Use Your Checks and Bring Awareness to Ducks Unlimited

By Alan Plastin

Ducks Unlimited is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving wetlands, water fowl, and habitat preservation. They currently have 775,000 members throughout the United States and Canada.

Ducks Unlimited is committed to preserving wetlands for North America's water fowl through restoration and management. If you belong to this organization, or you just want to help spread awareness of it, then you should certainly think about purchasing and carrying Ducks Unlimited personal bank checks.

On January 29, 1037, Joseph Knapp founded Ducks Unlimited due to a rising concern amongst him and some other similarly minded individuals. They were concerned about the destruction of wetland habitats and how that might impact their hunting of water fowl.

A chapter was started in Canada in 1938 and later other chapters opened in Latin America, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia.

Just in North America, 11.6 million acres of water fowl habitats has been preserved by Ducks Unlimited. Local governments, individuals, landowners, and corporations partner with the company in order to restore what has already been damaged as well as to prevent further degradation of the habitats. Each year, the organization takes in about $200 million dollars in revenue which is good since 88% of that goes towards habitat conservation.

Ducks Unlimited typically puts its emphasis on science and research. Some of the methods that they employ include acquiring wetlands for preservation, conservation easements, restoring watersheds, educating landowners, restoring grasslands, and replanting forests.

The popular Ducks Unlimited check series contains four individual checks, coordinating address labels, matching contact cards, and a leather checkbook cover embossed with the official Ducks Unlimited logo to protect your newly acquired checks.

The checks themselves contain beautiful images of water fowl in various stages of flight. These images include 2 designs of water fowl in their native wetlands, an image of water fowl flying over a snowy field, and an image of water fowl flying over a quiet farm.

The checkbook cover itself is gender-friendly and neutral. It is brown leather and since it costs less than $20 it is a good way of protecting your newly acquired checks.

Don't let the former high cost of personal bank checks deter from ordering your Ducks Unlimited checks and bringing awareness to the organization. If you purchase your bank checks online at a reputable website you can save as much as 50% off of what you might have paid in the past at your bank.

Another incentive to ordering your checks online is that you will have access to a larger selection of images and designs. You might have settled for a design in the past that you didn't want due to your bank's lack of selection but this doesn't have to be the case anymore.

When you order your checks online, just make sure that you know your routing number and checking account number. Your checks should get to you in about 5 days. - 31490

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The Basics Of Horse Race Handicapping

By Ross Everett

One of the reasons that the popularity of sports gambling has skyrocketed in recent years is its accessibility. It's easy to bet on most major sports because everyone understands the basics, which teams are good and why they win. Horse handicapping, on the other hand, is a completely different and somewhat arcane discipline. Where there are some shared concepts, success at sports betting doesn't guarantee the same playing the ponies. Legendary sports handicapper Jimmy 'The Greek' Snyder was famous for killing the books with his sports plays--and giving it all back with his inept horse bets.

Were not going to suggest that the information here even scratches the surface of what you need to know to become a serious horse handicapper. There are countless books, DVDs and other media that you should check out if this is your goal. If youre interested in simply knowing the basics so that you can enjoy a day at the track, here are some basic concepts of horse handicapping:

Do your reading: When you arrive at the horse track you should purchase a copy of the Daily Racing Form (DRF for short) and the track program. The DRF is basically the 'bible' of horse race handicapping, and offers morning line odds, horse, trainer, jockey statistics and information on each race at every major track across the country. The track program offers similar information for that individual venue, often in more 'user friendly' form.

The House Doesn't Care Who Wins: One thing that is important for the sports bettor to remember when playing the horses is that its a parimutuel situation. In other words, you're not playing against the house, you're playing against the other bettors. The track just facilitates the betting and acts as a middleman, handling the money for a fee (15 to 25 percent of the parimutuel pool). Another difference is that the track odds are determined by how much money is bet on each horse. If everyone bets on one horse"whether it is the best horse, or just has the catchiest name"it will go off as the favorite. Long odds on a horse doesn't necessarily indicate a bad horse, but just one that the wagering public isn't investing in. Sometimes this can be one and the same, but not always.

So where do odds in the newspaper or program originate? These are known as the 'morning odds' or 'morning line' and is basically an educated guess as to where the betting will go. They can be helpful as a handicapping tool, but may or may not reflect what will happen in the actual betting.

Horse handicapping basics: This is where horse racing gets complex--there are countless theories about how to handicap a horse race. Some handicappers consider the breeding lineage of the horse, while others are more concerned with past performance. Still others put more weight on the training a horse has received, or its workout performance.

Once a handicapper gets an idea what will happen in the race, he has to factor the available odds into the proposition. A favorite may be an unattractive wagering prospect due to a prohibitively high price, while a long shot may be a good wagering value based on a high potential payback. It all boils down to wagering value, which is simply a matter of doing a math. Teaching the youth of America solid math skills is crucial for no other reason than to help them gamble effectively and profitably.

Horses and Trainers: Some handicappers place a great deal of importance on the horses breeding lineage"the quality of his parents and grandparents "as an indication to his performance potential. This may be particularly important early in a horses career, but after a half dozen or so races what hes done on the track becomes more important than his pedigree. Trainers, like Bob Baffertt, can also be an important consideration much in the same way that coaching can play an important role in sports wagering.

The horse's jockey: Jockeys are free agents, meaning that they get paid on their performance. In theory, this means that they'll do their utmost to win in every given race. While there are a few exceptions, many serious horse handicappers downplay the importance of the jockey. Assuming the horse's 'mount' is competent, there are much more salient factors to consider when handicapping a race than the jockey.

Find your own style, and maintain discipline: Basically, there's not a 'right' or 'wrong' way to handicap a horse race. Figure out what works for you, and develop and refine your own methodology. As in any form of gambling, don't bet more than you can afford to lose and in particular when you're starting out there's no reason to be making big wagers. If you want to learn more, there's a number of good internet resources including the Daily Racing Form website. - 31490

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The Kentucky Derby For The Amateur Horse Race Fan

By Ross Everett

The Kentucky Derby takes place every year on its traditional date of the first Saturday in May. This is a race that many people follow and try to handicap even if theyre not typically horse racing enthusiasts. Understanding race horses is hard work, and a discipline unto itself.

While understanding and predicting horse races is a very complex discipline, here are some basics that can help the amateur understand the Kentucky Derby. Back during the seventies, it was a race dominated by the favorite including three great Triple Crown winners"Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed"and a great horse that came close, Spectacular Bid. Since Spectacular Bid won the Derby in 1979, however, you can count the favorites who've won the race on one hand with fingers left over. If I was a serious horseplayer, I might not advise you to do this but since I'm just worried about predicting the outcome of this one race Im going to suggest that you forget about the favorite altogether. Not only will you not be flying in the face of recent history, but also it allows you to concentrate on the horses offering greater value.

So why has the favorite done so poorly in recent years? One theory suggests that it is a by-product of the hype surrounding the race. Novice horse fans back the favorite, making it more of a popularity contest than anything else. The reality is that the horse with the most hype is not always the best horse.

Post position is also something that the horse racing neophyte should pay attention to. Obviously post position number 1 is an advantage relative to the outer ones, but it hasnt been a strong edge over the other inside positions. Twelve Derby winners have had the #1 position going into the race (the most of any position) but positions #4 and #5 have had ten winners each. In terms of percentages, positions #1 through #5 have yielded 49 winners (or just under 40%). On the other hand, the outermost positions (#11 through #20) have had just 16 winners (or just under 13%). It is important to note that theres not always that many horses in the race, which would obviously result in few higher posts winning. Still, concentrating on horses with favorable post positions is another way to pare down a field that you know little about.

A horse's lineage and breeding is also an important factor in the race. While this may be the most complex and demanding area of horse racing, there is a simple rule of thumb that can help a novice for this race. Most high level race horses are born in Kentucky. Well over 80% of Derby winners have also been born in the Bluegrass State. So just eliminate all horses that weren't born in Kentucky. Then consider a horse's gender and eliminate any horse that isn't an intact male (geldings and fillies). Over 90% of all Derby winners have been intact males, though a gelding did win the race in 2003 (Funny Cide). For the horse racing novice, however,this is another good way to pare down the field.

Dosage index numbers have also taken on a great deal of significance in recent years. What are dosage numbers you ask? I have no clue, beyond the fact that theyre a complex mathematical measurement that reflects the quality of the horses family tree, as well as his performance as a two-year-old. The conventional wisdom is that horses with a dosage index over 4.00 are not supposed to be competitive at the long 1 mile distance. This isnt always the case, of course, but for the dilettante its a good factor to consider. Since 1984 (when dosage systems first came into vogue), the winners of nine Derby races were dosage system selections.

If you want to learn about horse racing in more depth, there are countless books available to introduce you to the subject. For a recreational fan who just wants to have a better understanding of the Kentucky Derby, these rules can help. - 31490

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Seattle Slew's Legacy Of Horse Racing Greatness

By Ross Everett

Seattle Slew, horse racing's lone remaining living Triple Crown winner, passed away on May 7, 2002 at the age of 28. Already ranked among the all time greats by virtue of this accomplishment alone, Slew is even more notable as the only Triple Crown winner to go undefeated as a three year hold. He came from humble beginnings, bought at public auction--the only Triple Crown winner to be acquired in this manner. After retiring to stud in 1978 he remained a very profitable horse based on a stud fee of $300,000. His offspring earned over $76 million dollars at the race track and include over 100 stakes race winners including 1984 Kentucky Derby champion Swale.

The Seattle Slew story began very modestly at a public auction in Lexington, Kentucky. The Keeneland Summer Yearling sale wasn't supposed to be the marketplace of champions, and the idea that this particular horse would ever amount to anything other than a farmhand was downright laughable. Slew looked clumsy, due primarily to a right forefoot that splayed outward and resulting in a shuffling gait at a trot. He also wasn't a majestic beast like his predecessor by a few years, Secretariat. Slew was borderline ugly. So ungainly a creature was he that he was given the less than inspiring nickname "Baby Huey" by the Keeneland staff. He was purchased by two couples (Karen and Mickey Taylor and Jim and Sally Hill) for $17,500. What wasn't apparent at the yearling sale was the intangibles that make up a championship thoroughbred--poise under pressure, love of competition, toughness, heart and desire. The Taylor's and Hill's had stumbled onto an equine Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan who's competitive fire quickly became apparent to the trainers that worked with him and the jockeys that rode him. His first race came at Belmont in 1976, and the three races he entered--and won--as a 2 year old gave a hint of what was to come.

Slew became the Kentucky Derby favorite by winning his three prep races as a three year old, including prestigious Wood Memorial. In the Derby, Slew got off to a terrible start as he stumbled from the gate much like War Emblem did in the 2002 Belmont. Unlike 2002's Triple Crown contender, however, Slew was able to recover from that miscue and basically force his way through a pack of other horses to position himself at the front of the field at the quarter mile pole. Slew would win the Derby by a length and 3 quarters. He took another tough victory at the Preakness before clinching the Triple Crown with a 4 length victory in the Belmont Stakes.

Slew ran in a few races as a 4 year old but in the pre-Breeders' Cup days there wasn't as many opportunities for an older horse. He retired to stud in 1978. We've already discussed his prowess in the breeding shed, siring a number of first rate horses such as the aforementioned Swale, and the 1992 Belmont champ AP Indy. Slew stood at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky from 1985 until early 2002 when he was moved to Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Lexington, KY following a spinal operation.

Slew may not have earned the appreciation he deserved in his prime, coming so closely on the heels of the charismatic 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat--arguably the greatest thoroughbred race horse in history. The jockeys that rode him, however, understood fully what a special animal they were dealing with. Jockey Angel Cordero gave Seattle Slew this lofty praise: "If I had a chance to take any horse in the world, if someone said your life is depending on riding one horse to win, I would take (Slew). I rode 44,000 horses, but he was special, he was different. He was muscled, like a wrestler. He ran different than any other horse. It was like he came from another planet."

Slew was laid to rest at Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Lexington, under a statue. - 31490

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A Beginning Carper's Guide to Carp Gear

By Tony G. Stevenson

Carp fishing is a popular hobby that has a long tradition in Europe, and is growing in the States, as well. Carp are known to thrive in almost any type of water, making them an easy to find and attractive fish to angle for. All fishermen know that no matter what you're chasing, good angling gear is needed.

The first piece of fishing gear to look at is a good carp fishing rod. A suitable fishing rod should be at least six feet long (more is okay), and also medium action. This is the best combination of strength and flexibility to make carp fishing a challenge, but give you a good chance to lead even the trophy sized fish.

Right after the rod you need to consider the reel. All good reels are open faced, not closed faced, and can hold a great deal of line. At a very minimum, you should be able to spool 150 yards of 12 lb test. More is better, but 150 should be your minimum standard.

Obviously you'll want to know what kind of bait to use. While carp will hit about anything, the preferred bait seems to be sticky smelly stuff. Think of the kind of bait that catfish would like, and you're on the right track.

If you're a beginning carp angler, you may have heard of pods. Pods are basically rod holders that many carpers use to get more than one line out there while waiting for the carp to bite. This isn't a tool that beginning anglers need to worry about, but if carping becomes an obsession, it's something to look at down the line.

And of course there's the all important fishing line. Kevlar fishing line is a popular choice among any anglers, although in the end the main concern is getting fishing line that is 12 pound test or better.

While there is big time fishing gear for carp anglers that costs a good deal of money, starting gear can be had for fairly cheap. Carp angling can be a very rewarding hobby that provides many hours of entertainment, making it a cheaper in the long run over many other forms of recreation.

These are the basic things you have to look at when considering carp fishing gear. If you look at every topic and make an intelligent and educated decision, you'll be enjoying pulling in the trophies in no time at all! - 31490

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The Process Of Skinning A Deer

By Ben Vinson

Whether you like it or not, you will need to skin the deer you bring home after hunting in the wood. Skinning a deer can be easier if you know the relevant information, especially about their physical characteristics and organs.

The skin and muscle tissues of the deer are naturally separate from one another because of the protective membranes, making the process of skinning a lot more like following a built-in blueprint than like trying to lift a rug in the dark.

Hang the deer down to start the skinning process. This way, it is easier to clean the deer from dirt and dust it gets during the journey home, and also from the skin itself. Do not wait too long for the skinning. Two hours is the maximum time. If you wait more than two hours, the skin may be more difficult to drag and the meat will no longer be fresh.

Your knife should be especially sharp. Supposing the deer is hung by the legs, find the large tendon connecting the lower leg segment to the rest of the deer's leg. You should poke a whole with your knife in between the tendon and the bone there, then use your fingers to feel the lump that is created by the deer's bone.

When you have found the lump, find the two parts of double joint at the lower part, then split the deer's lower leg there. Start skinning some parts. Break the deer's leg using your power. It sounds cruel if you are not used to do it.

After you have broken the deer's legs, make several incisions around and near the tendon areas. There should be a whole between the tendon and the bone of the lower leg, as well as several incisions near the front legs.

You will then sever and snap the front legs as well, making the skinning process easier. Use your finger tips and thumbs to get inside the skin near the lower leg incisions and begin to pull the skin off.

Essentially, the pulling of the deer's skin should work a lot like pulling a tight jacket or pair of blue jeans off. It may be a little bit awkward, but the layer of meat revealed below the skin should be a more than ample reward.

Generally, it takes from 10 to 15 minutes to skin a deer. Otherwise, it can be longer if you are not experienced with the process. Skinning is also tiring. But real hunters just would not want to miss the step. - 31490

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