Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ice Markers from flood

I took these photos in Mayville, North Dakota and they are interesting because they show the levels the water reached, then frozen before retreating and leaving the ice markers behind. In some of the photos the ice markers look more like fungi growing on the trees and the playhouse than ice.

The ice table that was left behind really impressed me. Across the river you can see the huge slabs of ice on the banks.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Red River Flood

The Army Corps of Engineers is warning the people of Fargo and others along the Red River that it will crest over 41 feet and could reach 43 feet. I don’t care what your belief is but either send a prayer or a positive thought to the people of Fargo. They are fighting for their homes and their city. They are doing it the way Americans have always done it—by standing shoulder to shoulder with people they may never see again. It does not matter whether they are Democrats or Republicans, gay or straight, hunter or anti-hunter, they are all Americans and they are in a fight for an American city that is in peril. I’ve been all over the world and I’ve always been amazed by our willingness to set aside all differences and stand together, even when it is against the odds.

If they get the dikes high enough and if the dikes hold back the ice cold waters of the Red for the duration of its long crest then Americans will have witnessed a triumph of spirit over adversity that this nation has not seen in quite some time. The experts who know dikes and floods are quietly admitting the people are fighting against all the odds.

The next time the nightly news shows video of Fargo think about what you are watching. A nine-year old filling a sandbag, his grandfather tying it and handing it to high school student with a pierced nose who hands it to a college student who passes it to a homeowner, to someone who lives in a bare-bulb apartment and it goes down the line. Every person in that line, from the truck to the dike, has a different story, a different life and politics, but when nature turns on their town these people join together to save homes they will never step inside, business where they cannot afford to shop and apartments they wish were in another block. But for the present there is nothing more important than saving their town—their homes and the homes of others and God willing they will do it.

I think that is what makes us special as Americans.

ND Floods, Environmental groups and hunters

Geese! Actually I could hear the birds two days ago but the fog had wrapped them in its impenetrable shroud and I wasn’t sure where they were. Ever since I first heard them I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to go scouting and try to figure out where I can set up for some pass shooting—after the present flood crisis is over. Would you believe that in the last 48 hours we have had rain, ice storm, fog, snow, melting snow, more rain, more snow and now floods! At least our small town (Village? Hamlet? What should I call it?), is on a high spot and it would take a whole lot of rain and flood before we would be threatened. At least it shouldn’t be but we have another problem. ALL of the surrounding countryside was quick frozen last fall after late autumn rains saturated the fields. In other words, as the snow melts and the spring rains fall they don’t soak into the soil but run off, or as the soil thaws the mud is incredibly deep, trapping any implements and as the frozen soil thaws it causes the freeze-thaw movement of the soil to crack and even cave in some basements. I’m having a small problem in my basement that makes me think I’m making a war movie and I’m in a submarine, but it is nothing compared to some others. Two homes in the area have fallen into their basements because the running water and thawing soil weakened the basement or foundation, or washed out the backfill.

All of this should serve as a reminder to us that we really are not in charge here. You can believe it is God who is in control and is sending the weather to remind us that we don’t control our environment—regardless of what we do. Or, perhaps the weather patterns sweeping over our nation is “us” which is just what Pogo said. Are we slowly and irreversibly creating our own doomsday?

I don’t buy all of the Global Warming theory; although I find more truth than daydreaming in it. I’m not willing to embrace the tree theory of the eminent physicist Freeman Dyson, either. On the other hand I am 100% convinced that the world’s weather patterns are going through drastic changes but I don’t believe we can see far enough into the future to be able to offer realistic solutions.

While watching the weather change drastically several times in the course of a few hours I was thinking about the weather, the environment and the role of sportsmen and sportswomen in environmental issues.

I believe that we, as the sporting community of the outdoors, have an obligation to be at the forefront of many of today’s environmental issues. Some members of the community of anglers and hunters try to claim that because the origins of the conservation movement are fixed in the concerns of nineteenth century sportsmen (and women) that conservationism is where they owe their allegiance and not to environmentalism, insisting that the environmental movement was born out of the conservation movement and therefore the latter is the true conservator of nature. I disagree. For the conservation movement to be viable it has to be part of environmentalism. From what I’ve seen, the radical elements of environmentalism rarely spring from the environmental group but from outside elements—which points to one of the weaknesses of our entire sporting culture—an unwillingness to participate in groups outside our immediate concern. A result is our rights are often trampled by tiny radical elements of society, elements that try to form links with environmental groups to validate their claims. Consider PETA, CASH and Wayne Pacelle’s infamous HSUS as examples of this validation effort. Each one of these organizations, and Pacelle, has at one time or another tied itself to the Sierra Club (usually at state levels) as “proof” of their connection to nature conservation. A little scratching at their claims (rarely do you need to dig very deep) quickly reveals the fraudulency, or at least weakness, of their ties to true environmental concerns. These groups attach themselves to real concerns as a means to advance their agendas aimed at ending sport fishing and hunting. The presence of well informed anglers and hunters in the environmental organization is often enough to discourage these anti fishing and hunting groups from attempting to tie themselves to real issues.

A thought?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunrise in North Dakota

I don’t know how many of you read NorCalCazadora’s very good post on the problem with ‘our” outdoor media but she really nailed the issue. Personally, I’d like to see viewers who are fed up with trash on the outdoor networks go on the offensive against the shows and the networks by writing letters, email and refusing to buy products. But, I don’t hold out much hope.

Before I forget to do it I want to thank all of you who responded to my question about the length to my posts. I do appreciate the kind words. I hope I can live up to them.

This morning I had appointments at the VA hospital in Fargo so I had to be up and out of here just about dawn—it was okay with me because the early appointments gave me a good reason to drag my sometimes sorry carcass out of bed and into the dawn. I figured if there were any geese around I’d find them. Nope. I did see something else that I always enjoy—the rising sun—this morning it was a massive orange orb that was climbing off the horizon and I could watch it as I drove. I know that what I was seeing was the virtual image caused by the refraction of light through the atmosphere but the magnificence of the image stayed with me all day.

There were strips of clouds that it climbed through and as it made that transition from the horizon’s orb to burning sun there was a general peace in my world. Snow that had re-frozen during the night after the day’s warmth had worked on it, still holds everything in its grip. I knew that outside my truck everything was cold and covered with frost, ice and snow. That grip and all the cold wasn’t enough to keep the wildlife from sharing some early morning glory. In those very quiet moments the world I drove through was populated with dozens of deer; they were spread from near the road to the crests of the breaks along the elm river. I also saw a covey of sharptail and a rooster pheasant near my wife’s family farm. I didn’t see an eagle today, although Michelle saw a bald eagle yesterday, but I did see several hawks. When they are hanging around the waterfowl are not far behind.

Winter isn’t over but it is losing its grip and the wildlife, whether they fly or run, know it. I guess people are often the last to get the message—eh?


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Geese but . . . water and a question

I still haven't found any geese but even if I did I couldn't get to them. There is still quite a bit of snow in the fields and where there isn't any snow there is mud, lots of mud. The snow is melting so fast it is forming rivers in the streets and I am amazed to find some stuff that I thought I'd lost really was buried under snow! What we're worried about now, at least down hill from me, is flooding. I've got some work to do in my basement, just in case, but to be sure and keep out the snow melt is not a just in case but a for real issue so that is going to take some time.
Now that I have reached that milestone of 60 years I actually got to eat a Senior meal today at the local cafe! It wasn't impressive and I would have rather had venison!
I have a question for readers--are my longer posts too long? I would really like to know. glg

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Okay, friends, you've got to see this photo because this is for real--to get to my office (about 60 feet behind me) today I truly did have to wear snowshoes. My cane was of no use because I could not reach the ground under the snow. It is now 11:38 pm, the moon is out but the wind is still howling which means the drifts are still growing. If you look at the middle right side of the photo you can see the top of the fence that surrounds our garden.

I've had an idea. How about we start a letter writing effort to send emails and letters to the network suits demanding that they create a weekly "for real" news program with real people doing real stories and not just puff junk about who won the latest bass classic but stuff that is important to the outdoors. Any takers? glg

A Thought

I have always found it interesting that we have these outdoor shows and we don't have an outdoor newsprogram, at least I am not aware of one. What would happen if we actually had some skilled outdoor reporters producing real news stories for a weekly news program?
Norcal, you teach journalism. What do you think of the idea? What would it really take for the guys in suits to buy into it? Would it be a good idea? Could we make it work? By we, I mean the industry. Something more than puff pieces on who won the last bass tournament. glg

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Not Making Any Friends with The Outdoor Network

Today I am going on the attack.

There are times when I am fortunate not to be a wealthy man because if I had the money in the bank to finance my replacing a television at least once a week—I would. Each replacement would probably be made over the weekend when I was struggling to watch The Outdoor Channel. Either the network’s executives are only functionally literate or they are dedicated to the principle that if we show enough trash we will destroy fishing and hunting. Since I’ve had the misplaced pleasure of shaking hands (little else, I’m a tiny minnow and not worth much more effort) of a couple of these media moguls (personally I think many of them are somewhat hebetudinous). (Neat word—Latin—couldn’t resist). Don’t misunderstand me, I do not think all of the fishing and hunting shows border on lunacy and in fact quite a few of them have been cleaned up—but not all. One that I think needs to go the way of the dodo is “World Class Sportfishing” when the goal of the show is nothing more than another world record at the expense of the fish resource. With modern technology there is absolutely no reason for any salt water fish to be killed to see if it meets “World Record Status.”
In today’s episode (#61, Flamingo Costa Rica) the stars (?) Enrico Capozzi and the obligatory T&A and actually stunning Stacey Georgia Parkerson were pursuing billfish on fly tackle and Enrico was hoping to break his own record. Okay so far, but when the flyfishing took a dive the dynamic duo turned to bottom fishing and Parkerson caught a species they thought “might” break a record and with that they rushed back to the docks to weigh the fish but alas, no record. I suppose the fish made it to the dinner plate—I admit I don’t know—I was too disgusted with the whole premise of the episode that I decided to watch from afar while I washed dishes. Every fish that I did see brought to the boat was hook gaffed so they could not survive so dinner is a moot point. What pushed me over the edge today was sitting at my computer and finding photos of Enrico Capozzi with dead marlin and sailfish and realizing how many fish have died for the egos of Capozzi and Parkerson.
These fish, in most cases, are being killed in a frenzy of masturbation as Capozzi and Parkerson add more world record titles to their impressive vitas. There is no reason on this planet for the IGFA, which awards and monitors these records, to continue allowing manic masturbationists such as Capozzi and Parkerson to kill these fish in hopes of capturing another world record when the technology to weigh and verify the size of these fish on the boat, and thus return the fish to the water unharmed, exists. The leadership of the IGFA and The Outdoor Channel’s media moguls should both press the digital industry to create such equipment and it must be economical so it can be standard equipment on any charter and even private offshore game fish boats. It can be done, but only if the dullards at The Outdoor Channel and responsible anglers press for the equipment. An IGFA “certified” record recording device would be a hot ticket item for offshore game boat owners and thus profitable for the company marketing it.
Heck, maybe it already exists—I honestly don’t know. Someone who knows, inform me.
I will be honest and admit that both Capozzi and Parkerson have very, very impressive record titles in their fishing vitas, but there is little else I read in there to make me think they have anything else in the beanie. My advice to The Outdoor Channel is to stop the world record madness and concentrate on why big game fishing (any offshore fishing) is something many of us want to do and if we have, we are already passionate about, by presenting the adventure as it is and without the masturbationists. And, by the way, I have fished for big game off the coasts of California, Mexico, The Florida Keys, both sides of Florida, and Africa (each, several if not many, times) and have a number of friends who are charter skippers or just passionate offshore anglers so Capozzi and Parkerson’s self-proclaimed titles of “professional anglers” and naming their boat “The Sprit of Pilar, Chasing World Records” is just more masturbation. (Do I have it right or is it “The Sprit of Pilar” or “Pilar II”, I never could quite figure it out while watching the show. Either way, please go back and read a little more Hemingway before borrowing the name of his boat. To any serious student of Hemingway your attempt to honor him falls short and is reinforcing the anti-Hemingway criticism of several movements that would like to see sport fishing banned.)

Second on my hit list is Captain Ron Price on Keith Warren’s Fishing show. They were catching a variety of fish and many of them were of forearm length so the fish weren’t over ambitious youngsters but mature fish. A few of the fish went in the livewell but the majority of fish were returned to the water. Keith Warren released his fish by easing them into the water (at least on camera, who knows what goes on off camera) but Capt. Ron Price must have missed out on something because he stood in the boat and tossed the fish back in the water. Now, according to the biologists I’ve spoken with, any fish that is hooked and brought to boat is highly stressed and often played out by the time it is in the angler’s hands. If the fish is to be released then the objective is to get it back in the water as quickly as possible and with the minimum amount of handling; and to get it in the water without adding any more shock to the fish’s system. Good ole’ boy Captain Ron Price must have missed out on that lecture in public awareness 101—every fish he returned to the water was tossed in with a high five arch for maximum splash effect. Well, Captain Price, you may be one heck of a fisherman but for my money you’re a jerk and belong in the boat with Capozzi and Parkerson, I’m sure they will let you admire yourself in the Pilar II’s mirrors.

A final comment about this issue is that I’ve seen a world of improvement in outdoor broadcasting in the past two years, but trash like Price’s fish tossing and the masturbating frenzy of, well you know by now, sets the programming advancements of The Outdoor Channel back several years.

Just my opinion, you know. I didn’t even make it to today’s hunting shows and this is supposed to be a hunting blog, think I should make it a sporting blog covering both angling and hunting? glg

PS I’ll bet I didn’t make any friends with this post. What do you think?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Winter and Delta Waterfowl Series

I’m cold. In the past I’ve posted about the winter here in North Dakota so everyone is well aware of the conditions up here but the cold is starting to wear on me. To cope with it one does exactly that—cope. A problem that I see starting to loom on my horizon is my supply of firewood. I know about how much I will burn in the course of a day and when I calculate that out against what remains of the wood I cut last fall, and the days of winter that could be ahead there isn’t enough wood. I suppose I “could” go out and cut some more wood but I’m really not in the mood to deal with the drifted snow. Let me explain why. What dominates this part of the country is one word—wind. We can have a snowfall of six inches and in the morning you’ll have six inches of snow on the ground to shovel. Later in the day or the next when the wind kicks up it picks up the snow and moves it around. Sure, we have the drifts over the roads and in town over sidewalks and around the houses but that does not account for all of the snow. A person who doesn’t have any experience up here might want to think the snow is gone because you can’t see it in the fields. It isn’t gone, it is piled up in the woods and low places and nature has packed the snow down and hidden it so what appears to be only a few inches of remaining snow is actually the accumulation of weeks of snow that has been compacted. The wind may have sucked some of the moisture out of the snow but not enough. In the spring—it melts and makes water—lots of water. Flood danger water and now the newspapers are starting to publish the flood probability figures. A lot of people have learned the lessons from the 1997 disaster, but not all and there are a lot of new people (like me) who were not here for that disaster. But I grew up with annual floods near my home in Oklahoma and I do take flood threats seriously—I’m watching, reading and waiting.

Back to the wood cutting and the snow problem I started this post with. The snow that has been blowing out of the fields has not left the country and what is not piled into the low country is piled into the wooded areas and uncut fields. I stopped to look at the snow in a field of uncut corn and I was stunned. Just a foot or two into the standing corn the snow was up to my waist but outside the uncut corn it is only a few inches deep and in some places the fields are swept bare. The same is true of the wooded areas—the snow is piled up too deep for anyone to safely maneuver through it. The animals have their paths through the snow and they’ve created retreats from the weather but the winter is being hard on them. Old-timers, and even the not-so-old-timers have reminded me that much of the snow that caused the floods of 1997 fell after the rest of the country was enjoying spring. The upshot is that no one can be sure that nature isn’t through dealing her winter blows to this region.

Of course, all of the above has kept me out of the spring goose hunting fields. I haven’t heard of anyone actually doing any local hunting although I am sure there is probably some in other areas. I’ll just have to wait my turn.

The dogs are becoming stir-crazy though. Because of the danger of a dog falling into a deep drift, floundering and actually disappearing under the snow I can’t take them out to run off some of the energy so they’ve been taking out their frustration on me—when I close up the office for the night. Last night they managed to get down a pair of computer gloves that my daughter, Jamia, had sent me for Christmas. I didn’t even get a chance to wear them! I’m trying to convince Jamia to send more a new pair. I don’t know if it will work.

There is one good product of the long winter. I have really had an opportunity to see what I like and don’t like about my office. This was the first full winter I spent working out here (I was eased out of the house to make way for a real dining room.). Because of back issues I’ve had to build a temporary standing desk where I can work standing up when the meds wear off and I’ve planned how I am going to remodel my office so that I have my normal desk and my standing desk and book cases. I want to be able to see my guns, my mounts, and some fishing gear and now I know how to do it. So, see, winter hasn’t been a total waste!

By the way, Delta Waterfowl (This is a good organizations: http://www.deltawaterfowl.org/ ) has published, in their magazine Delta Waterfowl, (that’s a no brainer (a five part series “The Vanishing Hunter” and the last installment was in their Winter, 2008 issue. I’ve just finished reading the series (all at once, not waiting each installment then waiting for the next) and I’ve found it to be, overall, an excellent series with some truly probing insights to the problems the authors have raised. I don’t agree with everything they have written but I’m reading some of the sources they named (most of them I have already read and even quoted in previously published articles but there are a few that are new and once I've read them I'll review their works here) and waiting to see if those sources reshape some of my opinions by providing new information. All that said one of the premises that I maintain is publication does not make “it” so. Marx was published but that does not make what he wrote “so” but only an idea. But, on the other hand, should we as hunters be looking for a hunting gospel, something that gives us a greater insight into exactly where we fit in contemporary social structures? Or, is that sort of search actually weakening hunters as a social group by inferring an admission of doubt about the legitimacy of the hunter?

I’m sitting here, at my cluttered writing desk, often way late at night (or into the early morning, depending on your viewpoint) writing the final part of my series for Whitetails Unlimited magazine and what I am writing is an examination of our ethics. I’ve worked on it for hours and hours, way beyond what would make it profitable writing, but I’ve written on note pads, in notebooks and on whiteboards on my walls. I’ve compared the ethical behavior mandates for hunters of fifty, a hundred and four-hundred years ago. The mandates change with time but core premises of ethics don’t change, they stay with hunting and it seems with each epoch of civilization these core ethics, small as they may be, are built upon by new generations of hunters to create a new creed for the coming generations. Maybe, in my mind, this is something that was missed in the Delta Waterfowl series—that we retain and build in a complex relationship that needs more study, and study apart from trying to justify today’s actions by quoting the old, but looking at how the core of mandates for ethical behaviors seem to form an unbreakable chain to the past and we need to know how that chain was first forged.

Thoughts anyone?