Still Kicking At The Hog Blog

October 13, 2016


I’m not dead yet.

And despite appearances to the contrary, neither is the Hog Blog.

True, I’ve been quiet for quite some time.  No gear reviews.  No hog hunting reports.  No pithy commentary on life, the universe, and everything.  Not even a lambasting of some truly deserving television hunting program.  If current posts are the pulse of a blog, then I’d say death is a pretty fair diagnosis because the heart of this thing has been awful still.

But it’s not dead.  Not yet.

A couple of updates…

In September, I finally moved into the new house.  Right now, Kat and I are just calling it, “the Farm.”   We wanted to do something clever, like name the long driveway Bagshot Row, and the house would be #1 (aka Bag End).  But apparently, to have a street name in the county, there have to be at least three homes on the street.  That was disappointing.  So, it’s The Farm.  For now… which, with me, means probably forever.

At any rate, the point there is that the trials of getting the place built are behind me.  That was a lot more stressful than I’d ever want to deal with again.  I like to think this is my last house (hmm… in keeping with the Tolkein thread, I could call it “the Last Homely House”), but I’ve thought that before and see what happened?  But it’s pretty much done.  Still work to be done on the pasture and setting up for horses, and of course the never-ending maintenance that comes with a piece of land, but I feel like a load has been lifted.  The Hog Blog has a new base camp.

Of course, we’re barely settled in and along comes Hurricane Matthew.  I was among the fortunate ones here, and weathered that storm with nominal issues.  I’m high enough that the flooding hasn’t been an immediate problem, and the wind didn’t cause appreciable property damage.  For the most part, we sat in the living room and watched TV all evening, as the power and satellite remained largely uninterrupted.

Sadly, many of the neighboring areas didn’t fare nearly so well.  If you’re feeling charitable, there are a lot of folks in this area who are recently homeless… some probably for the long haul.  The American Red Cross and other worthy organizations are going to be stepping in to try and help, so a few bucks here and there would probably help.  And, of course, that’s not to mention the devastation down in Haiti… destruction and loss on a scale that most Americans can’t even imagine.  If nothing else, spare a positive thought and count your blessings.

What about hunting?

Yeah, I’ve been at it.  All the work here on the new house sort of scotched the deer activity in the usual places (although they’re coming back now), and I didn’t get around to moving stands to more productive areas.  I’m reaping the rewards of my inactivity now, as the one stand I had high hopes for has turned out to be a dud.

But rifle season opens Saturday, and that will give me a couple of options I didn’t have with the bow.  Those little suckers thought they were safe, hanging out there at 100 yards or more…

Of course, rifle season also brings out the dog hunters… the houndsmen.  I’d like to think they’ll be respectful of private property holders this year… maybe a little more than last year… but I’m not holding out high hopes.  I really have no problem with hunting over hounds, but I do have a problem with running the damned animals across any piece of open ground and the No Tresspassing signs be damned.  The law was fairly recently updated so that running hounds on posted property is now illegal, but enforcement is utterly impractical, especially in such a rural area where dog hunting is such an ingrained activity.  It’s pretty frustrating, especially after spending most of the off-season working on habitat, food plots, and setting stands.

The thing is, I’m probably more tolerant of it than my immediate neighbors.  They’re pissed, and you can bet that if a ban on hunting with hounds comes to the table, these folks will be helping to push it into law.  I recognize what a tradition it is, but the houndsmen are their own worst enemies here.

Besides deer, I’ve been getting pretty excited about the upcoming waterfowl season.  Given the current weather patterns, I don’t think we’re going to see a good, cold season.  That’s a drag, because it means the migration will be slow to arrive again.  But this year, so far, we don’t have nearly as much water around (once the Matthew floods recede).  That means the birds will concentrate more along the normal waterways instead of scattering into inaccessible swamps.  That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway.

Kat and I also drew tags for tundra swans this season.  I have never hunted the big birds, but I’ve eaten them and I’m tickled pink at the opportunity to put a couple on the table.  I’m also looking forward to meeting up with a couple of blog friends I’ve chatted with for years, but never met in person.  This will be a late season hunt, so the story will be a while in the offing.  But stay tuned.

What about hogs?

The raison d’etre of this blog has pretty much been a no-show this entire year.  Between work and the house, I’ve had neither the time nor the money to go out and try to find some Carolina wild pork.  I had a trip planned to South Carolina, but had to bag it for the aforementioned reasons.  Still, I’ve been doing some research and working on connections.  At this point, it looks like 2017 will have to be the big year, but I’ve found some promising leads and I can’t wait.

In the meantime, I’ve really been jonesing for a CA hog hunt again.  I know I can’t pull it off any time soon, but I keep looking for that winning lottery ticket to blow up onto my front porch.

That’s enough for now…  I’ll have to try a little harder to keep this blog thing on top of the daisies instead of under them.

NSSF Teams With Association For Suicide Prevention To Reduce Firearms Suicide Rates

August 10, 2016

It seems to be a recurrent theme from folks who dislike and fear firearms.  “The gun industry is just sitting back, raking in profits.  They don’t care about the people who are killed or injured by guns!”

I understand it, of course, since the truth is that efforts by organizations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) don’t generally get a lot of publicity.  Folks outside of the gun industry probably have no idea, and even many firearms owners are pretty much in the dark. Most people don’t know, for example, that the NSSF is on the leading edge of the industry in efforts to promote safety ( such as Project ChildSafe), efforts to educate firearms dealers to prevent crime (e.g. the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” program), and efforts to work with the Federal government to improve the quality of background checks (e.g. the FixNICS initiative).  What people do hear is when the NSSF echoes the NRA hardline on certain firearms issues.

To do my own tiny part, I think it’s worth sharing the press release I just received from the NSSF.  I think it’s simple enough that it doesn’t require my interpretation.  Here it is, in its entirety:

NEW YORK, N.Y. – A new partnership between the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms industry, will allow for both organizations to embark on a first-of-its-kind national plan to build and implement public education resources for firearms retailers, shooting ranges and the firearms-owning community about suicide prevention and firearms.

According to recently released data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all suicides were by firearm in 2014, and suicide accounted for almost two-thirds of gun deaths in the same year. In addition, 90 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal. By working together to develop and deliver suicide-prevention resources, AFSP and NSSF hope to help stem this loss of life.

“This partnership has been a true collaboration since we started conversations last year. AFSP sees this relationship as critical to reaching the firearms community,” said Robert Gebbia, AFSP CEO. “One of the first areas identified through Project 2025 was a need to involve the gun-owning community in suicide prevention. By joining forces with NSSF, we reach both firearm owners and sellers nationwide to inform and educate them about suicide prevention and firearms, and offer specific actions they can do to prevent suicide. Through Project 2025 analysis and the work of this partnership, we know that this public education has the potential to save thousands of lives.”

“The firearms industry has long been at the forefront of successful accident-prevention efforts and programs aimed at reducing unauthorized access to firearms. Since two-thirds of all fatalities involving firearms are suicides, we are now also in the forefront of helping to prevent these deaths through our new relationship with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF President and CEO.

Currently, the two organizations are collaborating on this initiative through AFSP’s firearm and suicide prevention pilot program, which involves six AFSP chapters, located in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri and New Mexico. The goal is to take the program nationwide within two years.

I always encourage folks to think for themselves, do their own research, and learn about issues with a skeptical eye.  This is no different, and I wouldn’t blame the cynics in the crowd who will look for some sort of self-interest on the part of the industry.  But I think it’s important to be aware that the leading organization representing the U.S. industry, the NSSF, is doing some solid work behind the scenes to reduce firearms death, injury, and crime.

Oops, It Happened Again

July 27, 2016

Oh, look!  I have a blog!  I should write something…

On a Facebook page I follow, I saw a post about a guy in California who booked a hunt with an outfitter he found on Craig’s List.  The outfitter had a website that listed references and other realistic information, but when the time came to hunt… you guessed it… a no-show.  Not only did the guide not show up, but he took the hunter’s deposit with him into the ether.

Not long after the post appeared, a small gaggle of “me too” posts followed.  This ersatz guide did pretty well for himself… as long as he can avoid some really pissed off hunters.

This should never happen, but it does… every season, and especially in the last minutes before a season opens.  Folks are desperate to find good ground.  Time slipped away, and suddenly the opener is looming.  Whatever the reason, they start grinding through the usual routes to find a guide.  Of course, the reputable guides are generally booked well in advance, or their prices are set a little high.  The search gets wider, and before long, a Craig’s List posting, or maybe an ad in the local paper shows up.  A couple of phone calls or emails get exchanged, a plan gets made, and the deal is done.

Often, it goes well.  The guide is maybe new to the business, or maybe it’s just someone who has a good hunting opportunity and wants to make a few bucks on it.  The hunter has rolled the dice and come up a winner.

But sometimes, it doesn’t go well at all.  In the worst case, the hunter gets stood up and the crook absconds with deposit money.  In some cases, the hunter finds himself facing trespass charges because an unscrupulous outfitter has dropped him on someone else’s property.  Other cases include blatant misrepresentation… such as how much property is actually available (10 acres instead of 100) or even the actual presence of game (crawling with sign turns out to be an old game trail).  The “comfortable lodging” turns out to be an old chicken coop.  The “hearty meals provided” are snack crackers for lunch, and MREs at dinner.  And so on… I’ve heard all of these things from jilted hunters.

It seems odd to me that, for all the distrust and skepticism people demonstrate in daily life, hunters so often fail to do a little due diligence prior to paying someone to take them hunting.  Caveat emptor, folks!

When the fellow on Facebook posted his sad tale, I quickly jumped to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s registry of hunting and fishing guides.  In seconds, I found that the alleged guide was not listed in the directory.  That would have been my first move, and what I found would have been a significant red flag.

Apparently, the fake guide had a website too.  It listed “references”, and provided some other good-looking information.  When I asked on Facebook if the victim had actually contacted the references, I never got an answer.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that he did not call.  The presence of references on the website was enough to give the appearance of propriety.

Point is, I can see how someone would find themselves in this situation, but I also believe it’s 98% avoidable.  I’ve written a time or two in various places (like here)about how to select a guide.  However, to break it down to a bullet list:

  • Define your expectations clearly before you ever contact an outfitter or guide. You need to know what you want before you can tell someone else.
  • Communicate these expectations to the outfitter or guide. Don’t be afraid to be specific about what you’re hoping to get for your money. You don’t have to be a jerk, but be upfront and honest.
  • Be completely clear about what you will accept, and what you will not (e.g. high fence, hounds, road hunting, etc.).
  • Be prepared to be flexible. These are wild animals. They don’t always do what the guide expects them to do. Sometimes you have to be willing to adjust if you want success.
  • Verify what is included in the price of the hunt (guides, accommodation, food, skinning/field dressing, etc.). The more you pay, the more important this is. You may find that what one outfitter offers for $1200 can be had from another at half that price.
  • Ask about success rates. Guided hog hunts usually have high success rates, but if anyone advertises 100%, then question them. Also note that some outfitters advertise “shot opportunity” instead of actual success. Be sure you understand and agree about the definition of “shot opportunity” before you book the hunt.
  • Ask for referrals AND THEN CALL THEM. (Be sure to ask for successful as well as unsuccessful referrals.)
  • Oh… and ask about tips. The outfitter may hedge, but it’s always good to feel out the expectation.

You’d think it would go without saying, but you have to do your homework.





San Diego Feral Hog Eradication Success?

April 21, 2016

This, if it’s accurate, is sort of a big deal.

It appears that wildlife agents and professional hunters/trappers (along with some help from the drought) have managed to wipe out the feral hogs in an area near San Diego.  According to several articles popping up in my feed today, like this one from the San Diego Union Tribune, there are only approximately eight feral hogs left in the area where there were once, by some estimates, as many as 1000.

There’s still a lot of disagreement about how the hogs got there, as well as how many there were.  There’s also been a lot of back and forth about what to do about them.  Like many others in CA, when I first heard about the hogs appearing down in that part of the country, I expected the population to run amok like it has in other parts of the state.  When they decided to let (actually, encourage) sport hunters to go after these hogs, I was pretty sure that any hope of thinning  the numbers of these animals was fleeting.  Sport hunters really aren’t very successful when it comes to eradication.

But then they brought in the professionals, even though some of us thought, “too little, too late.”

Most of us naysayers didn’t really count on Mother Nature tossing in an edge to the humans for a change, as the drought in CA concentrated the hogs, and also limited their expansion in the arid habitat.  Hogs are tough, resilient, and able to make-do in almost any conditions.  Desert, however, doesn’t seem to suit them.

So it looks like they’re whupped, and that doesn’t often happen.  Apparently.  Proof is in the pudding, of course, so let’s see what happens in the coming months.

Ch-ch-ch-Changes… Turn And Face The Strange

April 1, 2016

Time may change me…

In 2012, I moved from California to Texas, and swore I’d never look back.  I found my own little version of paradise in the Hill Country, and built the home where I planned to live out the remainder of my life… whether that remainder was 10 years or 50.

I had a plan.  The gods thought it was hilarious.

Last spring, I left the Hill Country in my rear view mirror.  I found a pretty decent place in North Carolina, and have spent the past eight months working my ass off to turn it into a new, final, home.  I’m close to my family again, and it’s been really good to spend time with my mom and brothers again.

I swore I wouldn’t ever move again, but I also recognized, based on recent history, that sometimes things aren’t completely in my control.  But dammit, I’d fight tooth and nail before I willingly packed out of here.

I find myself de-clawed and snaggle-toothed.

My line of work is sort of strange in today’s job market.  When I started in the 1990’s, I was in a pretty singular niche, but since then, the industry has caught up.  Now there are college degrees in what I do, and the market has become flooded with fresh-faced youngsters, eager to do the same work for less money.  At the same time, employers’ attitudes toward telecommuting have become more conservative.  That’s tough on me, since I choose to live in rural places, far from the hubs of industry.

All that is to say, when I find a good gig, I want to keep it.  The days of jumping from job to job at will are pretty much in the past.  The money isn’t there like it used to be, and as I get a bit older, I find that I have grown a new appreciation for the benefits of full-time employment, like health insurance and paid time off.

Have you figured out where this is going?

I’ve found a great job with a company I like and I’m part of a solid department of professionals.  In a fairly short time I have worked my way into a senior position and oversight of education for an entire business line.  My manager is happy with my work, but we’re challenged because our department is not getting the integration with the product development and marketing teams that we need to really be successful.

The Development and Marketing teams are based in Plano, TX.

After some extensive (and not altogether pleasant) discussion with my manager, it’s really come down to two options.  If I want to keep my current role and career path, I need to be in Plano.  Travel back and forth is not an option due to budget constraints.  My other option is to step down from the senior role, a decision that will likely have a negative impact on future advancement.  We don’t have head count to hire a new person in that role, so unless someone else on our team is willing to make the move, we may have to make a “staffing adjustment”.

To really make this a tough call, Kat pissed off some thin-skinned executives at work a couple of weeks ago.  You just can’t say things like that to a VP, no matter how childish they may be acting.  Smashing her coffee cup on the conference table was probably icing on the cake.  While it’s likely she’ll find something else fairly soon, the job hunt has been moving pretty slowly.

It seems like my choice was being made for me.

I loved the Hill Country, but I really despise the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  Plano is a nightmare of freeways and a sprawl of corporate clutter.  I can probably find a place out in the fringes, but in order to commute every day I’ll need to be relatively close.

I should be flying out there on Saturday, April 2, to take a look at properties.  But I won’t because today is April 1, and you just can’t trust anything you read on the first of April.





Just A Quickie

March 10, 2016

I’ve been pretty busy and preoccupied of late, and updating the blog has simply not been at the top of my agenda. Apologies for that.  I’m taking a breather now, just to jot this note today (and to keep the blog feed alive).

I have made a mental effort to crank something out, here and there.  I just haven’t been able to get traction, potentially because I’ve been idle for so long that the backlogged ideas are totally overwhelming.  There’s a lot going on, from Missouri where there’s a proposal to ban sport hunting for feral hogs, to Minnesota’s proposed ban on lead shot in a wide swath of State-managed land.  Turkey season is just around the corner, my hunt for huntable hogs is ongoing (but not going far), and I’ve got some new boots to review.

Of course, there’s politics.  Talk about being overwhelmed!

But then, I tend to stray away from general political commentary for many reasons, not the least of which is the knowledge that I’m sorely under-qualified to make meaningful analysis of most of it. There’s a lot I don’t know about economics, foreign policy and diplomacy, and so many other things.  The big picture is far larger than my personal experience, and while I certainly may discuss ideas and opinions with certain individuals, I’m not sure they’re entirely informed.  When I do talk politics, I usually try to talk as much to get educated as I do to educate.

Sadly, an awful crowd of folks aren’t similarly constrained.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Take that literally.  With a lot of knowledge, you can build the hydrogen bomb, but with a little knowledge, you can use it.


Another Hog Blog Spotlight – Project ChildSafe

February 23, 2016

I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that, when it comes to public relations, the firearms industry and lobby has sometimes been its own worst enemy.  While organizations like the NRA have done a reasonably good job at recruiting a strong membership of gun owners, they’ve done so with fairly polarizing tactics and a bit of all-or-nothing rhetoric that has turned away many gun owners, not to mention alienating folks who don’t own, and don’t like firearms.  (I say this, by the way, as a fully-paid Life NRA member.)

The truth is, outside of the “faithful”, most people have formed a lot of ideas about what the firearms industry is about… and to many of those people, it’s not a pretty picture.  A common perception is that the firearms industry is focused only on getting as many guns into the hands of as many people as possible, and to hell with any negative consequences.  So, for example, when a child gets his hands on a gun and accidentally shoots someone, a lot of folks want to lay blame for the problem at the feet of the firearms industry because, “all they care about is selling guns.”

That’s a shame, because it’s not an accurate assessment.

Despite the NRA’s prevalent place in the public eye (and public opinion), it’s fair to say that the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) is the real face of the firearms industry in the U.S.  As the trade association of the U.S. firearms industry, with the stated goal of promoting, preserving, and protecting hunting and the shooting sports, the NSSF speaks for most gun and ammo makers, and holds an influential position when it comes to driving policy and public relations for its members.  In that role, the organization has done a number of things that deserve the spotlight… but due to the hyper-politicized nature of the topic, those programs have remained relatively obscure.

One of those programs is Project ChildSafe.  I’ve written about, or mentioned, the project several times over the years (such as here, here, and here), but I feel like I need to keep pushing what they’re doing.

Most people I’ve spoken to, including many hunters and gun owners, have no idea what Project ChildSafe is about.  The handful who have heard of it think it’s a program to give out gun locks… which is accurate enough in a small way.  But that’s not all.

Here’s what the organization says about itself:

Project ChildSafe is a real solution to making our communities safer. More than 15,000 law enforcement agencies have partnered with the program to distribute more than 36 million firearms safety kits to gun owners in all 50 states and the five U.S. territories. Through vital partnerships with elected officials, community leaders, state agencies, businesses, the firearms industry and other stakeholders, Project ChildSafe has helped raise awareness about the safe and responsible ownership of firearms and the importance of securely storing firearms to help reduce accidents and access by unauthorized individuals.

In other words, what Project ChildSafe is about is safe storage, which can include gun locks, but also revolves around education and information.

I had the chance a week or so ago to chat with Bill Brassard, NSSF Director of Communications, and talk to him about the project.  I hoped to get a little better understanding of Project ChildSafe, and what might help get the message out to more people.

One of the first points Brassard made is that the project relies on its partnerships with communities and local law enforcement to promote the message.  “Our goal is to have community partners,” he told me.

The way this works is, the NSSF provides media kits, information, and gun locks to community organizers (usually law enforcement).  The partners then manage and host gun safety events, using the materials the NSSF provided.  The idea is for these partners to manage communication with local media outlets to publicize their local events.  As more agencies and communities learn about the program, they can engage with NSSF to host their own events.

The challenge, he explained, is that in many cases communities wait until something happens before taking any action.  Not that it’s ever too late to get the message about safe firearm storage, but the idea is to prevent shooting incidents before they happen.

The other challenge to this reactive scenario, of course, is that the story becomes about the guns and the tragedy.  As Brassard pointed out in our conversation, the media (particularly the major media outlets) tend to focus on the politics of guns.  To an increasingly cynical public, the NSSF coming in after the tragedy with a safe storage program seems almost disingenuous. The actual message is lost in the uproar.

What is that message?

I asked Brassard to nail it down for me.

“Secure storage is the number one way to prevent firearms deaths,” he said.  “There is a safe storage solution for every circumstance, and every budget.  There is no excuse for leaving a loaded firearm laying around.”

It is absolutely true, as he pointed out, that unintentional shootings have declined steadily over the years, largely as a result of improved education (hunter safety, firearms handling, etc.) and the increased accessibility of safety equipment such as locks, storage boxes, and safes.  Statistics show pretty clearly that safety campaigns have been quietly succeeding, even if most people have not noticed.

But statistics don’t mean squat when it happens to you or someone you care about.  This is why the message of Project ChildSafe is still important.  “Own it?  Respect it.  Secure it.”

If you’ve bought a new gun from Winchester, Browning, Savage, or several others, you have probably seen that little badge inside the box… right there, in the package beside the cable lock.  It’s a great reminder, but of course it only reaches the folks who just bought a gun.

I think, as a tagline, that’s OK.  But personally, I’m more in line with Mr. Brassard’s words.  “No excuse.”

There’s no excuse not to secure your guns.  These days, with affordable biometric hand safes, a lock in every gun box, and even the modicum of common sense, I have a hard time believing anyone who claims they “couldn’t” lock their gun away.  You could.  You just chose not to.

You can’t teach a kid not to pick up a gun.  You can teach a kid that it’s “bad” to play with guns, but no amount of teaching can overcome the juvenile monkey-brain.  If you listen to interviews of the parents of kids who have shot themselves, or shot other kids, almost all of them “thought” their kid “knew better.”  Kids do stupid things because their minds aren’t fully developed.  They don’t really comprehend permanence.  They don’t think Mom or Dad would leave a gun laying around if it were really that dangerous.  It’s just a second… and that’s all it takes.

And it’s not just kids.  That gun you keep by the bed for “security” isn’t very secure while you’re at work.  The shotgun in the closet… just keeping it out of sight doesn’t keep it out of reach.  This is how guns make it to the streets and into the hands of criminals.

Look, if you have a carry gun (and a legal right to carry it), then carry it.  Don’t leave it laying in a place where someone can walk off with it.  If you don’t want to pack it, then store it.  Lock it up.  Do us all a favor.  Do yourself a favor.

There’s no excuse not to.

Learn more about Project ChildSafe on their website at






NSSF Open Letter re: President Obama’s Statements On Gun Control

January 26, 2016

In a moment, I am going to share a full-page ad from the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Foundation) with a small grain of salt. I am not in lockstep with everything this industry organization has to say. I think, at times, the NSSF has pushed the bounds of reason (e.g. using misleading and unbased information to garner opposition of the lead ammo ban). By and large, though, the NSSF is extremely consistent in what it is… a foundation to represent and promote the interests of the shooting sports industry. Understand and accept this, and their messaging is logical and en pointe.

What is presented in this “Open Letter” is pretty much spot on, and while I’ve heard a lot of anti-gun voices contesting these points, it is difficult to deny the facts.

The NSSF has, indeed, taken a wide variety of actions to address illegal firearms sales (pushing for NICS enhancements, promoting the “Don’t lie for the other guy” campaign against straw buyers, etc.), promote and enhance firearms safety (firearms training for retailers, Project ChildSafe, gun lock campaigns), and encourage the enforcement of existing firearms legislation.

It’s also a fact that many of the Presidential statements on gun control, as well as those from some other Democrats, have misrepresented the realities of firearms commerce and availability in this country. They have done so, relying on the viral nature of misinformation to spread across the uneducated voter base. Unfortunately, the NRA has such low credibility (because they too often use the same tactics), that any counterpoint they offer is dismissed out of hand by the general public. That’s the NRA’s own doing, though… their own diseased chickens, come home to roost.

Nevertheless, in the interest of offering up a counterpoint to the vocal and widespread arguments of the anti-gun contingent, here’s the NSSF’s “open letter” to the President.  Take it as you will, keeping in mind the source… and feel free to offer your rebuttal here if you’d like.  However, I am unlikely to dive into a deep argument about the 2nd Amendment or firearms regulation on this site.

And, as always, if it gets ugly I’ll apply the Delete key with extreme prejudice.



January 6, 2016

I’ve started and stopped this one a dozen times or more.  Hell, I started trying to write this before Christmas, and here it is, well into the new year, and the days are running by like they know where they’re going.

Hemingway strove, each day in Paris… maybe throughout his career… to write “one true sentence.”  That’s something like what I’ve been after here, but I guess it’s hung me up.  (Hemingway also said something along the lines of, “if you can’t write, don’t write.”)

Last Friday, New Year’s Day, was the end of my first deer season at the new house in North Carolina.  I reflected on that as I sat under the maples and gum trees in the pre-dawn, the crossbow balanced on my knee, and some unseen creatures moving closer, and then away in the darkness.  But within two hours of daylight, my nose running from a wicked head cold and my stomach growling for breakfast, I called it off.  There’s a little room in the freezer, but I don’t think we’ll be buying red meat in 2016.

That’s not really what I wanted to write, though.

Anyone who’s followed the chaos and cacophony that has been The Hog Blog knows I generally steer clear of politics.  It’s not that I don’t have my own opinions and convictions, but I learned a long time ago that trying to hash that stuff out on the Innerwebz is a fool’s errand.  Nevertheless, I’m compelled to write something.

It seems to me that we’re at a unique and strange point right now, both politically and socially.  I don’t think it’s just this country either, but all over the world, things feel like they’re teetering on a tiny, sharp point.

Maybe it’s just the inundation of information, both from the mainstream news media trying to stay relevant in the digital world, and from non-traditional media that appears to be blazing new trails and constantly blurring the lines between fact, opinion, and fiction.  Maybe it’s age and my growing cynicism.  Whatever it is, I can’t avoid the sensation of tension near the breaking point… between races… between religious zealots… between economic classes… between political extremes.  It’s like a big wave rolling onto a sandbar… all the energy condensing, forcing the roiling water into a peak that’s growing higher and beginning to crest and curl.

When I moved to Texas, part of my plan was to essentially pull a big rock over my head.  I would live out my days on the frontier (and it truly is as much of a frontier as you’ll find in this country), happily doing my own thing, and leave the world out there to go to hell as it might.  I would turn my back on political bullshit that seemed to, more and more, consume people’s lives (and attitudes).  I figured that, no matter how screwed up things got, this would be the last place to feel the effects of political or even economic upheaval… or at least, it would be the place where I could ignore it the longest.

Maybe it would have worked out.  The truth is, though, I can’t just not care.

I can’t not care that our political process is rapidly declining into pig slop.  Elections at every level have all the integrity and dignity of Jr. High School politics.  Rather than the ideal of an informed and engaged electorate, the general voter pool appears to be increasingly susceptible to the most ridiculous rhetoric, intentionally ignorant, and focused on knee-jerk reaction rather than thoughtful consideration. As a result, we’re seeing everything from a growing movement to surrender Federal lands to State and local ownership (which is the fast lane to privatization), to blatant erasure of any aspect of our country’s history that may give offense to any portion of the citizenry.

I can’t not care about the evolution of extreme ideology.  The ugly realities of xenophobia and racism, never extinguished but at least dimmed for so long, are being blown into full flame under the guise of “patriotism” and “common sense”.  Good people are being sold a bill of goods.  The currency of the day is fear and loathing (Hunter Thompson should be here now).  Part of me wants to think they deserve what they’re getting, but really, it hurts something inside of me to see it happen.  Negativity breeds negativity, and that affects everyone, bystanders included.

All is not darkness, of course, and if I turn off the news and step away from the Internet for a few minutes, things brighten appreciably.

2016 is full of promise on a personal level.  The Texas house is sold, the new house is bought (and one day, the rain will stop and they’ll finally get the new house in place), and I can start to re-learn the home place.  Hunting season is pretty much done for the year, but after a mercifully short (I hope) winter, it will be time to focus on the ocean.  Last summer was practically a loss, but this year will bring fishing and diving.  I can’t wait for the first dinner of fresh, grilled, spanish mackerel, or grouper speared on one of the offshore wrecks.

From a blogging perspective, I’m pretty sure I’ll still have something to write about.  Guns and hunting aren’t going anywhere, despite the panicked rhetoric.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little concerned about the future of public lands, especially in the West, but the direct impact on me… I dunno.  I still want to hunt the wilderness in Montana some day.  I know I’ll be making the occasional trips back to Colorado for elk, and that relies on public land and access.  But really, I’m pretty sure that, like most hunters, I’ll find a way to keep doing what I do.

I’m heading to the SHOT Show in two weeks.  I’ll only be there a couple of days, but I have no doubt that it will be a couple of days dominated by political discussions of varying logical and factual integrity.  I intend to drown the noise in the general chaos of the Show floor, inspecting new products and (hopefully) rekindling relationships with various vendors and PR representatives.   Fingers crossed, I’ll be looking for some quality products to review over the coming months.

As long as the world doesn’t end between now and then.


If We Make It Through December

December 16, 2015

Sorry, Mr. Haggard, but I had to borrow that.

It’s not cold here, actually (c’mon, the point isn’t literal), but I’ve got to say this month is dragging on and flying by all at the same time.

The big thing is this new house.  Pulling it all together, getting all the moving parts aligned, and actually figuring out when it’s going to happen has been a killer.  It’s mostly the waiting.

To begin with, there were the soybeans in the field where I wanted to put the house.  Due to the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had this fall, the soybean harvest has been delayed all across the state.  That, of course, didn’t jibe with our timing.  We’d expected the beans to be gone by the first or second week of November.  We’d planned on getting the house in place (it’s a modular) probably near the beginning of December.  Things pushed on the house, which is good, because the rain kept the farmer out of the field.

But then I got the call.  The house will be shipping at the end of this week.  The guy showed up to do the initial recon of the site, and in addition to the beans still on the homesite, there are questions about getting the big tractor-trailer rig and the huge crane they use to set the house down the dirt path to the field in the first place.

Before I knew it, I was contracting with someone to grade the drive and build in a gravel driveway.  Meanwhile, the weather guy is saying we’re in for another storm tomorrow with up to an inch of rainfall… on top of thoroughly saturated ground.

We haven’t even got the foundation in place yet.

And the bank book is getting skinnier and skinnier at a frightening rate.

I’m getting stressed just writing this, but I expect you get the idea.

Not to vent, but dammit, what good is a blog if I can’t vent from time to time.

Oh.  And Christmas is next week.  Santa hits the trail a week from tomorrow.  It will be the first time in years I haven’t had to travel across the country for Christmas.  We even put up a tree, which is something else I haven’t done in ages.  This year, we can run down to Wilmington to visit with mom and the family, and then I can drive back to my own place.  These are good things.  But somehow, my thoughts of relaxation, comfort, and joy are getting tamped down too tight to burn.

I know.  Take a breath, right?  I learned a long time ago that nothing lasts forever.  This, too, shall pass.

If we can just make it through December.



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