Friday, July 30, 2010

Check out them gams

Helping a bit

Albert has been spending his time across the ocean, doing his duty to the people there. He's put together a program to help the troops. If you get a chance -take a look and maybe donate a yo-yo.


YoYos for Troops

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Instant Improvement

A few weeks ago I spent a little time building a short go to ground tunnel. I have been working with Gordon off and on since then, and Graci has even played around in there a bit.

Gordon will race down the tunnel, exiting out of the 90 degree turn for a treat like it is nothing now.

Last few times I have had him out hunting in the field, he had been tentative going into holes and had to be coaxed to go in and investigate.

So we took it to the dunes today to see how he would do.

Last time we were here we found where fox had dug into the dunes, and Gordon did face off against something.

It is too late in the year now, and it has been awfully hot, so I didn't expect to find anything underground.

But Gordon was ready.

We weren't long in the sand before we came across our first hole.

Gordon made a B line for it.

No hesitation, he just plunged right in, flushing the first game of the day.


Gordon taught it a lesson, then plunged deeper into the hole.

He sniffed around then backed out, determining that there was nobody home.

We continued to meander through the dunes, coming across some cool turtle tracks in the sand.

We followed them for a bit. Gordon loves being off leash wandering through the brush and field. You can see it in his face and demeanor. He marks everything he can, then moves on to his next discovery. he wanders, but never far, and usually comes when called.

We found some bones strewn about so I guessed there would be more fox holes close by.

We did come across more holes.

Gordon wasn't afraid of any of them.

He checked them all out briefly, then we would move on.

We never did see a fox below ground, but Gordon did chase one through the dunes before he lost it in the tangles of grape vines.

I would call the day a complete success.

We are going to extend the go-to-ground tunnel and keep working though there. I'll introduce some caged quarry soon and see how Gordon reacts. I expect to see more improvement, especially as he gets to see more time in the field.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Apparently, my email has been hijacked. emails have been sent out endorsing some website somewhere. If you get any messages like this from me - please ignore them!

I've tried to contact my address book to let every one know that this is happening, but the email got blocked by Yahoo - as it might be spam.

Kinda funny when you think about it.

So if you get email from me with 'Hey' in the subject line - ignore it please.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Human, Animal connection

It's probably not news to you, but some researches believe that the human animal connection may have been an important component to the development of humans as a species.

"Every mouthful you feed to another species is one that your own children do not eat. On the face of it, caring for another species is maladaptive, so why do we humans do this?"

Shipman suggests that the animal connection was prompted by the invention of stone tools 2.6-million years ago. "Having sharp tools transformed wimpy human ancestors into effective predators who left many cut marks on the fossilized bones of their prey," Shipman said. Becoming a predator also put our ancestors into direct competition with other carnivores for carcasses and prey. As Shipman explains, the human ancestors who learned to observe and understand the behavior of potential prey obtained more meat. "Those who also focused on the behavior of potential competitors reaped a double evolutionary advantage for natural selection," she said.

Over time, Shipman explains, the volume of information about animals increased, the evolutionary benefits of communicating this knowledge to others increased, and language evolved as an external means of handling and communicating information through symbols. "Though we cannot discover the earliest use of language itself, we can learn something from the earliest prehistoric art with unambiguous content. Nearly all of these artworks depict animals. Other potentially vital topics -- edible plants, water, tools or weapons, or relationships among humans -- are rarely if ever shown," Shipman said. She sees this disproportion as evidence that the evolutionary pressure to develop an external means of storing and transmitting information -- symbolic language -- came primarily from the animal connection.

Shipman concludes that detailed information about animals became so advantageous that our ancestors began to nurture wild animals -- a practice that led to the domestication of the dog about 32,000 years ago.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Building a go-to-ground tunnel

In an effort to get Gordon more accepting of going to ground, I've decided to make him a tunnel to practice on.

I'm following the basic plan outlined in American Working Terriers.

I've altered it just a bit, making the tunnel 8x8 instead of 9x9, as I know Gordon is small enough to fit. The tunnel is still a work in progress, but we've been able to start training already.

I started by cutting 4 feet off of a 4x8 piece of plywood. My main tunnel would be four feet long, and I would have some left over to make a 90 degree turn, and another stretch of tunnel later.

I cut eight inch wide strips from the one side, leaving space left over in the middle. Then I measured out a 90 degree angle and cut that out as well.

I put together three of the sides by screwing them into cross pieces made by 1x2 scrap. I hinged the fourth side so that I can open the top of the tunnel should I ever need to. I've closed it temporarily with one screw.

Then we start training.

It was easy at first. Put some food at the front of the tunnel. Dog comes and gets it. I would put the food further back.

Gordon would start by balking, then barking at the end of the tunnel. Then he scurried a little way in. then further, and next time further.

Right now, he'll go all the way to the end of a four foot tunnel, but is still tentative. Next we will add a corner and more tunnel.

Once the dog is running the tunnel, we'll add a critter and see how he reacts to that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A couple - o - links

I've just been browsing some of the blogs on the roll and have come up with a few good links you may want to check out - depending on your interests of course.

Middle East's rarest bird is on the verge of extinction, but their is new hope. I loved the picture of the Northern Bald Ibis.

Albert lists the problems with Mountain top removal in Appalachia.

The earliest evidence of a tortoise kept as a pet was found in Britain recently. It's bones were mixed in with the other family cats and dogs.

A great story from Tom about his valentines adventures and bad advice from the vampire in the car.

My Son decided to try vegetarianism this week, but didn't last longer than two days. There's some information to consider for plant eaters - or for some of them.
...plants can sense the world around them, process information from their environment, and respond to this information by altering their growth and development. In fact, plants respond to changes in their environment in ways that many would find surprisingly sophisticated, although botanists have known of these abilities for centuries.

There is a good article about the "thoughts and feelings" of plants. Check this one out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Are you the Problem?

There is a great discussion over at The Mindful Carnivore. "When Hunters Ruin the Hunt" is about the ethics of hunting and how hunters are seen in the eyes of much of the public. Tovar closes his post with these words.

When I consider the future of hunting—how it will fare in the public eye, and what meaning it will have for generations to come—it’s not anti-hunters I worry about.

The post is excellently written, as usual for Tovar, and thought provoking.

Check it out -weigh in.

Is this you?

From the Encyclopedia Brittanica

Long Time Coming

I don't know what the numbers are for falconers that belong to their local or state falconry club - but you should be involved.

I got a series of emails yesterday. One was from the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission and the other two were from NC Falconers Guild.

What did they say, you ask?

2010-11 Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations also Effective Aug. 1

RALEIGH, N.C. (July 12, 2010) – The proposed hunting and trapping rule changes approved by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission in March 2009 but delayed for legislative review will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2010.......

Then there was lots of lawyerspeak, and about halfway down the page it said..

  • Allow falconry on Sundays, except for migratory game birds.

Yee - Haw!!

It has been a few years now that NC falconers have been working on getting Sunday falconry allowed, and it has finally happened. It has taken public meetings, letters, emails and a few well placed words to local senators. While I cannot claim to have played any sort of pivotal role, I did play, and it took lots of people to make this happen.

This is a huge breakthrough for me, as I often hunt in the same areas as deer hunters. We've come into conflict before.

My hunting is loud and fast as I chase squirrels through the canopy (I'm not usually in the canopy, that would be the squirrels) - deer hunters often don't like this. ( though I had one guy thank me for flushing the deer he shot).

Sunday hunting takes me out of conflict with those deer hunters. It should open up areas for hunting earlier in the season.

The season is coming - time to get ready.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Know thy quarry

Believe it or not, I have researched squirrels. I have read books about them (yes, their are books about squirrels).

I have studied how to track them on soft earth and snow. I've tried to learn their habits, though they can be unpredictable. It is important to understand the animals that you hunt.

Apparently, I'm not the only one with a twisted sense of curiosity.

This is an article from the New York Times:

You don’t get to be one of the most widely disseminated mammals in the world — equally at home in the woods, a suburban backyard or any city “green space” bigger than a mousepad — if you’re crushed by every Acme anvil that happens to drop your way.

“When people call me squirrely,” said John L. Koprowski, a squirrel expert and professor of wildlife conservation and management at the University of Arizona, “I am flattered by the term.”

The Eastern gray tree squirrel, or Sciurus carolinensis, has been so spectacularly successful that it is often considered a pest. The International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the squirrel on its list of the top 100 invasive species. The British and Italians hate gray squirrels for outcompeting their beloved native red squirrels. Manhattanites hate gray squirrels for reminding them of pigeons, and that goes for the black, brown and latte squirrel morphs, too.

Yet researchers who study gray squirrels argue that their subject is far more compelling than most people realize, and that behind the squirrel’s success lies a phenomenal elasticity of body, brain and behavior. Squirrels can leap a span 10 times the length of their body, roughly double what the best human long jumper can manage. They can rotate their ankles 180 degrees, and so keep a grip while climbing no matter which way they’re facing....

It's an interesting article on squirrels and squirrel behavior. Check it out.

Change of focus

It's mid July - the height of my lack of falconry.

But three things happened just recently that has made me reevaluate my state of mind right now.

Normally, by now depression has set in. If you haven't read much about falconry and falconers - the sport is often described not as a hobby - but more of a life style. Some even go so far to say that it becomes an addiction.

I lean more towards addiction. For many, when you are not hunting, your thinking about it, yearning for it. For many, your looking for your next fix.

This time of year is the depressing doldrums of nothingness.

But three things happened just lately to change my focus.

1. Changes in the laws
I got a call from Andrew the other day. He is my former apprentice and friend. We hunt together most of the time. Anyway - he had been involved in some legislative wrangling and he called to tell me that Sunday hunting for falconry may become a reality in the coming season. yoo - hoo!

2. Mail
I got a letter from Fish and Wildlife renewing my propagation permit. While the letter was welcome, it made me realize that my raptor breeding has been a bust again this year. Neither of the birds seemed in the least bit interested in pursuing each other romantically. I need to close the door between their cages and start monitoring their weight again.

3. Call
I got a call from someone over the weekend. He lives a few towns over and has been "interested in falconry his whole life". It looks like I may be getting an apprentice. This will only be my second in my falconry career - but I kind of live on the end of the earth. He isn't in a position to trap a bird this fall, so the next year will be devoted to studying his books and building his facilities. He'll be spending the winter hunting with Andrew and I - and figuring out if this is what he wants to do.

What's it all mean?

It's time to get ready. Really, falconry season is just around the corner. Trapping begins in less than two months, squirrel season opens soon after.

Time to get permission to hunt on other people's land.

Time to get out the nets and BCs and trapping equipment.

Time to start securing bait animals (I can never trap enough starlings).

Time to order leather and make new equipment.

Time to figure out what birds I want to fly next year - Do I want a falcon?

So much to do - it's time to focus.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Stop calling

I'm not sure what to make of this one. But it is interesting to note. If we want to save the worlds food supply, we might need to stop using cell phones.

What, doesn't make sense?

Well, your cell phone may be effecting the pollination of our flowers.

For years, bee populations have been declining, and a recent study questions whether cell-phone radiation may be to blame.

Last year, bee populations dropped 17 percent in England, according to the British Bee Association, and almost 30 percent in America, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Since the 1980s, the varroa mite has been considered a prime suspect as the killer of billions of bees around the world. It's a parasitic mite, sucking the blood of the bee, and it can also reportedly spread a virus that causes a bee's wing to become deformed. Much time and energy has gone into fighting the varroa mite -- New Zealand, for instance, plans to soon release bees that are genetically resistant to varroa mites.

And while this news doesn't really get the varroa mite off the hook -- or the hive beetle, another pest that threatens our pollinating friends -- the study, conducted by researchers at Panjab University in India, suggests that cell-phone radiation may also be hurting the bee cause.

Researchers fitted cell phones to a hive and powered up the phones for two 15-minute periods each day. Three months later, the honey stopped. The Queen Bee also had trouble with her egg production, and the size of the hive diminished.

There may be reason to sound the alarm. Bees pollinate 90 percent of commercial crops, worth $12 billion in the United States, according to CNN. But almost every country has a thriving beekeeping industry. A lot of money -- not to mention food -- stands to be lost if bees someday die off.

Read the rest of the article here.