Beebe, our new 3 year old Harris, at brunch, by Rolf Magener.
I just heard that my old (3rd oldest I think) friend Rick Rozen had died, of cancer and bouts of flesh-eating bacteria. Best I can tell he was 70 or 71.
I first met Rick when I was 13 and he was 15, freshmen at a Catholic prep school. He had already attained his full growth at 15 and he was large enough to be eccentric. He smoked Lark cigarettes, wore a sport jacket with large green elephants on it, and spoke an unlikely patois of surfer and hipster. He was cool, but formidable; even the jocks were afraid of him, and somehow he took a liking to a little brainy kid and protected him.
We both had relatives with houses on the “Irish Riviera” south of Boston. Rick had picked up a taste for sport, especially fly fishing, and an old L. C. Smith he had traded for a roll of carpet, whenr he had spent a hippie stint in Vermont after he had dropped out of college. He, Mike Conca, and I and a few others all moved to Marshfield, MA, where we spent the early 70’s as an unlikely band of hunter-gatherers. I will never eat so well again .
Rick took it most seriously. He eventually earned enough to buy a Novi tuna boat named the Half Fast. There were still bluefin tuna around in excess 1000 pounds. He eventually learned how to catch them. I remember one that brought in a six figure price at the dock — in 70’s dollars that was a lot of money..
With the proceeds from the tuna, he eventually bought a camp in Golfito, Costa Rica, though he maintained his fishing business in Massachusetts. His last years were good; pictures of him show him surrounded by beer and beautiful Costa Rican girls. My photos have all been eaten by the computer, but I’ll try to get more.
He is survived by his wife, Rita, and a couple of brothers. His most interesting brother, Bill, preceded him in death, and is worthy of a column of his own.
Rest in Peace, Captain Rick. You earned your title.
God, I am sick of writing obituaries
I got a 7/8 Gyrfalcon, 1/8 Saker male falcon from a commercial breeder in Wyoming. He became He became, as most birds raised this way do, a quiet social imprint who loved dogs, and flying on the Henderson ranch.
He was doing fine when a rich young ornithologist of my acquaintance insisted on “starting” him for me. He didn’t need starting– he was already chasing things. I suspect that the kid just wanted to chase things with a Gyrfalcon; the bird was in a self indulgent slow development stage as most Gyrs are. He fed the bird a poxy bridge pigeon to save money. Any fool knows that poxy pigeons kill a bird as sure as cyanide. The kid who killed the bird never even told me because he was afraid I would be “sad”, especially when the breeder told me he would never give me another bird because I was “irresponsible”. There really is no excuse for not telling me this had happened. I’m of the “No excuse, sir” school, so I never told the breeder what actually happened.
This is Chicken. She was Barb – Taita. She was very fast but could not soar, which is why she got killed. She carried songbirds away. I had few ducks on the plateau. The same year I lost the Gyr, my friend Bodie lost his Peregrine and asked if he could borrow Chicken. She killed nine ducks larger than herself on the golf course. One morning she missed her strike and rather than soar around the pond, she landed on a power pole and promptly fell to the ground, burnt to calcified ash. It happens. About four seconds later, Bodie, who is a military Scot and a Zen swordsman, called me on his cell phone and said “Stephen, I just killed your falcon.” I was sad, but guess which one of those people I’d give another bird to?
I had a couple of these.
One of them was afraid of hats. In New Mexico. I fed her off one all summer and she still leaped off the perch every time she saw it.
I’m getting one of these. He caught 70 small birds last month (legal, House sparrows).
…And one of these
I like these too — a lot — but they fly a bit big for me these days, especially on Lee’s ranch, with its 12 mile vistas and Golden eagles.
This tribute to my late brother Mark was written by my younger sister Anita, who runs an autoimmune disease clinic with a doctor partner (who is also a snake fanatic — but that’s a matter for another time.) While it is frankly sentimental, it is a worthy addition to my bitter portrait — I was furious at him for having thrown his life away, and that is not always fair. Here’s Anita:
Thank you to everyone gathering at Off the Wall today from Mark H Bodio‘s family stateside. We will all be there in spirit and can envision his freed spirit floating over the beautiful turquoise waters and trade winds of Cane Bay. We will miss his smile, quick wit and random facts he so freely shared. He was a kind and gentle soul with my father’s Italian temper. We are so sad but rejoice that he can now be reunited with his beloved DK who was torn from him at such a young age. I bet he thinks flying’s pretty cool (and knows the exact velocity and distance he can go at any given moment) When watching the sunset and moon rise, he always reminded us that the moon was 238,900 miles away. He must love being able to test that and travel at the speed of light. Love you so much, Mark. Miss being able to call and chat with you.
A HUGE shout out to Keith Nelson who has been my constant support and feet on the ground. He’s not on FB but can someone who is give him a huge hug from us!?! Also to Diana at Off the Wall who accepted my crazy call the day he died and got my number to all the right people. I owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
My husband, daughter and I will be on the island in June. We would love to meet his friends, hear your stories and thank you for being his family in our absence. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You were his lifeline.
If anyone could understand why I missed his memorial yesterday, it would be Dutch Salmon. He led me into many places, most of them good, but he also was a pioneer in dealing as gracefully as anyone can with Parkinson’s disease and its sometimes impossible symptoms and restrictions.
I first encountered Dutch Salmon in an unpublished manuscript called “Home With the Hounds” in Gray’s Sporting Journal. It opened up a whole new world for me, one of passionate hunters following ancient breeds over wild landscapes, chasing hares and other quarry. “Falconry on the ground!” We were never out of touch, even after that. I followed his trail from New York to New Mexico, where I too came to live. I eventually followed the hounds themselves all the way to Asia. Six of my eleven books would not exist without him, and the range of them would probably be very different. When I got the shocking news of his death last week, from complications of melanoma, I realized with a shock that this quiet man has possibly been the single biggest influence on my life: He brought me to my querencia and showed me how to live well in it. Dutch was always a writer, a varied and skillful one at that. He wrote books on hounds, and novels, and a book about the Gila and one on catfish that I included in my Sportsman’s Library, a slightly arbitrary collection of the best sporting books in the world. But I think his heart was always with the dogs. He was not just a houndsman but THE Houndsman, an almost archtypical character who knew and defended this most ancient way of hunting, one that had existed since we became human, and is now endangered by our modern way of life. I don’t know how many hounds owe their very existence to Dutch , but I’ll bet their number is in the hundreds.
Good-bye, Dutch. Here’s a strong drink to you, a shot of tequila “hot” , “down ‘ze rathole” as in the Mexican dog stories you used to tell so well. I know you are grieved for by your lovely wife Cherie and your fine son Bud, and the houndsmen of New Mexico and the West; all the others that love you will miss you more than you’ll ever know.
Stephen Collector, the Boulder photographer, visited this week to hunt quail and take pictures. The quail hunt, in East Red Canyon, was unsuccessful. I was glad to go out even with the .410. The photographs were more successful.
Best of me in a long time
Tiger Country – Polvadera Mountain
A lot of people seem to forget that, though Deinonychus and even New Zealand’s Moa and Maori- eating Haast’s eagle are gone, we still have some dangerous modern dinosaurs. This thought was prompted by an e-mail discussion among well- informed friends last week.
My money for real danger is on Stephanoaetus coronatus, which always seems to be sizing you up for a meal– they SCARE me. Craig Golden, who photographed one that was used for monkey control in Zimbabwe, told me that until she had killed, she just kept watching him, in a way he didn’t like at all. The artist D. M. Reid- Henry had one kill a German shepherd in a London park (he then emigrated, also to to Zimbabwe). They are also as agile as big Goshawks– just below is pic of scientist, falconer, and saluki man Alberto Palleroni with a “little” male. They have been credited with the death of the “Taung baby” australopithecine in SouthAfrica, and implicated in the death of children in Zambia.
But any of the big jungle eagles, or the Golden, will do. Anyone who thinks birds are less scary than “lizards” has no experience with big predators.
The discussion began with this photo of a baby coronatus and her FEET, on Matt’s Facebook.
Matt said: “Hard to imagine there have been bigger eagles but then, there were bigger dinosaurs too!”
To which Arthur replied: “Have been? Are! I think the Harpy and Philippine and Steller’s sea eagle at least are bigger.”
And everybody jumped in. Annyushka, on vacation in Europe: “Female Harpies and Crowned eagles basically tie for weight, up to 22-23lbs. Steller’s are the largest for pure wingspan; a big female will get just over 8ft. Phillipines have extraordinarily-long tails, but are still smaller than the other 2 forest eagles.”
A big Harpy.
Matt again: ” When I was 15 I walked up to the Harpy cage at Summit Gardens in Panama, which was your basic chain link fence box and contained two adult birds on perches that ran lengthwise across the inclosure. One of the perches came about to my chest height, and as I walked up to the perch, the larger of the two birds walked with purpose toward me down the plank, her talons wrapping around the 2X4 like a twig.
“We each stopped a few inches apart, separated mostly by air and the fact that her feet were too big to fit through the aperture of wire between us. She bent down to look me in the eye and flipped her head sideways in the gesture I know now to be a raptor’s playful engagement. But there was no question which of us was the greater creature, or all else equal and minus a thin metal screen, which of us would be at the others’ mercy.
“A few minutes later, the zoo keeper arrived with a live chicken under one arm and clucked to his charges to get their attention. The female’s gaze never left me. But the male flapped down with a palpable whoosh and waited on the ground by the gate for his dinner. The man tossed the chicken in, which took about a step before the Harpy’s foot took it wholly by the chest and gave it a squeeze, killing it all but for a few brief spasms.
“My feeling since then about the relative sizes of eagles is that once they reach the minimum size required to crush a 15 yer old’s head, a few extra pounds or inches are immaterial. :)”
Me: “And the Lammergeier, though not an eagle, is impressive too, as are the Lappet-faced and Eurasian black vultures, all of which I have been privileged to see in the wild, the last two in the Tian Shan.The Lappet-faced vulture was dominating a wary crowd of Griffon vultures which stood in a circle around it as it fed on the waste of a crocodile, as intimidated as though it were a lion. Jonathan Kingdon has a skull of one I’ve always coveted. He says they kill antelope!”
Torgos by Reid; Lammergeier by Dr Rock
Matt: “The local zoo here has a lappet faced vulture that, when we first moved here to La., they were interested in having me train for flight display. I had never even seen one, but I thought, how big could the thing possibly be? When they showed me the bird, the notion of training it (at least my training of it) went out the window. Somehow even a large eagle seems comprehensible and manageable as a scaled-up hawk. And plenty of people train them, obviously.
“But a vulture at that size–and these old world jobs are basically long necked eagles; and the LFV in particular clearly has working feet—are able to get you from more angles with more weapons.
“My friend Eric Edwards, who has trained white backed vultures for shows, respects them appropriately. They had a bit in one show I recall where the audience was asked to count down from 10: the time it took the WBV on Eric’s fist to turn a large turkey drum stick to bare bone.”
Arthur on the Haast’s:”Where the authors estimate that it was about 30% heavier than a harpy. I would love to see this re-done with more data points and with the knowledge that the bird was in fact a hieraaetuus. Still, as the authors point out, even if they are 10% off, the eagle was still gigantic and still bigger than a harpy.
“The picture they paint is of a goshawk-ish creature. Relatively short wings, long tail, and muscles optimized for bursts of speed.
“Strange to think that there was, within recent human history, an ecosystem on a biggish chunk of land where the apex predator was flying.
“I wonder what that would have meant for the temperament of the birds. Most eagles are kings of the air, but they can still get eaten on the land by all sorts of mammalian predators. Prior to humans the only threat to an adult Haast’s eagle would have been another Haast’s eagle.
“I would also love to see a re-appraisal of the possible prey selection of the Haast’s eagle based on the knowledge that their was only one giant moa species; the multiplicity of sizes of remains being the result of sexual dimorphism!”
Two more thoughts, and images.The late Col;onel Jeff Cooper, justly famed for pistolcraft, once wrote me the following. note when I told him that the Kazakhs hunt wolves with eagles: “PUPPIES, perhaps; hundred pounders, unlikely!” Trouble is, he wrote that after seeing THIS:
(To which Jonathan Hanson responded “He was a great man, but he should have perished in the Cretaceous Extinction Event.”)
And here are Darren Naish’s Killer Eagles:
My difficult brother, Mark, died in the St. Croix, in the islands that he loved last week. He died alone of lung cancer, emphysema, and general organ failure, and I expect in excruciating pain after refusing any palliative treatment or a move off the island which would have given him more time. He systematically cut himself from all family and refused all calls from family at the end. Though he would occasionally accept gifts, he would not return the favor. He never met any of his many nephews and neices.
I have been brooding on Mark for the past week. There are two easy ways to misread him. One is to see him as a romantic Jimmy Buffett character as some of the younger nephews and nieces are inclined to do.Jimmy Buffett knows that his characters are not romantic — they are sad failures justifying their failures with sad excuses.
The other way to see him is bad which is even dumber in the long run. For Mark, things started hard and they just got harder. When he was born he couldn’t drink milk, either mother’s or cow’s. He had to drink a soy preparation known as Mulsoy which he loathed for four or five years. He used to compensate by eating spoonfuls of dirt in the back yard. The doctors said he was compensating for missing vitamins. He was also unable to eat eggs. I don’t think in all of his sixty-some years he ever swallowed one.
In grammar school, although he was bright, what was mostly noteworthy was his criminality. At Jean D’Arc Academy which he attended after me, he was caught after enabling two high school girls to steal their tuition and run away to Florida and was expelled. At Bishop Sheehan he blew the doors off the men’s room walls and was expelled again. After that his brief academic career was spent at Oliver Ames in Easton. He left school permanently at sixteen. He had discovered the joys of the pot smuggler’s life, which he was to identify with ever after. My first wife, Bronwen, said the first time she met him was when he was having a fistfight with me on the steps of the Barnstable County courthouse. As he was underage and I was not, I had agreed to stand up for him. But I was furious because he had called the judge “Asshole” because of his refusal to listen to Mark’s speech on the injustice of pot laws.
The rest was doubtless mostly inevitable and a cliche — expansion, a big federal bust, acquittal by an attorney named Albert (“Bert — don’t call me Al!”) Capone, decline, exile to the Islands, and a sort of long goodbye. All this is true bu doesn’t take into account one thing: in his twenties, Mark fell in love with a girl named D. K. She wasn’t bright but she loved Mark with all her heart. More incredibly, Mark loved her back just as fervently — I’m not sure she wasn’t the only person Mark loved that much, or loved at all.
And then she got cancer. And died for two horrible years. In the end she could hardly eat or be touched without breaking a bone. I think she screamed for most of her last month. And it broke Mark, helpless to do anything about it.
He was not all bitterness and anger, of course. He was a talented if unfocused musician and even attended art school for a while. He kept ,e in touch with the music of Tom Rush, which I still enjoy. Ironically, Rush almost bought Libby’s house in Jackson Hole many years later. He enjoyed science fiction and watching birds.
So when you see pictures of “Marccus”, smiling like a shady character out of a bad movie, and are berating him for never giving a damn about anything, remember a scared little kid who couldn’t make anything come out right, and hope that both of them are at peace.
1926 – 2019
We buried Tom Kelly today, 100 yards from the house he was born in and lived jn for 93 years, It is a good spot overlooking the well-watered canyon bottom, with a view of the peregrine nest which has been there since time before mind (Vadim Gorbatov painted it once.)
Frank Hibben, the famous anthropologist and hunter, wrote his about him in 1948: “Young Tom Kelly, the son, had just returned from the wars. He still looked a little military even in his battered sombrero hat and his cowboy boots. Tom had spent many months in the Philippines and there was a big set of caribao horns mounted on the wall to prove it.
We all sat around that evening with our feet on a bearskin rug to talk over the situation. It had been Rancher Kelly that had sent word to Cass that there were lions in these lava cliffs. Rancher Kell’s black hair was plastered to both sides of his head by the sweat of his sombrero. He reached up occasionally to smooth it back and always spoke in that same quiet manner, whether the subject was exciting or matter of fact.
“Sure been seeing lots of lion kills,” he would say. “Right up there on the mesa came across one this afternoon.” He pointed vaguely with his gnarled thumb in the dark where the edges of the overhanging cliffs only dimly showed their outlines in the night. “Been fellows here to catch them too, in years past but they never seemed to be smart enough to do it.”
The talk droned on, far into the night. The conversation turned from lions to the bear whose skin lay at our feet, He had been a stock killer and a hard beast to catch. There were stories too, of the mining camps in these same mountains and of gun fights in the streets of Magdalena in the early days. An evening with some of these old timers at a western ranch is as exciting as a hunt itself, but then there was the morning and we would be up before the stars were dimmed.
We were out of bed and had saddled our horses before there was a suggestion of light. Mrs. Kelly had prepared for us one of those memorable ranch breakfasts that belies he old adage that man eats to live. Those eggs and bacon and that aromatic coffee made from te pure spring water from the cliff were experiences in themselves.
The saddles were cold to the touch as we swung up in the stirrups. Even on a May morning it was still chilly in the Magdalenas. Rancher Kelly and his son Tom rode with us. Indeed I had never seen a rancher yet who couldn’t leave his cattle and his chores for a day or two to join in on a lion chase. “
From Hunting American Lions by Frank C. Hibben 1948