Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Everyone else sleeping when I step
to the door of our tent. Overhead,
stars brighter than stars ever were
in my life. And farther away.
The November moon driving
a few dark clouds over the valley.
The Olympic Range beyond.
I believed I could smell the snow that was coming.
Our horses feeding inside
the little rope corral we'd thrown up.
From the side of the hill the sound
of spring water. Our spring water.
Wind passing in the tops of the fir trees.
I'd never smelled a forest before that
night, either. Remembered reading how
Henry Hudson and his sailors smelled
the forests of the New World
from miles out at sea. And then the next thought--
I could gladly live the rest of my life
and never pick up another book.
I looked at my hands in the moonlight
and understood there wasn't a man,
woman, or child I could lift a finger
for that night. I turned back and lay
down then in my sleeping bag.
But my eyes wouldn't close.
The next day I found cougar scat
and elk droppings. But though I rode
a horse all over that country,
up and down hills, through clouds
and along old logging roads,
I never saw an elk. Which was
fine by me. Still, I was ready.
Lost to everyone, a rifle strapped
to my shoulder. I think maybe
I could have killed one.
Would have shot at one, anyway.
Aimed just where I'd been told--
behind the shoulder at the heart
and lungs. "They might run,
but they won't run far.
Look at it this way," my friend said.
"How far would you run with a piece
of lead in your heart?" That depends,
my friend. That depends. But that day
I could have pulled the trigger
on anything. Or not.
Nothing mattered anymore
except getting back to camp
before dark. Wonderful
to live this way! Where nothing
mattered more than anything else.
I saw myself through and through.
And I understood something, too,
as my life flew back to me there in the woods.
And then we packed out. Where the first
thing I did was take a hot bath.
And then reach for this book.
Grow cold and unrelenting once more.
Heartless. Every nerve alert.
Ready to kill, or not.
Where Water Comes Together with Other Water (1985)
fifty five bucks for
nonresident license eh? -
Rich you cheap hoser
Canadian haiku doesn't get any better than this.
Monday, January 30, 2006
Here's a photo from Grouse Camp 2000 or 2001 (someone please help me date it) displaying three of our heroes and three bottles of scotch in various stages of "resource utilization." The scotch varieties appear to be Laphroig, Dalmore, and . . . the third one near Safari Jim is a mystery--any guesses? I guess Springbank.
Anyway, I propose that the Vicar find a way to work scotch into his remarks to the nation.
Richard Stedman (Ph D. UW Rural Sociology/Sociology) currently an assistant professor at Penn State University will be on National Public Radio Talk of the Nation for a special broadcast from the UW-Marathon County Theater in Wausau, WI on Thursday, February 2. The program will begin at 2 p.m. CST and will focus on the decline of hunting and the hunting tradition in the United States. You can find the show on the net at http://www.npr.org/
There you have it: all the hunting news that fits to print. I suggest we should all phone in and ask the Vicar questions about deer and bear baiting. Discuss.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
After spending much of Friday in a sort of extended family reunion, I was able to chase Ol' Ruff again on Saturday. Locally, I spend lots more time hunting for grouse spots than for the birds themselves (No, Rusty, WNY grouse are not spotted). So I was pleased not only to put pins in the map about 68 miles away marking two Cattaraugus County State Forests, but also to actually run Gordie for 90 minutes in one of them. We not only found tracks in the snow, but the Gordmeister produced a flush from some blow down gnarlies. I didn't take a shot, but Gord really fired up for the rest of the exercise. "I'll be back."
I was pleased, in a misery loves company fashion, to read an article in today's paper. It references the slim pickin's for local grouse. My recent minor successes in locating a bird or two have me a bit pumped up. I'm looking forward to the February part of the season.
So haiku, hosers.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Now that it's the end of the season (well, at least for some of us), thoughts naturally turn to . . . hunting gear. Good hunting gear, better hunting gear, and . . . more hunting gear. You can never have enough hunting gear.
For the Cabin Boys among you, hunting gear often takes the form of fine clothing: expensive rubber boots, tweed coats, out of style English headwear . . . you know, cabin wear.
Here's just the ticket for you grousers who want to look like you just stepped out of the 1891 Sears-Roebuck catalogue. A waterproof hunting coat, crafted of fine brown duck and just the thing for hunting.
Doesn't get much more traditional than this.
Now that we've fed the blog, we're going hunting. Joining me this morning in the woods and haunts around Hector will be the Vicar himself. He undoubtedly will be resplendent in brown duck and sexy construction orange, and I will wear my torn rags. Our winter thoughts turn to . . . new hunting gear.
Details at 11:00.
Friday, January 27, 2006
In the immortal words of Dave Barry, "I am not making this up." Mr. Bill (who was there) will back me up on this.
I believe the words I heard were . . . and this is an exact quote . . . and again, I am not making this up:
"Rich Stedman is God's gift to watersheds."
End of quote.
I just about lost my lunch and I still have a bad taste in our mouth. I mean, really. Sure he's good. Sure he's too busy to blog with his brothers the jerky-loving brethren. Sure he's tenure-track and all that. But c'mon . . . "God's gift to watersheds"?
Unbelievable. Simply, unbelievable.
I don't remember a single word of anything that was said after that, but I'm sure Rich's presentation was awesome. After all, he's "God's gift to watersheds." yechhh.
Effectiveness of Community-Based Watershed Organizations
January 27, 2006 - 3:00PM to 5:00PM
Panel Discussion with Representatives from Research, Extension and the Community
Introduction: Linda P. Wagenet, Development Sociology
Roxanna Johnston, Watershed Coordinator, City of Ithaca, NY
Deb Grantham - Asst Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Sharon Anderson - Watershed Steward, Cayuga Lake Watershed Network
LOCATION: Warren Hall, 32
SPEAKER: Richard Stedman, Pennsylvania State University
ADMISSION: Open to Public, Alumni, Students, Faculty, and Staff.
CONTACT: Mary Wright
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I don't know how far they are from Dr. Dirt and the Vicar, but they also process (and smoke) wild game!
Anywho, I've got the kids happily snacking on jerky as their after-school snacks now and wanted to share this resource with my blogging brethren.
So I thought I'd post a picture or two of the Vicar to remind us all of what we're missing. Given all this talk about the re-issuance of a fully remastered director's cut DVD of This is This: The Story of Grouse Camp 2001, well, it's just plain made me homesick for grouse camp.
Anyway, here's a shot of Richie Feller eatin' a manly-man's hunter's breakfast (or possibly lunch) at Old Tamarack, circa 1998.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
This new edition will include special features such as behind the scenes interviews with the stars, and some wacky outtakes! In adddition, "The Lost Maine Tapes" will be included in this limited run edition.
To give a taste of what it to come, click on this link to relive the classic hunt scene from Wisconsin.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Don L. Johnson, outdoor writer for Milwaukee Sentinel, diesGrousers who attended a Wisconsin camp some years ago--quite possibly the very first Cornell Old Tamarack grouse camp--will recall the mirth and enjoyment we experienced when reading aloud from Johnson's book. If memory serves me, I was working on a dissertation about hunting ethics, and Johnson's book was a key "primary source." (I think that hunting trip was also a tax deduction for me--working holiday.)
(Published Tuesday, January 24, 2006 09:55:43 AM CST)
MILWAUKEE - Don L. Johnson, whose subjects as an outdoor writer for the Milwaukee Sentinel ranged from hunting and fishing to stopping environmental pollution, has died at the age of 78.
Johnson, who worked for the Milwaukee newspaper for more than 20 years before turning to freelance work, died at his home in Menomonie in western Wisconsin Friday after battling cancer and Parkinson's disease, the family said.
"He was an outstanding writer," said Bill Windler, senior editor for sports at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and previously sports editor at the Sentinel. "What I remember most is that he tackled everything with enthusiasm. He was both a great outdoors guy and a great journalist."
Johnson grew up in Milwaukee County but spent much of his boyhood on family farms in Dodge and Buffalo counties, hunting and fishing.
If the group will indulge me . . . the following passage is from Johnson's section titled, "Road Hunting and Other Sins":
Someday somebody may write a book on the art of road hunting. It ought to be a good seller because road hunting certainly has a lot of practitioners. The dust rarely settles on the back roads of some areas during the first week or two of the season, especially in a year when there are lots of young, dumb grouse standing along the roadsides. You really have to marvel at how fast some of those guys can get a gun into play. Wyatt Earp would have paled at the sight. . . .
. . . I'll admit that there is one kind of road hunting that I sometimes indulge in. We'll be rolling along on a forest road, maybe still trying to decide which place to try next, when a grouse steps into the road up ahead, like it's going to thumb for a ride. Peggy Hays, one of the most dedicated grouse hunters I know, calls such an appearance "an omen."
Obviously, we are looking at something that needs checking out. Neither are we averse to shooting that particular bird. However, we will not swat it on the ground. We will walk it up instead. Maybe.
We might try stopping seventy-five yards or more before reaching the bird, but that is risky. It might duck back into the woods while you're unloading dogs and loading guns--which is what we want it to do. However, it is also apt to take wing. The bird is much more likely to simply step back into cover if we drive by it without slowing down. Then we'll stop seventy-five yards beyond, assemble our forces, and keep dogs at heel until we're near the spot.
Odds are that the grouse has not hiked far back into the brush, so we'll be ready for a point or a flush soon after stepping from the road. Chances are that we will flush additional birds nearby. We'll follow up those that escape, and see where they lead to. I can recall some fine coverts I've found that way.
Ground-swatting a grouse is not only unsporting, it can be dangerous. Taking any low shots in heavy cover can put a hunting partner or dog at risk. But what about shooting grouse perched in trees? I'm not sure all will agree, but I think the jury is still out on that one.
The opportunity doesn't occur nearly as often as it did in the old days, but there are still times when we spy a grouse on a perch. Usually it will be because we saw or heard the bird alight there. Occasionally, one will even start "purting" nervously at you or the dog, although more often, once settled on a limb, the bird will literally transform itself into part of the tree.
Grouse already perched in trees are tough to see. Perhaps they've been up there budding and just "froze" when they heard you coming. It happens quite often late in the season. The dog acts confused. There are birds around somewhere, but the scent is drifting around aimlessly. If you can "read" your dog, you'll start looking up. Maybe you'll get lucky and see a grouse.
Regardless of how it came about, you are now looking at the bird. It knows that you are looking at it, but is still trying to decide what to do next. You may be indecisive too. You know how hard a grouse is to hit when it swoops out of a tree. You also may be remembering that your wife has told you that she has invited two couples for a grouse dinner, and that there are only four birds in the freezer. You really need another to fill the platter properly.
"Shoo!" The grouse stares at you. So does your dog.
Now what? You've given the bird its chance. A dim-witted bird like that is doomed to soon be caught by a hawk, isn't it? Such a dumb grouse probably should be removed from the gene pool anyway.
"BLAM!" Dead grouse. But it really wasn't any fun.
One of my hunting partners unabashedly calls that "Shooting them in the pre-flight position." Most grouse hunters I know do it at times. Not all of them admit it.
On the other hand, I've heard that there are some grouse hunters who will never even take a shot unless the bird has been properly flushed from a solid point. I guess I'm still working up to that.
Jim again: Johnson was a great writer. I recommend that every grouser get Johnson's book.
The stretch of spring weather we had last week melted all our snow and probably made the hares a little nervous (or it should have). So, Saturday we took Nolan out hunting for real for snowshoe hares. He can't quite shoulder a long gun, and I find it annoying to be tweaked in the ear with spent shells from the .22 pistol (or the .22 bullets themselves), so he just came along as the conscientious observer. I toted the tot and a .22 rifle (Ruger 77/22), and Angela was armed with the 20 ga SKB (high brass 6s), camera, sippy cup, and snacks.
Mostly cloudy, calm, upper 40's, snowless. Backpack: cheapo model, freebie, needs improvment.
We walked an old tote road for probably 1.5 hours, including a stop for snacks, before Angela had to get back to work. Got a bunny right off the bat. I spotted him sitting @25 yards, took 1 shot with the .22. The field mice will breath a little easier, at least for a while. Had we been beating the brush instead of path walking I think we would've seen more bunnies (but Nolan would have been slapped silly by branches).
Nolan loved going "hunting bunny" and immediately identified the dead animal as "bunny meat" (although after the meat was parceled up sans fur, he called it moose meat). We cooked the critter up the next night using the Sherried Squirrel recipe from Dressing and Cooking Wild Game, only I used marsala instead of sherry: dredge the pieces of hare (or squirrel) in flour w/ seasoned salt, brown them in butter in the cast iron dutch oven (should add garlic too). Toss in 10 oz mushrooms, and the liquids: 1 cup broth (we used wild turkey), 1/4 cup marsala wine, couple tablespoons worcestorshire sauce. Cover and bake @350 for 1.5 hrs. Serve over rice. Six thumbs up. (Jim: pay attention next time Kate points you a bunny)
Needless to say, "baby's first skull" is that of a snowshoe hare -- in the bin it went.
I'm excited about this baby backpack hunting -- for bunnies and squirrels. The .22 is easy on the ears. Now that we have snow again it'll be tough finding hares, but it makes going for a walk more of an adventure. We're looking into getting a better backpack carrier -- thinking Kelty or Deuter, and I'll be scouting squirrels for next season.
See the article at today's Ithaca Journal. An excerpt:
T-burg artist blends words, visualsUnfortunately there are no images with the online version of the article, but the print version has both a nice picture of Carol and another photo of one of her creations.
By DARISE JEAN-BAPTISTE
TRUMANSBURG - When viewers tilt their heads or squint their eyes to look at her work, artist Carol Bloomgarden knows she has achieved one of her goals.
“I love the reaction when people realize it's writing,” Bloomgarden, said.
At first glance, the spots on the jaguar in her piece called “Jaguar” could easily be mistaken for just tiny, circular marks on the animal's body. But words from Seneca Indian Sogoyewepha's “Red Jacket's Speech on Religion” make up the many spots, as well as the animal's outline.Bloomgarden calls her creations “Language Arts” — not to be confused with elementary school curriculums. She combines handwriting, sometimes very small to create shapes within her works with watercolor, monoprint, silk screen and colorgraph techniques.
But Carol's work is on the web, which you can see at http://www.cbgb-arts.com/ . Her web site includes this nice photo of the artist and her inspiration:
Monday, January 23, 2006
From The Onion, here's an excerpt:
"A few did flee to the jungle, including one man who raced in the direction of a pit trap dug by von Urwitz's men. From a hunting blind close to the trap, von Urwitz said he watched with "immense excitement."
"Would [the man's] eyes catch the carpet of dead, flattened leaves in the clearing, noticing their rather unnatural distribution, and quickly surmise, through reason and intuition alike, that something was dreadfully amiss?" von Urwitz said. "Or would he blindly stumble into the pit and be finished off by our arrows?"
Ultimately, the man did neither. Before coming within 20 yards of the pit, he was knocked cold by a low-hanging tree limb."
Sunday, January 22, 2006
In that spirit, it has come to our attention that there is a Missus Milt Smelt. Yes, you read that right--old Uncle Miltie has got hisself a lil' lady to help take care of the hound dawg and gut his fishes! He spilt the beans about his nuptials this morning when he started sharing some of her family's hand-me-down POAS recipes and all around pheasant cooking secrets. I frankly don't think ol' Milt's got walnuts big enough to be sashaying around the kitchen and keeping the dutch oven warm . . . so we've dug around in the archives to see what kind of a lady old Milt's got for himself.
As you can see, Mrs. Smelt is a keeper. Just look at those uh, er, ducks. And check out that hammergun--pretty damn impressive, I'd say.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Friday, January 20, 2006
I saw that weather, too, and wasn't as pleased as I could have been about the ride home Sat., let alone the hunt Sat. a.m. So Let's bag it for this weekend. Seeing youse all - ie, incl. the Dickster - tempts me mo' better for next weekend.As you now already know, Mike did a solo today at Hanging Bog and flushed a couple of birds with lil' Gordie.
I on the other hand wasted the better part of the day waiting for our appliance repairman to show up and fix our dishwasher--which he did at 2:00 pm. Then it was off to Wegman's to pick up medicine for my child (long story, don't ask). BY THREE O'CLOCK, however, I was ready to rock and roll. The weather was overcast and threatening rain, it was 54 degrees, and the weather web sites said there was a 10 mph wind out of the south, but if there was such a wind, I certainly didn't feel it.
We were in the woods by 3:35. For the Cabin Boys among you, I wore jeans, Lacrosse boots, shirtsleeves, and my ripped game vest. And oh, of course, my Filson blaze orange cap. I'm shooting the 12 gauge Parker VH and following my trusty wispy haired pokey dotte dogge, Katie. Pretty much like the picture to the right. (photo credit: Vicar of State College, ca. 1998)
We started south along the woods road that leads ultimately to the spot I've just this season named, "The Hot Corner."
Digression #1: So sue me--I'm sure after he gets done reading this Pete will accuse me of hammering this one area. But when I've previously put up eight birds in a little more than an hour, and only killed two in the bunch, then I guess I can still press the attack a bit. And every hunt is different . . . even hunting the same location over and over.At first Katie showed little or no interest in getting off the trail into what is a wide expanse of hawthorn and dogwood. Which is fine with me, because I have certainly followed her into the gnarlies plenty of times, and if she doesn't want to do the gnarlies right off the bat, well then, like I said, that's fine with me.
We got almost to the end of the trail before she really started working the cover. At one point she left the trail to my left and east, then crossed back over the trail and headed uphill westward. She came to a stop about fifty yards uphill, locked up tight under a pine and pointing back downhill into some dogwood.
I approached the point cautiously, and Katie's not budging--and I mean she is absolutely as staunch as can be. She's been holding the point for at least a minute while I've been making my way towards her. With the recent warmth, and given the sheer open "dogwoodyness" of what she was pointing into, I almost figured it to be another woodcock, like last week. So I walked on in, and WRRRRRRRRR, a grouse gets up and away, but slowly, as if it were struggling to get out of the brambles. I finally see the bird above the dogwood going low and straightaway downhill. BANG! I miss the first shot with the right barrel at probably a good forty yards.
Digression #2: You may find this hard to believe, but in the split second that ensued between pulling the front trigger and then pulling the rear trigger, my mind flashes to Milt Smelt's lesson on "shooting the ass-end of a pheasant heading into a nor'easter." Or something like that. I don't remember the details . . . all I can remember are . . . those damn stick figure drawings.Back to reality. BANG! I miss with the second barrel as the bird continues to sail low and away from us, and back up the woodroad we've just walked in on.
Digression #3: If the truth be known, I missed that second shot because at the moment of truth--meaning when I pulled the trigger for the second time--at the moment of reckoning--I was actually and inwardly laughing my ass off at . . . all I can think of are . . . those damn stick figure drawings.So Katie and I followed up on the bird, because I had marked it well, and because I'm still using the Winchester SuperX 6s out of the 12 gauge, and because, well, you know . . . because hope springs eternal. We gave the area where I'd marked the bird a good going over for five or ten minutes, but finally turned back and continued the hunt.
My mind, however, had duly noted and carefully registered the location of that bird, and as Katie began to work the woodcock cover uphill and to our west, I let her have at it--whereas my original game plan had been to "skip the woodcocky crap and hustle on down to the hot corner." As I am fond of reminding Mr. Mike in precisely these situations: forget geometry, and forget the game plan.
And boy, was this ever a hunt where "forget geometry" was the ultimate game plan. There was no real breeze to speak of, but Katie was registering grouse scent just about everywhere. Within five or so minutes, she pointed another bird that flushed at my approach and didn't offer a shot--but again, from within the wide open expanses of chest high dogwood.
Scenting conditions must have been perfect, what with the mild temperature and with all the rain we've had lately--plus all the grasses and goldenrods have finally been smushed down by the repeated snowfalls and thaws we've had (mini-digression 3.b: yes, "smushed" is indeed an official bird hunting term.)
Anyway. Five minutes later, another point--under a couple of big pine trees, and this time the bird flushed closer to my approach, but again . . . no shot. But I'm elated: that's three birds in fifteen minutes, they're spread out evenly throughout the covert, we're nowhere's even close to The Hot Corner, and they're holding like . . . well, they're holding like frickkin' woodcock, as Safari Jim might put it. All of a sudden I realize I'm having a great hunt.
Not five minutes later again, you guessed it, Katie goes on point. We're in the middle of a piney dogwoody hawthorny patch, but I'm able to approach through a pretty good opening. Again, she is just about as staunch as a dogge can be. WRRRRRRRR. A grouse gets up between Katie and me and flies almost straight up in the air. I take the first shot with the right barrel--BANG! and I can see the bird stutter a bit at the shot, but it continues on its course, flying strong, straight up, as if it wants to clear the pines in order to beeline it to the safety of God knows where.
BANG! with the second trigger, just as the bird hits the apex of its flight at the top of the pines some forty yards up. This time I can tell the shot hits home, because the bird lost momentum and actually hit the crown branches of the tree before falling to the ground just beyond. I've marked it well some thirty yards away, and when Katie gets to the other side at the base of the tree, the wing-broken grouse tries to get away on foot, but Katie easily caught it. A beautiful grey phase male, judging by the tail feathers.
Digression #4: I have to admit, at this point in time I'm pretty damn pumped up. That second shot at the top of the trees was (I calculate later, using the Pythagorean theorem heh heh heh, numbers are TOO my metier!) a good fifty yarder with the full choke left barrel, and I'm really mentally patting myself on the back for having switched to the larger shot. With 7.5s I'm sure that bird would have just kept soaring; but the heavier shot is a wing-breaker.Back to reality. Suddenly I realize that Katie is already hunting again, so instead of suffocating the bird I have to smack the bird's head against a tree to dispatch it--not something I ordinarily like to do. But it certainly knocked the bird out quickly, and I placed it carefully into the back of my vest. As I reoriented myself to Katie's location, I had the eerie experience just moments later of feeling the bird's death throes through the back of my vest. It felt as if the bird was drumming in my vest. It only lasted five or ten seconds, and then it stopped. I also checked my watch at this point--it was 4:15, lots of time left.
Katie was back to working downhill and south of me, and just as I made my way out of the pines we had been in, another grouse flushed wild, wrrrrrrrrr. This one hadn't been detected by the dog, and I hadn't had any real opportunity to shoot at it. It was the fifth grouse flushed, and I called Katie over, but after combing the area for awhile and not relocating it, we turned to the south and kept heading roughly toward the Hot Corner.
It would be difficult to impress on all of you how little wind there was, and how much of locating the birds initially was due to picking up (I believe) ground scent where the birds had been feeding. It's also hard to convey just how evenly spread out these birds were in the covert--I've never seen this. It truly felt like hunting woodcock when a flight was in.
Downhill once more, Katie shortly made game again, and came to a complete halt at another tangle of dogwood. This time my approach was not as clean as previously, but again the bird held tight until I was right there. Wrrrrrrrr, another grouse like clockwork took off and headed uphill to the safety of the pines we had just left. We turned and went back uphill briefly to follow it up but did not locate it again.
Slowly, inevitably, methodically we made our way southward toward the Hot Corner. Near the bottom of the hill where the main drainage of the covert opens up into a wide expanse of cattails, Katie once again went on point. I elected to approach from the edge of the cattails rather than attempt to bull my way through the hawthorn she was in. Wrrrrrrrrrrrr once again a grouse flew out ahead of me, and this time out over the cattails and in the great wide open! This bird was motoring to get to a safety haven it had left earlier. (I remember thinking that it seemed to me nearly all of the birds this afternoon were far from their normal roosts, judging by how they flew and how far they flew.) But alas, this bird crossing the cattails left to right was a good fifty yards away, which I judged to be too far for taking a shot. I marked the general line of the bird as it crossed the distant woodroad to our south, and I made a mental note of the line in case we found our way in that area later.
Katie was still hot where this bird had just flushed, so I let her work it for a while longer before we crossed the woodroad into the micro-covert that is . . . The Hot Corner. She worked the whole area over pretty good for a while, and . . . nothing. From the woodroad I cut across the gnarlies, heading downhill toward a footpath that fringes the cover, while Katie all the while worked the interior of the patch. Hitting the trail, I turned south and paralled Katie's path as she progressed through the brush.
I got all the way downhill and nary a bird. No scent, no false points, no nothing. This from the area that held half a dozen birds for sure these past few weeks. Undaunted, I give Katie a bit more time to work the area, which is low and swampy and drains into a hemlock-rimmed gorge. Lots of nooks and crannies. Lots of places for birds to hide.
Katie is working the covert a second time, and then suddenly . . . beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . . The beeper collar is sounding the point signal, and there, under a bunch of thick stuff, stands Katie once again, steady as a rock.
I move toward her, and then . . . I see the bird on the ground in front of her! under a pine, moving away from her. Quickly I start to move to cut the bird off. Actually, it was almost like a half-jog. I've lost sight of the bird, when suddenly WRRRRRRRRRRR it takes off from under the pine and sails out in front of me, left to right, in a glorious flight out in the open, not twenty yards away.
I can't believe my eyes. This is too good to be true. The bird is flying across the meadow, out in the open. I'm in great position. I've got all the time in the world. It's like time has stopped, it's almost slow motion.
I bring the gun to my cheek, and . . . get this, I actually remember to lead the bird! like, when has THAT ever happened when I was grouse hunting. So I pull the muzzle just a tad in front of the bird's head, and . . . BANG! with the right barrel, down she goes.
I'm pretty pumped, but before I get all self-congratulatory and high-fivey on this one (Rich!), I see the bird almost instantly take to its feet and start running. I fumble reloading the right barrel but run ahead to cut the bird off before it makes it into the hardwoods, and I call Katie to come find the bird.
We can't find the bird. I'm nearly positive I intercepted the bird and that it has not crossed the foot trail and gone into the hardwoods. Katie definitely picked up the scent where the bird fell. She's racing around, frantically looking for this bird, and I'm starting to get a little worried. Like I'm beginning to feel a bit . . . crestfallen (now there's a word for you).
I stay in the area where I saw the bird fall as Katie makes progressively larger casts around me looking for this bird. And then all of a sudden . . . I hear a flutter of wings on the ground, and just barely catch a glimpse of movement at the base of the big pine tree where I had marked the bird. It's 4:45 in the afternoon, it's overcast and getting darker, and I'm peering under that pine tree just hoping to see a crippled bird (and I do mean "peering," I'm squinting my eyes and scrunching my face). (Mini-digression: yes, "scrunching" is an official bird hunting term.)
I make my way to the base of the tree . . . and what do you know. A now stone-dead red phase female lying belly up, and almost completely camoflaged against the pine needles. Air-washed. That must have been why Katie didn't scent it as she ran by the tree two or three times. If it hadn't been for that single last death flutter, it occurs to me we might not have found it.
So there you have it. Eight grouse flushed in just over an hour, seven pointed as staunchly as if they had been woodcock, and two birds killed. I cannot for the life of me remember the last time I shot two grouse in one hunt--it had to have been Michigan or Wisconsin, and it had to have been three or more years ago. Once again I am experiencing grouse bliss.
We continued working the covert a bit more until 5:00 or so.
Digression #5: This morning I finally got around to checking the sunrise/sunset tables for January--seems I had previously been on the December duck hunt sunset mode of 4:36 being sunset. So I hunted legally and in good conscience all the way until 5:00. At which time Katie pointed a bunny, which is another story.We made our way back to the truck, sweaty, tired, but thrilled with what can only be described as one of the best grouse hunts we've had in Hector in the last eight or nine years. And as I told Mike in an email earlier tonight, I think the secret lately has been our hunting them in the late pm, early evening--something I used to do regularly but that I've gotten away from doing these past few years when grouse numbers have been low. So Mr. Mike, if we hunt them next week, let's try again to hunt them last thing in the afternoon if at all possible.
Now of course you watch, with Mike and possibly Richie both coming to town next week, there won't be a grouse anywhere within a hundred miles.
But of course, that's why they call it, huntin'.
"Old Bean and li'l Gordie"Gordie and I went for a brief grouse hunt today. The weather has been uncharacteristically mild. There is no snow cover around the house, and I was not surprised to find no snow cover 88 miles to my southeast. There's a WMA there that I've hunted for 11 years or so, off and on, and I thought I'd give it a try.
After homemade cherry pie and high test coffee at Earl's, we drove the rest of the way in grey skies with the car OAT gage - that's outside air temperature - showing 55° F. Not bad hereabouts for January 20. Understanding that I would have to write this report sooner or later, I selected my stiff-with-dirt LLBean brush pants with authentic blood stains and fuzzy fraying; my orange Maine Spaniel Field Trial cap with RGS Sponsor pin attached; and a tattered orange Filson vest to go over my LLBean Allagash "fake wool" green-and-black check shirt. Plain LaCrosse rubber boots kept my feet just fine. The SIG/ Rizzini 20 ga "New Englander" was loaded with Remington STS #8 lead, which is, in fact, my only 20 ga lead load. I don't bother anymore to swap choke tubes, so this gun wore what it ought, tubes of cylinder and "skeet 1."
We parked at the usual spot and started walking the tote road up and in. After about 5 minutes, I stepped about 10 yards off the road and continued the climb to what is my traditional "starting point." After about 5 more minutes, I pulled the same stunt that the poor pilgrim did in Jack London's To Build A Fire. I stopped on the hillside "to check my watch;" it was 1:30 p.m. While no maples reddened before me, the heavy lush scent of rotting apples filled the air. I was enjoying this all WHIRRR! and off took the grouse straight away across the tote road. Although I finally got a visual at about 40 yards, no shot was taken, but by now I was at least back in focus. WHIRRR! again, but I didn't even see this one's a$$. I did see Gordie charging through the brush right downhill of me, clearly intoxicated by this new form of gallinaceous poontang.
Sentimental moment: when I say I've been hunting here for 11 years, I mean Bean and I have been hunting here for 11 years. He flushed a single on my birthday - December 29 - maybe 9 or 10 years ago from the same tangle. I 'spect he's looking down proud on the little nipper following so boldly and happily in his footsteps. Milt tells me he wants to tackle this "succession" issue at his blogsite, but I'm skeptical that he can pull it off well. We'll see.
We worked the rest of that covert - these days, it looks a lot like some of Jimmy's FLNF stuff - and didn't flush a thing. Even so, I was delighted with Gordie's work. Although he busted cover with abandon, he stayed within gun range, responded to the whistle, and kept an eye on the Old Man so that he could literally stay a few steps ahead of him. I find it quite appealing, but aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder, or so I am (often ;-) told. Anyone wants to get together, I'll be happy to shaddup and let youse be the judges.
Once again it is time for another installment in our "Heroes of Sporting Art" series of postings. Today we have A. B. Frost returning with a print of "Pathwalker and the Moose." As you can see at right, here our hero PW is walking down the path to the moose he has just slain with what looks to be a Winchester repeater. (Newsflash this week: Winchester will no longer be making guns in its New Haven, Connecticut plant after they close the plant later this year.)
I ran across the following film footage of a newscast about Vermont moose hunting. The short 4 minute film can be viewed with either QuicTime or Windows Media Player 9.
For folks who can't get enough A.B. Frost, here is a closeup detail of the moose hunter print. PW, it looks like your hands are cold without gloves--and how do you get the moose out of the woods, anyway?
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The hunter crouches in his blind
'Neath camouflage of every kind
And conjures up a quacking noise
To lend allure to his decoys
This grown-up man, with pluck and luck
is hoping to outwit a duck
More on samurai and hunting: here is a photo of a nineteenth century folding screen depicting samurai hunting wild boar at the foot of Mount Fuji. The description from the museum exhibition in Denmark:
Samurai on a wild boar hunt at the foot of Mount Fuji. Folding screen decorated by the Japanese court artist Kanô Tangensai Fujiwara Moritsune (1829-66). Ethnographic Collection, National Museum. The screen was presented to King William III of the Netherlands in 1860 by the ruling Shogun of Japan, Tokugawa Iemochi.Also, it may be of interest to some grousers that you can still hunt wild boar in this country using samurai swords (Sporting? discuss). See:
Photo: Arnold Mikkelsen
Wild boar sword hunters Jack Chuang (Davie, FL - e-mail: email@example.com), non-hunter Jerry Chuang and Jason Jen bagged 3 wild hogs during a morning of wild boar hunting with Ron's Guide Service on October 4, 2003. Jack (above) killed a big sow hog with a samurai sword. Jason (below) killed 2 wild boar hogs with a samurai sword. They hunted the sugar cane fields in the town of Lakeport.
Now THAT looks like fun. Who's with me? Next year, pig sticking hog camp in Florida. Bring your 12 gauge sabers.
Now the question remains: who next? I mean, now that we have this amazing vigil-keeping infrastructure in place . . . so I'm taking suggestions for whom to vigil next (is vigil a verb?) (discuss)
I'm thinking Jimmy Hoffa . . . or Elvis.
Any other suggestions?
"I'm Caught in a Trap"
(ca. Sept. 3, 2005)
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The topic appears to be a surprisingly difficult thing to research on the web, but I did turn up some good info about the introduction of guns in Japan at the following site:
If you take a look at that site you'll see different shot size recommendation for ducks:
I've also done a bit of digging around for historical references to recreational hunting among the samurai class, and found the following costume info at the Costume Museum in Kyoto, Japan.
A look at the picture of the birds in this book reveals a "kuishime" shot at the point where there is a mandarin duck and a "oikuri" (chaser) shot where there are two ducks. The "kuishime" shot was cut off slightly at both ends forming a cross with two lines of equal length, adjusted with a screw, and plastered with torinoko paper. The "oikuri" shot contained a ground charge of 1.5 monme (5.63 g), a shitatama (bottom shot) of 0.2 monme (0.75 g), then 1.5 monme (5.63 g) of gunpowder in between, and 0.2 monme (0.75 g) otori of lead shot. In this way, various types of shot were made to correspond to the prey for which they were intended.
Information given at the beginning of the Uda School Book of Secrets stresses that these are methods for shooting birds and animals. The features of the birds and animals in these pictures are well drawn and descriptions of their habitat are also accurate. This can be nothing else besides an authentic treatise on the art of hunting.
Explanation:Jim again: apparently hunting grew to be popular among the samurai during the Kamakura Period (1185 - 1392), when the leadership of Japan passed from the nobility to the samurai warrior class. I will see if I can dig up some decent samurai hunting haiku . . . .
A samurai wore this costume called " kari - shozoku" when hunting in the fields [or in case of "yabusame," a kind of samurai's a game].
The samurai wore "nae-eboshi" cap and "ayai-gasa" hat knitted with rush from the top.
The center of the hat is referred to as "koji" and it is high in order to put in "motodori" collected hair.
For the bottom, the samurai wore "suikan" or "hitatare."
Moreover, the samurai wore "igote" protector to the left arm and "yugake," leather gloves called "tebukuro" in case of "yabusame."
"Yugake (=scald)" is glove made of leather attached for protection of a finger when shooting a bow.
The samurai also wears a cover of deer's summer skin called "mukabaki."
He wore a pair of "monoi-gutsu" shoes on foot and hung a long sword on the waist.
The figure in the photo hangs "utsubo," a arrow holder, [a "ebira" holder in case of "yabusame"], and has a bow and a waist sword.
"Utsubo (=quiver)" is the container of the shape of a pipe for carrying arrows.
Here we see the lads just back from a trip to the shooting preserve, tossing back some cold ones, with their State College pal Lou Soprano.
Rico likes this place because it reminds him of the bar in Cayuga, Wisconsin.
Here's a little treat from Bobby Burns, titled "The Bonie Moor-Hen." The song was written in 1787; the print above by Samuel Howitt was published 1799.
The Bonie Moor-Hen
THE HEATHER was blooming, the meadows were mawn,
Our lads gaed a-hunting ae day at the dawn,
O’er moors and o’er mosses and mony a glen,
At length they discover’d a bonie moor-hen.
Chorus.—I rede you, beware at the hunting, young men,
I rede you, beware at the hunting, young men;
Take some on the wing, and some as they spring,
But cannily steal on a bonie moor-hen.
Sweet-brushing the dew from the brown heather bells
Her colours betray’d her on yon mossy fells;
Her plumage outlustr’d the pride o’ the spring
And O! as she wanton’d sae gay on the wing.
I rede you, &c.
Auld Phoebus himself, as he peep’d o’er the hill,
In spite at her plumage he tried his skill;
He levell’d his rays where she bask’d on the brae—
His rays were outshone, and but mark’d where she lay.
I rede you,&c.
They hunted the valley, they hunted the hill,
The best of our lads wi’ the best o’ their skill;
But still as the fairest she sat in their sight,
Then, whirr! she was over, a mile at a flight.
I rede you, &c.· · · · ·
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Well guess what! I got into his building first thing alright--Armsby Hall--and managed to find his office (111-B). I must have JUST MISSED HIM, because . . . look what I found. This fresh digital picture was taken mere moments ago.
I'm sure that he must have just stepped away from his desk for a moment, perhaps attending an important department faculty meeting or something. But I have to say, there's something to be admired about his work ethic.
Well, I can't wait around all day. Time to hop back into the truck and get back to Ithaca. "Farewell to Armsby," to paraphrase a well known monosyllabically oriented writer. Rich, if you're out there somewhere, well, I hope we can flush you out.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Join me in thanking the five smart guys and Mr. Mike for bringing all this joy into our living rooms and places of work. Looking forward to the next month. And don't forget . . . Keep Hope Alive. Bring back the vicar.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
I managed to scratch down another grouse on Friday. It was 58 degrees F, there was a nice steady 10-12 mph wind out of the southeast, and I was in shirtsleeves under my ancient Carhartt vest in the middle of January. Go figure. All the snow was completely melted where we were hunting, where two weeks ago it was knee deep. We put in an hour's hunt at the end of the day and were in the field by 3:30.
As an aside, I had loaded up the vest with some ancient Winchester Super X "Small Game Hunter" loads, 6s that I have used for late season grouse previously. They don't even make these loads anymore. But after missing several grouse during my last hunt, I wanted to make sure it was me missing and not 7.5s merely crippling the birds.
The first 45 minutes were uneventful, but wouldn't you know it--Katie pointed a woodcock under a pine in a sea of dogwood. Given that woodcock doesn't open for another nine months, we gave that bird a pass on the repoint, and we kept working Katie southward into the wind.
At about 4:15 or so, we crossed a woodroad and headed downhill into small patch of cover that has harbored some late season birds in years past. Not thirty yards in, Katie beelined it due east sideways into the wind, and I lost the sound of her beeper. Here's one of those cases where she wasn't exactly following my mental gameplan for working the covert, but I caught myself thinking: "Now what would I tell Mr. Mike in this situation. Oh yeah . . . in the words of Datus Proper--forget geometry."
So I hustled after Katie, crossing a small swale that was running hard with meltwater, and then downhill along the swale to where Katie was on point. At first I had trouble locating her, but in half a minute or so there she was: locked up under a pine, pointing downhill into the breeze toward a patch of dogwood.
With "walk in boldly" as my guide, I began to walk in on her point aiming for a spot about twenty yards in front of her. Boy did I guess right. The bird went up wrrrrrrrrr, low to the ground and angling away from me right to left, aiming for the protection of the gorge that was only sixty or seventy yards beyond. BANG--I missed at about ten yards with the front trigger. The bird flew on, then behind a sapling. BANG, with the second trigger, a brush shot aimed at the bird right through and around the sapling--and with that, the bird crumpled some twentyfive yards away. Winchester Super X 6s had done the trick.
Katie was on the flapping bird almost instantly, and, as I approached, picked up the bird and held it up for me as I reached her. This was the first time in nearly eight years of hunting with her I had ever seen her pick a bird up and hold it, and I will mark her down with her first official career "retrieve" on this bird.
So there you have it. We only saw the one grouse during the entire hunt and killed it cleanly. We poked around the covert until sunset, and that was that. We walked out in the dwindling sunlight and were back at the truck by 5 p.m.--it was still 58 degrees, but we had a January grouse.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Simply smashing! I thought it was clever how Josh convinced the big boys upstairs to use ole' Cornell red, and the use of the pink plume (Josh's new preferred weapon since he elects not to tote guns or hunt these days) is a striking contrast to the hot red. Nice work Broadway!
I guess there is a new newsgroup for the USFWS marketing team too... seems there is always a good idea about stocking stuffers on the site. Check it out.
Back to my poetry writing and gun toting. Cabin Boy over and out. :)
Where has he gone? He should have
called. Oh woe is me.
l to r: Safari Jim (accounted for), Path Walker (whereabouts known), Vicar of State College (somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, perhaps)
(c. 2002, Better Times, Maine Grouse Camp)
Friday, January 13, 2006
"You are a stag, a male deer. So are the other players. You meet each other in an endless forest on the internet. The setting is idyllic, the atmosphere peaceful. You communicate with one another through sounds and body language.
The Endless Forest is a virtual place where you can play with your friends. There are no goals to achieve or rules to follow. You just steer your deer through the forest and see what happens."
If only they allowed virtual grouse. And the whole "see what happens" scenario - could it somehow incorporate having an unfortunate run-in with poem-spouting, gun-toting CB?
Oh, the possibilities!
Penn State must have imprisoned
its profs this past week
Please, do what you can
Tell the authorities to
let the Vicar go!
Is tax deductible so
send your money now
You'll be glad you did.
Free the Penn State profs! And give
the Dane his voice back.
Here's a nice portrait of Safari Jim's Thor, God of Thunder, doing his thing. The artist is Alexander Pope, who is well known for his wildlife portraits. Here are his vitals:
Artist Biography: Alexander Pope
Profession:Painter and carver
Born:March 25, 1849, Dorchester, Massachusetts
Died:September 1924, Boston, Massachusetts
As a youth, Alexander Pope carved and sketched animals around his home in Massachusetts. In the 1860s, he worked for his family’s lumber business. Pope studied carving, painting, perspective, and anatomy with William Rimmer, an important romantic-baroque sculptor, painter, and influential teacher of many Boston artists. From 1879 to 1883, Pope created many well-received carvings of game. Czar Alexander III of Russia acquired two of the carvings. In 1893, Pope began painting animal portraits and, later, pursued a career as a portrait painter. Eventually, he was considered one of the best Bostonian trompe l’oeil painters of the nineteenth century. The French term trompe l‘oeil means deception of the eye. Trompe l’oeil paintings appear so real that they trick the viewer into thinking they are seeing an actual scene rather than a painted one.
Pope is particularly well known for his illusionist paintings and wood carvings of birds, rabbits, and firearms hanging on slate-colored doors. Side by side in the JKM Gallery, the National Museum of Wildlife Art’s painted Hanging Grouse and carved Mallard Against A Woven Basket both are illusionist renderings of ducks strung up against slate doors.
Pope’s work is recognized in many private collections and museums, including the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum and the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
There you have it. Nice looking dogge, too.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
The American Hunter: Going Extinct
Morning Edition, January 11, 2006 · Commentator Frank Deford laments the dwindling number of hunters in the America. He says suburbia, and its affection for big-eyed deer, are putting hunting out of style, and out of reach.
Here it here:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5149012
I read this obit in the Post this morning.
Here's a great tidbit:
"From his home, which bordered Northwest Branch Park, he lured squirrels by smearing trees with a mixture of peanut butter and Valium. He collected the rodents he found passed out and tagged them with radio transmitters for further observation."
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I wade through wheat up to my belly,
cradling a shotgun in my arms.
Tess is asleep back at the ranch house.
The moon pales. Then loses face completely
as the sun spears up over the mountain.
Why do I pick this moment
to remember my aunt taking me aside that time
and saying, What I am going to tell you now
you will remember every day of your life?
But that's all I can remember.
I've never been able to trust memory. My own
or anyone else's. I'd like to know what on earth
I'm doing here in this strange regalia.
It's my friend's wheat--this much is true.
And right now, his dog is on point.
Tess is opposed to killing for sport,
or any other reason. Yet not long ago she
threatened to kill me. The dog inches forward.
I stop moving. I can't see or hear
my breath any longer.
Step by tiny step, the day advances. Suddenly,
the air explodes with birds.
Tess sleeps through it. When she wakes,
October will be over. Guns and talk
of shooting will be behind us.
--Raymond Carver, All of Us: The Collected Poems
This poem of Carver's went through at least four successive drafts and was published after his death.
Poor [Dr. Tantillo]. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.
"Beer camp'll do that to ya."
I thought that title would catch you flusher guys's attention.
Mike Zagata, former Commissioner of the New York DEC under George Pataki, has been named the Executive Director of the Ruffed Grouse Society. The RGS press release provides details, including:
Wayne Jacobson, Jr., president of the Ruffed Grouse Society, is enthusiastic about Mike’s hiring. “Mike has an impressive background in business and wildlife conservation. He earned a Ph. D. in wildlife from Iowa State University and spent time teaching and conducting wildlife research. Later, he gained business experience while holding senior environmental positions with Tenneco Inc. and Transco Energy Co., and government experience while serving as Commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation. He’s acquired extensive expertise working in the business sector, improving wildlife habitat, and making a difference on conservation issues. Mike’s past experience will serve him well in his new position”. . . .The press release adds that "Mike and his wife Beth reside in rural upstate NY, with their three Gordon Setters - all grouse hunters." There you have it--no labbadabba or spaniel foolishness for that guy.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Went squirrel hunting today, after a bust goose hunt. Met a cool squirrel named "Foamy." He reminds me of Rich. I told him about my Cabin Boy woes, and he played a few songs for me.
Check out the Squirrel Song recordings here (For Doctor Tantillo and other web illiterates, click on the picture that says Squirrel Songs after the page loads.) :
Existing only in the imagination: chimeric,
fantastic, fantastical, imaginary,
notional, unreal, visionary. See real
Of, relating to, or in the nature of an illusion; lacking reality: chimeric,
delusive, delusory, dreamlike, hallucinatory, illusive, illusory,
phantasmagoric, phantasmal, phantasmic, visionary. See real .
I wish I could take credit for the nickname, but cannot. Yes the legend began at Keith's first Maine grouse camp at Spider lake. We were all sitting around the big table in the middle of the cabin (Josh, Keith, JT, Rich, PW, and myself) after having feasted on mosaman. We were drinking Scotch (Guiness for me), smoking pipes and cigars, when someone noticed that Keith had again changed attire for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th times that day and thus made a comment to Keith about doing so (being the newbie he was overdo for his fare share of "ribbing"). In response, Keith tried to defend himself by saying that he wasn't wearing the appropriate "cabin attire" and thus had changed. CABIN ATTIRE we all erupted!!! What the frick is CABIN ATTIRE!! It wasn't long after that someone shouted - CABIN BOY and the legend began. I'm not exactly sure who crowned Keith as Cabin Boy. I think it was Rich, but it actually sounds like something JT would say.
Legend of Cabin Boy also reaches as far as Africa. Pictured here is Cabin Boy in his appropriate Kalahari Sundowner attire.
The man's a walking Orvis catalog!
with blogging blisters on his finger tips, Tantillo calls out:
"Which of you will pitch in to help write the official history of the dubbing of Cabin Boy, 'Cabin Boy'?"
My memory is shaky on this, and I have no archives to back me up, but.... was it Safari Jim who first referred to Keith as "Cabin Boy" (photo; bird in hand, Safari Pup by his side, Elsie relaxing in his arm) following a discussion in which a reference was made to "cabin attire", and did this happen (if it happened at all) at the first Maine Grouse Camp, Macannamac Lodge, Spider Lake? I seem to remember Josh driving a rental with embarassingly Jerseyesque plates, himself flaunting a lambs wool vest??? Nice habitat, no grouse, a week too late, a few woodcock.
And did you know: Filson recently unveiled a Cabin Boy line of lodge lingerie?
(why, that's enough to make died-in-the-wool Followers of Filson chafe)