Monday, February 27, 2006

Sporting Classics Reruns: Grouse Odyssey 2002

Hi gang,
Things have gotten busy here for the poetaster's apprentice. little poetry humor there for you.

For those of you who tire of poetry and want real blood and guts, old-fashioned hook-n-bullet accounts of killin' thangs, you'll be glad to hear that I've gone back into the email vault to pull out "reruns" of some sporting classics from bygone days. Seeing as how I appear to be the only one posting anything these days, one of us has to feed the blog. At any rate, enjoy.

ps. I've changed the names of one or two characters on the outside chance they don't want their private hunting experiences as connected to yours truly to show up on google searches and the like. You'll still be able to figure out who they are.

Trip log 2002: Wisconsin-a-ganza, "Part One"

Saturday October 12 am.

Called Dizzy [editor's note: here's the first name change] and Son the night before and made arrangements to rendevous at "The Giant Loon" in downtown Mercer WI at 9am. I wake up early and it's pouring I mean pouring rain. Drive the hour or so to Mercer, then give the lads a courtesy call at 8:30 to see if they still wanted to hunt. Of course they wanted to hunt! And so we did.

Dizzy and Son hunt with a pair of German shorthair pointers named Reba and Vida Blue. These dogges work really well together, and it was also interesting to watch the interactions between Dizzy Sr. and Dizzy Jr. (not technically a junior, younger Dizzy's name is Seth). Seth and I hit it right off--he's an attorney and I play one on TV, so we spent the morning swapping lawyer stories in the rain. Did I mention it was raining?

Sidenote on Dizzy: For those of you unaquainted with the Good Professor's work (I hear some people only read article abstracts to get their degrees), Dizzy is author of [a famous book--ed.] and is someone who helped me with various chapters of my thesis along the way.

Anyhew, in a long day's hunting, I was the only one to kill a bird--two in fact, a grouse that one of the shorthairs caused to fly my way, and a late afternoon wc over a Kate point. By that time the skies had cleared and we were hunting three dogges, although the general noise and hubbub emanating from the shorthair sector was a BIG distraction to the wimpy-assed, overly sensitive, wispy-haired white dogge. Thus we hunted out of earshot of the Dizzys as much as possible.

That night, I rolled into Old Tamarack tired and somewhat wet. Safari Jim had gotten there Friday night, and in a two hour pm solo hunt (Saf. Jim skipped the rain) on Saturday Jim apparently got four easy grouse in the "cherry" Old T. coverts. He left them out in the open for me to see as I drove into camp and was out road hunting for his fifth and limit grouse when I arrived.

That night there was much rejoicing.

Sunday morning Oct. 13.

Safari and I hit the coverts the first morning with Kate as I recall. XMan was due in at 10 am and had left explicit and detailed instructions with Jim to make sure we were there upon his prompt arrival at 10:00. Of course we hunted until 12 and had lunch way before Rico showed up at 2pm. (Note to Rich: hey where the hell are you, we're waiting).

If I'm not mistaken I got two grouse that morning hunting with Jim (Safari?), both over points. Although one was a super sky shot on a bird that Safari had walked in on but had missed, and I was simply in the right place at the right time to get the rebound. (If I was a lab guy, I would now talk about Katie's excellent retrieve. But I won't, except to say that she found that bird a long way from where I took the shot.)

Rich shows up late as I already mentioned. After quick howdy do's, the three of us head out to the coverts for Rico's first hunt, over one of the black and tans as I recall.

(From here on in, the specific details of specific hunts is apt to get a little fuzzy. I'll just give some of the highlights as I remember them. Guess I was gone just TOO DARN LONG to keep it all straight. heh heh.)

Monday Oct. 14.

We hunted. We hunted hard. Somewhere along the way Rich and I drank some scotch. Could have been Sunday night, Oct. 13, into the wee hours of the morning Oct. 14. Like I said, I was either gone too long to keep it all straight, or I drank too much scotch. Both are plausible hypotheses.

Sidenote on Lagavulin: This turns out to be Heberligne's [second name change--ed.] favorite single malt. Go figure.

Sidenote to sidenote: Heberligne will also later speculate about the "interaction effects" between Rico, me, and Lagavulin.

Hunting on the 14th: I'm sure somewhere along the way, Rich killed a grouse over a Katie point. Absolutely textbook, in a perfectly picturesque little glade where grouse should be killed.

I on the other hand, killed a grouse that flushed wild along the trail. I call Kate in to find it, she proceeds to track it furiously uphill on the side of the trail, and after about a minute the beeper indicates she is on the bird. Or should I say, the bird is in her? "Save the eye for me, Katie." I resolve to feed Katie when we return to the cabin.

We also hunted with Safari some on the 14th, as he was leaving (oh so soon Jim?) (heh heh) for a Gordon Setter field trial Tuesday morning. Note to Safari Jim: ask Rich to sing his "Do you want to field trial" cover of a Tom Petty song. Great stuff. I kill a grouse that flushed from a tree while we were looking for a bird that Rich shot over Thor. We never did find Rich's bird.

I guess later that day is when Rich hit his famous woodcock that had been pointed three consecutive times by Katie. This was the bird that before the third point, I say: "If this bird goes up within a hundred yards of the dogge, KILL IT." Of course Rich kills it cleanly over a classic point. Here's what I do: I run over to Rich to give him an overly enthusiastic high five, explaining IN THE VERY ACT OF DOING THIS that I rarely get all "Like wow we killed a bird" high-five-ish after a bird is killed but I was happy for the dogge's effort. Wouldn't you know it that we never found that bird. We looked for close to an hour in waist high grass for it, Katie gave up looking for it, and Tuesday morning Safari Jim and Meg looked for another half hour for it. Moral of the Story: Never Gloat. Never High Five. Stay on the Path. The Red Gods punished us for our arrogance, our hubris, our overweening (over-weenie?) human pride. Lesson learned.

Masaman for dinner that night? can't remember. Yes, Jim was there and cut the veggies for it. Masaman. A good time was had by all.

Tuesday Oct. 15. Safari Jim departs after a morning hunt.

Rico and I hunt and somewhere along the way we kill more birds. I believe that it is THIS afternoon that Rich INSISTS on going to the McCarthy Lake trail--scene of a famous or infamous incident in Grouse Camp History. To wit, the famous "Andy's Ramble" incident. Of course I respond rather weakly with the retort that "that's a morning hunt, Rich," but Rich is not to be talked out of his desire. Dumbass me, I figure, it's Rich's last full day to hunt, so I'll go along with his plan.

We proceed to hunt in the Place of the Dead. Rich remarks somewhere along the way that it is like something out of the Hobbit. Voila! a new covert name: Murkwood. "Don't go off the trail."

"Stay on the path."

At precisely 5:00 pm, I am standing in six inches of water near a beaver pond, listening to Rich command "Jim, STAY. WHOA!" as Rich attempts to find the trail that we had been on until about 4:30 pm. "Rich, that's a morning hunt." "Jim, I wanna hunt McCarthy." "Jim, WHOA! STAY!" Thanks to Rich's excellent woodsmanship, disaster was averted and by 5:30 pm we were both on our way back out to the truck in dwindling light. Somewhere along the way, Rich killed a wc over a nice Katie point. Murkwood claims another victim.

Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Rich and I decide to hunt "Cosmic"--a very large popple stand that had been the site of previous X-Man triumphs two years ago. We found a single wc in that covert in about an hour and a half of hunting. Big disappointment. A Cosmic Bust, you might say.

Fortunately, we recovered for a quick lunch at the truck, and proceeded on to "Jay's Spot," a trail along the Merengo River that Josh and I had discovered on the last trip, but which Jay was already familiar with. With Rich's hunting time diminishing with each passing minute, we walk the trail in, and then cut into the woods to follow some popple and boggy stuff growing on the hillside above the Merengo. Within a minute or two, Kate goes on point. A bird goes up and I promptly shoot it. It goes down. Moments later, a second bird goes up, and I don't remember if Rich got a shot off or not. Anyway, Kate is following the second bird's flight when I call her back to get the downed bird. I see the downed bird on the ground. I debate whether to shoot the downed ground bird, which is sitting up and looking around. I decide against that course of action, call Kate over, and then the bird manages to take flight after Katie spotted it. And with the dog on the bird's tail, I can no longer shoot it. The bird gains speed and altitude and flies practically into the next county.

Damn! I'm cursing and muttering and beating myself up and really angry. Rich says calmly, "Let's just follow the line." Which we proceed to do for 70 or 100 yards. No bird. I'm still cursing and muttering. We let Katie cover the area pretty thoroughly. No bird. At this point I'm ready to give up and ready to show Rich the rest of the covert (this is Rico's last hunt before departure). I desperately want to try to get Rich another bird, but Rich to his credit says, No. Let's just continue the line the bird took and see if it turns up.

Another 100 or so yards downhill, Kate goes on point near a boggy little swale with water trickling down the slope. There's the bird!

And Jim breathes a BIG sigh of relief.

We hunt our way out of the rest of the covert and head for camp. Of course the story would not be complete without mention of Rich's road hunting exploits on the way back: we spot a bird on the road, and as I stop the truck short of it, we see it fly into a balsam on the side of the road. Rich gets out, loads the gun, walks to the balsam, and . . . Rich can tell the story better than me, but suffice to say the first bird that flushed did not distract Rich from the task of killing the second bird with one shell when it flushed. This is this.

Stedman departs.

End of Wisconsin Grouse Camp 2002, Part One. Next installment, Wisconsin Part Deux: Heberligne arrives.
Jim again: just like reruns on television, these recycled "sporting classics" will not appear in any kind of special order--basically just as the mood hits me. I invite the rest of you to share your email archives with us as well, although I suppose most of you won't. :-) no matter.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

busy weekend for Frank . . .

well, Frank's had a busy weekend over at the big poem, pursuing Phemonoe, the goddess of poetry. I've been helping him, so I haven't had any time to blog anything here. Maybe later though.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Injuries to Harry Wittington

Here is the clearest picture to date of the injuries that Harry Whittington sustained in the hunting incident with Dick Cheney.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Heroes of Modern Sporting Art, continued

We haven't posted anything new and exciting lately in the Grousers "Heroes of Sporting Art" category, so here is today's entry:

Clearly this is a sculpture--life size, I might add, by Jeff Koons--of celebrity Michael Jackson who has just returned from a successful monkey hunting excursion. As you can see, Michael has "field dressed" his quarry in the typically whimsical and appropriate Jacksonesque style, just the thing to amuse any children who may be visiting him at the moment at Neverland.

For more about this sculture, check out this link. There's quite a lot out there about Koons but also about this particular Michael Jackson piece.

As an aside, this reminds me of our Maine grouse camp conversations of 2003 (?), where Peter K. regaled us with tales of Monkey Brain Masaman and other possibly apocryphal culinary tales about brainfood across the cultures.

Brain appetit!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

For your viewing and listening pleasure

Dick Cheney's Got a Gun from the Bob Rivers show

Vicar, you free-riding parasite . . . .

heh heh. You heard me right: Mr. Mike's numbers don't lie. (nice wav file, btw, Mr. M) You sir, are a disgrace to grouse gabdom. Here all along I've thought you were doing your fair share, holding up your end of the bargain, etc. etc. You know, I believed that you were a real "Camp Man," as the Captain of Old T might put it.

But now I learn that you're nothing but a free-loading blood-sucking tic on our grousers' collective arse. And that goes for you too, Kleinpuppy. The gloves are off. I'm spitting mad, phtew, phtew.

So all you free-loading hosers get your fingers on the keyboard and start writing some comments AT THE VERY LEAST, sheesh fer frigginchrissakes. Cause it's lonely here in the control booth, writing my heart out day in and day out, spilling my guts for the entire internet community, and for what? This is the thanks and gratitude that Mr. Mike and I get for our literary output? Almost enough to make me ashamed to be a grouser.

So snap out of it, fellas. Give us a sign that you're at least reading these things. Crickets chirping, whatever--a little bit of appreciation goes a long way.

Otherwise, I'm gonna start spamming your boxes with multiple copies of every post that makes it onto the blog--Cheney haiku included. And that's not a threat . . . that's a promise.

heh heh

I can barely stand it any longer . . .
I'll tell you where the bear shits in the woods.

Friends of Grousers continue to display poetic genius

For the second week in a row, Rusty Parker and Frank Zappai garnered honors for their poetic work at Choka: The World's Longest Poem. Here is what the judges had to say about our boys' work this past week:

but Samurais and show guns

Once again, the sharp shooter steps forward to break a blue rock. Nice play on shogun, unbelievable syllable pacing of anachronistic. So much so, in fact, that the birdhead and I believe that Rusty is actually the gun-totin' nom de plume of (you guessed it) Zappai. No matter. For his second week on the Wall, we're also officially granting him title of Sergeant at Arms for the Choka, meaning he is now fully entitled to all priviledges thereof and, that's right, he's now allowed to carry concealed. With the exception of suttonhoo, from now on don't assume that Rusty's just happy to see you when he bumps into you in the hall.

Frank Zappai

internet dates a big bust
judging from photos

Lots of great couplets from Frank again this week. This one is our favorite. Simple and straight forward. Lowhanded and smirky. What's not to like? Full credit. Bonus points for bringing up the first (and what may well end up being the only) serious point on the Discussion Board. You're not a man, Zappai, you're the man.
Jim again: Moreover, Frank Zappai won a first-ever distinction in partnership with a chokaer known only as "awgeez":
awgeez & Frank Zappai

If you have Girl Scout cookies,
Should you delete them?

Scouts' privacy policy
it's in the fine print

If you ever wonder why choka'ing is better than basketball, go back and look at this pair. This is the quintessential dunk and re-dunk. For the first time ever we award a twin WOF for couplets in combo. Awgeez makes the play on scout cookies, AND THEN ZAPPAI COMES UP WITH THE SCOUTS' SECURITY POLICY. Just awgeez? No. Just awesome? Yes.
Jim again: Once again I say it's time for all grousers everywhere to tip their hats to our intrepid poetry heroes. For their efforts, our boys get to proudly display the following badge of distinction on their respective web pages:

Frank's week, however, was not without its occasional misstep: The judges penalized him for his non-Zen allusion to the Hokey Pokey:
Frank Zappai

you do the Yokey Chokae
turn yourself around

Just kill my dog why don't you. Okay, the plural of choka is, choka -- like (one of what I'm sure is a class of your favorite pals) sheep. It's a poem, dammit, not a fricken antenna. But that's not what's the most disturbing. As you know, I'm an armchair philosopher -- the Archie Bunker of Zen as it were -- and one of the most disturbing bumper stickers I've ever seen in my life is: What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about? I mean, that's the kind of thing that just tears me up. Rips at me. I don't need to be reminded about it, I mean, I really don't, and that's precisely what you're doing here. (And seriously, what if it is what it's all about?)
Jim again: In our view, the judges here were a bit harsh with our boy Frank--but being the Archie Bunker of Zen as it were, we're just grateful they didn't call Frank "Meathead." But Frank now has the dubious distinction of being the first grouser to land his sorry behind in "Shame Alley"--and he is sentenced to displaying the following logo on his website:

Of course the other bad news is that the jig might be up on the Rusty Parker/Frank Zappai partnership. Suspicions have been raised that Rusty and Frank might in actuality be the same individual. Further detective work on this issue will be needed. Until next week . . . .

Cool New Gun From Remington

Remington will be offering a newly-designed 12 ga. autoloader this year, the 105CTi. It has design features reminiscent of the Ithaca 37 (bottom ejection and feed) and of the Benelli SBE (carbon matrix). There are several other really cool things built in, like a recoil reducer. It comes in at 7 lbs, close enough for a 12 ga. field gun with all these cool features. You know that Rem. 870s and 1100s combined probably hold more skeet and trap records than everything else combined.

Here is the thread on-going at SSM. Here is a nifty video showing its design features in better detail (warning: 15 or so minutes long).

Who wants to make an offer on my Benelli? For you I can make such a deal…

Spring Run of Red Herring

The Claim

The Vicar recently posted this haiku:
Hi Boys, I sure miss
The easy, carefree days of
email. Nostalgia?
Jim and I just happened to be e-mailing “offline” the other day, discussing the relative merits of various highland folk beverages. I’m not sure how Rich or his haiku came up in the e-conversation. Maybe it was the laughing reference to Old Smuggler, the bottle, Jim recalled, that Rich favors for sharing at camp.

Anyways, the haiku made it seem as if the “e-mail days” were a halcyon period in the group’s life, a time when all chipped in equally with a few paragraphs here and there as we chuckled light heartedly down GrouseGab Street. Jim told me he’d kept records of the group’s e-mailings these past 8 or 9 years, and agreed to supply me with his data. Since my last statistical work drew little attention from the group here, I realized that, while scientifically compelling, it must have lacked sufficient relevance. Running with Rich’s own haiku would certainly fix that this time around.

I popped the figures into Excel, and sure enough, Rich’s claim appeared true. The lead graphic shows the group count of e-mails by month over 8 years. Jim’s data are incredibly “even,” without a hint of seasonal variation.

The Rest of the Story

This didn’t sit right in my gut. My recollection was of irregular seasonal contribution rates, not an "even scatter" like chocolate chips in a Famous Amos. The historical record filtered through Rich’s rosy colored glasses didn’t seem to display its true colors.

When I analyzed Jim’s data a bit further, the answer was obvious. While the group’s submission numbers were quite homogeneous, the number of submissions from the individual members was all over the place. By “all over the place” is meant “Rich always runs away and hides from January through August.” Just takes his ball and goes home. PK and PW aren’t much chattier as the days grow longer, either. Doubtless to the group’s delight, Jim’s tales concerning his considerable work load and keenly developed aesthetic sense happily fill the State College Gap in part, with my fascinating reports of questing for better dogs and shotguns completing the shortfall. See the details in the graph below.

So, whether the group emails, blogs or even carrier pigeons our respective bits of Good Cheer, rigorous statistical analysis leaves no doubt that some are continually responsible in contributing their fair share, while others engage in grasshopper-like "carefree days" of reporting indolence.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Fwd: LOWKU for you

I received the email below this morning from a fan of the blog. With her permission, I post the following haiku in the spirit of sharing the wealth.

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: LOWKU for you
From: Fannie LaFlame
Date: Sat, February 18, 2006 10:01 pm
To: "Jim Tantillo" <>

Now that Whittington is out of the hospital...some weekend bad poetry for you -- hope the wind didn't knock your power out - Fannie

"Bird shot by bird brain"
A headline unrealized
Cheney unscathed still...

A bird in the hand
is worth two points against Bush?
Bad Red Chinese hunt

Gun control veto
Lawyer down in Texas field
N.R.A. re-think

Smart Guys Recipe Corner: Venison Burgundy

What they're eating at Tantillo's. This is primo, and very easy to make.

Venison Burgundy


1 to 2 lbs. pound raw venison stew meat
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion(s)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground thyme
3 cube beef broth cube(s)
1 cup water
1/2 pound mushroom(s)
1 cup red wine
2 tsp garlic powder
optional: carrots and/or potatoes if desired

combine in crock pot. Cook on high 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.

Serve over rice or noodles

Dick Cheney Haiku Explosion on the Web

Well, this just in. There are four PAGES of hunting haiku related to the Dick Cheney incident at this link. I haven't read all of them yet, but some are pretty damn amusing (and some just plain vulgar), e.g.:

hear the shotgun's song
see the gobbets of flesh fly
hunting alone now

Boom, my shotgun says.
Your blood spurts like stolen votes.
I win, you loser.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

PETA membership drive

Would Bob and Walter have given up beaver trapping for this? Click on the thumbnail to see the, um, larger image.

Hope everyone's weekend was fun

It was mighty cold here in grouse country. Anyway, I couldn't let the grousers arrive at work on Monday morning without something new and interesting to start their week blog-wise. So here is a photo from the grouse camp archival vault that shows Andy preparing a specimen and Safari Jim just putting the Old Tamarack book down after finishing an entry.

No doubt Andy is packing that carcass to make the 30+ hour trip back to Maine so that he can stew the meat off the bones to make soup before stitching the sinew into something useful for Angela and the kids--you know, like shoelaces for the young'uns. Safari on the other hand has only a one day drive back to East Lansing, so he's preparing to simply buy his soup on the road. It's all good!

Anyway, photo circa 2001.

Friday, February 17, 2006

this just in

Try the Dick Cheney Quail Hunt Game. A test of your skill and marksmanship.

Where is everybody?

It's been a little lonely this week at 5 Smart Guys and Mr. Mike, putting me in a slightly elegiac Friday frame of mind.

Here is a little picture I like to call, Dead Birds with Parker:

I miss that gun . . . my beat up 20 gauge.

Just like I miss you guys. sniff sniff. Tugs at my heartstrings, thinking of each and every one of you.

Josh, with your amusing tendency to get violently ill at grouse camp for no reason. Well, there was a reason, we just won't mention it.

Safari, for your generous contributions of candy bars and camraderie in the conifers. Say, that could be a haiku.

Pete, I miss your manic-ness. Period.

Vicar. who are you exactly? heh heh

Path Walker, I miss your dragging me through impenetrable alder swamps at high rates of speed following your (ahem) slightly higher energy setter than I'm accustomed to.

Mr. Bill, I miss your calming presence on hunts with Mr. Pete. That and all those conversations trying to figure out the perfect gun for you. By the way, how's that new Elsie?

Mr. Mike. I don't really miss you because you're just as active a blogger as I am. But if I did miss you, I would miss your geometric approach to cutting transects through the coverts, and my telling you to forget geometry.

Cabin Boy. I also don't miss you since you work in my building. But when I wax on, wax off about days afield with the Cabinmeister, I guess I'd say I miss that whole group of Canoga goosers and duckers you've introduced me to. I don't miss you reminding me about Jim's Comeuppance every time we bird hunt.

Hmmm. I can take this further. Ernie, I know you sometimes read this blog. I miss your Meals Ready to Eat of grilled steaks marinaded in Chiavettas. Also miss that monstrous bonfire at beer camp.

Mike O--I miss your calling ability for bringing ducks in and your gentlemanly holding back on shots so I can have first crack at them. Except for when you invoke the rarely-invoked "drakes only" rule, or say "go" instead of "take em." oh wait, that's Tidball.

Carola, since you're still listed in the blog lineup, I miss your pseudonymous haiku lurking in the comments sections. If you're still reading, let us know you're out there, every now and then.

Well, I'm sure I miss more than just you folks, but I've gotten myself so veclempt that I can't type. Talk amongst yourselves.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Insightful commentary re: Cheney incident

Here's a gem of commentary from a random sample of random blogs randomly blogging about Dick Cheney's random shooting:
Now let’s also discuss the topic of sportsmanship. I would like to note that the wounds managed to range from the victims chest to face. I know I am not a hunting expert but that is quite a significant dispersal of ammunition. It hardly seems sporting to me to hunt a bird with what amounts to at least a three foot dispersal of ammo. Additionally, it turns out our “pal” was also hunting out of a truck. I mean why stop there he has the whole secret service at his disposal-why not just have a few agents flush some birds into the Chopper blades?
Jim again: Read the entire post here.

Dick Cheney Gun Club

Well, I promised myself that I wasn't going to do any more Dick Cheney stuff. But we all know promises are made to be broken . . . what with my ethics.

Join the Dick Cheney Gun Club. It's a blast.

Grousers: Your one-stop source for archery info

Every autumn, many grousers dabble in, if not wholly dedicate themselves to, the art of archery and the bagging of a big buck like Bambi.

Quality archery equipment is extremely important to grousers, and quality equipment can make the difference between bagging Bambi on the far side of Taughannock Gorge and making masaman Bambi at grouse camp--or having Bambi fall into the gorge merely crippled and unrecovered, only to wash out into Cayuga Lake via Taughannock Creek eventually to rest with bloated dead carp and Tidball's duck skiff.

Therefore, when it comes to archery quivers, Cat makes a quality product, as evidenced by the fact that Cat quivers are a top seller at Cabelas, the nation's number one outfitter.

But here is a Cat quiver you won't see in the Cabelas catalogue. I don't know if it is last year's model, discontinued, or merely a prototype for the future. But it looks like a good product, silky quiet in the woods, and holds a goodly number of arrows. Looks like a product winner!

It's Bambi week in my course

Check out what students are learning this week. We are watching the 1942 Disney classic, Bambi, digitally re-mastered last year in glorious DVD.

Here is a shot from the film that I've always admired: Bambi has just rescued Faline from being pursued by a pack of hounds from hell, and is shot in mid-air from an unseen hunter just offscreen as he (Bambi) is leaping across a fifty yard chasm between two cliffs. Nice shot!

Obviously I'm not quite as irreverant when I'm showing the film to students . . . I keep my cheering to myself.

Anyway. That's this week. This is this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Meals in a hurry: POAS Mu Shu recipe

Hey gang,
We had this recipe with farm raised chicken just last weekend, and it was awesome. It would work spectacularly well with farm raised pheasants . . . POAS.

The recipe is from . The blurb from epicurious is "Better than anything you can get at your local takeout joint, this way of making the Chinese classic can be done in record time." And they're right. Enjoy.


1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 (16-oz) bag coleslaw mix
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 bunch scallions, coarsely chopped
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas (not low-fat)
2 1/2 to 3 cups coarsely shredded cooked POAS, without skin (from a 2-lb rotisserie chicken or a BRACE OF PEN-RAISED BIRDS)

Accompaniments: hoisin sauce; chopped scallions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook eggs, stirring, until just cooked through. Transfer scrambled eggs to a plate. Add remaining 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and heat until hot but not smoking, then cook ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add coleslaw mix and 2 tablespoons water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until coleslaw is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, remaining 2 tablespoons water, and hoisin sauce in a small bowl. Add to coleslaw mixture along with scallions and eggs and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately put tortillas between 2 dampened paper towels on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power until tortillas are hot, about 1 minute.

To assemble, spread hoisin on each tortilla and top with mu shu mixture, chicken, and scallions, then roll up.

Makes 4 servings.

Jim's rating: four stars. Yummy to my tummy. Makes POAS hunting somehow seem worth it. heh heh

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ten ways Dick Cheney can kill you

The Drunken Sailor’s Transgression

Sometimes it gets old being the “Mike” here at “5 Smart Guys & c.” Mine is far from the tightest choke in the blind, but even I understand what the title suggests. Experience leaves no doubt that “smart Mike” is an improbable pairing that clangs on the ear like “rap lullaby” or "Sunkist apples." Not that this is an out-of-the-blue problem for me. This was old news by the time I started my fifth year in high school. Who would have thought I’d have been in college only two years later!

My feeling of inadequacy was made worse recently when Richie was featured on an NPR broadcast. Geezum Crow, Rich has just become a household word, as famous as Regis or Ex Lax, a synonym for academic ambition, and he isn’t even one of the “5.” Production-wise, I know I’ve got some upstream paddling to do.

I decided that the way to earn some bona fides, smart-wise, was through my old profession, teaching algebra to third grade minds locked in pitched internal battle with eleventh grade hormones. I remembered being interested during college in a statistical method called, if I remember right, “transgression analysis.” What I clearly do recall is flunking the darned stat course. Anyway, with this tool you figure how to predict how big “Y” will be for any given “X.” I was a bit apprehensive about starting this project because, even though I taught algebra for 18 years, I never did learn what “X” was.

The first obstacle on my way out of the respect funk was finding some “normal” data. Geez, I’m the last guy who ought to be saying what’s normal. Can you tell just by looking? Anyway, I remembered some artwork that Jimmy had posted, and that gave me an idea.
Whenever I’m invited to hunt birds, I always set my odometer to zero on the way outbound from the house so I can log the distance for future reference. Naturally, I also furtively “mark the spot” with my GPS whenever a bird is shot in one of my host’s coverts. Just for archival purposes, mind you. Boy, do I have FLNF archived! I’d have Keith’s property archived, too, if there were any birds on it.

The GPS has a “Go To” function which measures “crow miles” from one spot to another. But the actual mileage always turns out greater than what the GPS claims because my car has to zig here and zag there like a drunken sailor to stay on the road. I wondered whether the amount of zig and zag was always about the same, percentage-wise, or whether, like the sailor or Jim’s setter, it was all over the place.

So I picked 6 “data pairs” for my random sample of normal data. There was a strong scientific basis for picking these 6: they represented the distances to the only 6 people I know who were sill… considerate enough to invite me to their coverts. Flipping between my GPS and my deLorme, I plotted these 6 pairs:

12.9 16.6
49.5 66.0
51.7 66.0
50.9 66.0
52.4 68.0
116.0 153.0

As examples, the 12.9 x 16.6 mile pair represents the distances from my house to my much beloved POAS Place, while the 116.0 x 153.0 mile pair represents, heh heh, the distances from my house to a "honey hole" within FLNF.

Next, I popped these numbers into the statistical blender, pushed “pulse” once or twice, and got the silky smooth results shown next.

All the rigorous experimental design work, grueling field work, and mathematical manipulation suddenly seemed inconsequential as I finally could make some startling conclusions:
  • Without cutting it too fine, the graph says that I’m going to drive the car 1/3 farther than the GPS thinks I should. If the GPS says 60 now, the odometer will read 80 later when I park and let the dog out. This is similar to the “mental arithmetic” that Pete uses when he eats out and computes the tip, except that he uses 1/12.

  • The “R Squared” value is incredibly high. I mean, I got it going on here, Baby. Those plotted points are hugging that line tighter’n Jimmy on his missus' paycheck.

  • After intense thought and several reviews of the computations, I claim with 99% confidence that GPS satellites cause English setters to hunt like drunken sailors. As Harry Connick might say, let me be frank: this conclusion is shocking. Before this, it was widely held that drunken sailors hunted lots better than English setters.

Whew! Using so much brainpower is hard work. I think I’ll just sit back for a while and enjoy the buzz that this article will surely attract. The guys at “5 Smart” will certainly be reconsidering their site name: this kind of scholarship leaves no doubts about my intelligence. Or maybe I’ll relax with a little hunting. Hey, Andy, got any “secret spots” you want to thin out? You can blind fold me on the drive in if you want.

Monday, February 13, 2006

undoubtedly in poor taste . . .

But don't shoot the messenger. To give credit where credit is due, the pic with accompanying analysis is from Aaron's place.

What Really Happened on Dick Cheney's Hunt

Friends of Grousers garner prestigious poetry accolades!

It may interest grousers to know that two long-time friends of this blog, Frank Zappai and Rusty Parker, were today each singled out for his poetic brilliance and all around haiku excellence by the blog management at Choka On It: The World's Longest Poem.

Read what the awards committee had to say about our boys in awarding the first-ever Wall of Fame recognition to this week's winners:
Frank Zappai

performance anxiety
don't choka tonight

Frank laid down several nice couplets, but this is the best of the set. May or may not make reference to the szetela stanza that appeared above it, vaguely bawdy, and an always-popular choka pun (and all without the atonality of his namesake). Winner.

Rusty Parker

Little Annie Oakley a
silent shooting star

Lots of goodness here. Continues on the silent movie theme from Borut''s couplet above, gives us a spectacular link to an old Edison silent (go to the actual choka for the link), makes a pun and alliteration on "silent shooting star." Gun nuts are scary. We're nuts about Rusty.
Jim again: I couldn't agree more. We're nuts about Rusty, and also about Frank--and let's give them both a big old-fashioned grousers hero's welcome back to both of them as they return from the grueling competition in the choka trenches.

Both Frank and Rusty are now qualified to display the highly coveted Choka Wall of Fame Banner on their respective websites:

Good work fellas!

As an aside, and on a somewhat sour note, it may further interest grousers to know that the humble efforts of yours truly to achieve choka excellence this week went, sadly, unrecognized. But that will not deter me from giving it my all this coming week. I hereby do solemnly vow to win Wall of Fame recognition before I die, or before my computer explodes, whichever comes first.

Read the full poem as it emerges and continues to evolve at Choka On It.

More bad haiku makes grousers the only news source you need

Check it out--more bad haiku about the Dick Cheney "situation." You'll recall the previous post:

'Duck' confusion!!!
Dick Cheney, trigger happy?
shot some guys cranium.

Here are the followup entries:

that has got to hurt
the chance of one less lawyer
and he just wings him

when republicans taste blood
be careful dan quayle

dick dead-eye he's not
seems he's just a rotten shot
seems he's just rotten

Jim again: stay tuned for more late-breaking bad haiku. And make grousers your number one news source.

Please, please turn off the music!!!

To whomever put that horrid video-gamey music up on our blog, please get rid of it before I harm someone.

It's kinda like Mario Bros theme song meets porn music.

The feminist deconstructors will have much to say no doubt.

"... erotic heterosexual predation, sadomasochism, restraint for aggressive sexual energy, and allied with the abuse of women ..."

umm ... I like my grouse camp buddies a lot, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Read the full analysis of our psychosis of choice here.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hats off to our northern neighbors

While this might be a more appropriate posting for Canadian Haiku, eh? I thought I'd take the opportunity on behalf of all the grousers to congratulate Ms. Ashley Koski of Matheson, Ontario for her recent success moose hunting at Thunder Bay, Canada. I hope it's okay with Ashley if I post her game photo here as well. Congratulations Ashley!

Click on the photo to see more pics from Ashley's hunt.

"By god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good"

This just in over the wire sources . . . hey, I've always wanted to write that. :-)

Our beloved vice-president, Richard Cheney, "accidentally" shot his hunting partner this weekend while quail hunting. Here's the text of an Associate Press story about it:

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday.

"He is stable and doing well. It was almost like he was spending time with me in my living room," said hospital administrator Peter Banko, who visited Whittington.

Banko said Whittington was in the intensive care unit because his condition warranted it, but he didn't elaborate.

The accident occurred Saturday at a ranch in south Texas where the vice president and several companions were hunting quail. It was not reported publicly by the vice president's office for nearly 24 hours, and then only after it was reported locally by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on its Web site Sunday.

Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, said Sunday that Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun and that Whittington was about 30 yards away when he was hit in the cheek, neck and chest.

Each of the hunters was wearing a bright orange vest at the time, Armstrong told reporters at the ranch about 60 miles southwest of Corpus Christi. She said Whittington was "alert and doing fine."

Armstrong told The Associated Press emergency personnel traveling with Cheney tended to Whittington before an ambulance — routinely on call because of the vice president's presence — took him to a hospital in Kingsville. From there, Whittington was flown by helicopter to Corpus Christi about 40 miles away.

Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said the vice president met with Whittington at the hospital on Sunday. Cheney "was pleased to see that he's doing fine and in good spirits," she said.

Armstrong said she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.

Whittington shot a bird and went to retrieve it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and discovered a second covey.

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said.

"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

Whittington has been a private practice attorney in Austin since 1950 and has long been active in Texas Republican politics. He's been appointed to several state boards, including when then-Gov. George W. Bush named him to the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

McBride said the vice president's office did not tell reporters about the accident Saturday because they were deferring to Armstrong to handle the announcement of what happened on her property.

Armstrong, owner of the Armstrong Ranch where the accident occurred, said Whittington was bleeding after he was shot and Cheney was very apologetic.

"It broke the skin," she said of the shotgun pellets. "It knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that.

"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

Cheney is an avid hunter who makes annual trips to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. He also travels frequently to Arkansas to hunt ducks, among other places.

Armstrong said Cheney is a longtime friend who comes to the ranch to hunt about once a year and is "a very safe sportsman." She said Whittington is a regular, too, but she thought it was the first time the two men hunted together.

"This is something that happens from time to time. You know, I've been peppered pretty well myself," said Armstrong.

The 50,000-acre Armstrong ranch has been in the influential south Texas family since the turn of the last century. Katharine is the daughter of Tobin Armstrong, a politically connected rancher who has been a guest at the White House and spent 48 years as director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He died in October. Cheney was among the dignitaries who attended his funeral.

Cheney was legally hunting with a license he purchased in November, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Steve Lightfoot said. The vice president flew back to Washington on Sunday evening, according to his office.


Nedra Pickler reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber in Dallas contributed to this report.

Jim again: You know, I'm glad we live in such a great country, where our leaders are sportsmen enough to know to pick a 28 gauge gun to go hunting quail with! In my book Cheney shows here by his choice of firearm that he is the consummate sportsman, and my hat is off to him.

goose haiku by Richard Wright

another installment in our Poetry for POAS Pursuers series. Enjoy.

Don't they make you sad,
Those wild geese winging southward,
O lonely scarecrow?

From the rainy dark
Comes faint white cries of wild geese,--
How lonely it is.

Crying out the end
Of a long summer's sun,--
Departing wild geese.

Departing wild geese
Are fanning the moon brighter
With their tireless wings.

While plucking the goose,
A feather flew wildly off
To look for snowflakes.

--from Richard Wright, Haiku: This Other World

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Hey, there's gonna be a remake of The Deer Hunter

just kidding. But I am still playing with my new computer and my new software. Here is me starring in the remake of The Deer Hunter, reprising the role originally made famous by Robert De Niro. He's Italian, I'm Italian . . . hey, it works.

This is the scene where I go up into the Western Cascades of Pennsylvania to shoot me a big native Pennsylvania mule deer, and I get cold feet while thinking about poor Christopher Walken holding a gun to his head.

So I ease off the trigger and think about big thoughts . . . like, "This is this." Or like, "Perhaps this is something else."

This is this . . . I think.

You may be wondering what that growth is that's coming out of my right cheek, a growth that strangely resembles Bobby De Niro's chin. Well don't worry, I don't have cheek cancer or anything. It'll just be cleaned up in post-production.

Rough Cut tragic wisdom

Some of these old beaver, and they're old beaver,
they've been trapped and . . .
well the one up by Iron Pond
has been caught in a trap,
and lost a front foot.
You might as well get 'em out,
usually they're getting a little age on them.
They're gonna die, someday same as anybody else . . .
Well these beaver up through here
they've been trapped
for the last ten, twelve years,
and Walter's, uh, he's smartened up a lot of them . . .
They just get smart, that's all.
You take these old beaver like that
they're usually old ones that get cagey like that,
it ain't the young ones--
they're on their way out anyway.
They're gonna die, there's no question about it.
Their day is pretty short
just the same as me and everybody else.
I mean that's something you can't get away from
is death and taxes.
The animals and all, they can get away from the taxes
but they can't get away from death.

Rough Cut poetry

oh the poor animals
it ain't good to kill 'em but
they got to be kept thinned down
- by golly that's one
that's good blanket there

Rough Cut haiku

while beaver trapping -
"that's some pretty beaverish
looking water there"

Friday, February 10, 2006

Dead River Rough Cut haiku

Dead River Rough Cut -
the most requested film at
the Maine State Prison

You just take a little piece of copper wire . . .
(Bob Wagg, circa 1976)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

This is this. This ain't something else. This is this.

Howdy boys,
Just playing with my "new" computer which is just back from the shop. Finally entered the 21st century with Mac OSX on my own machine. I am for example finally able to accomplish screen captures from films, you know, for educational purposes. So here's Bobby De Niro saying what he says best:

Clearly The Deer Hunter was shot in an extremely widescreen format.

Now if I can get some freeware to capture audio files, I'll be all set. Hey Josh, can you send some pointers my way about audio and mpg files?

Canadian Haiku breaks the news first!

Suddenly, Canadian Haiku has become the most interesting blog to read, as one anonymous commenter puts it. Click on the picture of Wayne Gretsky's wife to get the full analysis:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Hi Boys, I sure miss
The easy, carefree days of
email. Nostalgia?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Science made simple!

I know that some of you will get a kick out of this. Check out this web site. Here's one of the best answers:

Given that I slipped into professor mode this morning in a comments section I thought this was particularly appropriate. I've had students give this kind of performance on ethics exams. Didn't know this type of higher logic applied to the pure sciences. You learn something new everyday.

Ahh hell, here's one more. I love this:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

For all the die-hard duckers out there

Here's one for Pete and Keith. If there is demand, I'll try to make this a permanent fixture of the blog. enjoy.

Here's the link in case you miss the game or the catchy tune.

Free Flash Games

Now THIS is impact! or, Check out what Tantillo's students are learning

check it out: the birth of beer. An excerpt:

The real reason to blame for the Neolithic age...

The Birth of Beer: location: a really fertile part of the fertile crescent, 10,000 B.C.E... it must have gone something like this:

"Senacharib, you lazy son of a scarab!"

"Ive had it up to my shooskas with this louzy nomadic life. We never have anything nice. No coffe table, no comfy chair, not even a teevee! Camel hair tents, camel hair rugs, camel hair shorts! My life is an itchy hell, husband of mine, and youre to blame. Cant we just settle down, maybe quit the Ur's Angels, get one of those new mud brick split levels, like Joh'Nzanh's?"

"Awwww, Angie, you know i just got new chrome mud flaps for Harl'eh and Dav'd-Zon. Look how shiny! This desert dude was born to ride!"

"Come sit, eat. I got some of that new barley grain down at Honest Ur's Bargain Hut. Very trendy. A deal too. I think it got wet in last years rainstorm. Looks like it sprouted. Made you some nice gruel from a recipe in good tentkeeping. Mmmmm, steaming hot!"
Click the link--there's more. An unsolicited student contribution to the blog dedicated to the greatness that is People, Values, and Natural Resources. And you thought all this blogging was goofing off. Shame on you, whoever suggested such a thing. :-)

Ithaca Gun is back in business!

Yes kiddies, the umpteenth permutation of the Ithaca Gun Company is up and running in its new location in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. They're still building the Model 37, and they're still servicing ALL Ithaca Guns with the exception of the SKB imports, which we hear all otherwise conform to the laws of physics and sink when sunk.

The new company's web page is being developed. But it includes a brief history of Ithaca Gun and an account of the new ownership.

But now's the time to make your decision whether you want to save pop cans for that $50,000 Parker or a more modestly priced Ithaca pumpgun. The first gun due out this spring is the Turkeyslayer model, just in time to bag your May gobbler. Or you might decide to hold out for the featherlight upland gun pictured below.

Canadian Haiku Breaks the Stories First!

You read that right, sports fans. Read all about Don Cherry's Love Child over at Canadian Haiku, eh?. And if you don't know who the hell Don Cherry is, well then, fer frigginchrissakes, Canadian Haiku's got your back. So when you're done grousing, get your daily fill of Canadian Haiku.

Monday, February 06, 2006

How Will It Taste On Doughnuts?

This is a shameless commercial message, boys. At my second Super Bowl party yesterday, I ran into old friend Barry. He has always liked to cook. Well, he has put together a small business selling his line of sauces. I'm thinking that the Nimrods here could use this stuff 'most anytime, but specially on some of those more "excitable" kills. Like a high coot, maybe.

Check out the cool stuff from the Bear-Man.

In an interesting incident of propinquity in time, the hostess of that party happens not only to be my next door neighbor, but also FC Buster's mom, and a fledgling shutterbug to boot. She shared her valentine with me, and I've gotta share it with you. Feel the love.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

A new Parker once again being offered

Remington Arms, late of c. NY, purchased the Parker Gun Co. in 1934. Apparently their market seers do not feel that hunting is "a sport on the decline," no matter the clap-trap to that effect on the commielib airwaves. They're going to offer a high-finish AAHE 28 gauge priced at only $49,000 for a standard offering. "The new Parker will come with exhibition-grade Circassian walnut and a degree of handwork in checkering and engraving comparable to the original maker's highest grades." You'd better get your 50% deposit in PDQ, as interest is high in this initial offering. You'll find more details at Old Reliable.

Grousers literary quote of the day

Here's today's grousers literary quote from Henry D. Thoreaus' Walden:
When the ground was not yet quite covered, and again near the end of winter, when the snow was melted on my south hillside and about my wood-pile, the partridges came out of the woods morning and evening to feed there. Whichever side you walk in the woods the partridge bursts away on whirring wings, jarring the snow from the dry leaves and twigs on high, which comes sifting down in the sunbeams like golden dust, for this brave bird is not to be scared by winter. It is frequently covered up by drifts, and, it is said, "sometimes plunges from on wing into the soft snow, where it remains concealed for a day or two." I used to start them in the open land also, where they had come out of the woods at sunset to "bud" the wild apple trees. They will come regularly every evening to particular trees, where the cunning sportsman lies in wait for them, and the distant orchards next the woods suffer thus not a little. I am glad that the partridge gets fed, at any rate. It is Nature's own bird which lives on buds and diet-drink.
There you have it--partridges in literature.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Fire up the old wireless . . .

Here's the direct link to listen to our boy Vicar:

Here's the dance card:

Hunting, a Sport on the Decline

Talk of the Nation, February 2, 2006 · The Wisconsin state legislature is considering a bill that would lower the legal hunting age from 12 to 8. The goal is to boost a sport declining in popularity. For some communities, hunting remains an integral part of daily life.


Richard Stedman, professor of rural sociology at Pennsylvania State University

Christine Thomas dean of the College of Natural Resources at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; founder of Becoming an Outdoors Woman, a program which offers women workshops on outdoor recreation, including hunting and angling

George Meyer, executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation; former secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources

Christian Diehm, professor of environmental philosophy at University of Wisconsin

Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

Well, it's gladiator week in the course that I teach. Which means I get to show cool movie clips of Russell Crowe whippin some guy's butt in the Roman arena.

But seriously: what does all this have to do with hunting? well, I'm glad you asked. Here's an excerpt from the Brooklyn College Classics Department's gladiator pages, about the venatio, or animal hunts, that took place in the arena. Enjoy:
Another popular spectacle that was associated with gladiatorial contests was the venatio ('hunt'). The primary reference of this word was to actual hunts of game, some of dangerous predators (see left), some of tamer species. The word venatio, however, was actually an umbrella term that included other associated spectacles, such as displays of exotic species from conquered provinces, exhibitions of trained animals, fights between animals of different species, and execution of criminals. The venatio, originally held in the Circus Maximus, in the early empire was incorporated into the munus in the amphitheater. The venatio became a kind of warm-up act in the morning, with the main event, gladiatorial combat, taking place in the afternoon.

Measures were taken to protect spectators in the amphitheater from dangerous wild animals. In the Colosseum, these beasts were kept in cages underneath the arena, which were raised by ropes and pulleys to gaited openings in the podium. The animals were then released into the arena. Rollers at the top of the arena wall covered with polished marble prevented animals from climbing up into the crowd. Nets were also employed to keep animals away from the walls as an extra protection and also to make sure that they were visible from all parts of the auditorium. Along the arena wall were a number of small balconies holding archers as a last defense.

The trained hunter was called a venator, who was a level below the gladiator on the ladder of public esteem. Down at the bottom was the bestiarius ('beast-fighter'). Although bestiarii were recruited from the same source as gladiators (prisoners of war, criminals, etc.), they were despised, probably because they had little or no training. Seneca tells a story of a German prisoner of war who went to extreme lengths to avoid participating in one of these hunts (Ep. 70.20):

Recently in a bestiarii show [i.e., a venatio], one of the Germans, when he was being prepared for a morning spectacle, withdrew to relieve himself - no other privacy was allowed to him without a guard; in the lavatory area he stuffed into his throat the stick with a sponge attached which was used to wipe away excrement and with his breathing passage obstructed he choked to death...

Another unwilling bestiarius avoided participation in a venatio by sticking his head through the spokes of a wheel of the cart in which he was being carried to the show and allowing his neck to be broken when the cart began to move.

A venatio consisted of hunters stalking and killing ferocious and some not so ferocious wild animals in the narrow confines of the arena. In 79 BC Pompey gave games in which expert hunters (desert nomads called the Gaetuli) were imported to kill about twenty African elephants. A few years later Caesar pitted 500 infantrymen against approximately the same number of elephants. Cicero wrote about a later show given by Pompey in 55 BC, in which another elephant hunt took place (ad Fam. 7.1.1-3):

The rest of the hunts took place twice a day for five days; they were magnificent, nobody denies it. But what pleasure can there be for a civilized man when either some powerless man is ripped to shreds by a powerful beast or some magnificent animal is transfixed by a spear? But if this kind of show must be viewed, you have seen the same thing often in the past. We who were present at these spectacles saw nothing new. The last day belonged to the elephants. The common crowd found much to admire in this event, but did not really enjoy it. To the contrary, a certain pity was aroused in them and they came to the opinion that this beast shared a certain affinity with the human race.

It should be noted that although few animals survived these hunts, on occasion a bestiarius was killed, as is shown in this sculpture.

Lion killing a bestiarius

Jim again: sounds like some fun, eh? none of this sissy bird hunting with spaniels or setters, nosirree. This was real manly-man stuff.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Thin Stew

Another glorious if improbable February day here in the w. NY area. Sunny enough, and the OAT gage in the car maxed out at 52° F on my trip. Only vestigial snow was left on the ground in the target area. I remembered to pack the digicam today, as I had a story line in mind. "Sniping for Grouse" was to run with the "snipe hunt" fable but transfer it to local grousing. I had already mentally composed the photo of the mythic grouse's tracks. See 'em in the pic below? Yuk, eh?


I went back to the local forest I referenced last Sunday. Although millions of bloggers visit this site hourly, I'll be silly and let the hotspot cat out of the bag anyway. Here's where I parked.

Going in, I followed the same trail I did last Sunday. Don't recall whether I mentioned then that "the good spot" from which Gordie flushed his grouse was on a south-facing hillside full of mixed blowdown, conifer and old apple trees, with a creek running along the line at the base of the hill. That would be "straight back" from the van and on the left side. You would all immediately recognize it as "the right spot." Well, I had just finished shooting the "snipe tracks" photo when Gordie went into this particular clump of blowdown stuff.

Still fumbling with the camera and grinning at my cleverness, I could only watch in drop-jawed surprise when Gordie flushed a single straight out. By the time I had composed myself, I figured I'd rather mark the bird, or wait for its neighbor, than empty the gun in a very long shot. So both the snipe story and the "I finally got Gord his first grouse" story went down the drain in the same instant. However, I did bring this home for the pot:

I also tried two other mini areas nearby. I sadly believe I'll have to haul out the pin I thought might belong on Forest #2. Too much pole timber, not enough gnarlies, and too plenty piecelets of private land with the raggedy shack on them. The third place has produced woodcock corpses and *a* grouse flush in the past. But, as it was getting late, we only made a cursory walk down a fire lane, to no avail. I was home making Gordie's dinner and pouring a Tsing Tao 80 minutes later.

My delight in young Gordie and the good grousy nature of this particular place has me fired upper for grousing than I've been in ages. Lucky that I'm enthused and have had a good year collecting cans. From start to finish, I drove exactly 160 miles today in 2 hrs 40 min. The "good covert" on state land mentioned is probably the size of a healthy par 5 chopped up into an irregular shape. Let's consider the math. About 69 yards on the side of an acre, par 5 is 589 yards long, two trains leave two cities on the same track from opposite directions..., write the 9 and carry the 2..., and it's pretty easy to understand why I saw more grouse tracks today than tire tracks. Too much pole timber I can walk through without either breaking a sweat or getting little itchy scratchies down the back of my shirt!

Our boy done good . . .

Well, I call him our boy, but it occurs to me that while Vicar has time to chat and schmooze with Neal Conan (right), he's generally way too busy for us peons who gave him his start in hunting ethics around the kitchen table at Old Tamarack. harumph.

But actually, Rich did a nice job. I thought the "ethicist" they brought in from Stevens Point was a bit anemic, and I could have recommended someone far more qualified for the job, had they only asked. :-) Christine Thomas, the Dean of the Natural Resources College at Stevens Point, also did a nice job; while the former Director of Wisconsin DNR gave fairly long winded politician responses to questions about 8 year old kids hunting and about deer management.

That's my review and I'm sticking to it. The worst part of the entire thing was having to wait until 3:00 to hear the Vicar address the nation. For a while there I thought they were going to have him talk about Hmong immigrants in Wausau.


Let you in on a little secret: in the middle of the broadcast, Rich's mind started to wander a bit--right about when the animal rights wacko called in on behalf of "innocent wildlife." Here is what was going through Rich's mind at that point . . . a beautiful white, pokey dotted pointing sissy showing the way to a beautiful grey phase Bonasa in the bushes around Old T :

Rich's NPR Daydream (ca. 1998)

Honest. That was what Vicar was thinking about when he wasn't talking. And, who could blame him?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Already Thinking of Fall

Smoky Gold

There are two kinds of hunting: ordinary hunting, and ruffed-grouse hunting.

There are two times to hunt: ordinary times, and when the tamaracks are smoky gold.

This is written for those luckless ones who have never stood, gun empty and mouth agape, to watch the golden needles come sifting down, while the feathery rocket that knocked them off sails unscathed into the jackpines.

Those tamaracks change from green to yellow when the first frosts havebrought woodcock, fox sparrows, and juncos out of the north. Troops of robins are stripping the last white berries from the dogwood thickets, leavingthe empty stems as a pink haze against the hill. The creekside alders haveshed their leaves, exposing here and there an eyeful of holly. Brambles areaglow, lighting your footsteps grouseward.

The dog knows what is grouseward better than you do. You will do well tofollow him closely, reading from the cock of his ears the story the breeze is telling. When at last he stops stock-still, and says with a sideward glance, 'Well, get ready,'the question is, ready for what? A twittering woodcock, or the rising roar of a grouse,or perhaps only a rabbit? In this moment of uncertainty is condensed much of the virtue of grouse hunting.

He who must know what to get ready for should go and hunt pheasants.

An excerpt from A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold.

The Wish to Be Generous

Wendell Berry

All that I serve will die, all my delights,
the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
the silent lilies standing in the woods,
the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
will burn in man’s evil, or dwindle
in its own age. Let the world bring on me
the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
my little light taken from me into the seed
of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
like a tree in a field, passing without haste
or regret toward what will be, my life
a patient willing decent into the grass.

Fair Chase and the Bear Chase, revisited

Long time grousers may recall that a few years back Path Walker Weik dragged me into the bear baiting controversy in Maine. Well, "dragged me into" is a bit strong--he offered pickled deer tongue and away I went to Maine. I gave a series of talks titled "Fair Chase and the Bear Chase," and was the subject of letters to the editor for a couple of weeks afterwards.

Anyway, our old friend Bobby Fisk is at it again. Fisk is the President of Maine Friends of Animals, and he is trying to help hunters become better people. You know, not be unethical. Unsporting. Cruel. Barbaric. You get the picture.

Here's his latest missive to the Bangor paper, which must be hard up for op-ed content these days:
Ten ideas on bear hounding, trapping
Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - Bangor Daily News

The fallout of the close election to ban the hunting of bears with bait, hounds and traps was the submittal of eight different bear bills to the legislature last year. The Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, instead of addressing them, directed the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to seriously review all bear- hunting practices while involving all the stakeholders. This "bear working group" has been meeting since early October. The DIF&W will consider suggestions from this advisory group and make its report to the committee this legislative session.

Whatever you make of the bear referendum and its results, one unquestionable result is that bear hunting in this state will never be viewed the same. The public awareness that came from the referendum changed all that. It is far more difficult for intransigent positions to survive among the increased public awareness and a changing political environment. If the Department's report is essentially a whitewash or status quo document that has no meaningful changes, then those who went into this process open-minded will be hardened like never before.

A Bangor Daily News editorial two days after the election read: "The results on a proposal to ban baiting, hounding and trapping bears was 47 percent Yes to 53 percent percent No, a vote much closer than this region might have guessed. Advocates of the ban need only look at Maine's shifting population to figure out that their time is coming - unless alert lawmakers act sooner. A sensible step would be to separate baiting from trapping and hounding, protect the first and ban the latter."

That is exactly what proponents for change have advanced in these advisory meetings. Representatives from Maine Friends of Animals, The Izaak Walton League and The Wildlife Alliance of Maine have put forth that position as a very reasonable compromise that would go a long way in diffusing a growing divide.

Ten considerations for the DIF&W on ending bear hounding and trapping:

1. These methods are very unsporting. The common thread in both "hunting" practices, as well as with baiting, is that there is no hunt or fair chase in killing a bear at point blank range with its head in a bait bucket, treed by hounds or agonizing in a leghold trap.

2. Cruelty resonates with the public. Even if the department and the hunting lobby do not feel bear trapping or dog and bear/cub fights are cruel, the vast majority of Maine citizens do.

3. There should be no financial loss to the department as baiting and fair chase licenses can easily make up any decrease in numbers.

4. Hounding and trapping make up only 15 percent of the animals taken. Questionable bear management arguments cannot be used, particularly when those numbers could be taken by fair chase hunters who make up all the bear hunting in states like Washington, Oregon and Colorado.

5. These practices are controversial among hunters. There is an increasing divide about ethical hunting practices.

6. Public opinion. Opinion about these issues will never be the same after the bear referendum and it would behoove the Department to not continue to disregard the growth of nonconsumptive wildlife users who are increasingly outnumbering sportsmen.

7. Nonconsumptive users like wildlife viewers, kayakers, primitive outdoor campers, bird watchers, hikers and wildlife photographers are being shut out of wildlife decisions by a hunting lobby and its proprietary attitude. If this bear working group does not provide something meaningful, further division among hunters and non-hunters will increase.

8. The image of Maine hunting is that of control by an extreme hunting lobby. Of the 27 states that allow bear hunting, 23 prohibit hounding and Maine remains the only state in the nation that still allows the barbaric practice of trapping a bear. The bear referendum unfortunately painted all hunters as inhumane and unethical - banning these two more egregious forms of hunting would go a long way to reverse this negative image.

9. Hounds will also chase, harass, injure and kill other wildlife and domestic animals, thus becoming a nuisance or threat to public and private lands.

10. Ending trapping and hounding is politically the smart thing to do. There is little to lose and much to be gained.

The legislative directive to seriously review the bear hunting practices in this state is an opportunity for the department and sportsmen alike to be viewed as positive agents of change. Doggedness with divisive positions is not in the best interest of hunters and hunting.

If inflexible hunting groups and the department continue to insist on no hunting restriction on any hunting practice, continue to exclude the non-consumptive users from any meaningful opportunity to address issues, and continue a rigid ideology that hardens positions, then I fear we will see a greater division and escalation of tensions between hunters and non-hunters, growing criticism of a department that continues to serve a special interest group and not all its citizens, more contentious legislation, and an increase in the calls for other referendums. Sides will be polarized as never before.

The ball is in the DIF&W's court.

Robert Fisk Jr., of Falmouth, is the president and director of Maine Friends of Animals.
Jim again: I've emailed my pals at the Izaak Walton League to see if they know anything about the League's involvement--probably some rogue chapter member whom Fisk plied with alcohol one night is my guess. :-)

Sure wish our pal Coggins was around to see some of this. Maybe I'll send him another invite.