Category Archives: General Outdoors

Outdoor and nature news from all over.

Animal’s Daily Fur, Fish & Game News

Today’s outdoor magazines all seem to look alike these days.  Some of these mags I had subscribed to since the early Seventies, but have dropped in the last few years for a number of reasons.  I dumped Sports Afield after they went all-in for “assault weapon” bans.  I lost interest in Outdoor Life after they became Craig Boddington Takes Yet Another Expensive Guided Exotics Hunt to Advertise Guns and Gear I’m Not Interested In Buying.  Add to that the fact that most of these slick, shiny rags are more advertisement than content; even the content is selling something.

But there’s one good outdoor journal for the Regular Guys among us still on the market.

I’m referring to a little magazine (available in digital format too) named Fur, Fish & Game.  I can’t say much more to describe them than they do themselves:

Since 1925, FUR-FISH-GAME has been highly acclaimed as the magazine for practical outdoorsmen. We cover a wider variety of outdoor pursuits than any other magazine. And we are the only national outdoor magazine that still publishes a new issue each and every month of the year. All because we know that when you truly love the great outdoors, there is no such thing as an off-season.

Bear in mind that I’m not advertising for Fur, Fish & Game.  Well, I sort of am, but I’m not receiving anything in return other than the satisfaction of spreading the word about a publication I enjoy a great deal.

A big part of what I enjoy about them is that they aren’t aiming for the high-dollar, guided hunt market.  They’re providing good info on hunting, fishing and, yes, trapping for regular folks.  The current (February) issue includes tips on hunting hares in rough country, trapping desert ringtails, hunting javelina in Arizona and catching big catfish at ice-out.  Regular stories for regular folks, lots of good information, and what ads they do run are ads for quality outdoor clothing and equipment – no Viagra or hair-restoration ads.

If you’re an outdoor guy, check them out.  They’re the only outdoor magazine worth paying for these days.

Rule Five Useless UN News

Issues & Insights has some great… insights on the imminent meeting of the frankly useless UN Climate Summit.  Excerpts, with my comments, follow:

Later this month, private- and public-sector “leaders” will meet in Glasgow, Scotland. Nearly all will fly to the conference, many in private jets. And what will they talk about? Saving the climate from greenhouse gas emissions, of course.

The United Nations Conference of Parties on ​​climate change, the 26th version of this long-running clown show, starts Oct. 31 and will run through Nov. 12. Media coverage will be both intense and obsequious; attendees, especially the ever-smug John Kerry, “special” climate envoy to the president, will speak in somber tones due to the seriousness at hand; warnings of impending doom will be issued; and absolutely nothing will be accomplished.

This is because there’s nothing to accomplish.

John “Lurch” Kerry, of course, being the biggest hypocrite on this issue since Al Gore, will almost certainly fly to this summit on his private jet, after departing from one of his several mansions.  Is he up to three yachts yet, or is it only two?  You know, the ones he keeps docked in Rhode Island to dodge the Massachusetts port taxes?

“An existential threat is one that threatens the very existence of mankind. Something that is simply a challenge or an inconvenience is not an existential threat,” explains University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor Cliff Mass. “An existential threat must have the potential to undermine the very viability of human civilization.”

Mass believes “global warming is a serious problem” that will have “substantial impacts,” but he says “in no way does it seriously threaten our species or human civilization.”

“With reasonable mitigation and adaptation, mankind will continue to move forward – reducing poverty, living healthier lives, and stabilizing our population.”

For those who haven’t noticed, humanity has been enormously successful at adapting to, and in many cases, overcoming an environment that is hostile to its existence.

Humans are the most adaptable species to ever walk the planet.  While remaining, biologically, a relatively hairless African savannah ape, we have moved into every climate on the planet, from the Arctic Ocean to Tierra Del Fuego.  We’ve conquered mountain ranges and oceans; I think we can handle a change in the weather.  And besides, who the hell are we to determine what the Earth’s “correct” temperature is?  This planet is about 4.55 billion years old, and through most of that time it’s been a lot warmer than it is now.

But here’s the real onion:

It will also be a gathering of hypocrites. Attendees of the 2008 climate meeting in Copenhagen needed 140 private jets and 1,200 limousines to get the “job” done. Travel to and from the 2015 climate talks in Paris emitted about 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Nearly 1,500 private jets were flown to Davos, Switzerland, in 2019 for the World Economic Forum, where climate was one of the chief topics.

That’s a lot of fossil fuel burned in the name of cutting fossil fuel emissions.

Ay, there’s the rub.  It’s not the science that’s astounding; it’s the hypocrisy.  This is a gathering of unrepentant elites, dreaming up policy positions that they smugly assume will never be applied to their own lifestyles.  Like the old Soviet Politburo, they reckon that the rules will apply to the masses, but not to them, and were they to have their way, that’s exactly what would happen – and any kulaks and wreckers better watch out, because it’s a damned short step from “good intentions” to “do what you’re told or else.”

Oh, and this just in:  They are using Diesel generators to charge the fleet of Teslas that are being used to shuttle people around the conference.  I swear, you just can’t make this shit up.

I’ve long been in favor of extricating the U.S. from the UN.  This useless, hypocritical climate summit is just one more damn good reason to do so.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Winter comes early to the Great Land, but not all at once.  Last Saturday we woke to snow, and then later that day the accumulation melted in 50-degree temperatures.  Now, last night, it started a mixture of snow and rain here, and farther up the Valley north of Talkeetna they are projected to get 6-12 inches of white stuff today and tonight.  It’s October, and when snow comes now it’s here to stay.

First snow in the Great Land.

Winters are long and cold here, something we knew going in, of course.  But there’s a really neat feeling of being proof against the cold and snow.  We have a well-insulated house, a big fuel oil tank, plenty of firewood, and lots of heavy comforters on the bed.

Humans are a pretty amazing species.  Biologically we’re still pretty much a tropical savannah ape, adapted to hot, dry climates.  But, because of our brains, we can and do live in every climate on the planet, and not just with our modern technology – any member of the Inuit tribes up here can tell you that.  Humans are a pretty capable bunch, for the most part.

Well.  Most of us are.

And so…

On To the Links!

Best wishes to Governor DeSantis and his wife Casey.  I was glad to see the gracious statement by the Miami-Dade Democrats; this kind of thing should transcend politics, and the Miami-Dade folks showed a little class.

President Biden(‘s handlers) nominate a no-shit Communist as Comptroller of the Currency.

“The missing guy?  Well, he’s about your size, about your weight, wearing…  Haaaang on!”

Have we ever had a less competent President?  I have to say no.  Somewhere the ghost of Andrew Johnson is breathing a sigh of relief.

We can’t tax and spend our way to recovery.  And yet pols keep trying it.

Fuck you, cut spending.

How can you tell Joe Biden is lying?  His lips are moving.

This is how you do it, Part 1.

This is how you do it, Part 2.

This Week’s Idiots:

The Atlantic‘s David Litt is an idiot.

The daffy old Bolshevik from Vermont continues to beclown himself.

Rep. Al Green (D-TX) is an idiot.

Paul Krugman (Repeat Offender Alert) is still a partisan hack, and an idiot.

Vox‘s Ian Millhiser is an idiot.

Alyssa Milano is an idiot.

Slate‘s Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern (Repeat Offenders Alert) are both idiots.

CNN’s Chris Cillizza (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

Gabrielle Giffords is an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

One of the great rock & roll events history was the swan song of The Band, immortalized by Martin Scorsese in the 1978 film The Last Waltz.  The Band was an amazing assemblage of talent, and the film mentioned had a lot of guest talent playing along with Band members Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm.

Here is one of my favorite clips from that show:  This is Levon Helm on vocals with the song Up On Cripple Creek.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Apex Predator News

This should come as no surprise to those who study early humans, or to those who pursue furred or feathered critters in the game fields, but a new study shows humans have been apex predators for over two million years.  Excerpt:

“One prominent example is the acidity of the human stomach,” says Dr. Ben-Dor. “The acidity in our stomach is high when compared to omnivores and even to other predators. Producing and maintaining strong acidity require large amounts of energy, and its existence is evidence for consuming animal products. Strong acidity provides protection from harmful bacteria found in meat, and prehistoric humans, hunting large animals whose meat sufficed for days or even weeks, often consumed old meat containing large quantities of bacteria, and thus needed to maintain a high level of acidity. Another indication of being predators is the structure of the fat cells in our bodies. In the bodies of omnivores, fat is stored in a relatively small number of large fat cells, while in predators, including humans, it’s the other way around: we have a much larger number of smaller fat cells. Significant evidence for the evolution of humans as predators has also been found in our genome. For example, geneticists have concluded that “areas of the human genome were closed off to enable a fat-rich diet, while in chimpanzees, areas of the genome were opened to enable a sugar-rich diet.”

Evidence from human biology was supplemented by archaeological evidence. For instance, research on stable isotopes in the bones of prehistoric humans, as well as hunting practices unique to humans, show that humans specialized in hunting large and medium-sized animals with high fat content. Comparing humans to large social predators of today, all of whom hunt large animals and obtain more than 70% of their energy from animal sources, reinforced the conclusion that humans specialized in hunting large animals and were in fact hypercarnivores.

“Hunting large animals is not an afternoon hobby,” says Dr. Ben-Dor. “It requires a great deal of knowledge, and lions and hyenas attain these abilities after long years of learning. Clearly, the remains of large animals found in countless archaeological sites are the result of humans’ high expertise as hunters of large animals. Many researchers who study the extinction of the large animals agree that hunting by humans played a major role in this extinction – and there is no better proof of humans’ specialization in hunting large animals. Most probably, like in current-day predators, hunting itself was a focal human activity throughout most of human evolution. Other archaeological evidence – like the fact that specialized tools for obtaining and processing vegetable foods only appeared in the later stages of human evolution – also supports the centrality of large animals in the human diet, throughout most of human history.”

Hunting is what made us what we are.

Think about it like this:  Among very early humans, some were better at finding foods high in protein and fats.  Larger brains are metabolic gas-guzzlers, and while needing more proteins and fats to run than smaller brains, also lend greater intelligence, enabling those hominids to learn new and better ways of obtaining proteins and fats – in other words, meat.  Smarter hominids were better at obtaining meat, first through scavenging, then through hunting, and the increased quality of diet allowed more intelligent hominids to survive, and to increase their reproductive success, which in turn led to even richer diets by succeeding generations – forming a sort of self-reinforcing feedback loop that resulted in, well, us.

Remember that next time you confront a vegan soy-boy intent on lecturing you on the evils of meat.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain, Bacon Time and Whores and Ale for the Rule Five links!

Our recent visit to Alaska was fabulous, as I’ve already written last week.  On Friday, though, we looked at a couple of places up north in Willow, and were treated to some wondrous views of Denali.  Then, on Saturday, we drove to Seward, back up to Palmer in time for an early-evening dessert at the Palmer Ale House, then to the airport and home (for now) to Denver.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so those follow beneath the fold.  Regular news posts resume tomorrow! Continue reading Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

Last Saturday Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. got up early and headed up to Grand County, where we engaged in the pursuit of Colorado dusky grouse.  Our efforts fell far short of hardcore, as we were more interested in enjoying a day in the mountains, away from the stress, strain and noise of the Denver area where we make our home.  In that sense the day was a roaring success.  We did see grouse, but only on private land on the drive in to the hunting area.

Typical of the country.

Again, not that disappointing.  A day in the mountains cannot be disappointing.  But the dusky grouse of the western mountains is indeed worth pursuing, especially early in the season.

Dusky Grouse

Early in the season these plump birds are eating grass seeds, grasshoppers and berries, and are very tasty.  I always recommend making them into a casserole or cooking them in a crock with a can of cream of onion or cream of celery tossed in; they are tasty but very lean, and if you cook them like chicken they’ll be tough and dry.  Later in the season, along about late October or November, the birds have moved into the heavy timber and are eating needles, which can give them an unpleasant taste.

Early in the season, again, the birds are pretty tame.  Mrs. Animal and I generally hunt them with .22 pistols, to make it interesting.  These grouse will often just sit on the ground looking at you, or if they fly, they generally fly up to a low branch and sit looking down at you.  In those circumstances they are very vulnerable to a well-placed .22LR standard-velocity target load.  I have a 12-inch .22LR barrel with a 2.5x scope for my Contender, and can hit birds out to 75 yards with that rig very easily.

Next weekend is North Park’s one-weekend sage grouse season.  I haven’t yet decided whether I want to go up and have a go at those big open-country birds.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, enjoy your day off, True Believers!

Rule Five Semi-Autos Friday

I’ve written on this topic before, but here is another interesting piece on the trends in semi-auto rifles these days.  Excerpts, with my comments:

I remember growing up and seeing commercially designed and produced semiautomatics made specifically for hunting. Winchester, Remington, HK, Browning/FN, Benelli, Ruger, and others made them. There were semiautos replicating the styling lines of pump and bolt action hunting rifles.

All but Browning/FN and Benelli have dropped out of the market. The AR-15 and AR-10 have taken over and replaced them all. I recall seeing guns like those posted lining the racks of gun shops and big box retailers. I remember seeing them at ranges being sighted in for hunts. Hell, I remember seeing them being brought out for protection during the Miami Superbowl Riot and later for Hurricane Andrew.

As I’ve written before in these virtual pages, I wonder how much the veteran shooter influences these markets.  Prior to the Great War, the American sporting rifle market was dominated by lever guns, but then, in 1918, a generation of young men came home accustomed to their 1903 Springfield and M1917 Enfield bolt guns.  After World War 2, the walnut-stocked Garand was fresh in the returning servicemens’ minds.  Nowadays?  They’re used to the AR-pattern rifles.  But bolt guns still command a good market share:

It is just interesting seeing how the traditional hunting rifle manufacturers are either cranking out low cost production bolt actions with superb capabilities. Guns like the Savage Axis, Ruger American, Thompson Center Compass/Venture, Weatherby Vanguard 2/Howa 1500, and others are kicking butt and taking names in market shares at the moment. These are usually sub $400 easily found rifles that are chambered in a wide variety of cartridges and with very little to no work are Sub MOA capable.

The manufacturing sector right now is pumping out extremely capable and low cost bolt guns for the average buyer. For under $1,000. Anyone can have a rifle capable of being Sub MOA and able to hit targets 1,000 yards away if they want to. Rifles today doing what $5,000 build did twenty years ago.

If you’re looking for a good deer or elk rifle and you’re on a budget, this is a great way to go.

Or they’re just flat out making AR pattern rifles like what Remington, Savage, Ruger, and others have done. Only Browning/FN and Benelli are still in the traditional Non-AR pattern rifle market. And only Browning/FN has actually updated their design with the new BAR Mk 3 DBM model.

Ruger did revamp the Mini-14 too and it is still a capable brush gun for hog hunting. But it isn’t as big of a change as what Browning/FN with the BAR.

Rifles today are capable of some impressive performance, but the pieces described above have, from this rather aged and gray shooter’s perspective, one flaw; they’re ugly.  To paraphrase Forrest Gump, however, “ugly is as ugly does,” and if one wants a great-performing hunting rifle in bolt-action form, you sure can get a good one nowadays for a nominal investment.

But place one alongside a pre-64 Model 70, and the differences in visual appeal sure are apparent.  I know, there is the argument for utility having a beauty all its own, and I get that; my own favorite hunting rifle wears a Bell & Carlson synthetic stock, after all, even if the action was made in Berlin in 1910.

Still – while I see the utility of a synthetic-stocked rifle for hard outdoor use, my love I reserve for fine walnut and polished, blued steel.

Here’s the kicker, from my point of view:

I believe Benelli and Browning/FN are still in the market due to the overall view of ARs by the gun hating community and they keep them in production as a way to hedge their bets on future legislation and as a way to tap closed markets like NY, CA, and others.

And that, True Believers, is the right question.  Browning, of course, still has the traditional hunting/sporting rifle shooter as a big part of their target market, as does Benelli, although that latter company also goes after competition shotgun shooters in a big way.  And it’s nice to see someone still catering to this preference.

Shotguns, of course, are also on the gun-grabbers chopping block, comments about ‘firing a shot in the air’ by Groper Joe aside.  Make no mistake about that.

Animal’s Daily Bronco Returns News

The new Bronco.

Ford has been dropping little bits of info about this for years, but as of Tuesday, the Bronco is officially back – but actual vehicles won’t be delivered until next year.  Ford is advertising it thus:

There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered. To find it you have to break rules, push boundaries and climb over the barriers in your way. With its relentless toughness and durability, the all-new Bronco was built to carry outdoor enthusiasts to wherever the wilderness calls. Available in two- or four-door models.

I’ve had two Broncos.  The first was one of the originals, a 1974, painted a rather horrible nuclear-reactor green.  We called it the Green Machine, and it was a wonder.  I think that truck would go up and down trees.  It stuffed a 302ci V-8 into a fairly small frame, with 4:11 gears and manual everything.  The interior was all sheet metal and vinyl; at the end of elk season you could just take it into the car wash and hose it out.  It wasn’t without down sides, though.  In hot weather the floorboards got uncomfortably hot, and the low gearing and lack of overdrive limited it to about 50-55mph on the highway.

The second one was a 1992, one of the ones based on the F-150 chassis.  It had the all-black “Nite” trim package, so we called it the Dark Horse.

The Dark Horse in an early elk camp, some years ago

The Dark Horse wasn’t quite as tough off-road, although is was still pretty damn capable.  It used the same 302ci V-8 but the newer engine, with multi-port fuel injection, managed to provide plenty of power for the bigger truck.  It was better on the highway, being geared at about 3:55 (as I recall) but the automatic transmission had an overdrive gear, so it would comfortably tool along the interstate at 75mph with my tent trailer tacked on behind.

I used the Dark Horse a lot.  It saw hunting fields and off-road trails everywhere between Montana and the Mexican border, between the Mississippi and the Sierras.  It was a great truck, but eventually it just plain wore out, at which point I traded it in on the inestimable Rojito, which I still am using today.

Rojito in another elk camp.

The new Bronco looks the part, at least in the photos I’ve seen so far.  But I’m concerned all the same.  I prefer manual everything in a truck that I’ll be pounding on jeep trails.  The Dark Horse had power windows and door locks, both of which weren’t working very well by the end of its tenure.  The new Bronco appears to have all kinds of electronic gewgaws that, I am afraid, won’t last well under the kind of hard use that a hunting/fishing/outdoor rig frequently sees on the trail.

When the new Broncos arrive at the dealership we use, I’ll go look at them.  But I’m prepared to be disappointed.  We’ll see.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

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

I’ve been thinking more lately about the great old Winchester 100.  For some time now I’ve been toying with the idea of finding a decent pre-64 Model 100, just because I think it’s a great platform:  Short, relatively light, easy to handle and powerful in the .308 chambering.  But of late I’ve given some thought to making a Model 100 a little more useful at the upper end of the North American game size spectrum.

See, the semi-auto Model 100 had a counterpart, that being the lever-action Model 88.  The two guns were very similar, sharing most of their design; both had full-length stocks, both took the same kind of four-shot detachable box magazine, and both were chambered in .243 Winchester, .284 Winchester and .308 Winchester.

The Model 100 (top) and the Model 88 (bottom) both in carbine form.

But the Model 88 was also chambered in the .358 Winchester.

The .358 is probably one of the best woods rounds ever designed.  It’s pretty much just the .308 case necked up to take a heavier .358 bullet, making it a hard-hitting round inside of 200 yards or so – perfect for big, tough, toothy critters in the woods.  (Refer to my recent Glibertarians article on the thirty-fives for more on this round.)

And the Model 88 came in that round, while the Model 100 (save for one prototype) did not.  That set me to wondering how hard it would be to re-bore and re-chamber a Model 100 for the .358.  I’ve done a little elementary digging and found evidence of one gun that appears to be an undocumented Winchester prototype and at least one custom gun in that caliber.

So, it would appear to be possible.  Now, I just have to find the right (pre-64) rifle and someone who will do the work.  And, since it’s going to be a custom job, maybe a matte blue finish (or maybe Cerakote) and a nice oil finish on the stock is in order.  Top it with a peep sight and you’ve got one hell of a fine piece for tracking moose or bear through an Alaskan alder or willow thicket.

Rule Five 2019 Reflections Friday

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is only a few days from being over.  It seems like we just got here.

The year began on a sad note with the loss of my Mom, only a few months after Dad left us the previous spring.  But my siblings and I chose, instead of mourning, to reflect on and feel good about the long, long, happy lives our parents had together in their seventy-one years of marriage.

And as if to show that the wheel always keeps turning, in October we welcomed a new grandson to the family.  This makes five grandchildren Mrs. Animal and I have to spoil, with the oldest graduating high school in a year and a half.  Grandparenting is, as they say, the revenge we get for having been parents; but I think it’s a lot more than that.  Being Grandpa is one of the more satisfying things I’ve ever done, along with being a Dad; fortunately I learned about both things from the very best.

A few things about 2019 were frustrating.  We spent too much of the year in the leftist’s paradise of New Jersey, although I have to admit I’m kind of fond of Raritan, where are temporary lodgings are located; if only it wasn’t in New Jersey it would be a nice little town.  As a result of this, I wasn’t able to spend as much time at the gun club as I would have liked, and the trips I did get to make out there to the trap stands tell me that my shooting has slipped a little.  I should have more time in 2020 to get back in that groove.

Because of that, there are probably a few high-country trout that lived to swim another day rather than ending up in my stream-side frying pan.  Let’s hope that changes in 2020 as well.

Mrs. Animal have started taking advantage of our empty-nester status to check some boxes off on our travel bucket list.  March saw us in Tokyo for a week; it’s odd that while I’m an unrepentant country boy with very little love for cities, there are a few big cities I have always enjoyed.  Boston is one.  Tokyo is another.  Fortunately Mrs. Animal is competent in conversational Japanese, which makes things a great deal easier.

In July we took advantage of the east coast location and drove up north of Montreal to the little town of Ste. Agnes du Mont in Quebec, up in the Laurentides.  While the fishing was disappointing, the folks were very friendly, the food and beer was great, and the country was beautiful.  Mrs. Animal got to practice her high-school French.  It was fun.  We’d like to go back.

So, looking ahead to this year:  2020 promises to be interesting.

We have some more travel plans laid on; details will follow, so look forward to some insights and stories from some interesting places.  Hint:  Our travelogues will probably include discussions of food and beer.

Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder elk/deer hunt down in southern Colorado this year, somewhere down along the New Mexico border; after last year we decided that a change of scenery was in order, and the September black-powder season comes along with some pretty nice shirt-sleeve weather.

The current project I’m on is going to last a while.  I’m expecting it to last at least through December of 2021, but our current lease on the temporary New Jersey digs ends in May.  We’re hoping that at this time we’ll be able to pull out of there and return home more or less full-time, with me spending maybe a week a month on site.  But I’m a long-time consultant, and one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I will always do what’s best for the project, rather than what suits my own druthers; so, we’ll see.

In summary:  2019 was pretty good.  2020 promises to be better still.  Mrs. Animal and I both sure hope that every one of you True Believers will have a great 2020; and I do appreciate, very much, all of you.  Thanks for reading (even if you just came for the pretty girls and stuck around to read my ramblings) and thanks for sticking around.  We’ll try to keep up to snuff in 2020 and points beyond.

Happy New Year!