Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This morning Cookie and I were blown off the slough--that's bad. The wind is blowing in one of those autumn North Dakota storms that is a a harbinger of what is to come. I am just hoping that winter's cold breath can stay away for at least another month, shoot maybe even six weeks. I want to enjoy some time afield with Cookie before the snow flies. Of course I have to admit that I enjoy hunting upland birds in a small amount of snow, as in six inches or less. My real problem is that I am going to miss an entire week of hunting, starting on Tuesday, October 6, because I am headed for Florida to attend the SEOPA conference. I'll be giving a presentation on the philosophy of outdoor writing in the 21st. century. I'm truly curious to see how many of the attendees attend my presentation. I hope I am surprised.

You won't believe this but my office is finished! Well, sort of. I still need to extend the roofline for a porch (of sorts) and put on the shingles but I am all moved in, the whiteboard door is finished, hung and now curing. The pull down screen is hung, rod racks, security cable for the gun rack, etc., everything is done. I'm really pleased and what is truly nice is to sit at a desk and have enough room to work. I'm sure that I'll work at it and it will soon be covered in clutter.

I hope everyone is having a great season. As soon as this storm clears out I'll take Cookie back to the sloughs and we'll toss a few decoys out then find a warm spot to hunker down. Cookie will wake me when some ducks come in--she always does. glg

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dogs Know

Cookie is not happy with me. Today was the opening of the waterfowl season but I couldn't get out and she had to stay in her kennel (don't worry, it's huge). How do hunting dogs know when the seasons open? I suspect the change in seasons has become part of their genetic makeup.

I couldn't go hunting because I had to finish sorting out everything in my office and finish getting moved in. Now that I've finished that little chore I can move on to the fun project of the roof. Today the new shingles were delivered but they are going to be left to sit where they were delivered because tomorrow I will go hunting in the morning and probably again in the evening. I'll work in some roof time and might even work on my wood stove.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wild Flush

Humm, took a half hour out of my morning to try and get a grouse. I need to remind myself to get up a little closer to early morning because by the time I was on the hunting ground the sun way high and the birds were not going to sit for Cookie. The net result was zero shots although I saw several birds. I may try again in the morning.

While Chas and I were hunting we had a very brief conversation about hunting upland birds in the evening. It is a good time to hunt but there is a problem and that is that often times the birds are settled in to their roost for the night and when we hunt them in that last thirty or forty minutes of shooting light we are pushing them off their roost. Of course, I am only talking about the ground nesting birds so it does not apply to the pass shooting at dove and pigeon but should we hunt the ground nesting and ground roosting birds so late in the day? On the one hand I am very tempted to say that we shouldn't but I also must admit that I enjoy that last hour of the day as a time to hunt birds. It is a quiet time and nature is taking a deep breath after a long day.

Thinking about ground nesting birds brings up something else to consider--domestic cats gone feral. The problem of feral cats is a real one and around here it is becoming increasingly difficult to drive the back roads and not see at least one feral cat. Now, don't misunderstand me, I've got a black and white cat sitting in my lap as I write this, but there is a problem and that is too many cats! These feral cats are decimating some of the game bird populations. We've been trying to get a huntable partridge population on my wife's family farm but the cats keep knocking the covey down to only a few surviving birds and the birds then struggle to survive and rebuild the covey. We've finally told Michael (my step-son) to go ahead kill any cat he sees on the farm. It's not fair to the cats but there isn't any other way to deal with the problem. Even if we manage to live trap one of the feral cats they are beyond adoption and the only course open is to destroy the cat.

Many years ago, when I first began exploring and writing about the myths of organizations such as PETA, Fund For Animals, HSUS (there are many more), I decided that pet ownership is too easy in this country. I didn't reach the decision to support their flawed arguments but because these organizations have manipulated and hijacked the easy access to pet ownership to fit their agendas. Perhaps if people had to put a little more effort into becoming pet owners and keeping those pets they would be a little more reluctant to drop their unwanted pet off on a country road. That is probably fairy tale thinking on my part but it is still something to think about. glg

Creeping Winter

In most parts of the country people tend to think of creeping autumn. Here, in North Dakota, we tend to think in terms of "creeping winter" and preparing for it. I was thinking about that last night when I walked from my office to the house. I was wearing my leather coat and had my hands tucked into my pockets. It wasn't cold enough to snow but the rain had that crisp touch to it that reminded me of winter's lurking only a short distance away and once October 1, is in the books then the best thing to do is "be ready." I'm not ready. I've got to bring my wood stove in and then cut my winter supply of firewood. Chores never stop. Now all I've got to do is find time to write four book reviews, my Capstick article, finish writing a presentation I'm giving at the SEOPA Conference next month and oh, yeah, I've got a column and feature due for Whitetails Unlimited.
I think I'll go hunting instead.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I'mmmm Baaack

I’m back! Well, sort of. Every day of the past few weeks I’ve worked on my office remodeling project and to be honest I’m sick of it and not quite finished. I’ve still got to put on new shingles and then do a few other odds and ends to wrap up the project. I’m also hip deep in the process of moving back in. I truly had no idea I have so much “stuff” to put away. I thought I’d be able to move the last of my books from the metal storage shed where several hundred of them have resided for the past year. No chance of moving them. When all is said and done I’ve picked up only a few additional feet of book shelf space. Still, everything is much better than it was and I am looking forward to working in my “new” office. There's another reason to hurry up and get settled--hunting season!

That said and out of the way a good note is that on opening morning of grouse season I was able to prove to my friend Chas ( that we really do have sharptail grouse in these parts. We did not get very many birds (poor shooting) but we did have a great hunt and the best part was the opportunity to visit with my oldest (30 years) friend.

Now that I am back in my office one of my first tasks will be to complete an article for African Expedition Magazine (http:/ Too many moons ago I started working on an article about the famed outdoor (African) outdoor writer Peter H. Capstick. Peter was a friend of mine and he was also the subject of my Master’s Thesis, but I don’t have rose colored lenses in my glasses—I know Peter wasn’t perfect and that he did embellish his stories. Why not and who cares? Through their mind’s eye his readers were able to live the African experience. His writing infused outdoor literature with a new excitement after decades of the genre’s downward spiral. If you have not read any of Peter’s books (or, even if you have) now is a good time to order one or two so you have it on hand for the coming long nights of winter.

On a closing note about my absence of several weeks—I didn’t really miss my computer. In fact I kind of enjoyed not being tied to it but now that I am back and online I’ll have to become responsible and try to answer my email. Actually, I’d rather write a letter with a fountain pen. Glg