By Bill Heavey
I got a letter from a Mr. R. L. Fischer of Pittsburgh the other day, passing on the transcript of an interview in which the subject delivered “the best justification for hunting” that Fischer had ever heard. The person being interviewed was a non-hunter, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Food Column editor of the L.A. Weekly, Jonathan Gold. And it aired on every hunter’s favorite radio outlet, National Public Radio.
That’s right, a food writer from La-La Land on the liberal elite’s favorite radio. Gold, an adventuresome eater, described both his extreme discomfort and a kind of epiphany he had while eating a live prawn in a Korean restaurant in Los Angeles.
“...it was not dead, this prawn, it was extremely alive and it was wiggling its legs and it was wiggling is antennae. And its eyes were like swiveling madly in its eye sockets, and it was looking back at me, seeing me as actually the predator, the creature that was going to eat it.
“It was getting too close to the actual nature of consumption, which is killing a living creature with our teeth...(but) the taste of the prawn, the taste of the meat of it, was extraordinary. It was sweet, it was like there was life pushing through it.”
The interviewer then asks the million dollar question. Was Gold of the opinion that it mattered, that it was morally better to eat an animal if the eater was more awake to the fact of the animal’s life and that it had had to be killed to end up on his dinner plate?
He responded: “I think it matters a great deal. I mean, one of the greatest metaphors in western civilization was that of Christ who gave his life so that others might live. And I don’t want to be sacrilegious and I don’t want to belittle that myth in any way, but a pig is giving his life so that we might eat, a chicken is giving its life so that we might eat. And I think the least we can do is to think about that chicken, to think about that calf we are eating. Not necessarily to be sad for it, but to celebrate it, to be aware of it being that what it was, that it wasn’t just this bioengineered protein that somehow managed to find its way onto our plates.”
I was thinking about this all day yesterday while butchering my deer, which took me and a friend about five hours. It was something I hadn’t done in a long time. It brought home to me once again the strange miracle of our lives: of the fleeting now-ness of them, of the violence of existence, of the vividness of any given moment as it flies. And of how all living things are part of a mystery far beyond our ability to comprehend. [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
I suppose we should talk about Hillary Clinton at some point, and the occasion of her Nevada win seems as good a time as any.
First of all, I'm sure a number of us vote our sport -- When Field & Stream's 2007 Women Hunters Poll asked, Do hunting or gun issues affect the way you vote? 78% said yes. But in the throws of the current campaign season, it's hard to resist asking the question, do some women vote their gender?
If the news coverage following Mrs. Clinton's teary-eyed moment in New Hampshire can be taken as an indicator, the answer seems to be "Yes" for a number of voters. The New York Times, for example, quoted a local woman saying that the show of emotion in and of itself convinced her to cast a ballot for Clinton instead of Republican John McCain. "She is a woman," the voter reportedly said by way of explanation. "Give her a chance." The news story went on to point out that many women cited that display of humanity as a turning point that secured their support for Mrs. Clinton.
Of course, if you're a woman who hunts, personality points aren't enough. Mrs. Clinton's well-known track record on gun control alone deserves grave consideration to say the least (The NRA's Political Victory Fund gave her an "F" grade as a result of her position on firearms ownership).
Deciding your vote is a complicated task, and I for one am humbled by the responsibility. My interests as a sportsman weigh in, and I'm sure on some level my sensibilities as a woman weigh in as well. But my concerns as a human being on issues such as health care, education, and foreign policy are also key among the many considerations that determine my vote. - K.H. [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
Reader Lou Alexander just got back from a vacation in England (Lou, it sounds like you take some killer trips, by the way), and emailed me, commenting that, "Hunting is a rich man's sport there."
While it's true that in this country you don't have to be rich to be a hunter (yet!), sportsmen as a group spend some serious bucks. Around the time I got Lou's email, I was reading that Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation report on the money spent by hunters and fishermen a year. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's currently on the CSF homepage.
Just to post some fun facts for a Friday afternoon, I yanked a few of the most interesting annual numbers out of that report.
$76 billion - Amount sportsmen spend on hunting and fishing a year (that's more than the revenues of Google, Microsoft, eBay, and Yahoo combined)
12.5 million - Number of hunters in the U.S.
$23 billion - Total amount hunters spend on their sport a year
$1,992 - Individual amount the average hunter spends on his or her sport a year
And here's what the report says those bucks buy each year:
$493 million - Spent on hunting dogs
$2.4 billion - Spent on guns and rifles
$203 million - Spent on binoculars, telescopes, and field glasses
$459 million - Spent on apparel
$187 million - Spent on decoys and game calls
$696 million - Spent on ammunition
$3.50 - Spent at a yard sale by me on my newest pair of camo gloves (I talked the guy down from $7 - what a steal!)
[ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
Reader Wanda Hyleman had sent me a nice email that she hoped I could share with "the girls." If you remember, Wanda lost her 29-year-old son Jerami in November. She wanted to let everyone know that she'd taken two does at the end of December (a 140-pounder and a 120-pounder). And she had this to say about them:
I have been hunting as much as I can, it sure has brought me some peace. Ya know, before Jerami passed away, I never wanted to stay in the woods past dark, now I hate to leave. The afternoon I shot the first doe, I looked up to the sky and said wish me luck. I guess he did.
I was very glad to get such a nice field update - also glad to see Wanda's comments back on the blog lately. ALSO glad to hear she spotted 25 hens and jakes and 2 huge gobblers in the pasture where she turkey hunts - I know she's not the only one counting the days! -K.H. [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
Deaf Hunter Arrows Iowa Booner
It’s not unusual for big bucks to slip into bow range unheard. In fact, they don’t approach any other way for Daniel Myers of Sioux City, Iowa, who arrowed a 182 7/8-inch 14-pointer this fall. Myers, you see, is deaf.
From the Sioux City Journal:
In sign language, Myers uses his hands to show "horns" atop his head. He then wipes his chin and finishes the statement with a sign of thumb and pinkie outstretched.
"Buck. Best. Ever," his daughter Jenny Christophersen interprets. "He's hunted for 20 years and this is the best he's gotten. He couldn't wait to see how it scored. It's better than he thought."
More Whitetail News:
“Taxidermy Ring” Of Thieves Bag Trophy Racks
Wisconsin Hunters Donate Over 400,000 Pounds of Venison
Video: Deer Crash Pennsylvania Rental Store
Venison Sausage Subtleties, With Brett Favre [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
2007 has been a memorable season for many whitetail nuts, but for BuckTracker readers, it may well go down as the Year of the Lockup. Sure, we've shared great deer hunting stories, ogled giant bucks, oohed over albino whitetails, argued over garage-lot mulies, and even chuckled over grizzly bears on scout cams. But let's face it, for some reason we've been bombarded by images of whitetail bucks that tangled with each other...and couldn't get unlocked.
First we had the Boldings and their dramatic rescue of a South Dakota whitetail. Then we had the Tiger Ridge incident, where a WI hunter shot one of a pair of bucks tangled up with each other in a creek. And a North Dakota woman who saw a pair of bucks locked up in field, came back the next day, and shot one.
And now, my friends, this. Twice in the last three days the following image of not two, but THREE whitetail bucks with horns hopelessly meshed has found its way to my inbox. Is this image photo-shopped or posed? Possibly. Could such a thing actually happen? I have no doubt that it could. At this point I have no way of knowing if these pics are a hoax or simply record one of the goofiest freaks of nature I've seen in awhile.
Regardless, I thought Buck Tracker readers would appreciate the irony of yet another entry into the strange fall of 2007. Anyone know anything about the origin or validity of these photos? [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
First of all, "Taxidermy" is just a fun word to say.
Beyond that, the practice itself is fascinating -- and busy around this time of year. I wonder how many of us have hides and horns currently piled in the back room of some workshop somewhere.
When I was a kid, I used to think those heads on people's walls were simply lopped off a dead animal and nailed to a plaque. The idea of there being a "craft" involved never occurred to me.
Of course, as it turns out, the world of taxidermy is a wide, varied, sometimes disturbing place. There's competition taxidermy (the 2008 World Taxidermy Championships -- a National Taxidermy Association sanctioned event -- will be held this February in Salzburg, Austria), novelty taxidermy (the jackalope is a proud example), and just plain bizarre taxidermy (I keep running into "rogue" taxidermy associations that make mythological creatures out of game animal parts).
I've had pretty good experiences with taxidermists so far - my favorite piece is a European antelope mount in my living room. I've also met some pretty interesting taxidermists themselves - most notable is an old order Amish gentleman in Lancaster, Pa. His barn is half horse stables, half workshop, and his oldest son is busy learning the trade (that apprentice system still at work is really special to see).
My first experience with the excitement of finally getting a much-anticipated mount in the mail, was watching a co-worker on the day his delivery from an African safari arrived. This crate was easily the size of a small tool shed (how they got it up to the 10th floor of an office building is still beyond me). And the sight of all those heads packed so efficiently inside was impressive to say the least. I was excited, and it hadn't even been my hunt!
My own deliveries have been much humbler affairs. I recently got the hide from that same antelope mailed back to me (I was told that particular hide wasn't the best, but in the spirit of using the whole animal, I had it done anyway). I was thinking about taking part of it to make a guitar strap - the rest I'm looking forward to figuring out. - K.H. [ Read Full Post ]
By Bill Heavey
Hunting success and I meet up so seldom that I hardly know what to do when he stops to shake my hand.
The fact is, there was nothing particularly dramatic about the encounter in which I killed my buck. (Incidentally, I cannot abide the word “harvest.” A whitetail is not a tomato. Taking the life of a game animal is no small thing, and I fail to see the merit in glossing over that fact.)
I was 22 feet up in a tree and looking down a ridge at about 8 o’clock on a Saturday morning. It was mid-December, a notoriously difficult time to see bucks, and I had no higher hope than a shot at a doe. Then came the shuffling in the leaves behind me. I turned to see, 20 yards out and closing, a buck: big shoulders and curved tines.
There was no time for counting points or guessing his spread. The binary switch in my head just flipped to “shoot” and I clipped release to string. I’d never seen him before, but he was obviously familiar with the area and knew exactly where he wanted to go. And his path would take him right behind me. Five seconds later, he passed within 10 feet of my tree. Five seconds more and he was quartering away at 15 yards. I drew, let him make it to an opening in the brush, and gave him my best bleat.
You should understand that my best bleat sounds like a goat choking to death on a fan belt. But it did the trick. He stopped. I shot. The divot from his leap was a shovel’s worth of black dirt lying atop the wet leaves. The blood trail was continuous, six inches wide, and a full 120 yards long. I have no idea how he made it that far missing that much blood, but he did. I am incapable of aging deer once they appear to have reached the age of 3 1/2, but he looked every bit of that and maybe more. That’s a trophy in my book.
Now that I’ve tagged a good buck, I feel entitled to offer my expert advice on hunting wily old bucks:
1. Spend more hours on stand than you can possibly justify; and
2. Hope that he offers a clean shot before you have time to fully realize exactly what’s going on. [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
As many of you know, around this time every year, the National Shooting Sports Foundation holds a convention of outdoors exhibitors called the SHOT Show. I went for the first time in 2005, and came to appreciate how truly massive the exhibition is -- acres of booths displaying every gun, bow, backpack, boot, knife, and camo innovation imaginable (the 2007 show had 1,870 exhibitors and was attended by 42,000 people).
As the industry gears up for the '08 SHOT Show in Las Vegas at the beginning of February, I thought it was worth zeroing in on one particular element of the event -- the booth babes.
Of course, show attendance is dominated by men, and to get their attention, some exhibitors hire women to hang around their displays who seem to have forgotten their clothes that morning.
I remember walking around the exhibition floor at that 2005 show, doing my job as an outdoors journalist just like any number of men in attendance. But the second I spotted the first of those booth babes, I immediately felt like an outsider -- like the only way a woman could fit into that man's world was to have killer legs and a chest that could knock an eye out. In a strange way, it was kind of like the time I went to Disney World as a kid and caught a glimpse of Goofy with his head off and the guy inside smoking a cigarette - I was in this incredibly impressive place, but one little detail sucked the fun right out of it.
Maybe I could have been more of a sport about that whole thing. I mean, boys will be boys, and the booth babes are a kind of tradition at SHOT. And I'm sure the babes themselves are very nice. But -- not to be a downer or anything -- every time I spotted another one of them, I just ended up feeling, well, kinda depressed. -K.H. [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
Some deer hunters—including my friend and colleague Bill Heavey—do not appreciate scouting cameras. I happen to think they’re pretty cool, and I can trace this attitude to my childhood, when I was something of an espionage freak. All spies were cool, and those who hid little cameras in picture frames and pieces of fruit were using the ultimate surveillance tool.
Most folks who dislike scout-cams think they give hunters a technological edge, allowing the scouter a critical glimpse into a whitetail’s life that will aid in the harvest of the buck. In my experience, just the opposite is true. I rarely get pictures of the deer I know I’m hunting. Instead, I’ll snap a nighttime pic of some behemoth buck using my stand tree as a scratching post, and this blurry image will be the only glimpse I’ll ever get of the deer. Photos like these are humiliating, not enlightening.
Anyway, I love to look at trail cam pics, and I’d love for Buck Tracker readers to submit some of your favorites. They can be from this fall or season’s past, great big deer or interesting little ones. Heck, some of my favorites are those without a deer in them. Need proof? Check out the bears that showed up on this “carcass cam,” placed near the carcass of a muley buck (you can see them after the jump). Pretty cool stuff, for a little spy camera! [ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
Profile: Milo Hanson--Hunter, Celebrity
From Wisconsin’s Post Cressent:
Milo Hanson, a 62-year-old, non-assuming Canadian cattle farmer, is often treated like a superstar.
"People come up to me and they're just shaking," he said. "They can't believe it."
Hanson's celebrity stems from a hunt on his land in 1993 when — at age 48 — he shot the world-record typical whitetail deer — a magnificent, massive buck whose antlers were scored at 213 5/8 on the Boone and Crockett scale.
Pennsylvania Men Shoot 4 Cows on Deer Opener
Montana Deer Has A Taste For Coffee
Deer Come Knocking In Manitoba
http://winnipegsun.com/News/Manitoba/2008/01/09/4759824-sun.html [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
Check out this YouTube clip when you get a minute -- maybe you actually saw this particular episode? Video aside, the comments below it from various non-hunters are fairly interesting (er, frustrating). -K.H
[ Read Full Post ]
By Scott Bestul
I have deer hunted in Buffalo County, Wisconsin for over 20 years. Buffalo is a well-known destination for whitetail nuts, as it boasts more B&C and P&Y entries than any county in the nation. I’ve traveled enough to say that there are probably more mature whitetails per square mile living there than anywhere I’ve been. I have also traveled enough to say there are few tougher places to kill a mature whitetail buck than Buffalo County.
What is less widely known about Buffalo Co. is that albino deer are fairly common there. In fact it’s entirely possible—after talking to the right people—to drive around some summer evening and see a pretty good wad of white deer feeding in soybean and alfalfa fields. While there’s no such thing as an ugly deer, albinos are a pretty darn special sight. The people of Wisconsin think they’re so special that you can get into big trouble for shooting one.
Of course, right across the Mississippi River from there is my home state of Minnesota. Kill a white deer here and you’ll get your picture in the paper, and not in the “district court report” section. Protecting albinos is an interesting thing. Most of us know by now that these are genetically inferior deer that in most cases are poorly equipped to survive in the wild. Indeed, some of my Wisconsin friends have found albino bucks dying in the middle of summer from any of a host of diseases they’re susceptible to. Naturally, there are exceptions. About five years ago, I was hunting Buffalo and rattled in a 3-1/2 year old albino buck with an 8-point rack. That deer is still alive. He is now a monstrous 10-point with candelabra antlers that appear anything but genetically inferior. People drive for miles to check him out, lining up along his favorite fields with spotting scopes sprouting from their truck windows.
This background made me perk up when reader Maurice King, from Mansfield, Ohio, sent us the accompanying photo. Maurice shot an albino buck with his crossbow this October, in a state where it is legal to do so, and he's proud of his unique trophy. It's the way we should all feel about every whitetail we decide to harvest.
Naturally, this story got me to thinking about rattling in that beautiful white deer awhile back. Had that hunt occurred in Ohio (or indeed, my home state), where albinos are fair game, would I have shot the buck? I have zero problem with states that allow albino deer to be shot. I also completely understand that some people couldn’t drop the hammer on such a deer. That said, I can honestly say that I don’t know what I’d do. But I bet some of you guys have stronger convictions—one way or the other—than I. So let’s hear ‘em. [ Read Full Post ]
By Kim Hiss
Today, we break with tradition, and welcome a male voice to the women's blog. Deputy editor David E. Petzal is one of the pillars upon which Field & Stream rests. He's much loved/hated among readers for his years of regular writing in the magazine and his Gun Nut blog on the website. And as the resident rifles expert, he's the one who first handed me a gun and taught me how to shoot. Because of his vast experience, knowledge, and just because he has so many great stories, I asked him to do a guest post for the blog. Freakishly efficient and quick with a keyboard, within hours of my request, he happily sent the essay below. So, here's some outside perspective for you. -K.H.
Difference? What Difference?
Kim Hiss asked me to write about the difference between men hunters and women hunters, and I am happy to report that there is none that I can see, except that when women are in hunting camp, men have less of a tendency to act like rock apes.
The first time I hunted with a woman was in 1985, in New Brunswick, and it was for woodcock. I was hunting with the late Gene Hill, and it turned out our guide was a woman, a tall, rangy gal who did not say much. Gene and I, being arrested adolescents, thought the idea of a female guide was pretty funny -- until we broke for lunch.
There was a crabapple tree nearby, with small, rock-hard apples. Our guide picked one, tossed it up and down a few times, and pegged it at a telephone pole. The pole, I swear, shook from the impact, and Gene and I looked at each other with a mixture of awe and terror. From then on, there was nothing funny about women guides.
Since then, I've hunted with probably half a dozen women, and found that in the field they are exactly like men (except in elk camp, they don't smell nearly as bad). They carry their weight, ask for no concessions, and will not make any. They are quite similar to women who are in the service; once that uniform goes on, they are soldiers or marines or airmen first, and women second.
I am all for them. They may just save our sport. [ Read Full Post ]