Gotta love me some global warming.
Mrs. Animal has a fondness for critters (for which, as some point out, I should be grateful) and maintains a bird/squirrel feeder in front of our residence. For ground-feeding critters she regularly puts out whole and cracked corn on the ground beneath the bird feeder; this is what resulted from that practice yesterday afternoon:
Them would be ducks, True Believers. A whole passel of fat, tasty mallards, right there on the xeroscaped front yard. We live in the suburbs where discharge of firearms without good reason is frowned upon (obtaining a tasty supper is not deemed ‘good reason;’ an axe murderer kicking in your front door, on the other hand…) Still, one is tempted to obtain a really good pellet gun, as broiled wild mallard is one of the tastiest of meals.
Probably better to take shotgun in hand and head east to a couple of places I know along the South Platte out by Brush, where you can usually pick up a couple of wild ducks.
Waterfowling can frequently be a wet, muddy business. While I have a fondness for fine shotguns and generally pick up my Citori or one of my restored and refurbished Brownings or Winchesters for upland work, trap shooting or sporting clays, when time comes to kill some ducks or geese I’m as often as not inclined to pick up a very different fowling piece altogether.
Since my 19th birthday I’ve had a copy of the old, ugly but reliable Mossberg 500 in 12 gauge, a gift from my first wife when we were dating. The old gun has been through a lot in the decades since. I’ve killed a small mountain of birds, bunnies and such with it, and its original Mossberg “C-Lect Choke” (Mossberg’s proprietary collet choke) barrel was replaced with a 28″ vent rib barrel cut for tubes. The original hardwood stock was likewise replaced, this with a Hogue overmolded synthetic.
The old Mossberg is sort of the AK-47 of shotguns; not overly attractive, but rugged, reliable, effective, endlessly accessorizable and tough, tough, tough! I have plenty of nicer, prettier and better-fitted shotguns, but when you’re spending the day splashing through a marsh or sitting in a muddy goose pit, the old Mossberg stoked with heavy 3″ mags is the way to go.
Another hunting season over – this one cut short, as the inestimable Rojito developed some sort of electrical trouble and remains even now in an auto shop in Granby. Mrs. Animal cheerfully drove up from Denver to rescue loyal sidekick Rat and yr. obdt., but we returned to the city with nothing to show for our efforts except, as always, great memories of time spent outdoors. The one outstanding thing in this abbreviated hunt were the numbers of Shiras moose evident in our mountain stomping grounds; we saw no less than four on opening day, a young bull and three cows. That bodes well for yr. obdt. if I ever manage to snag a coveted Colorado moose tag.
And, on this return to regular blogging, let me once more thank Robert Stacy, Smitty and Wombat-socho for the Rule Five links. Appreciated as always, guys!
Speaking of that return to regular blogging, here’s an interesting bit of commentary from Forbes on the United States’ two very different “gun cultures” and how at least one county sheriff sees the two: How Gun-Control Legislation Is Affecting This Election. Excerpt:
Actually, a majority of sheriffs in New York and Colorado publicly oppose the new gun-control laws. Sheriffs are in a unique position to speak out, as nearly all of America’s 3,080 sheriffs are elected. These sheriffs aren’t standing alone like Gary Cooper in “High Noon.” Polls show that a lot of the men and women who protect us support the Second Amendment. In 2013, a survey of police officers by the National Association of Chiefs of Police found that 86.8 percent of those surveyed think “any law-abiding citizen [should] be able to purchase a firearm for sport and self-defense.” Also, a survey done by PoliceOne.com of 15,000 law-enforcement professionals found that almost 90 percent of officers believe that casualties related to guns would be decreased if armed citizens were present at the onset of an active-shooter incident. More than 80 percent of PoliceOne’s respondents support arming schoolteachers and administrators who willingly volunteer to train with firearms. Virtually all the survey’s respondents (95 percent) said a federal ban on the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds wouldn’t reduce violent crime.
Cops – at least the cops surveyed here – are people of uncommonly good sense, probably in part because of the inexorable onslaught of human stupidity they deal with on a daily basis. An old retired state policeman once told me that every criminal he ever dealt with had a combination of three personality traits, greedy, mean and stupid – that proportions varied but all three were universally present.
These, of course, are the people that will completely and totally ignore any gun control legislation, no matter how well-intentioned, that ignorant state or Imperial legislators may pass.
There is a gun culture in the United States, a culture of responsible, law-abiding shooters and hunters. Some keep guns for recreation, some for sport, some for defense, some (like yr. obdt.) for all of the above. Of all the nations in the world, only the United States, in its Constitution, recognizes the right to keep and bear arms as an inalienable right that we retain by virtue of being free, law-abiding citizens. And those of us who choose to own guns, for any reasons, don’t like seeing politicians who are utterly ignorant of the differences between citizen and thug try to abrogate those rights.
That’s why three former Colorado legislators find themselves unemployed now. That’s in part why Governor Hickenlooper finds himself in a tight race against a GOP challenger now.
Since today marks the beginning of our annual excursion afield in pursuit of a winter’s venison, I thought I’d present a few thoughts on the hunt, yr. obdt.’s history in such, and the state of hunting in America today.
I was born into a family of farmers and outdoor people. The Old Man hunted and fished most of his life. Both of my grandfathers were outdoor types, and fishing trips with both of them are among my earliest and fondest memories.
Since I was old enough to carry a .22 rifle in the woods, I did so – almost constantly. Growing up in the hills, woods and fields of Allamakee County, Iowa presented plenty of opportunities to do so. The endless summers of youth were long, in part because of my anxious awaiting of the opening of squirrel season in late August, the first of many small game seasons to open. Hunting squirrels with a .22 teaches a boy to be quiet in the woods; it teaches him how to look over the terrain, to plan and execute a stalk, and how to shoot carefully.
Later in the year, I always laid aside rifle for shotgun when seasons for ruffed grouse and later, pheasant and Hungarian partridge opened. In December, it was deer season – and hunting whitetails on the Old Man’s place in Allamakee County stuck me with a love of big-game hunting that has stuck with me ever since.
Moving to Colorado when I left the Army in 1989 was the icing on the cake.
Folks hunt for a variety of reasons. Some hunt for trophies – and as every state requires, by law, the removal of all edible portions of a legally taken game animal, ‘trophy hunting’ as such should carry no animus.
Some hunt simply because they like to spend time wandering woods and fields, and that’s fine too.
Some hunt because they like eating wild game. Why not? It’s additive-free, lean, healthy meat – you don’t get any more ‘free-range’ than an animal you’ve hunted and killed in the wild.
I have hunted for 40 years or so for all of those reasons, mostly the second and third. I like the chance at a big buck or trophy bull as much as anyone, and it’s no secret I like to eat. You won’t find any better eating than an elk steak cooked over an open fire. And, there’s no better way to kill a few days than bumming around mountains, fields and forests.
So tomorrow starts the annual ritual. The bloodwind calls. It’s time to hunt.
Why Hunt? Check it out.