Lordy, Lordy….

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

— Jaques (Act II, Scene VII, lines 139-166)

Two “Moderate” Rifles

This post is partially a continuation off the “Two Revolvers” post— which brought the kind of response I hope this will– and partly in response to this wonderful post by Joshua Stark on the .30-30. (Josh actually has THREE blogs you should read– the others are here and here).

I’ll let Josh speak for the .30- 30. He begins: “…if you want a good, solid deer gun that will regularly hit what you aim at without inflicting about the same amount of damage in both directions, and if you want a gun that is fun to carry in the field and not fussy, then just reach under your bed or into your closet and grab your 30-30, and hunt…” and goes on to make his case.

He is right– moderation wins out in the end. I am now down to two “sporters” (and some militaria, a future subject perhaps) which will do anything I’d ever need to do. One is a classic Winchester in .30- 30 from just after WWII, not my first but the best “shooter” Ron Peterson could find me when I was selling and consolidating. The other, also from Ron, seems very different at first: an aristocratic bolt- action made-as sporting Mauser (click on photo to enlarge) from between the wars, in 7 X 57 mm caliber, the same action used by Rigby since the turn of the last century to make its legendary “.275 Rigby” (same caliber!) It is a “little gun”, but in the bad old days Walter Dalrymple Maitland “Karamojo” Bell shot over a thousand elephants with one for the ivory trade, and his almost- opposite number, the nearly Tolstoyan conservationist and reluctant killer of man eating tigers, Jim Corbett, used it as his weapon of choice in India.

Mine will likely take nothing more than deer, or (it has a removable Leupold scope on claw mounts, which re- zeroes itself, set for light 149 grain loads) antelope. For mulies in the nearby brush– I drew!– the iron sights and the old 175 g load they are set for are just fine.

My handicaps make elk unlikely, but not for the gun. Here is Jonathan Hanson’s last year’s elk and his Rigby, a virtual clone save for my gun’s Germanic styling. And despite the scope he used the old slow load too!

Lauren: Further Adventures

Lauren is winding up her “Apprentice Berkutchi” Fulbright in Mongolia by studying Cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) in the Gobi (these huge birds, which we saw in the Altai, are rivaled in size only by Lammergeiers in Asia). Meanwhile her young eagle shocked everyone by building a nest and laying (infertile of course) eggs. She has also been riding camels, which she enjoys, and seeing nesting Sakers and breeding argali sheep. We hope to see her in August; meanwhile a short note from the field.

“Hah – love the workout plan. Excellent ideas. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t make it work. You come to Asia for dogs, hawks, eagles, or falcons, and I will see you on horseback there!
“I’ve not seen any real dark sakers yet. But lots of very light colored ones. We banded four fledglings at a nest last week, I’ll be sure to send pictures as soon as I can download them. I also climbed into my first-ever Golden Eagle nest. It was wonderful – two 3-4 week old eaglets, a clear male and female. You better believe I’ve got a picture of that! We also saw, in Dundgobi aimag, a clear-as-day Houbara bustard. I don’t think they’ve ever been noted this far east before – we were astonished. The purpose of my last stint in the Gobi was to help but satellite transmitters on five Cinereous Vulture adults, to mark exactly where they migrate to (they’ve been spotted in South Korea). I thought eagles were big – these are 22lb birds, though surprisingly laid-back once captured. Although they are prone to regurgitate – I now know what it is like to get a splat of fermented goat innards on me!

“I’m just back in Olgii now, ready to head to the countryside to visit Alema [Her eagle– SB] . I can’t recall if I told you, but she started nest building by the perch, and laid eggs! She has spent the last month on her “nest” instead of the perch. I could not believe it – for a two year old (I’m pretty sure) eagle trapped in October!

“Re: Canat’s offer for your pickup – that’s great! [He once told me he would trade a camel, a horse and saddle, an eagle, and a negotiable amount of sheep for my King-Cab 4 X4 F-150 pickup– catch being I would pay all costs shipping both ways across the Bering Straits!-SB] I can picture him saying that too. I had a herder offer to give me his horse for my binoculars (just run-off-the-mill Bushnells). He said, “I can always get another horse, but those are one-of-a-kind”.

“Thank you for the update and all the details. I really like hearing how you both are doing. When you wrote, “I am beginning to think that giving up on the life of adventure is premature” I smiled really big. Damn straight.”

All photos by Lauren but the last, by Andrey Kovalenko.

Modern Fears

From Schneier on Security: the winning entry in contest he suggested, a litany of modern fears, in the style of the late great Edward Gorey:

The Gashlycrumb Terrors, by Laura

A is for anthrax, so deadly and white.
B is for burglars who break in at night.
C is for cars that, with minds of their own,
accelerate suddenly in a school zone.
D is for dynamite lit with a fuse.
E is for everything we have to lose.
F is for foreigners, different and strange.
G is for gangs and the crimes they arrange.
H is for hand lotion, more than three ounces;
pray some brave agent sees it and pounces.
I is for ingenious criminal plans.
J is for jury-rigged pipe-bombs in vans.
K is for kids who would recklessly play
in playgrounds and parks with their friends every day.
L is for lead in our toys and our food.
M is for Mom’s cavalier attitude.
N is for neighbors — you never can tell:
is that a book club or terrorist cell?
O is for ostrich, with head in the sand.
P is for plots to blow up Disneyland.
Q is for those who would question authorities.
R is for radical sects and minorities.
S is for Satanists, who have been seen
giving kids razor blades on Halloween.
T is for terrorists, by definition.
U is for uncensored acts of sedition.
V is for vigilance, our leaders’ tool,
keeping us safe, both at home and at school.
W is for warnings with colors and levels.
X is for x-raying bags at all revels.
Y is for *you*, my dear daughter or son
Z is for Zero! No tolerance! None!

Don’t ignore the (prolific) original writer- artist either; here is a link to one appropriate work, The Gashlycrumb Tinies: “B is for Basil, eaten by bears”. Betsy, Libby, and I were all separately Gorey fans, and I still have some first editions from Betsy. Peculiar grew up on these as well as outdoor adventure, but I don’t think our odd ideas about children’s lit warped him too much…

Border Readings

Recently my friend and editor Tim Gallagher returned from a harrowing trip to the Sierra Madre in search of traces of the Imperial Woodpecker, Mexico’s Ivorybill, which is probably extinct. He was lucky to get out alive, and I hope he writes up his adventures soon.

I thought to give him a Borderland reading list, mostly by two writers I know. (People always think of Cormac McCarhy but except for No Country for Old Men he is historical, and the Border has changed in MY thirty years near it).

I used to see quite a bit of Chuck Bowden (the only first- rate nature AND crime writer I have ever known, or heard of) when I spent more time in Arizona, and have had a conversation or two with Joe Brown, who knew some of the same legendary old Magdalena cowboys I did, all long gone. I thought at first just to give their names, but Bowden in particular is prolific, both his “nature” and “crime” (?) books. After I wrote it I realized that given events on the Border it might interest blog readers too. Rather than exhaust myself editing I will just add this intro and copy it over, and hope it is comprehensible.

There are a lot more things you might read on the area– try Jonathan and Roseann Hanson on natural history for instance– but here is a beginning, books showing the beauty of the place, but also all the contemporary dangers and fears:

Charles Bowden (Chuck):


Old but one of Chuck’s best “nature” essay collections. The prose on mountain lions alone is indispensable and only he could have written it.

Murder City:

Juarez . Newest book; depressing, terrifying, and just a bit more than two hours away from me. Juarez now has the world’s highest murder rate of any city, and it will not stay “over there.”

Blues for Cannibals:

Perhaps my favorite of his “literary” books. Sometimes harsh.

The Secret Forest:

Something different: a book about a unique dry forest ecosystem in Mexico, with photos. Not like most of the others!

Down by the River:

His best drug book? Dark and murky but fascinating.

Blues for Cannibals contains all the themes so may be the one to start with– but INTENSE. He has a “reader” of some sort coming out in the fall– intro (?) by Jim Harrison.

JPS (Joseph Paul Summers, “Joe”) Brown, still in the saddle at 87:

Forests of the Night:

Classic, OP I think but easy to find– an old peasant hunts a cattle country jaguar. This is the one he once inscribed to me: “I love your taste in books”.

Wolves at our Door:

New, from of all places the (rather PC) UNM Press– same characters from the one above about 30 years later, including Jim Kane, the cowboy who made him his evanescent movie $$. Terror on the border– Brown believes the unique hybrid border culture he belongs to and loves is under siege from everything from modern commercial culture and Middle eastern terrorists to Minutemen, “coyotes”, and above all narcotrafficantes, all clueless and venal, often consciously or unconsciously linked. I believe him. Scary book.

The World in Pancho’s Eye:

Childhood memoir.

And for “fun”-??– God’s Middle Finger by Richard Grant:

A book by a terminally innocent Brit journalist who, if I remember right, both writers above warned not to go to the Sierra Madre (I know Joe did) but who did anyway, and met and partied with people I would shoot on sight. He almost didn’t make it out. It is also an unfortunate but typical lesson in modern book making. Cover copy tells how he was terrified by narcos ”blasting parakeets”. Well, sort of. Someone was skimming: the phrase is colloquial for chasing cocaine with shots of beer.

Also, though it has more stars and reviews on Amazon than the ones above it is not better; it is EASIER.

Read, shiver, weep. Much as I can love El Cormac, he doesn’t own the Border.

New Kid

I’ve been doing fieldwork for a proposed wind farm in northeastern Colorado (Weld County) since mid-April and now that we are wrapping up, will get back into the swing of blogging.

Week before last, my crew and I were driving into the project area when I spotted this mother and child not 50 yards off of the state highway. Baby couldn’t have been an hour old and was still pretty wobbly. Of course my camera was in my pack in the back of the truck, but crewmember Sean got these shots. Mom really gave us the evil eye.

When we passed by later in the day they appeared to be doing fine.

Urban Cooper’s Hawks

Tucson has the greatest population of urban Accipiters known– at least one study has been done, and another is under way. Bruce Douglas shot these photos of three young and a parent out his wife Debra’s office window over a couple of days. I don’t think they provide anything but a bath.