Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Reasonable minds might disagree, but I will venture that while puppies are always cute; bird dog puppies are more cute; vizsla puppies, with their loose skin and abundance of brow wrinkles for conveying expression are more cute still; while wirehair vizsla puppies, having all that plus an abundance of fuzz, might well be the cutest of all.

My sister's new pup, Micky, at 3 months:

Approximately 20% of his body mass appears to be feet:

Sheesh! He'll grow into them.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Down on the middle Rio Grande, you can start off looking for ducks

most recently with little success, but some bag

and end up chasing quail (which can be tough to find) in your shirtsleeves.

Hard life.

Just beware the river ghost:

He'll charge by, splashing freezing water and mud in the dark.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

around the web again

Some of these are a little old.

Benefit of going to high school in France- you might get to eat really well.

Better than most accounts in the print magazines- a Dall sheep hunt in Alaska.

They might be "Best", but the first pair are just tacky. Apparently Slow Hand likes a single trigger. Via Dave Petzal's Field & Stream blog.

Also from Field & Stream, this time a link on the "Field Notes" blog leads to one of the best "close encounter" videos I have ever seen.

In the dwindling Sacramento River salmon run, a big one got away and managed to contribute its genes to another generation.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hunting in a Digital Age

As mentioned in their Field Notes blog, Field & Stream has made available on-line an article about "Why Johnny Won't Hunt", which looks at the continued decline in the number of hunters and the aging of the hunting population. This is one of those perennial discussions amongst hunters, at least as far as I can recall (over three decades of hunting, now- looks like I'm one of that aging demographic). Another evergreen subject is "gadgets are ruining the sport and people are relying more on equipment than knowledge or skill", something Aldo Leopold was concerned about in 1941, long before ATV's, 4-wheel-drive trucks, optical sights, range finders, compound bows, or camouflage were common or even available. A third such subject is "why hunt?".

The F&S article is a good one that takes a look at the competition for peoples' time and money as well as increasing urbanization, rather than just blaming video games or "kids today". As an aside, here's an interesting discussion of video games and kids today. On point, NorCalCazadora has looked at the declining number of hunters (she spends a lot of time examining hunter/public issues) and over at Querencia, Matt Mullenix has brought up and discussed the issue and also shows some of his own efforts to maintain the tradition.

While hunters are in competition for what feels like a fairly scarce resource, that is to say- places to hunt, and fewer hunters on "my" river or elk mountain feels like a good thing we can't really afford to become too unusual. As our numbers decline hunting will become an increasingly marginalized activity and hunters' ability to gain the ear of resource managers will go away. Even worse, as fewer resource managers and politicians even know anyone who hunts or what all is involved, they won't even have any idea how to address our needs or take advantage of the resources we can contribute. For that matter, no other advocacy group can match hunters' record when it comes to preserving habitat and wildlife. If we apex predators disappear, there will still be whitetails, coyotes, squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife, but I'm not so sure about mule deer, bighorns, prairie chickens, or a host of other species.

I certainly don't have any answers or thoughts beyond those offered at the links above, other than to say that habitat loss and increasing population are surely the largest causes of our woes. I've only introduced a couple of people, both my own age, to hunting. I suppose more is required. As a general rule it seems inadequate to want to be left alone, rather, you have to advocate for anything you enjoy or else someone is going to come along and take it away or mess it up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Season in Progress

Duck season has been open for a couple of weeks now and we've been out for it a few times. At the open, the trees were still in nearly full color:

but this last weekend it was finally cold enough for frost to form on the vegetation and on the Chessie:

Nonetheless, and as usual for our southwest duck hunts, bluebird weather has been the rule.

Lots of debris in the river keeps wiping out decoys and requiring that they be re-set.

Wait, what's missing from all this?

That's right: ducks!
Few birds seem to be down our way so far and hunting has been very slow. The first couple of weekends also suffered from lots of other hunters being on the river. Some of those other hunters set up unfortunately close to us, an inevitable complication on public land and a real annoyance. That's just the price of free access.
I haven't come up with the killer set so far, but then so few ducks have looked at my attempts that it has been pretty hard to tweak the spread. Consequently, Booker has only had a few retrieves. Last weekend, a single bunch of teal tolled in and he got a chance to retrieve the drake I knocked down.

Despite the lack of shooting it has been an interesting season so far and I'm optimistic that we'll start getting into birds as more make their way south and we refine our game. I hope everyone else's fall is going as well.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Recently we had our first freeze. Pretty late this year and following on a warm fall. A had scads of tomatoes coming off, particularly cherry tomatoes, so in addition to picking the green tomatoes to ripen in newspaper we decided to try something new and use some of the green cherries for pickles.

We added pearl onions and a couple of strips of yellow hot pepper to a basic dilled tomato pickle recipe. Here's the mis en place of the spices and onions to go in each jar:

Canner coming to a boil:

No pictures of the actual canning process, we were way too busy stuffing jars, pouring the hot pickling liquid over the fruit and then getting the jars closed and into the canner to take any photos. It was an interesting process and, with any luck, a tasty result and a good way to take advantage of some garden excess.