Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Endurance in sled dogs

There is an informative article on the Science Daily website about research into the amazing endurance of Alaskan sled dogs.

"It is unclear how these racing dogs can keep running, despite heavy blizzards, temperatures as low as –40°F, and winds up to 60 mph. No other animal has been found to come close to the physiological attributes these dogs display."

The article goes on to quantify attributes that allow these dogs to perform so well, and for so long...

  • Rapid adaption to exercise and the ability to sustain and recover
  • Tremendous aerobic capability
  • Ability to rapidly convert fat into energy
  • Possible physiological attributes that enable endurance through high energy production and efficient use of energy

It's worth a read and may help us to make better bird dogs.

Indian Head Strike

Sue is a diminutive little bitch weighing in at approximately 37-lbs. She is just under 2-yrs old and is pretty-well broke; steady to wing and shot, and backs on sight. Her breeding is about 90% Elhew; in the 6th and 7th generation of which all breedings go back to Dr. Nitchman's Champion and great producer, Elhew Strike; through such Champions as Swami, Snakefoot and Big Blaze . The other 10% of her breeding is mostly Rock Acre and Fiddler stock, through Champions Rock Acre Blackhawk and Fiddlin' Rocky Boy. She runs with intensity and purpose, and points with high head and tail. I have hunted her several times this season and she seems to have the stamina and feet for the job.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

California DFG throws West Coast striped bass under the bus...

Photo from California DFG  website

The striped bass has been an important Northern California fishery for over a century. But since the beginning of massive water exports from the Delta in the 1980s the population has been seriously reduced – along with the historic chinook salmon runs and a number of native Delta species.

Just as the Striped bass in California were showing signs of recovery, the California Department of Fish and Game has proposed new regulations that include...
  • Increasing the daily limit from two stripers to six stripers
  • Lower the minimum size limit from 18” to 12”
  • Establish a South Delta catch limit of FORTY fish per day
  • Allow taking in a number of coastal rivers south of SF Bay that have previously been off limits

If this sounds like a plan to decimate the striped bass fishery, it is. Why?

The problem is the Endangered Species Act, Delta water pumping and the greed of powerful southern agriculture interests.

The ESA has mandated protection of certain Delta species... notably the chinook salmon and the delta smelt. This resulted in curtailing water exports from the Delta, which reduced the amount of cheap water being shipped south to irrigate the crops of agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley.

These agribusiness interests, operating under the benign sounding name of the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta, brought suit in Federal court claiming that the reduction in these now endangered species was not due to the 6,633,000 acre feet of being exported out of the Delta system, but was due to the predations of the striped bass – an introduced species that would not be protected under the ESA in California. The fact that the striped bass and other Delta species existed side by side without problems until massive water exports began and that there is almost no scientific data to link striped bass to reduction in native Delta species did not cloud their thinking in the least.

NOTE: To provide a scale for comparison, the 2011 Delta water exports would flood the entire surface of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (10,555 square miles) with a foot of water...

In short, the court ordered the DFG to prepare a 'management plan' that would redress this striped bass “problem”. The DFG responded with it's new proposal in November of 2011. Biology had nuthin' to do with it...
Here are some facts about fish endangered by the Delta pumps feeding the California and Central Valley Water Projects...

The annual export total, including water diverted by the Contra Costa Canal and North Bay Aqueduct, was 6,633,000 acre-feet in 2011 – 163,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,470,000 acre-feet set in 2005, according to DWR data. The annual export total, excluding water diverted by the Contra Costa Canal and North Bay Aqueduct, was 6,520,000 acre-feet in 2011 – 217,000 acre-feet more than the previous record of 6,303,000 acre-feet set in 2005. 

One of the reasons for the record-setting pumping is that much of the water this year went to refill the underground Kern Water Bank, largely controlled by billionaire farmer Stewart Resnick, and to the smaller Diamond Valley reservoir, which serves Southern California,” according to Mike Taugher of the Contra Costa Times. (http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_19014459
Ironically, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California offered water at discount prices in 2011, since southern California reservoirs largely filled. 
'Southern California’s water wholesaler is offering up cut-rate surplus supplies for the first time since 2007, but few local providers can buy in because they are short on storage space,...' according to an article by Janet Zimmerman in the Riverside Press-Enterprise on July 10. (http://www.pe.com/localnews/stories/PE_News_Local_D_surplus11.3abcf4c.html
The record pumping from the Delta – used to fill the Stewart Resnick-controlled Kern Water Bank and southern California reservoirs – resulted in a huge, unprecedented fish kill at the Delta pumps in 2011. Agency staff “salvaged” a total of 11,158,025 fish in the Delta water pumping facilities between January 1 and September 7, 2011 alone. 
A horrific 8,985,009 Sacramento splittail, the largest number ever recorded, were salvaged during this period, according to DFG data. The previous record salvage number for the splittail, a native minnow found only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system, was 5.5 million in 2006. 
The fish “salvaged” at the “death pumps” of the state and federal water projects also include hundreds of thousands of threadfin shad, striped bass, American shad, white catfish and other species. DFG data reveals that 742,850 threadfin shad, 514,921 American shad, 496,601 striped bass and 100,373 white catfish were “salvaged” between January 1 and September 7 of this year. 
Agency staff also “salvaged” 35,560 Sacramento River spring run and fall run chinooks, 1,642 Central Valley steelhead and 14 green sturgeon in the project facilities during the same period. 
While no comprehensive studies have been conducted on how many of the salvaged fish survive, fish advocates believe that the majority of many species perish during and after the salvage process. 
Although the salvage counts are certainly alarming, the overall loss of fish in and around the State Water Project and Central Valley Project facilities is believed to be much greater than the salvage counts. The actual loss could be 5 to 10 times the salvage numbers, according to “A Review of Delta Fish Population Losses from Pumping Operations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta,” prepared by Larry Walker Associates in January 2010 for the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District – Facts researched and assembled by Mr. Dan Blanton

More to come on the latest in sanity of California game management and water policy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chukar Odyssey

In northeastern California the Chukar hunting this season has been frustrating to say the least. The lack of precipitation and associated dry conditions in the high desert has scattered the birds, and they are really spooky. The dogs are sticking coveys but the birds are not holding for a decent shot, often flushing when the gunner is 50-or-more yards away. Hopefully things will change with the weather systems that are passing through the area at this time. Friends on the "eastside" are saying there is a smattering of snow on the peaks, down to about 55oo', this will hopefully drive birds down from the cloud-line and make them a little more accessible.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In the flow - or not

I got out hunting several times before and after Christmas, looking for chukar and quail across much of southern California. Had a great time, and very much enjoyed a few days with Mike, but never quite got into synch. A variety of things big and little kept going wrong. I approached several coveys of birds from upwind (resulting in wild flushes and tough shots), generally shot poorly, and endured The Lost Shotgun Blues. Can't really say what caused it - the winter solstice doldrums? - but it was real.

Thankfully, I broke out last Saturday. Went out locally for quail with my pups, found two good covies in less than 2 hours. Fired a half dozen shots and bagged 4 birds, so the shooting precentage was back up where I want it, and a few things really went well ...

  • After breaking up a big covey I flushed a single bird that was visible for only 25 feet before getting behind tall a big clump. I fired just as the bird disappeared, and did not draw feathers, but the trajectory seemed to change. After a 10 minute search I found that bird about where I had expected.

  • Later a single got up wild and flew over a rise. Such birds are usually long one, but I followed the most natural course, flushed the bird again, and killed it with a nice shot. Clearly saw where it fell but could not find it after 15 minutes of searching. Gave up on the 'runner', but continued on a likely path, and Rosie emerged with the dead bird in about 50 feet.

That's the way things go when they are going well, and it felt great to be back in synch.

Cannot say much about dog work. I'm pretty sure Rosie locked onto at least one of the covies but in the thick chaparral, I just know that she was not visible, birds flushed, and a moment later she reappeared. The weather was dry and warm - a Santa Ana condition - and that does not produce great scenting. But they had a great time.

Next Sunday I hope to visit my Secret Spot - only place I know in Southern California that consistently yields a limit of quail. I'll let you know how it goes.

I hope all of you can stay in the flow for the rest of this season.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter may be coming, or maybe not

Settling in for the winter season – assuming that it WILL arrive at some point.

Did the usual merry gluttony season. No visible change, but I need to moderate the goodies while watching endless bowl games – the Potato Bowl, the Ginsu Knife Bowl, the Drano Bowl, ad nauseam. These peculiar events take up TV airtime at the expense of Republican primary coverage, which is AOK with me. Bummed that Stanford lost to Oklahoma State in a bowl game wherein they outplayed their opponent, but have lost no sleep over it.

Pete and I made a short hunt for quail on the Carrizo Plains last week and had fun while finding only a couple bevies. They seem to have been pounded into a fever of sprinting and distant flushes. Had a wonderful time in an area that always seems to be empty.

Pete got the best Christmas present imaginable from his lovely wife, Diane -- the green flag to shop for a new setter puppy. Outstanding.

Dogs are doing fine. I ran Ted in a little Shooting Dog stake and he picked up another placement. He doesn't seem to be too excited about it, though. I am working Cody and Tommy on birds and getting them to stand to the flush, shot, and fall. Cody is doing it very well, and I have hopes that I will get Tommy broke one day before too long. Cody has a future as a field trial dog, but I am not pressing him to run a bunch of derby stakes – he is qualified and I intend to take my time and get him ready for adult stakes beginning this coming fall.

On the horizon – Spring field trials, fishing season, and Summer.