European Indian Clubs

In a sort of random walk through the internets this morning I bumped into this photo essay on the popularity of Indian clubs in European countries. The origin of these is usually ascribed to the enduring popularity of a series of fifteen western novels written in German by Karl May in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

This reminded me of an excellent essay in the New Yorker from 2012 by Rivka Galchen on the Karl May phenomenon, I had always meant to blog about. It discusses the cultural position of the novels as well as the annual Karl May Festival, attended by hundreds of thousands, where May’s stories are presented as a series of plays in a vast outdoor amphitheater.

This continued interest by Europeans in stories of Indians and the American West has helped our friends Mike and Kathy Gear whose prehistoric Indian-themed novels sell well there. Mike recounted to me that they had had dinner once with a person who had translated several of their books into a European language (I won’t say which one). He asked the translator, “Our books refer to lots of North American trees and other plants that don’t occur in your country and don’t have names in your language. How do you handle naming those plants in the translation?”

The translator replied, “Well, if I don’t have a name for a plant, I just pick a random European plant name and go with that.”  

End of the Beginning

With thanks to Steve for posting some pictures of our season opener on rails, here are a few more shots from today’s closing day of the early season in Louisiana.

To celebrate the “end of a great beginning” to the 2015-2016 hawking season, I Googled a recipe and found our friends Hank Shaw and Holly Heyser’s roast snipe, which worked wonderfully on these two soras.
The kids, always skeptical at first, deemed it “just like steak” and asked how many we had left in the freezer.
Here’s the recipe to try:

Mystery Mammal

If this were anywhere near April 1, I would assume it was a hoax. As it is, this report from Sporting Classics Daily borders Cryptozoology. It purports to be a note on a scientific report, on a new species of “ground” squirrel, from Borneo, the “ground” in quotes, because though to all appearances it appears to be a rather typical, tassel- eared, old world tree squirrel. It also looks like our own local Abert and Kaibab populations, but for the bushiest tail I have ever seen on any squirrel, tree or ground… (here is a similar one):

The sources, at Smithsonian and Science, seem legitimate. But it gets truly weird: according to local legend, it kills (small) DEER. And eats their internal organs. It is being studied with camera traps, which have given us a lot of intriguing and sometimes confusing data.

 Read it, and let me know if you find anything further?

Healthy Dogs

Both Reid and Matt reviewed Ted Kerasote’s first dog book, Merle’s Door, here. His newest book, Pukka’s Promise:the Quest for longer- Lived Dogs, nearly got by me as I worked on my own dog book, and that would be a shame. Less a narrative than his previous book, it uses his present dog Pukka to examine all the odd modern attitudes to dogs that hamper our efforts to breed and live with healthy animals. Without being an exact parallel to Hounds of Heaven, it nevertheless is concerned with many of its issues: how to breed healthy dogs, how to feed them, how to let them lead good lives. He deals with everything from genetic diversity to cancer.

I  was intensely interested in his chapter on, and against, spaying and neutering. Even for stopping population growth, he argues, vasectomies and tubal ligation, which can be cheaper, are superior methods– dogs with intact organs are less likely to stress their adrenal glands, have fewer cancers, and are generally healthier. He puts a little less emphasis on genetic diversity and its loss, my chief worry, but he catches the cultish spirit behind universal spay neuter. Many people are actively hostile to him when they realize his dog is “intact”; one asks him “Don’t all dogs have to be spayed and neutered?”

“Why?” I replied.

“For their health”.

“Where did you hear that?’

“From my vet.” !!!!

It seems even with the struggles and arguments I have had, I have been living in a bubble.Kerasote goes on to state:”Intact dogs have almost vanished from ordinary family life during the last four decades and can now only be seen on a regular basis at dog shows and field trials, in some inner-city neighborhoods, and on Indian reservations. [emphasis mine SB] This is not a representative sample of dogdom, either behaviorally or genetically. But when I’ve remarked to people in the animal welfare movement that we need to be concerned about the narrowing of the canid gene pool, and its consequences for the health of dogs as well as our understanding of them, I’ve been called an egghead. As one person told me, “I can’t get exercised over long-term genetics effects when millions of dogs are dying in shelters.'”

If you want to have dogs, never mind healthy dogs, you had better think about this! Here are a few amusing links. Which dog breeds are closely related to wolves?” will remind you that Asian sighthounds are not greyhounds. Pedigree Dogs Exposed is a continuing expose of what limited gene pools do to animals. And “33 Healthiest dog breeds” was getting me angrier and angrier as it counted down, until I got to the last– and laughed aloud.

Some healthy dogs we know:

A little on 4 Bores

We know little about the “ten- plus” bores in America, but in England they still build them. The always- innovative Michael Louca of Watson brothers builds them as Best- quality sidelock ejectors– not just for collectors either, though he admits his over twenty pound, 42 inch plus barrel model is mostly a collectors item. He prefers the eighteen pound “light” model for wildfowling. At 49,000 pounds, they are actually what passes as a modestly priced Best– Boss game guns go for twice that much.

Building the four…

And shooting it:

A bit more on Watson here and below.

Before the Fall; Legends of Winter

Rare archival footage from pre- revolutionary Russia of real psovaya borzois catching a wolf, with assist from scenthounds, while greyhounds (galgos? ) look on.

No fear if you are squeamish about blood– as often happens today,  at the end, the hunter is going in with a forked stick to pin the wolf and catch it alive…

New England Woodcock

I have been saving this for Fall. Nobody in the west knows, or at least believes, how thick the Woodcock (and Ruffed grouse) cover is in the east. This is EXACTLY right; it breeds snap shooters like me, who fire too soon out here, “throwing away” our first shots…

And they are often small, and close in. “Don’t shoot the house…” I was ultimately warned off with a threat of the police the last time I tried to shoot in my old coverts in Easton, MA.

 Far Away and Long Ago, in the coverts mentioned above; me with Parker 16 and woodcock, ca 1978.

Hunting for “Millenials”

This fine video of deer hunting in Paradise Valley is better than 90% of such stuff:
Wild Harvest from Native Boy on Vimeo.
But it is more remarkable then that, for it is linked to a Huffington Post article, titled “Millenials Must Hunt.

I rather like that imperative– not “can” or even “should”, but MUST. I had reason to cite the link between foodies and locavores to hunting in my recently completed text for the art show, “Wild Spaces, Open Seasons”, but I had no idea how far this way of thinking has penetrated…

Fridge Cartoons

Lucas Machias just sent me this very apropos Booth cartoon, asking me if I had it on my refrigerator. I answered “I do now!”

Here are some that were there already, including two more Booths… I think a double click will enlarge…