Stand Together Or Fall Apart – HSUS Hopes To Blatantly Pit Hunters Against Houndsman

June 13, 2012

It’s been said a lot in various debates among the hunting community, particularly over really divisive issues such as baiting, high fence hunting, and hound hunting.  “We’ve got to stand together or we’re done!”

There’s a lot of truth to that statement, despite its apparent banality. 

It’s not simple paranoia to suggest that a key tactic of the anti-hunters is to divide and conquer.  It’s one of the most basic strategies there is, and when it comes to hunters, it’s pretty damned effective.  Just call out one facet of hunting that gets a lot of negative attention, and BOOM!  A schism appears and those folks on the wrong side of the discussion find themselves cast adrift. 

It happened with Prop 117, banning mountain lion hunts.  Hunters who didn’t hunt lions either took no position on the grounds that it didn’t affect them, or worse, they actually sided with the ban proponents.  Heck, those TV spots made it look pretty bad. 

And now it’s about to happen again with SB 1221, the bill that would ban hunting bears and bobcats with hounds in CA.  The tactics haven’t changed a bit.  Set the hunting community at large apart from the houndsmen, and leave that smaller group to fend for themselves.  A ban on hound hunting wouldn’t make any difference to someone who doesn’t hunt with hounds, right?  If it’s such an objectionable pursuit, then why not sacrifice it on the altar of compromise with the anti-hunters… make the rest of us hunters look good? 

Except it doesn’t work that way. 

The anti-hunting organizations want one thing… an end to hunting.  Not just the stuff that seems most egregiously “unsporting”, as they may lead you to believe, but an end to ALL hunting.  En toto.  They’ll take every easy victory they can win, but don’t think for a moment that they’ll be willing to stop there.  If they can’t bring down hunting in one fell swoop, they’ll dismantle it piecemeal.  A hound hunt here.  Mourning doves there.  Hunting over bait over yonder. Long range hunting up the road.  Crossbows.  Archery.  High fence.  Until suddenly, those hunters who weren’t affected find themselves shut out completely.

It’s time to stop and step back.  Put your personal biases on the shelf for a moment, and consider the multiple assaults on hunting around the country right now.  Notice that none of them are general, and all are couched in terms like “fair chase” and “sportsmanship.”  Whether it’s dove hunting in Iowa or bear hunting with hounds in California, the challenges are all intended to draw a divide between “ethical” hunters and those who participate in these “fringe” aspects of the sport. 

In Iowa, one of the leading arguments is that doves are too small to be much use as food, and are shot merely for sport… as feathered, living targets.  To the ignorant non-hunter, this is pretty damning stuff.  To the hunters who don’t pursue doves, it rings a certain chime of truth… based on their prejudices.  Fortunately, in that state, the hunters rallied together to fight the ban and have dove seasons reinstated.  Victory through unanimous effort. 

In CA, SB1221 is nearly passed.  If it gets through the Assembly, the last stop is the desk of Governor Jerry Brown.  Brown is full of surprises, and maybe he’ll stomp on this one.  But if the backlash from hunters isn’t significant enough, he may pass it along into law just to follow the path of least resistance.  Will the hunters who don’t use dogs come together with the houndsmen to fight this thing?  It’s a good question, and I hope the answer is, “yes.” 

But if SB1221 is defeated, the HSUS has a fallback plan (according to this article in the SF Chronicle)…  to attempt a ban on all bobcat and bear hunting in the state. 

 “The hunting lobby is stirring the electorate on this,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Human Society. “They can get rid of hounding and deal with a segment of their community that is not well respected. Or they can potentially lose all bear and bobcat hunting.”

That’s a blatant attempt to force hunters to take sides on the issue, playing on the traditional divide between houndsmen and other hunters.  I’m a little surprised that Pacelle showed his hand like this, but doing so shows a complacent confidence that he’s got this one in the bag.  He’s counting on the fact that hunters are a tiny constituency at the polls, and that there are enough hunters who dislike hound hunting to offset those who rally to the cause of the houndsmen. 

This is how the anti-hunters play the game, folks.  It’s not fair, but it’s the reality.  So before you climb up on a high horse to deride some hunting practice you don’t like, consider your motivations and their effects.  What is that practice really hurting?  Is it really bad enough to risk the alienation of a potential, pro-hunting voter?  Is it important enough to threaten the very future of our sport?

Just something to consider… written hastily after midnight. 



Hog Blog Vacation Ideas – Frying Pan Light Tower, North Carolina

June 12, 2012

This is probably a highly irregular column idea, and doesn’t have anything at all to do with hog hunting (unless you count Spanish hog fish, AKA hog snapper), but ever since this was announced in 2009, I haven’t been able to stop daydreaming about it. 

About 45 miles south of my hometown, Wilmington, NC, there is a river mouth and shoal that extends far offshore (approximately 29 miles… depending on where you take your measurements) into the Atlantic.  While there’s a lot of good, navigable water, the shoals rise up in many places to create dangerous shallows well out of sight of land… the notorious Cape Fear and the Frying Pan Shoals. 

On a normal day, with a little wind chop dappling the clear, blue water, it’s hard to see the reefs and bars until you’re right on top of them.  At night they’re almost invisible, unless there are whitecaps to give away the skinny water.  Prior to modern navigation aids and marine electronics, this deception proved fatal to many ships, as well as their crews and passengers.  In 1854, a lightship was stationed off of the shoals to provide a warning beacon to approaching vessels.  The lightships stood station for 110 years, until 1964, when the last ship was retired and replaced by a light tower which, eventually, was retired from use and replaced by a buoy (radar, depth sounders, and GPS made the bulky tower and its crew obsolete). 

Because of its proximity to the Gulf Stream and the sharp relief it offers from a mostly smooth ocean floor, the place is a haven for both pelagic and reef fish… and a magnet for fishermen and divers.  It was on a fishing trip that I first set eyes on “The Tower”, and the dreaming began then.  I could imagine spending my days there, dropping down into the warm, blue water to swim and fish, and then climbing up to a cozy perch, high above the roughest seas when the weather turned foul.  What a paradise for a mariner… even a juvenile one.

When I got a little older, my daydreams turned from thoughts of a private residence to fantasies of opening the place up as a resort for fishing and diving.  I was sure it would only take a little work to convert the crew’s quarters to resort-quality bedrooms.  The place was already outfitted with a great galley, and plenty of room for other entertainment areas.  Obviously, as it turns out, I wasn’t the only person thinking this way.

I never so much as climbed up to the tower, although many of my friends did over the years.  While it was still technically US Government property, it wasn’t like there was anyone out there to harass you.  But for all the time I did not spend in the tower, I spent a lot of time diving and fishing the waters around it.  There are wrecks there dating back at least into the 18th century, including a slew of Civil War era vessels and even a couple of WWII wrecks (the German U-boats patrolled pretty close in the early years of the war). 

Then, a few years ago, I heard that the government had decided to sell the tower to the highest bidder.  I expected the price to skyrocket into the ether, and was utterly shocked to learn that the winning bidder got the property for a measly $85,ooo!  Of course, in order to turn it into a workable resort, he’d need to invest probably another quarter-million dollars… but still, I had no idea it could have been had so cheaply!   Woulda coulda shoulda…  blah!

Anyway, more power to Mr. Neal, the individual who is now the proud owner of the Frying Pan Tower.  Seriously, I’m happy for the man and really glad to hear someone like him is now the owner of the Tower, instead of some corporate cruise line/casino operation.  While work is ongoing to get the place shipshape, he’s already on a roll with publicizing and marketing the Tower, with hopes of being fully operational in time to take advantage of the summer tourist season. 

I’m not sure when, or if, I’ll have the “spare” cash to make a vacation trip out to the Tower in the coming years, but I have a feeling I’m going to have to make it a priority at some point… at least for a thee-day weekend or something. 

Check it out, if you’re so inclined.  You can find more information on the Frying Pan Tower website, or on their Facebook page.


Lead Ban Chronicles – CBD Files Suit Against The EPA. Again.

June 8, 2012

Lay on, Macduff, and damned be he that first cries, “hold!  Enough!”

In a war of attrition, stubborn persistence usually carries the day.  If you keep charging that hill, sooner or later someone is going to run out of soldiers.  In the case of the Center for Biological Diversity and their cronies, their numbers seem inexhaustible.  I’m not sure if I can say the same for the Federal Government and the EPA (already under attack from so many other fronts). 

With that in mind, the latest lawsuit launched by the CBD has no more basis than the last one (which was rejected by the courts), but it will land against a weakened fortification.  Once again, the coalition of bird-lovers and hard-core environmentalist groups will attempt to sue the EPA to force them to take action against lead ammunition.  And once again, the only argument from the plaintiffs is built on half-truths and misinformation. 

Will it succeed?  I don’t think so. Not yet.  Their argument has no more merit than it did before, and I believe a federal judge will see that.  But sooner or later, they will find a sympathetic ear and this case will find its way onto the docket… and what’s more important, into the eyes of the public. 

It seems like it would be a good time to begin fighting fire with fire.  Perhaps a hunter-friendly coalition of lawyers and activists might find some grounds to begin challenging the CBD with lawsuits.  I’m not sure on what grounds, exactly, but if all the CBD needs to sue the government is spurious data and misinformation about the dangers of lead ammunition, then it seems like a challenger wouldn’t need to build much of a case either.  One doesn’t need to win the battles.  One only needs expose their lies to the public, and tie up their offensive resources in defensive actions.

Another Piece Of My CA Life Trimmed Away

June 6, 2012

As part of the Texas move, I realized I’ve simply got too much stuff.  Some of it, like hunting gear I’ve tested or worn out, and odds and ends that I used once or twice and tossed in the garage… that stuff can go and I’m not going to miss it.  Some will get thrown out, some will probably make a yard sale, and there are a handful of things I’ll be passing along to friends.  It’s just stuff.

But there are other things… like my FourWheel Camper… base camp on many, many awesome hunting and exploring adventures.  La tortuga.  My man-cave.  Home-away-from-home.  Four-wheeled refuge. 

Those of you who’ve hunted with me have seen it.  It probably wasn’t really all that much to see, and it sure wasn’t anything fancy.  But it was cozy, dry, and comfortable as hell.  It weathered Texas thunderstorms with sideways rain so heavy I couldn’t see the trees outside, and hail beating the hell out the roof.  I kept me warm and comfy in Sierra snow, and was a dry place to kick back with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate after a soaking, frigid duck hunt. 

Honestly, if I tried to list the memorable moments I’ve had in that camper since I bought it right off the factory floor in 2004, I’d be here all day.  To say it was a great purchase is a huge understatement. 

But looking forward over the next couple of years to my new life in Texas, I realized I probably won’t use the camper very much.  Those weekend hunting trips will be few and far between for the first couple of years, as I learn my new place.  And the environment down there isn’t kind to equipment that’s not in use.  The humidity and bugs will get into everything (a problem we just don’t have in the Bay Area), and the camper will likely be ruined in six months. 

So I put an ad in Craig’s List, and within minutes I had a buyer lined up to come with cash in hand… with several others waiting in the wings.  And last night, after a fairly cursory inspection, a very nice couple paid my asking price (in cash), strapped the camper on top of their old Dodge truck, and drove away into the sunset.   


California Dreaming…

June 5, 2012

Dreaming of getting back down to Texas, that is…

Yeah, I’m not gonna sit and whine (too much) about being back in CA.  I’ve done that enough. 

I wouldn’t mind having some time to get out and enjoy some of the parts of the Golden State that I actually like, but that’s just not happening.   Too much work, and a lot of packing to do.  I’m down to the home stretch on this move, and there’s a lot that needs to happen.

Nevertheless, I did remember to get my big game tag applications in this year.  Did you?  The deadline was Saturday.  I expect to end up with points, but I did apply for the G3 deer hunt and Grizzly Island elk.  Who knows? 

I was really hoping to make an elk hunt in CO this year, but it looks like I may need to put that off a little longer.  Still holding open the option of an archery hunt, though, since that’s an over-the-counter tag and I can do it at the last minute if I have to.  I’m pretty eager to get back to some serious hunting.  It’s been way too long.

I know it’s only June, but most states’ draw deadlines have passed or are passing.  What are you folks putting in for this year?

Packing Up And Moving Out… For A Week Or Two

June 1, 2012

The deer are watching us pack.

Man, this is getting sort of old. 

I get down here to Texas, do some work on the place, settle in good, and BOOM!  It’s time to head back to California again! 


But if nothing else changes, it looks like this might be nearing the end.  I figure I’ve got about two, or at the most three, round trips left to make before I’m pretty much moved in.  Sure, I’ll fly back to CA from time to time, but the 1780 mile (each way) road trips will come to a conclusion… for now.  I can see, later, making the drive for special hunts, such as getting drawn for G3 deer, or Grizzly Island bull elk.  But then it’s going to be all for fun. 

Meanwhile, things around the Hillside Manor are definitely moving along.  The hot weather has slowed the pace of outdoor work (cutting juniper, burning brush piles, etc.), but it’s an opportunity to work on the house.  We got one room painted this trip, in between work schedules and travel, and there’s now a workable plan for the rest of the painting work (hint… no more sheetrock work!). 

Funkhorn is growing a new set of wacky antlers. Mascot or meat? Help me decide.

The deer herd is also doing great.  I’ve noticed several does that look quite preggers, so there ought to be babies on the ground soon.  I need to get the water trough set up on the next trip.  There’s good food here, but the nearest consistent water source is about 1/4 mile down the canyon. 

I also noticed that Funkhorn is back, and it looks like his antler deformity is genetic… not caused by an accident.  Come October, it’ll be a hard call whether to keep him around as a “mascot”, or take the shot opportunity if it’s presented.  Maybe ya’ll, good readers, can help me make up my mind.

Eat him or save him?

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