Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Teaching Moment Fail

 A few weeks ago, I was changing out a bad alternator pulley on the ancient 1970 International Harvester Cub Cadet 127 garden tractor that I use to mow our yard, haul dirt, and perform whatever other mechanical chores are needed around the microstead, when my 12-year-old son walked up to me and said "Dad, you're always working on this thing. Why don't you just go buy a new one or have someone else work on it for you?"

Seeing this as a great potential "teaching moment" I replied, in full-on monologue mode, "Son, there's an old expression that goes something like, 'There are those who have things done, and there are those who do.' As much as possible, I like be one of those who do, and I'll tell you why. Not only can I not afford to just go out and buy a new tractor, but your great-grandfather bought this tractor new in 1970. I grew up riding on it, and when he died I brought it up here and have been using it ever since. Pretty soon, you're going to be riding on it. Think about that: that's 43 years of non-stop use. Sure, it breaks down every now and then and needs some TLC, but do you think if I go down to Wal-Mart or Atwoods and spend two grand on one of those cheap lawn tractors, that it'll still be running 43 years from now? No, because like everything else, they're not designed to last as long as possible, and they're not designed to be worked on. They're designed to last for a certain amount of time, then break and be replaced. It's called planned obsolescence, and it's a terrible thing. It's terrible for the environment and it's terrible for people, too. It stunts your sense of self-worth, self-reliance, and your sense of accomplishment. It encourages us to be a throwaway culture, and fosters the idea that if something breaks, the normal and natural thing to do is just throw it away and go buy a new one, just like all the other mindless lemmings out there who don't know how to do anything any more because they don't have to."

I continued, for by this time I was on a self-aggrandizing, philosophical roll..."Now, can I fix everything around here when it breaks? No, I'm not nearly as smart as either one of your grandfathers, so some things I am forced to either throw away, because they're designed to not be fixed at all, or have someone else fix them because I don't have the skill, but I'm always trying to learn how things work and how to fix them myself. And when I do fix something, it saves us money and it gives me a measure of satisfaction and accomplishment that the mindless, affluent consumer will never know. Now, given what I've just told you, what would you rather be; a rich man who can easily afford to not know how to do anything, and therefore has others do for him, or a poor man who doesn't have that luxury, but takes pride in what he's capable of doing on his own?"

My son, who is going to be one helluva lawyer someday, looked at me and replied, with a poker-straight face, "That's easy. I'd rather be the rich man, and I'll tell you why: Not only would I not have to mess with constantly trying to fix stuff when I could be doing something fun, I mean seriously, wouldn't you rather be fishing right now than sweating in the middle of the driveway? But I would also help you, as a poor man, feel good about yourself when I brought things to you to fix for me. It's a win-win. We're both happy."

Utterly deflated, my argument in smoking ruins, I conceded to the infallibility of his 12-year-old logic, mopped the sweat from my brow and went back to busting my knuckles trying to get that goddamned, broken-down old tractor running again while dreaming of distant water.

Monday, September 23, 2013

You Kids Stay Off My Lawn!

Even though I consider the neighborhood deer a bunch of annoying, destructive hooved locusts, I have to admit to a certain sadness this time of year when the fawns lose both their spots and the terminal, anthropomorphized cuteness that, up to this point, has largely protected them from the wrath of my BB gun.

The routine is always the same, because we're suckers. We usually start seeing the fawns early to mid-June, and all summer long the tiny little bastards come bounding into the yard on those impossibly spindly legs, look at us with those big, baby eyes, bat their eyelashes a time or two, then calmly snip the bloom off a geranium. And instead of outrage, we'd go "awww, isn't that cute!" Because of course, it was. Then.

But it's fall now, and they're not cute little fawns any more, they're deer. And as such, they're about to be introduced to my Red Ryder. You can't see it in the picture, but when I took it, the fawn in the background was merrily chewing up and consuming the archery target I have hanging from a tree. Little does he know that in eight days he's going to be a target himself.

I kid, I kid... I never have and never will hunt yard deer, and truth be told don't do much bowhunting at all any more. With the exception of meat-hunting, I largely prefer birds to deer these days, but that certainly didn't stop me from slowly putting down the camera, picking Mr. Rumpbuster up from his spot by the back door, and sending 4.5 millimeters of shiny steel asspain his way.

Vacation's over, kid. School's started and you better start taking notes, because the next armed guy you run into will probably be flinging more than a BB your way.    

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guns I Wish I Had: The .358 Winchester

I was perusing the Upland Journal classifieds recently and ran across this ad for this sweet and rare Ruger M77 in .358 Winchester...

Selling a great little rifle I no longer use. It's a Ruger model 77RLS carbine. Red pad, tang safety model. Topped with a Leupold VXlll 1.75-6 heavy duplex scope. Also comes with the box, (no manual) RCBS dies, 200 rounds of brass, and 2 boxes of factory ammo. Dies and brass are new, I never reloaded for this rifle. The rifle has a few hunting dings which I can photograph and email on request. Nothing major. Just a nice, accurate, all around good woods gun. I carried it for 20 years. Just not anymore. Can meet anyone in Central/Southern Maine to look it over, or ship from/to FFL for others. Asking $1250

I think if I had some disposable income, that gun would be on its way to me right now...

The .358 Winchester is one of those calibers that has been around for a long time, but for whatever reason has never caught on with the American shooting public and is now essentially dead, at least popularly, but remains somewhat in favor with reloaders and iconoclastic gun cranks.

There are precious few factory loads for it these days, and with the exception of the Browning BLR (any others?), I'm not sure there are any gunmakers offering rifles chambered for it, which is a shame. I've always been intrigued by the .35s, and of the lot the .358, which is basically just a necked-up .308 case, seems just about perfect. It has a good range of bullet choices and weights for the reloader, entirely adequate but somewhat modest velocities, a big bore, (relatively) modest recoil, it performs well in shorter barrels, has adequate range (if you're a hunter and not one of those play-acting wannabe tactical sniper dipshits), a tendency toward accuracy, and a reputation for terminal performance way out of proportion to its numbers.

In fact, it sounds much like a big-bore version of my beloved 6.5x55s. I'd love to find a nice vintage Savage 99 or Winchester 88 in 358, but the lever guns are pretty rare (other than that ass-ugly BLR, which I've never shot, but have been told is a damn fine and accurate gun). If I ever get the chance to go on an elk hunt, or if I ever finally make it to Montana, I think I'll either buy one (used, obviously) or have one built on a nice commercial Mauser action. 

Put on a 3x straight-tube scope from the Leupold custom shop (Yes, Leupold does offer a modern version of the legendary, long-discontinued M8 3x through its custom shop. I have one on a vintage .30-06 FN Mauser, and it's awesome) or maybe find a used specimen of the sadly-discontinued fixed 4x Zeiss Conquest, and I think that would make a damn fine gun for an unfashionable rube like myself.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Why Roadless Areas Matter, Even in Oklahoma

 My favorite place in the whole wide world to dove hunt will never win any beauty awards. In fact, by most standards, it's a pretty damn ugly spot; an ancient, creaking old Aermotor rising above an equally ancient stock tank nestled amongst the dessicated, sage-covered sandhills of a worn-out, drilled-and fracked-to-hell local public hunting area that gets continually slammed by hunters from the Sept. 1 dove opener all the way until the last day of deer archery season, and continually slammed by the oil, gas, power, and pipeline companies year-round. A sylvan postcard destination it isn't.

I found it not long after I first moved up here, many years ago. I was new to this region, with few contacts for private-land access. I needed a place to dove hunt, so I grabbed a map of the public hunting area marked with the locations of all the windmills and ponds, picked the one that seemed farthest from any road, and started walking.

By virtually any standard, it wasn't much of a hike in, and even less of a roadless area, perhaps a mile in from the parking area on the county line road, behind a gated two-track used only by the area manager and the rancher who has the grazing lease. Just a mile, but that mile made all the difference in the world. Like most public hunting areas in Oklahoma, this one, despite its relatively small size (some 14,000 acres or so) was a maze of roads. You could (and still can) drive to within a mile of damn near any point on the area.

As such, virtually every other windmill and stock tank on the area was either right by the road, or a short, easy walk from it. And come dove season, every single one would be occupied, some by good folk, some by bad. Just like life. Eventually, however, within a week or so all of them would be shot up, littered up, and used up. Tire tracks, shotgun hulls, beer cans, candy wrappers, water bottles, toilet paper, and the dried-up carcasses of the killdeer, nighthawks and meadowlarks that are the inevitable result of the marriage of dipshit and shotgun.

Except for my windmill. That mile walk up and down those sandhills under an often-scorching September sun apparently dissuaded the worst elements of the beer cooler-and-lawn chair crowd. I never saw anyone else hunt it, never saw anyone else parked in that area during dove season. For the price of a little sweat and a pair of sand burr-perforated legs, I largely had that spot to myself.

Of course, I wasn't gullible enough to believe that my windmill was secret, sacrosanct, somehow impervious to foreign invasion. I know other guys hunted it sometimes, but I never found trash, never found collateral bird or animal damage rotting in the sun, only a few feathers, a few footprints, and sometimes a hull that had been overlooked. But I didn't mind, much. Distance and isolation tend to weed out the riffraff, and I liked to think that one who would sacrifice a bit of sweat to reach this spot was the kind for whom easy access and easy killing were of secondary importance to the quality of experience.

And this lonely old windmill was good for both killing dove and killing time. I have shot many limits here, but I have also sat for many long hours under its rusted blades, just listening to the sound of the wind and watching the prairie go about living. I had fallen in love with the sheer, overpowering sweep of the plains elsewhere years earlier, but it was here, at the base of this windmill, in the heat of late summer, with a shotgun in my hand and my head sopped with the cold fossil water pouring from the pipe, that I first fell in love with its minutia, with the small discoveries and wonders and spectacles of quiet observation, the quiet being that allows a place to come alive and reveal itself, that is such an important part of hunting.    

A pitifully small and isolated prairie dog town, a relic population of perhaps two acres and a hundred or so animals, spreads out around the stock tank. Its existence is a curiosity. How it came to be here, and continues to hang on after every other prairie dog town in the area has long since vanished is a mystery. Every year I think this must be the year that town gets wiped out, either by plague, illegal poisoning or by the guns of the "varmint" shooters, but every year I top that last rise and see the dogs running to their burrows in alarm and the burrowing owls that come back to this spot season after season fly away into the sagebrush, and I know they've made it one more year, thanks to that one thin mile.

I always like to get there early on those afternoon hunts, not only to make sure I claim the spot, but to just sit and watch silently for a couple hours before the dove start coming in and the shooting starts. Sitting under that windmill, I have observed coyotes, bobcats, badgers, ferruginous, Swainson's and red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, merlins, kestrels, burrowing owls, short-eared owls, northern harriers, great-horned owls and roadrunners, as well as prairie rattlers, western diamondbacks, massasaugas, bullsnakes, speckled king snakes and great plains king snakes, all of them trying to eat the prairie dogs, cottontails, jackrabbits, gophers, cotton rats, kangaroo rats, voles, shrews, mice, bobwhite quail, larks, turkeys, dickcissels, sparrows and numerous other prairie birds that frequent the area.

I have watched fence lizards, racerunners, collared lizards and great plains skinks stalk the unbelievable number of dragonflies that depend on the stock tank and the overflow pond for their life cycle. I have watched garter snakes hunt the plains leopard frogs that abound around the tank, and in turn watched the leopard frogs merrily eat each other (a vicious little cannibal, the leopard frog...).

Everyone and everything is busy trying to eat everyone else. Including me, hoping to eat a few dove. There's a certain Mobius-like quality to it all, a satisfaction in knowing I'm taking an active (if somewhat ungraceful) part in this fascinating tapestry of honest violence.

It is a unique spot. There's not another like it on the area. But it's all held together by that one thin mile. Lose that, and you lose it all; the prairie dogs, the burrowing owls, the great hunting, that sense of aloneness and being. Easier, faster and more convenient is great for microwave dinners, but it has no place, no place at all, in accessing wild areas. Some things should be earned, experienced, and appreciated, not simply driven to. Even in a state where the wild places aren't so wild any more, and are measured in a few small acres rather than square miles.

This past weekend, after getting blanked on opening-day teal, I grabbed the shotgun, drove to the local public hunting area, and made the not-so-long walk to my spot. It was my first time here this year. I hadn't had a chance to do much dove hunting this season, and by Saturday the season had been open for two weeks. And it showed. Few birds, many hunters, much trash, much frustration. I honestly didn't know what to expect, but as I topped the last rise, I saw the prairie dogs running for the holes, the burrowing owls flying into the sage, and I thought everything would probably be all right for one more year. And it was. One great evening, one limit and one lousy photo, courtesy of a locked gate, sweet isolation, and a willingness to use my legs for walking instead of mashing down an accelerator.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Sometimes They're There...

And sometime they're not...

And that pretty much sums up September teal season, which opens tomorrow. You go, and if they're there, you shoot them. If they're not, you throw bumpers for the dog...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Your Conservation Tax Dollars At Work...

 *Why have I added a picture of my dog stealing cherry tomatoes to a blog post that has nothing to do with dogs stealing cherry tomatoes? Because he's a thieving bastard, that's why. And this post is about thieving bastards. The difference is, Ozzy's a lovable thieving bastard. I mean, come on, how can you be mad at that?

Seen in a local real estate flier and reproduced here verbatim...

Prime Highway Frontage Awaits Developer - This property of almost 24 acres at Hwy XX and XX is now cleared of most red cedar trees through the USDA conservation program (bold added). Ideal for future commercial, recreational or mixed development. City utilities nearby. Available as one or two tracts, priced separately at $300,000 and $225,000 each.

I have no idea what this "USDA conservation program" was, most likely EQIP or some other type of cost-share or grant program available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Or as I like to call it, the Natural Resources Con Service), and as far as total federal or state dollars wasted, it's admittedly probably not much. But I'm pretty sure that getting Uncle Sam to foot the bill for clearing the land of cedars so it could then be turned around and sold as a commercial development wasn't the original intention of the program. At 24 acres right next to a major highway, it's of extremely dubious conservation value, anyway, and I'm wondering how the hell it even got approved in the first place.

Regardless, it's a perfect little example of how the system is gamed, ruthlessly and blatantly, by so many of those who love to crow, ad nauseam, about how they're the "original environmentalists." And of course many of them are. I've met some great ones. But many of them aren't. I've met some real assholes, too.

Socialize the risks and costs. Privatize the profits. Screw the environmental consequences. That, in a nutshell, is exactly how many people view state and federal conservation programs. Take that 24 acres, multiply (by orders of magnitude) both acreage and the audacity and scale of fraud, and there you've got an idea of the current state of many of the nation's conservation programs. And since we can't even get any farm bill  passed, much less one that might address some of the issues facing these critically important programs (like CRP), the prospects of that changing any time soon are about as bleak as my chances of getting my new self-help book (Working Title: "What's the Goddamned Point? Learning to Accept the Inevitability of Hopelessness Through Self-Medication and Sloth") picked up by a major publisher.  

Well, at least I know where I can find myself 24 prime, cedar-free acres of commercial/industrial paradise just ripe for an oilfield services business, courtesy of the taxpayers of the United States. If I only had a cool $525,000 to buy it... But hey, there's gotta be some kind of gubment program for that, right?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Screw The Pandas?

A pretty interesting and mildly provocative blog post on the Scientific American website about the phenomenon of "taxonomic bias" in how conservation research dollars are allocated...

From the story, entitled "Why We Don't Need Pandas"...

"...The fact is that conservation biology suffers from a phenomenon known as taxonomic bias. It has been long acknowledged that popular species such as lions, eagles and pandas receive disproportionate amounts of funding and public attention over others. This shouldn’t be surprising; you don’t have to look much further than the city zoo to see how the famous animals draw in crowds of people, eager to catch a glimpse of an orangutan de-felting himself. They are the faces of conservation charities around the world and they appear all the time on the covers of magazines. They are on our clothes, they have their own movies, heck, they even show up in breakfast cereal.
However, many in the conservation community have taken off their panda cap long enough to realise that while focusing our attention on popular mammals may attract public support and funds for these particular animals; it results in a significant lack of interest in less ‘glamorous’, yet often more endangered species. Less ‘exciting’ groups like invertebrates, amphibians and fungi are particularly unacknowledged by the public at large, often finding themselves relegated to the bin of creepy-crawly-sticky-slimy crap. There’s no cereal for them, and as far as I know nobody has ever wanted this guy on a T-shirt (a shame in my opinion).

Despite increasing recognition of the importance and conservation status of these species, it simply doesn’t seem to be translating into actual interest in less well known plants and animals. What’s worse is that the bias of interest runs right down to the academic literature, where species like amphibians are particularly underrepresented. For example a 2002 study in Science found that invertebrates are perhaps one of the most understudied groups of organisms in terms of papers relative to their number. Despite making up 79% of all species on earth, research into invertebrates makes up just 11% of the conservation literature. A stark contrast to mammals that have a 68% share of the research yet make up just 3% of the total number of species. Many of these species are not only more endangered than our favourite mammals but they are arguably more important in terms of ecological interactions within the biosphere, having key roles in things such as pollination and soil management.

So basically, the "trickle down" theory of conservation funding works about as well as the "trickle down" theory of economic policy...

It raises an interesting question: does this "taxonomic bias" transfer to research and conservation funding for game animals? I think you could make the argument that it does, to a point. For example, I have long argued that the white-tailed deer is the most unnecessarily studied animal on the continent, and that the vast majority of research, habitat and conservation dollars and effort that states currently waste on whitetails should rightly go to other species.

On the other hand, some of those popular, photogenic game species are in some pretty serious trouble.Our other primary ungulate target, the mule deer, is in a troubling, range-wide decline, and it's hard to argue against it winning a funding battle with, say, the western goat-sucking toad. Unless, of course, the western goat-sucking toad is an environmental indicator species whose decline can be directly tied to that of the mule deer and that research into it will ultimately benefit the mule deer, seeing as that when you get right down to it, pretty much everything is connected. Including us.

So I guess it's complicated. Most things are. I still like pandas, though. And tigers. And eagles. And bears. And even wolves. But as a lifelong herpe (a herpetology buff, not a virus carrier...) and haunter of streams, creeks, fields and woodlands, I love the little stuff, too. The frogs, the toads, the lizards, the snakes, the rodents, the insects, the fish and all the other unloved creepy-crawlies I collected as a child (And teenager. And adult...). They're pretty damn important, too. Like me, they just had the unfortunate luck to be born rather...unglamorous, at least to the masses.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Random Question Friday

Yep, it's a new regular blog feature I'll do once and then completely forget...

Today's question: What would you do if you won a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant? I mean, you'd have to do something worthwhile. You couldn't just fart around, however much farting around a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant would allow you to do.

On the other hand, there's definitely something to be said for farting around...

 "I work at home, and if I want to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I'd never have to leave it. But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil. Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, "Are you still doing typing?" Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, "Okay, I'll send you the pages." 

"Then I go down the steps and my wife calls, "Where are you going?" "Well," I say, "I'm going to buy an envelope." And she says, "You're not a poor man. Why don't you buy a thousand envelopes? They'll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet." And I say, "Hush." 

"So I go to the newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it's my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I'm secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it."

"Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I've had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different."

                                                                         Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Listicles, Testicles, and the Slow Death of Thought

* This picture has nothing to do with the blog. I'm a big Cheers fan and well, just thought it was funny...

OK, an admission: I do not have a deep, thought-provoking blog to go along with the title to this blog. Well, truth be told, I rarely have deep, thought-provoking blogs, anyway, but I really lack one today. I just thought it was a funny title and decided to throw it up there before I forgot about it. So I guess now I'd better write something about it...

At the end of my Abbey blog (which was a bit tongue-in-cheek, and deep in length only) I alluded to a curious journalism term, the "listicle" as it's known to journos. You may not know what a listicle is, but I promise that you're very familiar with them, because they've pretty much taken over the world.

Basically, a listicle is a list, but with just enough copy to make it not seem like a list, but a story. Which it isn't. And that's it, truly. Listicles have been around for a while, mostly to catalog and aggregate random and mostly worthless web crap (Top Ten Bouncing Boobie GIFs!) but it seems that in the past year or so listicles have invaded, and subsequently infected - terminally - every corner of the journalistic world.

In the pre-listicle world I suppose they'd be called sidebars, and contained all the snippets of related, but extraneous and easily-digestable shit you couldn't shoehorn into your feature story. Now, they ARE the feature stories. And these new-style newsy listicles are - as befitting their nefarious origins - almost without exception excruciatingly stupid and utterly worthless, the demon spawn of a detestable new journalism trend known as "news snacking" wherein, the theory goes, today's busy, on-the-go consumer simply doesn't have time to read stories beyond the first paragraph or so, instead preferring to "snack" on the high-fructose corn syrup of "new media stories" like listicles. 

So in essence, the media has rushed to trade out the big, juicy steak of real story, with its meaty, filling textures and flavors and nuance of reporting and writing and structure and narrative, for the crappy, ersatz information equivalent of a bag of Cheezy Poofs. Of course it's an insult to our intelligence, but it's becoming increasingly clear that we're just too goddamned stupid to recognize it.

And if it's not listicles we're snacking on, it's...testicles.

OK, so I just made that word up, but you know all those polls and quizzes and bullshit personality tests designed to tell you who you are? You know, "27 Questions to Determine Whether You're An Introvert Or Merely A Cranky Asshole", that kind of crap?

Those are what I call testicles: tests and quizzes with just enough copy to make it look like a story. They're just as useless as listicles, and just as rampant. I suppose I could have dubbed them "quizzicles" but I prefer testicles. Wait... what I mean is, I prefer the word testicles, not actual, you know, testicles. Just to clear that up. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Anyway, any dolt can see how truly worthless these things are. You are not going to determine whether to leave your husband based on the results of a compatability test you took on Huffpo. And you are are not going to go shell out two grand for a new shotgun because you saw that it was featured on an "8 Best Plastic Shotguns for Newly-Bearded Wankers With Too Much Money" listicle. You are not going to go out and buy a Chesadoodbrador pup simply because some listicle told you it was one of the top five gundogs for hunting snipe in public parks.

It's just stupid. Astoundingly so. If it were possible to ascribe negative numerical values to the concept of "meaninglessness" as applied to listicles and testicles, we'd be down somewhere in the realm of "coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth" territory. And that's pretty damn negative.

 It seems to me that the entire concept of the listicle is based upon the presumption that we cannot or will not think for ourselves, that making choices based on parameters specific to you and you alone is...too hard? Takes too much time? Involves too many brain waves? I just don't understand the appeal or the worth of applying specific recommendations to laughably subjective topics. It's like proclaiming "Top Five Ice Creams To Eat During An Emotional Crisis". It means nothing. I like butter pecan, by the way.

Or, can this Rise of the Testicles be attributed to something a little easier to comprehend, a little more cynical, like maybe, oh, I dunno... a cheap and easy way to boost pageviews and therefore ad rates without having to pay real writers for real stories that actually have something to say?

Maybe it's not all on readers, after all maybe they're "snacking" because it's the only damn thing they can find to eat any more? It's a real causal relationship dilemma, isn't it? What came first: the stupidity of the reader or the greed (or perhaps desperation) of the publisher?

Who knows? All I know for sure is, if you consume too many testicles and/or listicles, your brain simply stops working. It's like a literary lobotomy. So don't be lobotomized. Refuse to snack. Eat more story.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Falling Leaves Make Me Happy

To hell with you, summer. Fall is here at last, and the leaves are getting suicidal. Dove season kicked off on Sunday, early teal starts in ten days, and then a long stretch until the waterfowl opener in late October, and finally, (finally!) quail season opens on Nov. 9th. And to think that in a lot of states (I'm looking at you, Montana) upland bird seasons started on Sunday right along with dove. Lucky bastards. Of course, we can hunt until February 15th, while you northern hosers are busy ice fishing, so I guess it balances out...

There's much work to be done between now and then, anyway. You can't run or train dogs on public land here in Oklahoma until Sept. 1, so the dogs have had a long, boring summer getting fat and lazy just like me, but that's about to change, too. We've got a lot of running to do between now and November, so go on leaves, keep jumping. The end is nigh. Photosynthesis is over. End your now-pointless lives and make me happy...