Saturday was an interesting Bay Area day. Since my own dear Mrs. Animal is here with me for a six-week stint, we decided to go adventuring. Up north of the bay, across the Golden Gate Bridge, lies Muir Woods National Monument. We went there Saturday, had a nice long walk followed by lunch up in San Rafael at a wonderful place called Terrapin Crossroads, owned by Grateful Dead bass player Phil Lesh. Photos follow.
As if we didn’t already know this, John Stossel is pointing it out for us: The EPA is a Racket. Excerpt:
Regulation zealots and much of the media are furious because President Donald Trump canceled Barack Obama’s attempt to limit carbon dioxide emissions. But Trump did the right thing.
CO2 is what we exhale. It’s not a pollutant. It is, however, a greenhouse gas, and such gases increase global warming. It’s possible that this will lead to a spiral of climate change that will destroy much of Earth!
But probably not. The science is definitely not settled.
The Earth will not notice.
However, people who pay for heat and electricity would notice. The Obama rule demanded power plants emit less CO2. Everyone would pay more—for no useful reason.
I say “would” because the Supreme Court put a “stay” on the regulation, saying there may be no authority for it.
But here’s the real kick in the nuts:
Some of what regulators do now resembles the work of sadists who like crushing people. In Idaho, Jack and Jill Barron tried to build a house on their own property. Jack got permission from his county. So they started building.
They got as far as the foundation when the EPA suddenly declared that the Barrons’ property was a “wetland.”
Some of their land was wet. But that was only because state government had not maintained its own land, adjacent to the Barrons’ property, and water backed up from the state’s land to the Barrons’.
The EPA suddenly said, “You are building on a wetland!” and filed criminal charges against them. Felonies. When government does that, most of us cringe and give up. It costs too much to fight the state. Government regulators seem to have unlimited time and nearly unlimited money.
But Jack was mad enough to fight. He spent $200,000 on his own lawyers.
Three years later, a jury cleared Jack of all charges.
Here’s the deal; I’m something of an environmental nut myself, in that I like being out and about in the environment. I like clean air, clean water, birds, chipmunks and trees. I also remember the late Sixties, when some of our cities were unlivable due to the filth and you couldn’t eat fish (if you could find one) out of many of our major rivers because of the pollution.
But that battle’s won.
Here’s the problem with popular “movements” like the environmental movement, the civil rights movement, and countless others: They can’t admit victory. Thousands if not tens of thousands of people are making a damn good living whipping up outrage and planning the next round of ever-more intrusive legislation and regulation, and they have no interest in admitting they won (or, in some cases, that their grandparents won), folding their tents and going home.
But it looks like President Trump is willing to send at least 31 percent of them packing.
On the Saturday just past I found myself once again with one of my favorite situations; no place to go, and all day to get there. Now mind you, I can’t abide Bay Area politics, but I am frequently in the position where I’m paid to go where the work is, not where the fun is. So I make the most of it, and there are always some decent outdoor adventures not too far from anyplace I find myself. Saturday it was the Almaden Quicksilver County Park, where I spent a nice sunny Saturday hiking in the hills. Photos follow.
On this weekend past, my first in the Bay Area (this trip) I got up Saturday morning to do some exploring.
Fortunately the lodgings here are on the south end of the metro area, right near the on-ramp to CA Highway 17, which goes south to the oceanside town of Santa Cruz. I drove down there, then caught Highway 1 north up the coast.
It was a beautiful, bright sunny day, temps in the high 50s, perfect for bumming around outdoors. My favorite kind of day; I had no place to go and all day to get there. Photos and a video (unfortunately not hi-def) follow. Click for more!
Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. spent the last three days wandering around The Great Land. Our purpose was mostly just enjoying ourselves but also doing some shopping around of neighborhoods for an eventual semi-retirement.
Alaska is a wonderful place if you like to hunt, fish, camp, or engage in almost any other outdoor activity. It’s also a great place to go if you want to live a quiet life and be left the hell alone, which has long been one of my fondest wishes. It’s also the only place I’ve ever been where I never felt hemmed in.
We love Alaska. It’s one of the best places left anywhere. Photos from this trip follow.
Our annual elk hunt, abbreviated as it was by some sudden travel plans, ended with an empty sack. Note that I do not say “ended sadly,” as any time spent in the great Western outdoors is never cause for anything but happiness.
We had one good shot at filling one of our cow elk tags. Near the spot shown above, loyal sidekick Rat heard an elk mew softly in the timber. We split up and stalked into the pines in a pincer movement towards the patch of pines where the sound came from.
As we moved in, through the heavy dark timber I saw a pair of elk legs moving slowly upslope. I moved up to a large pine, found an opening in the trees, and braced against the tree to place Thunder Speaker’s scope on the opening. I saw an orange elk butt moving towards the opening from the left at a range of about fifty yards; then I saw in the scope a bit of elk neck, then an ear, then the head…
…then an antler. It was a young raghorn bull, and we had cow tags. Oh well.
Anyway, it was a highly enjoyable week. Photos follow.
This weekend just past was my last in New England for this gig. Saturday I was the proverbial barracks rat, as the weather was awful; cold, windy, rainy. I ventured out to eat and otherwise hung around the hotel.
Sunday was a different story. The day dawned bright and clear, still windy but sunny and pleasant. So, with nowhere to go and all day to get there, I piloted my rental car down into Connecticut. I went far a long tramp in that state’s Bigelow Hollow State Park, then wandered back roads back up to Massachusetts and (eventually) my temporary digs in Braintree. Nice day. Photos follow.
I can’t abide the political scene here in Massachusetts, but that doesn’t stop me from seeing what sights are available to be seen. Yesterday (Saturday) I took the great Uber service into Boston, where I spent the day mooching around the Boston Common, where there was a Gary Johnson rally going on(!) Following that, I hit the original Cheers and hoisted a few with some locals. I walked around Beacon Hill for a while, visited a couple of other Beacon Hill local watering holes before concluding the evening back at Cheers and then another Uber ride to my Braintree hotel. Today (Sunday) I drove down to Cape Cod and spent an enjoyable hour on a tramp through some pine and oak woods. Photos follow.
The nation’s own insane asylum, California, has something new to add to its lengthy list of problems: Rattlesnakes. Excerpt:
Southern California is known for its sun, sand, and of course, it’s snakes.
And thanks to our ongoing drought, rattlesnakes are making their way out of the hills and into our yards in record numbers.
“They’re out in full force right now,” said Bo Slyapich, who is known as the “rattlesnake wrangler.”
He specializes in snake removal, relocation, and prevention.
Slyapich has been working with snakes for more than 50 years and says homeowners are giving the rattlers exactly what they are looking for.
“If you build it. they will come,” he said. “Just because you build them a cave, leave the door open, garage door open, put a cement pond in the backyard, make it green all around, maybe throw some mice and rats around. They love us humans.”
He suggests building a box around your property, installing one-quarter-inch fencing around the entire perimeter, and reducing landscaping.
Pretty good advice, actually, speaking as one who came from the rattlesnake-friendly hills of Allamakee County, Iowa, where the Old Man’s woods and hills were populated by Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus). Smaller (just) than Californey’s Western Diamondbacks, (Crotalus atrox) the big timber snakes were not terribly aggressive, in spite of their Latin name. You had to work at it to get bitten.
We still killed them whenever we found them around the house. Up in the hills they were fine; we always allowed them to proceed with their business unmolested. But not around the house, not when the folks had legions of grandkids playing outside all summer. The biggest rattler we killed was pushing six feet long, and a serious bite by a snake like that can kill an adult, much less a child.
We never took too many chances with venomous snakes. Californians hopefully will do likewise.
Q: Is hunting dangerous?
A: No, in fact hunting is one of the safest of all outdoor activities. The National Shooting Sports Foundation gathers and reports data on causes of accidental death and injury in hunting. Their 2010 data shows a 0.05% rate of injury among participants hunting with firearms. You have a greater chance of being injured on a golf course or tennis court than in the hunting fields.
Q: Was hunting responsible for the loss of the Passenger Pigeon, and the near-extinction of bison, along with many other endangered and threatened species?
A: No species has ever been endangered by modern, scientifically regulated hunting. It’s sadly true that in the last two centuries, over-consumptive practices including unregulated market gunning resulted in the extinction or endangerment of several species. Habitat loss added to the poor management practices of the 19th and early 20th centuries. However, modern scientific management has resulted in the dramatic recovery of white-tailed and mule deer, elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, wood ducks, prairie grouse, and many other birds and animals.
Q: Will game populations stabilize eventually without human hunting?
A: Yes, they certainly will. They will stabilize through the mechanisms of starvation, disease, vehicle accident, parasite infestation, and a host of other unpleasant means. Wild animals rarely if ever die peacefully of old age.
Q: Can we use chemical contraception?
A: Chemical contraception has proven practical, in deer, in controlled areas, with limited populations, where most of the animals were individually known to the control officers. On a large scale, it’s impossible.
Q: Does hunting desensitize people, especially young people, to the sanctity of life?
A: Just the opposite has been shown to be the case. A Texas Department of Justice study examined several demographic groups of ‘at-risk’ youths. They surveyed three groups; youths who did not own or have access to guns, youths who owned illegal guns, and youths who owned and used guns legally. The latter group, which included many hunters as well as recreational shooters, had the lowest delinquency rates of any; lower in fact than teens who did not own or have access to any guns at all. The study concluded that this group, who received most of their socialization in home and family, was more law-abiding than the other two groups. If hunting ‘cheapened’ the value of life, these youths would have been at a high risk for delinquency – the opposite of what was observed.
A: Success rates tell the tale. Success rates on big game average anywhere from 10-40% in most areas. That rate is calculated on the basis of animals taken / licenses issued; if you figure, roughly, three attempted stalks/shots for each animals, that is a per-attempt success rate of 3.3-12%. Odds are stacked against the human hunter, indeed; game animals have far more acute senses, they’re stronger, they can run faster, they have natural cunning and an intimate knowledge of their environment. One needs look no farther than popular hunting literature to see many stories of a hunter outfoxed by a wily deer, elk or bear.
A: No, very few. The main reason is obvious; not many endangered animal are available to be accidental targets. That’s why they’re endangered. It’s important to note that the largest cause of extinction or endangerment is habitat loss – and hunters are the uncontested champions of habitat preservation.
Q: What’s the difference between a hunter and a poacher?
A: A poacher is one who hunts illegally, with callous disregard for the law and for the scientific process of wildlife management. The ethical hunter scrupulously obeys the game laws of his/her area, and hunts with mindfulness of the surroundings, the game, and the importance of a clean, human kill. The poacher does none of these things. In short, the ethical hunter is a sportsman; the poacher is a criminal.
A: Not even close. Women are the fastest growing demographic group in hunter’s ranks, according to recent license sales figures; this reflect a trend towards the view of hunting as a family activity, rather than a guy’s getaway.
Q: Are hunters vicious and cruel people?
A: Not even close. Noted German psychiatrist Erich Fromm, in his book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, notes that the impulses for destructive aggression are very different from those involved in predation (hunting) and notes that hunters tend to be very peaceful people.
 Erich Fromm. 1973. The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Holt,Rinehart and Winston, New York. ISBN 0-03-007596-3