↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → Pennsylvania

Property Taxes: Vote them OUT

A version of this opinion-editorial was submitted to the Patriot News editorial editor, John Micek. He usually prints my opinion pieces, but it also takes a lot of hemming and hawing. UPDATE: The Patriot News did run this op-ed on 11/2/16. Thank you, John Micek.

Property Taxes Must End

In graduate school, our economics professors gave us hypothetical tax and income scenarios to solve. Our homework was to critique various tax and revenue structures, and find the optimum public fund distributions, based on subjective values. These learning exercises were designed to give us the ability to present decision makers with a range of policy options best suited to a particular culture or economic perspective. A lot of my peers there were international students headed home to basically run their countries.

My take on property tax is that it spreads the burden around to those least likely to directly benefit from it, those least likely to see an indirect benefit from it, and those least likely to afford it. It penalizes working people the most. Politically it is treated like an off-the-books cash cow, pushing an increasingly unmanageable burden on our most vulnerable citizens. School property taxes are the worst and most unfair form of tax possible. A thousand years ago in Europe they were considered fair, because the taxing authorities no longer had to search and pillage individual farms while looking for “extra” grain and meat hidden among the farmer’s possessions. Land taxes were then tied to the particular land’s productive capabilities. Thin soils on rocky terrain in cold climates with short growing seasons were “penny lands,” because they annually produced only pennies worth of food and fiber beyond basic subsistence levels. “Ouncelands” farms on rich soils in warmer climates produced enough “extra” food to be annually valued in ounces of silver. And so on.

Today even this basic leveling philosophy is long gone from our property tax arrangements, as is the agricultural world that started property taxes altogether. Now it’s a free for all, with school property taxes disconnected from serving students, and directed to gold plating the various administrative and pension arrangements concocted by politically powerful unions, or building unneeded, expensive monuments to the failed educational profession in the form of elementary and high school “campuses” on productive farmland. Thus, the poorest cities with the lowest real estate values have the highest school taxes. This is bad policy, bad government, bad taxation, and it must end. We citizens deserve much better from our government.

Here in Pennsylvania’s 15th senate district, one candidate (the incumbent) has voted several times against repealing, changing, eliminating, or even reforming school property taxes. Then again, he has received tens of thousands of dollars from government school unions.

The other candidate has pledged to support Act 76, the property tax elimination bill that would keep Grandma from getting ejected from her home of fifty years because she can’t pay $23.76 in back taxes to a school district that only knows how to spend, spend, spend, and to which she has not sent a kid since 1963.

If you live here in the 15th senate district, next week you should vote for the candidate who says he supports Act 76. That person is John DiSanto.

Josh First is a businessman living in Harrisburg City.

Friends in low places

Several years ago several ambitious construction projects were begun, where the building material would come from our own oak trees on our property. Oak may not be the best or easiest building wood, because when it dries it is heavy and as hard as iron, and thus tough on tools and shoulders alike, but it is what we have there.

So oaks were cut, skidded, piled, and then milled in situ over about a five year period. An injury and subsequent surgery prevented me from continuing this remote effort, which then moved forward in fits and starts over several years. When we finally got around to completing the actual projects, much of that beautiful oak had been sitting out for a long time, and in some cases too long. After using up much of that oak lumber, a large amount yet remained in piles, where it had air dried.

Last week was my final drive to get under roof thousands of board feet of two-inch-thick oak boards, heavy beams, and smaller posts, before they started to rot. It was a lot of work. The unusual heat and blazing sun made the work go slower. One thing that surprised me was the absence of mice living in these outdoor piles. Normally mice run and scurry as the wood is moved, having nested among the boards in perfect little hidey holes.

The last pile of drying lumber was finally put away, with just a few boards remaining at the very end, butted up against a huge boulder that makes up part of a stone wall around the yard. As I dismounted the tractor, stepped over to the board ends, and reached down to grab them, a sound caught my attention.

It was a sound that set off primitive alarm bells in my brain.

At first it sounded like a cricket, and then a grasshopper, and then a second later my mind concluded it was a timber rattlesnake. After stepping back, well, let’s say it was an inelegant, well, ugly (it’s a big fat man jumping, after all) leap, minus my usual little girl scream that seems to accompany most of my unplanned and close-up rattlesnake encounters, I looked down.

A long black snake with a yellow diamond pattern was stretched out next to the boulder, about six inches from where my boot heel had settled moments before. The long grass against the boulder had concealed the snake from my eyes, which, frankly, had not looked there, but had rather been focused on the heavy boards, and how I was going to pick them up and manhandle them to their destination across the yard.

The snake’s angular head and erect tail with rattles confirmed it as a timber rattlesnake.

While it was not a huge male rattler, the likes of which I have caught and moved to safety off of roads and trails a number of times since I was a kid, it was nonetheless big enough to permanently remove a chunk of leg muscle. So I admired it for a minute, and then went on to other work elsewhere. When I returned an hour later, it was gone, though I thought I could see it coiled up right under the boulder’s edge. Instead of reaching down with my hands, I used the pallet forks on the tractor to pull out those last boards.

Over the course of the next two days, my mind kept replaying the encounter. In July 2001, when we had owned the property for seven months, DCNR forester Jim Hyland and I had scoured our property, as well as the adjoining State Forest and part of the adjoining private land, looking for rattlesnakes. That day we found a corn snake, a garter snake, a ring neck snake, and two green snakes. No sign of rattlesnakes among the rock and old slate quarries up high. Not even a shed skin.

So for sixteen years we had enjoyed our property without being mindful of rattlers. Our children had been born and raised around the cabin, running freely around the property. Sure, I spent a lot of time in our woods, a certified Tree Farm, and I have always been on the lookout for rattlesnakes, as well as other snakes, but I had seen few snakes at all, and never a rattler.

Snakes are awesome, they are awesomely cool creatures. I bear them no animosity whatsoever. In high school and college a pet boa constrictor kept me company, until she had grown so large that she was regularly breaking out of her cage and hunting our house cats. When I last saw her, she filled up one side of the man’s living room, and he regularly fed her rabbits and squirrels he trapped in his yard. She weighed about 150 pounds then, and was ten years old. I hugged her, but she just laid there, limp and dozing. Snakes…what can you do? Love em the best ya can.

And so now I am confronted with the fact that a potentially dangerous animal shares our camp with us. All around us we have seen rattlesnakes over the years, mostly run over by cars down on the highway, and increasingly I see them all over central and Northcentral Pennsylvania while cruising timber and looking at land. At some point I did expect them to join us as tenants of one sort at the cabin. Under the front porch is where I thought they would first show up, because it’s good cover and the mice like it there. Struggling emotionally to adjust to this new arrangement has not been painful, but it has been harder than I thought it would be.

The absence of mice under the wood piles reminded me why I accept and even welcome the presence of timber rattlesnakes, intellectually if not emotionally. Mice are a major pest, and they are destructive little bastards. Hearing them chirp and run inside the walls of the cabin at night, right next to my bed, is a source of aggravation. When they eat porch and barn furniture for nesting material, it is infuriating. They pee everywhere, and it stinks. We regularly trap them around the buildings and poison them inside the barn. Help reducing their numbers is most welcome, and anyone or anything that helps achieve that goal is a friend of mine.

Timber rattlers are beautiful to look at, and they are normally pretty docile, requiring a lot of pestering and rough handling to elicit a strike. But like all wild animals they are unpredictable, and the risk they pose to little kids playing outside is significant. Fortunately, our kids have reached ages where they can think carefully for themselves, consciously avoiding areas where rattlers would naturally congregate. And we now infrequently host families with little kids as guests, as most of our friends have kids the same ages as our own children, able to take guidance, if they are with their parents at all.

So the risks versus the benefits works out in our favor. The benefits of rattlers sharing our property are high, because they eat the hell out of mice. Rattlesnakes are my new friends, in low places, where they are needed most.

Welcome, friends.

 

Major Conservation Milestones Remind us of Happy Things

Amidst all the present misery, happy reminders float to the top of our consciousness. That America and Pennsylvania have achieved great conservation successes amidst tremendous challenges.

The US National Parks turned 100 this year.

What would America be without our national parks and monuments? These special places define who we are; they are the cultural blood quietly flowing through our national body.  Green, magnificent, beautiful, beyond human abilities, our national parks should be celebrated. Like our own blood, we only see them if we prick the skin to see what is underneath. Go ahead, take a drive and visit a national park; discover yourself.

This spring our family vacationed in Yosemite, and hiked day after day, lusting after photo-perfect landscape views and heavenly skies within our grasp, and without end. Last year it was Sequoia. I remain proud of my contributions to the creation of the Flight 93 Memorial, which has grown up and flown far beyond my 2003 expectations.

Here in Penn’s Woods, the Fish & Boat Commission turned 150 years old this spring. Yes, the PFBC is as old as the first US Civil War, a reminder that even in the often lawless throes of the industrial revolution’s filthy sewage, Americans, namely Pennsylvanians leading the way, valued their clean water and healthy fish stocks.

Mostly innocuous, the PFBC is like the angel in white whispering on our shoulder, reminding us of the good things we should do. Several years ago the agency survived an assassination attempt. Turned out, angel’s voices are too pure for industrial-strength greed and career politicians’ wishes for unlimited power and public wealth.

Also in Penn’s Woods, the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources recently named six new wild areas on existing public land. While wild areas are nice and welcome, waving a magic wand over existing public land and renaming it kind of begs the question: Why is this conservation agency not adding additional new acreage to the public holdings, and then striking a balance with the new designations?

Last week my son and I drove through the heart of Pennsylvania’s state forest complex, up in the northcentral region. Natural gas development arrived there and changed some of the publicly owned landscape in the past nine years. While gas drilling brought much needed cash and energy independence, laudable and valuable results, they came with a price – our public lands bore new scars from industrialization.  DCNR would do the public interest best if it sought to balance impacts on its land with the addition of new acreage purchased from willing sellers. Then the new wild areas would really mean something.

Live on, PFBC, long may you prosper and guard our most basic nourishment, the water we drink.

Live long, national parks, long may you remind us of our best, purest selves.

A nod to a real artist

Geoffroy Gournet is a pilgrim among pagans.

A real Frenchman living among the natives here in Pennsylvania, we are fortunate to have him.

How such a refined and accomplished artist landed in our midst one can only guess. I think I asked him, but somehow he shrugged it off. Something about enjoying watching his dogs work, the close proximity of good bird hunting, the ease of getting to New Jersey and New York, and then getting right back out again.

Whatever his response, I forgot it. But I do not forget how fortunate East Coast  sportsmen are to have this artist so close to our guns, knives, and other objects we want engraved with the talismans of our times afield. He lives right in Easton, Pennsylvania, in a beautiful historic neighborhood on the banks of the Delaware River.

Geoffroy’s website is www.gournetusa.com. If you decide to have the engraving of a lifetime put on a favorite gun, or even just on a pocket knife, get in touch with Geoffroy.  You will be happy you did.

One may tend to think of French artists as hoity-toity, aloof, nearly effervescent, but Geoffroy is a very kindly, friendly, and manly man. It is true he has a thing for fancy French bicycles, but then again he is French. We accept these things.

His engraving is second-to-none, and he has greatly improved our own family’s enjoyment in the smallest ways.

Thank you, Geoffroy.

 

Our dear friend, Don Heckman

Don Heckman needs little introduction in the sporting circles of Pennsylvania and the East Coast.

A founding member and long time leader of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Don’s cheerful, generous and kind personality and locomotive work ethic helped re-establish wild turkeys to Pennsylvania in the 1970s, when the conventional wisdom said it was impossible.

Don was also a powerful advocate for the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsman’s Clubs, the National Rifle Association, and many other similar groups to which he was a devoted life member.

He was a persuasive advocate for the continued success of the Pennsylvania Game Commission on the whole, and its land acquisition and science-based habitat management programs in particular.

Don was both an incredibly good hunter, and at times also exasperating to hunt with. This is because of his own unique standards: He refused to shoot a gobbler (male turkey), unless it was both strutting and gobbling at the same time. Sneaking toms, peeping toms, cautious toms, running or flying toms he would not shoot, no matter how close or in range of his gun. None of those were sporting birds, in his estimation. Only a completely unaware longbeard was worthy.

Don and I turkey hunted together a number of times over the years, mostly in the central Pennsylvania farmland we both love. While it would be easy to regale Don’s skill as a caller and hunter, two instances come to mind that sum up the attraction of having Don as your hunting partner.

First was his wry humor. He meant it with love, of course.

“Mmmmmm, uh huh. That sounds like a turkey,” was a frequent back handed compliment from Don as I was scratching away on a friction call, mostly slates.

He wouldn’t care that my calling had actually lured in a nice longbeard to within range. That was no inoculation against the compliment. For Don, it was important to remind me that my calling could always improve, whenever he had the chance. And he was right, of course, as much as I do not like to admit it.  That’s what good teachers are about. He was, after all, a many time champion caller whose skill I could only marvel at and never hope to replicate.

And just to prove his point by spiking the ball, Don might decide to stand up and switch locations even as the gobbler was determinedly marching across a cut corn field directly to us.

Watching the alarmed bird take wing and sail to the other side of the valley, the now standing Don said to my sitting figure, “Yeah, he must’ve seen you move.”

Movement is the biggest no-no of all in turkey hunting, and rookies move a lot. Even veterans get caught moving their eyeballs by wary gobblers fifty yards out. To attribute the alarmed and rushed exit of a wild turkey to a hunter’s movement is a gentle way of saying “Your hunting skill needs some work.” Even if it didn’t at that very moment.

And then there was that truly exasperating standard of his, the one where he would only shoot a gobbler in full strut AND gobbling. That performance is like looking up in the sky and seeing the sun and moon align, because a longbeard gobbler that is both strutting and gobbling is completely in the moment. He feels no fear or wariness that usually accompanies most alluring hen calls by hunters.

As I am not ever going to approach Don’s skill as a turkey hunter (he has racked up more annual grand slam turkey hunts species-wise and across multiple states than anyone else I know), I feel fortunate to shoot any gobbler, strutting or not.

And it is a fact that my poor skill as a turkey caller usually results in birds sneaking in, peering in, or darting in for a quick look before running like hell to get out of Dodge, or “putting” (turkeys make a putt-putt alarm call when they are suspicious enough to flee) from 40 yards out, so that most of the gobblers I have killed were shot mid-stride to the next county.

Not in full strut AND gobbling, like Don would have.

One morning in Dauphin County about four or five years ago, Don and I were lying in a field while I called to turkeys below us. They came well within range, but the lead gobbler, a huge bruiser boss bird, stopped gobbling and was “only” fanned out and puffed up, strutting. Such an impressive performance was insufficient to move Don’s trigger finger backwards, despite my harsh whispers of expletive-laced encouragement.

Nope. Instead, Don stood up in plain view of the flock, maybe thirty yards away, with his shotgun trained on the head of the strutting gobbler, and he began simultaneously calling with his mouth diaphragm call.

Wild turkey hunters know that at the sight of a man standing up within two hundred yards, let alone thirty, wild turkeys scatter like dust in a hurricane. They are gone in the blink of an eye.

Not these birds. Don’s calling was so good, so realistic, so enticing that the entire flock turned to look at us with concern for the grossly misshapen hen addressing them, and then they calmly walked away.

Don never shot, though he would have easily bagged any of the gobblers there. He just said “Oh, well, let’s go try another spot.”

Don is now in another spot, a turkey chaser’s dream spot, I am sure. He was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor in late January this year, and he rode it out with the help of his devoted wife, Sandy, for the next few months, until he died on the night of May 17th, in the central Pennsylvania region he loved so much.

Like all of his friends and acquaintances, I will miss Don Heckman enormously. Sitting in a turkey blind I cried yesterday, thinking about his loss. Don died way too young, barely into his retirement, and not in time for me to prove to him that really, I can get a gobbler to strut AND gobble in range. But that is what I will continue to do, to aspire to, in Don’s memory, as representative as it was of one of the last great generational wildlife conservation leaders in Pennsylvania and in America.

Bye, old friend, boy do I miss you.

 

Invasives & Sustainability

Invasives present a challenge to sustainability because they quickly fill gaps where natives take longer to grow and thrive. Natives evolved in their environment over long periods of time and they perform certain key services and functions that are necessary for the overall system to function properly.

As non-native invasives proliferate, they choke out the natives and reduce their ecosystem services. Almost always, the non-native invasives perform limited or no services, despite showy appearances. Their presence is totally unsustainable and is ruinous if left unchecked.

A day or so ago while walking on my favorite rail-trail, it was impossible to ignore the sickly sweet smell of Japanese honeysuckle, a huge invasive nearly everywhere in Pennsylvania. For whatever reason, Japanese honeysuckle has spread like wildlfire in the past few years. My only neighbor’s property is like Ground Zero, so whatever fight I am carrying on at my place is limited in effect by the invasive sanctuary across the boundary line. Like a shrub explosion.

Sure, the ruby throated hummingbirds benefit from honeysuckle, and who doesn’t like watching the gentle, delicate little birds flit around?

But this much honeysuckle is quickly crowding out native trees that benefit our native wildlife. Occasionally deer will browse the tender tips of a honeysuckle shrub, but after the first inch it’s just tough woody debris that deer won’t eat. So it grows pretty much unchallenged. And boy does it ever grow!

Along with Japanese honeysuckle comes barberry, multiflora rose, and autumn or Russian olive, often all popping up unannounced in large clumps. Interesting, isn’t it, that they all appear together? Once in a while a nasty ailanthus (“Tree of Heaven”) will push its way in among the other invaders.

After years of battling these non-native invasives, I have come to rely on pulling up the barberry by hand, usually with the aid of a length of re-bar, and spraying the smaller olives, honeysuckle, and multiflora rose with glyphosate. Sawing substantially into the larger honeysuckle shrubs and spraying the cut with glyphosate usually does the trick; it works much better than trying to spray the whole big shrub.

Intriguing, don’t you think, that the biggest advocates of fighting non-native invasives are the ones most aggressively pushing non-native invasives in the form of lawbreaking illegal border crashers?

Recently I was on the West Coast, in an area in the grip of a Biblical-size drought. Water scarcity is becoming a serious problem. Public demand for water far outstrips supply. A drive through the Central Valley revealed apocryphal “Dustbowl” conditions, with signs everywhere warning about the consequences of poor water management.

It is not a sustainable situation. Yet this area also holds the greatest number of illegal invaders in America, who put an unsustainable demand on other public services besides water. Public transportation, public schools, roads, highways, sewage treatment, public spaces like parks, police, fire and hospital services are all stretched way beyond capacity by the presence of the non-native, non-tax-paying  invasives.

And yet the voting citizens of Los Angeles and California continue to aggressively vote for unsustainability.

Boggles the mind.

Cruz Quixote

Ted Cruz was my candidate until he was clear he’d rather be used by the GOPe to block Trump than stand on his principles, do or die.

Now with another Super Tuesday primary election behind us and boosting Trump, with zero chance of a Cruz win, Ted Cruz has decided to go on a Quixotic anti Trump jihad.

Cruz has made damaging Trump his top principle. Not defeating Hillary. Not promoting an overhaul of the GOP. Nope. Hurting Trump is now Cruz’s raison d’etre.

Pathetic. And unpatriotic.

At this point, a real American would step aside and cheer on the front runner. A real American would consider the national interest before his own.

Not Cruz. Being an obstructionist is now his highest and best use. This is sad to me, as I had thought he was bigger than this juvenile behavior.

It’s so bad that some Pennsylvania Cruz -aligned delegates are talking openly of going to the Republican convention just to work against Trump.

Donald Trump still does not represent my values very well, nor do I trust him to be the warrior in office he is now.  But Trump is a damn sight better than Benghazi Billary, and he’s now our standard barer, for better or worse.

Time to let go of personal ambitions in the greater interest of America. Or maybe move to Canada and just get out of our way.

Our Future Belongs to the Young

After spending years running for office and fighting many political battles on behalf of the common citizen, I was excited to run for State Senate in 2015-2016. It was supposed to be “our time.”

Enter Andrew Lewis, a young guy newly back in the area after a ten year period of service in the US Army.

Some already know the story: In late November hunting season I fell, injured my left knee, and headed in to surgery.

Competing against wealthy land developer John DiSanto was going to be a battle royale I nonetheless felt confident of winning. But with Andrew undermining our campaign base in rural, wonderful Perry County, and with him making up for a lack of money with an abundance of energy and hard work in the door to door arena, it made sense to cut my losses and see if Andrew could get my own agenda done.

After all, I did not relish the prospect of a 33/33/33 result decided by a couple hundred votes in the end.  Our family time and money was worth more at home than on that uncertain kind of a campaign trail.

Andrew had already adopted a great deal of our campaign platform, and when he agreed to term limits and not taking unconstitutional perquisites, I endorsed him.

Here we are, a day out from Election Day.

I am asking you to vote for Andrew Lewis in the Pennsylvania State Senate 15th District race.

Andrew Lewis is a young conservative who represents the future of American leadership.

John DiSanto is a fine man I’ve enjoyed getting to know on the campaign trail, but he has two liabilities: First, his business by its nature has left a trail of unhappy people. That’s not a great selling point in an election where the same people’s votes are needed.

Second, John’s toughness may be an asset in the land development field, but it’s not a great skill set in politics. John’s performance during and after debates demonstrates he is uncomfortable being challenged. If he easily gets testy among a friendly Republican forum, how’s he going to come off in a death match with sitting senator Rob Teplitz?

The 15th senate district should be in traditional American hands, and Andrew has the charm, background, and articulate policy interest necessary to demonstrate to citizens of all political leanings that he has their interests at heart first and foremost.

Please vote for Andrew Lewis on Tuesday.

Farewell Senate Campaign Page, Hello ol’ Blog!

With the Pennsylvania Primary election just eleven days away, the time has arrived to go back to the blog and leave the campaign policies and pledges to candidates Andrew Lewis and John DiSanto.

The last blog post was in June 2015. How surprising it was back then to see the amount of traffic the blog received, and from all corners of the world. Most of our readers were from Harrisburg and Washington, DC, two government hot spots and centers for policy development. Wonks galore in those two locations. But then there were the places like Washington STATE, Louisiana, Upstate New York, and California, where many fewer dedicated policy weenies reside. Even recently a bearded Democrat said he missed this blog, “Even though I don’t agree with you a lot of the time, you are a good writer and you have interesting subjects.”

So we begin again. However, with the election just days away, you can expect some politicking to occur here. Welcome back, dear reader.

Hunting licenses, 1976 and 2015

Since my first hunting license adorned my back way back in 1976-1977, a lot has changed in the Pennsylvania landscape.

For example, wild game then so abundant that you could go out and shoot a couple for dinner is now practically extirpated.

Why pheasants and quail disappeared from Pennsylvania is a big debate with no clear answers. Loss of farmland to sprawl, low density development is one. Changes in farming practices is another; fallow fields had the best habitat. A plethora of winged and four legged predators cannot be discounted. Successfully rebounding populations of raptors like hawks and owls for sure ate a lot of plump pheasants. But why a sudden and dramatic crash?

Conservation successes since 1976 are plentiful and say a lot about wildlife biology. Wild turkey populations, fishers, bobcats and other animals once thought completely gone are now firmly in our lives, whether we see them, or not.

An interesting dynamic is playing out at our hunting camp. This year we have a virtual carpet of oak and hickory seedlings unlike anything we saw over the past 15 years we’ve owned it. Why?

Conventional wisdom is the deer population is low, and it’s true that it’s lower than it has been in 15 years. That is, deer are known eaters of acorns and tree seedlings. Fewer deer means more of both.

However, another factor seems to be playing out with these newly abundant tree seedlings. Where we once had an incredible overload of tree rats, aka squirrels, the new fishers have eaten them all. Like all of them. Not one tree rat remains in our carefully cultivated forest of white oaks. We see fisher tracks. We neither see nor hear squirrels.

As squirrels are known eaters of acorns and hickories, it stands to reason that their absence means more acorns and hickories hatching into baby trees.

Add a long icy winter that appears to have crushed our local wild turkey populations, also known for eating nuts, and the right conditions emerge to help a forest rebound and grow some new stock, a huge challenge we aggressively tackle every year.

So, my son getting his first hunting license yesterday is now entering a landscape that in some ways is just as dynamic as the one I began hunting so long ago.  What a difference these landscapes were and are, and who would’ve guessed the fishers would be responsible for oak and hickory forests regenerating?

A lot has changed in our wildlife landscapes, and yet not much has changed in my lifetime. Different animals, same kind of population changes, variations, pressures. One thing I keep reminding myself: It’s all natural, these changes. And while some are painful to see, like the loss of pheasants, other opportunities open up. Never would I have imagined in 1976, nor would any PA Game Commission staff, that in 2015 my son would get a bobcat tag and a fisher tag with his license.

Totally different opportunity than chasing pheasants in corn fields, but still good.