Category Archives: General Outdoors

Outdoor and nature news from all over.

Rule Five Persistence Hunting Friday

It’s something of a shibboleth among some casual students of early humanity that early people were persistence hunters; that is, they ran their prey to ground.  As evidence these folks point out some traits humans have that most mammals don’t, like developed gluteal muscles, long legs with thick Achilles tendons and, not least of all, using sweating instead of panting to cool off during exertion or in hot weather.

But now it turns out that might be utterly wrong.  Excerpt:

The theory that persistence hunting played a crucial part in the evolution of man was first suggested in 1984 by David Carrier, who at the time was a doctoral student at the University of Michigan. Carrier’s idea was based on the observation that man is one of the only mammals that cools itself by sweating. Most four-legged mammals pant to cast off heat, which doesn’t work nearly as well when running. Carrier concluded that if our early human ancestors could chase an animal long enough, the animal would overheat and collapse with heat exhaustion, and the humans could step up and dispatch it easily.

Carrier’s idea was picked up and advanced by the Harvard paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman. “As for anatomical, genetic, and paleontological evidence, there are so many derived features of humans that make us good at running and which have no other function, they clearly indicate humans were selected for long distance running,” Lieberman wrote in an email. He has noted that those features — arched feet, short toes, wide shoulders, long Achilles tendons — seem to have originated around 2 million years ago, around the time when the genus Homo evolved and our ancestors began making meat a regular part of their diet. Persistence hunting, he’s argued, might have been the evolutionary driver.

However:

Henry Bunn, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has said more than once that a person would have to be “incredibly naïve” to believe the persistence hunting theory. Bunn recalls that he first heard discussion of the theory at a conference in South Africa, and he realized almost immediately that if you are going to chase an animal that is much faster than you, at some point it will run out of sight and you will have to track it. Tracking would require earth soft enough to capture footprints and terrain open enough to give prey little place to hide and disappear.

When he heard of the idea, Bunn had just been in the Great Rift Valley of East Africa, one of the areas where it is thought that Australopithecus, our first upright walking ancestor, evolved into the first of the human genus. He knew the terrain was probably not soft during the time period discussed by the persistence hunting theory. And it was mixed savanna woodland, not open plain. It’s highly unlikely that primitive humans would have been sophisticated enough to track under those conditions, Bunn and his co-author, Travis Pickering, also of the University of Wisconsin, argued in their first paper questioning the persistence hunting theory.

Plus, Bunn had spent time with the Hadza, a modern-day group of people in the Great Rift Valley who are thought to live much like their ancient ancestors did. The only time Bunn ever knew the Hadza to run was when they were fleeing pelting rain, angry bees, or marauding elephants — and maybe occasionally to scavenge.

Speaking as a modern hunter, I can confirm that most modern humans hunt from ambush, or at least, by stealth.  When I was a young man hunting whitetails in the forested hills of northeast Iowa, I generally hunted by ambush; I had a few tree stands scattered across the Old Man’s place, or sometimes I would still-hunt by moving very slowly and quietly through the timber.

Nowadays, in the more open, much wider country I hunt in the Rockies, I generally hunt by spot-and-stalk, although sometimes loyal sidekick Rat and I will take a position along a water source or a low saddle between two big drainages and watch for a while.

The main point is this:  Most predators don’t use any more calories than necessary when hunting, and in that, humans haven’t changed much since the Pleistocene.  Survival in nature is a simple matter of ensuring that, at minimum, calories in equals (or, preferably, exceeds) calories expended.  One of the better ways to do this is to make sure you expend the least amount of calories possible, which means ambush or stealth hunting.

There are a few exceptions (wolves come to mind) but not that many.  And if we can derive any conclusions about human behavior then from human behavior now, I’d suspect Henry Bunn is correct.  Read the entire article and see what you think.

Animal’s Daily Hunting Handgun News

Before we start, go forthwith to Glibertarians and read the latest in my Allamakee County Chronicles series.

Now, moving on:  Last night I stumbled on this article over at Guns.com – The Best Handguns for Hunting.  Now, I carry a sidearm routinely when out and about my business in forest and field; a sidearm, to my thinking, should be something that can be carried in a belt holster all day with minimum inconvenience.  If you need more punch, pack along a rifle.  A handgun should be just that, a handgun, not a pocket rifle.

Guns.com has some other ideas.  Well, I have some comments on that.  Here are the five, with my commentary:

First:  The Nosler M48 Independence.   Sorry, but this isn’t a handgun.  You can’t pack this around in a holster.  This is a cut-down rifle.  I honestly can’t see the point of this kind of thing; it seems like it would be as much trouble t pack around as a rifle, and with that being the case, why not just pack a rifle?

Second:  The Ruger Super Redhawk.  Now this is at least a handgun, well-suited for holster carry, at least in the trim shown.  Ruger does produce these in some rather sillier versions, with elongated barrels, muzzle brakes, bipods and so forth.  But in the short-barreled trim shown, it is at least portable, although in some of the calibers offered it might be a big handful.

Third:  The Remington 1911 R1 Hunter.  Now this is more my idea of a sidearm, and the R1 Hunter is available in the walloping 10mm round, which doesn’t seem too popular these days but which packs almost a .44 Magnum-level punch.  And the 1911 pattern – well, damn few weapons have a better history for durability and reliability.

Fourth:  The Magnum Research BFR.  Now this is a perfectly ridiculous object.  Chambered in rounds including the .45-70, .30-30 and .500 S&W, this thing weighs as much as a lightweight rifle and has to be an order or two of magnitude more difficult to shoot.  If I need that much power, I’ll grab my Marlin Guide Gun, also in .45-70, but much more manageable – and only a little bit less portable.

Fifth:  The Smith & Wesson 460.  Most of what I said about the BFR applies here as well, but the Smith lacks the versatility of chambering in big-punch rifle cartridges, making it even less versatile and no more portable.

Of the five, only two of them are really handguns, and one of those only marginally.

The 25-5, in the middle.

Long-term readers of these pages know my preferences in sidearms.  My favorite (left, middle) is my big Smith & Wesson 25-5, mid-Seventies vintage, .45 Colt.  This great piece (along with the .45 Colt Vaquero, also pictured) can be easily packed in a belt holster all day, and packs enough punch for most jobs you’d ask of a sidearm.  My favored load is a 255-grain hard cast Keith-type slug over 8 grains of Unique – do not try that load in an old Single Action Army, Colt New Service or anything but a modern revolver – and that will blow through a railroad tie or, from personal experience, lengthwise a big Iowa farm-country whitetail.

That’s enough handgun for just about anything.

Animal’s Daily Random Notes News

Over at Glibertarians you can now read the latest in my series, Profiles in Toxic Masculinity!  This installment presents a character from the Old West who was quite a bit different than the movie depiction.

Meanwhile, here are some tidbits from the day’s news:

Democrats don’t want to talk about the economy.  That’s no surprise, since the economy is humming, and their proposals would be pure disaster.

Left-wing violence won’t stop with Andy Ngo.  Of course not; it didn’t start with him.  It won’t stop until one of two things happens:  The thugs of the contradictorially-named Antifa are arrested, tried and jailed, or some counter-protestors start exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.  That latter would lead to some really, really nasty scenes.

But this is a little over the top:  Progressives Are Leading America To Her Demise.  Progressives aren’t leading anything; the Democrats have a small majority in one house of Congress, and that only because they were smart enough to run moderate candidates in swing districts.  They do, however, have control of education, entertainment, the legacy news media and much of the bureaucracy, and that’s concerning.

On a lighter note, this guy has earned a Deluxe Platinum Man-Card.  For life.  Interestingly, black bears are actually more likely to attack you with predatory intent that grizzlies.  A griz may attack you because you’re too close to its cubs, or to a carcass he’s claimed, or just because you pissed him off.   But a black bear may well want to eat you.

And from the world of science – actual science, not pseudo-science nitwittery – GMO crops are yielding huge benefits in Spain and Portugal.  That ought to make some heads explode.

And on that note, we return you to your Tuesday, already in progress.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

It seems some are blaming social media for a sudden increase in trashing of our public lands.  Excerpt:

Social media’s ability to attract swarms of visitors to picturesque meadows and alpine lakes has presented a new challenge to keeping natural spaces looking even quasi-pristine.

“I don’t think anybody anticipated social media — a year ago, or five or 10 years ago — to be what it is today,” said Dana Watts, executive director of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. “There’s no question it’s having an impact. It is something we’re very much paying attention to.

With more people venturing into the outdoors — many in pursuit of the perfect Instagram snap — Romano can reel off a list of etiquette violations he’s witnessed: Litter, off-leash, free-range dogs, keep-out signs ignored, switchbacks cut, social trails splitting meadows and noise.

“The first time I heard music on speakers in the backcountry, I thought, ‘This can’t possibly be.’ Now it’s very frequent, and people are blasting it,’ ” Romano said.

“I’ve heard people say people who do these things are just ‘hiking their own hike.’ That doesn’t mean you do what you damn well please. Trails are on public property and come with rules and regulations. Roads are public property, too, and we share them with a lot of people. I can’t just drive my own drive. … That mentality astounds me. Trails are being inundated with a lot of new, clueless people right now, and we need a massive public-education campaign.”

Here’s a thought:  Post the rules and regulations for the use of these public lands (I am pretty sure this has already been done).  When the park rangers and/or Forest Service officers find people violating these rules, 1) arrest them, 2) fine them, 3) implement sentencing that includes making them clean up their damn mess – or, more likely given the time involved, someone else’s mess.

When I was a little tad, the county I grew up in – Allamakee County, Iowa – along with neighboring Winneshiek and Clayton Counties –  were home to some amazing county parks.  Many of those, like North Bear County Park and Bloody Run County Park, had extensive camping areas along narrow, lightly graveled roads where one could drive back along the creeks for miles, camping along the streamside and in the meadows in some beautiful locations.  But this was in the late Sixties and Seventies, before the anti-littering campaigns started having an effect, and I can well remember my parent’s frustration at the number of people who would leave bags of trash and piles of empty beer cans just laying on the ground when they pulled out of their campsites.

The state and county authorities who managed these parks were likewise frustrated.  How did they respond?  By closing the parks to vehicle traffic.  Oh, they were still public parks.  There was a parking lot next to the road, and a big solid steel gate over the drive in, so only county officials could enter.  Fishermen, hikers and backpackers were free to walk in, but no wheeled vehicles were allowed.  That solved the problem, but at the cost of a great deal of access.  So that may well be what eventually happens in Washington, where this problem is occurring.

You don’t see this much in Colorado, even in roadside camping areas.  You likewise don’t see it much in Wyoming, where Mrs. Animal and I have done a great deal of camping and fishing.

So, what’s different in Washington state?  Any thoughts?

Animal’s Daily Armed Jews News

Israel gets it.

First of all, thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links – and check out some reminiscences about my grandfather over at Glibertarians.

So, it seems a Boston-area rabbi is picking up a tip or two from the IDF.  Excerpt:

BOSTON — A rabbi here has asked congregants to consider bringing guns to religious services as a form of protection in response to recent shootings at synagogues across the country.

Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton, a Boston neighborhood with a large number of Russian-speaking Jews, told the public radio station WBUR that the rise in hate crimes across the country and the loss of life at the Chabad at Poway and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh influenced his thinking.

Rodkin fears that increased safety measures implemented at Shaloh House — they include security cameras, reinforced glass windows and panic buttons — are no longer sufficient protection. The rabbi said the actions of an off-duty officer at the Poway Chabad center, where one woman was murdered, may have prevented further casualties.

“I know it sounds horrible, but I think it’s a very logical approach for the situation we’re in,” he said in an interview on the WBUR “Morning Edition” program. “I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now.”

Several of his congregants, including former soldiers and retired police, are now carrying guns into daily services at Rodkin’s synagogue, which also operates a day school.

I think I understand why the rabbi is reluctant, even as he made the right decision.  If this were an ideal world populated by ideal people, nobody would need to carry guns for protection – at least, not from other people.

But it’s not an ideal world, and there are no ideal people, although my late father and mother came damn close.  There is only the world we live in, and in this world, for some insane reason it seems like it’s getting rather less safe to be a Jew.  I’m not sure why; the Jewish people I’ve known have all been fine, upstanding folks.

Rabbi Rodkin is concerned for the safety of people for whom he feels responsible.  I can understand that, having taken a platoon of 32 people into a combat zone.  My people were armed.  There’s no reason why Rabbi Rodkin’s people shouldn’t be armed either.

And if anyone demands justification for their decision to take up arms, here it is:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

‘Nuff said.

Rule Five Bigfoot Friday

Thanks as always to our pals over at The Daley Gator for the linkback!

The FBI has released their official Bigfoot files.  Maybe they thought they might find Bigfoot in the same place as President Trump’s Russian collusion? Anyway, they haven’t found Bigfoot yet.  Excerpt:

The FBI’s Vault is a fascinating corner of the Internet, and a fantastic waste of time. The Bureau’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) library houses thousands of previously sealed or long-buried files on very famous—and very dead—celebrities, criminals, politicians, and other persons of interest. And they’re all on display for free public perusal, which is how you suddenly find yourself scrutinizing reports on everyone from Al Capone to Anna Nicole Smith for three hours one afternoon. No judging.

Now, the FBI usually doesn’t make such documents public until after the person dies, which makes the latest release from the vault—22 glorious pages concerning one Bigfoot—particularly notable for two reasons: It appears to be confirmation that a.) Bigfoot is dead, and b.) Bigfoot was real. Probably.

The mythical creature known as Bigfoot—or, if you prefer, Sasquatch, Yowie, Skunk Ape, or Yayali—has a long, murky history. People swear they’ve been seeing him for centuries, usually in the woods of North America and often in the Pacific Northwest. And the part-hairy ape, part-hairy human, part-hairy bear-thing has inspired such fervor among his fanatics that the fiercest devotees have even gotten the government involved in their pursuit of the truth.

Le me deconstruct that last paragraph:

The mythical creature known as Bigfoot—or, if you prefer, Sasquatch, Yowie, Skunk Ape, or Yayali—has a long, murky history.

Because it doesn’t exist.

People swear they’ve been seeing him for centuries, usually in the woods of North America and often in the Pacific Northwest.

They haven’t been seeing him for centuries.  Nobody has seen even one.  Ever.

And the part-hairy ape, part-hairy human, part-hairy bear-thing has inspired such fervor among his fanatics that the fiercest devotees have even gotten the government involved in their pursuit of the truth.

The truth is simple:  There is no Bigfoot.  No Sasquatch.  No Yeti.  No Skunk-Ape.

Here’s the thing folks fail to understand about a hypothetical creature like this:  There wouldn’t be just a dozen or so of them wandering around.  There would have to be a population of these creatures, living in some pretty well-populated areas, and it’s impossible that one wouldn’t have been hit by a car, or just plain found dead by now.  Even mountain lions, as elusive a critter as you’re liable to find, are seen and photographed pretty regularly, and get hit by cars now and then.  A mountain lion is a capable apex predator, and as such are pretty thin on the ground, and yet people see them all the time.

A sustained population of a man-sized, bipedal creature, presumably an omnivore, would have to number in the thousands or tens of thousands to be viable.  People would be seeing them; hunter’s trail cams would pick them up; they would occasionally get hit by cars or shot in “unfavorable Bigfoot-human interactions,” as happens with bears pretty regularly.  But none of that happens.  Why?  Because, like the Loch Ness Monster, chupacabras and the Tooth Fairy, Bigfoot doesn’t exist.

The fact that the FBI spent time and money on this is just another example of the Imperial government’s prolific waste of the taxpayer’s hard-earned dollars.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Reindeer cyclones are a real thing.  Who knew?  Excerpt:

Vikings hunting reindeer in Norway were once confounded by “reindeer cyclones”; a threatened herd would literally run circles around the fierce hunters, making it nearly impossible to target a single animal.

Filmmakers recently captured incredible aerial footage of one of these reindeer cyclones, which aired Feb. 13 on PBS in the documentary “Wild Way of the Vikings,” a program about Vikings and the wilderness they inhabited around A.D. 1000. [Photos: Ancient Arrows from Reindeer Hunters Found in Norway]

One of the documentary’s most striking scenes shows a re-enactment of a Viking hunt interspersed with real footage of reindeer herds. Reindeer were important to the Vikings for their meat, hides, antlers and bones, according to the film.

In the cyclone scene, a lone hunter (an actor playing a Viking) approaches the herd; he notches and releases an arrow. The footage that follows shows an actual herd of reindeer running in circles. As the swirling mass of bodies thunders along a circular path, an overhead camera reveals that the herd’s momentum follows a spiral shape, drawing tightly toward the cyclone’s “eye” at the center.

Faced with this spinning reindeer stampede, any predator — wolf, bear or human — would have a very tough time targeting and overpowering a single reindeer, making this a formidable defense strategy, according to a statement from PBS.

Here’s the image of just such a reindeer cyclone:

That’s actually a pretty great defense against wolves, bears or men armed with primitive weapons.  It’s not bad against a modern, ethical hunter either, as it makes singling out an animal for a clear kill impossible.

Against a hunter or two armed with firearms, hunters who (unethicall) don’t give a shit about how many animals they injure in the process and who are willing to fire indiscriminately into the mass, not so much.

But what I find fascinating about this whole thing is the resemblance to a school of fish, using a very similar, albeit 3-D, schooling tactic to prevent a predator from picking out a single fish.

Nature doesn’t always repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes.  This is a really neat example.

Rule Five Hoofed Rats Friday

RealClearScience scribe Ross Pomeroy informs us that whitetailed deer are a menace and we should kill more of them.  I know plenty of wildlife biologists, farmers and rural residents agree.  Excerpt:

In 2017, the total deer population in the United States was an estimated 33.5 million, down from 38.1 million in 2000. Hunters should rejoice over their excellent shooting, and then get outside and kill millions more.

This macabre call to arms might unsettle anyone whose heart ached at viewing the plight of poor Bambi, but it’s a prescription that’s sorely needed, for at their current population, deer are ravaging ecosystems across the country.

This wasn’t the case at the turn of the nineteenth century. Then, after decades of wanton hunting, there may have been as few as 300,000 deer left roaming the wilds of America. Hunting moratoriums, favorable human-caused ecosystem changes (i.e. more farm land), declining wolf and cougar populations (the major natural predators of deer), two world wars (leaving fewer hunters at home), and yes, the influential film Bambi, all combined to send deer populations skyrocketing during much of the 20th century. The recovery was wonderful for deer, but terrible for other organisms.

Deer devoured countless wildflowers close to extinction and devastated saplings of cedar, hemlock, and oak. All of this eating, amounting to more than 2,000 pounds of plant matter per deer per year, might account for widespread declines of North American songbird populations, which rely on many of the plants upon which deer gorged themselves.

Observing the detrimental changes wrought by grazing deer, legendary ecologist Aldo Leopold wrote, “I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn.”

“I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.”

It’s important to note that Aldo Leopold, an old-fashioned naturalist as opposed to how the term ‘ecologist’ is tossed around willy-nilly today, was himself a hunter and advocated the use of scientifically managed hunting as a vital tool in wildlife management.  In fact, Leopold is generally regarded as the father of modern wildlife management.

I remember when I was a little kid in Iowa in the late Sixties and early Seventies, seeing a deer was kind of a big deal.  It was exciting – “hey, I saw a deer the other day!”  By the time I left for good in the mid Eighties, they were a damned nuisance.

The various states need to open up deer hunting.  Some Eastern states are starting to; in some places you can shoot one doe a day.  And does are what we need to kill.  They’re the ones that breed.  And they’re great eating.

A population that outgrows the land’s carrying capacity is headed for a bad end, by starvation or pandemic.  We’re already seeing the spread of chronic wasting disease in cervids all over North America.  Bringing to population down some would help prevent what might be a catastrophic end to our deer herds.

The bad thing is, numbers of hunters are dropping in the US.  Take a kid hunting!  It’s good for the kid and good for the environment.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!  Also, be sure to check out my latest article over at Glibertarians, this one the first part of a multi-part series on the history of the sixgun.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Mrs. A and I spent Friday and Saturday last week in San Diego, which was… interesting.  It’s a pretty place though, and the harbor tour was fun; some photos follow.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Here’s a lesson for sporting-goods retailers:  Don’t be a Dick’s.  Excerpt:

Dick’s Sporting Goods may no longer sell hunting-related gear and products.

The CEO for the sporting goods retailer said Thursday that the company was doing a trial run in 10 locations, pulling all hunting merchandise and replacing it with other items.

“Though it’s too early to discuss performance, we’re optimistic these changes will better serve the athletes in these communities,” Dick’s CEO Edward Stack said in a conference call, as reported by JSOnline.

The reason for the new approach may be because sales in that department have plummeted across all of Dick’s 732 stores.

“Specific to hunt, in addition to the strategic decisions made regarding firearms earlier this year, sales continued to be negatively impacted by double-digit declines in hunt and electronics,” said Lee Belitsky, chief financial officer.

Dick’s sadly underestimated the impact of their support of gun control laws, and their virtue-signalling policy changes in not only removing but destroying semi-auto rifles in their inventories.

I’ve purchased precisely one gun from Dick’s, long before any of these shenanigans started up.  They had a sale with a really good price on new Browning Citoris, so I bought my 12 gauge Satin Hunter from them.  That was in 2007, I haven’t set foot in a Dick’s since, and never will.

There are plenty of folks out there like me.

Alienating a key constituent in your target market rarely ends well.  Heard much from the Dixie Chicks lately?  No?  Well, now Dick’s is apparently following the Dixie Chicks model.  Piss off a big part of your target market and see how it ends up.

As my grandfather used to say, you can teach ’em, but you can’t learn ’em.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.