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


Some animals are more equal than others.

An enlightening story out of Snohomish County, that should give hope to all of us about how the culture surrounding DUI's might be changing.

Strike that, it's a frustrating story proving that depending on who you are, you can get away with anything.

Snohomish County judge won't be charged with DUI

If me or thee was pulled over for erratic driving, and then said we only had one beer, while our best friend/witness said it 2 glasses of wine, I'm pretty doubtful they would give us the benefit of the doubt.  Heck, I KNOW they wouldn't....they would nail you to the wall.  But if you and your best friend/witness are judges, who know enough not to TAKE the field sobriety test, well, it's just 'too hard' to get a conviction.

So much for the 'buzzed driving IS drunk driving' commercial.


Well, that's not THAT big of a number...

Recently, I was listening to one of Toby Keith’s newer songs, ‘Beers Ago’. The hook in the song is how times have changed, and things were different ‘1462 bears ago’.

That got me thinking…just how long is 1462 beers ago? Obviously, it’s going to be different for different folks…but let’s try a rough estimate.
IF I didn’t start drinking until I was 21(Not true, but in case my kids read this someday, we want dad to look pure as the driven snow, that is 16.5 years of legal drinking, or roughly 6022 days. That means to have reach 1462 beer, It would be 1 beer every 4 days.
Now, this is not true now…but there was a time when a Sunday watching football meant 8-12 beers. Figure in another 2-4 during Monday night football, and then 2-4 watching college football on Saturdays, and we are looking at a conservative estimate of 240 beers over the 20 weeks of televised football. And that’s rounding down to avoid looking like a total lush. In that case, it’s a hair over 6 FOOTBALL seasons to get to 1462…and that’s if I didn’t drink any other beer the rest of the year.
Did I mention I used to be a sailor, and some points, I attempted to live out the stereotypical life expected of a sailor? Hell, there was one underway we spent 3 weeks going in and out of Port Canaveral, Florida for three weeks doing weapons testing…I’m sure I was good for 80-100 beers during THAT port call alone.
At that rate, I think Toby Keith must have written this song when he was about 25 or 26 years old…

I just know if I was writing that song now, I'd have to find something that rhymes with 4500 beers ago..


Why sad songs are sad.

Looks like Sunday might turn into my 'sad country song' day.  This weeks song is another 'older'(Mid 90's) one, by Sawyer Brown.

It's sad because...this is how it usually happens in the real world.  No big knock down, drag out fights...just two people kind of drifting apart, and not sure why it happened.  This is the kins of scenario that worries me...not because I really think it will happen, but because NO ONE ever thinks it will happen.  I'm probably hopelessly old fashioned, but a refuse to believe a statistically significant number of folks go into marriage planning to break each others hearts someday. 

Now, because we want to leave folks happy around here, how's about some more Sawyer Brown, performing what is one of the better remakes out there.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why Sawyer Brown wasn't bigger.  I mean, they had success, but, they were good...they should have been HUGE.  Not the best quality video, but it's what I could find. 


A find!

One of the books I often see on 'preparedness library' lists is an older copy of the Boy Scout Fieldbook.  Since it's tough to find older Boy Scouts who still have copies of their fieldbooks, it's a matter of keeping your eyes open.

Today was my lucky day.  One of the local used book stores was having a $1 sale...clearing excess inventory to finance more shelves.  After selecting a few books with my daughters, and not finding anything I wanted on the sci-fi table, I swung over to the non-fiction table, and there it was...a 1979 Boy Scouts of America Fieldbook. 

Now, I hate to say that 1979 is OLD, but it appears to be old enough.  I've just flipped through it real quick, but it appears to be chock full of all kinds of things to make living outdoors less lame.  It certainly looks like a resource that will live up to it's reputation. 

Scary Movies

With Halloween fast approaching, I though I would sit down and make my list of my favorite scary movies, or at least, movies that scared me.  A lot of this has to do with the age I was when I first saw the movie...things that scare you at 10 might not scare you at 30.  I have always tended to go more for 'suspence' than straight gore or torture porn.

This list isn't specifically in order from most to least scary, but it is the order the movies popped into my mind, so that must count for something. 

1.  Poltergeist.  I seem to remember this being the first REALLY scary movie that I watched.  It was playing like 8 times a week on HBO, and my parents told me I wasn't allowed to watch it...but I snuck in a viewing anyway, and boy, was that a mistake.  The clown under the bed, the steak on the counter, the guy pealing off his face...and the worst was the tree breaking through the window to drag the kid out of his bed.  To this day I have an urge to cut down any trees within 20 feet of the house.

2.  Jaws.  Not so much the shark attack scenes, but for me the scene that made me jump the first 700 times I saw the movie was when Hooper was down inspecting Ben Garner's boat, and the head rolls out through the hole in the side of the boat. 

3. The Ring.  I watched this one when I was working off station for the Shipyard.  I was working back shift, and they gave us the night off, so one of my buddies let me borrow it.  2AM in a dark hotel room is not the right time and place to watch this movie.

4.  The Exorcist.  Not much to say...a classic, and one of the best.  For me, I think the scene where she impales herself with the cross is the most shocking...that, and split pea soup.

5. Saw.  I know...I said I'm not much into torture porn, but one night my WIFE came home with this movie.  She had read the description, and thought it was some kind of suspenseful crime movie.  About 20 minutes in she said 'this is not what I thought it was going to be.'  We watched it...the first 1 was pretty good...2 was okay, and think that was all I have seen.

6. Final Destination.  Not so much flat out scary, as 'make you jump entertaining'.  And so very creative in ways death WILL get you.  The scene with the bus is amazing...not sure how many times I watched it in slow motion to see how they did it.

7. 28 Days Later.  A good movie, and while they aren't really zombies, it's the standard to which zombie movies will be held.  If the troubled version of World War Z can't be at least this good, then just don't bother to release it.

8.  Alien. I think I liked Aliens better...more of a 'shoot 'em up action flick', but Alien was scarier.  When they start looking for the escaped creature, and you realize it has grown, and grown, and grown...

9.  Pet Semetary.  First off...all this time, and I didn't realize that THAT was the way the title was spelt.  Full of good jumps...and the scene where they cut poor Herman Munsters Achilles...ouch.  I wasn't a parent when I first saw it, but it does make you think 'How far would I go for even the chance of getting my child back?'  Up there with Misery as one of the better Stephen King movies. 

10.  The 6th Sense.  Just a great suspenseful ghost story.  It's the glimpses that get you, like the folks hanging in the gym.  Haley Joel Osmet does such a fantastic job of acting like a frightened puppy the whole movie, and then...there's the twist.  Anyone who went into that movie cold and says 'I saw it coming' is a LIAR.  Most of all, they are lying to themselves.  It almost made me feel bad for the folks that did The Others(which could get a spot on this list...better movie than Final Destination, but not as neat).  I did see the end of The Others coming, but only because The 6th Sense put that idea on your head. 


Corn and Pumpkins.

We don't have a great many 'family traditions' around here.  Dinner on our wedding night is ALWAYS pizza at home, because on the day we got married, I totally miscalculated the time it would take to drive from Virginia Beach to Baltimore via the scenic Delmarva Peninsula, so we had pizza in our hotel room instead of a nice dinner out. 

One of our others would be that we TRY to get to the corn maze and pumpkin patch every year.  We've had better luck with keeping that going since moving to the Tri-Cities than we have making it to the U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm...not many of those in the Palouse. 

Today was shaping up to be our only opportunity this year, and with my wife having friends over to make soap in the afternoon, it was my job to herd us out the door nice and early.  We were in the car by 9:10, and on our way. 

It was a little cold and damp to start the morning out, but my wife was trying hard to be excited.

The kids had a good time, and that is what really matters.  When your kids are giggling while climbing on the hay pyramid, and poking the goats in petting zoo, it's easy to be excited.
After that, it was in the maze.  We navigated in the usual manner...letting each girl take turns when we got to an intersection.  As always, I took the rear...that way the girls could distract He Who Walks Between the Rows, while I make a break for it.

It must have been a good summer for corn here in the lower Columbia Valley...plenty of irrigation and plenty of hot days led to some of the corn stalks being 10+ feet tall. 

When the maze was done, and we picked a few pumpkins, we had to swing through the store for goodies.  Country Mercantile is a dangerous, dangerous place.  There are fresh fruits and vegetables and 100's of fudges and candies made on site.  They also have something like 1000 different types of canned fruits and veggies, with tons of jams and dips and salsa's.  The dangerous parts are they tables full of jam and dip and salsa samples.  Everything tastes SO good...but, none of it is cheap.  Most of the jars cost around $7-8, and so a basket full of tasty treats rapidly adds up. 

It's one of the reasons I am ECSTATIC that my wife took up canning last year.  I can say with a straight face that the homemade blueberry butter I put on my toast this morning was better than the blueberry jam I put on a cracker at Country Mercantile. 

Still it's a good place to swing by, and one of the places we always bring out of town guests.  Might as well give them some free advertising.


Washington Ballot Breakdown.

The past few years, I have tried to put my thoughts down on the state-wide ballot measures here in Washington. With ballots arriving in people mail boxes, one of my friends actually poked me and asked if I was going to get that done this year. Since it’s nice to be appreciated, here goes:
Statewide Ballot Measures
Initiative to the People 1185(Save the 2/3rd Vote for Tax Increases(Again) Act. Back in 2007 and again in 2010, The People of Washington have approved initiatives that would require a 2/3rds majority vote to allow taxes to be raised. The Legislature has gotten around these by filling lawsuits claiming it’s an ‘Unconstitutional Limit on the Power of the Legislature’. I’m not sure why we think they just won’t find a way to ignore this a THIRD time, but at least in doing so, you will force them to show their true colors. I’m voting in Approval of this initiative.
Initiative to the People 1240(Washington Charter School Initiative). This would allow for 40 public charter schools to be created over the next 5 years. To decide whether you want to vote for or against this, I guess you should first understand what a ‘charter school’ is. To my understanding, a Charter School is one which operates outside the jurisdiction of a school district. This allows them to get around some of the restrictive rules , regulations and statutes of most public schools, in exchange for a promise of creating documented results of improvement. I’ve got NO problem with that, since I’m an ‘ends justify the means’ type of guy. Previously, the voters in Washington voted down charter school initiatives in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Hopefully, the 8 year break has given folks a chance to figure out Public Schools are broken the way they are running now. I am voting in Approval of this initiative.
Referendum 74(Same-Sex Marriage Referendum). Early in 2012, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill giving same sex couples the right to now just enter into ‘civil unions’, but to get married. Hours after Governor Gregoire signed that bill into law, a referendum was filed which would essentially let the voters of Washington State overturn that law. An Approved vote supports the bill, a Rejected vote would repeal the law.
Once upon a time, when I was an ignorant 17 or 18 year old, I would have voted against this one. Now…this is not to say that you are ignorant if you are against gay marriage. I understand some folks have religious beliefs that lead them to believe save sex relationships are wrong in their gods eyes. I don’t have that…I would have just been against it because I used to think ‘gays are icky’, and this is ignorant. My opinion has changed. This world is full of unhappiness. If someone feels they can decrease that amount of happiness by getting ‘married’ to someone they love instead of sharing a ‘civil union’, then more power to them.
Initiative to the Legislature 502(Washington Marijuana Legalization and Regulation). Slightly different than an Initiative to the People, the State Legislature could have adopted this as law earlier in the year, OR it could have modified it and let the people vote on it. Since, in the end, most members of the Legislature are soulless creatures who don’t want to get in trouble for doing the WRONG thing, they did nothing, which now means The People get to vote on. Well, of course, putting on my libertarian hat, I’m behind this. My only reservation against legalizing marijuana has always been ‘how do you track/punish people who are driving under the influence’? The proposed measure would make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with more than 5 nanograms of THC/ml of blood in their system. I’m not sure how that compares to a .08% BAC, but…it’s a start.
Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment SJR 8221(Washington State Debt Amendment). A proposed state amendment that would change the cap on state debt over the next three years from 9% to 8%. That sounds good. BUT, it also recalculates and redefines the term General State Revenue to include Education Fund Money, which means that while the percentage of debt is going down, the total amount would go up…voting no on this one. Nice sneaky try though.
Legislatively Referred Constitutional Amendment SJR 8223(Washington Public University Investments Amendment). Currently, there are very limited places that the State is allowed to invest its money…most notably, stocks and bonds of individuals, associations, companies or corporations. This amendment would remove that limitation for University of Washington and Washington State University. Most realistically, they could say ‘We are researching in this area, and so it would be smart to buy stock in companies that work in that area, since our research break through will cause said stock value to increase.
Good call…not seeing how this can go bad baring a total collapse of the stock market. Gulp. I’ll still vote for it…gotta roll them dice sometimes.
Advisory Vote 1 and 2.  I almost don't want to talk about them...they make me mad.  Essentially, the State Legislature made some decisions and votes to cut some tax breaks, and delay the expiration of funding for the pollution liability insurance agency.  Poopy.  Both of these decisions have already been made, and basically, this is a non-binding advisory vote to see how much the pissed people off by making these decisions.  I'm highly curious how much money it costs to add these 'advisory votes' to the ballot.  How's about you get off your asses and visit with your constituents to figure out how they feel about the job you are doing.
Statewide Offices
Governor: The choices are former Congressman Jay Inslee(D) and Attorney General Rob McKenna(R).  Inslee is an 8-term Congressman with 1 failed attempt at running for Governor in 1996.  There isn't a whole lot you can say bad about Congressman Inslee, but there isn't a lot of stand-out good either.  He's one of those guys who made a living off of voting the party line, and not screwing up(although, to give him props, he did break from the party in November of 2011 and voted FOR the Balanced Budget Amendment.  Rob McKenna has done a fairly fine job as Attorney General, and really the only thing the Democrats can throw at him in the commercials is 'Rob McKenna...he's a Republican.'  I voted for McKenna, because to me Inslee represents the ineffectual archetype that has given us the most un-approved of Congress in DECADES. 
Senate: This one is tough, because the greedy government contractor side of me acknowledges that putting Maria Cantwell in for a 3rd term gives me the best chance of long-term financial support at work.  However, she is a Real Democrat.  She supported Obamacare, and will DIE to protect social security and all manners of Government spending. 
Michael Baumgartner, her opponenant, is an up-and-coming Tea Party Republican.  He frequently speaks about bringing our troops home, and has proposed a 1 cent per gallon gas tax to provide funding for support for returning troops. It's easy for me to vote for him, and I did, but I really don't think he has a chance in Hades of winning. 
Other State Offices:Yeah, the truth is, Washington is doing pretty good, so if an imcumbent was running for 'Insurance Commisioner' or State Auditor...I voted for them.  The only 'other' candidate I had an opinion on was Clint Didier, running for Public Lands Commisioner.  He opened for Ron Paul here in Richland, and seems like a good guy. 


Refreshingly Honest

One of the items on our ballot in Washington this year is an initiative to legalize marijuana in 'small amounts'.  My only reservation is that being found 'driving under the influence' is punished in an appropriate manner.

While talking about the ballot measure with one of my friends, I was surprised to find him against it, since I knew he was an occasional fan of the chronic.

His reasoning was 100% brutally honest:  'Man, they want to TAX it...do you know much more expensive it's gonna get?'

True that....excuse me while I drive to the Oregon border to bet some sales tax free alcohol.


Best of intentions

 Yesterday, my wife had some free time to cook up some bacon for a Bacon Cheddar Muffin recipe she wants to try later in the week(yes, please!).  Because she is as thoughtful as she is beautiful, she figured rather than let the bacon grease go to waste, she would add it to my jar in the fridge.  what she didn't know though is that i always filter my grease into a bowl to cool for a bit before adding it to the cold jar kept in the fridge. 

What a nice clean break...and a perfect opportunity to teach my girls the effects of thermal stress.

Due to her being smart enough to pour it over a bowl, not much product was lost, and i was able to transfer the surviving grease into a new jar...tragedy averted.


Why, that's almost...pretty!

I am one of the first to malign the scenery of the Tri-Cities area.  While Washington is a state of GREAT natural beauty, and the nearby Palouse. and Columbia, and Yakima, and Blue Mountains are very scenic, the Tri-Cities itself are fairly flat...and brown. 

Today, when I walked out work, I was treated to this view of Rattlesnake Mountain.  With the clouds and a thin fresh layer of snow, it was actually kind of picturesque. 

With it's only claim to fame being the totally unsubstantiated fact that it is the talles treeless mountain in the world, Rattlesnake Mountain can use all the help it can get in the 'scenery' department.  


Slow Monday to start the week.  All I've really got is that for dinner last night, I finally got a chance to cook up two packages of venison steaks from my deer, with sweet potatoes and zuchini corn friters(just some jiffy mix with an egg and a cup or so of shredded zucchini added in and cooked like pancakes) on the side.  I'm not one of those folks who does much special for venison....just dredged it in some flour, threw on some seasoned salt and garlic salt, and seared it in a skillet with almost smoking oil

She may not have been big, but she is tender, and quite tasty.  My mother-in-law, in from Connecticut was a little unsure at first, but went back for 2nds.  The only one not impressed was my younger daughter, who is convinced she doesn't like pink meat...so she then complained that the dry, grey lumps I gave her were too chewy.

Oh well, just means more for me.


Sad Songs

It used to be a joke that if you played a country song backwards, you got your wife, your dog, and your truck back.  With the modern generation of country, this doesn't apply very often...they are keepin' it real...and upbeat.  Sad doesn't sell as much anymore.

Being outdated, and finding myself at hunting camp with a limited music selection, I kept coming back to this oldie(feels strange to think of a song that came out in 1993 as OLD, but...) but goodie by Patty Loveless.  It's a great song, which is why I put it one my phone, it's just not one you want popping onto your playlist 3 nights in a row at hunting camp when you haven't seen your wife and kids in a few days.

The only thing that can make it worse, is when you get back to back Patty

I don't mind Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood...in fact, I quite enjoy their stuff, but man, they don't make them like Patty or Reba anymore. 



After having missed several weeks of my older daughters soccer games due to hunting and having to go to my younger daughters soccer games, today I got to support her double header...one game at 10:30, the other at 1:30.  In the several weeks since I have watched her play, there has been some improvement in her game. 

You can tell she is understanding the game a little better...she is playing her position in the right location, and trying to anticipate where the ball might pop out, and get there ahead of time.  But...while she is getting the mental side of things, she is not quite there on the physical side.  She still plays in a very timid manner.  If a ball is in her area, she will jog to it and then start pulling up if it looks like someone else is going to get to it first, instead of FIGHTING for it.

My wife will not let me try the raw meat diet yet to see if that spurs her on.

The weather today was quite brutal.  While sunny and about 55 by mid-afternoon, there was a steady 25-30 MPH wind ALL day.  It was quite bracing after being out in it for 3 hours.  Added to this is the fact that the Tri-Cities Soccer Complex is built on a little plateau, so you are fully exposed.  My eyes feel like someone sprinkled half a cup of salt and sand in them. 

How far back do you go?

It's not in my district, so I didn't see this story as soon as it broke, but last Friday, The Western Center for Journalism(Informing an Equipping Americans who Love Freedom.) revealed that back in 1995, during her junior year at Yale, Amy Biviano, who is running for State Representative in one of Spokane's districts, posed for pictures in Playboys 'Girls of the Ivy League' pictorial. 

I haven't linked to the Western Center for Journalism, because I don't think I like them...very negative slant towards most things on their website.  Instead, here is a link to the Spokane Spokesman's developing story.  According to the article, the campaign of the guy she is running against said that they have known about this appearance in Playboy all along, and decided it wasn't a campaign issue, and that is the official position.  Whether someone took it upon themselves to unofficially give out that info doesn't matter...the cat is out of the bag.

The question is...does it matter?  Ever since 'I did not inhale' we have had to face the fact that we now live in a time in which our politicians were crazy college kids, once upon a time.  Now, you kind of need to look at these 'startling revelations and weigh them against your own scale of judgement, which can be looked at two separate ways: Your own personal 'statute of limitations' and 'Does what they did offend you?'

In the interests of research, I went out on the internet machine and looked for the pictorial in question, which ended up being one picture, for which Mrs. Biviano nee Nabors earned less than 500 dollars.  Chances are, based on the fact that this pictorial came out when I was a 20 year old submarine sailor, this isn't the first time I saw this picture.  It's pretty typical for Playboy.  She was an attractive young lady, and still is, which is neither here nor there. 

The fact remains that I am not offended by her appearance in Playboy.  I know next to nothing about her platform, but IF I had decided to vote for her, this would not change my mind.  Heck...if she did it two years ago in a pictorial about former Ivy League moms, it wouldn't change my opinion.  Finding a picture of her fully covered in a KKK outfit would bother me much more than a picture of her bosom showing. 

I think if she was running as a Republican this would hurt her much more than it will since she's running as a Democrat.  We'll have to see how things shake out...not much longer to wait now.


Those are not Pringles.

The freezer being quite full of shredded frozen zucchini, we had to look for something else to do with the last few zucchini to come out of our garden.  Neither of us being up for canning, my wife and I decided that dehydrating was the way to go. 
We went pretty conventional on the first three trays of zucchini...cubed it, blanched it, and put it on the dehydrator.  The next three trays, I assumed responsibility for getting a little goofy.  I had read a few things on the internet about people just slicing their zucchini and making 'zucchini chips'.  You just slice them, season them various ways, and then dehydrate them until they are crispy.  When done, you can pop them like potato chips. 
Not so much.  I did one tray with salt, one tray with cracked black pepper and garlic salt, and the last tray with apple pie spice...figured I would cover the whole range of flavors. 
I was not impressed.  My wife was not impressed.  My kids were not impressed. 
We were SO unimpressed, we put them in the trash can.  You win some and you lose some.  The only good news is that it seems like the normal dehydrated zucchini came out okay, so we vacuum sealed that and put it in the pantry.  It will be added to various soups and spaghetti sauces in the future.  


Last dying gasps.

While I was off chasing that which does not exist in the woods, my wife, she was not exactly idle.  She had to spend the weekend at Mommy and Me Girl Scout Camp, and then she came home for a day and a half before driving 4+ hours to my moms for a few days of visiting and helping my mom pack for a move.

During that day and a half pit stop at the house, she was rushed to get caught up on laundry and take care of the cats...but she still had enough time to check the weather and realize that the with freezing temperatures coming, drastic measures had to be taken in the garden.  Springing into action, she grabbed a storage tote and pulled everything looking even remotely viable off the plants, and not a moment too soon, because when we got home Friday, the garden looked like this:

Before things reached that point, my wife's quick thinking and deliberate action saved:
9 pounds of zucchini
2 pounds each of ripe and green cherry tomatoes
10 pounds of green tomatoes. 
All that was left for me to do when I got home was bring in the 50 pounds of hubbard squash that were curing in the yard.
The hubbards just went into the garage.  With the cool, dry conditions in there, they should be good to play with for the next 4 months.  The green tomatoes are the one thing I am perplexed by.  I guess we can finally try fried green tomatoes....but other than that, my two main course of action appear to be keeping them dry in a box to see if the ripen in the garage OR I've seen some folks that say they make spaghetti sauce with 10% red, 90% green tomatoes. 
I'm sure I'll end up hedging my bets by placing some in the garage to ripen, and then doing spaghetti sauce with the other half. 



That's one good looking deer.

When I got back from elk hunting, I had a voice mail from Northwest Specialty Meats in Clarkston, telling me that my doe was ready to pick up.  10 days is pretty good turn around, so after going into work this morning, I decided that after a week and a half off, I should probably ease back into things, so I took the afternoon off to go pick up my deer. 

Clarkston is located over on the Idaho border, which means it is a 300 mile(295) round trip from where I live.  That's a pretty extreme trip to make to go pick up the meat from one deer...but, I swear, when I shot the doe near Pomeroy, which is only half an hour from Clarkston, it made sense. 

At the time, it seemed like the right choice.  There is not an overwhelming number of places that process wild game.  The one located in the Tri-city area has mixed reviews.  Central Washington has a few places, but all of them would have required me to drive 1.5 hours PAST my house to drop them off, meaning the deer would have spent nearly 4 hours in the back of my truck on a day with highs around 80-degrees.  So...yeah...Clarkston made good sense...it just didn't feel like half-way through a 5 hour round trip this afternoon.

Yeah, that's all of it in that milk crate.  It's actually more than I thought I would get...these folks know how to pack a milk crate.  Underneath the vacuum packed steaks there are 22 1.5 pound packs of burger, and then one 1 pound pack.  Add in the 10 pounds or so of backstrap and sirloin, and that's 45 pounds of venison from my little doe. 

The first taste test will have to wait...everything was frozen pretty solid in their freezer, so I have some steaks thawing in the fridge now. 

And sometimes it's nothing but luck.

There are many quantities that go into a successful hunt: Skill, Motivation, Physical Ability, Experience, and Luck.  Lot's and lots of luck.  Oh...animal population also can be a factor.

Sometimes, luck figures more into things than the other factors. 

Skill.  Well, I fessed up to missing a shot on a buck that I should have made back during deer season.  I then missed a shot on a cow on the opening day of elk season...but man, it was a tough shot.  Three cows were running down hill across a draw from where I was sitting, a distance of 80-100 yards, and through some trees.  It's the kind of shot that an instructor in a hunters safety class might say is unethical; running target, through some trees, getting near the edge of my 'comfortable range'...and I missed.  It's dang tough to hit a moving target with a muzzle loader...the timing is all different than hitting a clay with a swinging shotgun. IF I had hit that cow I would have done a victory dance...it would have been a great shot.  As it was, I was lucky that I saw the bullet puff against a tree, which is better than a bad hit on one of the cows.

Motivation.  I was motivated.  I spent 10-11 hours a day for 5 of the 7 days of hunting season out of my truck, either walking or sitting in the woods.  The 6th day I spent an hour helping my boss skin his cow out, and then had a celebration lunch, so I only hunted 8 hours.  On Friday, the last day of the season, I headed home at noon, after hunting 5 hours that morning.  It's hard to be much more motivated than that...it helps that I find 'road hunting' boring.  Never mind that I shot my doe from the side of the road two weeks ago...target of opportunity.

Physical Ability.  Much room to improve on this one, and it's the same EVERY season.  I end up doing more sitting than walking, which is not horrible, because sitting is much quiter than walking...but, it wouldn't suck to cover more ground without needing to stop every 200 feet of climbing to catch my breath.  At the end of every season, I say I'm going to be in better shape before the next season...and it's one of the things I can't blame anyone but myself about.  Sooner or later, I just need to do it.  My wife has lost 65 pounds, because she saw a picture of herself that made her sad.  In my case, it probably won't be a picture of me...it will be a picture of my daughters, and thinking about their weddings, and grandkids, and....okay, enough maudlin topics for now. 

Experience.  I shot my first(and only) elk back in 1992, a junior in high school.  I haven't hunted every year since then(being stationed in Connecticut can cut into ones elk hunting opportunity), but have probably hunted 8 seasons since then, including the last 5 in the Bethel Ridge area.  I know where we have seen elk in the past, and I know what elk poop, rubs, and elk country look like.  I'm not Jim Zumbo, Elmer Keith or Jack O'connor, but I think I understand the concept of elk hunting. 

Luck.  In the end, it all comes down to you and an elk being in the same place(a circle with a 150 yard radius) at the same time.  This is a factor of how much space and how many elk.  I saw 6 elk my first 24 hours up on the ridge, and then NO elk the next 6 days.  With the weather being unseasonably warm still(day time highs 72-73, overnight lows mid 30's) I think the elk took to high ground after the first day or two of being chased around.  The game unit I was able to use my cow tag in was between 3000-4000 feet.  The next GMU over had land up to 6500 feet, but going there would mean I could not legally shoot a cow.  Decisions.  Not a tough decision...stay where I am, in an area I know fairly well where I can shoot a spike or a cow, or go to an area I DON'T know and try to find only a spike. 

It's not a case of 'get further away from the road' either.  Bethel Ridge is not DEEP wilderness.  The area is fairly crisscrossed with roads and trails of different types...there are very few areas that are greater than 1/2 a mile from some sort of travel path.  The resident elk are pretty comfortable with roads, and the vehicles that travel on them.  The cows will sometimes stop and stare at a truck driving by.  If the truck stops, they get a little restless, and if a door opens, well...that's enough to send them running.  This adds up to the Bethel Ridge area being a pretty nice area for road hunters, which cheeses me off more than a bit.  I am a believer in karma...or at least, that there should be karma.  Me getting out of the truck and walking a 2 mile loop through the forest should EARN me a better chance of success than the guy crawling along the road at 5 M.P.H. in his Bronco...but that's often not the case.

In the end, it looks like I just might need to pick a new place to hunt(I've not seen a spike elk in 5 years) OR get a Bronco. 


Man, they were good.

One of the things about spending the better part of the last two weeks hunting is that I have kind of been living without my computer, but I do have the Droid 4 to play with...which would be cool, if you got 3G service(let alone 4G) EVERYWHERE.  But you don't. 

That means I was left to deal with what was on my phone for the most part.  Since I've only had the new phone for a few weeks, the selection was limited...like two games and I think 76 songs that I had managed to load onto the phone.  Among those 76 songs, is the complete CD of Wide Open Spaces, by the Dixie Chicks. 

I can still remember the first time I saw a Dixie Chicks video.  It would have been 1997, and I was staying in the barracks in Kings Bay, Georgia.  Our boat had pulled in for a few days, and since some of the crew was hot-racking, we also had a few transient barracks rooms available.  The one I was staying in had cable, and at one point, they showed the 'Grand Preview' of the first song by a new band, the Dixie Chicks. 

I was blown away. Those girls could sing melody AND harmony...and it didn't hurt that Natalie Maines was as cute as a button.

Time would prove that they were more than just a collection of pretty faces.  It's been a while since I listened to the whole original CD, but man, semi-stupid political statements aside, those girls could sing.  It wasn't just poppy stuff either...one of my favorite songs by them is 'When you were mine', which is a crappy song to listen to when you are spending 10+ hours a day sitting on a hill side, thinking, because there aren't any elk to watch. 


Strike Out

Not every ending can be a happy one.  After seeing 6 elk in my first 24 hours(including two just out cruising around the night before the season started), I didn't see a SINGLE one the next 132+ hours. 

If golf is 'a fine walk spoiled', than this last hunting trip was 'a fine camping trip spoiled'.  Weather was perfect, for a fall camping trip.  Overnight lows in the mid 30's, daytime highs in low 70's...just not good elk hunting weather.  Conditions were very, very dry and dusty, to the point that there was an outdoor burn ban in effect.  No camp fire meant a lot of early nights in the bunk. 

It was fun, but it would have been more fun to have something to show for it.

Off to the shower!


Gone Huntin'.

Elk season is in progress, please try back later.  Until then though, a pictures of my favorite cats: Reuben, Dahlia, and Kat Dennings!

photo from my couch

photo from complex magazine


Opening Day

After my daughters Birthday Breakfast yesterday, it was time to finalize packing up the truck to head up to elk camp. The amount of stuff needed(desired) to head up into the hills for a week is different than what is needed to go spend a weekend staying in a motel to go deer hunting. I'm not even 100% loaded yet. On the way out of town I need to stop for gas(both the truck and fuel cans to keep the generators running), propane, and then meat to fill the coolers at Wal-Mart. I'm almost thinking I might just hit the Wal-Mart in Yakima instead of Tri-Cities. By that point I will have remembered the 2 or 3 other things I have forgotten, so I will need to stop anyways.

One of the good things about working at Hanford vs PSNS(and there are 1 or 2) if that elk camp is only 2 hours away instead of 5 hours. I'm slightly less terrified of the consequences of leaving something at home than I used to be. I kind of figure as long as I get up there with my muzzle loader, my tag, and a spare pair of underwear in my back-pocket, I can make it through opening morning before running the 45 minutes into town for what I forgot. Not ideal with gas at $4+ a gallon, but, recovery is possible.

With any luck, I've already got an elk down, and I will be home in time to watch the Patriots play on Sunday.  There is a chance though, that I will be up there until next Saturday.  Either way, I did a poor job of planning ahead with real lack of saved posts, so...I guess I'll see you folks in a week!


Seven already!!??!?!

Today is my younger daughters SEVENTH birthday.  It doesn't seem possible, and it hurts almost as much as it pleases me to see how she is growing up.  It's tough not being needed to make sandwich's, or tie shoes.  Luckily, my wife and I are 'touchers' so, the kids are that way too...no shortage of hugs, and I still get to read her stories every-other night, which is a treasure, as much as I may huff about it when bed time happens during the 4th quarter of a football game.

I like this recent picture the best.  Her glasses are cute, but the photographer wanted to a few 'glare free' shots.  This is her 'oh yeah?  Watch this' look, and it yes, it usually means trouble.

I'm not an expert angler, but...

I'm more into hunting than I am into fishing...but either way I've never shot myself in the head while fishing,

Fishing with rifle backfires on Thurston County man

I would make fun of this guy more for shooting at salmon in the river, but one of the guys I work with says that he has gone out shooting at carp more than once, and he's a pretty normal guy...so maybe it's not as unusual a hobby as I thought it was. 

Of course, even my buddy at work says it all comes down to the angle.  He said you want to shoot pretty much straight up and down, otherwise ricochets can become an issue. 

I think I'll stick with a hook and a worm...not that shooting doesn't sound at least a litle entertaining. 


Lessons Learned

So, after making a big deal out of my perfect stalk, and subsequent miss on a few bucks last weekend, my actual success story when I anchored my doe is very anti-climatic.  It involves a dusty dirt road, and a couple of unalarmed does standing about 40 yards off the road.  They stood there and looked at me when I pulled over.  They stood there and looked at me when I got out of the truck, and crossed the road.  They started looking a wee bit anxious when I brought the gun up, and remembered to hold my breath and selected the doe standing perfectly broadside too me.

Now, with the things I learned last weekend.

- If you are packing up to go hunting, and you are LOOKING at something you should pack to bring hunting(like, a head lamp)...DON'T say...oh I'll pick that up my next time in this room.  You will forget to go back and get it.

-Shooting a deer in the morning, and being able to field dress it while the sun is up HAS GOT to be easier than shooting one at 6:15pm, and trying to gut it one handed while holding a flash light in the other hand, or clenching the flashlight between your chin and chest because you left your head lamp at home.  The head lamp is already packed for elk hunting.  While I have helped gut several animals out, this is the first one I have been 100% on my own to do.  I think every other one I do from here on out will be easier. 

-When you can't see what you are doing inside the animal, there is a potenital you are going to accidently carve up one of the tenderloins when you are really aiming for the connective tissue holding the belly in.  This will make you sad later when you get a chance to look at your carcass under proper light.

-First looks can be decieving.  Upon initial inspection, the hole my bullet left in the side of the deer was fairly unimpressive.

Upon removal of the skin though, you can see there was some pretty serious damage done to the meat under the skin.  Yes, it's kind of graphic...you can always close your eyes and page down past it.

 -When you have shot a deer and gutted it out in the dark, there is no better local for skinning out your kill than an all night carwash.  It's nicely lit, and when you are done working, you can just hose everything off. 

-The Havalon Piranta is a fine, fine knife.  That blade is sharp, sharp, sharp.  I used two of the blades to gut and skin that deer, but I only really needed the 2nd blade because I snapped the first one trying to work it through one of the knee joints.  My bad...that's not what that knife is designed for, but when cutting on flesh, well, it was 'like buttah'.

-The SOG Revolver is a fine knife/saw.  It's not as razor sharp as the Piranta, but the gut hook and saw function came in very, very handy.  With both of these knives in my pack,  I'm ready for just about any animal care situation.  The afternoon before, I had seen a truck parked at the gas station in town that had a buck in the bed.  The buck had been gutted, but it still had all it's skin on it.  At 3:30 in the afternoon on an 84 degree day.  THAT's the guy who will say he 'really doesn't like deer much'.


You got it backwards!

Farmer dies inside pig pen, is eaten by the hogs

Now, it's kind of sad, because someone died, so I can't crack too many jokes about it...but, really, getting eaten by your pigs is one of those things that you only think would happen in books and movies. 
On the positive side, do you realize he was still running his own farm at age 70?  Good for him.  I just hope that he really did die from some type of stroke, or heart attack, and that they didn't get him while he was still awake. 

The last step is kind of important, too.

No real news that catches my eye, so you'll have to satisfy yourself with more hunting stories.  I promise, I won't step by step through 7 days of elk hunting like this.

After passing up numerous deer on the side of the freeway, I finally made it to my happy hunting grounds.  While I had identified several farms where I could hunt in the Pomeroy area, I really hadn't put boots on the ground prior to the season.  So, when I spotted a few deer on a hill side, I figured that was as good a place as any to get out and start walking.  Figured if I saw three deer, there might be another few I couldn't see...and there were!  Half-an-hour of tromping through waist high, bone dry grass convinced me I wasn't going to be able to work any closer than 150-200 yards away from them. 

I ended up walking a big 1.5 mile loop, and spooked several more deer.  There is little more demoralizing as a hunter than seeing a mule deers white ass 'sproinging' away in that way that only a mule deer can hop. 

With a lot of ground to cover, I got back in my truck and moved to another farm, and after walking in, I found a promising looking draw I decided to keep an eye on for a while, because it looked like 'deer country.' 

What I was trying to zoom in(really, I was just looking for an excuse to play with my phone...it can zoom!) on were two bucks that confirmed my instincts were valid.  About 20 minutes after I sat down, they popped over the top of the hill and worked their way down into the thick brush at the top of the ravine, where they promptly bedded down. 

I waited an hour for them to pop out down below, and finally decided I was going to have to go in after them.  The wind was blowing pretty stiffly right into my face, and for the most part, it was pretty easy walking through a freshly harvested wheat field.

For a while, I looked and acted like a real hunter.  I shimmied in between the 3rd and 4th strands of a barb-wire fence(I had permission to be on the land, the guy just had a few fences running across the property).  About half-way there, I dropped off my back-pack so I could start serious crouching approach.  When I got about 40 yards away from where I thought the bucks where, I eased up to get my bearings, and as I did that, both bucks jumped up.  Both were legal, with the bigger one being a 4 or 5 pointer.  I brought the rifle to my shoulder, and promptly forgot EVERYTHING I ever learned about being a shooter. 

I was looking at the bigger buck while I had the rifle pointed at the smaller, but closer, buck.  I didn't pause half a second to hold my breath.  I jerked the trigger instead smoothly pulling it.  And I flat out missed.  The deer was quartering away.  It wasn't an easy shot, but you didn't have to be Annie Oakley either. 

After doing everything else right, I was very depressed...and even more so because I then spent the next hour walking around in a circle to see if I could find any sign that I HAD hit the buck.  It was then a much longer walk back to my truck than it had been walking away from it in the morning. 


Trusting Karma.

Hunting, as a sport, has a lot in common with golf.  Yes, in both you can do a fair amount of walking, although you can also get spoiled by riding around in your cart/ATV.  Both activities also have a defined set of rules, but for the most part, once you are 'playing the game', you're on your own.

Maybe not totally on your own.  In golf, you've got your pairing or foursome.  Chances are, they are people you know and they have a very similar set of morals.  They play along and chuckle when you take a 'mulligan', and tee off a 2nd shot.  If you went home and told your wife you FINALLY broke 80, your golf buddy wouldn't remind you about the 3 putt you had on hole 11, so really you only got an 81. 

This is much the same for hunting.  Even if you are out with your 'hunting buddies' for the week, eventually, it will come down to you, your gun, and that animal. Each scenario is different, and as much as you may talk about things over a beer around the camp fire at night, you don't always know how you are going to respond to ANY situation.  You can squawk about game wardens, but out here in the wide open west, well, I think I have encountered wardens about 3 times in 12-15 years of hunting.  I've never once had one ask to inspect my vehicle.  You are on your own honor.

Saturday morning, I found myself having to make those type of decisions early. 

The Tri-Cities to Pomeroy where I was hunting is 110 mile drive, that takes about 2 hours.  For 4/5's of that drive, you are going through some pretty rural areas...wheat fields, corn fields, alfalfa fields...and the wild Palouse.  Deer country.  When I left the house it was dark, but because I left a little later than I wanted to, dawn found me leaving Dayton instead of arriving in Pomeroy. 

Over the next 20 minutes, I saw at least 30 deer, including two REALLY nice bucks.  I wasn't yet in the area where my doe tag was legal, but any buck with more than 3-points on one side WAS legal.  The part that wasn't legal is that I was sitting on Highway 12, a two lane paved road.  Oh...and the farm house 50 yards behind me. 

I was tempted.  I pulled my truck over at least 3 times, and once I got out of the truck, and capped my muzzle loader.  It was a NICE buck...at least a 5X6.  And nobody had drove past for at least two minutes.  And the deer and the rest of it's herd were moving, so it wasn't some fancy trap. 

I didn't take the shot, obviously. No...I'm not trying to pat my own back...I'm not a hero, I just weighed the risk/reward, and decided it wasn't worth it.  Would it have been nice to have a 5X6 in the truck by 7:00 in the morning, opening day?  Oh, hells yes.  And there is about a 96% chance I would have gotten away with it.  There was no fence to go over, no 'No hunting/tresspassing' sign.  Just that road, and even then, I had already jogged across the road, so while I might be shooting along it, at least I wasn't shooting across it. 

Bah...in the end, 50 lbs of venison wasn't worth the 4% chance that some county sheriff drove around the bend in the road right as I was shooting.  Or the several minutes it would have taken me to load 180lbs of dead buck(Heck, think big 220lbs!).  Heck, in reality, if anyone in that farm house had cared, they were just as likely to thank me fo removing that dastardly deer from their life, as they were to get mad at me.  It just wasn't worth losing my rifle, my truck, or the ability to go hunting for several years.

In the end, I just couldn't take that shot, or the next two that presented themselves.  I had to trust that by doing the right thing then, I would be given the opportunity to be done right by later.

Besides, if I had put a deer in the truck that early on Saturday, I would have had to spend Sunday at home doing chores... 


Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-Cherry Bomb!

While I was off hunting this weekend(trust me, there are many posts you will have to deal with over the next week breaking down my triumphs and lessons learned), one of our friends came over from the west part of the state to visit, and so my wife could teach her the basics of canning.

All told, my wife and her made up 70 cans of goodness, with one of them failing to seal.  Recipes canned up include Peach Habenero Jam, Plum/Nectarine Jam, Plum/Nectarine and Serano Jam, Apple Sauce, Apple Butter, and Apple Plum Butter.  I have tried some of the plum/nectarine/serano pepper jam, and it's kind of neat.  Not something I would put on bread with peanut butter, but good on a cracker, and maybe excellent with pork. 

While not canners, my friend and her boyfriend ARE brewers, so she brought over a couple of bottles for us to try.  Since my deer harvesting activites kept me out too late the night before, I did some celebrating tonight, trying a Cherry Bomb Sour Cherry Ale, made at Beaver's Bend Brewhouse. 

It's passable, and it might be worth the 4 hour drive to teach pressure canning at their house if the reward is a few more of these.


More details to follow(like after I'm done with some stinky, stinky laundry), but for now, it's enough to say that I didn't spend my weekend apart from my family in vain.