Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Desert's Past : a natural prehistory of the Great Basin by Donald K. Grayson

Sometimes you find a book by a certified expert that is actually interesting to read, despite it's academic approach. After discovering a pre-historic lithic manufacturing site while chukar hunting north of Battle Mountain, NV years ago I was drawn to learn more about the history of the people and wildlife in the area. 

Donald K Grayson is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington. Grayson's The Desert's Past presents an integrated look at the physiology, biology, botany and human history of the Great Basin - one of the most interesting areas in North America - from the Pleistocene to the Donner Party.

The Great Basin is 165,000 square miles of arid country that reaches across the West from NE California, southern Oregon, SE Idaho, western Utah, and nearly all of Nevada. This is country that many drive through without seeing anything but the apparently lifeless desert along I80. A wrong impression of a unique area.

If you travel, hunt, fish, camp or explore in the Great Basin, this book is critical to gaining an well-rounded understanding of the land and everything living on it. This book is always on the top shelf of my bookcase, and I often go back to it to investigate answers to my questions, and it never disappoints me. Published 1993 by the Smithsonian Institution Press.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Not my dog...

Like everybody else who owns a dog, I must sometimes brag a bit on my dogs.  This is a very bad habit, I know, because within a short time your dog will make a fool of you. But I can't help it.

To be fair and balanced, I would like to post some about impressive dogs I have met when hunting. One such dog is Buzz Lightyear who belongs to guide and outfitter Dennis Kavanaugh of Montana Bird  Hunts. I hunted with Dennis two years ago and the first time he put Buzz down he RAN. Made my hair stand on end to watch him. He was breath taking. His bird work is simply stunning. On one find Buzz motored about 800 yards across the top of a plateau and stuck a covey of Huns. Dennis, Clair and I got in the truck and DROVE to his find. I can't say enough about the quality of this dog - a real handful, but an amazing bird dog!

Buzz was sired by Winchester's Patcher at Coulee Setters in Sand Coulee, Montana. They are HERE, Montana Bird Hunts and Dennis Kavanaugh can be found HERE. Dennis hunts Montana out of the Grand Hotel in Big Timber, Montana and runs the best oufitted upland hunts available. He also hunts his dogs in Arizona for Mearns and Gambel's quail. 

Book reviews

I have always been a reader - fiction, hunting, shooting, bird dogs, anthropology, history, etc. I would like to share some book reviews from time to time.
One of my favorite books on the subject of bird hunting is Pheasants of the Mind, by Datus Proper.  This book is still in print and deserves a good read by anyone who has followed a dog in the uplands. Far from a 'how to' book, or perhaps the ultimate work on pheasant hunting, springing from a complete hunter's world view.  In any case, Datus Proper writes very well and provides a literate presentation of a subject that has been hacked over hundreds of times. A quote from the book...

... on this continent there are still wide fields and wild pheasants, if that is what you like. It is what I like. I'd rather hunt one bird than shoot many. I want sunburned grass, golden stubble, gray barns, red rose hips, dogwoods turning purple, and miles to go before I sleep.

I highly recommend this book, and if you have already read it, go back and read it again.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wildlife Conservation

If you have been wondering what you can do to help save wildlife...

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A tiny brag

Ted notched a win this weekend in the Santa Clara Valley BDC trial at the Narbaitz Ranch in Little Panoche, CA. He earned first in the Walking Shooting Dog stake with a nice effort. This is Ted's first season competing as a broke dog, and he is starting to stretch out to a pleasing distance without losing the handle that we worked on when he was a puppy. 

Nine month old Tommy ran in his first trial - the horseback Shooting Dog Derby stake and he is starting to figure things out a bit. At this stage I certainly did not expect a placement, and he did not earn one. Fooling around with puppies is great fun, seeing them develop day by day. Tommy will be going to Summer Camp in North Dakota at the end of June for exposure to lots of sharp-tailed grouse, and will be hunted for the first time this Fall.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Overcoming enthusiasm's consequences

My dogs have ocassionally suffered lapses of judgement that resulted in an unpleasant ride back to camp and a session or two of deskunking. Here is a tried and true recipe for a deskunking bath that really works. Forget tomato juice...

2 bottles (1 quart) 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup baking soda
1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent
(liquid soap like Dawn, not machine dishwashing detergent)

1. Mix and Apply Immediately.
2. Wait 5 minutes and rinse with cold water.
3. You may need to repeat the process again.

I have used a wheel barrow and garden hose to take the whole mess away from the cabin. Afterwards, just a faint skunk aroma as the dog passes close by. This lasts a couple of days.

According to my source - I'd like to give some credit here, but I cannot recall their name - the origin of the peroxide/ baking soda method of de-skunking a dog first appeared in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly publication of the American Chemical Society. An industrial chemist developed the method because he was involved in cleaning a type of chemical known as a mercaptan. Mercaptans are rotten, smelly, sulfur containing compounds (Rotten eggs for example). Skunk stink would also be chemically classified as a mercaptan. The method of cleaning these mercaptans involved using a concentrated form of peroxide (an oxidizing agent that oxidizes the mercaptan to non-smelling sulfur compounds ) applied in a basic (high
pH) solution. He adapted this industrial method for pet use by using 3% hydrogen peroxide in a baking soda solution ( high pH). The addition of liquid dish detergent just makes the application easier and keeps the peroxide in contact with the hair a bit longer so that the oxidation can occur.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mandatory Spay/Neuter on

An article leaning AGAINST mandatory spay and neuter has appeared on

The article sites increased health risks and behavioral problems - problems that spay/neuter has traditionally been thought to alleviate - are linked to spaying and neutering of dogs.

Very interesting is the statement from an HSUS spokesperson recommending that spay/neuter is a personal choice - after the many millions they have spent pushing these laws. It is NOT out of character for HSUS to misrepresent their agenda to mainstream media - standard procedure, in fact. They have not changed their radical Animal Rights agenda one iota - just the message when fund raising may be at risk.

Here is the first bit of the article...

As legislators push for more mandatory spay and neuter laws for pets as young as 4 and 6 months in hopes of reducing the number of unwanted animals, critics are crying foul over research showing that such surgeries may raise certain health risks in dogs and therefore shouldn't be required.

Studies have shown that dogs that undergo spaying (removal of the ovaries and uterus) or neutering (removal of the testicles) are at increased risks for certain cancers, thyroid disorder, incontinence and some of the same behavior issues, such as aggression, that the surgeries are said to prevent. 

I strongly recommend that those of you who live in states, counties or municipalities currently that currently have, or or considering, such laws send this information to your lawmakers. They are politicians, mainly, but could possibly understand something written very simply and targeted at a mass audience.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Portable hunting cabin

Tired of motels and cafe food. Don't want to camp out when I'm bird hunting.

I like a kitchen, a shower, a bed, and a head. On the other hand, I'm not into microwaves and satellite TV, or carpeted floors where the muddy dogs are sleeping. After a very brief and not very intensive search, I just bought a 24' Airstream Argosy trailer. It will be making the trips with me this Summer and Fall. 

Meanwhile, in my quest for technical information, I have stumbled into the Airstream community of aluminum heads. Very helpful people, but I find it positively bizzare how people can obsess over things like original cabinets and linoleum (really!). I already know more than is good for me.

So when I get a better 12V power system, buy a generator, and put in brighter light bulbs, I'll be fine with just using it... though I might like to swap out the faux-hardwood floor for Pirelli industrial rubber flooring and add a rock guard for the front windows.