↓ Archives ↓

Category → Fruit of Contemplation

Book Review: Neither Wolf nor Dog

Given the recent road blocks by fake Indians (No, not presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, but other white fake Indians inspired by her) in Canada, we have here a timely opportunity to look at a book about American Indians and the Caucasian people who purport to love them.

This is a Book Review of Neither Wolf nor Dog, about 1990s  life on the rez, something I know a fair amount about, having seen it myself.

Kent Nerburn’s Neither Wolf nor Dog was kindly given to me as a gift by someone who knows I have a strong interest in American Indian history and welfare. And so I dutifully plowed through all 343 pages of this 1994 publication (reprinted in 2007 and 2017), a mysterious road trip set in the Dakotas. By the end of this book I felt like I, too, had been on a long, slow, arduous, winding trip. In fact, I felt sick from sitting in the back of the car.

This book does have some artistic merit. For example, the description of the lone Indian’s hands as “axe heads” at the end of his long, slender arms, actually conjures up some interesting images that ring true with some rural lifestyle body types. Here and there some creative writing exemplifies a writer trying to achieve more than racist propaganda.

At first I was intrigued by Nerburn’s first-hand narrative writing method. It sounds real enough, like this book is not fiction. But as he repeatedly decried other writers who falsely ascribe great mystical powers and innate supernatural wisdom to American Indians, Nerburn himself writes a book that is devoted to repeatedly ascribing great mystical powers and innate supernatural wisdom to American Indians. While openly mocking the contemporaneous movie Dances with Wolves for its many alleged trespasses against Indian history and culture, especially with Kevin Costner as the white liberal savior, Nerburn takes 343 pages to solidly present himself as the white liberal savior of the Lakota Sioux and of all other American Indian history, culture, and interests. A kind of keeper of the fire, he thinks. It is open hypocrisy, but for a meritorious  purpose. Because his intentions are good…..

This method did not bother me at first, because I was certain that a writer so clearly violating his own red lines in the sand would surely have enough self awareness to not do it so blatantly himself. But as the pages plodded on and on, and the ‘Wise Sage Old One’, Dan, drones on and on in a preachy and accusatory voice, and with way more words than I have ever heard any Indian speak, I realized Nerburn was as one-dimensional as he appeared to be. Nerburn has just put his very white liberal guy words in the mouth of Dan the Lakota. And no un-truer words were ever spoken.

The writing problems here stem from Nerburn’s commitment to the publicly failed notion of “white guilt” and multiculturalism, that idea that everything Western and European is automatically bad, and that everything else is automatically good and legitimate, even cannibalism and violent criminal behavior.

To wit: ‘ “Forgive me.” The words passed from me like stones – hard, evil little balls of an illness that had stricken my soul, suddenly flung free, releasing me from years of torment. That was why I was here — not to help, but to earn forgiveness, to earn forgiveness for the shame in my blood.

“Forgive me,” I said again, confessing to unknown sins and transgressions , to my desire to leave, to my sense of righteousness and superiority, too my whiteness.’ (Page 135)

Multiculturalism celebrates the differences among Americans, instead of what unites them, while simultaneously trying to eradicate any sense of American-ness  and painting as evil anyone here with “white” skin.

“...the shame in my blood…”? Who else carries a blood-guilt over generations that cannot be eradicated, hmmm? It’s nonsense.

Anyone trying to do something similar in say Poland, Russia, China, Zimbabwe, or Bolivia would be laughed out of polite company by the natives, who are quite proud of their own nations and histories. Only in a society as open and welcoming as America has the enticement to virtue signal at the expense of the nation been pursued and realized by people like Kent Nerburn.

For multiculturalists like Nerburn, history begins in 1509, when Europeans migrated to the New World. Neither Wolf nor Dog has history beginning in about 1889, and before that, it seems, the American West was a pastoral Eden full of peaceable Indians sitting around smoking sacred tobacco, beating drums, and occasionally having deep spiritual chats with bison before killing and eating them.

More nonsense. Indian violence, genocide, migration are ignored.

To multiculturalists, the human migration from Europe is a very bad thing, because it upset the inhabitants who had simply migrated there beforehand. Not to belittle the many crimes and grand thefts committed by the Conquistadores, the Portuguese, the Italians, the Catholic missionaries, or the US government in Washington, DC. But let’s be honest, the American Indians from the farthest reaches of the Arctic Circle to lowest temperatures around Tierra del Fuego did precisely and exactly the same violent things to each other, for far longer than the Europeans did them. And they did it without any remorse.

For example, the Cheyenne (Tsi Tsi Tas) took no adult male prisoners. Wounded enemies were summarily killed by Cheyenne warriors on the battlefield. Other Western tribes were much less merciful, and like almost all of the Eastern tribes, they made a great happy spectacle of slowly and sadistically torturing their captives to death.

The Aztecs and Mayans committed great acts of mass human butchery, to satisfy their gods’ bloodlust. Using captured slaves to build their cities and religious monuments, the great South American Indian cultures all raided, enslaved, massacred, and sacrificed one another for a long time. The Indians of North America also massacred, raided, murdered, and tortured one another for a very long time. That is, after they had all invaded, I mean migrated to the New World from Asia.

But to multiculturalists like Nerburn, none of this matters; because of “white guilt,” time and history artificially and inexplicably begin only when Europeans arrive in the New World. And so Neither Wolf nor Dog deals not in actual history, but in massive quantities of silly feelings over a very short amount of time. Sadness, shame, remorse, anger, and so on, all of it aimed at “white” people. It turns out that “white” people are greatly guilty. All of them, regardless of where or when they were born, lived, or did for a living.

If there is one theme that just repeatedly bangs the reader over the head in this book, it is that “we” “us” and “you” “white” people carry some great burden of sin, a terrible guilt, which can never be cleansed. Even if one is an Irish, Italian or Jewish American who arrived at Ellis Island by steamer in 1898 or 1910, without a buffalo nickel or Indian Head Cent in their pocket; or the descendant of one or all of these ethnicities. Pushing collective guilt of all “white” people is the primary purpose of this book. Even if your “white” skin carries the olive hues of the Mediterranean, or the pasty white of Europe’s lowest and most mistreated ethnic group, the Irish.

So in the name of being against racism, white guilt is a trans-generational racial culpability, not an individual crime committed on the Plains in 1876. It is the flip side of the white supremacist coin, and just as nonsensical.

What is wrong about this book is that it is possible for Americans to strongly support Indian treaty and land claims, and to relate to their bad feelings, without buying into the whole white liberal shame and guilt nonsense.

In real life, an animal that is neither wolf nor dog is a coyote. All of the Plains Indians regarded the coyote as the embodiment of crafty, sneaky dishonesty.

Cheyenne warrior George Bent relates first-hand one of General George Custer’s last personal encounters with Indians before he got his just desserts in a very real and up-close-and-personal encounter in 1876, was when he sought to entrap a number of Cheyenne to use as hostages in his negotiations to push the tribe onto various reservations.

Custer had invited the Cheyennes to meet and talk, supposedly, and as his troopers clumsily sprang their trap, most of the assembled Cheyenne jumped on their horses and fled. A few remained, foolishly trusting Custer to be a man of his word (they were all murdered in cold blood), but one brave rode his horse right up to Custer and waved his quirt in Custer’s face.

“You are nothing but a coyote,” said the young brave to Custer’s face, before galloping off to safety.

And I would say the same thing to Kent Nerburn: You are neither wolf nor dog, Nerburn. You are neither a strong, noble predator, the wolf, nor a useful, loyal friend, the dog. You are a coyote, Nerburn, like Custer and the government in Washington, DC. You have reduced these great Indian warriors to perpetual victim status, pathetically beating their symbolic drums and walking around with their heads down. Just like white liberals did to American Blacks – perpetual slaves, and victims, can’t help themselves, who must always be rescued by white liberals.

Talk about doing a disservice!

So there, I read this book for you. So you don’t have to.

One call I won’t take

Phony, fraudulent telemarketer calls are super annoying, and like you, I am fed up with them.

Another phony call just arrived, called “Call of the Wild,” a new movie loosely based on a Jack London book by the same name.

Jack London’s stories of tenuous life in the Yukon and Alaskan interiors are the stuff of pre-internet American boyhood. Just like coonskin Davey Crockett hats were all the rage among American boys in the 1950s and 1960s after Fess Parker starred in the same-named TV show, so too did London inspire many young men to get their forestry degree, build a canoe, cut down their grandmother’s favorite apple tree with a hatchet, or move to Alaska. His stories of nail-biting survival and creeping or sudden death in the boreal forests and frigid back country rang true, and a number of movies have been made about them. Some better than others, but all of them pretty good just because the story line is great.

London’s story about a young man caught at sundown in the winter time Alaskan bush, unprepared for the minus-forty-degree night, who gets down to his last match and finally succeeds at lighting a life-saving fire, only to have the snow from the branches above fall and smother the fire, is classic.

This latest iteration involves an unrealistic CGI human-like dog that giddy un-wilderness urbanites will fawn over. It also includes Harrison Ford, a man blessed with poor acting skills who nonetheless has landed a huge list of Hollywood roles and who made a huge pile of money. Play acting and playing dress-up; not exactly brain surgeon level or even bank teller level stuff.

And to be fair, Ford’s best movie roles are those that fit his kind of simple, bland, taciturn persona, like the Jack Ryan character, or Indiana Jones, or the emotion-less Blade Runner cyborg cop. Or those roles that are actually enhanced by his lack of acting skills, like Star Wars‘ Han Solo. Whenever Harrison Ford is tasked with actually acting, his lack of nuance or depth shines through bright and shiny. One suspects that this Call of the Wild will be one such role and performance. Or maybe not, because the 2020 movie poster for it shows Ford looking all serious and taciturn.

Now, because I am a wilderness hunter, fisherman, and trapper, any new movie like Call of the Wild immediately gets my attention. Bad acting or no, evil corrupt anti-America Hollywood or no, CGI human dogs or no, it is a movie I would naturally be inclined to go see. It is about nature and outdoor adventure, my favorite things. However, Harrison Ford finally performed honestly the other day and thereby blew up any chance of me seeing his film, and probably many other people feel the same way.

Last week, Ford appeared on not-funny Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show, and blasted Preident Trump, calling him “a son-of-a-bitch.”

Out of nowhere, and for no particular reason. Other than pandering to Hollywood.

What a shame, because at one time Ford was a spokesman for Conservation International, a worthy environment protection organization. His other opinions about so-called climate change and carbon reduction are the usual Hollywood hypocritical hilarity, because Ford is also the guy who flies his own plane on a 400-mile round trip to get a single hamburger to satisfy his craving for fast food. Talk about a carbon footprint, and yet his lecturing never ends.

Now, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and like Ford, I am entitled to mine, too. And my opinion is that I will not support with movie ticket purchases those celebrity Hollywood actors who insult me, my values, my lifestyle, or the people I vote for. So I will not be answering Harrison Ford’s Call of the Wild. Though I might play it on one of the many black market bootleg websites, just so I can take from Ford a tiny bit of what Ford took away from me: A good feeling.

Below is just one video of Harrison Ford actually whining about his wild success, as if it ruined him as some sort of serious artiste. Oh please. Ford is just another out of touch, spoiled rotten Hollywood jerk. Where is comedian Ricky Gervais when we need him most? Every Hollywood actor like Harrison Ford should have to spend a week with Gervais following him or her everywhere they go, commenting on their vapid lives and stupid statements.

on Mayor Steve Reed

Steve Reed was the long-time Democrat mayor of Harrisburg City, and he died last week. I knew Mayor Reed and I feel compelled to say some things about him.

My uber-Republican grandparents Ed and Jane introduced me to Steve back in the early 1990s, when he was first running for mayor of Harrisburg. When I queried how such ardent partisans as they could support a Democrat, the response they gave was a life-changing truism that is worth everyone remembering:

“Support the best candidate who will do the best for The People, regardless of political party.”

And besides, the Republican Party had long since abandoned Harrisburg City, as the GOPe has chicken-out abandoned all other urban areas across America. So there was no real Republican to challenge Reed.

The truth is that Steve Reed really did have the best interest of The People, the citizens of Harrisburg City, at heart. Like a lot of gay men his age, he felt that his opportunity for personal companionship was self-limited, and so he had nothing else to live for than his citizens, the people he viewed as being under his care. And he did dutifully care for all of us to his best ability.

When a bad vehicle accident would occur in the city in the very dead of night, or a homicide, Steve would show up in coat and tie, maybe fuzzy slippers on his feet, to find out exactly what happened so that he could try to fix the cause. Or at least communicate to the city’s citizens what had happened, so that there was the least mystery possible. He was always on the job. The guy cared about his job in a way that hardly anyone ever cares about public service jobs any more. Reed was truly a public servant in every good sense of the phrase.

Long ago I joked with Mayor Reed that when he died, I was going to embalm his body, dress him up in one of his dowdy suits, put a cigarette in his hand, and prop him up in the window in his old office, so that the citizens below could look up and see Steve, The Mayor, still on the job, still doing his best for us, and that knowing all was well, they would all be consoled of all concerns and go on with their lives, happier and more confident. A perpetually stable Harrisburg.

He always smiled at that joke.

His attempt to build the nation’s premier cowboy / Western museum was a great idea, like his successful idea to build an incredible civil war museum. But that Wild West Museum did not happen only because it lost momentum, despite having a veritable mountain of wonderful bona fide Western frontier artifacts to show. When the museum lost momentum, questions began to arise about how all those wonderful artifacts had been obtained with scarce public funds, and where were they kept, etc. And once those questions were asked, it was the beginning of the end of Steve’s reign. Such was the public’s trust in Mayor Reed that he could really do no wrong, and when he demonstrated that even great people have weaknesses, the public mostly abandoned him.

The last I saw Steve was at a home in Uptown Harrisburg, down the street from where we live. It was a gathering of a political who-is-who in the area that I rudely barged into uninvited, and the hostess, Peggy, cheerfully greeted me with hugs and a hot drink nonetheless. The three of us, Peggy, myself, and Mayor Reed, were all back in a corner chatting while eating fresh fruit. Steve looked happy, and Peggy was her usual 100 MPH self. Until Steve asked me “Josh, you don’t support Trump, right?”

“Of course I do, mayor, I absolutely do support President Trump. He is doing a great job for America, and I think you of all people should appreciate how hard that is to do,” I responded.

Peggy exploded, poor thing. She was standing elbow to elbow with me, and her unhappy response was broadcast in bits and pieces across the side of my sweater and cheek. She was nearly foaming at the mouth with anger, indignation, her eyes were crossed, and a garble of unintelligible words poured forth from her mouth that I did not have to actually understand in their particular to understand in their overall gist.

Peggy disliked (still does) President Trump, and was ummm…frustrated that I would support him.

“Ignore him, Peggy,” said Mayor Reed. “He is just saying that to get a rise out of you.”

Mayor Reed looked at me, smiled, popped a grape in his mouth and walked off into the bigger party. He was politic to the end.

In our hunting camp there hangs a large moose head above the living room. It is named “Stephen” after Mayor Steve Reed, because it was purchased from the eventual auction of the Harrisburg Wild West Museum contents. When I picked up the enormous wooden crate with the moose head inside, I couldn’t wait, and I opened it up right away in the bed of the pick up truck. Inside was all the original documentation going back to the original purchase of the moose by Steve Reed, years before. He had acquired it from an old frontier saloon in southwest Minnesota, and apparently many cowboys had hung their hats on it over the decades. It was a real, bona fide emblem of the wild west; at least as the Western frontier was known in Minnesota.

Steve the Moose now looms over all our comings and goings at camp, provoking small children to squeal with delight and with fright, and grown men to pose all manly-like. No question the moose head is a symbol of the Big Woods and all that is wild in America, a proper companion to other real cabin furnishings like beaver pelts and traps. But to me, Steve the Moose symbolizes Steve Reed the mayor, the all-knowing bull moose, watching over his sanctuary, his people, his charges.

It is comforting to me.

Bye, Steve, you are gone but not forgotten. Here, let me dust off your ears for you. And have a light.

Mayor Steve Reed looks at one of the Remington bronzes he purchased for his Wild West Museum. The bronze was among the gazillion other real wild west artifacts sold at auction. Denver Post photo credit

Ammin Perry cartoon symbolizing about $7 million city dollars up in smoke, and Mayor Reed did like to smoke

Steve Reed the moose still oversees all

Rush Limbaugh

The other day I was driving up I-95 though New Jersey, destination Manhattan, listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. The usual analysis of recent events – Nanshee Peloshee’s failed political attack on the American president, the Democrat Party’s disarray of socialist presidential candidates, each trying harder than the other to give away more American taxpayer money to buy votes than the other, the SuperBowl result.

And Rush’s voice was gravelly, something new. Over the past year he has been complaining about having a cold, or a hairball, or whatever stuck in his throat. And over the past year he has taken off more time than usual. Usually that kind of time away indicates a change, usually due to burnout. But Rush would return to the golden EIB microphone and pick right up where he left off, with great energy and clarity. So no, his absences were not attributable to doing the same damned job over three decades.

And then, nearly at the end of the three-hour show, matter-of-factly Rush simply stated that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, which later on was disclosed to be stage four, which is highly advanced.

Now if there is one symbol of this iconic man’s persona, it is his cigar. Limbaugh enjoys a cigar, and has posed with cigars on the covers of magazines. Promoting, much less admitting to using tobacco these days is the ultimate rebellion, the strongest anti-political correctness statement one can make. Let’s just say, waving a lit cigar about in one’s hand these days gets a lot more attention and dis-approbation than a hairy man putting on scanty lady’s clothes and accoutrements and wobbling up and down a public street in high heels.

Limbaugh has used his cigars as the ultimate rejection of PC nanny state over-reach, to the point where he occasionally almost sounded flippant about the potential health risks.

And while tobacco can and should be enjoyed occasionally – a pipe with a bowlful of cherry Cavendish, a cigarillo, a Dutch Masters or Swisher Sweets mini-cigar, its constant use is anything but innocent. Because the constant use of tobacco products really does damage the human body. Nothing new here to science or human knowledge.

So while Limbaugh may have shared one thing in common with president Bill Clinton, the non-inhalation of lit smoking products, the fact is that cigars put off a huge amount of smoke that, unless one is outside or in a highly ventilated indoor space, is going to certainly invade one’s lungs. Apparently Rush’s lungs were invaded by copious amounts of heavy cigar smoke, despite his not inhaling.

Last night at the State of the Union speech by President Donald J. Trump, Rush Limbaugh received the Medal of Freedom from the hands of First Lady Melania Trump. Rush was obviously surprised that it occurred there and then, and his humility and emotion shone through like a giant airport beacon.

People who hold leftist views may disagree with or even hate Rush Limbaugh. But the level and pitch of their opposition to him is an equal representation of his effectiveness over the years. The first time I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio was in my friend Kenny Gould’s car in Rockville, Maryland, in the spring of 1991.

“You gotta hear this guy, Josh. You gotta hear what he says. He’s amazing. He is so right. You should hear what he says about Bill Clinton; no one else in the media is saying it.”

And so Kenny turned on the AM radio to the Rush Limbaugh program, and I dutifully listened to what at first sounded like a chatterbox man talking and talking about political and cultural issues.

At the time I had started my first fully professional full time job as a policy staffer at the US EPA in Washington, DC. I disagreed with some of what Rush said that day, but I never forgot him. And years later, when I had discarded my anti-taxpayer job at the EPA like a piece of dog crap stuck to my shoe, because of my own observations and experiences, I had begun to understand just what this big voice on the radio was talking about.

And so tens of millions of other Americans have been educated and trained to think critically and analytically by Rush Limbaugh since that time, and as a result, he has had a tremendously out-size good effect on America.

First Lady Melania Trump placing the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Rush Limbaugh’s neck

More humility than some people might expect caused Rush to compose himself

Good luck to you, Mister Limbaugh. May you have a complete and easy recovery from your cancer. Please don’t be one of those guys puffing away through clouds of cigar smoke with the oxygen line stuck in your nostrils. That just will not do as a lasting image to your greatness. (…and to those who would never listen to Rush’s radio show, how can you say you disagree with him if you do not listen to what he says?…and to those who have openly rejoiced at Limbaugh’s health, you are exactly why he has needed a radio show in the first place, and why America listens to him)

Hunting season withdrawal, carpe diem reminder

Despite hunting a lot this past season, I am going through serious withdrawal symptoms. And mind you, hunting for small game is not done yet, and neither is trapping. And snow geese are in. So field opportunities do remain.

But with the bobcat and fisher trapping seasons now over, the justification for really heading deep into the silent woods has ended. Besides, a fisher just took up residence about 100 yards from the cabin. Only a few weeks after the season ended. It’s a “ha ha” finger in the eye reminder that some things are just not meant to be.

To be honest, I did not trap much this year, due to time limitations that kept me trapping right around where I have been working. And also to the fact that my outdoor work activities scared away the animals that will normally come in to explore the scents we use around our traps. And the freeze-thaw-rain-freeze-thaw-rain cycle of the past couple of years happened yet again during December, our best trapping time. Using footholds in those conditions is tough, because they can move around as the earth thaws during the day and re-freezes at night. When an animal steps on a trap that has moved in its bed, the trap moves under its paw, and then the animal digs up the trap. And If I put out winter-resistant cable restraints in that kind of weather, I can expect a very muddy animal waiting for me. And I am not in the business of shampooing coyotes and foxes. Too much time. So trapping season has pretty much passed me by, though I will try for a specific coyote, and maybe a few more possums in cage traps, just to save some springtime whippoorwill nests from being raided.

A few more squirrel hunts, a rabbit hunt or two with a 1920 Parker Brothers 20 gauge side-by-side, and some predator hunts will be had. Good times for sure, usually with good friends, but the few days of climbing high and sneaking through the quiet snowy mountains are gone. They ended almost before they began.

Hunting season is an annual reminder to grab all of life and squeeze and cajole every bit of living and enjoyment from it that we can, because before we know it, it all ends almost before it began.

At my grandfather’s 100th birthday (he lived almost exactly three more years after), he blew out the candles on his cake and sat back.

“I don’t know where my life went,” he said, staring into his chocolate cake. And he was a guy who had really lived.

Wildlife criminal or wildlife savior?

Unsurprisingly, British customs police noticed Jeffrey Lendrum’s strange looking gut the other day after he disembarked from an international flight. Upon further inspection, the naturally slender Lendrum was caught with a bunch of rare falcon eggs nested against his warm midriff in a fluffy swaddling. The eggs were kept warm and alive by Lendrum’s body heat and the lumpy material, like a mother bird would do while sitting on her nest.

Lendrum is no stranger to doing this, it turns out. For at least three decades, the guy has made some kind of living smuggling rare birds and, unbelievably, their fragile eggs, out of remote countries and from the really super remote, roadless places deep inside them. He has sold the wildlife and eggs to collectors and falconers around the world, but principally in the Muslim Arab countries, where (to their credit) falconry and horsemanship are both highly valued manly skills.

In a way Lendrum is a cross between Indiana Jones, the Pink Panther diamond thief, and James Bond 007, at one time rappelling from a hovering helicopter to steal rare eggs from a raptor’s nest high in a tree in the rain forest. As a result, he has had all kinds of legal run-ins and wild law enforcement encounters throughout his career and literally all around the world.

Brazil has demanded that Britain extradite Lendrum to answer for his latest alleged crime. In a typical British understatement, Lendrum’s lawyer has responded that Brazil’s notorious prisons are in fact violent drug gang headquarters, that the nation has no real rule of law, and that Lendrum’s life would be measured in the half-second were he to be returned there.

And oh, the irony of a nation that cannot stop people from daily executing each other in the streets, that is bargain selling its own rare natural resources and wild areas at break-neck speed to every international nuclear and hydroelectric dam concession, that cannot conserve a chicken let alone a falcon, now demanding some sort of home-grown justice for a white guy who actually values some birds that now live in a place that next year will be a coffee plantation with no bird habitat left.

I am a wilderness hunter and trapper, and I hate wildlife crime. But Lendrum is probably helping ensure the survival of some of these rare bird species who, otherwise left to their own devices in these shithole countries, will be eaten by naked savages for dinner.

Texas has become the home to a dozen rare and otherwise wild species from India and Africa that have been market hunted (not recreationally hunted) into extinction in their native habitat. This is not just because the Texas climate is suitable to these animals, but because hunters pay a boatload of money to hunt these naturally reproducing animals in Texas. A market incentive has kept these endangered species alive and well, if not in the actual ecosystem from whence they evolved.

I am unconvinced that Lendrum is a wildlife criminal. Like the role of zoos has changed from wild animal freak show full of gawkers to sole breeding repository of rare and endangered animals who could never survive in their own home countries, Lendrum is in actuality seeding dying species’ DNA around the planet in the expectation that placing high commercial value on it will lead to people paying to conserve it.

That is, by placing a value on the birds that is much higher than a dinner take-out by a jungle dwelling Indian, Lendum is creating a market-based incentive to keep these species alive and breeding.

Jeffrey Lendrum, wildlife conservationist.

Jeffrey Lendrum, mother hen

Now Greta Thunberg makes sense: Climate Fuhrer

Not until I had sat under a hemlock tree overlooking a quiet ravine with a flintlock rifle across my knees for two hours in the morning cold did it occur to me: In the context of angry liberals, abrasive hypocrite Greta Thunberg does make sense.

Thunberg is the carefully manufactured Hollywood and mainstream media creation from Norway, or Sweden, whichever it doesn’t matter, whose mental health her wealthy and abusive parents sacrificed on the altar of gaining political advantage and notoriety. She is a 17-year-old high school drop-out, with apparent learning disabilities that normal, loving parents would try to heal, not enhance. Her message continues to be that everyone else in Western Civilization must cease using fossil fuels and abandon capitalism while she flies in jets and other capitalist-created transportation all over the planet making sure that we all feel her rage and judgment, and do as she says. Like some sort of malevolent angel.

And though for the longest time I kept wondering how trying to shame people into submission was really going to work in this day and age, it’s her angry judgmentalism part that turned on the light bulb in my head this morning.

“Yes, we can ride together, but you must not mention The Name That Cannot be Said,” said a long-time dear friend of mine about an east coast fishing trip we were planning. His sore feelings about the 2016 election result were still evident, and the other old friend whom we were planning to see on a certain leftwing island enclave felt the same. Even though we had not discussed the election, no, we avoided it, when we did talk, the anger and judgmentalism were tangible.

No, I would not wear a MAGA hat, I said. No, I would not get drunk on the beach late at night and begin dancing around the campfire “Trump! Trump Trump! USA USA USA!”

“I could not vouch for your safety if you did that,” said the tender islander.

“But I would not do it in any case, knowing that it would bother you. I love you guys, and I do not live to bother my friends,” said I, allowing images of hungry bluefish and striped bass and screaming fishing reels to cloud my thoughts and thereby unwittingly admitting to my support for The Name That Must Not be Said, and then feeling his judgmental words cut deep into a relationship decades old and already tested by many trials together.

So it seems that while Thunberg is probably not necessarily designed to cast a wide net and gain new adherents to the climate religion and big centralized government control thingy she is so angry about, her role is probably more to rally the faithful. To give them a fresh new figurehead. Someone through which today’s young people – totally devoid of life experience – can channel their inner despot and ignorant judgmentalism.

These ever-angrier young people haven’t a clue about life, making a living, paying rent, making an economy run, science, climate, etc., but if there is one thing they will be good for, it’s shock troops. The western equivalent of the cruel and merciless children of the Chinese cultural revolution. Young people to defiantly harm their own parents and elders in the name of some greater good.

And so now Greta Thunberg makes sense to me. She is a deliberately unhappy cheerleader, not searching for solutions, but for sacrificial scapegoats upon whom her anger must justifiably be poured in a cleansing action that will bring holistic stability to all humankind.

She is the climate messiah, the climate Fuhrer, beginning a jihad, bringing unholy fire.

Climateland uber alles

Greta Thunberg holding a Jewish caricature in one hand and the usual puppet in the other. At the bottom of Leftist beliefs there is, ironically, always anti-Jewish hatred

The purposeful comparison is undeniable between ol’ Adolf and child actor Greta Thunberg. She means to emulate him

This day a year ago while trapping: Cat up a tree!

Cat Up a Tree!

Text and Photos by Josh First (copyrighted)

A year ago it was a couple days before trapping season opened for bobcats and fishers, which always begins the Saturday before Christmas. Already 2018 was the wettest year on record, and rain, much less constant nonstop rain, not only crushes outdoor work like logging and construction, it also makes trapping nearly impossible.
All 2018 the rain fell, reducing good trapping time to almost zero for most of us who would normally run ourselves ragged during trapping season beginning in mid-November and ending in mid February.

I dislike trapping in rainy conditions, because it is uncomfortable, messy, and technically difficult, due to trap sets needing constant fixing up; and I really dislike processing muddy critters. Mud-covered fur is time consuming, and usually it is not worth it in my tight schedule. So from 2018’s trapping season opening day in late October, I waited six weeks, until a brief rain lull in mid-December, to put out some carefully planned traps.

Though I was aiming mostly for canids like fox and coyote, both bobcat and fisher were a reasonable hope. I have caught bobcats in and out of season in the past, but never a fisher. These are two neat animals worth working hard for, and each of which will quite willingly enter baited cubbies where foot hold traps can get some shelter from rain and snow.

So on the Wednesday afternoon before that Saturday bobcat and fisher opener, a half-dozen footholds (cubbies and flat sets) and a few large cage traps were set in strategic places near where I had seen fisher tracks or bobcats across a 100-acre area of mixed farmland and woods in Dauphin County. Bait is used in the cage traps to pull in the inevitable and limitless possums, skunks, and raccoons, so that, hopefully, only the cool critters find the footholds. And both bobcats and fishers will enter cage traps, so they do serve double duty.

One pass-through pee post set was put in a location where I have previously caught coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. It is at a corner of a dirt farm road, a woods road, a hay field, and brushy-hedged crop field where heavy woods meets an active agricultural area. Just about every local furbearer walks the brushy area, this road, and the field edges leading to it.

Coyote pee and coyote gland lure were put on top of a two-inch-thick dry pine limb sticking up 14 inches, placed at the seam where the goldenrod meets the farm road. A few pieces of goldenrod stem on the other side created the pass-through effect, so the animal’s body would line up with the hidden trap just exactly so. About eight inches away from the post an offset MB 550 attached to an eight-foot heavy chain linked to a heavy two-prong coyote drag was bedded level atop soft goldenrod tops to protect the trap from freezing to the wet dirt underneath, then covered judiciously in waxed dirt, then finished with more soft goldenrod tops and weed tips blended on top. The trap was perfectly “blended in” and hidden from sight.

The chain was stretched out away, into the reverting goldenrod field, and well covered and camouflaged with weeds, and the rusty-brown colored steel drag itself unobtrusively hooked into the dirt. With four heavy swivels well spaced between the trap and the drag, I felt confident that whatever would step on the trap pan while passing between the weeds to smell the pee post would commit its full weight, and be safely held fast, no matter where it went afterwards. I expected the animal to head directly to the nearby brushy hedges, where the grapple and chain would immediately become entangled, thereby holding the animal for the next 24-hour trap check.

Usually predators take a couple days to fully investigate my traps, and when setting this on a late Wednesday, I anticipated catching something in one of the sets on Friday night/ early Saturday morning. Though aiming for a bobcat, fox, coyote, or fisher, the truth is I had put off trapping so long that season that I would have been happy to catch just about anything.

The next day, Thursday, I did a cursory trap circuit check in my truck, looking out the window while driving past set after set. “No…No…No…footprints all around but no step on the pan…no…no…nothing” as I went by each trap location.

Pulling up to the pee post set, my eye was immediately drawn to the pee post itself lying on the ground, though the trap bed itself did not appear disturbed. Usually the post is knocked over by the chain after an animal has stepped on the trap and fled. So I got out to check, and was not surprised to see the drag gone. Following an obvious path of bent weeds and scuffed dirt leading away towards the closest brushy forest edge, my eyes naturally looked along that edge for a hung-up drag and critter.

With my hands on my hips, I stood and kept scanning the brushy woods-field edge. I was unable to locate anything, and felt mystified about how the critter could have escaped beyond such a thick, natural entanglement area. Mystery remained until a hiss to my right reached my ear, steering my eyes in that direction.

“Why is that long-legged grey fox up in that honey locust like that?” was my first thought.

Then another thought followed the first: “Why does that grey fox look like a big cat?”

And then the bobcat came into focus. It was a nice sized young male, probably 25 pounds, about six feet up in a young honey locust, a tree that has plenty of sharp thorns and very hard wood. The drag was just touching the ground, and the chain was wound about the lowest branches.

OK, I thought, I’ll have this resolved in a few minutes. Seemed like no big deal to pull down the cat, use the catch pole to hold it steady while I released the trap from its foot and let it go unharmed.

Fast forward an hour, and each time I had tried different ways to bring it down out of the tree unharmed, the cat had moved farther up. With bobcat season two days away, by law the cat had to be released, but I was unsuccessful with each solution I tried.

Fretting and scratched by the locust thorns, I left, did some work, and returned a few hours later, hoping the cat had climbed down and was entangled in the ground brush nearby. On the ground it would be easy to release using a catch pole. Easier than up that tree!

But when I got back, the bobcat was still up the tree, and climbed yet higher as I approached it.

Time for Plan B, which is where I admit that I need help. Usually takes me a long, long time to implement Plan B, and so I called the Pennsylvania Game Commission southeastern regional office. At first the dispatcher congratulated me on catching the bobcat, but then moments later expressed his sympathy for me having to release such a fine trophy, as the season was yet to begin. He forwarded my message to a local Game Warden, who then fairly quickly met me right at the honey locust. In fact, he arrived so quickly that I could not help but wonder if he had been watching me the whole time, either chuckling at my clumsy efforts, or waiting to see what else I might do, or both.

“Thank you for coming. When my kids were little, their favorite book was Cat Up a Tree! And here it is in real life. Should we call the fire department?” I said to Game Warden Scott Frederick, half-jokingly. In that colorful book, the fire department saves the day by saving the cat stuck up in the tree, and we (and how I so liked the ‘we’ part) did indeed have a daggone cat way up in a tree. But unlike the book, we had no long ladders, or hero firemen, by the honey locust tree that day.

I asked my wife to film our escapade, but under questioning I revealed that pretty much anything could happen to anybody around this, so she said something like “No, I’m not recording two idiot men playing with matches.” I think her imagination had the warden and I emerging from the dense, high brush scratched head to toe, our clothes in ragged tatters, like some cartoon involving the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil. She wanted no part of it. This is why women live longer than men.

Warden Frederick tried to the untangle the chain and reach the animal, but with each new inch of loose chain, the bobcat sensed freedom and used the slack to climb ever higher. Upon reaching a tight chain again, he would stop his ascent, alternating between hissing at us and letting fly with whatever he could rustle up in his bowels. I came to learn that bobcats have an impressive amount and array of bad smells stored inside them. Neither Warden Frederick nor I smelled peachy at that point, but I gave in and laughed at him when he really got it good from the cat.

Eventually we had tried and tried every which way to get the cat down unharmed, the day waxed late, and so we decided that if the cat would not come down, then the tree had to come down.

A honey locust is a hard, tough tree, a pioneer species with twisting grain and sharp hooked thorns. Oftimes while being sawed, they don’t fall the way you think they will. In addition to its loud scary noise, a chain saw would remove too much wood too quickly to allow us to fully control which way the tree would fall, and a hand saw was too slow. So we used an axe to drop the tree, one carefully placed chop at a time. This gave us the best control over the tree’s slow descent, but it was sweaty work, and directly beneath the bobcat. So I let Warden Frederick do it.

Meanwhile, the bobcat climbed to the very top of the tree, clinging like a lookout in a ship’s crow’s nest, and swayed to the rhythm of the chop-chop-chop below.

As the tree gave way to the axe and slowly sank to the ground, the bobcat sensed its getaway approaching. But Warden Frederick was waiting with a catch pole. While I wish I had some humorous Game News Field Note material here to describe what happened next, the truth is Warden Frederick properly and quickly looped the bobcat’s shoulder and neck, under the armpit, thereby safely pinning the animal to the ground without risk to its esophagus (cats have really weak throat areas and they must be handled carefully). I got some last quick photos, threw a blanket over the bobcat to calm him down (the bobcat, not Warden Frederick), and then easily pulled the trap off of its foot.

Both of us inspected its foot and leg for damage, and seeing none, I stepped back, pulled the blanket, and the catch pole loop came off the bobcat. As many other trappers have experienced when releasing a trapped bobcat, this one sat on its haunches and hissed at us. He thought he was still stuck. Eventually he turned and fast- walked into the brush.

“Well, that’s it, I’m now officially jinxed, or ‘lynxed’,” I said to Warden Frederick. “From here on out I will catch only possums and skunks for the rest of the season.”

And in fact, for the rest of that epic rainy trapping season, such as it was, I caught a grand total of just five possums, one skunk, and one raccoon. It was my worst trapping season, numbers-wise, in many years. But in hindsight, it was also pretty rewarding to watch the Game Warden work like that. Both hard and smart, I mean. Citizens don’t get to see our public servants perform these kinds of feats very often, and with a good nature to boot. So in that sense, I had a uniquely good season. Thank you, Warden Frederick. Now I can’t wait for mountain lions to move into Pennsylvania!

[Why do I trap? I trap to save ducklings, goslings, baby songbirds, nesting grouse, woodcock, and turkeys from an endless number of ground predators like skunks, possums, raccoons, foxes and coyotes, all of which continue to pulse out from suburban sprawl habitats in artificially high numbers. These artificially high numbers of predators do tremendous damage to ground nesting birds, and basically cars and trappers are their sole adversaries. So if you are against trapping, you must hate cute little ducklings. Foothold traps do not crush bones or kill animals, they simply hold them, and as we can and did here, animals can be released from footholds totally unhurt]

using the catch pole in the tree did not work

Look at that perfect high catch, his foot still on the pan. This is the correct way to use a foothold trap, as it results in no physical damage to the animal

If you ever want to feel like you are getting your tax money’s worth, look closely at this photo of PA Game Warden Frederick chopping at that honey locust. Except that the PA Game Commission operates on hunting license fees, timber sales, and natural gas leases! No tax money goes to the PGC, and yet they provide so many taxpayer services.

The four swivels and the long chain are visible here. The swivels prevent the chain from binding as the animal moves around, which gives the animal complete 360 degree movement. This is important so the animal does not torque its leg or hurt itself trying to get free. The long chain is needed to get hung up quickly in brush

The unharmed bobcat can be seen hissing at Scott, who has the catch pole loop around its upper body, pinning it to the ground. After taking this picture, I threw a blanket (Scott’s, not mine) over it to calm it down, inspected its leg for any damage, and when we each determined the animal was not hurt, Scott then released it. Using a catch pole on a bobcat requires getting the loop under its armpit and around the neck, so the esophagus is not damaged.

Some thoughts on PA deer season

We are already halfway through our two-week deer season in Pennsylvania, and already many hunters are discussing the merits of the first-ever Saturday opener. Pennsylvania has had a Monday opener for many decades, and where I grew up not only did the schools close on that Monday, there was a festive atmosphere that was palpable for the week leading up to it.

Gotta say, both Saturday and Monday were the quietest first days of deer season that I have ever heard. Very few shots heard either day, an observation made by a lot of other hunters.

One cannot help but wonder if the holiday atmosphere and the special quality of taking a work day off to gather together with family and friends to hunt has been lost with the Saturday opener. Yes, it would be ironic, because the change was done to expand hunting opportunities, given that most people do not work on Saturday like they do work on Mondays. But for many hunters it seems that having deer season now begin as just another weekend event of many other weekend events caused it to lose its specialness.

We shall see from the deer hunting results!

Separately, Pennsylvania now has a both a new trespass law and a new private land boundary marking law. Private land can now be marked “POSTED – NO TRESPASSING” by simply painting a vibrant purple paint stripe at least eight (8) inches long and one inch wide every 100 feet along the boundary of any private property. Seems that I am not alone in having my Posted signs ripped down by jealous jerks. Seems like I am not alone in working really really hard to create good whitetail deer habitat on my land, only to have some jealous people decide that it is so unfair that they can’t take advantage of all my hard work and also hunt there. So they rip down Posted signs and help themselves to my land and the land of many, many other private property owners.

Last Saturday we experienced a hunter trespassing on us, along with his young son. Why they would expect to be allowed to pass through the middle of our property, a place we hardly ever go because it is a deer sanctuary, is beyond imagination. They literally walked right through a long line of Posted signs, as if they did not exist. Their thinking seemed to be “So what if we ruin your hunting? We are simply trying to have a good hunting experience ourselves.”

But someone’s good hunting experience should never come at the expense of someone else’s hunt, especially if it results from trespassing on their property.

Think about it this way: A property owner spends all year toiling to make his property attractive to deer, and he creates sanctuaries around the property where not even he will go beginning in September, so the deer can relax there and not feel pressured. And then someone else who is not invited decides that they either want to hunt on that same property, or they want to pass through it to get to some other property, like public land. When they pass through, they disturb the deer and greatly reduce the quality of the hunting there.

Is this OK behavior?

As someone who works hard on his property to make it a quality hunting place, I can say that it is not OK behavior. It is a form of theft; trespassers are stealing from private property owners.

Dear trespassers – do you want people stealing from you? No? OK, so then you know how we feel when you steal from us. Don’t do it!

It will be interesting to see how the new trespass law and the new boundary marking law begin to change one of Pennsylvania’s least desirable cultures – the culture of defiant trespass. That just has to change.

Hope everyone has a productive, fun and safe rest of the season. When it is over, we begin our trapping season and small game hunting.

 

 

Cabela’s-Bass Pro merger = Lower Quality for Sportsmen

[UPDATED SEE BOTTOM for IMPORTANT DETAILS] Cabela’s hit its stride about ten years ago. A national, trend-setting family-owned outdoor business, the company took from the best and discarded the rest. Innovation there never stopped, as they improved on Zeiss-quality optics made for price-pinched Americans, and innovated rain-proof soft fleece parkas suitable for stalking deer with a recurve bow in wind, rain or snow, and all combinations thereof.

No one else made these products, and certainly not at their prices.

Some might say that Cabela’s took the best names and put their own name on it, and there may be some truth in terms of boots and optics. But when it came to outdoor clothing, the company did its own thing, making outdoor sports so much more fun. Every now and then they would do a run of virgin wool hunting shirts. Outside of Filson and Pendleton, it is tough to think of virgin wool shirts being offered anywhere else.  While the Cabela’s shirts were not near the quality of the Filson or Pendelton, they were not anywhere near the price, either. These were true working wool shirts for a fair price that you would not regret tearing or getting soaked in bear blood.

Perhaps there are some industry insiders with a tale to tell here, and I would stand corrected if proven wrong.

Along came competitor Bass Pro a few years ago, and bought out the Cabela family. The merged Cabela’s-Bass Pro union made little sense for innovation, and those outdoorsmen who greatly benefited from Cabela’s unique service held their collective breath. Bass Pro has been known for marketing all the usual stuff, plus a lot of Chinese junk, and also their own RedHead label clothing and some equipment.

RedHead has been around for a long time. An LC Smith 20-gauge double barrel in my care came in its apparently original Red Head canvas case. Nicely made, quality product. From the 1940s, when just about everything was made with pride.

Fast forward to now and RedHead is not known for high quality, or for innovation. It is mostly slapped-together variants of better-made products by Cabela’s and others. I guess the wool socks are pretty good. But most of it is not high quality. At all.

So fast forward to me getting on-site freezing-rained out of a distant hunting trip I had planned all year. All of the usual high quality equipment that has worked for me all these many years would not have worked under the unusual wet and very cold conditions I found myself in; in fact, had I stayed out there in that freezing rain, I would have undoubtedly gotten hypothermic and probably died. My kit was not designed for that unforeseen situation, and so I hightailed it out of the back country and glumly slunk home. No deer is worth dying for.

But I feel determined to never have this happen again. We get so few of these opportunities as it is; once we are out there in the middle of nowhere, we must take advantage of all the hunting time there we can make.

Subsequently looking for new clothing and kit capable of both light weight and all the other properties has left me slack-jawed. The Cabelas-Bass Pro merger has resulted in a really narrowed field of high quality outdoor clothing and kit. Instead of maintaining Cabela’s high standing products and focus on continuous unique product development, Bass Pro has cut off the innovation pipeline, used inferior materials in successful old product lines, and substituted other more expensive makers like Sitka and ScentLok for the old standby Cabela’s brands.

Very few of the high quality products that Cabela’s made, like lightweight, waterproof, silent parkas in different camouflage patterns, are available any longer.

So it seems that the merger has not benefited sportsmen, and that Bass Pro is just slowly squeezing whatever value it can get out of Cabela’s before it eventually shuts it down and forces sportsmen to consider the solely mediocre stuff that Bass Pro specializes in.

So for those of you who enjoy shopping for high quality outdoor gear, get ye to a local Cabela’s store soon. Look on the closeout racks for the stuff you used to take for granted; it won’t be coming back. Buy the old Cabela’s stuff before the company is openly yet one more victim of short-sighted corporate greed and sloth.

OK, so click on the old Cabela’s button for their amazing “Instinct” hunting clothing…

 

you clicked on the Instinct button and….and there is nothing there. Under Bass Pro ownership, Cabela’s is abandoning its long history of gear innovation and product design specifically done for serious hunters.

UPDATE 12/15/19: Turns out there was a much bigger reason for the downfall of Cabela’s. Here is the kind of in-depth reporting that Americans deserve: https://youtu.be/UatnTSwEUoc