We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, June 9. 2021
His report is that in a couple of days they caught about 70 Brookies, from fingerlings up to full-size (10-12").
Wiki has a good entry on Brook Trout
Friday, June 4. 2021
I have claimed, rightly or wrongly, that there are no wild-bred Brook Trout in the northeast US. To persuade me otherwise, I'd need to see a photo of some fingerlings in a stream.
There are two main issues:
The foremost is that most streams become too warm in summertime to support a Brook Trout population. That has always been true. (Yes, Brookies are the only species native to the Northeast US. They like cold water). Hatchery trout can survive in springtime, for a while, in non-trout streams.
Second issue is predators, and the worst is the introduced (from Europe) Brown Trout. That fish will eat any baby fish or fish eggs it can find. They prefer meat to bugs. I oppose any stream stocking with Brownies unless they are streams that would never support Brookies anyway. The ordinary fish predators like mink and otters can be put up with but always kept the Brookies at low numbers everywhere they could breed.
Given the popularity of fly-fishing, it's up to states to decide what their stocking programs should be. I get it. Fly-fishing is a beautiful experience and it is assumed that pretty much all stream- stocked fish will either be caught, fall to predation, or die from heat by June or July because they no longer have breeding populations to support hundreds of anglers. Stocking is required to accommodate all of the avid springtime anglers. Even the southern US states have been doing this.
Friday, May 21. 2021
Saturday, February 27. 2021
Wednesday, January 20. 2021
This northern chicken-like (gallinaceous) bird prefers first-growth areas, with access to water and open areas. I most often find them in aspen, birch or alder thickets, but they can be seen in piney woods, old orchards, ferny woods, and in streambeds. In regions where birch and aspen are the climax forest, they can be found everywhere or anywhere, but never in large numbers. They are most commonly encountered when they flush with a startling whirr of wings.
Once known as "fool hens" for their tameness, Ruffies have somehow learned to avoid human encounters once they have had contact with them.
These birds do not migrate, and winter very well, since they are very happy to thrive on tree buds all winter, especially protein-rich aspen and birch buds. Their numbers have been declining in the Northeast as the old farms have become either mature woods, or housing developments, but clear-cutting of mature woodlands is a great help to them, as it is to most species of wildlife (it imitates the natural effect of wildfire to regenerate forest succession, which is key to habitat diversity and thus species diversity).
The Ruffed Grouse is the noblest game bird in the US. Wary, they do not often hold to a dog's point and when they do flush, their flight assumes warp speed immediately and is unpredictable. (Gwynnie's theory is that they have a random-direction-generating gyroscope in their brains.) They have an uncanny talent for putting tree trunks between the hunter and themselves, or for flying at your face, or flying between you and you pal, whose life you may (or may not) value more highly than you value bagging a Ruffie. And even the most considerate hunters ( yes - you, Craig) will pop off a snap shot regardless of whose bird it is, and rightly so. You cannot wait with Ruffies.
Grouse hunters (a very special and scarce, and, to my mind, elite fraternity of intrepid woodsy folks who don't mind cuts, bruises, wet boots, and hours-long struggles through underbrush, raspberry patches, thorny thickets of hawthorn, and impenetrable streamside alder growths) require very quick reflexes and a high degree of "relaxed alertness", but they require, most of all, strong legs for all of the hours of difficult wilderness walking which is required to find these wonderful creatures. It is said that grouse "are killed with legs, not guns." Dogs help, a bit, but they are huntable without dogs. When a hunter finds one, they are generally very difficult to shoot such that every Ruffie is a trophy and is regarded as such. And they are also regarded as a rare gourmet treat, because, with their subtle woodsy flavor, there is no finer fowl for the table.
Why "ruffed"? The males have a dramatic black neck ruff which they display for courtship purposes, while they fan their tails and strut around like little Thanksgiving turkeys. Their courtship drumbeat from an old log is also one of their well-known features: many have heard their deep thumping from deep in the woods, and have no idea that it is just a horny male Ruffie looking for a date.
Read more about the wonderful Ruffed Grouse here. The very worthy Ruffed Grouse Society, which Maggie's Farm supports, pays for research on grouse and woodcock ecology, which benefits all woodlands and woodland creatures.
Tuesday, November 24. 2020
At the turn of the century, the Eastern Wild Turkey was nearly eradicated by hunting and habitat loss, and was entirely absent in the Northeast.
By the mid 1800s, the woodlands of New England had disappeared for farming, charcoal production, and lumbering.
But the woodlands have returned as farming moved west, and the wierd gobble now can be heard even in residential areas.
Thanks to dramatically successful conservation and transplantation efforts, there are now estimated to be 7 million of these huge iridescent birds, which Ben Franklin felt to be so quintessentially American that he wanted one on the US Seal. (Video of the turkey's comeback here.)
There are six species of wild turkey in the New World, and none elsewhere. (The domestic turkey is likely a descendent of the large Mexican species.) It is the Eastern which we feature here which has, in recent years, been transplanted successfully west of the Mississippi, and elsewhere.
As a sought-after game bird, the turkey's habits have been much studied. They are wary and cautious. In most areas, there is a spring and a fall hunting season for turkey, and they are pursued with bow or shotgun. It is the one game bird which it is sporting to shoot on the ground.
I have hunted them on a couple of occasions. Never managed to shoot one, though. Had a good time however, sitting at the base of a tree in camo, watching the other wild critters pass by.
Does the wild turkey taste different from a supermarket bird? Yes - the wild turkey tastes like turkey and the supermarket bird tastes like a supermarket.
Saturday, August 8. 2020
Thursday, July 23. 2020
We're talking about domesticated dogs, from Chihuauah to Malamutes - all genetically-modifed versions of the Wolf, designed to serve or entertain humans in some ways.
The domestic dog appears to be a neotonal wolf.
They are certainly trainable and well-adapted to interacting with humans, but not as clever as many other mammals. (I hear some reader thinking "But my dog is different. Yeah, right.").
Why do humans anthropomorphise animals? I am a dog guy, and know how easy it can be to view a dog as a pal. They sure can be great companions if well-trained, with none of the demands of human relationships.
I guess I am talking about pets, not pure working dogs. Are they pretend people?
Thursday, May 21. 2020
Springtime in New England is squid time, especially from Narragansett Bay to Cape Cod. Calamari. Delicious if not over-cooked into squid bubble gum. Squidding is mostly a nighttime game. Lights seem to attract squid.
The youtube below is recreational squidding. For commercial squidding, here.
Sunday, January 26. 2020
Supershoots throw up 1000 birds in a morning.
When I was younger, I enjoyed these shoots a lot. Plenty of fun for the "sports". Now, not so much because it just feels like slaughter. I do enjoy the nice lunches and drinks afterwards. I now prefer real bird hunting in the north woods. Killing birds is fun, but hunt is a real thing. Good exercise, and you miss most of the time.
An inside look:
Sunday, December 1. 2019
My love is grouse hunting in the North Woods. BD is the same. Hours of tramping over hill and dale and marsh, hoping to find a stray grouse or woodcock. With dog, of course, preferably pointer. You barely need 12 bullets in your pocket for a whole day and if you come back to the lodge with a grouse or two, it's a banner day.
Both strenuous activities require layering and you need to add an inch to your trousers to handle cold weather under-stuff. Also, if age adds an inch (which it should not, God forbid), take it into account too. Best thing: suspenders. Filson tincloth winter gear requires them. This gear is not for "bird" hunting in the southland but it is good for brush-busting in the northern regions.
Hiking, especially mountain hiking, keeps you warm and you peel layers off into your daypack as you begin to sweat. Bird hunting is slower and colder, more methodical, tactical, and there is no daypack to put stuff into.
Duck and goose hunting is another story entirely.
What is your experience?
Thursday, November 21. 2019
Generally, Raynaud's is not a problem with good fleecy gloves, but you can not do shotgun shooting with those. Bulky gloves do not fit through a trigger guard, at least quickly, and are not right for holding a firearm firmly.
Assuming we have some upland hunters among our readers, what do you like use use?
Sunday, September 8. 2019
Wednesday, August 14. 2019
Tuesday, April 16. 2019
A recent conversation involved exercising our dogs.
A neighbor runs his dogs by letting them chase his car around the neighborhood each evening until they are fatigued. That reminded me of how they get hounds in shape for fall hunting. In the southern US, you tie the dogs to a rope or chain to the back of your pickup and drive around dirt roads for a while. If you did that around here you would probably end up in jail.
Up here, it's not unusual to tire a hyper-energetic hunting dog, before a hunt, by letting him run around the woods with a 5-6' length of chain on his collar. That can help an overly-exuberant dog focus on his task afterwards.
That's what we do in the gym each morning to ourselves so it is far from abuse. Years ago, I would run with our Lab each morning 5 or 6 miles. Being a well-trained dog, she needed no leash for road running. We had fun. And, of course, any dog loves a few hours to run free in the wilderness too. That's the best for them, going full dog. Dog-training snob that I am, I hate any use of leashes (except maybe on human children, pet Cheetahs, and dancing bears).
How do our readers make sure their dogs get the exercise they require every day? Don't tell me you "walk them" like a yo-yo. Walking is neither exercise for dog nor human being. Exception: people or dogs recovering from something.
Sunday, April 14. 2019
I tried to find out to what extent that fishery is stocked, but I could not find the answer. Still, except for Lake Trout, almost all trout fisheries in the US are stocked.
He had one day of 24" snow, but otherwise good (chilly) weather and good fishing.
A pic he sent me below, and another below the fold -
Continue reading "Utah Fly-fishing"
Friday, April 12. 2019
I blame global cooling. In any event, It's one more animal to try not to hit with your car.
Saturday, April 6. 2019
Tuesday, November 27. 2018
I have many more Iceland pictures to post, but I've been busy. We left knowing our pet bulldog was on her last legs. She'd been diagnosed with congestive heart failure 2 weeks prior to our trip. Making the decision on what to do with her was easy, Mrs. Bulldog said we'd go and let a friend watch our baby. Everything worked out for the best, and we came home to a happy pup, all of 12 1/2 years old. With Thanksgiving coming, she'd get to see all her favorite family members. We took our annual picture on the beach, which she's featured prominently in for all of her years. She was pleased to see her bull terrier cousin, her Nanny and Poppy, and all the people who made her happy over the years. She had even taken a trip down the shore to see my family.
Continue reading "The Loss of a Pet"
Saturday, September 8. 2018
In addition to house-wide de-cluttering, I am facing a de-cluttering of my daily work space. It is on the order of The Management.
Some urgency to it too, cuz the place is being re painted. In one cabinet I went through, far more ammo than I knew I had. I had no idea how much I had accumulated in there, including all game loads, plus steel loads, Bismuth loads, and Tungsten loads.
12 ga, 20 ga. Just no 16 ga, which I have come to like the best since inheriting my grandpa's 16 ga. I only like 20 ga for grouse and woodcock, and you do not need much ammo for that game because they are so difficult to find.
I have too many firearms too. I love to play with firearms and to shoot birds, ducks, and geese, but I found that I have more than I can ever use. Only so many Saturdays left and, as I say, retirement is not in my playbook.
I would do the night shift in a minimart rather than be useless.
Friday, August 10. 2018
Yes and no. Subject comes up because a pal alerted me to a litter of German Shorthairs, getting ready for the taking on Sept. 1. Their hunting pedigree is as good as it gets, so some $ is rightly involved since we aren't socialism yet where there are free champion hunting dogs.
Mrs. BD and I have rarely had a dog-free home, nor did her parents and my parents. And my grandparents, who were partial to Shepherds. I've had English Springers, Labs and (hunting? sort-of) standard poodles. Some of the most glorious times of my life have been grouse hunting in the Maine woods and in Manitoba woods and prairies (Sharptails there). Will a hunt-bred Standard Poodle point on a grouse or woodcock? Yes it can. It will chew up the darn Woodcock, tho.
I'll bet you never saw a Poodle on a hard point. Well, trust Bird Dog on that.
To me, a dog and a fireplace make a house a home. As I write that, it does sound primeval. Maybe I am a primitive male.
Here are my pros and cons, altho who ever made a decision based on such things?
- I love having a dog around. A dog also loves me the way no human could or should.
- A well-trained dog is an incomparable companion, and a well-trained hunting dog is a precious thing to you (and your hunting pals)
- Huge commitment. When I get a dog, I train the heck out of it. I know how. 40-minutes/day of training for at least 2 years. I want a dog that will heel to my knee without leash through a city street, a 5-mile suburban jog, or a woodland swamp. Chase a squirrel or a deer? No chance unless I give a release signal. I want a dog who will respond to whistle, voice, and hand commands. I want a dog who will Sit-Stay in front of Dunkin Donuts when I go inside. My past dogs learned those things. Any dog will - it's up to the owner. A dog's behavior is a reflection of the Master. Never ever blame the dog. I've heard people say "My dog is difficult to train", as if their dog were special and wild somehow. Pure bullshit. It's on them. Training is work, and no dog yummies. Just "Good dog."
- Re Basic Training. Do I use a shock collar outdoors? You betcha. It's not cruel. It gives you a dog you can live with. After two or three little shocks, the 3-second tone before the buzz is all it takes to remind them that you are God. "Come" or the "Come" whistle means hustle back to the Boss's knee. Dogs do like to be well-trained. Like children, training gives them Purpose and it is all relational.
- Hunt-training. Fairly costly. I can handle basic to semi-advanced obedience training, but not hunt training. You have to send them to camp for that. Then you have to go to camp with them to learn it yourself. Hand signals are the best. My last dog Paco was quite good with them, but not so good with some other things.
- I do not do much of the sort of hunting that I love best anymore. I don't know why, because I can bust brush and alder swamps all day better than I ever could. My favorite is grouse hunting in the Great North Woods, with the Moose etc. I rarely refuse a chance to hunt pheasants etc. at a hunting club, but the wilderness hunts are my favorites. In 6 hours in grouse habitat, you might fire zero to twice with your 20 ga., but you and the dog will have a great outing anyway.
Hey - you're pointing on a White-Footed Mouse, silly dog!
Wednesday, August 1. 2018
Friday, June 1. 2018
Everything except humans. Menhaden (aka Mossbunker aka Bunker) are the prime bait fish of the Atlantic coast. Why the whales in New York Harbor? Menhaden.
This is a good conservation story, about 10 minutes long.
Friday, May 25. 2018
Are there any wild Brookies (aka Speckled Trout) left in their homeland of eastern, mainly northeastern, North America? I mean by that is whether there are any wild-bred Brookies left.
I expect some arguments, but my guess is that, if there are any, they are very few and very local. Brookies are sensitive and delicate fish with exacting habitat requirements. They want cool or cold, well-oygenated water. If you want to fly fish for wild Brookies, Patagonia is the place to go. The transplants there have naturalized and done well.
Interesting facts about Brook Trout (beside the fast that they are actually Char, not trout) is that they do not normally inhabit "brooks." They are river (or lake) fish which only migrate to small brooks and streams in the fall to breed. And while adult Brookies will eat anything that moves or falls into the water, their preferred foods are minnows and crustaceans rather than bugs and flies.
In the northeast, adult wild Brookies lived in large, deep streams and smaller rivers like the upper Connecticut, the Housatonic, the upper Hudson, the Androscoggin, the Penobscot, the Saco, the Merrimack, the Delaware, etc. and in lakes like Champlain, Winnipesaukee, the Rangeley Lakes, the Finger Lakes, the Adirondack lakes, and even the eastern Great Lakes. Smaller, shallower waters get too warm for trout health. In fall, as the waters cooled and waters rose, they migrated up the drainages to breed - thus "Brook" Trout. (Natural History of the Brook Trout)
Overfishing, pollution, and dams pretty much destroyed the Brookie life cycle.
The result is that trout fishermen (meaning fly-fishermen) east of the Mississippi basically rely on stocked fish for recreation (as they do in most of the US). These are raised in hatcheries and typically released in early Spring into habitat in which they are likely to survive at least for a few months until the water temperatures warm and the health of the fish deteriorates. They may have better luck in larger waters but will have no homing instincts.
Even in the famous trout "streams" in Pennsylvania, you are catching hatchery fish, usually a mix of species including the Brown (originally from Europe) and Rainbow (native to the Western US). This spring, Pennsylvania stocked 3.5 million hatchery trout of mixed varieties to keep the anglers happy.
Fishing licenses pay for those fish. Adult hatchery trout can cost between $2-4 apiece depending on fish size and volume of the order, not including delivery.
Friday, May 18. 2018
Each year around this time I need to refresh my (poor) fly-fishing skills. I get out in the yard and renew some muscle memory. It's a beautiful, silent form of outdoor recreation.
This guy is a good, articulate teacher of this delightful sport which is far more challenging - more sporting and more aesthetic - than trolling, lure-casting, or Southern-style bass fishing with a big outboard engine.
As we always say here about fishing and hunting, if you really need the food to feed the kids, go to the supermarket....or put a worm on a line with a lead sinker and a barbed hook.
Fly-fishing is a good sport for gals, too, although some of my pals' clubs do not allow females on the grounds. Guys need their own places to act like kids, free of female judgement.
(Page 1 of 19, totaling 471 entries) » next page