Category Archives: My Opinion (For What It’s Worth)

RANDOM THOUGHTS FROM AN OUTDOOR MAN

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Game Laws Gone Bad – This Could Happen To You!

Love him, or not, old news or not, can the prosecution and subsequent guilty plea of Ted Nugent for illegally taking a bear in Alaska in 2009 be considered fair, or just? Looking back, has anything changed, for the better, or worse, as a result of that fact?

Watch this video, in Ted Nugent’s own words, and you be the judge.

I, for one, say absolutely, not…I would also add that it’s not only about Ted. It’s about you, and us, and outdoorsmen everywhere. In the end, it is an underhanded backdoor attack on personal liberty and the fulfillment of our hunting heritage by an unelected and vindictive administrative state.

Shame on them!

How would you feel if this had happened to you on your long dreamed of, and expensive, hunting trip? Are you prepared to punch your tag and go home, should your arrow cut the hair of a bear – a hit that obviously has done no mortal or permanent damage? *Would you think it equitable to lose your hunting privileges in the United States and Canada for a number of years because you continued to hunt out your trip.

It’s certainly getting to the point where one must consider long and hard before ever loosing a shaft, or sending a well aimed bullet downrange. Obviously, that has always been the case if you are a thoughtful and ethical hunter. Yet, the consequences of a poor hit on a game animal are more serious than ever.

Could a law as illogical and dangerous as this come to my state of Colorado, for example, or the state in which you live?

Perhaps it already has. If you doubt that, you might want to take a long look at the regulations associated with the legal constructs of “Failure To Pursue”, “Dead-head and Shed Hunting Laws”, “Illegal Possession of a Big Game Animal”, and “Donation of Game Meat”, to name just a few. I can assure you that it will be an eye opening experience.

You might also ask yourself when the agencies of power, and the people within them, initially wrote, or rewrote, the laws in question. Do they really work in the field, in the real world…our hunter’s world? I am a biologist who has bowhunted for fifty years, and no lawmaker ever asked me for my opinion. And apparently I did not get the memo on the true meanings of the updated regulations, either. You?

And while we are at it, have you ever considered the subject of who really owns the wildlife of the realms? It would seem such an easy question to answer, particularly if you are a private land owner. Again, I can assure you that the answer may surprise you, though that is a topic for another time.

So, be careful out there! Know that your actions can and will always be scrutinized, for better or worse, by yourself, the hunting community, the non-hunting public, and the courts.

And don’t forget to study the latest round of game law regulations, no matter how voluminous, or confusing, they may be…

I have recently been accused of “beating a dead horse with a dead camel” for revisiting the trouble with Ted. Maybe that’s true, but this type of insufferable, bureaucratic harassment is an issue that is very much alive for me.

Because I hunt. A lot…and I would like to continue to do so until I can hunt no more. It would be nice to do so without constant threat of fine and penalty for violating some new, obscure, and poorly written regulation that has no grounding in common sense or sound wildlife management.

One thing is also clear. It’s also about time to stand up and be counted, as my pioneering, bowhunting father used to say. I can still hear him now – everyday!

I know that Ted Nugent would agree.

 

 

Has anything like this, happened to you?

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

*The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is a United States interstate compact (an agreement among participating states) to provide reciprocal sharing of information regarding sportsman fishing, hunting, and trapping violations and allows for recognition of suspension or revocation of hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses and permits in other member states resulting from violations concerning hunting, fishing and trapping laws in order to prevent poaching across state lines.

Illegal activities in one state can thus affect a person’s hunting or fishing privileges in all member states. The IWVC obligates members to report wildlife violation convictions to Compact members, gives the members the capability to honor each other’s suspensions, and provides the method to exchange violator data between member states. A conviction in one Compact member state may cause them to be barred from participating in hunting, fishing, and trapping in all member states, at the discretion of each state.

Ted Nugent’s statement about his illegal bear hunt in Alaska

Published April 25, 2012

Below is Ted Nugent’s full statement regarding his guilty plea on Tuesday in Alaska of illegally killing a bear. It’s entitled “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

“Not a day goes by where an American outdoorsmen doesn’t confide in me that due to the increasingly complex, illogical hunting and fishing regulations across the nation, that it would not surprise them that they have unintentionally violated a game law at some point in time. Other outdoorsmen routinely express their frustration about regulations that serve no purpose and cannot possibly be explained in terms of wildlife management.

“America is increasingly drowning in just such strange, goofy regulations and requirements. As logic crusader John Stossel recently exposed, our federal government releases roughly 80,000 pages of new regulations each year, confusing, ambiguous, weird illogical regulations that serve no meaningful purpose other than to feebly attempt to justify bureaucracies already off the rails. It’s way past bizarre.

“The ‘you don’t need to read it, you just need to sign it’ health care bill argued before the Supreme Court was almost 2,000 pages long of extraordinarily complex rules and regulations. Sarcastically, Supreme Court Justice Scalia stated that reading the bill was a violation of the 8th Amendment’s (protection against) cruel and unusual punishment clause.

“Regrettably, state hunting regulations have also been ravaged by the over-regulation beast. In Alaska, the hunting regulation book is 128 pages long. Alaska trapping regulation is 48 pages.

“Alaska is not alone. Numerous other states have seen incredible expansion of their hunting regulations over the past few decades. In Texas, the summary of hunting and fishing regulations is 85 pages. The hunting regulations in California are roughly 140 pages long.

“Even with an increasing mountain of often confusing and complex hunting and fishing regulations to abide by, sportsmen have a legal and ethical obligation to know and abide by these regulations, no matter how goofy they may be. I have said this for decades and will continue to do so as we fight to make them sensible.

“I have hunted in Alaska for almost 40 years. It is a spectacular, beautiful place that offers incredible big and small game hunting cherished by sporters from around the globe.

“In 2009, I returned again with my sons to Alaska to hunt black bear. What I was unaware of is that the specific region where I hunted had a new and unprecedented requirement that a bear hunting tag was considered to be “filled” even with a non-lethal hit on the animal. For sixty years, every “tag” regulation in every state and Canadian province has declared that you tag the animal upon taking possession of the animal.

“The first arrow I shot on that hunt was obviously a non-lethal shot where the arrow literally glanced off the animal’s rib, as seen clearly on stop action video. The bear leapt, stopped, looked around, and slowly ambled off, confused but unhurt by the disruption. After diligent effort by my son and I, we were convinced that this bear was alive and well. We then continued our hunt and ultimately killed a beautiful black bear.

“I filmed the entire hunt including the first non-lethal arrow and put it on my television program Spirit of the Wild on Outdoor Channel for tens of millions of viewers to witness. Airing the hunt on television proves beyond all doubt that I had no willful intention to violate any hunting regulation.

“Was I negligent in not knowing the Alaska bear hunting rule for the specific region I hunted that year? Absolutely. For my negligence, I have been charged with a violation and I plead guilty. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only person ever charged with violating this new, unheard of law. Lifetime AK hunters, guides, outfitters, even the resident judge at my hearing were unaware of such an unprecedented regulation.

“While I disagree with Alaska’s requirement that a tag is considered to be “filled” even on a non-lethal hit, that was the requirement at the time of my hunt. Had I known of that requirement, I would not have hunted that region because I fundamentally disagree with it, and I certainly would not have hunted another bear.

“I have promoted the grand, honorable hunting lifestyle all of my life and will continue to do so. Hunting, fishing and trapping are the epitome of true conservation.

“What I also pledge to American outdoorsmen is to work to repeal onerous, unscientific, counterproductive rules and regulations that make no sense such as the seven states where hunting is banned on Sunday, making 50% of the season illegal for the average hunting families in those states. Idiotic laws such as these are a hindrance to real conservation and the critical need for recruiting new hunters. Such arbitrary laws serve no scientific purpose that benefits the management of wildlife value whatsoever.

“The outdoor lifestyle cannot be preserved for future generations of sportsmen by constructing such a labyrinth of confusing, unscientific and oftentimes counterproductive regulations and rules. Reversing this trend is my focus.

“While I have never intentionally violated a hunting regulation, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and I am truly sorry, and have paid dearly. There is even less of an excuse for ignorant laws.”

Ted Nugent

 

“One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am –a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still there. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound  people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards”. Edward Abbey

 

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Hunters Stand United At Hunter Nation

*I recently became a member of Hunter Nation, and just received this welcome letter in my inbox. Like many things, it’s all about the message, and I could not agree more with the sentiments expressed so passionately to us all.

I thought that you might like to read it too:

Messages from Mark

Mark DeYoung, Hunter Nation CEO

Hunter-Nation_Logo_246x150

Support of All Legal Hunting Methods

October 2019

Hunter Nation supports all hunting and all methods of legally harvesting game.  At a time when hunting is misunderstood and under attack around the world, we as hunters cannot continue to fight amongst ourselves.  Hunters are a proud and usually self-reliant set of individuals.  Some of us enjoy bow hunting, others long-range hunting, some prefer the challenges of a muzzleloader, while others are all about shotguns.  Some hunt whitetail deer, some hunt elk, and still others are driven by the quest for mule deer or a variety of wild sheep species.  Then there are the bird hunters who pursue turkey, pheasants, waterfowl, quail, dove and more. All too often these different pursuits are compared to each other in a kind of competition about the difficulty or which hunt takes more skill.  Does it really matter what our game of choice is or how we hunt?  Isn’t it much more important that we all come together as a united band of hunters dedicated to protecting and preserving our right to hunt?  Shouldn’t ALL hunters stand as one and support each other in defending ALL legal and ethical hunting?

Our national hunting community is also divided into organizations dedicated to a species, a region, a method of hunting, etc. These self-imposed divisions can weaken our overall influence and the strength of our voice as hunters. Various conservation and hunting organizations are important, and they are focused on doing good work for their constituents and the species they are focused on supporting. Hunter Nation applauds their efforts, accomplishments, and commitments. Hunter Nation also realizes that unless hunters and conservation organizations come together and form a broad coalition we risk being overwhelmed by the powerful and well-funded anti-hunting community. Hunter numbers continue to decline, and hunting continues to suffer from attacks by the more organized and more influential animal rights and environmental groups. Sadly, we even have hunting groups that fight against proven conservation techniques, multi-use public lands, and traditional hunting methods.

Here at Hunter Nation, we are committed to helping create a more influential and powerful voice for all hunters.  We appreciate and value the traditional hunting heritage of this great nation and believe that action is required NOW to ensure hunting’s future.  We are working to support the delisting of wolves and return all predator management decisions to state agencies who are best able to manage their herds and flocks.  We are working to educate hunters and legislators across the country on the benefits of hunting as a key conservation tool.  We are working to form partnerships and build coalitions to enhance the influence of hunters in both state and national level legislative processes.

We encourage you to get engaged in hunting-related issues, speak up for hunting and our traditional way of life, and get educated on the threats and opportunities facing hunting and hunters.  Hunters must stand united and proud in our commitment to God, Family, Country, Conservation and Hunting.

As you enter the woods, plains, and wetlands in pursuit of game this fall we wish you safety, luck and success, whether that means harvesting an animal or just enjoy the hunt with friends and family.

Thank you for being a member of Hunter Nation. Together we can win the fight to preserve and protect our hunting heritage.

Mark-DeYoung-Signature

Mark W. DeYoung

Hunters are America’s Conservationists.

Support Hunter Nation Today!

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

Rocky Mountain Yard Art – With Antlers…

‘Tis The Season…

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes you can view a glimpse of it in the form of a big mule deer buck – in the backyard.

A Trophy Class Mule Deer Buck Poses On The Lawn Of A Suburban Neighborhood, Next To A Raised Flower Bed, With Pumpkins Left Over From Halloween. Photography By Michael Patrick McCarty

Pass The Pumpkin Please!

 

Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty

 

“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher “standard of living” is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech”. – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

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To Scoff At Archers, And Storm

“If they keep exposing you to education, you might even realize some day that man becomes immortal only in what he writes on paper, or hacks into rock, or slabbers onto a canvas, or pulls out of a piano”. – Robert Ruark

 

Sculpture of Native American Shooting Arrow Into The Sky. Titled "Sacred Rain Arrow" by Allan Houser. Poem By Charles Baudelaire
Fire in the Sky

“The Poet is the kinsman in the clouds, who scoffs at archers, loves a stormy day;

But on the ground, among the hooting crowds, he cannot walk, his wings are in the way.”

-Charles Baudelaire

 

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

To Celebrate & Cherish – National Hunting & Fishing Day

National Hunting and Fishing Day

On Saturday, September 28, the National Rifle Association of America and its members will celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day to honor the commitment of our country’s sportsmen to wildlife conservation and to promote the continued enjoyment of our outdoor heritage for generations to come.

On May 2, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the first National Hunting and Fishing Day proclamation, declaring, “I urge all our citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and ensuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.” Since then, Americans have celebrated National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September.

“In addition to being a genuinely thrilling adventure, hunting brings us closer to nature and teaches us core values that enrich our lives,” said Joe DeBergalis, executive director, NRA General Operations. “Families struggling to unplug from cell phones and video games should consider spending a weekend outdoors. Time spent hunting or fishing, which doesn’t have to cost much, is an opportunity for mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandparents to pass down the core values of patience, honor, determination, and accomplishment.”

Hunters, anglers and target shooters in the United States contribute nearly $1.75 billion annually to conservation through the purchase of licenses, excise taxes paid on hunting and fishing equipment and ammunition, and contributions to various conservation organizations.

“If you’re able to do so, be sure to get out and participate in our great American traditions of hunting and fishing,” said DeBergalis. “Take this opportunity to introduce someone to the great outdoors.”

Be sure to check with your local clubs and NRA Business Alliance members for family-friendly events in your area. Visit explore.nra.org.

NRA

Posted By Michael Patrick McCarty

And Please Do Not Forget To Support The NRA.

You Can Read More About Hunting And Fishing Day Here

Below Is The Original Proclamation:

1630 PROCLAMATION 4128-MAY 2, 1972 [86 STAT.
of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred ninety-sixth.

May 2,1972

PROCLAMATION 4128

National Hunting and Fishing Day

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

For many years, responsible hunters and fishermen have been in the
vanguard of efforts to halt the destruction of our land and waters and
protect the natural habitat so vital to our wildlife.
Through a deep personal interest in our wildlife resources, the
American hunter and fisherman have paved the way for the growth of
modern wildlife management programs. In addition, his purchase of
licenses and permits, his payment of excise taxes on hunting and fishing
equipment, and his voluntary contributions to a great variety of conservation
projects are examples of his concern for wildlife populations
and habitat preservation.
His devotion has promoted recreational outlets of tremendous value
for our citizens, sportsmen and nonsportsmen alike. Indeed, he has
always been in the forefront of today’s environmental movement with
his insistence on sound conservation programs.
In recognition of the many and worthwhile contributions of the
American hunter and angler, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution
Ante, p. 133. 117, has requested the President to declare the fourth Saturday of
September 1972 as National Hunting and Fishing Day.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the
United States of America, do hereby designate Saturday, September 23,
1972, as National Hunting and Fishing Day.
I urge all our citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use
of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for
the benefit of future generations.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this second
day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred seventy-two, and
of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred
ninety-sixth.

A Way To See The World Revisited

“Each Thought That Is Written Has As Its Reflection A Trail Within The Heart Of the Forest” – Sandie Storm, Song of Heyoehkah

A Hunter Stares Down A Wild River Canyon On The Yampa River of Northwestern Colorado.Laughing  Down a Wild Canyon

 

October of 2019 will mark the sixth anniversary of the creation and online launch of “Through a Hunter’s Eyes”. Since then, I have been blessed with more outdoor adventure than a man can adequately communicate within the limited boundaries of a sporting blog. But then again, someone’s got to do it; so try, I must.

I thought it might be time for me, as writer, and publisher, to take a little look at how we have fared. For one thing, the production of content for a “Journal of Wild Game, Fighting Fish, and Grand Pursuit” can really keep a guy casting about through uncharted territory. It’s a big, big outdoor world out there, after all, and it’s not always easy to stay focused on the proper path beneath one’s feet.

Well, we have tracked along pretty well, if I do say so myself. Success in life, as in most things, is relative. Competition for your readers’ gaze upon the page is both calculating, and fierce. But, thanks to you, “Through A Hunter’s Eyes” has become one of the more highly rated hunting and outdoor related websites on the planet.

Looking back, there is no doubt that the world, and my life, has changed in ways far beyond uncomplicated description, but my goals, and the way I chose to see the world, have remained the same.

In the end, I am hunter.

I am free each time, however briefly, and born anew, in my hunter’s mind. Always ready, and willing, for just one more adventure…

Here is what I wrote, back in 2013:

Greetings From The High Rocky Mountains,

My name is Michael Patrick McCarty, and I wish to welcome you to our online sporting journal, and to our little window of the world. It holds a dazzling view that can change with the seasons and beckons us to roam as far as the eye can see.

Plainly said, my family history sports a long list of colorful characters; free thinkers and independent cusses who lived and made their livings’ close to the earth. Most of them were hunters and fishermen too.

I really can’t remember when I was not a hunter, because before I was one I wanted to be one. It’s in my blood and within my nature, and I can say without apology that I was surely born that way. It’s a good thing to know, as it is a simple fact that it is important to embrace the foundations of who you are and where you come from.

Most of all it can be said that I see everything through a hunter’s eyes.

It is not something that I can change, and I wouldn’t if I could . The fish and game animals that we pursue are great and wondrous gifts from the creator of all things, and should never be taken for granted. It is a privilege and an honor to follow their trail. To know that puts a certain spin on things.

These gifts I accept, and in so doing I owe a debt of gratitude which I plan to pay. Within this acceptance lies an opportunity to learn, to write and to teach, to give back, and wonder…and to see each other as part of something much bigger than ourselves.

I am hunter, and in that I am always exactly where I need to be, …be it near, or far, from home.

Thankfully, the place of the moment is often filled with wild fowl suspended in cloudless blue skies, or with broad-tailed fish below, hovering ghost-like amidst the rushing waters.

No doubt you can see them too. You’ve made it this far.

Enjoy!

Michael Patrick McCarty

Active Member of The Outdoor Writers Association of America

You Can See The Original Post, And Photos, Here.

Please keep those comments and sporting experiences coming. We would love to hear about them?

 

“I am a hunter…I desire to carry nothing more heavy than my bow.” – From Song of Heyoehkah By Hyemeyohsts Storm

“Poetry and Revolution Before Breakfast”Edward Abbey

Nobody Here But Us Birds…In The Backyard

“And the fox said to the little prince: Men have forgotten this truth. But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”Antoine De Saint-Exupery, From The Little Prince

 

A mature, big, black bear paws and strips the fruit from a tree in the early fall near Aspen, Colorado

 

A very large black bear, not far from the back door, strips a fruit tree in the early fall in Aspen, Colorado.

 

A Young Elk Noses Up To A Hummingbird Feeder In A Backyard Garden During A Winter Snowstorm Near Carbondale, Colorado
Not Quite As Good As Mother’s Milk

 

A young elk tests out a hummingbird feeder in a backyard garden, somewhere near Carbondale, Colorado.

 

A Mule Deer Buck Noses Up To A Backyard Bird Feeder n Northwestern Colorado
Photo By Frank Donofrio

 

Not to be undone, a mule deer buck gets his licks in too!

 

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Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

Rites of Passage – A Boy’s First Goose

 

A Vintage Still-Life Photograph Of a Canada Goose And A Remington 1100 12 Gauge Shotgun; Against The Concrete Blocks Of An Old Grain Silo. Circa 1971. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

First Goose, And a Favorite Remington 1100 Shotgun, Circa 1971. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

There are many “firsts” in the life of a hunter. Who can forget their first BB gun, a first bow & arrow, or the satisfying heft of that first box of shotgun shells of their very own?

And then there is the game to pursue. I cut my teeth on the ever present English Sparrows and Starlings, before graduating to a cadre of over educated pigeons in our old dairy barn. Soon I became fairly good at thinning out our local rabbit and squirrel population, with thoughts of bobwhite on my mind.

You could say that a Canada Goose, well, that was an entirely different brand of dreams…and the thought of actually killing a goose of my own was outside the boundaries of my young boy’s possibilities. That all changed one bright, sunny morning on a small farm not far from Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.

I had spent the early hours with my father and younger brother, hidden in a pit blind amongst the remnants of a picked cornfield and a few dozen goose decoys. The action was slow, and I was restless, being a boy and all, and I decided that chasing squirrels in the nearby woods sounded like a much better proposition.

To be honest, I don’t remember if I had a crack at any squirrels, but I do remember, as if it were just yesterday, the unmistakable form of what seemed like an impossibly large Canada Goose gliding into a glistening farm pond on the far end of the property.

All thoughts of squirrels now gone, I remember doing my best Indian stalking imitation as I crept towards a small group of trees on one end of the pond. Barely able to still my beating heart, I could not help but hope that maybe, just maybe, this goose was mine.

I remember peeking my eyeballs through the brush and over the rough bank of the pond, but…nothing. My heart sank as I took one more step, and then suddenly, there he was, his body broadside, suddenly alerted, that all-seeing eye wide and gleaming.

I wish that I could tell you that I made a perfectly executed shot as he gained speed on those powerful wings and crossed sharply with a brisk and snappy tailwind at his back.

Truth is, completely flustered, I missed him cleanly twice as he ran along the edge of the pond, flapping for all he was worth like a fully loaded B-52 Bomber, finally connecting with my last and final round just as his feet were about to leave the ground. I pounced upon him like a starving coyote, beaming with pride and accomplishment and knowing that this goose was without any doubt the finest trophy in all the world.

Looking back, you might wonder, as I sometimes do, if my enthusiasm may have gotten the better of me, and maybe I should have given him a little more time to get fully off of the ground before taking those shots.

But then again, perhaps not.

After all, a young boy can stand a little edge, when it comes to a first goose.

Good Hunting!

Michael Patrick McCarty

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and Stormy.

A goose represents the rebel in all of us and because they’re wild and free, they have a certain quality that shines out and makes us wish that we were not bound to labor in life, but rather that we could drift as they do with the seasons.”Paul S. Bernsen, The North American Waterfowler, 1972

A Late Night Postcard Of The Best Kind

Seasons Greetings!

Two Bull Elk Feed In Late Winter Snow

Winter is the Tough Time

 

I arrived home past midnight last night, to find a small herd of elk feeding in an open pasture to the west. My neighbor keeps his horses here, and I have an unobstructed view of it from our house on the hill. I spotted them as I walked over to our dog kennel on the fence line, and as I studied them I saw a big cow raise her head, just to let me know that she was watching me too.

 I don’t suppose I will ever tire of seeing elk. They have a way of taking over the conversation, you might say, to make you pause in mid sentence when you spy one, to make you completely forget whatever you had been doing at the time, as if the world is a mere background created just for them. It has always been this way between the elk and I.

 They looked particularly surreal this night, quietly feeding on a blanket of fresh, white powder, surrounded by the mystical light of a high, full moon. I am struck by the picture quality of it all, the sharp crispness of the image frozen in the cold night air. I can only smile. It is a perfect moment in time.

 

A Labrador Retriever In The Snow, Watching For Animals Hidden In The Trees

Watching For What Comes

 

 My dogs knew they were out there, of course, being that they were no more than 100 yards away with just some old wire to separate them. They had probably been watching them for some time, waiting for me to come home, whining nervously, and wishing they could run over and join up. The elk, for their part, paid us no mind, as they pawed in the snow. They had seen this show before and are not as impressed as us.

 We see quite a few elk around our property when the snows grow formidable in the high country. It is one reason to look forward to winter. They especially like to feed at night in a large hay-field below us, and at first light they bunch up and head for the cover of rougher grounds and cedar trees on the properties and public lands to our North.

To my everlasting delight, they like to cross one small corner of our property as they leave the hay fields, and if we are lucky, we get to watch. I often sit in an overstuffed chair behind our big picture window, waiting, hot coffee in hand, enveloped in the approaching day as the rest of the world wakes up.

 

A Large Bull Elk Feeding In The Snow Of Late Winter, Somewhere In The Rocky Mountain West

Without Winter, No Spring

 

 We have seen herds of one hundred elk and more, although smaller groups are most common. One morning I sat transfixed as a herd of about fifty or so lined up to jump the fence at the edge of the field below our house, then crossed our field on a run and passed along our fence line next to the house. I counted seventeen bulls, some small, some large, surrounded by foggy breath when they stopped. I can see it in my mind’s eye, just now.

 At times, a small herd will bed down for the night under our apple trees. Once I looked out to see several lying contentedly in the sun, with freshly laid snow still shimmering on their backs. I’ve seen them browsing in the remnants of our flower garden or standing next to our bird bath, and I wave and say hello.

Welcome, I say, and good morning to you.

 Last night, I reach my door and turn one last time to watch the elk and try to lock this image in my memory bank for all time. It is the quintessential Rocky Mountain postcard, a picture postcard for the soul, and I wish I could send it out to you, to all, with good tidings and cheer.

May the spirit of elk be with you!

I don’t suppose I shall ever tire of seeing elk….

 

An Illustration, Or Postcard, Of A Trophy Bull Elk, Bugling, With Foggy Breath, Silhouetted Against A Starry, Late Night Sky

 

 By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

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How Hunters and Anglers Won in the Farm Bill

How Hunters and Anglers Won in the Farm Bill

Wildlife funding, public access increased in new Farm Bill

 

(Dec. 20, 2018) — The $876 billion Farm Bill passed last week by Congress and signed by President Trump today included victories for hunters, anglers and wildlife. As the primary source of private land wildlife conservation funding in the country, the Farm Bill included incentives for wildlife habitat and hunter access. Congress also left out proposed riders to the bill that would have negative impacts on fish wildlife.

“Private working lands provide important habitat for both game and nongame wildlife,” said Aviva Glaser, director of agriculture policy for the National Wildlife Federation. “With shrinking habitat across the country and species in crisis, one of the exciting wins in this Farm Bill was the increase in wildlife funding. Over a five year period, there will be an additional $600 million-plus over and above current wildlife funding levels that will go towards helping farmers, ranchers, and foresters create wildlife habitat on working lands.”

Here’s how hunters, anglers, fish and wildlife win in the new Farm Bill:

  • Increased Access: The bill includes $50 million over 5 years for the Voluntary Public Access- Habitat Incentives Program – an increase of $10 million from the last Farm Bill. This program will help farmers and ranchers restore habitat and open up private lands for walk-in hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.
  • Funding for Wildlife: The move within this farm bill to increase the amount of EQIP funds for wildlife means that there will be a dramatic increase in funding (from the current $60 million per year up to $175-200 million per year) that will go towards helping farmers, ranchers, and forest owners adopt wildlife practices to help species like bobwhite quail, cutthroat trout, and sage grouse.
  • Cover Crop Fix: Fixes a deterrent to adoption of cover crops in the crop insurance program; along with other provisions this should promote increased adoption of cover crops, which will reduce phosphorus runoff contributing to the kind of toxic algae which creates dead zones and fish kills in water bodies.
  • Public Lands: A proposed rider harmful to public land wildlife habitat was removed, which would have opened up roadless areas in national forests – backcountry hunting habitat – to forest development.
  • Salmon Protected: A proposed rider was removed which would have allowed the EPA to approve pesticides despite reviews from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service showing they would harm marine life including multiple species of salmon.

The Farm Bill passed the Senate 87-13 on Tuesday and the House of Representatives 386-47 last week. President Trump signed it into law today.

For more analysis of the Farm Bill from the National Wildlife Federation, view the National Wildlife Federation’s statement from Dec. 11, 2018.

Drew YoungeDyke

Senior Communications Coordinator

National Wildlife Federation

Great Lakes Regional Center

734-887-7119

www.nwf.org

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