November 8, 2013
One day, the Lottery Fairy is going to light just outside my door and leave me zillions of dollars. Then I’m going to tell work to shove it, buy some HUGE properties all over the country, and hire good, reliable people to manage them for me so that all I have to do is receive income. Maybe I’ll check in from time to time just to see how folks are doing… or, of course, whenever I feel like hunting or fishing.
I’m also going to hire someone to manage this damned blog, at least on the back end. Qualifications include serious hacking creds, because I’m going to have this person figure out how to hack the spammers and bots and start turning their crap right back into their own inboxes with digital incendiary charges that will melt down their entire system, burn through the floor of their rooms, and open up a flaming portal that will drop them straight down into hell.
And so on…
At any rate, the three of you who actually read and comment here may have noticed (or not) that some of your comments might have disappeared (or not). My efforts at clean-up got a little sloppy. Sorry. But hopefully you can all comment again now.
Time to put aside the bow and load the rifle. I need some fresh meat on my butcher table.
October 28, 2013
From my old home state, the Old North State.
Note, the sharpshooters are still on speed dial…
October 11, 2013
Back before the switch to the new blog site, I did a review of Georgia Pellegrini’s book, “Girl Hunter“. In my review, I mentioned several times how I just didn’t feel like the book was aimed at me, or at men in general. Georgia writes with a decidedly feminine voice, and I get the impression that she’s trying to prove she’s one of the guys without actually being one. If I had to sum up her writing, I’d have to call it “prissy.”
The thing is, I’d also met Georgia in person and her personna is a pretty close match to her writing. She’s a very pretty, young woman with a bearing that suggests a blue-blood pedigree. At times I feel like she tries to robe herself in the blood and gore of the hunt just to mess with that image, but while I’ve never hunted with her, I don’t get the feeling that she embraces the blood and gore so much she as throws it a teasing air-kiss. Maybe that’s just prejudiced of me, but if you read her blog and PR material, I think you’d find it hard to disagree.
I know that she’s a trained chef, and I have no problem seeing her with her fingers in the gooey bits of some critter. At the same time, though, I have a hard time picturing her on a 10-day, backcountry elk trip, or trekking fruitlessly through the poison oak for public land pigs. I can’t see her camped out in the “sweat line”, waiting to get into a public waterfowl refuge. When I read her book, her “adventures” hardly sounded like roughing it, but instead they drew images of luxury lodges and “old family” society.
But I don’t want to go down the road of knocking Georgia Pellegrini. I really have no axe to grind here. Truth be told, if I could have the same adventures, I probably wouldn’t whine about it. She’s done very well for herself, in large part by playing off of that perplexing, privileged tomboy personna. She has taken her show to multiple magazine articles and interviews, TV appearances, and even a gig as a judge on Iron Chef! And regardless of the medium, her message has been about securing sustenance from the wild… in large part, by hunting. That’s always a positive.
And (the reason I bring her up again today), she’s also evangelicizing more than the food. She’s got her own little gig putting together what she calls, “Girl Hunter Weekends.” It’s a long weekend of shooting, hunting, wild game cookery, and other various outdoor skills, all wrapped up in a spa package. With a tab averaging around $2000 per person, this isn’t the kind of event that should be confused with a Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) clinic. This is a full weekend at luxury resorts, with some outdoor events thrown in.
Before you get your nose all twisted up like I did when I first learned about these events, it might be worth giving it some thought. Sure, this kind of thing is really tailored for the elite. Like you, I can picture the crowd of divas and wealthy tomboys, mingling over crystal martini glasses as “the help” tend to skinning and gutting the day’s take from the field. But maybe it’s not really like that at all. Maybe this really is a good thing, in its way, because it introduces the decidedly blue collar outdoor sports to a group of women who probably would never get this opportunity any other way. Sure, some of their husbands probably go off to the ritzy lodge to shoot African game, or to private resorts with thousands of acres of prime hunting ground… and while they’re gone, the wives are left to go shopping (or whatever women do while the men are off being men).
In fact, if I’m to believe what I read in a recent piece in the Missoula Independent, my prejudices are a little wide of the mark. The women in the article sound like they were really interested in the event as much for the outdoors experiences as for the luxury accomodations and gourmet meals. They learned things and shared knowledge, and had an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise. In the process, even if all of them didn’t become huntresses or fishermen (fisherwomen just sounds goofy), they all had an exposure to the outdoor sports. It’s reasonable to think that their attitudes toward hunting and fishing will be changed, if only for the fact that now they’ve done it too.
And that, to quote another prissy woman celebrity, is a good thing.
September 26, 2013
A little time to shoot the bow.
A little time to ready the tree stand.
A lot of time for work, and to care for loved ones.
Only so much time in a day.
And so many days in a week.
September 23, 2013
Ethereally, at least, fall has fallen.
Autumn has arrived.
The vernal equinox has visited.
And so on…
Yesterday morning, I glanced at the weather machine and the pre-dawn air was a beautiful 56 degrees. I took my cup of coffee and stood on the porch in my boxer shorts and t-shirt until I got a chill… yes, a real chill, as opposed to the chills caused by the onset of heat prostration. The horses were frisking in the pasture. Iggy was full of energy and wide open to romp and play. And my heart filled with that fullness that it always gets this time of year… the coming of hunting seasons and cool weather. I believe a whiff of woodsmoke would have finished me off… my heart would have swelled and burst like a scene in a bad horror flick.
Fall is the time to prepare for death. It is the harvest time… the end of the verdant field. Back when I was a kid, the first frost meant hog killing time. It also meant (at least according to country wisdom) the parasites would be gone from the grey squirrels and rabbits, so we could hunt and eat them without risk. For most of my youth, we didn’t even start deer hunting until those first, frosty mornings of October or early November.
Seems like the frost comes later and later these days, especially down here, south of the heart of Texas. But I think the anticipation is more important than the arrival. I know it’s coming. It promised itself to me in the blue-grey light of yesterday morning.
September 11, 2013
I don’t want to come across all pseudo-patriotic or anything like that, and I don’t want to put the wrong emphasis on things, but I do want to use this little space today for a single purpose… to pause in remembrance of the heroism and the great evil that took place 12 years ago, today.
The events of September 11, 2001 changed this country forever. Lives and politics were changed alike, and things so many of us took for granted have been cast into doubt… liberties, security, political viewpoints, and more. I think it’s fair to say we’re still reeling, and still changing as a result of that day.
I could go on, and on some more, but I won’t. What I’ll do instead is reflect a little, and hope that each of you will do the same. For better or worse, I believe we still live in the strongest, best country in the world. And despite our differences, political, philosophical, or whatever… despite all that, we’re all in this together. Let’s appreciate that for a minute or two, before we go on with our daily business.
September 5, 2013
Sometimes it’s like that. There’s so much to write about, I just can’t think of any way to say it all.
Right now, of course the lead ban is an ongoing topic. At first glance, the discussions are all about California, but the groundwork is clearly being laid in place. A few minutes scanning the Web brings up discussions on national forums like Huffington Post where there have been two big opinion pieces in as many days. There’s this piece today, from the National Audubon Society President, David Yarnold. And on Tuesday, the self-proclaimed “Gun Guy” Mike Weisser wrote about the topic for the second time in less than a month. And, as would be expected the level of ignorance and misinformation started with the original posts and went downhill from there. A large segment of the commenters on these posts aren’t from California, and they see no problem with taking the lead ban across the entire US.
On top of the lead discussion and AB711, there’s SB53, a bill that I thought had died in the CA legislature. SB53 will require anyone purchasing ammo to acquire a state-issued permit which entails submitting to a background check and paying a permit fee. The bill would also require ammunition vendors to become licensed (another state fee) and to maintain records of all ammunition sales. In essence, the bill expands a recently passed law to require that all ammunition purchases in CA take place under face-to-face transactions. Ostensibly, this means no more online or catalog sales.
Now SB53 is onerous enough in itself. But when you look at SB53 in conjunction with AB711, it might be pretty easy to see a real problem for California hunters. Eliminating online purchases of ammunition is going to have a serious impact on the ability of folks to buy lead-free ammunition. Given that there’s already a big lag between manufacturing and availability, this bill will exacerbate the problem by limiting the available market to authorized vendors in the state… or, of course, to folks who are willing and able to cross the state lines and purchase ammo in Arizona, Oregon, or Nevada.
After hearing me go on about some of the wonderful hunting experiences I’ve had in California, some folks ask me why I left the Golden State. I gladly point to the above as a part of the reason (not to sink into hyperbole… this is only one of several reasons). California is becoming increasingly hostile to hunters and to gun owners.
Other topics? Hunting seasons are underway or closing fast across the country. That’s generally a good thing. But as hunting seasons get active, so do the hunting discussion boards. At first it’s guys showing off their recent trophies and talking about how great it is to be back in the field. And then it’s the armchair ethicists, preaching moral absolutes from the safety of an anonymous keyboard. I guess I should revel in the annual fest of judgement and hypocrisy, because it does give me lots of fodder for the blog. But I also find it irritating, and a little sad.
I’m sure there’s an upcoming blog post in it (I’ve done it plenty of times before), but I’m seeing more and more of the “that’s not what X-hunting is supposed to be” discussions. Most recently, it was bowhunting, and a discussion of long-range shooting (you knew it was bound to happen). The other day it was about running shots on big game. And before long, you won’t be able to turn around in the (anti)social networks without tripping over some argument about hunting ethics and “the spirit of the hunt.”
Finally, with the nascent hunting seasons we’ll have the news stories. Already, it looks like the recent forest fires in Yosemite were started by a careless hunter. For whatever idiotic reason, he had to build a campfire in a wilderness, despite extremely high fire conditions. Folks are already piling on him in regards to what his punishment should be, because folks like to do that when it’s somebody else’s son… especially when it’s someone they don’t even know.
So maybe I’m a little overwhelmed with so much going on. Or maybe I’m a little grouchy. I just saw some photos from a friend who’s chasing elk in Colorado right now, and the itch is turning to a burn. Potting doves in a 97 degree horse pasture just doesn’t quite fill the bill compared to stalking the Rocky Mountains to the song of elk bugles and the first golden glow of the aspens.
August 15, 2013
Well, I guess this is press release week here at the Hog Blog. I guess it’s something to write about… and honestly, it just seems like I’ve seen a bunch of compelling releases lately.
Today’s release is from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and reports on the publication of survey results showing that public approval of hunting has increased again to 79%.
I think this is significant in light of the ongoing PR campaigns by anti-hunters regarding hot button topics such as wolves, lead ammunition, and high-fence hunting. I think it also offers a counterpoint to the worry-warts out there who feel like modern hunting (long range, high tech, black rifles) is eroding the image, and thus the public support of our sport. Of course, maybe the negatives are offset by the surge of new hunters who’ve been attracted as part of the locavore and self-sufficiency fads. It’s hard to say.
One point from the survey group stands out… apparently the strongest correlation with the perceptions of hunting is knowing a hunter. That’s not any kind of surprise, of course, but it’s a good reminder that we are all ambassadors of our sport.
Anyway, here’s the release for your reading pleasure.
National Survey: Public Approval of Hunting at 18-Year High
MISSOULA, Mont.—A recent nationwide survey indicates 79% of Americans approve of hunting, marking a five percent increase from 2011 and the highest level since 1995.
“Hunting is a way of life for many of us. Most Americans recognize and agree with that,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Hunting is conservation! It has a tremendous positive impact on wildlife and wildlife habitat.”
Responsive Management, a public opinion research organization focusing on natural resource and outdoor recreation issues, began to scientifically track nationwide hunting approval trends in 1995. The most recent finding of 79% is the highest percentage to date. Trends remain relatively steady over the years: 73% in 1995, 75% in 2003, 78% in 2006, 74% in 2011 and 79% in 2013.
The survey also found that more than half of Americans (52%) strongly approve of hunting (79% strongly or moderately approve), while 12% disapprove (strongly or moderately) of hunting. Another 9% gave a neutral answer.
The increase in acceptance may be linked to results from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report (2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation) that shows hunting participation increased by 9% since 2006 while shooting participation increased 18 percent since 2009. Other Responsive Management studies on public opinion on hunting show the strongest correlation with the approval of hunting is knowing a hunter.
“Hunting has a tremendous and measureable link to conservation. Hunters deserve to be proud of their contributions to wildlife, habitat and resource management,” added Allen.
Hunting directly accounts for more than a million jobs in the United States and creates an overall economy of $67 billion per year. Hunters provide the vast majority of funding that allows state wildlife agencies to successfully manage our wildlife resources through license sales and excise taxes on hunting equipment.
Conducted in February 2013, the Responsive Management survey randomly surveyed 1,306 Americans 18 years of age and older.
August 7, 2013
I’ve said over and over, and I’ll repeat, “I’m not going to let this site get bogged down in 2nd Amendment, Gun Rights vs. Anti-Gun rhetoric.”
It’s simply not a topic I’m interested in assailing here, largely because I can’t stand the bullshit and propaganda that comes with that territory. There are plenty of other sites where you can bash that ball around all you want.
But there’s something that I’ve been chewing on for years, and that’s the increasingly open relationship between the firearms industry (the National Shooting Sports Foundation) and the NRA. Of course there is a shared interest there, and it makes sense that these folks would be broadly aligned in an effort to block gun bans and restrictions. On the one side, the NRA is ostensibly all about protecting the rights of gun owners. On the other, the gun industry is all about an unobstructed market. It would be blindly naive not to expect them to hold hands when it comes to efforts to preserve the right of US citizens to own guns, since Americans are easily the largest single market for civilian firearms in the world.
Lately I’ve been seeing this very pointed image show up on Facebook, and even in my email. At first I blew it off as more propaganda from the gun control crowd. I honestly don’t spend a lot of time worrying over the debate, primarily because so much of it is lost in either the extreme fringes or blatant ignorance. The signal-to-noise ratio is, at least for me, insurmountable. This was just one more salvo from one side of the argument. Whatever.
But I guess I didn’t dismiss it completely, because the next time it showed up, I started to think about it in the context of what I know as a gun owner and as someone who has some insight into the industry as a whole. I started to look at it in a larger context as well, with big industrial lobbies such as agri-business (think Monsanto) and pharmaceuticals (think Viagra). I considered it from the basic marketing premise of create a need (demand) and fill it.
Every year at the SHOT (Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trades) Show, the keynote event is the “State of the Industry” dinner. It’s an opportunity for the participants to toss in a lot of money for a mediocre meal and a chance to sit and listen to presentations from around the industry. There’s always a component in which leaders in conservation are recognized for their contributions. DU, RMEF, and other organizations are generally in the forefront, and they accompany their speeches with a video presentation. After observing a couple of these, I came to realize that while conservation is certainly a wonderful by-product, what these guys are really looking at is how to leverage the whole concept of conservation, habitat protection, and stewardship as a marketing gimmick. The more wildlife we protect, the more there is to hunt… and the more there is to hunt, the more hunters will need hunting gear. And that equals sales… which drives the industry.
Maybe I’m jaded. Perhaps my take is a little too cynical. Or maybe I’m the naive one for thinking that I had stumbled onto some sort of epiphany. Was I just starting to recognize what everyone else has known all along?
So the more I think about this, the more I start to wonder. I’m no big fan of the NRA. While I do support the overarching idea of defending the Second Amendment, I do not align with many of their tactics or positions. I’ve also been more and more suspicious over the years as I’ve watched the NSSF become more and more of an echo of the NRA party line in communications to their membership. It does not seem impossible, or even unlikely, that the industry has co-opted the largest gun rights lobby’s huge membership for targeted marketing. Whether it’s just simple symbiosis, or whether it’s something more calculated and cynical remain to be seen.
And is it right or wrong? I guess that judgement rests on any individual’s commitment to the concepts of corporate responsibility and capitalist ethics.
But I’ll stop now, before I drop off into that rabbit hole…
August 5, 2013
A summer monday.
100 degrees again.
A panting black dog.
Sorry about that… I had to do something to break the writing stalemate. How long can you stare at a blank blog before something has to give?
But it is Monday, and it is definitely hot.
Tomorrow, I promise… something of substance.