Tag Archives: Hunting Ethics

Ted Nugent: Demand Common-Sense Hunting Reform

Major overhaul of state, federal hunting regulations to simplify rules to address safety and wildlife management is essential…Hunting and fishing regulations should be as simple as possible, Nugent writes.

Recruit, retain, reactivate is known as the 3R battle cry for the future of conservation in America. With the tragic (and what I believe to be the self-inflicted) decline in hunter numbers across the country over the years, if those of us who truly cherish this extraordinary American conservation heritage and vital lifestyle fail to step up and get cracking to reverse this scourge like we mean it, believe me when I tell you, all is lost.

We know all about the dramatic change in the geographical population drift from rural to urban. We all know about the intentional dumbing-down of America by left-wing dingbats in academia, media, Hollywood and government to deny the necessity of annual hunting season harvests.

It is painfully apparent that certain technological advances in the world have attracted more and more sedentary homebodies to avoid the great outdoors.

There are many dynamics at play against us here, but I am convinced that with a genuine, united effort by those of us who care, these unacceptable, culturally suicidal trends can be reversed.

I recently wrapped up a cross-country musical tour where I met with an average of six to 20 (or more) hunting enthusiasts per night for 42 nights in 38 different cities.

Coupled with the last 50 years of doing the same for 6,756 concerts, I can assure you that I have met with and listened to more hunting families face to face and up close and personal, than maybe any human that has ever lived.

First and foremost on everyone’s mind are the mind-numbing volumes of nonsensical regulations that literally scare sporters en masse out of the sport. Would-be hunters are scared to death of getting busted for such ridiculous arbitrary rules as bow case and gun case laws.

It has been stated many, many times that the average state hunting and fishing regulation booklets are so voluminous and confusing, oftentimes illogically contradictory, that one would require a team of wildlife specialist lawyers to translate them for us.

And we would still get in trouble!

We all need to relentlessly hammer our elected employees and state and federal game departments to demand a major overhaul of state-by-state and federal hunting regulations to simplify the rules, which ought to address safety and wildlife management 101, and nothing else.

Hunting and fishing regulations should make the activities as attractive and simple as possible, and what works in one state should be the model for all states.

Wildlife biology does not change at some mysterious line between regions. Habitat and population dynamics, along with annual game counts should dictate harvest rates and policy. Period.

If you are sick and tired of bureaucrats wasting our hard-earned tax dollars hiring so called “sharpshooters” to kill our deer, bear, elk, cougars and wolves for us, start that essential, American, activist fire in your deer-hunting world to demand accountability and fairness in our sport.

The list of absurd rules and regulations ruining our sport across the country would take up an entire “Gone with the Wind” tome, and we all know what they are.

Fire up your fellow sporters to get engaged with the We-the-People, do-or-die political process. Do it now!

Visit us at HunterNation.org to unite and galvanize the most powerful voting force in America: the licensed hunting families of the United States.

Are you a wimp on the sidelines? Or are you a real American in that swirling dust in the arena?

Let’s get it on.

Michigan’s Ted Nugent is an award-winning musician and writer, with numerous best-seller books including “Ted, White and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto,” “God, Guns and Rock n’ Roll,” and “Kill It and Grill It.”

*And may I add, that I could not agree more, …and don’t get me started. You…?

Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

You Might Also Like The Legalities of Wireless Trail Cameras

And Save Bristol Bay

The Legal Do’s And Don’ts Of Wireless Trail Cameras

Kyocera Brigadier Cell Phone

To Cell Or Not To Cell, That Is The Question. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Use them, or not. Love them, or not. Game trail cameras have revolutionized the way hunter’s hunt. It didn’t take long.

They can be extremely effective in pinpointing and patterning game, and they can provide visual insights into your hunting area that are not possible through other means. The results are often eye-opening; the entire process can be fascinating, and fun. Proper use can greatly increase the odds of success.

All things considered, it would be safe to say that game trail cameras, in one form or another,  are here to stay.

The fairly recent advent of “Wireless” or “Live Action Cameras”, on the other hand, present an entirely new set of considerations, both practical, and ethical. It may take some serious contemplation to sort them all out.

Standard trail cameras collect and store images on a SD, or Secure Digital Card, which requires a periodic visit to the camera location to retrieve or download the images on the card.

Wireless technologies allow for the transmission of images from single or multiple cameras directly to a cell phone or computer in real time , without the necessity of a physical visit. It is also now possible to create a wireless mesh network consisting of multiple trail cameras, which can then transmit their images to a single SD card on a “Home Camera”. This allows a hunter to source all images from a single collection point, rather than visiting each camera location over an area of several square miles.

Ethical considerations aside, and tabling the issue of Drones, for now, Wireless Cameras can provide real “on the ground” benefits. Once installed, the system greatly reduces the number of intrusions into an animal’s home range, and perhaps most importantly, the disturbing presence of human sound, or scent.

Fish and Game regulations are unique to each state across the country, and each can choose to address, or not address, the issue of Standard and “Live Action” game cameras as they see fit. It does appear that some states have been slow to react, though, in some cases, it may be that available technology has moved so fast that the appropriate agencies have simply not had time to catch up.

Wherever you hunt, the first question you might wish to ask of those who know is: Are trail cameras, particularly “Camera to cell phone, or computer capable” cameras, legal? The answer may be more complicated, and confusing, than you might think.

A quick look at the regulations for my state, found in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife 2019 Big Game Brochure, for example, lists under Illegal Activities, #4, page 14:

“It is illegal to …Use the Internet or other computer-assisted remote technology while hunting or fishing. This includes unmanned or remote-control drones used to look for wildlife. Hunters and anglers must be physically present in the immediate vicinity while hunting and fishing”.

Clear as mud, right?

A call to the headquarters of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office left me even more bewildered, after a customer service representative informed me that live action cameras were legal except during the hunting seasons, when all cameras must be removed.

Really?

Truth is, rules governing the use of all game trail cameras in Colorado can be found in The Code of Colorado Regulations, Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The issue is specifically addressed in Chapter W-O-General Provisions 2CCR 406-0; Article IV – Manner of Taking Wildlife, #004 – Aids In Taking Wildlife; Section 3, Other Aids; Section E., Live-Action Game Cameras.

It reads:

““Live-Action Game Camera” means any device capable of recording and transmitting photographic or video data wirelessly to a remote device, such as a computer or smart phone. “Live-action game camera” does not include game cameras that merely record photographic or video data and store such data for later use, as long as the device cannot transmit data wirelessly.”

It also states:

“No person shall use a live-action camera to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in any attempt to locate or surveil any game wildlife for the purpose of taking or attempting to take said wildlife during the same day or following day.”

The question is, what exactly does all of that mean?

For one thing, it is clear that the use of standard trail cameras are legal throughout the year, including the hunting seasons, because the device stores images on a SD card and does not transmit data wirelessly.

Enough said.

That all changes when the camera can transmit data wirelessly. Surprisingly, (at least to me) this also applies to the use of a mesh network of cameras that tie in to a home camera with a SD Card. Even though the images on this type of network are not transmitted to a cell phone or computer, the network cameras collect and compile their images and then send their data to the home camera and it’s SD Card “wirelessly”, and therefore would be subject to the “same day or following day” provision.

With this being said, it is obvious that a “live action” camera can be used during the hunting season in Colorado. It would then be the timing of the hunt, after the receipt of downloaded, or collected images, that becomes the issue.

I have heard it said, for example, that one could not hunt for 48 hours after receiving an image of wildlife on your live action camera. At first look that reads about right, but actually… no.

The regulation states that you could not take or attempt to take wildlife during the same day or following day, which means that depending on the timing, could be much less than a 48 hour period.

For the sake of argument, let’s say, an animal could show up on your trail camera at one minute to midnight, which means that one could not hunt for the remaining minute of that day. A hunter would then need to wait out the next full day, and then could legally hunt the early morning of the day after that. In that scenario, one could hunt about 30 hours or so after the “surveillance” of game.

The timing of your hunt can also become tag specific, which means that you should be very aware of any “wildlife” that you may legally harvest with whatever tags you have in your pocket. “No person shall use a live-action camera to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in any attempt to locate or surveil any game wildlife for the purpose of taking or attempting to take said wildlife during the same day or following day” covers an amazing amount of unplanned contingencies.

Should you find yourself anxiously prepping to hunt a particular bull elk, for example, keep in mind that the waiting period required by the “same day or following day requirement” provision would change if a cow elk traveled by that same camera at a later hour, and you held an either sex elk tag. You might not, then, legally, be able to harvest that bull at that time.

I can easily think of several other potential conflicts with the regulations, but for now what I can simply say is that “gray areas” abound when it comes to the use of Live Action Game Cameras. The speculations, in fact, could go on forever, and possible infractions in the field may or not be easily defensible.

Perhaps in the end, my first contact at Colorado Parks and Wildlife was more right than he knew. At the very least it may not be a risk that you are willing to take, as game law violations have become an ever more serious matter.

Depending on your state regulations, it may in fact be much smarter to remove all wireless cameras from your hunting area during the hunting season. It would be far less confusing, and much more preferable than the possibility of staring directly into the investigative barrel of the courts and justice system.

We shall save a look at the ethical considerations…for another time!

Good Hunting!

By Michael Patrick McCarty

You May Also Wish to See Live Action Game Cameras – A Slippery Slope?

or, Common Sense Hunting Reform

 

We Would Love To Hear About Your State Game Laws And Your Experiences With Wireless Cameras.

 

The Browning Command Ops Pro Game Trail Camera. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

Live Action Game Cameras – A Slippery Slope?

The Browning Dark Ops Pro XD Game Trail Camera, With Camera Security Box, Master Lock Padlock, and Master Lock Python Trail Camera Adjustable Camouflage Cable Lock. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

Ready To Record, And Report. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Post by  | July 18, 2018

On an October morning a decade or so ago, I was hunting woodcock in an abandoned orchard. A flight had come in and, in less than an hour, I collected my three-bird limit. That evening I got a call from an acquaintance, a deer hunter, who hunts the same orchard. He asked how I did and if I’d seen evidence of deer. How, I asked, had he known I had been hunting there that morning? He said he saw me on the trail camera he’d placed in cover. I was amused.

It’s now common to see cameras in the woods I hunt, and it’s interesting to hear from friends who share the pictures of animals their cameras record. I’m primarily a bird hunter so field cameras are of no use, though I have thought it would be neat to position a camera near a grouse drumming log to get some pictures of the showoff. It’s clear that a deer hunter can make good use of a game camera or two. It’s also clear that the technology is a useful tool for wildlife researchers. More broadly, I know public school and college teachers who have their students use remote cameras to record animal activities in their backyards and neighborhoods. Anything that gets young people outdoors and engaged in appreciating wildlife is a good thing.

But there is a downside that hunters in particular must face, and it’s gotten more acute with the development of so-called “live action game cameras,” units that record and transmit images in real time to a smart phone or other hand-held device. Does this technology tilt the playing field too far in favor of the hunter? Are you really hunting if your phone notifies you when a buck has stepped into the food plot?

This is not a new problem. Philosophers in ancient Greece worried about our ability to take unfair advantage over animals. Jose Ortega y Gassett praised hunters who deliberately handicapped themselves to make the contest between hunter and hunted a challenge. Aldo Leopold worried that “gadgets” would corrupt hunting: Even if the gadgets didn’t improve hunters’ chances of making a kill, they placed too much emphasis on the kill at the expense of the challenge of the chase. Theodore Roosevelt was characteristically blunt on the same subject: “The rich people, who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own exertions – these are the men who are the real enemies of game.”

TR was familiar with both riches and exertion, but today, technology does not require inherited wealth. We have to ask ourselves if we want to make hunting easier, and perhaps more importantly, do we want to make success, defined as a kill, more certain? In any given year, no more than 20 percent of all deer and elk hunters harvest their animals. That they keep hunting, year in and year out, suggests that they are hunting for complex reasons that go far beyond the desire to kill: Failing to do so in any given year only heightens the expectations for next year.

Available technology now makes it possible for hunters to reduce the time they otherwise would have to invest in preseason scouting, even time afield during the season. Game cameras have become inexpensive, enabling hunters to check the movement of game in areas they intend to hunt without investing precious hours with boots on the ground. It’s easy to see how substituting technology for the laborious process of acquiring intimate knowledge of game is tempting, especially given the fact that for most hunters, there are many claims on “free” time.

At this writing (February 2018) only three states have banned live action cameras in season (Montana requires that all cameras be removed during the hunting season.) A few more are considering regulations. This is an issue that will become more pressing as cameras get more sophisticated. And then there are camera-equipped drones that raise even knottier ethical questions. Sixteen states have banned drones in season, thanks in part to advocacy by BHA.

We are facing the wicked problem of the “slippery slope”: Where do we draw the line between the acceptable and the unacceptable? Is the line purely a personal preference or ought there be regulations that say cameras are OK for preseason scouting but not during the hunting season? Ought we draw a line between conventional and live action cameras? And drones?

At bottom, the question is one of fair chase. Do live action cameras unacceptably tilt the playing field? There’s room for debate, but one thing is certain: The price of technology will go down and the ethical costs associated with accepting increasingly sophisticated electronic mediation between hunter and hunted will go up.

You Can Read The Original Article Here

Please Join Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Today

Reposted By Michael Patrick McCarty

You Might Also Like After The Hunters Have Gone

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.

Ted Nugent Blasts Michigan DNR As ‘Stupid’ Over Deer, Elk Baiting Ban

The Front Cover For The Book God, Guns, & Rock N' Roll By Hunter, Bowhunter, and Famous Musician Ted Nugent.

 

, The Detroit News Published 10:22 a.m. ET Sept. 17, 2019 | Updated 2:14 p.m. ET Sept. 17, 2019

Conservative rocker Ted Nugent targeted Michigan conservation authorities Tuesday, calling state officials either “liars” or “stupid” for supporting a ban on baiting deer and elk.

“If they think they can stop deer from swapping spit, they’re idiots,” Nugent said during a House Government Operations Committee meeting.

Nugent, whom GOP lawmakers referred to as “Uncle Ted,” testified in support of a bill that would legalize deer and elk baiting during hunting seasons. The bill introduced by Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton, would reverse a 2018 ban that was put in place to address concerns that chronic wasting disease was spread through bait piles. It’s not clear the science used to push that ban is reliable, Hoitenga said.

You Can Read The Full Article Here

The Gift – A Young Deer Hunter Joins Up

“Something is only given in nature, never taken.” – Richard Nelson, The Island Within

 

 

A Trophy White-tailed Deer Leaving A Field, And Like Most Whitetail Bucks, Never Very Far From The Safety Of Brush And Cover.
No Sound. No Mind. No Time

READY OR NOT

 

The young whitetail buck bounds proudly into the field of newly planted winter wheat and stops, and I know that I must remember to take a breath. Just moments before it had magically appeared from the heavy shadows at field’s edge. I saw first its jet black nose, then it’s eyes, followed by searching ears, and horns.

For some mysterious reason I had been staring intently at this very spot amidst the tangle of heavy vines, the bright green leaves of sassafras trees, and the yellow of remnant persimmon fruit hung on bare branches. It is as if I already knew, somehow, that I would see a deer this morning, and was simply waiting for its arrival. It’s a huge moment when you are thirteen. Why it’s as big as the world.

Just before daylight I had wedged myself into the crotch of an old, dead tree on the more open side of a small, protected field. It was more than cold with a biting, mid November wind, but the tree was big, protecting, with thick, comforting limbs radiating from its base. It was like a fort, and it was great fun just to sit there, hidden, listening.

Morning in the eastern deer woods has a rhythm and cadence all its own. Once heard, it remains indelibly recorded on the heartbeat of your mind  I can still hear the stirrings of squirrels and small creatures in the dry leaves and forest duff below, the twittering birds, the scornful proclamations of Blue Jays and wandering crows above. I miss it so.

 

A Gray Squirrel Noses Around The Leaves And Pine Needles and Forest Duff For Food; A Common Sight For White-Tailed Deer Hunters Across America
Now Where Did I Put That?

I remember feeling that the buck knew I was there, would be there…watching. Perhaps he had seen a small, slow movement from me, or perhaps he just, …knew. Will he come? Even If he suspects nothing there is little reason for him to continue across an open field on a bright, sunny morning during gun season, with plenty of heavy cover in the trees of the wood lot behind and around him.

I wait. The buck hesitates for a brief time, an eternity, and then trots calmly and purposely along the edge of the trees towards me. I am paralyzed. Though mostly ready, I’ve not yet had time to assess the situation or remember my role in it. My feet are only about six feet from the ground, and I know that he will see me and swap ends quickly if I move too fast. Still, I feel that he knows I’m there and can not change his course, and can somehow see himself moving, thru my eyes, as he crosses in front of my stand.

It’s now or never, and in one motion I come from behind his track and start to swing my shotgun bead towards his shoulder. He stops as if on command, as if this is his part in the choreography of a primordial dance, and this is the selected spot to place his feet. His body is perfectly broadside, with his head turned towards me and up, his nose shining in the sky.

There is no sound, no mind, no time, just our breath frozen in the air as I settle behind the gun. He waits patiently, gracefully, and completely at peace with what is about to come his way. Both parties share something all-knowing yet incomprehensible, without judgement. It is agreed. We have done this before and may do so again, god willing.

I don’t remember pulling the trigger, yet It ends as it must if you are a hunter. A life taken. I am too young to comprehend the full meaning of the act, yet somehow I know there is something more. It is an end, perhaps a beginning, I do not know. The circle complete, we are bonded. It is a gift of the deer and it is sacred.

I pray I will not forget, both then, and now.


“No Sound. No Mind. No Time…A Hunter’s Mind” – Michael Patrick McCarty

A Vintage photograph of a Young Boy Hunting Near a Woodpile
Wait Long Enough And They Will Come

 

*Few moments in my hunting life have held more importance, my first whitetail buck – a sleek 6 pointer. It was 1971, and I was Thirteen. A hunter, I am.

 

A Vintage Photograph Of A Taxidermy Mount Of A Young Buck White-tailed Deer, Taken In Maryland With a Shotgun Slug In the Early 1970's. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
A Boy’s Best Memory

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

“As I reflect on the experiences of yesterday and today, I find an important lesson in them, viewed in the light of wisdom taken from the earth and shaped by generations of elders. Two deer came and gave choices to me. One deer I took and we will now share a single body. The other deer I touched and we will now share the moment. These events could be seen as opposites, but perhaps they are identical. Both are founded on the same principles, the same relationship, the same reciprocity. Both are the same kind of gift…Something is only given in nature, never taken.” – Richard Nelson, The Island Within, 1989

You might also like our post How It Ought To Be Here.

 

Buck Fever In The Modern Age of Deer Hunting

 

A Young Wisconsin White-tailed Deer Hunter Reacts After Missing a Buck...By Pulling Her Hat Over Her Head and Texting On Her Smart Phone
Maybe I Can Text In Another Deer

By Michael Patrick McCarty

Apparently, the proper thing to do these days when you miss a deer is to quickly cover your head with your hunting hat and reach for your nearby smartphone. Or at least this young Wisconsin hunter thought so.

Can you say buck fever?

buck fe·ver

noun

NORTH AMERICANinformal

 nervousness felt by novice hunters when they first sight game.

Not to fret, young deer huntress (yes, this is a young lady here). We’ve all been there, some more than once, whether we will admit it or not.

 And to think, in my day you simply froze in complete, unmitigated panic until the animal walked off,  and then hung on to the nearest limb with all of your arms and legs and with everything you had for an hour or more.

So you did not fall out of your treestand… As if your life depended on it…Because if you were high enough in the tree, it probably did.

 At least that’s what I’ve heard…

You?

 

————————————————————

“He grouped his last five shots right in the center of the bull’s-eye. Then I showed him my technique of scattering shots randomly around the target because, as I explained, you never know which way the deer might jump just as you pull the trigger.” — Patrick McManus, The Hunting Lesson, February 1983

 

One That Did Not Get Away

 

 

A Wisconsin Big Game Hunter Poses With a Large Trophy Buck White-tailed Deer
Now That’s Something To Text About!

Mark Miller from Mauston,  Wisconsin and a deer of a lifetime. I don’t know if he had any buck fever, but there is certainly no ground shrinkage here!

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The Way It Ought To Be – Elk, Boys & Men

A Close-up Photograph of Elk Tracks in the Melting Snow - A Hunter's Dream
Something Big Dead Ahead

 

FOLLOW ME…

 

Today was a special day in my hunter’s world. It began like most Rocky Mountain winter days, but by evening I had acquired an elk for the freezer and two new hunting buddies.

Elk meat is a prized commodity in our household and one elk provides satisfying meals for many months. Hunting buddies, on the other hand…well, they are a gift of a lifetime. I am extremely fortunate to have several and I cherish them, but hey, I’m happy to add some others.

My new buddies just happen to be brothers, and like many good hunting companions they innocently possess unbridled enthusiasm, a refreshing ability to gaze upon everything around them as if for the first time, a natural wide-eyed curiosity, and the willingness to do anything required of them to make for a successful outing. Of course, like most people they have their own unique personalities and levels of hunting skill. In this case, they happen to be smaller than most and have some trouble in deep snow or rough country. They are named MacKenzie and Connor, and they are six and eight years old. They already love elk and elk country. In fact, they live in some of the best elk habitat that Colorado has to offer. But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

I have known these two since they were born, and I’ve known their father, Pat, for a quarter century or so. Pat and I have shared a lot of elk camps together, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for a lot of money, unless of course I could use it to go on more hunting trips with him. He is one of the finest hunters I know, and he is lucky to be blessed with a wife who understands his passion, and surely knows that she could not stop him anyway. Certainly it’s no wonder that “the boys” as we call them, take to the outdoors as naturally as elk bugle. Pat tells me that there was a time he could leave the house without them tugging at his coat tails, but he can’t really remember when that was. It’s just the way it should be, I say.

Call it a genetically inherited instinct, or say, a natural affinity for the wilds, these boys love the mountains and it is an uplifting thing to see. Pat has trained them right, of course, having brought them along whenever he could even when it meant carrying them. He’s patiently endured the myriad challenges presented by a partner who can’t tie his shoes or zipper his own jacket. He has always been the unwavering teacher in the face of emergency potty breaks, snarled fishing reels, and miscellaneous meltdowns. It’s just the way it ought to be, says he. I love and respect him more than ever for that.

Always happy to lend support over the years, I’ve done my share and have been quick to offer whatever advice a four-year old can comprehend. Mostly, I’ve never missed a opportunity to ask them an important question. Something like, “Hey Boys! – I just want to know one thing – Are you going to pack my elk? It became our personal joke and was always a great question to ask at parties, causing them to fly off with hysterical giggles and laughter and to repeat it to their young friends who do the same. It’s not often that you get a chance to train a group of small ones in the proper order of hunting priorities. After all, middle age now stares me squarely in the paunch, and frankly, I’m gonna need the help.

Today, we are wholeheartedly engaged in what can only be called a “meat hunt”. We know that there is a small herd of elk not far above the house, and it is late afternoon before everyone is gathered and we prepare to sneak up and over the ridge. The boys have geared up like old pros, which of course in many ways they are. They have watched a multitude of elk from their picture window, probably before they were interested in much else. They know the elk trails and the difference between a yearling and a big cow and where the herd is likely to run if they are spooked. Connor is next to me when we start off, and he does his best Indian imitation while pointing out tracks along the way. He shows me where he last saw the elk, and as we near the top of a small rise we see the oh so typical head up frontal view of a smart old cow. We’re busted, and I’m wheezing up through the oak brush and slippery rocks for position.

 

A Small Herd of Cow Elk On Alert During a Heavy Winter Snowstorm In Western Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

The first group of cows is moving and I wait, hoping for a better shot and about to lose my opportunity. Luckily, a mature cow is bringing up the rear. It’s not the easiest shot in the world, nor the toughest, but I’ve not been shooting well for a couple of seasons and I take some extra time to draw a bead. I squeeze the trigger and she drops in her tracks. “Nice shot Mike”, I hear from my six-year-old guide. Sweet words to be sure when your luck has been a little off for a little too long, and out of the mouths of babes at that.

We stand around the downed animal and I am truly grateful. Pat heads off to help another member in our party, and I am left alone with the two boys and a beautiful sunset in a clear, cold December sky. The boy’s seem quite content to hunker down in the snow and watch, and help. I become aware of the fading sky and the mountain peaks over their shoulders and think that they are exactly where they want to be. They wear these mountains like a warm woolen blanket, and there is room underneath for me, and for us all.

I stand before the elk and bow to the four directions and give thanks, party because it is something I have come to do to show respect, and partly for effect, as I know they are watching. What are you doing, they ask? Why did you look in that direction first? It’s obviously time for me to answer some questions.

I decide to quarter the cow for easier handling, and when my knife comes out they really become interested. Something about boy’s and knives, I guess. “Why are you doing it that way, they say?”. Where did the bullet hit? How many teeth does it have? How old is it?  Mike, your elk tooth wedding ring is all bloody is it going to be O.K.?” And so on and so on.

I warn them several times to stay clear of my knife in case I slip, but they never miss an opportunity to touch or prod or examine in some way this elk. Their mother has sternly warned them to not ruin their cloths, and both their father and I reminded them more than once. For all the good it does. They want to be close, to smell its’ smell and lay their fingers on its teeth. Even in death, they want to become part of its life. These two are hunters, make no mistake, and I’m proud to be with them on this mountain at this moment in time when two young people chose to join us all in the adventure that we love.

They were quiet for a while, and I was working to beat the darkness. I saw their heads come up and they smiled and looked at each other like they had a thought at the same time. “Hey Mike!, they say proudly. You know what?…we’re gonna pack your elk”.

I stare at them for a moment, and then clandestinely wipe a bit of moisture out of the corner of one eye. It is not an easy maneuver to perform with a heavy backstrap in one hand and a sharp blade in the other.

“That’s right, I say. I’m sure glad you guys are here”.

Just the way it ought to be, I think.

 

A Solo Big Game Hunter Packs Out a Heavy Elk Hindquarter in the Snow in Western Colorado. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Just A Few More Yards To Go For Dad

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like To Read:

A Man Made of MeatJim Kjelgaard: Patron Saint, or A Pheasantful of Memories 

 

Take A Child Hunting Today!

 

A Young Boy and His Father Race Through The Snow To Get In Position As a Pack of Beagle Hounds Pursue A Running Cottantail Rabbit. A Vintage Lithograph Poster From The Game Art Collection of the Remington Arms Co. Inc. Artist Bob Kuhn. From the Collection of Michael Patrick McCarty
The Beginnings Of A Lifelong Pursuit

 

Should You Have Any Doubts, You May Wish To Read:

 

A Kinsman In The Clouds

FIRE IN THE SKY

 

Sacred Rain Arrow. Sculpture By Allan Houser, Found At the Denver Botanic Gardens. Photograph by Chris Smith
Sacred Rain Arrow. Sculpture By Allan Houser

“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

 

“An archer is a conflicted character. Both warrior, and poet. Technician, or magician. No matter. I pledge my life to the flight of the arrow. May it fly, forever true.” – Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like An Archery Quote By World Class Shooter Frank Pearson

 

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Read About the Origins Of The Sculpture Here.

 

Photograph By  Chris Smith, Found At the Denver Botanic Gardens.

 

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We Can also Recommend: The Witchery Of Archery

Maurice Thompson’s 1879 book “The Witchery of Archery”, was the main inspiration for the increase of interest in archery in the United States at the beginning of the century.

Dr. R. P. Elmer wrote of it “That wonderful little book has had as much effect on archery as Uncle Tom’s Cabin had on the Civil War!”

The Witchery of Archery was the first book in English about hunting with a bow ever published. At the time of its publication the book was well received for its wit and use of common language. (Publisher’s Description)

“Maurice Thompson’s graphic articles will delight the lovers of Archery, which ancient sport finds new life and freshness under the vigorous touches of his pen.”—New York Tribune.

Mule Deer and Memorial at Storm King Mountain

skeeze / Pixabay

 

 

A View Near the Top of The Storm King Memorial Trail Near Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Storm King Memorial Trail Near Glenwood Springs, Colorado

October 23, 2015

Today I hunted Mule Deer on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Climbing hard in the false dawn from the river below, I soon found myself enveloped in a gray, somber day, with light rain, low clouds, and misty vapors all around. It seemed a most appropriate collection of weather conditions for the moment at hand.

This is, however, not so much a story about big game hunting, as it is about, something else. I fully intended to kill a deer, but in the end, did not. Neither did I see a deer, and not one fresh track appeared in the mud within the view held tightly below the bill of my hat and hood.

Perhaps it was because the mulies were still tucked into cover, discouraged by the heavy rains of the last few days. Or perhaps it was because our usual snows had yet to appear in even the highest parts of the high country, and the deer had not yet migrated down to the lower elevations. Maybe, just maybe, it was just not the day to kill a deer.

But I came for other reasons too.

Fourteen fire fighters died on this mountain on July 6, 1994. Officially named the South Canyon Fire, it began with a lightning storm on July 2, and rapidly escalated from there. Fire crews were scrambling to catch up right from the start, and the town of Glenwood Springs was solidly in the crosshairs.

Residents prepared for the worst in terms of property damage and financial ruin, but no one could have predicted such a shocking course of events.

I remember exactly where I was sitting when the announcement of their deaths was relayed over the local radio. The impact of the news hit me like a sledge to the most vulnerable parts of my innards, so close to home, and not just because it had happened right down the road.

I was a fire lookout on a high peak in the Salmon River Wilderness of Idaho in the early 1980’s, and then after that an occasional  firefighter as part of my duties with the U.S. Forest Service. I would like to think that I know just a little about wildfire, though I hate to imagine the panic and abject terror they must have felt as the flames overtook them.

Wildfire can put a fear in you like no other natural force on earth, and I have felt that fear firsthand.  Fighting fires is an unnatural occupation, but one, nevertheless, that must be done. I would not be exaggerating to say that I have sweated and toiled alongside some of the most dedicated and indomitable people the planet has ever known. I became a far better person as a result.

Once, so many years ago, I called in a small lightning strike from my perch atop the mountain and then  watched in utter amazement as a dozen smokejumpers hurled themselves out of a perfectly good airplane, only to land in  a field of jumbled boulders and dead and dangerous snags for their troubles. They successfully contained the fire over a 24 hour period, without rest or sleep, and then humped their gear through snarled terrain to an exit point a few miles away. Those observations continue to influence my opinions on what it means to be “tough”.

Who would do that? Who would risk their lives to save oak brush and pinion and homes, often against impossible odds? Why did I do it?

That answer has never fully come to me, and it is far too easy to put myself in their boots. This could have been me. It might have been me, dying down in hot winds and flame, under some not so different circumstances. I feel for them. I grieve for them. They are my brothers, and sisters, who have left us behind far too soon.

Fire will have its way once it makes up its mind, and there is nothing to be done for it but to get out of its way. They did try, we know that they tried, but only nature and god knew their fate in advance. And though I cannot speak for them I would like to think that their soul’s may find some comfort in knowing that the South Canyon Fire and their ultimate sacrifice changed forever the way that wildfires are managed and fought.

Fire, in its infinite wisdom, consumes all that is presented before it. It does so  without judgement, malice, or aforethought, no matter what we may believe. But life returns, and wildfire is also the great rejuvenator. It cleanses with impossible heat and complete conviction, and clears the way for new growth and replenished habitat in an endless circle of beginnings and endings.

skeeze / Pixabay

In this case it created many hundreds of acres of mule deer winter range, and in the end, improved wildlife habitat for a multitude of creatures. It would seem far too small a compensation for so many human lives gone, but then, who am I to say? I am but one man, often so lost, in such a vast and unpredictable universe. Perhaps it is not for me to judge what is right and what is wrong, fair or unfair, nor to fully understand the true meaning of it all.

It took me twenty years to visit this place; to brace myself for the painful journey. I did not know them. I never met them, to my knowledge. But, I do feel them there, watching. I hope that they are not too sad, and that they do not miss this world so much. I pray that they feel some peace in knowing that they were doing some great things in the world, on that mountain of storm. I have no doubt that they never felt more alive, fighting for what they believed, in that wild and untamed country that they loved.

I know that there were hunter’s among the group, and I hope that they approved of my visit. I came to hunt deer, for myself, and for them. I came to honor the offering of kindred spirits, and bow my head in reverence. I hope that they were able to feel some of the joy that I feel when I hunt, a free man with a rifle on his shoulder and miles of unexplored territory ahead.

They remind us that life is precious, and short, and that any time spent hunting where there is still room left to roam is not to be taken for granted.

We will not forget.

May they rest in peace, with eagles overhead, and mule deer, and wild beings, and life, all around, forever.

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“In storm and cloud and wind and sky, In heart and mind and hand and eyes, A bond still binds too strong to tell, All those who flew with those who fell”. – Anonymous. Found on the Plaque at The Storm King Memorial

“Time is the hunter of all men, and no one knows this better than we do. That knowledge gives us perspective, and direction. A hunter is never lost in this great big world, not in life, nor even in death… “- Michael Patrick McCarty

 

A list of the firefighter names who died during the South Canyon Fire on a Plaque at the Storm King Memorial Trail Near Glenwood Springs, Colorado
In Memorium

By Michael Patrick McCarty


 

Glenwood Springs, CO, June 8, 2002 — In Glenwood Springs, CO, the monument to the 14 fallen firefighters in 1994’s Storm King Fire stands as a sentinel in front of this year’s Coal Seam Fire…Photo by Bryan Dahlberg/ FEMA News Photo

You can read more about the Storm King Fire and Other Fires Here

Below, are a few excerpts:

“For many of the specially trained crews that battle mountain wildfires in the American West, it was a blaze that made it more acceptable for firefighters to speak up or even decline assignments they consider too dangerous—once a rare occurrence that could result in a firing or ostracism in a profession that requires aggressive, type A personalities. No official report articulated that change, but among many firefighters it was an understood lesson of South Canyon.

The South Canyon blaze, which scorched 2,115 acres, accelerated technical advances in battling wildfires, from a new generation of fire shelters—small, protective “mummy” bags carried by firefighters that can be their defense of last resort from flames—to improved communications. “Immediately, we all had radios,” said one South Canyon survivor, Eric Hipke.

South Canyon also sparked more scrutiny of fire officials’ decision-making and strategies in battling deadly fires, and led to changes in the National Weather Service’s fire weather forecasting division, which doubled its number of fire weather forecasters and found ways to deliver up-to-the-minute weather information—including crucial details about wind, which can fuel a fire and its direction—to forecasters in the field. (Related: “Overwhelming Cause of California Wildfires: Humans.”)

After South Canyon, “incident meteorologists became rock stars,” said Chris Cuoco, the meteorologist whose accurate prediction of a dangerous weather shift during the South Canyon Fire never reached the firefighters on the mountain.

It’s widely accepted within the firefighting community that these and other lessons of the South Canyon Fire have saved lives during the past two decades. Even so, the dangers of fighting wildfires in the hot, dry summer remain real”.

From an article by By John N. Maclean

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Posted by Michael Patrick McCarty

https://steemit.com/hunting/@huntbook/mule-deer-and-memorial-at-storm-king-mountain

A Journal of Wild Game, Fighting Fish, and Grand Pursuit