Tag Archives: Small Game Hunting

A Skyfall of Geese

 

“They Burst the Air With Sound and Glory; A Canada Goose is a Sky Full of Dreams” – Michael Patrick McCarty

 

 

A Very Good Day of Goose Hunting

 

 

A Small Group Of Geese Pass Overhead Below a Deep Blue Sky. Photo by Doug Brown licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo By Doug Brown

 

 

Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around long, broken-down rows of recently picked corn, their remnant tassels  chattering nervously in the brisk autumn wind coming hard off of the Chesapeake Bay.  We hunted geese there from pit blinds dug from the rich, black earth, surrounded by rafts of decoys as we peered hopefully into fast approaching storm.

Waterfowl hunting, and especially goose hunting, is the high art of the gunning world. It requires dedication, intimate knowledge of the game at hand, and specialized skills acquired and honed over a long period of time. It is generational expertise not easily attained, most often passed down from close family or good friends.

To be successful a hunter must be able to read the weather and the lay of the land, and place oneself if even for a moment in the eyes of a gander. One must present the perfect setup of form and function, in order to lure even the most gullible birds.

You must speak their language too, for one wrong note can spoil the day. Patience, above all, is key, even when standing in ice-cold water up to your knees while trying to slow down the incessant chattering of your teeth.

Bring it on, you say, all if it, for in the end there is nothing in the realm of mortals to match the thrill of cupped wings over the spread, sliding and swirling down over the gun as you tell yourself to stay calm and focus on a single bird.

Impossibly large, and bold, a canada goose has a way of unsettling even the most practiced sportsman among us, Chaos reigns, and it is a rare gunner that can stay composed under a full gaggle of decoying geese. Perhaps I can do just that, next time…

I can hear them now, honking and clawing, forever upwards towards the promise of a limitless, blue sky.

With luck, and blessings, you can see them too.

 

“Against the bright, luminous sky one sees just after sunset on clear, cold days the geese were etched, flock upon following flock. Those farthest away bore on with steadily beating pinions, the nearer birds beginning their glide, great wings cupped. It was beautiful beyond speech, almost heartaching to behold, and suddenly Carl was aware of the gun slanted back across his curved arm, and without reason (but with a certain knowing), he saw that the gun gave the sight a greater beauty, for it was his hunter’s soul that transfixed him at the sight of the living splendor overhead.” – Kenneth Otterson, Last Casts & Stolen Hunts, 1993

 

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Here are a few photos from my hunt this fall in Eastern Colorado. As you can see, it was a very, very good day of goose hunting, and I wish you all, just one day, at least one day, like this too.

 

 

A Large Trailer Capable of Holding 400 Full Bodied Taxidermy Goose Decoys On A Hunting Trip Near Greeley, Colorado
It Takes a Large Trailer to Haul 400 Taxidermy Decoys

 

 

A Close-up of Taxidermy Stuffed Canada Goose Decoys, Set Up Around On Pit Blind On Hunting Trip Near Greeley, Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Almost Too Real!

 

 

A Hunting Guide Examines a Large Spread of Canada Goose Decoys In Recently Picked Corn Field In Front Of a Rising Sun. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Checking The Spread

 

 

A Canada Goose Kite Hunting Decoy, Tethered Above a Goose Pit Blind On A Hunting Trip In Northern Colorado. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Flagging Them In with a Kite

 

 

A Large Flock of Canada Geese Circle Above The Decoys From A Pit Blind in Northern Colorado Near Greeley.
A Goose Hunter’s Dream. Photo by Rocky Tschappat

 

 

A Hunter Brings In an Armfull of Canada Geese To The Blind On A Hunting Trip Near Greeley, Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Bringing In The Geese

 

 

Winner Winner, Canada Goose Dinner. Hunters Pose Behind A Limit Of Canada Geese, Harvested In A Cornfield Near Greeley, Colorado.
A Fine Day Of Gunning

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

You Might Also Like First Goose And The Biggest Small Game

 

 

“As long as there is such a thing as a wild goose, I leave them the meaning of freedom. As long as there is such a thing as a cock pheasant, I leave them the meaning of beauty. As long as there is such a thing as a hunting dog, I leave them the meaning of loyalty. As long as there is such a thing as a man’s own gun and a place to walk free with it, I leave them the feeling of responsibility. This is part of what I believe I have given them when I have given them their first gun”. Gene Hill, from A Hunter’s Fireside Book, 1972

 

We Can Recommend:

 

Geese!: Memoirs of a Wildfowler (Hardcover)

“A lucky soul indeed, is how Edward Miller, who spent 46 years in the gun trade, describes anyone infected with ‘goose fever’. In this lively memoir, he conveys the passion for wildfowling that gets sane people out of bed long before first light, to walk miles across dangerous tidal flats in the depths of a winter dawn, to lie flat in damp sand for hours, waiting for that evocative beat of wings to pass overhead. Every chapter in Geese! is full of interest, amusement and advice. Camouflage, the techniques of goose-calling, how to recognise flight lines, choice of gun, what to wear, where to stay, how to behave and how to avoid overshooting, are all topics covered, right down to cooking wildfowl, including a mouth-watering stuffing of wild mushrooms and seashore blackberries. The instructional index at the end of the book is an invaluable instant reference for the wildfowler.”

New From:$24.89 USD In Stock
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Sean Mann Express Eastern Shoreman Canada Goose Call – Max5 Camo (Misc.)

Molded from durable ABS. Express Calls give the great sound of the original Eastern Shoreman in an affordable package. Tested and tuned by Sean Mann. Unlike “flute calls” the patented design of the Eastern Shoreman creates the full range of the Canada goose’s voice. From full “throaty” lows to bright “snappy” highs, these calls will do it all.

New From:$59.99 USD In Stock
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Rites of Passage – A Boy’s First Goose

Post In Progress

 

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

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 English Sparrows and Starlings, before graduating to a cadre of overeducated 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 proposition…and the thought of actually killing a goose of my own was outside the boundaries of my young boy’s possibilities…

That all changed when…

 

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

 

THE NORTH AMERICAN WATERFOWLER includes 45 RPM Record (Hardcover)

The Author’s experience and understanding of each hunting situation is so thoroughly expressed between the covers of this book that he does for waterfowling what Isaac Walton did for fishing with his “Complete Angler”. Whether the reader’s `interest, be that of a hunter on his own farm, a hunter on public hunting grounds, a member of a sophisticated duck club or the manager of a duck club, he will enjoy and gain knowledge from this book and certainly get more birds. Combined with the personal experiences of the Author, the reader will find the book profusely illustrated with photographs and charts that tell what clothing to wear under what circumstance, an article about ammunition and guns with illustrations which show how to lead the birds in flight, how to set out decoys, airviews of lakes and ponds showing how to build them and a discussion of the various types of blinds. Throughout the text of this book we have illustrated various items. They are presented as visual aids and are intended to be representative of the field to which they are associated. There is a chapter on retrievers written in collaboration with Bert Carlson, the star of ABC’s American Sportsman Show. To duck club members perhaps the most valuable thing in dollars and cents is the sample hunting lease. Bernsen says that this has cost him many hundreds of dollars in legal fees and many more in sad experiences before it reached its present stage of perfection. The NORTH AMERICAN WATERFOWLER goes far beyond the ordinary “how-to-do-it” type book and talks to experienced gun, decoy men who can understand the fine points to get more birds at less cost and more “down-to-the-water” enjoyment. It is information unlimited.

New From:0 Out of Stock
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“Aim Small, Miss Small”

A hunter shoots the .17 caliber rifle for target practice and fun, and to to sharpen his eye for hunting season. Photograph by Michael McCarty.
Tuning Up The Mighty-Mini .17 Caliber

 

It is that special time of year again, and for many of us it can never come quite soon enough. The promise of a weather change hangs suspended in the air and the hunting season – our season – is just around the corner. For some lucky soul’s it has already begun.

It’s time to oil up that favorite rifle and send a few well-placed bullets down range. Of course, people of our persuasion rarely need an excuse to do a little target shooting, and there’s never really a bad time to brush up on the exacting skills of fine marksmanship. Besides, it is also a constructive way to get some sun on the face and some fresh air for the lungs, and it delivers a lot of bang for the buck in the fun department too.

Yet there is a most serious side to our right to own firearms, and it becomes more and more obvious every day. There are those around us who obsessively scheme to take our guns away, and they constantly pick at the edges of The Constitution and The Bill of Rights like a rabies-crazed vulture. They are a constant reminder to the fact that like any critical muscle in the body, a right must be exercised to remain toned and ready.

Let us never forget that it is an inalienable right of all free citizens of the United States to keep and bear arms, for the simple reason that we can. We earned it, or at least some of our ancestors did. My father shed blood for it – for me, and for us all. Perhaps you, or someone else in your family did too.

It is the quintessential sobering thought. This reality means that it is not always just about hunting or shooting, for to hold a gun in the hand is a great responsibility. When in doubt just recall the images of the founding fathers, who were more than happy to record their opinions on the matter under threat of quick arrest and certain death. Their foundational actions have always held the obvious solutions for times like these.

I, for one, do not take their words lightly, and they continue to ring loudly with ultimate truth and inexorable consequences. How could anyone disregard the forewarnings of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, or the thousands and thousands of patriots who laid down their one and only life for the life of liberty?

They also fought with unending fervor for the rights of those who simply wish to touch off a few harmless rounds in the privacy of their own backyards.

I sometimes think about these things with each tightening pull of the trigger, as well I should.

In the realm of what really matters it is an easy choice.

Live free or die” truly are words to live by.

“Use it or lose it” is not just a catchy phrase.

“Stand up and be counted”, leaves no doubt. Standing is the most important part, as my father used to say.

“Aim small, miss small”, I say, and pass the ammunition!

It’s time to get a little hunting in too.

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“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike especially when young, how to use them.” (Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights, Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, at 21,22,124 (Univ. of Alabama Press,1975)..)

“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable . . . the very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good”  – George Washington

“I must wonder – just exactly what do you not understand about the meaning of “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?” – Michael Patrick McCarty

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Michael Patrick McCarty

Food Freedom, and Rifles Too!

You Might Also Like Tarantulas…

*”Aim Small, Miss Small” is from the movie “The Patriot”, starring Mel Gibson.

https://steemit.com/liberty/@huntbook/aim-small-miss-small-is-the-patriots-creed

Jumping Targets AR500 Steel Reactive Shooting Targets (Misc.)

Jumping Targets advantage
Jumping Targets engineers the most interactive gun targets on the market. You will:
-never walk down range to adjust targets
-always have a shot
-move the target to a new location with each impact
-get your practice shooting something that moves

The AR500 steel difference
There are a lot ofl targets on the market that are made of inferior steel and are often poorly designed. Those targets are subject to craters, pits, and other deformations, and they can be very dangerous and should be avoided for safety reasons. Any steel with a rating under 400 (Brinell rating) including the popular T-1 steel.
Choosing the proper steel is only half of the equation. A good design is just as important as the right steel. Some manufacturers use brackets, clamps, or bolts in trying to hold their target together. Remember, anything that can be hit, will be hit eventually. Why is this an issue? Because you can do a reasonable job of predicting and protecting against a bullet’s splatter pattern when it hits a flat, uniform surface. If the steel is damaged or if anything else is in the way, then you cannot know where the bullet is going. Bullet fragmentation and ricochet are inherent and acknowledged issues when shooting on steel targets. Proper target design helps you address those issues with the highest degree of safety possible. Our targets present a target at a 90 degree angle, and have a calculated ricochet angle of 20 degrees, ensuring that you have a safe as well as enjoyable experience using our targets.All of our targets are made with these facts in mind, and all are AR 500 steel targets. In short –they’re meant to last!


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The Biggest Small Game – Young Boys and Bushytails

 

A Vntage Photograph of a Boy With A Shotgun and a Limit of Squirrels Taken After a Morning of Squirrel Hunting in Maryland. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Fixins For Some Squirrel Pie!

 

My friend and my brother and I used to hunt squirrels, and other game, on a game-filled property in the heart of the Maryland farm country. Things with wings were the main attraction, like ducks or mourning doves. Canada geese, however were the real lure that brought us there, and populations were on the upswing in the early 1970’s. The shooting was often truly extraordinary.

The goose hunting was more than satisfying for our fathers and their friends, but not always enough for us. We were, after all, young boys bursting with inexhaustible momentum, and guns, and we badly needed something to do when the morning flights of Canada Geese had ended and the birds had laid up to rest.

For me, it was not just a way to pass the time until the late afternoon hunt. Goose shooting is thrilling, and fun, but squirrels…now that’s a young hunter’s big game.

 

A Grey Squirrel On Alert Among The Branches of a Tree

 

Fortunately, the hardwood fingers between the cornfields and the backwaters of Chesapeake Bay were absolutely jammed with the elusive bushytails. We spent a lot of time still hunting through the autumn leaves, sharpening our eyes behind the rifle sights and practicing our future whitetail hunting skills. Squirrels fell all around us, though I doubt that we ever really put much of a dent in their numbers. They are, among so many things, a restless and boundless survivor in the long-term scheme of things.

I miss those days spent within that colorful cathedral of canopy, slipping soundlessly around the trunks of tall trees with my chin pointed to the sky. Patience is a virtue in this game, as is focus and sharp eyesight. A flash here and a flash there was sometimes all you got, but sometimes, if you were lucky or good, you got a little more too. A squirrel’s head is a tiny target, and you could fancy yourself quite a marksman if you could drop one cleanly and quick.

Long ago I graduated to hunting much bigger and more glamorous game, in places where the terrain and scenery could not be much more different from that gentle land. But those squirrels of my youth have never journeyed very far out of mind, and that is a good thing.

I long to hunt squirrels. I crave those simple and rewarding days in the land of sassafras and scolding bluejays. Some are quick to say that the world moves on, and that you can never really revisit a time gone by. Perhaps that is true, but certainly not in all things. I would like to think that squirrel hunting is one of those.

I feel a well deserved squirrel hunt coming on, and some Brunswick Stew to go with it, wherever they may be…

You?

By Michael Patrick McCarty

You Might Also Like Our Post The Promise of Deer HERE

 

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Recipe By Hank Shaw

 

Squirrel Pie

 

There are a number of hacks and subs you can do here. First, you can use any white meat for the filling. Rabbit, turkey, pheasant, quail, partridge and yes, chicken would all be fine. Next, you can skip the acorn flour and just use a whole wheat or some other darkish flour your like. Third, you can use regular walnuts for the black walnuts… or use whatever nut makes you happy.

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Serves9 pies
AuthorHank Shaw
Ingredients
DOUGH
  • 1/2 cup acorn flour
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour, or regular AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup duck fat, lard, butter or shortening
FILLING
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
  • cup minced yellow or white onion
  • 3/4 pound shredded and chopped squirrel meat
  • 1 cup diced apple, peeled and cored (I use Granny Smiths)
  • 1/2 cup toasted, chopped black walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cavender’s seasoning, or black pepper
  • 1/2 cup warm stock, squirrel, chicken or something light
  • 2 teaspoons sorghum syrup or molasses
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere, emmental or jarlsberg cheese(optional)
Instructions
MAKE THE DOUGH
  1. Mix the flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a small pot, heat the milk until it’s steaming, then turn off the heat. Stir in the fat until it’s mostly melted in; a few bits that aren’t melted are fine.

  2. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry with a fork until it’s a shaggy mass. Knead this all together until you have a smooth ball, then shape it into a cylinder. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set it in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

MAKE THE FILLING
  1. Heat the bacon fat in a large pan over medium-high heat and add the cabbage and onions. Saute until softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Salt this as it cooks. Add the squirrel meat, apple, walnuts and Cavender’s seasoning (or black pepper), stir well and cook for a few minutes.

  2. Stir the sorghum syrup in with the stock until combined, then pour this into the pan with everything else. Stir this well and let it cook another few minutes so the ingredients absorb the liquid. Turn off the heat and let the filling cool.

MAKE THE PIES
  1. If you have a tortilla press, get it out and cut a heavy plastic bag apart to make two plastic sheets that you’ll use to keep the dough off the metal of the press. If you don’t have a press, lay out a work space and flour it well.

  2. Cut the dough into anywhere between 8 and 10 pieces, trying to keep them about the same size. Put half the pieces back in the fridge. Roll a piece into a flat, disc and set it on a piece of plastic on the press. Put the other piece of plastic over it and squash the dough into a thin disc. I find that I do one squeeze, then adjust the dough so it’s perfectly centered in the tortilla press.

    If you don’t have a press, roll the dough balls into flat discs about 1/8 of an inch thick.

  3. Remove the dough from the plastic and put about 1/4 cup of filling on one side of the disc. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top if you’d like. Fold over the dough to make a half-moon and seal. Crimp the edges with a fork and set on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

  4. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes. Move to a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before you eat them. Best served hot, but they’ll keep for a week or so in the fridge and are pretty good cold, too.

NOTE: I start with meat shredded off squirrels used in making stock. You can do this, or braise squirrels in salty water until tender, or you can just cut meat off the bones of raw squirrels and chop that up. All methods will work. 

 

You Can Find The Entire Article Here

 

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You Might Wish To Pick Up A Copy Of:

 

A photograph of the front cover of dustjacket of All About Small-Game Hunting in America Edited by Russell Tinsley

Looking For That Flash of Tail

 

“Sure, the usually available squirrel is fine game for the beginning hunter. No game animal will give him better training in hunting fundamentals – stalking, concealment, woodsmanship, and shooting and gun handling. And should he become so fortunate that he has a chance at them, those early lessons will serve him well on this continent’s most prized big game animals…Frequent jaunts to a convenient squirrel woods season the long and colorful careers of many of our most famous hunters…

The hunter pussyfooting through the squirrel woods is not seeking a trophy animal, is not concerned about the behavior of an expensive bird dog, nor is he attempting to impress a hunting partner with his wingshooting. He is in the hardwoods for the pure joy of hunting…”By Bob Gooch, Found in All About Small-Game Hunting in America. Edited by Russell Tinsley.

For Sale:

All About Small-Game Hunting in America. By Russell Tinsley

Published by Macmillan, 1984. Very Good condition in Very Good Dustjacket.

Feel Free To Email Us At huntbook1@gmail.com for Details.

 

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We Can Also Recommend:

The Ultimate Guide to Squirrel Hunting: Everything You Need to Know to Hunt This Popular Game Animal (Hardcover)

Tips on hunting the ultimate prey: those #&$#! squirrels.

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Hunters Specialties Squirrel Call (Sports)

Squirrel Call. Imitates fox squirrel, gray squirrel and baby squirrel distress calls. Works in any weather.

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Through A Hunter’s Eyes Recognized As A Top Hunting Website

Acknowledgement of hard work is always appreciated, and we are proud to announce that Target Tamers has recently included us in their list of top hunting websites. – Michael Patrick McCarty

 

Top 59 Hunting Websites You Should Check Out Today

By Simon Cuthbert

I am sure you would rather be out hunting, but every now and then (when the weather or time is against you) you have to resort to the next best thing – losing yourself in the glory of a fellow hunter’s stories! With that in mind I have tracked down 59 of the best hunting websites packed with videos, pics, stories and podcasts to take your mind where your body can’t be – into the wilderness on a hunt. Here they are in alphabetical order and whether you are a deer hunter, trophy hunter, beginner or expert, there is something for everyone.

The Meat Eater

Meat EaterA popular website that has a mixture of posts & podcasts on all things hunting. With a name like ‘The Meat Eater’ it comes as no surprise that you can find some great, meaty recipes here too. Steven Rinella also hostshttp://meateater.vhx.tv/ and is active on social media.

Website Link:http://themeateater.com

The Will to Hunt

The Will to HuntWill’s blog is about his hunting experiences and learning from others to become a better hunter. You will also find some reviews and Guest Posts on this website.

Website Link:http://www.thewilltohunt.com

Through a Hunters Eyes

Through a Hunters EyesMichael’s blog is all about his hunting experiences which include fishing, rabbits, deer and more. There are a stack of great articles here!

Website Link: https://throughahunterseyes.com

White Knuckle Productions

White Knuckle ProductionsTodd’s website is mostly product for sale, there are plenty of dvd’s you can buy. There is also a link to the White Knuckle Web Show and that has a heap of great videos that you can watch free here –https://vimeo.com/whiteknuckleproductions

Website Link:http://www.whiteknuckleproductions.com/

Wide Open Spaces

Wide Open SpacesIt does not matter if you are a dove hunter, fisherman or deer and big game hunter, this website has you covered. Lots of videos, posts and great information on all things to do with hunting and the wilderness. They have a very solid following on facebook and twitter also.

Website Link:http://wideopenspaces.com

By Simon Cuthbert

You Can See the Full List By Target Tamers HERE

 

We Can Also Recommend:

Field and Forest: Classic Hunting Stories (Paperback)

For hunters, listening to the accounts of kindred spirits recalling the drama and action that go with good days afield ranks among life’s most pleasurable activities. This newly updated volume – with an introduction by editor Stephen J. Bodio — contains some of the best hunting tales ever written, stories that sweep from charging elephants in the African bush to mountain goats in the mountain crags of the Rockies, from the gallant bird dogs of the Southern pinelands to the great Western hunts of Theodore Roosevelt.
Stories include:
  • The Wilderness Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt
  • Tige’s Lion by Zane Grey
  • Lobo: The King of Currumpaw by Ernest Seton-Thompson
  • My Antelope by Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
  • The Alaskan Grizzly by Harold McCracken
  • Wolf-Hunting in Russia by Henry T. Allen
  • Hunting on the Turin Plain by Roy Chapman Andrews

New From:$18.95 USD In Stock
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In The Eyes Of A Pigeon

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

a vintage photo of a boy watching his homing pigeons exercise their wings after being released from their catch pen
Come Home Soon!

A willing and observant person can gather some extraordinary insights about the natural world in the most unlikely places. It can happen in the short time that it takes to blink an eye, no matter if that eye belongs to you, or to something else. Nature abounds with beneficial lessons and the teachers of true meaning are everywhere. I just happen to gain some of my clues from the clear-eyed and attentive stares of my backyard pigeon flock. You can learn a lot from an otherwise ordinary and common creature.

I spend a fair amount of time with this captive audience of one hundred in their outdoor aviary. I am their provider, and their lifeline from the outside lands. I supply them with their daily ration of grains and clean water, irregardless of the weather or the many other duties or time constraints I may have. I fill their pickpots with grit and minerals. I break ice from their bowls in the winter, and suffer the same stinging snows and biting winds of the day. I clean their flypen and pigeon-house, and keep a sharp eye out for the telltale signs of distress or disease. I study them closely, and through it all, they watch me too.

I am a constant in their lives, and a spoke in their wheel of life. I have come to know of them and their world just a little bit, and they of me. It could be said that they would rather prefer that I was not involved at all, but I am a necessary intrusion they must tolerate, at least for a brief time.

Yet, they wait for me each morning and afternoon, the anticipation building as I drive up to the entrance doors. They mill about excitedly as I approach, ready to perform just for me. I touch the door handle, and they begin their wild jig, dancing like ecstatic puppets on hidden strings. They hop about and swirl their wings like crazed whirligigs, or slap their wingtips smartly as they launch from their perch for a short flight across the pen.

They chant their pigeon talk and coo even louder as I step in through the inner doors, to become completely surrounded by frantic birds, eager to fill their crops before the other’s. They push and shoulder for each speck of grain as if their life depended on it. Perhaps they bicker and fight to establish or maintain some imperceptible pigeon pecking order, or maybe just to remind themselves that life can be a struggle. You would think that they would know by now that their will be enough food for all comers, but it is a wild ritual that they simply must abide for reasons known only to the pigeon.

We have repeated this madcap scene a few thousand times and more, the pigeons and I. It has become routine, with little deviation from the usual suspects. That is until yesterday, when our normal interaction abruptly and inexplicably changed.

It was immediately obvious when I pulled up in my truck. The absence of sound or flashing wings struck me first, and what pigeon heads I could see sat on top of outstretched necks, alert, with searching eyes. They crouched in the classic manner of all prey, with feet tucked under their bodies, coiled and ready to spring out and away from impending danger.

A close up photo of a common pigeon with eye

The birds stood frozen and paid me little mind as I entered and searched the ground for an animal intruder. I investigated the pigeon houses and the nest boxes and found nothing. I checked every nook and cranny of their limited world and came up empty. I paused to scratch my head, and ponder this puzzling circumstance.

Hand on chin, I stared at the closest pigeon and wondered, determined to discover just why he would not fly. And then he cocked his head, and I saw his eye focus on something high as he grounded himself more tightly to his perch. At that moment I spied a wide, dark shadow moving across the dirt floor, and smiled. I knew exactly what belonged in that kind of shadow, as did my fine feathered friends. All I had to do was look up, to see just exactly what it was that had struck such all-consuming fear in their hearts.

I had no doubt that the shadow maker was an eater of birds, but there were several possibilities in this category. A red-tailed hawk maybe, or a gleaming eagle from the nearby river. In this case the black shadow belonged to an animal of equal color, with a distinctively naked neck. It was not what I expected to see.

The Turkey Vulture, or Buzzard as it is sometimes called, is quite common to the American West and many parts of North America. A six-foot wingspan casts a long shadow across the land, and he covers a lot of it as he travels. That great red and bald head is immediately recognizable from afar, and known by all. His sentinel like posture and hovering demeanor create and perpetuate his iconic image. It is a form often associated with death, and it is a meaning not entirely lost on my domesticated, but anxious, pigeon flock.

The Vulture is classified as a bird of prey, after all, even though he finds most of his meals by smell after they are already dead. I suppose that it is a distinction utterly lost on the brain of a pigeon.

His generic name is Cathartes, which means “purifier”.  It is an appropriate name, as the Buzzard is the sharp-beaked “tearer”, and recycler of flesh and feather. He is part of nature’s cleanup crew, and a perfectly ordained sanitizing unit. His kind is often referred to as “carrion eaters”, as if it were a derogatory term used to define the sordid parameters of their defective character. Nothing could be father from the truth.

I, for one, am a defender of this homely yet beautiful animal. The manner in which he makes his living should not be used to demean or degrade his standing in the larger scheme of things. His shadow may strike terror in the souls of countless scurrying and furtive creatures, but he has not come for them. Not now. He is where our lifeless bodies might naturally go, may we all be so lucky. There are far worse fates to suffer than those borne through the belly of a bird.

Still, it makes me wonder about the sensibilities of the pigeons in my charge. None of this buzzard business should be of any concern to a bird so far removed from a natural environment. It may be true that their only protection from flying marauders is a thin, nylon mesh that forms the roof of their cage. But what of it?

Most of my birds have never known anything else than the limited boundaries of the aviary. They were hatched here, reared by their parents and brought to adulthood without having to worry about danger and death from above. They have never enjoyed a truly wild moment in their lives, and I doubt if the thought of escape and a different kind of life has ever occurred to them.

Likewise, their parents have grown up in much the very same way, as did their parents, and their parents, and so on and so on. In fact their domestic lineage goes back for thousands of years, to the days when the first man-made his first hopeful departures from the relative safety of the caves. They are mankind’s first domestic animal partner, and their history is our history. One would think that very little of the wild would be left in the soul of a pigeon. On the contrary, it would appear that the thin margin of safety above their swiveling heads provides little comfort.

It makes me wonder about the level of domestication in the so-called domestic pigeon. How much wild is left in an otherwise non-wild creature? What does he remember of his life on the cliffs? Is it some latent genetic memory, or something else that keeps him looking skyward? Something tells me that there are some wild yearnings left behind, and that it might not take them very long to surface if given some small opportunity.

Truth be known, the story of the vulture and the pigeon is a tale as old as time and one not so easily forgotten. Each has something to tell us in their own way. Their interactions remind us that the primordial spark of life burns on as brightly as ever. They beckon us to live fully while we are alive, no matter the circumstance or the crosses we bear.

They tell us that danger is but a heartbeat away, though we try to deny it by surrounding ourselves with shallow and petty distractions. The realities of life and death lie closely behind the delicate veil, no matter how hard we may try to separate and protect ourselves from the natural world with the cages of our own clever designs.

The Turkey Vulture occasionally wishes to feel like a master predator on the wing, and a hunter of live prey. Perhaps he flies over our birds to feel the power of his blood and history. He dares us to be watchful, yet hopeful, lest we gain the finality of his steady gaze. We all must eventually return to replenish the elements of the earth. We are needed, we are welcome, but perhaps not today.

The great purifier embraces the rising thermals and circles ever upward, hanging on the edge of consciousness to remind us that a little bit of wild remains in the most cowered and tamed of the earthly realms below. We shall all have plenty of time to rest, and to watch, in our time.

 

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) riding the air currents while searching for prey or carrion and something to eat
Patience Is A Virtue For a Vulture

By Michael Patrick McCarty

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Superdove: How the Pigeon Took Manhattan … And the World (Hardcover)

Why do we see pigeons as lowly urban pests and how did they become such common city dwellers? Courtney Humphries traces the natural history of the pigeon, recounting how these shy birds that once made their homes on the sparse cliffs of sea coasts came to dominate our urban public spaces. While detailing this evolution, Humphries introduces us to synanthropy: The concept that animals can become dependent on humans without ceasing to be wild; they can adapt to the cityscape as if it were a field or a forest.

Superdove simultaneously explores the pigeon’s cultural transformation, from its life in the dovecotes of ancient Egypt to its service in the trenches of World War I, to its feats within the pigeon-racing societies of today. While the dove is traditionally recognized as a symbol of peace, the pigeon has long inspired a different sort of fetishistic devotion from breeders, eaters, and artists—and from those who recognized and exploited the pigeon’s astounding abilities. Because of their fecundity, pigeons were symbols of fertility associated with Aphrodite, while their keen ability to find their way home made them ideal messengers and even pilots.

Their usefulness largely forgotten, today’s pigeons have become as ubiquitous and reviled as rats. But Superdove reveals something more surprising: By using pigeons for our own purposes, we humans have changed their evolution. And in doing so, we have helped make pigeons the ideal city dwellers they are today. In the tradition of Rats, the book that made its namesake rodents famous, Superdove is the fascinating story of the pigeon’s journey from the wild to the city—the home they’ll never leave.


New From:$34.25 USD In Stock
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A Skunk Is A Down Low Odiferous *Weasel (But That’s O.K.)

Havahart 1030 Live Animal Two-Door Rabbit, Squirrel, Skunk, and Mink Cage Trap (Lawn & Patio)

The Havahart Medium 2-Door Animal Trap has been designed for the safety of animals. This humane trap, with its two spring loaded doors, has many features to allow safe, quick and easy catches. Constructed of sturdy wire mesh with steel reinforcements for long life, and galvanized for maximum resistance to rust and corrosion. Mesh openings are smaller than competing traps of comparable size to prevent escapes and stolen bait. Two spring loaded doors allow animals to enter from either direction. Sensitive trigger ensures quick, secure capture. Solid door and handle guard protect user during transportation, while smoothed internal edges protect and prevent injuries to animals. Havahart recommends checking with your local authorities to determine the trapping laws in your area before using a live trap.

New From:$41.96 USD In Stock
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By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

 

A striped skunk on the prowl in green grass, ready to spray if threatened.
Giving Pause to Both Man and Beast

 

Just about everyone with a most basic understanding of the natural world knows to stay away from the back-end of the black and white critter called skunk. Forget that little fact and they will be quick to leave an indelible impression upon your person. Or ask any family dog that has disregarded that squared up stance and upturned tail and suffered the indignity of a well-aimed spray. Unfortunately, this is a minor inconvenience when compared with the real damage often inflicted by their front end.

Skunks possess powerful forelegs which they use to burrow and scratch about for food. Digging and the churning of earth is really what a skunk is all about. They are also great fans of a free or easy meal and a frequent backyard visitor. A poultry dinner is top on their culinary hit parade, and they are notorious nighttime raiders of the barnyard and chicken coop. Their tunneling skills are legendary and deviously effective, much to the chagrin and unmitigated consternation of small animal breeders and poultry keepers for hundreds of years.

I was reminded of their penchant for tragedy when I entered my pigeon keep a few days ago. The telltale signs of the obvious break-in were written plainly on the ground, as was the bloody aftermath. Once again, the scene screamed of dastardly polecat, and the wind held the last remnants of that unmistakable and musky perfume.

I soon discovered that my favorite bird was among the casualties, and it hit me like a primordial punch to the solar plexus. He was the biggest of our Giant Runt’s, and he had always been scrappy and bold and proud. I had bred him down from a successive line of top-notch parents and he had never let me down in the squab producing department. We called him “the bomber”, and I had always looked for him first amongst his comrades.

Skunks have an uncanny ability to make it deeply personal in some unpredicted way. We have probably lost more birds of various kinds to them than any other predator, though I have worked hard to stem the tide. Once locked on to a target they can become incredibly determined, often working for several days to accomplish their clandestine mission. You have a full-fledged skunk problem when they do, because they will not give up without a fight. They can be incredibly bull-headed about it all. Once joined in battle they generally need to be forcefully persuaded, often with hot lead,  to see the error in their ways.

They are also extremely good at pointing out the errors in yours. An unwanted entry means that you have not done your job as an animal husbandman, whether you care to admit it or not. It means that the cage or coop is not built as well as it could be. Or perhaps that small repair you have put off has returned to haunt you. In the end it is your fault and your’s alone, although I cannot say that the acceptance of such responsibility can make one feel much better.

It would be easy to hate the skunk out of  hand, but I refuse to accept such an easy fix. A skunk is a skunk after all, and he is just doing what he was designed to do. They are a necessary and vital component of a healthy ecosystem. Perfect in form and function, they are more than beautiful in their own way.

Still, I am sad for the loss of our pigeons and it will be some time before I can stop myself from looking for the big guy. I have no doubt that he faced his end as best he could, with dignity and noble character. In my mind I like to picture him wedging his body in front of his mate, staring his adversary down and delivering a solid shoulder punch or two before being overwhelmed. At least I’d like to think so.

It makes me wonder what other beastly trials and backyard tribulations take place under cover of the dead black night.

By Michael Patrick McCarty

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Skunks can have devastating effects on waterfowl nesting success, as well as on upland game and song bird populations. If you would like to learn more about the dynamics of predation, we recommend that you pick up the classic work titled “Of Men and Marshes” by Paul Errington. It is a fascinating and eye-opening read. We often have a copy for sale. Please email for availability.

You Might Also See Nuisance Wildlife Laws In Colorado and Coping With Skunks

— *Historically, skunks have been classified in a subgroup within “the weasel family”, or Mustelidae. Biologists began to understand that they had been misidentified all along. They were assigned new classification in the late 1990’s, and now belong to the family Mephitidae. So you see, they never were a weasel, after all.

—Weasel (Informal) – a sly or treacherous person.

 

minka2507 / Pixabay

 

 

A photo of a skunk caught in a havahart live trap at night
Caught Red Handed – And Probably Only Once

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NBCI’s State of the Bobwhite 2018 Reports 24% Increase in Managed Bobwhite Acres Over Last Year

For the Health of the Land: Previously Unpublished Essays And Other Writings (Hardcover)

Aldo Leopold’s classic work A Sand County Almanac is widely regarded as one of the most influential conservation books of all time. In it, Leopold sets forth an eloquent plea for the development of a “land ethic” — a belief that humans have a duty to interact with the soils, waters, plants, and animals that collectively comprise “the land” in ways that ensure their well-being and survival.For the Health of the Land, a new collection of rare and previously unpublished essays by Leopold, builds on that vision of ethical land use and develops the concept of “land health” and the practical measures landowners can take to sustain it. The writings are vintage Leopold — clear, sensible, and provocative, sometimes humorous, often lyrical, and always inspiring. Joining them together are a wisdom and a passion that transcend the time and place of the author’s life.The book offers a series of forty short pieces, arranged in seasonal “almanac” form, along with longer essays, arranged chronologically, which show the development of Leopold’s approach to managing private lands for conservation ends. The final essay is a never before published work, left in pencil draft at his death, which proposes the concept of land health as an organizing principle for conservation. Also featured is an introduction by noted Leopold scholars J. Baird Callicott and Eric T. Freyfogle that provides a brief biography of Leopold and places the essays in the context of his life and work, and an afterword by conservation biologist Stanley A. Temple that comments on Leopold’s ideas from the perspective of modern wildlife management.The book’s conservation message and practical ideas are as relevant today as they were when first written over fifty years ago. For the Health of the Land represents a stunning new addition to the literary legacy of Aldo Leopold.

New From:$45.00 USD In Stock
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October 5, 2018

By The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative

Now reported at nearly four million acres, bobwhite management across 25 states is up 24 percent over the 3.2 million acres reported the year before — or 771,345 acres added — according to NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac: State of the Bobwhite 2018. That’s just one insight provided by the eighth annual report by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), its 25-member states and partners on progress in restoring wild quail to the landscape.

“Because habitat is managed for bobwhites doesn’t necessarily mean quail are there,” cautioned NBCI Science Coordinator/Assistant Director Dr. Tom Dailey in reference to the Bobwhite Habitat Inventory Index. “It means it’s suitable for bobwhites in the year it’s reported or will be in the near future. It can take some time after initial management for a population response. But habitat management is trending in the right direction.”

You Can Read The Full Post Here

—————————————–

*Bobwhites have always been near and dear to my heart, and it is heartwarming to know that groups like the NBCI are working so hard to preserve one of our most cherished gamebirds. The future of bobwhite quail may very well depend on private land partnerships such as this.

Michael Patrick McCarty

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In Defense Of the Pigeon

Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail: Upland Birds and Small Game from Field to Feast (Hardcover)

A comprehensive, lushly illustrated cookbook devoted to preparing and cooking upland birds and small game, both wild and domesticated, from the author of the award-winning website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

Game birds have always held a high place at the table, whether it’s a hunter’s prize of roast grouse or the turkey we all eat at Thanksgiving. Pheasants, quail, rabbits, doves, grouse and more – these are singular species with grand culinary traditions that offer the cook an unmatched range of flavors. Many cooks fear the fowl, however. Lean and athletic, game birds, rabbits and hares can dry out in a hurry. Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail shows you how to cook small game like a pro: perfectly crisp skin over tender breast meat, melt-in-your-mouth braises and confit, stews, sausages, and more.

Hank Shaw, an award-winning food writer, hunter, and cook at the forefront of the wild-to-table revolution, provides all you need to know about obtaining, cleaning, and cooking birds ranging from quail to pheasant, turkey to dove and beyond. Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail also covers a range of small game animals such as rabbits, hares and squirrels. You’ll find detailed information on how best to treat these various species in the kitchen, how to select them in the market, as well as how to pluck, clean and hang wild birds. Shaw’s global yet approachable recipes include basics such as Roast Pheasant and Buttermilk Fried Rabbit; international classics like Tuscan Hare Ragu, French Rabbit a la Moutarde, Mexican Turkey Tamales with Pumpkin, and General Tso’s Pheasant; as well as unique dishes such as Roast Woodcock Michigan. It also features an array of small game charcuterie, from fresh sausages to confit and terrines.

The most comprehensive guide to preparing and cooking upland birds and small game, whether domesticated or wild, Pheasant, Quail Cottontail will be a valued companion for hunters as well as home cooks looking for new ways to cook store-bought turkey, rabbit or quail.

What’s more, every purchase of this book helps our wild habitats. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold will go to help the non-profit conservation efforts of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, which will use the money to restore, maintain and expand habitat for all upland birds.


New From:$32.95 USD In Stock
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By Hank Shaw

“A pigeon, any pigeon, is a remarkable game bird. It is faster than any other bird we hunt, tougher than most, and is a treasure at the table. Call it “squab” and people will happily drop $35 for an entree at a fancy bistro. But call it “pigeon,” and people start judging you and your life choices.

I am here to say that pigeons, especially our native band-tailed pigeon, ought to be as cherished as the mountain quail and blue grouse they live among. All three are symbols of the Sierra, of early autumn days spent hiking dusty slopes, ears tuned, neck craned, shotgun ready. They are hard-won birds, to be cooked with reverence”.

You Can Read The Full Article Here  or at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

—————————————————————————

And, let me add that I could not agree more. Pigeons of all kinds have always fascinated me, and to be honest they are largely responsible for my shotgunning skills, such as they are.

I have yet to hunt for band-tailed pigeons, but I can tell you I hope to try that sometime soon. They will be on the dinner table too, providing I can get lucky.

I’ll keep you posted…

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Black Canyon Wing and Clay

BH Outdoors Hunting Dog Training Pack – Strong Bumpers – Retrieving Dummies – Lanyard – Work/Training Whistle – Durable Throw Rope Dummy (Sports)

Team Realtree Natural Canvas Hunting, Retrieving, Training Dummy 6 Pieces Total 4 Canvas Dummies (2 orange, 2 natural) Readily holds scents For use on water or land Size Small Each dummy is; 9″ long + Throwing rope, 2″ diameter Durable and Floatable Work whistle/dog whistle Orange lanyard Team Realtree Hunting Dog Training Kit Durable Long-Lasting Canvas Material Includes Throwing Rope Floatable Dummies that can also be dog toys Whistle is Versatile Dog Training Tool which Produces Varied Sounds and Pitches

New From:$19.99 USD In Stock
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“Soak it up, go into it softly and thoughtfully, with love and understanding, for another year must pass before you can come this way again”.

Gene Hill, Wingshooter’s Autumn, 1986

 

October 2015

Recently, I was honored to be an invited guest of a member of Black Canyon Wing and Clay in Delta, Colorado.

The use of their hunter friendly facilities and their gracious hospitality will be forever appreciated. And thank god for good friends too.

Give them a call if you are looking for a well-managed shooting property and a fine place to train your dogs or spend a stress free afternoon in a field of upland birds. And oh by the way, a round of wobble trap shooting is a whole bunch of good time (if you hit them).

Here’s a small look at some of the fun, and a couple of game recipes too.

A hunter, Michael McCarty, poses with a shotgun and a ring-necked at Black Canyon Wing and Clay Shooting Resort in Delta, Colorado. A great place to shoot trap and enjoy a hunting shooting reserve
Who Could Ever Tire of Pheasant in the Hand

 

Hunter’s “Go To” Pheasant Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • juice from one lemon

This should be enough marinade for about 4 pheasant breasts and 8 legs. If not, adjust amount of marinade to the amount of meat (It is not necessary to completely immerse it). Marinade in covered dish in refrigerator. Best cooked on a hot grill. Don’t over cook.

*This is a fairly powerful marinade, so shorter marinade times of 20 minutes to 2 hours are best.

**It is difficult not to overdo it with this simple marinade. It’s that good! This works equally well on many kinds of wild game. Give it a try on some prime elk steaks and you won’t regret it.

A upland game bird hunter shoots some wobble trap at Black Canyon wing and Clay in Delta, Colorado. Trap shooting is a great way to practice your shotgunning skills for upland birds
Time To Check The Eye
An upland game hunter poses with a Rooster Pheasant at black Canyon Wing and Clay in delta, Colorado
Pheasants Always Make You Smile
skeeze / Pixabay
Logo found on a pickup truck for the Black Canyon Wing and Clay in Delta, colorado. A colorado shooting and hunting preserve reserve
Where The Action Is!

“Now you know your first big cock pheasant is a sight to see. There maybe ain’t nothing as dramatic, whether it’s an elephant or a polar bear. A cock pheasant is like a mallard duck. Maybe the pintail or the canvasback is better to eat, but there is nothing in the flying department as wonderfully gaudy as a cock pheasant of a he-mallard. Well, maybe a peacock, but we have so few peacocks around our neck of the woods”. – Robert Ruark

Read More About Black Canyon Here.

CHUKHAR WITH SHALLOTS

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 4 chukhar
  • 1 pound shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

Brown the birds in 1/2 of the butter and salt and pepper to taste. Set Aside. Add the shallots, and cook until soft. Set shallots aside. Melt the remaining butter and add flour; stir for two minutes. Add broth, return the shallots, chukhars, and thyme. Cover and cook until tender (about 15 or 20 minutes).

At Mesa's Edge by Eugenia Bone. A celebration of the food from Colorado's North Fork Valley of the Gunnison
Bring On The Chukhars, and the Pheasants Too!

*This recipe was taken from At Mesa’s Edge: Cooking and Ranching in Colorado’s North fork Valley by Eugenia Bone. It provides great insight into the Gunnison Country and the unique pleasures of this area.

You May Also Like Our Thoughts On  Pheasant Hunting HERE, and a recipe for pheasant burritos that we love.

By Michael Patrick McCarty

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https://steemit.com/hunting/@huntbook/sporting-destinations-black-canyon-wing-and-clay