Rio, or “Guero” (Whitey or Blondie as opposed to Tavo’s little black Gyr MERLIN Negrito) is making progress. Photos by Shiri Hoshen, training by Octavio Cruz…

UPDATE: The little guy has brains too! Tavo writes: “Last night Güero flew off after chasing two rabbits. I got him back right after dark.

“He flew back to my car in the dark. I saw him with my head lights.

“I was closing in w the telemetry and when he saw the car 1/4 mile away he flew to it.

“Good bird!!!”

Opening day, Dunhill Ranch, with New Mexico Miscellany…

 2012 and 2014 (what were we doing in 2013?), both with no game in the bag, though this year we saw plenty and expect to get some doves, and with luck GOOD quail. Best grass in years, food plants everywhere, cottontails same, and probably more jacks. Deer sign. If we have a snowy winter we will be back to as normal as erratic arid lands ever are. Too damn warm though.


2012, with a bit of the country. You are looking from Piet and Jessica’s to a neighbor’s place a few miles away, twelve miles or so south of town and further off the
pavement, on the west side of the range. The grasslands are at nearly 7000 feet, the main ridge at ten, the highest peak (off camera to the right) almost eleven. You can see if you look carefully that it was much drier. The first photo, above,  is looking north; this one due east.

Below, P & J’s terrace for post- hunt drinks, looking southeast; highest peak is South Baldy, at 11,720 I think; it  has the observatory and Lightning Lab. Me and Piet, having walked a lot further and seen nothing. For gun geeks, Piet has his old AyA sidelock 20 in all photos; above, my favorite English .410 by Turner; below, Model 12 20.

I wish I had taken a photo yesterday of this view below: it is now all filled in green, and lush. Piet has cut his stock to a minimum and is temporarily feeding them, but apparently the destructive kangaroo rats have taken a population dive, and their mounds, which provide much of the sandy brown in the middle ground, are all fallen in and grown over.

This is good, but don’t look too carefully at your blessings. A neighbor’s dog has just come up with one of the two most unnerving New Mexico diseases- Yersinia pestis; you know, Plague, the Black Death? “Home of the Flea, Land of the Plague”, as the T Shirt used to say. And its reservoir is wild burrowing rodents.

Opening day; Photos not ready, Light guns

Trying to get out of the house and return to serenity or at least not black depression. Had goofy and unsuccessful day opening dove on Piet’s Dunhill Ranch but saw all kinds of game– rain makes a difference. We’ve got yr address, birds…

Pics tomorrow, the usual 1st day of Pieter and I with nice shotguns and the obvious shirtsleeves of too- warm weather, trying to look as if  we had scouted properly, industriously shifting our doubles as though we had really shot things…

And to those who doubt the .410: ballistics are better than you think, But walking over hill and arroyo and waist- deep- brush at 7000 feet, where you might fall down if you DIDN’T have Parkinson’s, a 4 pound gun that comes up to your eye instantly is like a living tool, a steel companion. I know I could not take long passers or incoming geese with it but, you know… for my hunting, it works.

I got it back once because the kind friend who had bought it from me in a tight bind years ago thought it better in my hands, and returned it for less; thanks to him, and Libby of course.

I think I will keep it. 8 years in exile haven’t made it any less desirable.


Not so random doggage

Daniela’s Shunkar, who had already survived a bad bite (you can see the damage from the old one) got bitten by a rattlesnake as he was coming in from a walk with Daniela. He is expected to recover, but it is no fun.

Warren’s Lola, granddaughter to both Ataika and Lashyn, is one of those dogs who was bitten once and now looks for revenge. She killed her eighth rattler last week, getting bitten in the fight of course. Warren, who is taking care of a sick parent, trying to train two hawks, and raising quail, ducks, and pigeons, understandably doesn’t want to have to deal with snakebite, and wonders if there is any tazi fan who would like to own a still- youngish, hunting, intact female with the sweetest of natures,  good in the house; her only vice is rattlers. If so, contact me through the blog comments and leave a number.  Below, Warren, Lily and Lola.

A little more info?

For those who do not follow regularly– a couple of e- mailers wondered about the post below.

The shotgun below is a Best quality London- style Birmingham sidelock 12 bore, with a three figure serial number, built by Frederick “Frank” Scott between the end of the Great War and the end of his firm in 1918. He probably made less than a thousand guns, unlike his famous uncle William.

Many guns of this style have been made in England and Spain. Today the Spanish are expensive and the Brits cost more than my house. I got this one last year mostly by trading, turning over a boxlock nearly as fine, with the same dimensions, that I had owned for a long time. But its cost even without trade was about that of a good American semi- custom rifle, ie affordable by anyone who saves a bit. Let us say, low 4 figures as opposed to the latest Holland and Holland Royal on similar patents I saw for sale last week, at eighty seven thousand pounds. (This one cost 50 when it was made!) And still today, less than any contemporary Spanish sidelock.

Check the Internet ads of people like Kirby at Vintage, Diggory Haddoke,  Champlin, and Woodcock Hill, where they give plenty of detail. If you are in New Mexico, go to Ron Peterson’s, where I got this gun and have bought and sold a scary amount more.  Read Steve Hughes and Haddoke and Terry Weiland and Vic Venters.  Look at lots of guns; then, trust your instincts. Don’t be put off by things like sleeving that is well done; even less by good Damascus. You will pay much less if you avoid “names”– this was the first FRED Scott I ever saw.

Below, the Scott, with my English .410 to contrast, and his 1910 catalog, from Abby Cornell’s fabulous reprint series..