Friday, July 31, 2009

Philosophy of Hunting

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have encountered a number of people who have "issues" with my hunting and discussing hunting. To be fair, SOME of them have problems with my raising livestock as well, but not all of them. Those are the ones that really blow my mind. For example, they say it is fine that I raise livestock for food, but if I want to hunt for wild animals for food, that's bad. HUH?

Now, I mentioned that I have my own philisophical reasons for hunting. And I will be sharing those with you... right about now.

I have lived in suburban and rural areas. I have known those that live in truly urban environments. Those in the urban environs don't have as many problems as those of us who live outside of the city lights, for the most part. But where I am and have been, it is not an unusual occurance to see deer, raccoon, groundhog, possum, etc on the side of the road where they end up after being hit by a car. This is damaging to both the vehicles and the humans driving them, but also to the animals since there is a large chance of a not clean kill. Let me make this point very clear... Animal Suffering = BAD!

On top of the suffering and damage that occurs, there is also the major problem that those like my wife and I face. We plant a garden to feed us and our families. We don't plant it to feed the animals, but that doesn't mean that they don't look at our garden and our yard as a smorgasboard of delectable treats just for them. Rabbits and deer both love the yummy veggies that we plant. When I was a young child, my family had 5-6 evergreen bushes that lined one side of the driveway, and every winter, these bushes grew more and more bare. First along the middle, say 3-4 feet high, then higher and lower. When there was snow on the ground, you could see the deer tracks coming and going from the bushes. A neighbor up the hill had two chestnut trees, and when the chestnut balls fell, the deer would congregate to break them open and eat the treat inside. (as a side note, if you don't know about chestnut trees, when they drop their balls, they are spike balls between 4-6 inches in diameter. These hurt when you run around in bare feet as I do.) The deer don't remove the spike balls, they just break them open, so I was constantly finding pieces of them... by stepping on them.

These are just some of the problems that wild animals can cause. I am not going to go into detail about raccoons and garbage cans, bears and dumpsters, or the danger that these can pose to family, friends, pets, and livestock. However, we need to realize WHY we see these problems. Trust me, deer are not hanging out by the side of the road because their parents just don't understand.

The first reason that they are doing these things because humans are encroaching on their habitats. Now, before you go off on me and call me some sort of greenie weenie, I am not saying that their habitats are sacred, but you do have to realize that if you tear down 50-100 acres of woodlands, the animals that lived there have to go someplace. If a piece of forest can support 50 deer, and you cut that land in half without removing half of the herd, what do you think will happen? They look at the gardens and lawns to get food, since there isn't enough for everyone in that area anymore.

Secondly, we as humans want to protect ourselves and our familes, no? Well, that means we clear out and kill many of the predators near where we live. Makes sense, right? Well, now these animals that used to lose the sick and elderly to their predators, are living longer and are becoming overpopulated beacause Nature's balancing mechanism is broken. And we broke it. Therefore, it is up to us to take the place of the predators that we took out of the picture. Take my previous example and say you have a piece of land that supports 50 deer. Well, those deer give birth each year and the herd would grow, but they lose members of the herd each year to the mountain lion/coyote/wolf/etc. But we put up some houses outside of that area and we kill the predators to keep our children safe. Now, they deer herd is not thinned each year and quickly grows from 50 to 75 or 100. Now, we start seeing the same problems as removing their homelands.

In both of these instances, since the food supply is not enough to support the number of animals that live on the land, they have to look farther and farther afield to get their food. If there just isn't enough, the herds get sick, the heartiest animals get the illnesses of the weaker animals since they don't have enough food to keep themselves healthy. They get sick, they can't provide/protect the weaker members, and so on and so forth. It's a very vicious cycle.

For these reasons, I believe in animal hunting. But I want to make another point. I believe in hunting for the well-being of the herd of animals being hunted and for the food/leather/products that can be gained by taking the animal. They say we have a hunger problem in America. Well, I say that we should teach more people to go out hunting and they will have more food to eat. I believe in using as much of each animal as possible. Waste Not, Want Not.

To take that a step farther, I don't necessarily believe in trophy hunting. I say necessarily because there are some trophy hunters would donate the meat that they take to the hungry in the area where the animal was taken. There are not always enough hunters in an area to keep the animal population under control, and if Johnny Hunter wants to come and take out a XXXXXXX animal, and donate the food, then go for it. But just to hunt for a trophy for the wall? Nah, don't think so.

I don't know if I am going to convince anyone that hunting is good that doesn't already lean that way, and I don't know if I am going to turn anyone away from hunters. I just wanted to put my thoughts out there and see what some of you think.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Doing what needs done

With my post yesterday, I got no comments. I can understand that. Hunting is really a touchy subject with many people. I can understand that and I am sure I will be typing up a philosophical treatise on my thoughts regarding hunting.

However, hunting is not the purpose of my post for today. No, today is talking about protecting the animals and the people in my care. I warn you that what follows is not necessarily a pleasant read, but it is something that comes with living in the "country".

Read on, or come back another day for a new post. Thanks.

So, yesterday, I get home from work and I go out to the coops to look in on the birds. Hmm, all of the ducklings and the momma duck actually worked themselves totally out of the run and the other female got over to the chicken coop. Hmmmm, curious. So I walk over and look into the duck coop and what do I see? A friggin' rat! I bet that stupid rat got some of our ducklings. So I flip the door shut and make sure that there is no way for it to get out and I hustle in.

Now, I am in a quandry, it is sitting in my duck coop... a wooden coop with a wooden floor. That eliminates a number of weapons. Hmmm. Hey, I've got this stupid little pellet gun. Ok, so its really old, but it still works and I have some .177 cal pellets. Its only a 5-8 foot shot. Yeah, this will work.

So I get back out to the coop, still in slacks and a dress shirt, carrying a pellet gun, with plastic bags hanging out of my pockets. I'm sure I was quite a sight. So I pump up the gun, load a pellet and lift up the roof a bit to get my aim. Man, I should have been a sniper. 1 shot = 1 kill. I shot, right behind the ear. Done.

So I get in the coop and get it and any straw with blood on it and double bag it. Take it down, put the gun and pellets away, and I put the body in the garbage. I am feeling pretty decent. I am doing what needs to be done and I am protecting the animals that are in my care.

Then my wife mentions that where there is one rat, there are probably more.... ARGH!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Slowly, I turn, inch by inch...

I believe I have mentioned in the past (though, I am not completely sure) that I have mentioned that the wife and I are new to our area. Well, we have lived in the new state for a little over a year and we will have been in our house for a year in a couple weeks. But the thing is since we moved to this state, I have not been hunting. Let me be honest here, I came to hunting later in life. My grandfather used to, but he had a stroke before I was born and never went again. My parents did not go. This made it much more difficult because I didn't have the people around me to take me and teach me or to make me interested in hunting. I started to be very interested in it as a teenager and thought about it for years but never did anything about it. Then I finally decided that it was time. Because of where I used to live, I ended up going by myself a good bit, but I never did get anything.

Now, in the new state, the bow hunting season for deer is over 3 months long, gun hunting for deer is one week. Which is fine with me, I do prefer the bow anyways, but just look at that discrepancy of time! So I have to prepare!

I should have been practising with the bow for the past few months, but with everything else going on, I have been running out of time. This past weekend, I found some time to get out and do some shooting and working to tune up the bow. I then proceeded to lose two friggin' arrows. Did you know, that arrows are not cheap? 30, 40, 50, and UP for 12 arrows that I will still need to cut and set up. That doesn't include targets, if you use them, if you need a new string, or whatever. That is all ignoring the cost of a bow. Which is definately not cheap!

I currently use a Jennings UniStar. This was produced a while back, but it is a rather unique design. Where most compound bows have their cams on the end wheels where everyone expects them to be, the UniStar put it in the middle of the bow. This unique cam, to me, is probably the best set up for a compound bow that I have ever shot. (Not saying that there aren't better bows or that this is right for anyone else, but for me....) It eliminates uneven pulling and I feel that it doesn't have the same limb stress that comes with the "traditional" compound bow. I have never even needed a stabilizer on the front. I got mine from for $25, but I see them going from $150 to upwards of $350 per bow. Man, I would love a backup bow just in case anything ever happens to my current bow. (So if any of you happen to know of a cheap one or have one laying around that you would like to get rid of, please let me know! Can't pay much, but you would have my gratitude!!!)

Now, I would love to have a well made traditional long bow or even a recurve, but they are even more expensive any more. Some day I will be looking to make my own traditional long bow, but until that day, my UniStar will work for me.

If anyone wants to donate some arrows, that would be appreciated too! I've got about a 30" pull with the bow set about 63# right now. (I know, I am shameless!)

I will be taking some pictures of my arrow groupings and whatnot as I prep for the upcoming hunting seasons. I am hoping to get at least a deer this year. Maybe even some squirrel. :-D

(The picture was pulled from a seller on ebay, not my current bow)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Updates

Well, we are down to 7 ducklings. We hitched the coop up to one of the vehicles and moved it to back behind the garden. It seems that the rain made the rat or whatever rodent that was taking them followed. So we put out a poison trap, which we both really hated to do, but we can't be losing any more ducklings. They rely on us for their care!

We also got us a "barn" cat. The wife is very allergic, but we needed to do something, so Jade, the kitty, is out in the chicken coop. Seems to be ok with it. Doesn't really like it, but I think she will grow accustomed to it. Her previous owners were moving to Phoenix and were not able to take her with them.

I don't think I mentioned before, but our neighbors across the street are really awesome. They raise animals and buy/sell at a number of the auctions around. They had gotten us another female muscovy, but between the time of purchase and the time we got her to our coop, it seemed like she broke her foot. She was hobbling and unable to move it or straighten it out. We were keeping a close eye on her in case it would be necessary to have duck for dinner some night, but she is doing excellently and is walking around with barely a trace of a limp.

Of course, the neighbors do just about every type animal under the sun except for three that we are interested in. We have talked about getting some pigs, some turkeys, and someday a dairy cow. They can point us in the right direction, but its not like sheep or goats where we can just walk over and they have some there for us to get used to. I believe a lot of what we are waiting for right now is the money so set up the housing and the fencing. Ha ha.

Then again, since our only pup now is 1/2 border collie, 1/2 brittany (100% spazmodic nutjob), we have talked about maybe some sheep or goats just to give him some meaningful work to expend some of his energy. Oh if only the neighbors sheep were dog broken! Although, he did do a really good job herding our muscovy drake back into the run last night. I really wish I had a picture of that... he looked just like he should, head down, tail down, stalking and herding that duck. Of course, I don't see a whole lot of sheep dog trials near where we are, but who knows, get a couple sheep and then maybe travel some to compete or something. Yeah, right.

I was laughing to myself last night... think about a sheep dog trying to herd some fainting goats. That would be hilarious. I can just see the dog looking at a goat after it fainted going, "oh my, oh my, i killed it, oh my, oh my!!!!" If you don't know about fainting goats, check out youtube and do a search. They are cute and funny as all get out.

Anyways, I think that's enough for right now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Busy busy and some additions

Well, I am not sure who knows what or what I have mentioned in the past, so here's an update on most and sundry.

First. Dear Wife and I are now licensed Foster Parents for our county/state. That has taken up a huge amount of time in preparing for this and for getting the house and everything ready. Also, the meetings with the case worker and the phone calls/emails have been quite time consuming as well.

Secondly, one of our muscovy hens has been broody on 14 eggs for... well, just about 35 days, and we now have ducklings! 13 hatched, and for those of you who don't know, 13 out of 14 is a really good hatch. At least in our experiences, if you get eggs from a hatchery, our normal hatch rate is just over 1/2. They hatched this past Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, somehow we have lost two. :-( We don't know what happened, but we only have 11 as of this evening. No bodies, no down, nothing. Our hope is that the two most adventerous escaped and followed some of our neighbors back across the street. Our neighbors across the street make their living raising and selling animals... mostly working the auctions. They have sheep, goats, all sorts of chickens, ducks, geese, a llama, rabbits, pigeons, etc. Their ducks like to come over to our yard for something new and some of them come through because if you work your way through our yard, our neighbors yard, and back a little, there is a nice big pond for them.

Third, a nine month old border collie/brittany mix is well... time consuming as well. This is such a high energy dog that even if I work with him for an hour or two a day he still has the energy to be a spaz and to go go go go go go.

Well, this is some of what is going on, I am going to try to get a couple more composed coming up to cover some more of what has been happening. I may not be posting as often as before, but still... thanks for letting me vent. So for now, your reward is... Baby Ducky Pictures!!!!