Category Archives: Colorado Outdoors

Outdoor news from Colorado.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

The weekend just may not have seen the world end, but it did see yr. obdt. flying home to Colorado for a weekend, a pleasant break from the peripatetic nuttiness of Silicon Valley.  Unfortunately Mrs. Animal is in Michigan visiting the two college kids, so I ended up hanging out with our son-in-law.  We went out to his Dad’s place on the eastern plains and burned up a fair amount of ammo.  I checked the zero on Thunder Speaker in anticipation of next month’s deer and elk hunt, and after a comment that he’d never fired a rifle of that power (.338 Win Mag) I let the son-in-law take a couple shots off the bench.

Thunder Speaker on the bench.

Unfortunately he wasn’t used to the stiff recoil that Thunder Speaker delivers, and ended up taking a whack from the eyepiece of the scope.  Oops.  But, as I told him, there are few dedicated shooters of hunting-caliber rifles that haven’t ended up with a case of Kaibab Eye at one point or another.

But the fun part of the day was when the e-e-e-e-e-e-evil AR-15 came out.

Yup.  That was fun.

Animal’s Daily Hunting News

Yr. obdt. looking over some Grand County elk country.

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.

Rat overlooking the same country.
Rat overlooking the same country.

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.

Animal’s Daily News

A bit late and a bit short this morning.  Sorry.  Yesterday’s activities involved a quick scouting trip to Grand County, where loyal sidekick Rat and I will be headed tomorrow morning to spend a few days doing battle with antlered ungulates.

img_0879Unfortunately the inestimable Rojito (pictured here) developed a transfer case problem.  It’s in the shop now, having made it back to Denver OK.  Hopefully it will be ready for tomorrow’s departure.  If not, we plan to borrow Mrs. Animal’s Explorer, which will limit us to graveled roads; no muddy jeep trails.  Oh well.  Update:  Rojito’s repairs are complete and Plan A is in effect.

In any case, here are a few photos from yesterday’s adventure.

Not much snow up high, as you can see.  The snowy areas are up on Smith Mesa near Hot Sulphur Springs, at about 8000 feet.  The big body of water is Williams Fork Reservoir, the sage country around which is good for picking up some late-season mulies in a normal year.  This has been a warmer and drier than normal year, so I suspect we’ll be hunting higher than normal for early November.  We’ll see.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more!

First up:  Thanks to The Other McCain for linking our Rule Five hunt week posts.  Speaking of which:

The hunting season didn’t end with a big-game kill (grouse, that’s another story) kill, in part due to lousy weather – cold with a lot of rain – but mostly due to an old long-nosed mulie that made chumps out of loyal sidekick Rat and yr. obdt. on four separate days.  We tried varied tactics – pincer movements, ninja approach, bounding overwatch loops through the patch of brush where this canny old animal was hiding in every single case.

That old deer foxed us every time.  We saw a typical white mulie behind bounding off through the brush and heard pounding hoofbeats, but never got a shot.  We kept going back after it, but never got a good line to try a shot with the front-stuffers used in this early season.

Honestly, I’d rather hunt one fine animal like that and have it get away, than have a dumb yearling walk out in the trail fifty yards away and stand broadside, offering a stupidly easy shot (that has happened to me more than once.)

The upside of the hunt:  The grouse hatch was thick this year, and we got a bunch of them.  Photos follow.

Regular posts resume tomorrow!

Rule Five Friday

2015_09_11_Rule Five Friday (1)Housekeeping note:  The bloodwind calls! The Colorado blackpowder elk and deer season starts tomorrow, loyal sidekick Rat and I will be afield next week.  Today’s will be the last regular post until Monday, September 21st; (Saturday Gingermageddons will continue as usual) there will be a daily totty selection from the archives to fill those days.

Moving on:

Here’s a shocker:  A Survey Not Designed to Measure Defensive Gun Use Finds Little of It.  Excerpt:

A study in the latest issue of Preventive Medicine estimates that less than 1 percent of crime victims use guns in self-defense. The authors, Harvard health policy professor David Hemenway and University of Vermont economist Sara Solnick, find that using a gun seems to be effective at reducing property loss but “is not associated with a reduced risk of victim injury.” It will surprise no one familiar with the long-running debate about 2015_09_11_Rule Five Friday (2)defensive gun use (DGU) that the source of the data for this study is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which consistently generates much lower DGU estimates than other surveys do. At least some of that gap can be plausibly explained by weaknesses in the NCVS that Hemenway and Solnick do not seriously address or, for the most part, even mention.

The biggest strength of the NCVS, which is conducted annually by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, is its large, nationally representative sample, which includes 90,000 households and about 160,000 individuals. The survey’s biggest weakness in this context is that it is not designed to measure DGUs, and 2015_09_11_Rule Five Friday (3)there are good reasons to think it misses a lot of them.

There is good reason indeed.  Later in the article:

Hemenway and Solnick predictably argue that Kleck’s numbers are improbably high, and it is tempting to surmise that the truth lies somewhere in between. But while Kleck has responded at length to criticism of his methods and conclusions, Hemenway and Solnick’s article barely alludes to the NCVS weaknesses he highlights. They do mention that the survey includes “no specific questions about self-defense gun use.” That’s a pretty big flaw for a study aimed at measuring self-defense gun use, which the NCVS isn’t.

2015_09_11_Rule Five Friday (4)Brian Doherty has more on the controversy over counting DGUs.

But here’s the larger issue:  My rights (and yours) are not contingent on the usefulness of guns in preventing property loss, or in preventing any other kind of loss.  The Second Amendment states that I (and you) have the right to keep and bear arms, the Supreme Court has upheld that interpretation, and that is that.  Imagine if someone was to claim that the First Amendment was contingent on the efficacy of a certain media in being able to transmit information effectively; would we then place restrictions on pen and 2015_09_11_Rule Five Friday (0)paper, since they are pretty much obsolete?  Or would we restrict bloggers, for being too effective and unregulated into the bargain?

It is a fact that there is a strong correlation between the enactment of concealed-carry liberalization and a reduction in confrontational crime rates.  But the Second Amendment is still the final arbiter; the Constitution is the law of the land, the final be-all and end-all of our nation’s laws.  The Second Amendment says we have the right to keep and bear arms.  There the argument ends.

Have a great week, True Believers!  See you in ten days.

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Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

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.

A Mossberg user.
A Mossberg user.

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.

Animal’s Daily News

Sleepy-BearAnother 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 Girls with GunsAssociation 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 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.

user-girls-guns-550-29There 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.

Rule Five Friday

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (1)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.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (2)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.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (3)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.

2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (4)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.

I2014_10_17_Rule Five Friday (5) 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.

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