private and public land. Cartel growers can also be charged with felony water stealing from the Water Code.  Other misdemeanors that are often charged include illegal stream alteration, water pollution, littering near state waterways, and the illegal take of numerous wildlife species.

“As a result of the numerous felony and environmental misdemeanor charges, we are seeing an average of 2-year prison sentences for trespass growers caught and prosecuted.  Since most are illegal, they are deported following their prison or jail sentences,” said Nores. But, many seem to find their way back into the US. 

MET officer and K9 handler Brian Boyd, who has worked with K-9 Phebe for the last nine years, reports that she has made 114 physical apprehensions on violent trespass-grow suspects over her career. She has also caught another 740 suspects where a physical apprehension was not required.

Essential to the success and safety of MET is “Phebe,” who is one of the unsung heroines of California’s drug war in the wildlands. A Belgian Malinois, Phebe has saved the lives of  the two-legged members of MET numerous times on dangerous missions, as well as those of other agencies who have partnered with the game warden tactical unit during fugitive-tracking and evidence-detection missions.

Along with its mission to stop the public safety threat from organized crime cultivation operations,  MET is also dedicated to rectifying the extensive environmental destruction to California’s wildlife resources within these grow sites, through cleanup and reclamation missions.



Wildlands Conservation Is Part of National Security

Almost four million plants are removed from illegal grows on public lands nation-wide every year, which is less than 20% of what’s actually out there, according to Lt. Nores. 

Mountain lion poisoned by toxic fertilizer and pesticides used at an illegal grow site.

California’s MET unit and similar efforts have so far have made progress on the new threats to our wilderness areas, but nation-wide the numbers of federal and state wildlands law enforcement officers have been declining in recent years and crime in wildlands has increased. Regardless if there is a sturdy physical wall along our southern border or not, making our wildlands the safe places they should be should definitely be a goal that everyone should be supporting for healthy, safe natural areas are essential to the health and well-being of all Americans.

Unless you’re a combat veteran, it’s difficult to get a sense of what it’s like to be the MET. That has changed with the recent release of a 24-minute documentary “WAR IN THE WOODS: Raid to Reclamation” producer Rick Stewart of American Zealot Productions. https://

—James A. Swan, PhD.

In 2010, Lt. Nores and James A. Swan, Ph.D., who was a Co-Executive Producer of the “Wild Justice” TV series, published a non-fiction book, War In The Woods: Combating the Marijuana Cartels on America’s Wildlands which has been optioned for translation into a scripted, dramatic TV show, “Lone Pine,” to begin production this year.  War In The Woods was written before MET was formed. In March 2019, a new book about MET written by Lt. Nores,  Hidden War: How Special Operations Game Wardens Are Reclaiming America's Wildlands From The Drug Cartels, will be published by Caribou Press. 

Event Calendar

Great American Outdoor Show

The annual Great American Outdoor Show will be held at the PA Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA.

National Wild Turkey Federation 42nd Annual Convention & Sport Show

Gaylord Opryland Hotel 
Nashville, Tennessee

Western Hunting & Conservation Expo

Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City. Website:

Ducks in the Desert Continental Shoot

Clark County Shooting Complex, Las Vegas, Nevada
 (661) 992-2941, email or visit

Outfitter Wire - 2271 N Upton St., Arlington, VA 22207
Copyright © 2018, All Rights Reserved.