Category Archives: General Outdoors

Outdoor and nature news from all over.

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.

Animal’s Daily Hunters For The Hungry News

I reckon most of today’s news coverage, commentary and bloggery will concern the election.  Since all you True Believers will face an embarrassment of riches on election news, I figure I’ll bring you something different; namely, Georgia deer hunters feeding hungry folks.  Excerpt:

One in seven Georgians struggles with hunger, according to Feeding America. More than 500,000 of them are children.

Food banks supply Georgia’s 1.6 million hungry residents with canned goods, dried grains and other pantry staples, but they rarely offer high-protein options, like meat.

Georgia Hunters for the Hungry aims to bridge that gap.

Venison is an ideal option to nourish the food insecure, because it’s high in protein and low in fat, Stowe said.

“We have the food banks calling us wanting more, wanting more every year,” he said.

Stowe coordinates with about 20 meat processors throughout the state who accept donations on behalf of the organization. He’s spent years recruiting more hunters and meat processors to help to fill Georgia’s ever-growing need for protein.

Resources are limited, though.

The Georgia Wildlife Federation reimburses processors $1.50 for each pound of meat they butcher. Once the meat is ground up and packaged, it’s delivered to the Georgia Food Bank Association, which distributes the venison to communities across the state.

Incidentally, you can read about my 2018 deer hunt here (my family and I eating all of our venison, though.)

It’s important to note that hunters donating game meat to food banks and homeless shelters isn’t a new thing.  None other than Ted Nugent pioneered the practice and helped set up some of the first programs.

And, yes, this is precisely how charity should be done.  Voluntarily, locally, no Imperial interference, much more efficient, much closer to the people in need.  It would be manifestly A Good Thing if more charity programs were similarly designed and carried out.

Rule Five Get Woke Go Broke Friday

I saw this a while back but didn’t comment on it right away, but a conversation with a friend today got me thinking about the story some more; namely, it seems that Levi’s, of all companies, has jumped on the “OMG ASSAULT WEAPONS” bandwagon.  That won’t hurt them as badly as it would have forty years ago, for reasons I’ll go into in a bit.  Excerpt:

American clothing company Levi Strauss & Co. announced Tuesday the launch of a new campaign aimed at preventing gun violence.

Company President and CEO Chip Bergh penned an op-ed for Fortune magazine saying business leaders have a responsibility to speak up on issues that threaten the American “fabric.”

“We can’t take on every issue. But as business leaders with power in the public and political arenas, we simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work,” he wrote. “While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option. That’s why Levi Strauss & Co. is stepping up our support for gun violence prevention.”

Mr. Bergh said the company is stepping up its gun control activism in three areas: First, by creating the Safer Tomorrow Fund, which will direct more than $1 million in philanthropic grants to boosting gun control groups; Second, by partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety and Michael Bloomberg to form Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety; And third, by doubling the company’s usual employee donation match to organizations aligned with the new Safer Tomorrow Fund.

The company will also pay employees for their political activism, for up to five hours a month.

I don’t like the trends of companies overtly virtue-signaling; if you’re in the business of making jeans, then just make jeans, and talk about nothing more than how great your damn jeans are.

And, once again, a would-be gun-grabber trots out the “gun violence” horseshit.  Now, to be fair, that term is also used by plenty of people who should know better, but the fact is that there is no such damn thing as gun violence.  There is only violence, planned and perpetrated by people, and that’s all.  It’s beyond dumbassery to use a term like “gun violence” when nobody, anywhere, ever, refers to “knife violence” or “fist violence” or “hammer violence.”  It’s only when firearms are involved do people’s brains fly right out.

Still.  One would think that antagonizing gun owners would be an ill-advised move for a company that makes blue jeans, a garment worn by plenty of working folks who like guns.  But I doubt this stance, tedious and stupid though it might be, will hurt the Levi’s brand sales much.  Why?

Because actual working folks shopping for tough, comfortable, durable working garments haven’t been buying Levi’s for years.  Starting about the time I graduated high school, Levi’s became the “style” jeans, mostly worn by townies.  The working jeans market these days belongs to Duluth Trading (my favorite brand), Carhartt, and Dickies.

That gives Levi’s some room to engage in dumb virtue-signaling.  So, fine, go for it; I don’t think it will change anything all that much.

Animal’s Daily Sky Rat News

Urban Sky Rats

Plenty of urban, suburban and rural residents have wondered this; why the hell are there so many pigeons?  Excerpt:

By the 1600s, rock doves — non-native to the United States — had reached North America, transported by ships in the thousands. Rather than being a food source, it’s most likely that the birds were brought across from Europe to satiate the growing pigeon-breeding trend among hobbyists, said Michael Habib, a paleontologist in the Dinosaur Institute at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, and the University of Southern California.

Inevitably, birds escaped captivity, and began to breed freely in American cities. “We created this novel [urban] habitat and then we basically engineered an animal that does very well in that novel habitat,” Habib told Live Science. “They were successful in cities because we engineered them to be comfortable living around humans.” [Do Birds Really Abandon Their Chicks If Humans Touch Them?]

Cities became the perfect backdrop for the pioneering pigeons’ success. “Pigeons are naturally cliff-dwellers and tall buildings do a pretty great job at mimicking cliffs,” Carlen told Live Science. “Ornate facing, window sills and air-conditioning units provide fantastic perches for pigeons, similar to the crevices found on the side of a cliff.”

Another trait that makes pigeons more adaptable is their appetite. While other bird species have to rely on supplies of berries, seeds and insects, pigeons can eat just about anything that humans toss in the trash. “Other species are specialists and pigeons are the ultimate generalists,” Portugal said. “And the food is endless: I don’t think too many pigeons go to bed hungry!”

The pigeon’s unusual breeding biology seals the deal: Both parents rear their chicks on a diet of special protein- and fat-rich milk produced in a throat pouch called the crop. So, instead of having to rely on insects, worms and seeds to keep their young alive — resources that would be scarcer in cities — pigeons can provide for their offspring no matter what, Portugal says: “As long as the adults can eat, they can feed their babies, too.”

I actually kind of admire pigeons, in the same way that I kind of admire rats and cockroaches – they’re all great survivors.  But pigeons, unlike those others, can be good eating.  When I was a kid back in Iowa, we routinely shot clean farm pigeons and tossed them in the crock-pot with onions, carrots and potatoes, making for some fine eating.

Some animals find humans troubling; we cut their forests, encroach on their habitats, interfere with their migrations.  But plenty of other animals do very well around humans, not only the aforementioned rats, pigeons and roaches but also white-tailed deer, black bears, raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, and many more.  Pigeons are just one of those lucky species, albeit one with a long, long history of co-cohabiting with humanity.

There are so many pigeons because they are adaptable.  Adaptability is a great survival strategy.  Our own ancestors learned that once.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove For the Rule Five links!

Our deer hunt in the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area was a success from the meat standpoint, as two fat bucks were taken, but neither of them were quite trophies – but then, antlers aren’t so good to eat no matter how long you stew them, so there’s that.  I have promised the full hunt report to my friends at Glibertarians, so I’ll post a link to that when it is published.  In the meantime, yesterday saw Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. on a flight back to our temporary New Jersey (ugh) digs, so, I suppose, we’ll make the best of it.  The best of it may include a couple of trips up into Pennsylvania looking for ruffed grouse, so stay tuned for news of that.

The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) makes for quite a challenging hunt.  While Colorado lacks them, having only the dusky mountain grouse that we regularly shoot from trees with .22 pistols, the woods around my childhood home in Allamakee County, Iowa had good populations of these fast-flying forest birds.  They are evasive flyers and make for some of the most challenging wing-shooting I’ve ever experienced.  In his day the Old Man was something of an expert at making a shot charge arrive at the exact location of a fleeing grouse, but I’m not the shotgunner he was, sadly.  Still, I’ve managed to bring a few of these birds to bag in my time, and hopefully will be able to do the same again.

When I was a kid, the sounds of grouse drumming was one of the sure-fire signs of spring.

They’re great eating, too.

As Colorado turns increasingly blue, Mrs. Animal are moving ahead with our plans to move up to the Great Land.   That state has plenty of grouse, not only ruffies but sharp-tailed, duskies and spruce grouse, along with three kinds of ptarmigan.   The bird hunting is great in that northern state; that’s something to look forward to.  But in the meantime, I’ll settle for some Pennsylvania ruffies.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Auf Wiedersehen, Blauer Montag!

Thanks once again to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links.  And speaking of Rule Five – since this is October (and, yes, I know Oktoberfests usually happen in September) each post this month will feature some torrid Teutonic totty, because I said so.  So there.  Note that Saturday Gingermageddons will remain as usual, though, as I wasn’t able to find enough hot redheads in dirndls to make up a full month.

Moving right along:  One of the more fun parts of the traveling life is getting to find neat outdoor areas to explore.  Now New Jersey isn’t known for being an outdoorsman’s paradise, but there are some neat places to wander, one of them being the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge up near Morristown.  Mrs. Animal and I explored there yesterday, on a gorgeous sunny Sunday morning.  Photos follow.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Goodbye, Blue Monday

Animal’s Daily Ivory Trade News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving on:  Elephants are being slaughtered in Botswana, one of southern Africa’s nations that actually isn’t a failed shithole.  Excerpt:

With 130,000 elephants, Botswana has been described as their last sanctuary in Africa as poaching for ivory continues to wipe out herds across the rest of the continent.

The first sign that was changing came two years ago when the BBC flew with Mr Chase close to the Namibian border and he discovered a string of elephant carcasses with their tusks removed for the first time.

But these latest killings have been found deep in Botswana – close to the protected Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary, which attracts tourists from around the world.

“People did warn us of an impending poaching problem and we thought we were prepared for it,” said Mr Chase, who pointed to the disarmament of the country’s anti-poaching unit as a cause.

“The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world’s largest elephant population and it’s open season for poachers.

“Clearly we need to be doing more to stop the scale of what we are recording on our survey.”

Well, since you asked, I have a couple of ideas.  One of them, at least, may be a bit surprising to some folks.

1) Bring back the safari business.  This does something nothing else will; makes the elephants valuable to most of the regular people who live in Botswana.  Back in the glory days of the African big game hunts, the safari outfitters employed lots of local people and provided a lot of fresh meat to local villages.  This meant that the people in the villages and the countryside had incentive to protect the elephants (and other wildlife) whereas now, without any of that, plenty of folks just see elephants as big, sometimes dangerous animals who eat their crops and occasionally decide to flatten a few houses.

2) Shoot poachers.  On sight.  No arrests, no nothing, no kidding; shoot them.  I’ve been told that back in the old days, the safari companies had quiet understandings with the various local governments that if their guides and so forth saw a poacher and shot him, the whole thing would be ignored.  But now, the linked article already refers to armed patrols; fine, we’re half-way there.  Find a poacher, shoot a poacher, and the incentives to gather illegal ivory would start to evaporate.

Africa has always been, and remains, a harsh place.  Seems to me the trick is to make it harsher on the right people.

Goodbye, Blue (NJ) Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!  This Monday finds us in (ugh) New Jersey, from where we’ll be posting for a while.  Expect some… pointed cultural observations.

But before we get into criticizing the state in which our temporary lodgings reside, let’s talk about bears.  Specifically, bears who attack people, and the most effective way to protect yourself against such attack.  Excerpt:

On the Internet, and in print, many people claim that pistols lack efficacy in defending against bear attacks. Here is an example that occurred on freerepublic.com:

“Actually, there are legions of people who have been badly mauled after using a handgun on a bear. Even some of the vaunted magnums.”

OK, give us a few examples. As you claim “legions”, it should not be too hard.

I never received a response. I believe the claim was made in good faith. There has been much conjecture about the lack of efficacy of pistols for defense against bears. A little searching will find a plethora of fantasy, fiction, mythology, and electrons sprayed about the supposed lack.

I engaged in a search for instances where  pistols were used to defend against bears.  I and my associates have found 37 instances that are fairly easily confirmed. The earliest happened in 1987, the latest mere months ago. The incidents are heavily weighted toward the present, as the ability to publish and search for these incidents has increased, along with increases in bear and human populations, and the carry of pistols.

The 37 cases include one that can fairly be described as a “failure”.

The pistol calibers, when known,  range from 9 mm to .454 Casull. The most common are .44 magnums.

What I found surprising here is that the 9mm Parabellum, not a round recommended for bear defense, was surprisingly successful.  The preferred ammo for bears would seem to be full-metal-jacket rounds, unlike those recommended for defense against smaller, less muscular thin-skinned critters like, say, humans.  Penetration, rather than expansion, would seem to be the order of the day.

Note also that several of the defensive uses happened after the failure of the bear pepper sprays that are advocated in some corners.

The summary would seem to be this:  If you’re traveling on foot in bear country, pack along a good sidearm with good ammo, one that you can shoot well.  That seems to matter more than the gun or the cartridge.

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