From the Just Because You Can… Files

February 29, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about Jim Shockey hunting hogs with the new Rogue air rifle.  It got some good discussion, and a lot of you folks were sort of down on the idea.  Personally, I can see a place for it, but there are an awful lot of qualifiers that go into that.  The common thread, though, was that, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

There’s a lot of wisdom in that aphorism.

Well, I just got a note from the PR company that represents Barnett crossbows.  Crossbow hunting is something that’s interested me for quite some time, and something I intend to try (sooner or later).  Mostly, I just think they’re pretty cool weapons with a really interesting history.  The ones I’ve shot were accurate and powerful… impressively so.   As a hunting tool under the right conditions, they’re deadly as can be.  I’ve seen, up close and personal, what they’ll do to hogs and whitetail deer.

I know there’s a ton of politics behind their use as “archery tackle”, and don’t really want to go down that road right now.  I’m more interested in their application as hunting tools, and whether you want to classify them as archery or gun or something else doesn’t much concern me.

But like all hunting weapons, they have their limitations.  The question we often ask is, how far should those limitations be pushed.  For example, the following clip:


Please share your thoughts.  Mine will follow.

Call To Action – Fish and Game Commissioner Dan Richards Needs Support

February 28, 2012

I don’t often share these “calls to action” and similar emails I receive.  This isn’t supposed to be a particularly political blog, and I’m not crazy about jumping on a bandwagon.  But in the case of Fish and Game Commissioner, Dan Richards, I can’t help sticking my fingers in the mix.  I simply can’t believe how much momentum has gathered since he first came under fire for legally hunting a mountain lion in Idaho.

This morning, I read that CA Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsome is calling for his resignation because he has become a “distraction”.  According to the linked blog post, Newsome wrote:

“While not in California at the time, your actions call into question whether you can live up to the calling of your office,” Newsom writes. “As is stated on the Commission’s website, your actions should be in the “best interest of the resource and truly reflect the wishes and needs of the people.”

What the hell does going on a legal hunt in another state have to do with his actions as President of the California Fish and Game Commission?  Step away from your personal feelings about lion hunting for a moment, and consider the bigger picture.

As I’ve mentioned before, Dan Richards, along with Jim Kellogg, is one of the only commissioners who shows any real consideration for hunters and our concerns.  That’s the reason he’s being so directly targeted by the likes of HSUS and the mountain lion foundation.  If he is forced out, a new commissioner will be appointed by Governor Brown, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for hunters in this state.

Anyway, here’s the alert.  I urge all CA hunters to take a good look, give it some thought, consider the big picture, and take action.


California Sportsmen: Pro-Hunting Commissioner’s Position in Jeopardy Anti-hunting groups are trying to force pro-sportsmen, pro-hunting Commissioner Dan Richards off the California Fish & Game Commission. Why? Because he legally took a mountain lion during a hunt in Idaho.

A. Attend March 7 Commission meeting in Riverside, Calif., and speak in support of Commissioner Richards. The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa San Diego Room1 3649 Mission Inn Avenue Riverside 8:30AM

B. Contact your Assemblymember and Senator and tell them to support Commissioner Richards.

C. Contact Gov. Brown 916-445-2841 and tell him you support Commissioner Richards.

D. Contact the California Fish & Game Commission 916-653-4899 and support Commissioner Richards.

Act today. Under state law, any fish and game commissioner can be removed by a simple majority vote in both houses of the state Legislature.

Currently 40 of the 80 members of the Assembly are calling for Richards to resign. This could easily tip the balance of power on the Commission into the hands of anti-hunting extremists.   Show your support for Commissioner Richards today!



A Cautionary Tale For Hog Hunters

February 28, 2012

Just saw this over at the Field and Stream Field Notes blog, and felt like it’s definitely worth sharing.

Almost every hunter of warm-blooded creatures is at some risk from blood-borne pathogens.  Whether it’s tularemia from rabbits, bubonic plague from ground squirrels, or CWD from deer, we’re warned by “the authorities” to be careful handling game.  By all accounts, hogs are particularly subject to various diseases.  I’ve heard some horror stories from a few hog hunters about mysterious symptoms and illnesses that turned out to have come from handling feral hogs in the field.

Rubber gloves are widely recommended for field dressing and handling wild game meat, and I know a lot of folks use them religiously.  I’ve always been one of the hard-headed guys who won’t use gloves (and I’ve made all sorts of justifications… but I’ll spare you), but that doesn’t mean I’m right.  Sort of like seatbelts or motorcycle helmets, I suppose… you only really appreciate them when you need them.  The rest of the time, they’re  sort of a hassle.

Well, according to the article Chad posted on the Field Notes blog, this hunter in Greenville, SC probably wishes he’d buckled up!

Upstate family and wildlife officials are warning hunters of a hog-bourne illness after a Laurens County man was hospitalized following a hog hunting trip.

“Had we known this, we would have never — he would have never gone hog hunting,” said Renae Hensley, whose 23-year-old son, Josh, was in Greenville Memorial Hospital on Thursday with an undiagnosed illness.

Read more:

The “undiagnosed illness” in this case may be brucellosis, but it could be any of a number of diseases.  Cymptoms include dangerously high fever, muscle and body pain (sometimes severe), nausea, and several other flu-like symptoms.  If it is brucellosis, it can be treated, but the treatment is long-term and potentially expensive.

And all for the lack of wearing gloves…  Food for thought.

CA SHARE Program Again Offering Free Spring Hog Hunts

February 24, 2012

Just saw this in my inbox yesterday.  It’s a sign of spring, I suppose, when the CA DFG announces the SHARE program hog hunting opportunities.  The SHARE program opens private land to a limited number of hunters.

The Bobcat Ranch in Yolo County has been participating in the program for a few years now, and this year they’ll be hosting hog hunters once again.  Here’s the info about the hunts directly from DFG:

Bobcat Ranch is located in Yolo County’s Vaca Mountain foothills, west of Winters. The property is 4,000 acres of rolling oak woodland with a couple of steep canyons. Some hunters consider the Bobcat Ranch to be a challenging property to hunt.

Two-day wild pig hunt permits will be issued to hunters by a random draw.

  • Applications will be accepted for parties of up to two licensed hunters.
  • Hunters may apply for more than one hunt period per application but can only be drawn for one period.
  • Only one application will be accepted per party or individual.
  • Individual hunters may be accompanied by no more than one non-hunter.
  • Hunt parties may consist of two licensed hunters, non-hunters will not be allowed in a party.
  • Apprentice hunters may only apply as an individual and must be accompanied by an adult.

Apprentice hunt applications must be received by 3 p.m. February 22, 2012.

General and archery hunt applications must be received by 3 p.m. February 29, 2012.

No more than six hunters will be allowed to hunt per period. No dogs may be used. Only certified non-lead ammunition for big game may be used during this hunt. Archery equipment may be used during the general hunt periods. A pre-hunt orientation is required on the first day of each hunt, and all hunters are required to check in and out of the hunt area. DFG personnel will be onsite during the hunts. For this SHARE opportunity there will be no application fee.

The hunts are limited entry and by permit-only, available to all holders of a valid California hunting license and a wild pig tag, which are available at license providers throughout the state. Applicants must indicate the periods for which they wish to be considered. Hunters may apply for the two-day wild pig hunts by submitting an application to DFG. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Address and fax number are provided on the applications. Successful applicants will be mailed entry permits with maps and additional information.


Unfortunately, at least for some of you Hog Blog readers, I received this a little late.  The deadline for apprentice hunters to apply for the hunts has already passed.  Gun and archery hunters have until February 29 to get their applications in.

The SHARE program is a great opportunity for hunters in CA, and it’s very deserving of support.  Check out the website for more info about the program, as well as the hog and other special hunts.


Work Proceeding On “Hillside Manor”

February 23, 2012

So the work continues apace, and my Hill Country haven is shaping up nicely.  I’m really happy with the way the new deck/sitting porch is coming along.  The carpenter I’ve hired, Terry Balderas, has a pretty good reputation around here and it’s easy to see why.  His work can be seen all over Camp Wood and Rocksprings, and even over to Leakey.

He and his wife run TnT Construction, based out of Camp Wood.  The two of them have lived in or around this area pretty much forever, which seems to be a common thread for folks around here.  Even those who moved off to find their fortunes in Houston, Dallas, or other states seem to find their way back home eventually.  This place seems to have that kind of draw.

At any rate, I was lucky to find Terry and his crew.  I can’t wait to see the finished product!



Hornady Recall – 500 S&W 300gr FTX Custom

February 22, 2012

I only know two people who actually shoot one of these cannons, but I know there are probably a couple of hardcore, big bore pistol buffs who also hunt hogs.  This is good info, so please pass it around.

Hornady® Recalls 7 Lots of 500 S&W 300 grain FTX® Custom™ Pistol Ammo

Grand Island, NE – Hornady® Manufacturing announced the recall of seven lots of 500 S&W 300 gr. FTX® Custom™ pistol ammunition. Hornady ballisticians have determined that some cartridges from Lot numbers 3101327, 3110256, 3110683, 3110695, 3110945, 3111388, 3111885, may exhibit excessive chamber pressures. Use of this product may result in firearm damage and/or personal injury.
Product Recall Details: Item number 9249 500 S&W 300 grain FTX® Custom™ Pistol Ammunition. These lots were shipped between September 9, 2010, and October 17, 2011.
Item 9249 RecallIncluded Lot Numbers:
  • 3101327
  • 3110256
  • 3110683
  • 3110695
  • 3110945
  • 3111388
  • 3111885
The lot number can be found printed on the lower portion of the box label.
If you own any of these Lot numbers or have any questions regarding this recall, please call 800-338-1242. Hornady Manufacturing Company will make all arrangements associated with the return and replacement of this product.
Any other lot numbers or item numbers are not subject to this recall and require no action.

Hill Country Game Cam Quickie – Not Much To Say Today

February 21, 2012

There is a small group that's feeding up behind the barn. With the moon getting pretty small, they're feeding in the early evening. 178 yards from the back porch. 😉

Just a couple more pix from the cams for the day.  The bucks seem to have disappeared, but I’ve been doing a ton of work out there with the tractor and chainsaw, so I expect they’re keeping their distance until I get out of their dining room. The rest of the deer are getting pretty bold.

I watched a group of three feeding out along the edge of the woods on Sunday evening.  I have to admit I found myself wishing that they were axis deer, because they’d have been a chip shot with the 30-06 from the driveway and I could really stand to have a little axis steak for dinner before I head back to CA.

There seems to be plenty for everybody.

Back where the second camera is set up, the coons and deer are Hoover-ing every grain of corn I can toss back there.

I tossed about 15 lbs. out there last night, and it was practically clean when I walked in this morning to check the cam.   At least they appear to be sharing!


Hunting Takes Another PR Hit – Mountain Lion Killed By CA F&G President

February 20, 2012

This isn’t news.  It’s all over the Internet, and making the pages of newspapers and editorial columns as well.

I first saw the photo show up on my Facebook page on Friday night or Saturday.  It was attached to a message from the Humane Society of the US, condemning the hunter and “trophy hunting” as well.  I started to reply, but simply couldn’t get motivated enough to respond.

So the story, as I’ve got it from Tom Stienstra’s column (San Francisco Chronicle) is like this.  Dan Richards, recently named President of the CA Fish and Game Commission went to Idaho to hunt mountain lions.  In itself, this shouldn’t be a big deal.  Many states recognize the value in allowing hunters to shoot large predators under controlled conditions (seasons, limits, etc.).  That’s no different than the way any other game species is managed.

Of course, there’s a lot of discussion about hunting predators, particularly by people who feel that hunters should only kill what they’re going to eat (well, more particularly by people who think all hunting is an atrocity… but I’m not really interested in them right now).  Since “everyone knows” that you can’t eat mountain lion, then this hunt falls right in there with the coyote and ground squirrel hunters.  Right?

Except, in point of fact, many people do eat mountain lion and proclaim the quality of the meat.  “Similar to pork,” is the most common description.  I’ve been looking forward to an opportunity to try it myself, although in CA, that opportunity will never legally present itself.  Mountain lion hunting is banned in CA, based on a heavy propaganda campaign and misinformation that led people to believe the lion population was endangered.  I don’t want to go down that road here, because it’s a discussion in itself… and a futile one at that.  The only way mountain lion hunting will ever happen in CA is if the voters approve it.  That’s not likely in this state.  Instead, the state and federal trappers, as well as landowners and ranchers, are killing lions to protect livestock, pets, and humans on a pace that has far outstripped the number killed by hunters prior to the ban.  Most of these lions are killed and discarded, of no use to anyone but a couple of biologists.  But hey, as long as those “trophy hunters” aren’t killing them for their hides and heads!

So back to Mr. Richards and the crap-storm of reaction to his photo… and his hunt.

Everything he did was legal (although under CA law, I don’t believe he’s permitted to bring any parts of that cat back into the state… what’s his plan there?).  I’m not sure if he planned to eat the lion or not, and honestly, I’m not sure it’s wholly relevant.  Oh, of course the HSUS would like people to believe that nobody eats lions, and that hunting things we’re not going to eat is immoral and inhumane.  And truthfully, they’ll probably get a handful of self-righteous (and short-sighted) hunters to jump on the bandwagon to condemn the practice.  I can practically hear their voices now.  “That’s not hunting!” they’ll shout.  “I only kill what I’m going to eat!”

And then they’ll go on about how this is the reason hunting has such a bad reputation, and stuff like this is going to be the end of hunting as we know it… how this is a black eye for the sport, and fuel for the antis, and all the other trite and cliched arguments.  The thing is, there’s some truth there.  When people who are ignorant about hunting see this sort of thing and hear this uproar, they definitely form opinions.  If the uproar is negative, the opinions are negative.  And why not?

Let’s think about it.

It’s a given that most people recognize that we have to kill in order to eat meat.  Eating a steak while the cow is still alive is a bit more challenge than the average guy can stomach, and could you imagine the noise a pig would make if you started grinding sausage while he’s still alive?    You’ve got to kill them first.  With this in mind, it’s really not a huge leap for the average person to grok the idea of killing a deer or an elk for meat.  Even the folks who can’t imagine doing the deed themselves accept the meat hunter.

It’s also not a big stretch for people to accept the need to kill certain pests.   Almost anyone who’s ever had an attic destroyed by racoons, or had their wiring gnawed by squirrels can relate to the concept of judicious extermination.  Even though these animals may not be eaten (although squirrel and ‘coon are both quite tasty, properly prepared), they’ve got to go.  Simply waving your arms and yelling at them isn’t going to do the trick.

But when it comes to pest control and extermination, the common perception is that this is the realm of the professional.  You pay someone to come and do an unpleasant job.  Some faceless guy in coveralls shows up, sprays some stuff or drops some pellets in out-of-the-way nooks and crannies, and the bad critters just disappear.

It’s difficult for non-hunters to fathom the idea of going out and killing pest species “for fun”.  Yet there’s a huge segment of the hunting community that basically does just that, whether they’re out to shoot ground squirrels, prairie dogs, coyotes, or ground hogs (or even feral hogs for that matter).  I remember as a kid, growing up in rural North Carolina, the summer evening “rat shoots” along the irrigation ditches to keep them out of the grain bins.  A bunch of the neighbors would park at “Buck” Seymour’s barn and line the ditch banks with .22s, .410s, and anything else that was handy.  I was always there with my Red Ryder.  At the same time, many of my friends and I learned to shoot by popping rats with .22s at the local dump (a pastime so pervasive in parts of the rural culture that it became part of Luke Skywalker’s backstory in Star Wars!).

And I’ll say it right here and right now.  It was a lot of fun!

Was this wrong?  Perverse?  Did all of these people go on to become sociopathic killers, animal abusers, or rapists?  I’m pretty sure they didn’t.  Research, by the way, actually suggests that hunters are no more likely to exhibit sociopathic or violent behavior than any other segment of the population.  We’re just guided by a slightly different moral compass, and every individual takes his or her own heading.

How many people have swatted a relatively harmless insect while outside?  I’m not talking about a mosquito or biting fly… just an annoying bug that happened to pass too close and too slow.  Does this make you a stone-cold killer?  Did you suffer a moral quandary after taking that tiny, buzzing life?  Do you shed a tear or mouth a silent prayer everytime a bug splatters on your windshield, or a frog splatters under your tires?  Probably not.

Point is, there’s a lot of indiscriminate killing out there and most people don’t give it a second thought.  But when the killing is discriminate, such as the hunting of a mountain lion or coyote, it’s suddenly of utmost importance to the future of the human collective psyche?  Why is this, and does it really matter if the intent is to provide food or to collect a “trophy”?

I can no more explain the thrill of a lion hunt than I can explain the thrill of reading a good autobiography.  Some people get it, and some don’t.  Personally, I’m not really excited by either prospect, but I can’t see a good reason to condemn the people who are.

It’s an interesting coincidence, by the way, that even as this discussion is circling the Web, the folks over at the Orion Institute are announcing their second “Hunting Think Tank”.  The stated objective of the sessions is to take a look at the body of literature that attempts to define “hunting”, and then to try to come up with their own definition that will make hunting (or the idea of hunting) more appealing to the general public.  How they will deal with issues like this one (predator hunting) remains to be seen.  I’m interested and curious, but a little skeptical too.  Defining such a personal and experiential concept in any meaningful way is sure to be a challenge.

Sabinal Wild Hog Festival – Hog Catching Competition

February 20, 2012

Every year, I come down to hunt the Hill Country and it seems like I’m a week late or a week early for the Sabinal Wild Hog Festival.  You’d think, considering this blog and my semi-fixation on wild hogs and hunting, I’d make this a vacation stop.  But for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened yet.

Well, this year, it looks like that may finally change.  The Wild Hog Festival will take place on March 24-25, and it looks like a great weekend to be in southwestern Texas!

While I’m not relocated down here just yet, I do think I’ll be here on that weekend.  Still not sure how fully I’ll participate, but check this out!  Looks like fun, doesn’t it?

Game Cam Pictures – A New Critter And Some Regulars

February 17, 2012

Every morning, as soon as it’s light enough, Iggy and I head out to walk the property and check the game cameras.  Since I haven’t got the fences up yet, I can’t leave the pup outside by himself, so this is his opportunity to romp and explore.  He definitely takes advantage of it!

Anyway, we’ve been seeing plenty of whitetail on the cams, and some racoons have decided to take advantage of the free feast as well.  Unfortunately, they only come out after dark, and they won’t stop and pose like the deer will.

During the day, there’s a squirrel or two that will pop down also.  I was lucky enough to get one to sit still for a few seconds while he picked the corn kernels out of his teeth.

There also appears to be a small group of bucks hitting the far end of my property, where there’s a really nice little thicket of oaks and juniper to shield them from the road.  They’ve mostly come in at night so far, but at least they’re definitely showing up!

Here’s a pretty little six-point.

He's got great conformation and shows some promise as a good, natural, hill-country buck.

This little four-point has shown up a few times too.

There may be brow tines, so he may be the same one you just saw. But I think this is just a four-point right now.

This is “Funk Horn”.  If he looks like this come October, he’s probably going to be one of the first deer to go in my freezer.

We are calling this one Funk Horn. He's been showing up very regularly. Check out that right side. Funky, huh?

And finally, there’s this guy!  I know he’s got a little more maturing to do, but I don’t know if anyone around here would be willing to hold off on him.

This is Tall Boy. He could stand a couple more years of maturity, but he'll be tempting for anyone in a stand this coming fall.

Finally, here’s someone I haven’t seen before.  This is a Texas Grey Fox, a local native omnivore.  I know a lot of the varmint and predator guys shoot these things, but personally, I’m happy to see him.  He would be most welcome to thin the local, feral cat population for us.

Cool new visitor.

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