Why?

Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)

10.28.2011

Gone Hunting

Heading out shortly to head to elk hunting camp.  Little different set-up then my deer hunting trips.  We have 2 or three trailers, a snow-mobile hauler that we leave empty and put a cot and heaters in, and a wall tent with a propane heater.  Over this first weekend, there will be between 12-15 of us, so...it's a big group.

Some of the guys are there more for the camp experience than the hunting, which is fine..me...I don't mind the camaraderie, but the hobby is soooooo expensive now that I need to put in the effort, and the time in the woods.  Sometimes, I fear it makes me anti-social with my fellow hunters, because I will go out an hunt alone in the afternoon...but it kills me to sit in camp from 10am-2pm.  These animals ARE out moving during that time of day.  This isn't a carefully managed hunting ranch...these animals have been pushed around and hunted for 6 weeks now....there schedule is no longer making sense.

It's luck...you need to be there when one of those few spike elk that are out walk past the area you should be sitting...and not taking a nap at 1 in the afternoon because you killed a few too many brain cells the night before.

10.27.2011

PFM

I'm a sucker for magic shows, whether it be simple, quick sleight of hand, or more complex and fancy stage illusions.  My facination probably stems from the fact that, well, I'm somewhat lacking in the fine manual dexterity required to be really good at sleight of hand, and so...I dig watching it done right. 

Even more so with your big, complex illusions...people and things disappearing and reappearing, cutting women in half...that kind of thing.  I know it is all about distraction and lines of sight, but there is still something that impresses me mightily about watching a troupe of highly trained professionals do their job.  Case in point is this video, which one of my co-workers showed me today...Hans Klok and the Divas of Magic, doing 10 illusions in 5 minutes.



I think the one that impresses me most is #5, the one that involves the red container.  I'm sure that part of the trick involves the lid of that box being all kinds of hinged...but the speed with which the trade places is amazing...even if there was no lid at all in the way.  He throughs the hoop of material over his head, and in less than a 2nd, he is off the platform, and hidden in the container, while she is standing there in his place.  Even if we assume she is standing next to him as soon as that hoop comes up to his shoulder, I am blown away by his smoothness at disappearing. 

I am also going to start hitting yard sales here in a few weeks to find a chair like he uses in the 6th illusion...just throw a red sheet over the chair, and it starts cranking out pretty blondes. 

Heck...I'd probably be willing to pay an extra 5 bucks for the version that cranks our brunettes, and 10 for one that does red-heads. 

That's pretty deep

With the news that Beavis and Butt Head are coming back with new episodes on MTV, some people are using this as a time of reflection...looking back on their earlier years.

One such person is David Giffels, who writes for a website called Grantland now, but who wrote an occasional episode of Beavis and Butthead 'back in the day'. 

The article is not so much about how great Beavis and Butthead where, and why they deserve to be back on TV, but how our generation(the guy is only a few years older than me) is the only generation that would allow a show like Beavis and Butthead to be successful twice. 

What really stuck with me from the article is this thought:

Both in our 40s, Mike Judge and I are part of the first generation of American men for whom the notion of a midlife crisis is irrelevant, because we don't really know how old we are. It's not that we're in a state of arrested development or denial, but rather a legitimate temporal disorientation.

We can't measure our career spans against our target retirement date, because we don't really believe we'll ever retire. We can't claim alienation from our children's music, because it streams from the same machine we work at all day. We can't complain our bodies are breaking down, because science will no longer let them.
We have been groomed not to live out the days of our lives, but rather the days of our lifestyles.

That's pretty deep...and frighteningly accurate(well, not so much the body breaking down one).   I maintain a retirement account through work because it is the expected, AND prudent thing to do... not because I am waking up every morning thinking 'Man, I can't wait until I am 58/62/65/68/72...I won't have to do this anymore.'  I know my peers aren't either, because it's the kind of thing you talk about over beers.  Right now, I plan on working until either I am unable, or I don't need to.  There is no target age...either I will no longer be physically able to go to work, or one day I will realize I have nothing else big to pay for, and I can finally afford to stop working. 

No financial planner needed here! 

10.26.2011

Best Spaghetti Sauce EVER.

In the past, my wife has attempted to make her own spaghetti sauce with varying results...today though, she nailed it.

She started with two cans of diced tomatoes, and a pound of bulk Italian sausage.  That a pretty good start.  On top of that, she added a few diced green tomatoes she got from a friend yesterday, and some pepper, AND some carrots.  Throw in some basil, and lots of garlic, and some olive oil, and then a few dashes of Chipotle Chalula hot sauce. 

All that sounds intriguing, but it gets better(in my opinion) because that's when inspiration took over, and she took the immersion blender to the whole mess, before letting it simmer away on the stove top for about 4 hours. 

The result was almost too thick to work with spaghetti...but it was PERFECT for using on rigatoni.  If I had my way, I would have just sat at the table with the pot of sauce and a loaf of french bread until I ran out of either the bread or sauce, or stomach room.  Using the immersion blender meant that the Italian sausage flavor was EVERYWHERE. 

Best news is that there was enough to freeze the leftovers for 'some other time.'

Well, my day started better than that!

On the way into work today, one of my co-workers had himself a little accident:



These things happen when you least suspect it...this one happened when the guy was less than 1.5 miles from getting to work this morning, so he was on the Hanford site climbing the last hill we have to climb before getting to our work site.  All of the sudden, this steps out in front of the car:


Go ahead and count them...it's and 8 X 8.  Not overly big in the body, but that is a pretty decent rack.  I say a pretty decent rack, because while I have never seen anything close to that size out hunting, it's not a particularly Big Bull for the Hanford Site.  I'd say he would make the upper 30% of  bulls on site.  580 square miles where the animals are untouchable, surrounded by orchards and alfalfa fields...it an okay place to be an elk. 

Sigh.  Meanwhile, I'm going to go sit in the rain this weekend in a spike only elk area...


10.25.2011

Shrinkage isn't just caused by the cold...

Swung through the grocery store today, and Hillshire Farms Sausages caught my eye because they were on a buy-one-get-one-free special, for both the kielbasa shaped ones and the bun sized ones.  A quick check with the boss showed that our apartment sized freezer really didn't have a lot of room for much stocking up...but while I was looking at the wide variety of sausage products available, I noticed that some subtle shrinkage had occured.

It used to be that the basic sausage varieties(kielbasa, smoked sausage) were a 16-ounce log, while the slightly fancier ones(BEEF kielbasa, cheddarwurst, Hard Wood Chicken Smoked Sausage) were a 14-ounce log, all for the same price.  Today, I noticed that not a single sausage example was weighing in at over 14-ounces, and several had been down graded to a goofy 13.5 ounces...but the packaging(AND the price) were the same as they had been last time I stocked up. 

A reduction from 16 ounces to 14 ounces is the same as raising the price from $3 a pound to $3.42 a pound, but much more subtle. 

It appeared a similar reduction had occurred in their 'bun' style sausages...there were a lot of 13.5 ounce packages.  I wonder when eggs are going to be sold in 10 packs instead of by the dozen...

10.24.2011

A woman scorned...

Presented without comment, other than maybe he should have bought her some flowers occasionally.

Ex-wife claims reward for tip in Seattle arsons
The tip that led to the conviction of Kevin Todd Swalwell in a string of Seattle arsons came from his ex-wife.
Police, fire and insurance officials presented 46-year-old Carol Iverson with a reward Monday.
Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore says she shared the $18,500 with her brother, 42-year-old Robert Iverson, who persuaded her to call officials with her suspicions.
Swalwell was blamed for 19 fires set in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood in 2009 that caused damage estimated at more than $2 million. He pleaded guilty to setting 10 fires and was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
One of the fires damaged the Taproot Theater where the reward was presented.

Yay!

Hollywood and the people that produce Sit Com's would have us believe that all married men with children DREAD going home after work.  We all want to hit the neighborhood bar on the way home, and delay dealing with the crushing realities which await us on the home front...the nagging wife, the whiny kids, the stack of bills...who want's to go home to that?

Bunk.  Drek.  I am excited to go home every single day...and my excitement is almost 100% justified.  My life isn't perfect, but I think I can count on both hands the number of times my day didn't get better when I go home after work.  My children are happy and smiley to see me...my wife is usually bustling away in the kitchen, or doing some last minute tidying.  Since I started this job where I am home an later each day than I was in the shipyard, there us usually the smell of dinner to welcome me home.   It might not be the 1950's ideal of coming home and having my wife hand me a scotch and help me take off my shoes, but coming home is nice.

Lately, my older daughter has been doing her Girls on the Run Program, and that means on Monday's I am coming home to an empty house, which is somewhat less cool than coming home to hugs and kisses, but usually the cat is at least happy to see me, since he suspects I will feed him shortly after I get home.  Occasionally even on Mondays though, there is something special for me to come home to.  Today was one of those days.

Waiting for me in the mailbox today was the 176 page Victoria's Secret Holiday catalog. 

I can't wait to start Christmas shopping for my wife...she's always impressed by how diligently I look for the best deals for her.  Occasionally, she'll even say so...

10.23.2011

2nd verse, same as the first.

Luckily, I have an amazing wife who will not hold me to silly statement's like' if my buddy and I can't get a deer on this guys farm, I might as well sell all my hunting stuff.'

Deer were seen: In the dark, in peoples drive ways, on the school football field.  Just not where we were between half-an-hour before dawn to half-an-hour after sunset. 


I can't complain about fog interupting my line of sight, which was somewhere around infinity.  Thank gosh for pretty vistas. I even got an opportunity to break out my spotting scope, which I mainly used to watch people drive around in their tractors, plowing their fields under for winter. 

Sigh.
I guess that would be the big question I would ask next time I get permission to hunt someones wheat fields...when exactly do you harvest your wheat and start plowing your fields under?  This in not placing any blame on Mr. Craig Wilson...it was very kind of him to let us hunt his land.  I knew as soon as we arrived that things might get tough...even a non-farmer like me can assume deer are going to be less interested in wheat stubble and plowed under dirt than they are in fields of wheat and alfalfa. 

It's kind of placing blame on the State of Washington, for placing modern firearm hunters on the tail end of hunting seasons...after the rut, after the fields are harvested, after muzzle loader and archery guys have been chasing the deer around for a month already.  Turning it around though, it's yet more incentive for me to swap to muzzle loading.

Oh well...time to put the past behind, and focus on elk season starting next weekend. 

10.21.2011

Venison persuit, take 2.

Heading out in a few hours with a buddy of mine for a bit more deer hunting.  Totally different set-up than last time...instead of me alone in the back of my truck up in the mountains, I'm heading to the town of Colfax to split a hotel room with him, while we hunt on a 2,200 acre wheat farm he has permission to hunt on.  The prey should be white-tails instead of mulies, but I am still stuck looking for a minimum of a 3-pt buck.  My buddy has a doe tag, so if we don't get him one of those in the next 48 hours, I will come home and sell everything I own that is hunting related.

Well...as soon as elk season is over.

Well, don't come looking here....

Just got finished reading one of those stories that had me looking around my apartment wondering 'how would my story be portrayed?'

The tale starts a week or so ago, in Granite Pass, Oregon.  27-year old Raphael Amoroso was pulled over by police after leaving a high school football game.  In his car, police found: An ounce and a half of marijuana, a loaded handgun in the glovebox(story doesn't say if he has his carry permit, probably wouldn't matter in a Gun Free School Zone, but it would be nice to know), 200 rounds of rifle ammunition(which wouldn't work in the handgun in the glvoebox, one could assume), and, most damning of all, a novel about a sniper killing people at a football game.  No where in the news story is the title of the novel given, but I would bet the families cat that is is probably Enemies Foreign and Domestic, by Mathew Bracken. 

The police used the stuff they found in his car to open an investigation, leading to a search warrant being executed on his house Thursday. 

Investigators don’t know if Raphael Enrique Amoroso of Grants Pass was planning a sniper attack, “but we were very concerned about it,” Grants Pass police Sgt. Ray Myers said Thursday. “As the case developed, it became more troubling with the information that we were receiving.”
Of course, at his house they found even more damning evidence:
military rifles from World War I, World War II and the Korean War; hundreds of rounds of ammunition; a fuse; a single-shot shotgun; a helmet, a camouflaged bulletproof vest, a .22 pistol; books; and a computer.
 NOT BOOKS AND A COMPUTER!!!!!!!!  You would only find those in what, 90% of American households?(actually I take that back...I would be amazed if you could find books in 90% of American households.)

So, let's see....he probably had a Springfield 1903, and either a Mauser, or a Garand, or a Mossin-Nagant, and an old break-action Stevens shotgun, and a .22 pistol(I have two of those....THE HORROR!) About the only thing I don't have here is some type of helmet or a bulletproof vest.  I don't think I have a 'fuse' around here, but I'm not going to guarantee there isn't SOMETHING that could be turned into some sort of fuse.  As far as 'anti-goverment' literature...not only do I have all three books of Mathew Bracken's trilogy, I also have both of Rawles's books.  About the only thing I don't have is The Anarchists Cookbook, and Unintended Consequences(but only because I loaned my copy out and never got it back). 

Don't get me wrong...I'm not defending this guy at all...being caught with over and ounce of Mary Jane AND a loaded gun on school grounds(never mind that two decades ago I used to bring two rifles to school so I could hit the range on the way home from school) is asking for trouble.  As much as I think both those things should be legal, the fact remains that they are not.  It's just seeing how it's only been a few hours, and this guy has already been filled in as a wacko with broad brush strokes.  While the way you are portrayed in the media shouldn't matter if you ever find yourself in legal trouble, you are lying to yourself if you think it doesn't. 

If Nancy Grace latches on to your story on a National Level, and some Assistant D.A. thinks he can make a name for himself by hammering this anti-government militia, survivalist wacko, they are going to.  You won't get the benefit of the doubt, or legal funds set up in your name...

Sigh...all the more reason you keep your nose clean...

10.20.2011

Selling my soul...

Cowboy Blob, struggling film student, is so desperate for people to post reviews on his latest short, a parody audition for the reality TV show Top Shot, that he is willing to offer free blog advertising on HIS blog.  How can I resist that?  The increased readership might move up my plans to take over the world by a few months!

At first I considered being a big old fat liar, and just using some of my old favorite 'Passive-Aggressively Negative' write-ups I used to use when I wrote evals in the Navy...things like 'Often arrives at work on time'....'Seldom requires more than three opportunities to complete the job correctly'....'Frequently praised by co-workers for meeting minimum standards of personal hygiene'...that kind of stuff.  But I decided, the least I could do was give Bob the courtesy of watching his little creation.

First, as with all things, a little disclaimer.  As someone who has existed without cable TV for most of the last 18-months, I have not watched a single episode of 'Top Shot', so it's quite possible that some of the humor missed me...for example, the early reference to being married three times.  It did make me want to start at least keeping an eye on the TV show though...

It was a cute little video, with some obvious effort put into the production/packaging.  I'm very jealous of the many firearms displayed during the video, and also the obvious real world shooting skills worked into the short movie.  My favorite line is when the applicant refers to himself as a 'Contract operator at an undisclosed shopping establishment'...I just wish there had been someway to work the actual word 'ninja' in there somewhere.

It is only right around 2:30 seconds long, so there isn't much time to find anything wrong with the video.  Being the shallow male type, I was disappointed by his inability to work any form of eye candy into the video, especially with the movie poster for one of his other shorts, 'Always' prominently displaying a comely young lady on his website.  Darn you to heck for not working any hotties into this audition, Bob.

Now, on youtube, one of the people to review Bob's video threw me for a loop, by criticizing Bob for playing into anti-gunnies hands with this video.  I kind of think that is coming on a little strong...every step along the way, Bob makes it clear that this video is a PARODY.  At now point did I expect this to be an Eddie Eagle NRA safety video for the kiddies.  It did make me giggle though...as long as I find out that no beer was injured during the filming of this video...

10.19.2011

Almost as excited for this one as I am for The Avengers...

A few months ago, I lamented about the fact that I was unable to make it Seattle to see Les Miserables on it's 25th Anniversary Tour.  Someone must have heard my tears hitting the floor, because recently Hollywood rumor sites have been reporting that a motion picture version of my most beloved musical is being cast, for a planned December 2012 release.

Until recently, the only rumored cast members were Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, and Russel Crowe as Inspector Javert.  Just this week, it was confirmed that Anne Hathaway was being brought in to play the part of Fantine

I'm pretty happy with that casting so far....I am not going to question Hugh Jackman's ability to do ANYTHING that he puts his mind to, Anne Hathaway has sung before in a few movies and at some award shows(plus she just does it for me), and I have seen enough videos of Russel Crowe singing that I think he will do a fine job...he should also be able to harness some of Javert's menace.

There is still no word about who will play the other big roles, most notably the Marius, Cosette, Eponine love triangle, but as long as Nick Jonas(who DID NOT distinguish himself in the 25th Anniversary Concert.) isn't involved, I'm sure it will be fine.  The great part about making a movie instead of a live stage show is multiple takes...and there some disgustingly talented folks out there to choose from. 

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for my phone to ring, but I am looking forward to December of 2012...if the world does end on December 21st, I'm glad this might be the last movie I get to see. 

Some people are SO lucky!

So, this lady is bombing along I-5 Tuesday morning between Lacey and Olympia(which puts her about 5 minutes from the State Capitol and about 5 minutes from my dads house) when this lady hits a deer with her Hyundai.  The deer is hit so hard, that it flips up into the air over her car and breaks her rear window, before ending up in her back seat and trunk.

Picture lifted from the them there Komo 4 News Story.

Because the lady was uninjured, it's easy to joke about how perfect this is...the only thing that would have made it better is if the deer decided to gut itself before ending up in her back seat. 

Of course, this happens the day I return to work after an unsuccessful weekend of hunting, which raises all kinds of questions from my co-workers about my hunting ability.  'Maybe you should get some hunting lessons from this lady'....'Have you thought about trading in that Whelen for a Hyundai?' 

Friends...can't live with them, can't hit them hard enough with a pickup truck to flip them right into the tailgate. 

Dude's got some juevos

Yesterday morning, when the story first broke about the exotic animal farm in Ohio where the owner was found dead, with all his cages left open, there was a lot of joking around the internet about how this was going to finally justify all the .375 H&H's folks had been buying in the Mid-West. 

Turns out that is exactly what's been going on for the last day.  In what I think is a very ballsy, but very correct decision, the local Sheriff had his folks out with shoot-to-kill orders, and so far, they had done a very good job of accounting for the released animals, with just a single monkey still being on the loose.

It's a bummer.  Among the animals put down were six black bears, two grizzlies, a wolf, a baboon and three mountain lions, 17 LIONS, and 18 Bengal Tigers. 

The tigers are really the only thing that come close to having people up in arms, since the number of these animals believed to exist in the wild is down to about 1400.  The call had to be made though.  If one of these tigers slipped away into the night, and killed some kids waiting to get on the school bus 30 miles away, this Sheriff would never hear the end of it. 

Even Jack Hanna of Tonight Show fame, while mourning the loss of these 18 tigers, defended the decision by Sheriff Matt Lutz. 

Reports from the initial responders to the site sound pretty hairy.  One deputy, Jonathan Merry, who arrived at the scene to investigate a dead body and a few wild animals running around, had to kill a wolf and a black bear with his pistol...the black bear at a distance of 7 feet.  That's some steady nerves.

I'm just curious if these guys were out there with their .223's or if they were 'deputizing' folks coming in with their Just in Case I get to Africa guns.  I know if something like this happened here, I'd volunteer to be out there with my Whelen...

10.18.2011

Turkey and WHAT chili?

One of the many pleasant benefits of being a happily married man is getting home from work, and finding that dinner is (sometimes)all ready to go on the stove/in the oven.  Usually, I have a pretty good idea of what she has planned, but sometimes, she plays coy just to surprise me.

Today was one of those coy days, but when I opened the door, it smelled pretty good, so I didn't have my guard up when SWMBO told me that what was cooking away in the big pot on the stove was Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili.    The turkey part didn't bother me...if a recipe calls for ground meat in our place, it's either going to be venison or turkey...I don't think I have bought ground beef in 9 months or so.  I'll admit to having reservations about the butternut squash part of the recipe though, but because I want to keep coming home to dinner in progress, well....I kept my reservations to myself.

My concerns were totally groundless...the Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili was really good...and for something made by my wife, it had a very acceptable level of heat(as a father of two girls, one of the things I have resigned myself to is a lifetime of non-spicy home cooked meals).  The really good news to go along with this is that it was a big enough pot that I get to have some for lunch tomorrow, and there was still enough to freeze for a whole other meal some night. 

Is there any other reason?

A few weeks ago, one of my wife's friends came to the house for a visit, and was obviously so impressed with the amount of canning that my wife had been doing, that she sent my wife this picture today. My wife liked it so much, she is using it as her profile picture on facebook.


I'm very proud of my wife...this summer and early fall was her first real attempt at canning, and she turned out roughly 50-60 pints of jam, jellies, butters, apple sauce and chopped peaches.  I know better though...this isn't nearly enough to help us survive the zombies(no veggies...maybe she gets a pressure canner for Christmas)...it's just that being stuck in an apartment requires you to get imaginative with your food storage. In the past, I've talked about our 5 gallon bucket head board...now, we are lucky enough that the last batch of peach/strawberry jam and apple sauce my wife canned matches enough fall colors that we are able to store them in plain sight, without violating any of the aesthetics my wife craves.


The rest of the jars are in the base of the hutch.  Mmmm...14 jars of peach butter...

Damn...those are some good cookies...

One of the things I LOVE about this time of year is the appearance of Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies at the grocery store.  I'm a sweets guy, and I am real sucker for 'seasonal' items like these...'get 'em while you can' marketing will hook me every time.  This year though, with a dozen of them selling for $3.99 at Safeway, I decided to use the power of the internet to see just how tough they can be to make.

The answer is...not very.  I found a likely looking recipe on The Food Network, and basically, you take a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, and once you cream your sugar into the butter, and add your eggs and vanilla, you dump in a cup of pumpkin puree.  I would get pumpkin pie filling would work also, I would just leave out the ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, since that is the main difference between pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie filling.  You then add in your drys, and mix.






These cookies came out really, really good.  About 15 times better than Safeway's cookies.  So good in fact, that SWMBO, who has been on great diet(35 pounds down since May) asked me to leave her one to have with her coffee for breakfast in the morning.  There are 20 in the bag up above, to go into work with me in the morning.  They are entirely too tasty for me to have than many of them sitting around the house. 

Good news is that it only uses a cup of pumpkin puree, so I dumped the remainder of the can into a tupperware container, and popped it in the freezer, to make another batch next weekend...Oh Happy Day! 

10.17.2011

Freebies and Samples!

While I was off this weekend, getting all muddy and tired, with only a few cups of Rose Hips to show for it, my wife was providing for the family another way...Saturday she took the kids and went to the Tri-Cities Women's Expo with a couple of friends.

If you've never been to a Women's Expo, it's just like any other 'Trade Show'...row upon row of vendor convincing you that you need what they are trying to sell...which means one thing...FREEBIES and SAMPLES

Before we go to far...yes, my wife did have to pay to get into the show....admission for her was $7...the kids were free.  With the haul she got, I consider this to be a very good deal, especially since the show also provided entertainment. 

A mostly complete list of the FREEBIES and SAMPLES, just in case you are still leery/doubtful of attending a Women's Expo: 

3 bottles of water.
2 different flavors of Honest Ade(Cranberry Lemonade and Pomegranate Blue)
4 8oz On The Go Chocolate Silk's
2 7oz tubes(like you would buy in the stores!) of Weleda Pomegranate Body Wash
10 Tooth Brushes(good one...Colgate and Oral-B)
10 Travel Size tubes of tooth paste(crest, colgate)
6 Four Meter Sample sized floss containers(Oral Hygiene is very important)
6 tubes of lip balm
8 resusable(canvas, plastic lined) shopping bags.

Wow.

That's just the big stuff...as far as 'sample sized' things: 3 L'A'RA Bars, 3 One Serving Squeeze Tubes of Peanut Butter(right in the bug out bags), a few things of Tiger Balm, some soap, different tea bag, Anacin, some absorbent feminine products(which will also probably find themselves in Bug Out Bags, or first aid kits), and, most interestingly, two samples of Zestra Essential Arousal Oils...

Ummm...yeah.

Anyway...just the tooth brushes alone show a profit off the admission fee.  Throw in the tooth paste, and she covered gas money, while the 2 tubes of Pomegranate Body Wash cover the cost of lunch, and then some. 

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE THIS WOMAN?

Hunter-Gatherer

Well, this weekend's deer hunting trip was much more successful as a 'trip' than as a 'deer hunting'.

First, the positives...I did get to see some animals in their natural habitats, they just weren't the right species/sex/maturity.  Within 45 minutes of getting out of my truck to go for a walk, I had happened upon a trip of cow elk in some pine trees, and just for practice, managed to work into a very satisfactory firing position on them, before they trotted. 

This put some doubts into my mind.  I knew I had climbed up about the elevation where I could expect to find white-tails(I was at about 4500 feet) but all the sign I was seeing elk....no deer, and then I came across two mule deer doe's.  They new something was up...one would stare at me while the other bent down to graze.  Things continued like this for about 10 minutes, before I was able to get myself one sliding-step at a time, behind some cover.  If there was a buck there, it would have been a pretty easy 75 yard shot...but, no buck showed up, just the two does, who finally had enough of me.

I was feeling pretty good by this time...less than two hours on the ground, and I had seen deer AND elk.

A short while later, I was feeling even better...at about 1:00, I stumbled upon a NICE looking bull elk(nice in my world is anything greater than 5X5...he was at least that.  It really was almost a stumble too...I jumped him in his bed at about 40 yards, and we both kind of recognized each other at about the same time.  He jumped up, whirled around and crashed off through some thick brush.  If he had been a buck, instead of a bull, I don't think I would have had a chance at a shot.

Looking back, this would be the high point of the weekend.  After that, the weather came into play.

It was drizzly all day, which didn't bother me much...I have a nice water proof outerlayer that will me dry against most conditions...but I wasn't ready for the fog.  Other than a 2 hour period Sunday morning, at about 10, the mountains were clouded in the whole time.  Visibility was between 50 and 100 yards.  When I say I stumbled onto that bull, it was was because we just kind of materialized out of the fog to one another.


This picture was taken at 2 o'clock in the afternoon...somewhere out there is supposed to be a clearing...but how do you watch a clearing in that stuff?  How do you enjoy the sunset, or watch the stars?  That is some pretty monotone nature to try to commune in. 

Spending the night in my truck was not my worst idea, but it would probably make the top 10 list.  I hadn't counted on it being so damp and muddy outside.  I thought I would be able to so stuff like stand outside to get dressed/undressed, not have to shimmy in and out of clothes in my front seat.  Maybe sit on a log and enjoy the fresh air while I ate my tasty MRE dinner, not eat in in the same front seat.  Another note to myself is to bring a spare lantern mantel next time...with a hole in the mantel, things get dark, unless you want to leave your truck running all evening.  Luckily, I had a cheap Chinese LED flashlight that the lens/reflector come off of, so I was able to use that for a little ambient light. 

The sleep was actually the least bad thing about sleeping in the truck.  I was about 6-inches too tall to stretch out, but that only bothered me two or three times, when my abused legs yearned to be stretch out.

About 3AM, I was woken up to find the drizzle had shifted to a pouring rain.  Ick...my spirit almost broke then...I was thinking, I can be home in time for a shower and nap before the Sunday football games start...but I toughed it out.  By 5, the rain had died off, and by 5:45, I was heading back up to a nice meadow I had spent the evening at the night before.

Things actually cleared up for a while, and the views reminded me of why I wanted to go hunting up in the Blue Mountains.


An hour later though, the clouds/fog came back in...and by noon, I was feeling done with walking around.  I hadn't seen an animal other than a bird or squirrel since 1:30 the day before. 

So, I turned into a road hunter/explorer.  It's lame to admit this, since I was hunting there, but I don't know the Blue's THAT well.  I was happy with where I picked to hunt...I only saw one other guy on foot in a day and a half, and maybe 6 or 7 road hunters.  That's not bad pressure for public land, but it seemed time to see what else was out there.

I decided to use my atlas to find a very scenic way back into Dayton.  There should be a lot to see in the Umatilla National Forest....but mostly, all I saw was a bunch of grey, although along the way, I found a couple of interesting things.  Not three miles from where I spent the night in my truck, there was a decent looking national park campground at Big Springs.  20 sites, only two of them being used.  I figured those places would be locked up solid during hunting season...nothing fancy...fire pit, picnic table, and a pit toilet!  Did I mention how much I hate pooping outside?  Yuck.

I also happened across a few of the cabins/lookouts that the National Park Service has for rent.  Some of these look very nice...The Clearwater Lookout Cabin would work for my family, or even the Clearwater Big House Cabin...it sleeps up to 10, and we could split it was a few friends...$60 or $75 a night split between two or three families is not bad at all. 

Alas, in all that driving, I only saw one more deer...a doe jumped out in front of me in the fog, and that was the closest I came to bagging anything.  If I had jumped on the gas instead of the breaks, I might have gotten her.

Not wanting to go home totally empty handed, I put my skills to gathering, instead of hunting.  Earlier in the summer, when I took my wife and kids out to explore the hills east of Dayton, we found a few shrubs that looked like wild roses, with what might have been rose hips forming on them.  Not wanting to kill the family, we went home empty handed.  Internet research proved they were in fact rose hips, but it didn't seem worth a 4 hour round trip just to go harvest some.  Since I was in the area, I did some harvesting this weekend.  It felt like I picked a huge amount of them, but it really only worked out to 3 cups or so.  Having provided, we'll see if my wife actually decides she can do something with them.  Whether she does or not, the smile on her face when I gave them too her was worth all the little pricks I go on my hands. 

It was a good time.  I suppose I'm a quitter for not putting in the 2nd night in my truck like I originally had planned, but, I wasn't feeling it.  It's supposed to be fun, and the more I thought about it, it felt like it would be more fun to make it home in time to shower and watch the season premier of The Walking Dead with my wife, then curled up in my truck.

My two big take aways from this, is that I saw animals...so, I'd like to keep that area in mind for next year...maybe even do some actual scouting. The other is that when I have some expendable income, I NEED to get a GPS unit...not a driving one, but one that I can use to say 'Here's my Truck', and here a few Forest Road Intersection Way-points.  Now...I've been walking two hours...show me the direction to go to get to one of those places.  I was soooooooo worried about getting lost out there, especially in the fog.  When you can't see the horizon, or surrounding ridge lines, it's tough to get disoriented.  A GPS unit would have made me feel a lot better about marching off into The Mist....

10.16.2011

I'm a wimp.

One night trying to sleep on the bench back seat of my F-150, just to sit in the drizzle and fog is enough.  Saw some animals, they just weren't the right type.  Shower first, details later. 

Things were a little muddy up there this year...I can't believe I didn't get pulled over by a police officer on the way home for not having a license plate on the back of my truck....

10.14.2011

Here deer....

Heading out tomorrow morning sot-so-bright, but plenty early for the first day of modern firearm deer season.

My plans involve me heading out tomorrow morning, and potentially spending two nights in my truck.  No camper, no tent, but I do have a nice bench back seat.  Originally, I planned on just hunting from the house...it's only about a two hour drive from where I live to where I am hunting, but...start doing the math on gas, and leaving the house at 3:30, and not getting back until 8:30...that's a long, expensive day.  If the truck thing doesn't work so well the first night, I might even break down and stay in the cheapest motel I can find in the area...it would still be cheaper than driving back home.

Ummm...yeah, it's pretty ghetto.  I have all my stuff packed in the living room....sleeping bag, blanket, plenty of spare clothes(can't have enough skivvies).  For food I have a cooler with some water, P&J sandwich's, a box o' pop-tarts, and two of my MRE's. 

If anyone wants to wish me luck, I could sure use it...I've never hunted in this particular area before.  I am planning on working the northern foothills of the Blue Mountains...the western foothills, outside of Dayton are supposed to be a zoo, so I am going to drive the extra 45 minutes to head in from the north, out of the town of Pomeroy.  For a while I was thinking of heading to Bethel Ridge, which is where I hunt elk, and at least I know the area, but...the deer hunting success rate is something like 10% there.  The north-east corner of the state, where I have hunted before, had a 35% success rate last year, but this year they raised it from a 3pt minimum buck to a 4pt minimum.   The Blue Mountain foothills have a 38-42% success rate...and still have the 3 point minimum.  I felt that had to give me a bit better chance, even going in blind.

Heck...since I'm thinking the first part of my Saturday is going to be just looking around for a promising area I might even sleep in a bit.  All getting a bright and early start will do is present me with temptation...I'm sure I'll see myself some promising buck right off the highway, and then see none for the rest of the weekend.

Never mind, if I keep that kind of rationalization up, I'll never leave the house...

Excuse me, I was just leaving.

Just back from the gun range....I had to go put a few rounds of the new Hornady .35 Whelen rounds I bought through my gun, and get it re-zeroed.  Since I was going, I threw my lever-action .357 in the truck too, for use while the Whelen was cooling down.

I was happy by the end of my session.  I had the Whelen shooting 2.5 inches high at 100yards, which should have it about 8-inches low at 300.  My last two round, I rang the 300 yard gong, and then the 450 yard gong, not that I plan on any 400+ yard shots. 

After punching holes in the paper for a while with my Marlin, I decided to see what I could do at long range with it.  Bullet drop in a 158gr .357 is kind of impressive.  I finally found the right hold over, and was able to hit the 300 yard gong...once out of 5 tries, but did better on the 200 yard torso shaped target...I hit it with 4 out 5 shots, holding about 12-16 inches high.  The tough part there was holding the rifle on center when the target was totally blocked out of sight by the barrel.

With it being the last day before modern deer season, things were getting more crowded, and I was glad I had been waiting for them to open at 9.  About half-an-hour before I had been planning to leave, a fresh batch of folks showed up.  A few minutes into their session, one of them was going up and down the firing line, asking if anyone had 7mm ammo they could 'look at'.  

Well...that's an attention getter, especially when you get a blank stare when you ask if it's 7mm Rem Mag, or 7mm-08 or, 7mm Short Magnum.  Not having any 7mm at all, but being a curious/nosy person, I moseyed on down the line to see what was going on., when someone did produce a 7mm Rem Mag round.

'Heck, that doesn't look like what I bought at the store yesterday!'  Hmmm...and the headstamp isn't the same either...this one says 7mm Rem Mag, and these say 300 Win Mag....Hmmmm....

Gulp.  Yup....some dude was trying to stuff .300 Win Mag rounds into his new Savage 7mm Rem Mag...and he couldn't understand why his day would have gotten SOOOOOO much worse if he had succeeded in stuff the .300 Win Mag round in his new gun.

That's when I decided that I really didn't need to stick around any longer to move my target closer to work with my S&W...there will be other times for wheel gun practice. 

10.13.2011

Hunt of a Lifetime

Hunt of a Lifetime is an non-profit organization that provides hunting and fishing opportunities for young people who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. 

As you are reading this, there is a young man named Quincy Raider 2800 miles from home, on The Hunt of a Lifetime.  I have known Quincy's uncle for oh....let's see...27 years.  I first met Quincy a few years ago, when he was one of the usher's at his uncles wedding.  Quincy has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and when I met him, he was still able to walk with his braces on long enough to 'Do His Job' at the wedding.  For the last year or so, he has been pretty much stuck in his wheel chair. 

One of Quincy's dreams was getting to shoot something that his father never has, and to help him fulfill that goal, the Hunt of a Lifetime folks have brought him all the way from Washington to Northern Maine.  Yesterday morning, Quincy shot himself a bull moose, which his father has never shot. 

Because it is a 'feel good' type story, the local TV station there in Maine did a story on Quincy.  Either I'm a softy, or it's because I know the young man in question, but it got a little dusty in the room as I watched the video.  I've also briefly met Quincy's dad at the wedding, and I'm proud of him for being able to keep it together on that hunt, and during the interview.  I'm not sure I would be that composed talking to a TV crew, having it driven home to me that the only reason my child was able to have the opportunity is because of an organization that provides dream hunts for children with lief-threatening illnesses.  I would like to think I could keep it together long enough to enjoy the experience for the sake of my child....but...

But, I say my prayers.  I count my blessings that I never get the opportunity to go on a moose hunt in Maine because one of my children is ill. 

Meanwhile, Quincy is in Maine for another few days...he's got himself a black bear tag to go with his moose tag.   I hope he gets another opportunity to smile. 

And this is what you DON'T do...

Face Palm:

Police: Gun safety lesson goes awry when dad accidentally shoots son. 
  
There isn't much to the story.  Sounds like the son is all grown up, and him and dad where comparing each other's pieces, and showing each other how to unload them.  Dad went to prove his was unloaded by pulling the trigger.  Luckily, instead of seriously injuring his son, they got to reenact the 'Something jumped up and bit me' scene from Forest Gump.

Sigh.  

 

Can't believe they didn't ask for 'A Shrubbery'.

This story really has an 'Only in Seattle' feeling about it. 

Occupy Seattle protesters submit list of demands to mayor

So, these folks are illegally camping out in Westlake Park, in downtown Seattle, and rather than being thrown out of the park, or arrested, the Mayor says, 'Give me a list of your demands, and I'll let you stay in Westlake Park longer, while I consider your demands.'

This really shouldn't surprise ANYONE.  Prior to being elected mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn had never been elected to a public office.  He is a lawyer, a 'neighborhood activist', and former state chair of the Sierra Club.  If he wasn't mayor, he would probably be camping out in Westlake Park WITH these people.   

I'm not a resident of Seattle, but I am sure some of the State Taxes I pay trickle down to Seattle's budget at some point, so I can express my GREAT displeasure that McGinn would offer up City Hall Plaza to these folks, instead of telling them to pack sand.  

If I was an employee of City Hall, I think my head might explode if McGinn gives in to some of these demands...especially allowing the 24-hour access to City Hall bathrooms(I can't imagine these folks are the type to wipe off the toilet seat), and giving them a reserved parking space by City Hall.  Sure...go ahead and put it closer than the 'Employee of the Quarter's spot...we wouldn't want to give the impression that hard work coud earn you something that protest couldn't get you even faster.  





10.12.2011

If you aren't part of The 99, you are part of The One....

I'm sure most folks have already seen this, but it's WAY too good for me not share it just in case you have made it to my little corner of the internet without already reading it.  Besides, even if you are seeing it for the 2nd, 3rd, or 9th time, you are still going to smile.