Friday, January 30, 2009

Gird your loins... the government is coming!

I am very sorry to have to post this sort of thing, would rather talk bird dogs. But it seems that everyone with an agenda has crawled out from under a rock and is hoping that a new Congress and President will pass and sign their pet piece of legislation. This is not unusual. 

But HR 45 is a serious piece of legislation that will regulate not guns, but people. This bill proposes gun owner licensing that replicates very closely what people in England and Australia are required to do before they may buy, own, or use ANY guns. This bill was introduced by Representative Bobby Rush, Democrat of Illinois on January 6th. There are no co-sponsors, and the HR 45 is currently in The House Judiciary Committee. 

Rush's district is located principally on the South Side of Chicago. It is a minority-majority district and has a higher percentage of African Americans (65%) than any other congressional district in the nation. Rush has the distinction of being the only person to date to defeat President Barack Obama in an election for public office. Rush is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as a former member and founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. I remember when the Black Panthers felt that the right to possess firearms and protect themselves and their community was pretty important. Under this Bill, Bobby himself would probably be denied a Gun License for past 'subversive' activities. 

Here is a summary from the Libary of Congress:

Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009 - Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to prohibit a person from possessing a firearm unless that person has been issued a firearm license under this Act or a state system certified under this Act and such license has not been invalidated or revoked. Prescribes license application, issuance, and renewal requirements.

Prohibits transferring or receiving a qualifying firearm unless the recipient presents a valid firearms license, the license is verified, and the dealer records a tracking authorization number. Prescribes firearms transfer reporting and record keeping requirements. Directs the Attorney General to establish and maintain a federal record of sale system.

Prohibits: (1) transferring a firearm to any person other than a licensee, unless the transfer is processed through a licensed dealer in accordance with national instant criminal background check system requirements, with exceptions; (2) a licensed manufacturer or dealer from failing to comply with reporting and record keeping requirements of this Act; (3) failing to report the loss or theft of the firearm to the Attorney General within 72 hours; (4) failing to report to the Attorney General an address change within 60 days; or (5) keeping a loaded firearm, or an unloaded firearm and ammunition for the firearm, knowingly or recklessly disregarding the risk that a child is capable of gaining access, if a child uses the firearm and causes death or serious bodily injury.

Prescribes criminal penalties for violations of firearms provisions covered by this Act.

Directs the Attorney General to: (1) establish and maintain a firearm injury information clearinghouse; (2) conduct continuing studies and investigations of firearm-related deaths and injuries; and (3) collect and maintain current production and sales figures of each licensed manufacturer.

Write letters.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mango Chutney, part II

Mike, Dianne and I made a batch of chutney on Friday evening and it turned out very well. We were a bit cowardly with the habaneros but the flavor is still wonderful. We donated 6 6-oz jars to our church fundraising auction on Saturday and they bid up to $12 each. Thanks for the recipe.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Oops, sorry, Ted!

Ran Ted in a US Complete walking stake on Saturday at the Searles Ranch in Raymond, CA. 

I am happy to report that he ran a sparkling race,  handled very well, and had seven stylish, broke finds in 30 minutes. 

I am sorry to report that on one of the finds he relocated and circled to cut off a bird that was moving.  But he stood for the flush and shot, and didn't move. Further, on his sixth find he was buried in cover and I foolishly crawled in there with him to get a flush. I crowded him in the brush, leaned over him to flush, and he finally couldn't take it and his butt hit the ground. 'Course, I did not see this, but it was pointed out to me by the judges. Brain fade! Slap my face. Twice.

We earned a placement - but not the first place that we thought he had earned.  We start work tomorrow to do some more polishing - which I need more than he does. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who owns the moral high ground here?

I was reading post and comments on Animal Person - a website for self styled animal folks. Much ado about AR 'issues' and Cass Sunstein in particular. Inevitably there is 'agreement' on the broad goals, and discussion with lots of slicing and dicing of words to get around issues of the animal rights agenda that are inconvenient - namely raising and killing animals for food. Of course, they view hunting as a sport death of animals that should be banned entirely.

I fail completely to see why one 'use' of animals (Growing them for food and killing them) is somehow morally superior to other means of killing them for food (hunting). There seems to be no rational basis for the distinction - just the 'feeling' that one is necessary and the other is for sport and therefore repugnant. So the objection to hunting seems to be based solely on the idea that it's OK to kill animals (a necessary evil for the maintenance of society), as long as there is no sport involved. Why? 

Hunting is a far more honorable and connected way to obtain food than reducing an animal to a plastic wrapped, portion controlled 'product' that excuses the squeamish from their own culpability in the death of the creature it was. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

It just keeps getting better

I try very hard to be apolitical, but stupidity and arrogance know no party lines. Reading Steve Bodio's Blog...

Obama's new "regulatory czar", Harvard law prof Cass Sunstein, is getting praise from both liberals and conservatives. But should he?

"In a 2007 speech at Harvard University, Sunstein argued in favor of entirely "eliminating current practices such as … meat eating." He also proposed: "We ought to ban hunting, I suggest, if there isn't a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law. It's time now."... He goes on to recommend that animals be accorded to right to bring suit - represented by a lawyer, of course... and imagine, Cass is a LAWYER. Can you spell altruistic?

Time for lawyers to move from ambulance chasing to chasing cattle trucks, I expect. 

Sunstein's brief reads like a PeTA activist's, and certainly does not reflect the view of 95% of Americans. An appointee to a cabinet level regulatory position should be quizzed by Congress and disclose the full spectrum of his personal views prior to being installed in office. 

Check out the Center for Consumer Freedom article HERE to read, find links and comments.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Why do you hunt?"

"But I do still hunt, and when someone occasionally asks me why it occurs to me that the only reason we have brains large enough to formulate that question is that our distant ancestors got the extra protein it took to evolve the organ by supplementing their diets with meat, first as scavengers, then as hunters. Hunting made us who and what we are. It is in our nature more deeply than clothing, tools or language."
From Fool's Paradise by John Geirach

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mango Chutney for Pete

Pete asked for a recipe for mango chutney the other day. I thought others might be interested as well. This condiment goes well with chicken, lamb, pork, fish, and various curries. Here is the recipe for mango chutney, Jamaica style. Recipes vary widely, but this is one of the best.


2 pounds firm (less than ripe) mangoes
1 tbp salt
1/4 to 1/2 pound tamarinds (aka: tamarindos) - you may also be able to find tamarind paste
1-1/4 cups malt vinegar (you can also use cane vinegar if available)
1/3 cup raisins
1 clove of garlic finely diced (optional)
1/3 cup fresh ginger root peeled and chopped fine. It can also be grated on a fine cheese grater. 
1/2 tsp ground Jamaica allspice (can substitute cloves, if you don't have allspice)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 or 2 Scotch bonnet (Habanero) peppers. The heat factor is up to you - 1/2 a pepper will yield a mildly peppery sauce. It can escalate from there. I usually use one seeded Scotch bonnet pepper per batch.


Seed and peel the mangoes and chop into 3/8" dice. Reserve all possible juice. Add salt and set aside.

Shell the tamarinds, discard shells and put tamarinds seeds into a bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand for about 1/2 and hour. Using a sieve and wooden spoon force the softened tamarind pulp through the sieve into a dish. Discard seeds and stringy bits.

Drain mangoes and combine with raisins, sugar, garlic, vinegar, retained mango juice, and tamarind pulp in a saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add ginger and allspice. Finely shred Scotch bonnet pepper and add shreds to the mixture. You may control heat by tasting and adding most the the pepper at the bottling stage. Wash your hands immediately after handling peppers. 

The sugar may caramelize and darken the chutney a bit. If you want a light colored, fresh looking chutney, use a double boiler to prevent caramelization of the sugar.

Like jam, the chutney will be done when you touch a cold spoon to the mixture and it comes away tacky. The chutney mixture will be the consistency of jam and with a real vinegar and spice nose. Bottle in sterilized pint jars.

Make a large batch as this stuff is addictive.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Remembering Texas quail hunting

In the 2006-2007 season and again in 2007-2008 I was the guest of Mr. Mark Copeland at his West Texas quail lease in the Caprock country near Post, Texas. This was my first sampling of the whole Texas quail hunting experience. Addictive adequately defines it.

The first visit was in early February and the temperature remained below freezing during the entire time I was there. But the bird numbers and quality of hunting made the days seem balmy.  The lease is about 17,000 acres and is shared by half a dozen members, but at any time there are seldom more than four or five hunters on the ranch. During the time I was there in February of 2007 we were routinely finding between 35 and 40 coveys per day. I had my setter Ted with me, and Mark ran his two shorthairs, Libby and Princess. The dogs were into either bobwhites or blue (scaled) quail almost continuously. 

The country we hunted had very tough ground cover - prickly pear and cholla cactus, and mesquite over 6 feet high. The dogs demanded frequent attention, and a Leatherman Tool was essential for removal of cactus and mesquite spines. The cholla cactus is especially nasty, since it breaks off in little clumps and clings to the dogs coat. Even a tough pair of Filson chaps was not a guarantee of safety from the thorns. With this is mind, I can find no fault with the near universal practice of following the dogs on a  Kawasaki Mule and dismounting to flush for the point. 

In Fall of 2007, Mark was our guest at camp in Eastern Montana for a week of sharptails and Huns. Both Pete and I were invited to join Mark in January of 2008 for a few days quail hunting at his lease. Texas quail country had been suffering a drought that ended with torrential rains in the late Summer. As a result of the heavy rains, the cover at the ranch was thigh deep grass with plenty of prickly pear cactus hidden below. The dogs had a difficult task getting birds pointed in the heavy cover - with plenty of cover, the birds would run out from under a point. Still, we did well my the standards of most quail hunters with double digit covey contacts most days. 

The rough cover, the variable temperatures and the difficulty that the dogs experience pales to nothing because this is wild quail hunting with numbers that are difficult to match anywhere in the United States, and the country has an engaging savage beauty that seems to fit the challenging birds. I love this hunting, and would join a lease in West Texas or the Panhandle if it was not so far from my home.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A few days in the Owen's Valley

Well, the 4 days in the White Mountains were a wonderful time. I set up my trailer on a knoll along the Highway 168 (Westgard Pass) and woke each morning to a breathtaking view of the valley and the wintery Sierras. Montana is a beautiful place but the Sierras are just a lovely.

Like all of this season (and last season for that matter) the bird populations were pretty thin. That is something of a blessing though: I have done more prospecting than usual this year, locating at least a half dozen pieces of very good habitat that should hold birds when mother nature again decides to drop some rain at the right times. On this trip I found some VERY nice chukar territory that is out-of-the-way and should not get much pressure. Did not find an empty hull the whole time (except for in one "local hot spot").

I always enjoy the late season hunts, walking the cold mountains. The dogs do well in the cool breeze and I enjoy the walks and the vistas. I did get a special treat on this hunt though. As Rosie and I worked up a wide canyon she hit a stylish point. She held staunch as I approached; I killed one bird in front of her and a second as it circled around down the canyon. Both birds were stone dead and easily found. I'll remember that perfect slow-season vignet for many months.

We were camping in a small trailer and the heated "home" was welcome each night. The temperature hit single digits as I drove over Westgard Pass the last morning but the sun was out and the walking was pleasant. The dogs did enjoy the soft blankets.

Happy New Year to all - look forward to seeing you in the field next year (and hopefully once or twice before then).

Take care,


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

As close to politics as I want to get on this blog...

In an article reviewing the role that VP Dick Cheney played in the Bush Administration's environmental policy and decisions, I found a vindication of what I long ago came to believe was a purely White House driven political act - the de-watering of the Klamath River to levels that provoked the death of an estimated 100,000 salmon.

This makes me 'right', but it does not not make me feel any better. Perhaps we should all feel worse that it is possible for a single man to countermand legal safeguards put in place by the legislature at the recommendation of unbiased scientists. 

And the valuable crops that had to be saved for the Klamath basin farmers? Mint. That's right, the stuff used to make mint juleps, chocolate mint ice cream, tooth paste, and chewing gum.

Web Parton's new training book

I arrived home from my Christmas holiday in Jamaica to find a FedEx package on the porch - Web Parton's new training book, Bond of Passion - Living with and Training your Hunting Dog. I have read some of it, perused the rest and here offer my first impressions - more detail will follow after I have had a chance to read the book in depth.

Of some importance to me is the fact that Web lives and runs his dogs in the desert Southwest - on the roughest ground after the toughest birds for a pointing dog to handle, the desert quail - blue quail and Gambel's quail. In fact, Web worked with the original owner of Wilderness Adventures Press to author The Bird Hunter's Guide to Arizona, and The Bird Hunter's Guide to Kansas. The fact that he worked with a publisher who burnt his bridges with me in short order, tells me that Web has the patience required to train dogs for the public.

At any rate, Web has written more than a training book, it is a testimony to the central place that bird dogs hold in his life. Web writes in  detail about subjects like; running dogs in the heat, the dog's feet, the limits of ground time, and bird, gun or man shy treatment. And though he gives lip service to the flushing and retriever breeds, it is clear that he is a bird dog man in the strictest sense, and a lover of setters.

More later...

Idaho partridge season closes early

The state of Idaho has closed their chukar and Hungarian partridge season as of Jan 10th. This is to assist in minimizing the take of birds that are vulnerable due to very heavy show across the state.

This is a good thing as the birds will concentrate on the open areas at lower elevations - often near a road. This invites the taking of birds when they are very vulnerable.