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2015 SHOT Show – Links And Reviews (From Other Sources Of Course)

January 21, 2015

My friend, John, asked a good question (and spurred this post).  For folks who aren’t in the industry, where are some good places to see or read reviews of the new stuff at the 2015 SHOT Show?  Now, ordinarily, I’d say to read the Hog Blog, but as we know, I’m not there this year.  So, in lieu of reliable, first-hand reporting by yours-truly, here are some other places that you can find reviews and reports from The Show.

Another of my friends, Eric, runs Varminter.com.  As you might guess, Eric’s coverage generally trends toward varmint and predator hunting.  His initial review of the Media Day at the Range highlights several new or revised configurations of the .17 caliber format, including Ruger’s prototype for the .17WSM (Winchester Super Magnum), and Savage’s brand new, semi-auto .17hmr (as well as the ammo CCI designed specifically for the semi-auto action).   I don’t know if he has plans to address air guns in his reports this year, but his site is also chock-full of great info and links for the air gun aficionado.  Oh, and by the way, Eric has a pretty good discussion forum on his site which includes an entire section for hog hunters.  I’m not active, currently, as I just don’t have time to follow forums right now.  But I do drop in to see what’s going on, and it’s a good place to go share information about the pursuit of sus scrofa.

The hook-n-bullet TV crowd has become ubiquitous at the Show… sometimes to the point of being something of a roadblock, as they set up lights and cameras right in the aisles for interviews.  As a blogger, I have been elbowed out of the way more than once when these guys show up, as everyone apparently wants to be on TV… or at least to get their products on camera.  I can’t help but understand that, but I think I speak for a lot of print and Internet media folks when I say, I think there could be a little more courtesy there.  Nevertheless, you can usually find pretty good content. In particular,  the Outdoor Channel has some focused coverage specifically for the show.  The Sportsmen’s Channel doesn’t have a specific link to SHOT news, but you can find some individual posts on their home page.  The Pursuit Channel doesn’t appear to be showing coverage at all, although you might check in to get updates about their viewers’ choice awards.

Ammoland is always well represented at SHOT, and their coverage usually runs the gamut.  Be prepared for a dose of political agenda when you read this site, but their writers are knowledgeable about their topics.

Guns and Ammo is also a regular at SHOT.  This magazine has evolved into a network of publications, each with a focus on different types of firearms, handguns, shotguns, and rifles.  The group also includes the venerable Shotgun News.

Oh, and before I forget, the official SHOT Show site has reviews, photos, videos, and news from the show.  Each day, they publish a pretty hefty newspaper for SHOT participants that includes a ton of information.  When I attend the show, I use this paper to build out my agenda of press conferences to attend and booths to visit.

A fairly unique and enjoyable place to see some excellent video reviews is Fate of Destinee’s YouTube channel. (And no, I didn’t think to ask where the site’s title came from… but don’t let it distract you.) Like last year, Destinee and her team are onsite and shooting live from the event. Unlike last year’s short, informative videos about lots of the cool stuff, these are extended footage of pretty much everything… Destinee is primarily into self-defense and tactical gear, but she generally does a great job.

(NOTE: This is what happens when I don’t preview the videos first. Apparently, Destinee has changed up her format a bit, and the half-hour or longer segments of rambling don’t do much for me… and probably do less for you. Skip to episode 5 in the playlist to see the actual SHOT Show coverage begin, and keep your finger on the fast-forward button.)

Of course, if you’re interested in a specific manufacturer, such as Winchester or Thompson-Center, you can always drop by their websites to see what’s they’re announcing.  Sometimes, though, the stuff they show at SHOT doesn’t make it to their website until after the show is over.

So that should keep your browsing appetites sated for a while.  As promised, I’ll share any news or updates I get in regards to new gear, guns, or ammo.

2015 SHOT Show – News From Afar

January 20, 2015

No, I didn’t change my plans at the last minute and make it to Vegas for SHOT this year, despite some mental acrobatics to justify the trip and figure out logistics (followed by a little bit of pouting).  But I’m getting reports already, and while it’s not just like being there, at least I’m not completely in the dark.

Yesterday was the Media Day at the Range, which is always a big event for me as it’s the opportunity to put my hands (and trigger finger) on some of the newest offerings from all sorts of firearms manufacturers.  And this morning, at about this time, I should be rolling out of my hotel bed and staggering down to get breakfast before hitting the first day of the Show itself.

Some people have asked, “what in the world could possibly be new with firearms today?”

It’s a good question, and truthfully, there aren’t too many big changes or offerings across the sporting arms market.  I’m pretty sure that the range day would have shown me a handful of cleaned up versions of older models (Browning, Winchester, etc.), and maybe a few new players. There will be some new optics, some new ammo, and some new packaging.  But that’s, honestly, about it.  It’s been a small solace to me that I know I’m not missing out on a ton of innovation.  Even the AR market seems to be hitting a certain plateau, because while there are still all sorts of add-ons and gizmos, there are only so many ways you can put together a lock, stock, and barrel.

Still, there’s always a surprise out there… something I’d really like to have put my mitts on… like Crosman’s new Benjamin Bulldog, a .357 caliber, PCP air rifle.  After the short-lived rollout of the Rogue, a few years ago, a lot of airgun fans have been watching to see what came next.  The big bore air gun market is coming ripe, as more states are considering permitting these things for hunting applications.

This video is loaded with advertising hype, of course, but it’s an interesting look at this new rifle in action.

I’ve got a couple of friends out there at the Show this week, and of course I’ll be following the wires to keep up with any significant news, cool products, and more.   When I know, you’ll know.

 

Pseudorabies Transmission From Hogs To Dogs

January 16, 2015

I know I’ve called this out before, but one of the biggest threats that feral hogs present is the risk of disease that can affect livestock.  While I know they can do some environmental damage, I can’t help the feeling that it’s often overstated.  And I refuse to believe that feral hogs present any more danger to humans than most other wild animals, despite the hype heaped upon them by some media sources.

But one case of something like brucellosis, or pseudorabies, can shut down an entire farm and result in the liquidation of the entire herd.  If the outbreak spreads to multiple animals, it can shut down an entire region, resulting in significant economic disruption.  In short, it seems to me that this is the aspect of the feral hog invasion that we should all be talking about.

But with all that said, I don’t think I ever knew that pseudorabies also presents a deadly threat to dogs.  However, this article from Arkansas provides a harsh reminder that this disease is nothing to mess around with.  It’s something my friends who run hog dogs should pay close attention to, as well as a warning to those of you who have dogs in feral hog country.

While there are some vaccines available for domestic livestock (pseudorabies was declared “eradicated” on US farms in 2004),  there’s nothing out there for Fido.  According to various resources I’ve been able to look up, it’s usually fatal within two to three days, although some dogs will survive.  The best protection is to keep your dog away from feral hogs, including keeping them from eating the uncooked meat or offal.

This isn’t to say that pseudorabies is out there lurking in every hog you encounter.  In fact, it doesn’t seem to be particularly common… although reports seem to be turning up on a regular basis around the country.  In addition to the sick hogs in Arkansas, pseudorabies was recently found in hogs released in Oklahoma.  I don’t know if this represents an uptick in cases, but it should be enough to get our attention.

The disease is transmitted primarily by nose-to-nose or fecal-oral contact.  This puts hog dogs at particular risk, but any dog that spends time where hogs have roamed can be affected.  Also, as mentioned previously, the disease can also be transmitted through the raw meat and offal of infected swine.

The most common symptoms of pseudorabies infection are similar to regular rabies.  The initial symptom is uncontrollable itching, referred to as the “mad itch,”  sometimes accompanied by howling or whining.  This is followed by hyper-salivation (drooling or “foaming” at the mouth).  The next phase involves neurological impacts that can include paralysis of the jaw or neck, sometimes leading to convulsions.  Death is relatively quick, and sometimes comes before the symptoms have even manifested.

Fortunately, so far, pseudorabies is not a threat to humans.  However, feral hogs are known to carry other diseases that are dangerous to man.  I’m the last one to recommend the use of protective gear while dressing and butchering game (because I don’t use it myself), but most game departments and health experts warn hog hunters to use gloves for the messy work, and wash thoroughly when we’re done.

Anyway, I just thought this was something worth sharing on a Friday.

Now, I just wish I could get out there somewhere and hunt myself a (disease free) hog!

 

B&C Club Releases Position Statement Decrying Game Farms

January 15, 2015

The Boone and Crockett Club (yeah, the guys who publish that record book for trophy hunters) has released yet another Position Statement, this time criticizing wildlife breeders.  I could almost have ignored the message, if it weren’t for the fact that the criticism appears to be based on the notion that breeding deer and elk is somehow equivalent to privatizing wildlife. (I do a lot of cutting and pasting in the following post, so if you’re concerned about context, I recommend that you read the statement yourself on the B&C Website.)

The argument starts with a “Situational Overview” which is largely founded on ridiculous drivel, like the following nonsense:

The captive-cervid industry uses selective breeding, artificial insemination, regimented feeding, and pharmaceutical drugs to achieve unnaturally large antlers. Such intensive manipulation of the natural characteristics of a wild deer and elk is a major departure from what occurs in nature, and it challenges our common understanding of the terms wild and wildlife.

Maybe some folks at Boone and Crockett are a little less sophisticated than I, because I have no problem understanding the terms, “wild,” and “wildlife.”  The fact that some breeders are using science to engineer “Frankendeer” has no impact whatsoever on that understanding.  I also understand that Monsanto is engineering crops to withstand drought and repel insects, but that doesn’t blur my ability to differentiate between a corn field and a mountain prairie.

It’s also worth pointing out that breeding and manipulation for Frankendeer is hardly the only thing the captive breeders are doing.  There is a fairly large market for venison, as well as deer antlers, hides, and urine.  So it would be much more accurate to have written that, “Some captive cervid breeders use selective breeding… etc.”  Why rely on hyperbole if you think your position is sound?  Is this ignorance, or is it intent?

They go on, in the same paragraph to lean on blatant and biased speculation (and more nonsense):

It does not appear that breeding and shooting operations considered the ethical implications of how far they should go in manipulating wildlife to satisfy the desires of a few. Nor did they think about the value the rest of society places on wild creatures and natural systems. The sole purpose for vastly exaggerating antler size to reach proportions that could never be attained in nature was commercial gain. The decision to drug wild animals also raises a valid question if this meat is safe to eat.

Any time you have to start your argument off with, “it does not appear,” you are already on shaky ground.  Credibility dissolves even further when the purpose of the statement is to speculate on the motives of a third party.  So, tit for tat, it does not appear that the good folks at Boone and Crockett actually have any clue as to what breeding and shooting operations have considered.  Moreover, it doesn’t seem that they have an adequate grasp of logic if they really think the value placed by “the rest of society” on wild creatures or natural systems has anything at all to do with the breeding and captive shooting industry.  Obviously someone in “the rest of society” places significant value on commercial venison, Frankendeer, and high fence hunting, because the industry is doing pretty damned well.

And the last sentence there, about the safety of the meat…   Isn’t that a whole new argument?  How, exactly, is it relevant in context?

But they’re hardly done, and go from speculation to blatant misrepresentation, such as this statement:

In recent years, the deer breeding industry has lobbied for white-tailed deer to be reclassified from wildlife to livestock, with the objective of privatizing a public resource and transferring regulatory authority from fish and game departments to departments of agriculture to obtain oversight more favorable to their industry.

Here’s a tip for the semantically challenged.  Farm bred, genetically manipulated, supplement-fed deer and elk aren’t “wildlife”… at least no more so than a Hereford, a Friesian, or a Rhode Island Red.   By the very definition, these deer and elk are livestock (hoofstock is the industry term, but the meaning is the same).  Most people recognize this, and in fact, the concept of “hunting” livestock (as opposed to “wild” game) is a primary source of ethical conflict whenever this topic comes up.

So, no, raising cervids (native or otherwise) from conception to harvest is not remotely the same as privatizing wildlife.  The breeding industry is not lobbying to have all white-tailed deer reclassified as livestock.  They are lobbying to have their livestock classified as livestock.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I recognize the self-serving nature of lobbying by any industry, and I’m aware of the risks to native wildlife and habitat if the breeders are allowed to minimize regulation and oversight.  I’m also aware that, at least in some cases, the state agriculture departments tend to be more lenient than state wildlife departments.  I’m not suggesting that we turn a blind eye to the breeders’ activities, and in fact, I strongly support efforts to implement and enforce strict regulations on these operations to ensure the safety of our natural resources… regardless of who administers and enforces the regulation.

But, again, we’re talking about livestock here.  We’re not talking about wildlife.

The second part of the document is the “Position, and buried in here are some more real zingers, including arbitrary statements like this one:

The practices of deer breeding and shooting operations should not be accorded the same level of public acceptance as the ethical hunting of wild, free-ranging game that is the foundation of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and forms the tradition of the Club and the majority of hunters.

I’ll be honest.  I don’t even know where to start with this statement, especially as it pertains to deer breeding.  If you keep your farmed deer contained (high fence), manage for disease (as we do with most other livestock), and treat them humanely, then the existence of those deer has nothing whatsoever to do with the NAMWC.  They’re not wildlife, they’re stock.

If you sell your stock to another operation where the animals are kept and managed under the same constraints until they are harvested by paying customers, then there is still no conflict with the NAMWC.  The one simply has nothing to do with the other.

I’m going to stop with the snip-and-paste now, and just take a run at what I see as contradictory statements in the position.  On the one hand, B&C is saying that they don’t want to dictate the choices made by hunters (high fence hunting), but on the other hand they actively support state efforts to prohibit game farms and high fence operations, and to restrict the industry itself.

I find it interesting as well that the statement references the actions of anti-hunting organizations who misrepresent hunting with caricatures, misinformation, and stereotypes, yet this is basically the same approach used to divide hunters on the issue of high fences and game farms.  As I pointed out already, Boone and Crockett does the same thing right here in this position statement, when they misrepresent the efforts by the cervid breeding industry to categorize white-tailed deer as livestock (when they’re only trying to re-categorize the captive animals), and again when they project breeders’ motives for conducting business.

In fact, the only thing in this position statement that I could get behind was the concern over the threat of CWD and the potential impacts on wild herds of deer and elk.  And even there, I’m only in agreement that there’s a risk that needs to be better understood in order to be properly managed.  I have yet to see convincing arguments that captive cervids are the source of CWD.  So far, the best case that can be made is that they are particularly susceptible due to the typically dense population within a captive facility, and that transportation from one facility to the next makes them a likely vector for transmission.

In the end, what I was left with from all of this is that the organization best known for maintaining and publishing a record book for trophy deer and elk is complaining about an industry that produces trophy deer and elk… in part because the focus on these “artificial” trophies detracts from the traditional values of the hunt.

There are a lot of folks out here, myself included, who think that the glorification of the Trophy has done as much or more damage to the sport, and to the NAMWC than anything else.  It’s given rise to a whole new class of poachers (some of whom commit their crimes with the sole intent of getting into the record books).  It’s driven poor wildlife management decisions, and reduced the effectiveness of good management programs.  It’s led private property owners to high fence property in order to manage for “trophy quality” animals.  It’s caused hunter vs. hunter conflicts on public land.  It’s provided a powerful, negative stereotype for the antis to leverage, of hunters who only kill the finest specimens and then take only the antlers or horns.  If there is a true anachronism left in this sport, it is the “trophy”.  And, oddly enough, the quest for a trophy is a major factor in driving the advent of the Frankendeer breeding operations.

So, here’s a thought.  Boone and Crockett, abolish your record book.  Take away the focus on “Trophy” and put your money where your mouth is.  Then, based on the membership you maintain without the incentive of a prize (getting your name in “The Book”), you can gauge the real motivations and commitment of your members to these other issues.

As far as ethics, anti-hunters, and the public opinion of hunters, I’ll have more to say on that pretty soon.

 

A Valuable Message About Road Rage And Concealed Carry

January 14, 2015

Concealed carry, self defense, and home defense aren’t topics you’ll often find covered on the Hog Blog.  It’s not that I don’t think they are interesting or useful topics, but there are other folks covering these issues with far more knowledge and training than I.  I have opinions.  These guys have information.

But in the crush of emails and promotions leading up to the 2015 SHOT Show, I saw this little piece from the guys over at Concealed Carry Magazine, and actually thought it was some good, sound advice.  Since I know some of you guys carry, and all of you spend at least some time in traffic, I felt like it was worth sharing.

What I like the most about this is the common sense application of, “don’t stop and shoot it out, when you can just drive on.”

 

Porcine Press – New Year, New Regulations, And Keeping Hogs Out Of Montana

January 12, 2015

A new year always brings new regulations to fish and game departments around the country.  North Carolina, for example, is holding public meetings now to discuss new captive cervid laws, intended to provide safeguards against disease, such as CWD.  Louisiana is looking at changes, such as adjustments to hunting regulations to allow handguns during primitive weapons seasons, while Georgia hunters are asked to provide comment on proposals that include switching over to a single, statewide deer season.

While most states are working on regulations to manage the wildlife they already have, Montana is making plans to keep some wildlife out of the state altogether.  On tap in the Big Sky state is a proposal to ban the possession, import, or hunting of wild hogs.

Under Senate Bill 100, the Board of Livestock would have the authority to ban the possession and hunting of wild hogs and could establish penalties for those not abiding by the rules. The board could also control and eradicate the animals.

So far, Montana is one of 11 states that have not reported a population of wild (or feral) hogs, and both wildlife officials and the livestock industry want to keep it that way.  A primary concern is disease, such as brucellosis or pseudorabies, which could infect domestic stock with catastrophic effects.

"Adam Henry" is radio jargon sometimes used by law enforcement or other emergency personnel to signify A-H, or Ass Hole.

“Adam Henry” is jargon sometimes used by law enforcement or other emergency personnel to signify A-H, or Ass Hole.

And why do Montanans think such a law is justified?  Well, we continue to see Adam Henry award candidates, like Wesley Dean Kirton, of Oklahoma, who think it’s a great idea to import and release feral hogs to provide a hunting opportunity, as well as to “train” his hog dogs.  According to officials, some of the hogs he released onto his 40 acre farm tested positive for pseudorabies.  This is no small thing, seeing as how the area of Oklahoma where this took place is also the home of most of the domestic swine farms in the state.

“It will have an impact on the industry itself and cause our prices internationally to go down nationwide and also prevent exports and just the price to go up,” Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture Dr. Justin Roach said.

It’s no secret that the biggest reason feral hogs have spread so widely and so rapidly across the US is transport and release, both legal and illegal, by hunting interests (in some cases, the states themselves actively relocated and encouraged populations of wild hogs).  While I can see that, early on, some folks didn’t realize that releasing hogs into the native habitat was problematic, those days are passed.  The publicity around the “pig bomb” has been widespread, and claims of ignorance no longer garner sympathetic acceptance.  It’s not an “innocent mistake” to turn an invasive, non-native species loose into the environment.

I know it’s a bit of a pipedream, but I long for the day when new regulations are based solely on wildlife management issues, and not in response to hunters behaving badly.

Brand New Year, Same Old Topics – Hunting Ethics (Ban This – Ban That)

January 7, 2015

I don’t know that the discussion of hunting ethics ever gets “boring”, but it certainly does get repetitive.  I’ve distilled my own argument to a couple of key points, and I’m pretty sure I know what the other guy is going to say before the words ever even appear.  As a result, my involvement in any such conversation is increasingly foreshortened.  Sometimes, I don’t even bother anymore, because it always ends in stalemate (or someone virtually stomping off in a huff).

But disengaging can’t be the solution.  Once the dissenting voice is silenced, the voice that remains attains the appearance of truth.

It was with this in mind that I read and responded to Pat Wray’s current column in the Albany Democrat-Herald.  In the column, Wray calls for a ban on high fence hunting, and also on the use of drones.  His argument for the bans, however, was a clear demonstration of all the worst elements of this debate.  For example, his points included baseless, generalizations about strangers, when he suggests that people who would use drones, “care nothing about the hunt,” or that they’ve, “lost respect for their prey and an appreciation of the sacredness of the hunt.”

First of all, he can’t possibly claim to know the hearts and minds of the folks who might use drones as hunting aids, much less their moral and ethical foundations.  That’s like arguing that someone you’ve never met has no respect for his body because he ate a candy bar.  As far as the “sacredness” comment… when you start to dictate behavior in terms of religious or spiritual concepts, you’re crossing onto unstable ground.  And you lose credibility.  You may as well call for a ban on any hunting practice that isn’t halal.

Likewise, in his indictment of high fence hunting (and hunters), he proclaims the nonsensical statement that, “people who would kill a pen-raised animal in a small enclosure are immune to the ethical sideboards true hunters accept,” and that the practice will, ” crumble the foundation of fairness, respect and tradition upon which our hunting heritage is built.”

Again, I point out that Wray obviously doesn’t know any of the hunters he is judging so harshly.  He is ignorant, apparently, of the fact that many people who are ardent backcountry hunters also enjoy the experience that can be found inside the fence… not to mention the fact that few high fence operations actually employ the “killing pens” that are so often portrayed in anti-hunting propaganda.

His ethical ideals are lovely, lofty sentiments, but they are based on little more than his own opinions which are in turn blinkered by his ignorance. I’m not saying it’s necessarily wrong for Wray, or anyone, to abhor high fence hunting, or to decry the use of drones as unsporting.  By all means, live according to your principles.  Speak your mind.  We’re all entitled to opinions.  But there’s a line between expressing your opinions and making a blatant demand to ban a technology and an industry on the strength of caricatures and generalizations… that’s not cool at all.  This is the strategy of the anti-hunting zealots… leveraging half-truths and misinformation to manipulate public opinion.  It’s shameful, in my opinion, to see hunters turn those same tools against other hunters.

In a recent and fairly lengthy discussion on Facebook, Tovar Cerulli and I sparred a little over the idea of hunters “circling the wagons” when it comes to contentious topics like high fence hunting or hunting contests (e.g. coyote tournaments).  Tovar was challenging what he perceives to be efforts by some hunters to silence dissent within the hunting community… even to the point of accepting questionable or “unethical” practices in the vague name of unity.

It gives the appearance that nobody wants to point out the emperor’s nakedness.

But I don’t think Tovar gives enough credit to his opponents.  I know there are hunters out there who would prefer that never a negative word be spoken against any hunter or hunting practice for fear that it will publicize some dirty, little secret. In my experience, though, the majority of folks who speak up in defense of activities like high fence hunting aren’t trying to shut down debate.  They are only disagreeing with the contrary position.

I argue that it’s not only perfectly OK, but absolutely imperative that we (hunters) do step up to counter voices like Wray’s.  Here’s that redundancy again, but I believe that attacking hunting practices from a position of ignorance (as Wray does in his column) is far more damaging to the future of our sport than any anti-hunting campaign will ever be.  Casting personal aspersions on strangers and perpetuating negative stereotypes divides and alienates the community.  It creates a culture of elitists, despite the arbitrary parameters required for ascension into the elite.

By all means, let’s debate ethics and morals and sportsmanship.  I think it makes us all better, because even if it doesn’t change our individual behavior, it exposes us to diverse ideas.  There’s value to that. But if the only basis for your call to abolish a hunting practice is your distaste for it, then do us all a favor and at least make the effort to understand what you’re attacking.  Stereotypes and misrepresentations cannot be allowed to stand in place of fact and logic.

2015 – Looking Ahead, But Not Too Far Ahead

January 5, 2015

golden valleyOne of the lessons I learned from hunting open country is to always look close before you look far.

There’s a tendency, when the visible horizon is miles away, to focus your eyes on distant places in an effort to spot faraway game.  As a result, you often stumble onto critters that are practically under your feet.

They run away.  You curse and shake your head.  And off you go again… doomed to repetitive error until the lesson finally sinks in.

If you think about it, there’s a life lesson in there too.

Seems like, lately, I may have forgotten to apply that wisdom to my own life.  I’ve been so fixed on distant plans that I didn’t necessarily notice some more immediate things.  Now, those immediate things have made themselves clear, springing up from underfoot, so to speak, and demanding my attention.

I’ll dispense with the stuff most pertinent to my private life, but a few things will definitely have an impact here at The Hog Blog.

No 2015 SHOT Show.

I know, it’s a damnable, sad shame… a shame that I’m not paid, handsomely, to attend this huge, industry event every year.  I get a real kick out of it, and occasionally come away with some great ideas, gear reviews, and plenty of new contacts to pester.  But I’m an independent blogger, and these days, my only “pay” for what I do is to have someone manage my site and handle the technical details.  It’s been a few years since I last published outside of this blog, and even that was done for exposure and paid “in copies”.

With one or two exceptional years, SHOT has been little more than a vacation in Vegas for me.  This year, due to some of those aforementioned “immediate things”, I just can’t justify the expense or the time away to attend.  So, it’s being set aside.  I’m sure I’ll pout about it, especially when I start so see all the posts and articles about the Media Day at the Range (when us media types get to go shoot everything we can put our hands on), but there you go.  Maybe next year…

Sporadic Blog Entries

This isn’t new, but it will probably continue for a couple of key reasons.  One is that I have to put more, better focus on the day job.  Since leaving the relative comfort and security of a full-time gig, and returning to the consulting life, every hour has a price tag.  That will probably mean prioritizing paying work over stuff I really enjoy… like blogging.  I’ve recently tried to keep up a post-per-day during the workweek, but that may not be sustainable as I’m going through some of the other changes that the coming year will bring.  All I can say, right now, is that I have no intention of dropping the Hog Blog.

Finding a New Base of Operations

And here’s the biggie… a prime example of making god laugh by telling him your plans.  It looks like I’ll be packing out of the Lone Star State, and moving this show back home to North Carolina (the other, and arguably first, lone star state).  I honestly thought Texas would be my last home, but I got caught looking into the distance without paying attention to things right in front of me.  It’s a really, REALLY painful (and costly) decision, but given the alternative I had in front of me, it was not a hard one to make.

From the perspective of a writer, of course, any major change is usually good for content.

In this case, it’ll be the search for a new piece of ground, and the work to make it as special (to me, anyway) as the Hillside Manor.  There’s always something to write about there.

The hunting in NC is about as good as I had in TX, with plenty of whitetail deer, a growing hog population, a booming turkey flock, decent numbers of waterfowl, and a handful of upland birds.  I won’t really have the opportunities for exotics, and I’ll sure miss that, but I’ll be trading that for the proximity of my old love, the Atlantic ocean.  King mackerel on live bait… Spanish mackerel on fast-trolled spoons… spearfishing for grouper, lobster, and snapper… diving the wrecks in warm, generally clear water.  Hell, I might even dust off the old surfboard!

So it’s certainly not the end of the world.

I don’t have a clear timeline yet.  Getting a place in NC is completely contingent on selling the place in Texas, and that may not be easy to do.  But the ball is in play.

And there it is.

Personally, I’m sort of ready to be done with upheaval and such.  Growing up a service brat, I had my fill of moving away, just as I’d get used to a place.  But entropy leads to atrophy… stasis begets stagnation.

Change?  Well, the occasional optimist in me looks forward to unexpected opportunities.  It’s really not a bad thing, even if it isn’t convenient… or predictable.

At this point, I’m not about to guess what lies beyond 2015.  I think I’m going to keep my focus short for a while.

 

First Weekend Of 2015

January 2, 2015

Up a creek off of the  Northeast Cape Fear River, looking for wood ducks.

Up a creek off of the Northeast Cape Fear River, looking for wood ducks.

It’s pretty cool that, just two days into 2015, we get a weekend.

That seemed like a cool thought when I thunk it.

At any rate, it’s been a long couple of weeks of holidays and I’m ready for a real weekend.  In the meantime, though, I’ve made the best of the time back home with some quality duck hunting.

Here’s hoping that you all had excellent holidays as well.

Welcome to 2015.

My guide (AKA brother), Scott and his dog, Macy waiting eagerly for shoot time.

My guide (AKA brother), Scott and his dog, Macy waiting eagerly for shoot time.

 

Happy New Years From The Hog Blog

December 31, 2014

Happy New YearIt’s over… or it will be in a few, fleeting hours.  2014, for all the good, bad, and yet-to-be-determined that it brought, will be history.  2015 will take its place.

Some of us will look at the change with relative indifference.  Another year past means another year coming.  Same as it ever was, and so on.

Others of us are going to make poems, prayers, and promises… keeping traditions that some of us don’t even understand, for reasons we may not even comprehend.  Fish scales, black-eyed peas, champagne, resolutions, sweeping the house, special underwear, fireworks and noisemakers…

There will be parties.  Be careful out there.  Don’t drink and drive.  Even if I don’t know you, I’d just as soon that you not get out there and get hurt… or hurt someone else… or hurt me.

Tomorrow, there will be hangovers.  There will be broken resolutions, barely born, still dripping amniotic fluid.  There will be sleeping in.  There will be overeating.  There will be football games, both on TV and in the empty lot down the street.  For some of us, there will be sunrise in the deer stand or duck blind.

The New Year, like the old, is what you make of it.  I wish you the best, but it’s up to you.

So, happy New Year!

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