Monday, November 26, 2012

Baby Bear Buck...

Not too big. Not too small. Just right for someone who these days isn't much interested in holding out for something larger. Life and bird seasons are far too short to freeze (or sweat) your ass off for some 16 days waiting and hoping for something that may or may not make an appearance*. Besides, a nice buck is a nice buck regardless of some arbitrary "score."* Sitting in the opening morning darkness I spied a shooting star and asked for nothing more than a decent buck honorably taken. And some damn rain. Wish partially granted.

Taken with my "lucky" CZ 550 in the venerable, classic, and oh-so-cool 6.5x55. A gun and caliber that, for whatever reason, just seems to produce for me. I'm superstitious about such things, and have been wise enough to not trade this one off like I foolishly have so many others. It also helps, I suppose, that it's also the most accurate gun I own. Next year it's getting a stock refinish to bring out the figure currently hidden by the gawdawful finish CZ puts on their stocks, as well as a new Leupold 6x42 fixed-power scope to replace that inelegant variable.

Incidentally, in the four mornings I spent hunting down on the wife's family's home place, I had to endure dozens and dozens of flights of ducks winging their way overhead, with none of them, not a one, pitching into what is normally my A#1 duck hunting spot. Because they would bounce off the hardpan that used to be a slough. Because I have No. Effing. Water. Biggest fall flight on record, and I have yet to shoot a duck, because I have no private water on which to shoot them, and what little public water I have is closed due to deer gun season (as is my quail hunting). The drought grinds on.

I did, however, hear the beautiful sound of quail calling every morning I hunted the old homestead. They're in a precarious state these days, but a few of the precious little buggers are still hanging on, god knows how. I hope to take one bird over each dog out of the home covey, and then leave them be.

**I have to admit that I did catch a glimpse of a truly big buck on the third day of the season, got a little excited, and hunted for him exclusively until Thanksgiving morning, when this buck walked by and I came to my senses. What can I say? Hypocrisy is a perfectly normal component of the human condition...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mallard's Infinite Playlist: Son of Election Day Version

The Sex Pistols, confirming what we already knew...


Mallard's Infinite Playlist: Election Day Version

An election day civics lesson from the only band that mattered...

Oh, So You Voted? Aren't You Special...



Yes, this is yet another retread rewind from the past. But it's election day, and the smug, self-important bullshit level is, as the Spinal Tap cliche goes, cranked to eleven right now. If I have one more asshole ask me - in that pedantic, looking-down-the-nose voice reserved for the truly insufferable - if I was planning on voting today, I think I'll run screaming into the woods, never to return. I posted this blog earlier in the year. I was in a mood. Still am...

Here's my personal style of participatory democracy: I choose to participate in elections - be they at the local, state or national level -  in which I believe my vote or my candidate can make a difference, even if it is likely or even inevitable that my candidate or my cause will lose. Conversely, I decline to participate in elections in which I feel there are no candidates or issues that I can in good conscience support. It sounds quite reasonable and pragmatic to me.

But it's an election year, which means I must contend, once again, with the Civics Nazis. You know, those insufferably smug, self-righteous and utterly delusional twits who fervently believe the act of voting - in and of itself - is a star-spangled holy sacrament that we are duty-bound to engage in regardless - completely regardless - of whether we happen to like, believe in, tolerate, or find even remotely palatable any of the candidates.


You know who I'm talking about; the ones who wear that "I Voted" sticker like a talismanic confirmation of their patriotic wonderfulness. The ones who make it a point to ask if you, too, furthered the bright, shining beacon of democracy by voting, and when informed that "No, in point of fact I didn't vote in (insert election here) because I believe all the choices offered me to be corrupt shite bags completely antithetical to my worldview" immediately puff themselves up, wag their fingers and say (as if the thought were original) "Well, then you have no right to complain, do you?"


Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do have a right to complain, asshole. It’s you who needs to keep ‘yer effin’ trap shut. Another profane and prescient gem from the lost, lamented and utterly brilliant George Carlin (and if you must be told that George Carlin is NSFW then I pity you. I truly do...)


And for your information, no, I don't plan on voting today...because I did it last week. Ba dum ba!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Virtue is nothing more than insufficient temptation...


 I have a hard and fast rule that I don't hunt local deer. In the five years we've lived here I've had some pretty nice bucks skulking around the place about this time of year, and I haven't drawn a bow on any of them.

It's not that it's illegal or anything. I could set up a stand or a blind in my back yard and proceed to happily and completely legally arrow as many deer as the law will allow. I don't feed them, even though it's perfectly legal to hunt over a feeder. I don't try to tame them or make them pets. These deer are completely wild and free-ranging. The bucks are, anyway. They only show up in the fall, and are gone as soon as they spot you.  The does, however, are lazy-ass loafers whom I practically have to kick out of the yard. Bitches.

The point is, there's really nothing ethically or legally wrong with hunting close (OK, very close, like back yard close) to home. Lots of people do it. Hell, my dad once shot a buck while sitting in his dining room (so maybe that's a little extreme but there were extenuating circumstances: He had just had back surgery, couldn't walk, and he needed the meat. My father is nothing if not practical. Once he healed up, however, it was right back to the woods for him and he hasn't shot a home-based buck since.).

I'm the same way. I just feel like a deer should be earned with some effort and shoe leather, something a bit more involved, a bit more rigorous, than opening the patio door, walking a hundred or so yards and sitting down.

But holy shit, this guy is tempting me. He showed up a couple days ago, following a doe. He's nice. Very nice...


I've never seen him before, and so far, I've only seen him the one time during the last weekend of black powder season. He hasn't been back to tempt me since. For all I know he's hanging in someone's garage right now and the point is moot.

And even though I told myself I wasn't going to bow hunt this year, that I was going to concentrate on the dogs and spend every spare moment bird hunting, I've been flinging a few arrows at the target the past couple days, you know, just to keep in practice. No reason, no reason at all, just a Kyudo thing, really, a meditative device, like yoga or tai chi. Honest...

With apologies to the ghost of George Bernard Shaw for butchering his quote...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Behold Headstonehenge!


I meant to post this yesterday on Halloween because, well, it's a little creepy, but I got busy and never got around to it.

Yes, that is a firepit (still under construction) with old headstones as the benches. Am I the only person in the world with a backyard firepit comprised of cemetery totems? Perhaps. But don't worry, the owners don't mind. Ba dum ba!

Actually, no, I didn't steal them. These graveyard monoliths were acquired by completely honest means. For the story you'll have to read this 2008 F&S blog. Or I'll just cut-and-paste a graf or two...

From my ancient Field & Stream blog post...

I recently came into possession of a number of polished granite headstones. Now before you jump to any grave-robbing conclusions, I picked them up from an old building that used to be a monument company but is very soon going to be a pile of rubble. My plumber bought the property and told me I could scrounge anything I wanted. Imagine my surprise to find all these beautiful slabs of granite just lying around.

So I brought them home, much to my wife's chagrin. She flatly refused to allow me to scatter them through her flowerbeds. I thought it would be quirky and off-beat, but for some reason she considered it morbid and disturbing.

Since my reputation in the neighborhood is already a bit dodgy, I reluctantly agreed, but then hit on a great idea: I would find timeless quotes, inscribe them on the granite and place them strategically around our property! Even my wife agreed it was a pretty cool idea.

For example, this one is, which I found on Steve Bodio's excellent blog is going in front of my dog kennels: "Hee cannot be a gentleman whych loveth not a dogge" which comes from a 1555 book entitled "The Institucion of a Gentleman."

"Litera Scripta Manet" or "the written word endures" will be going on a slab placed outside my office window, while the Ben Johnson quote that hangs above the Shakespeare & Co. book store in Paris  "Thou art alive still while thy book doth live and we have wits to read and praise to give" will be going in my front yard.

So that's the background. In truth, I never got around to having inscriptions cut into the headstones because I changed my mind about the whole project. I scrapped the quotes idea and decided I would use the stones to build a miniature Stonehenge firepit in the back yard. That way, as I told the wife, on the summer and winter Solstices we could sacrifice a goat, then beat drums as we danced nekkid and fornicated around the fire. Or maybe beat drums, sacrifice the goat, then dance nekkid, then fornicate. Or maybe fornicate, then one of us dance nekkid while the other beat drums, and we just spare the goat.... hell, I don't know, we'd make it work somehow...

Anyway, the wife - needless to say - quickly informed me that, were I to actually build my miniature Stonehenge, I'd most certainly be dancing nekkid, beating drums and fornicating with myself. Or the goat.

Undaunted, I quickly got to work. Just as quickly, I realized that despite hauling three pick-up loads of headstones past our worried-looking neighbors, I wasn't going to have nearly enough stone to build even a half-ass Stonehenge replica. Dejected, I scaled back the project to a more attainable (and normal) goal. I chose a few stones, cut some firewood rounds for bases, and made headstone benches.

No Stonehenge replica, no nekkid fornicatin', no drum-beating and (in hindsight, probably a good thing) no freaked-out neighbors. Just an ordinary backyard firepit that just happens to have a tastefully understated touch of ghoulish weirdness to it.

It's not finished, of course. I still need to put down flagstone within the circle, and I still have a lot of unused headstones I haven't figured out how, exactly, to incorporate into the design. But it serves its purpose well enough. The dogs like it, anyway.

And even though it's not technically correct, I still like to call it Headstonehenge. It's a good conversation starter. Or ender, depending on how you're wired. I've used it as both...