Monday, November 29, 2004

Two Piece Pack Shovel





This two-piece shovel fits invisibly inside a pack, and can be quickly shortened for deep hole digging where a shovel with a one-foot handle is needed.

Making the shovel is suprisingly simple. The new handle is made of half-inch galvanized pipe fittings from Home Depot. The shovel head is from an old long-handled shovel I had in the garage. This was a cheap stamped-metal shovel, but it should be fine since I intend to use it only as an occasional "poachers shovel" rather than my main digging tool.

To begin construction, I cut the old handle off the shovel, ground off the side rivet, drilled as much of the old wooden handle out of the socket as possible, and hammered what remained of the wood out of the throat with a bit of rebar driven backward up the slot.

The key to the pipe handle connection is to use an in-line pipe connector with a short piece of pipe extending down into the throat of the shovel socket. This pipe extension (see top picture) provides metal-to-metal contact inside the shovel socket, and gives the epoxy a lot of surface area to hold on to.

The pipe connector and short pipe extension are screwed together and slathered with PC-7 epoxy which is the consistency of tar. PC-7 is very strong epoxy and I used this same glue for making my Bertha-spoon which has held up to a lot of abuse.

The pipe connector and pipe extension are slid into the hollow throat of the shovel head (pipe connector out, pipe in), with care taken to keep the epoxy well away from the threaded hole where the pipe handle will be later be fitted.

Once the pipe connector socket is fitted flush with the shovel socket, it's time to thread on the full pipe handle. Once this is done, twist the "T" handle tight so that it lines up right for digging. The handle should be twisted in very tight because you will want the handle tight when digging.

Once the handle is lined up right, set the whole thing aside for at least 48 hours so that the epoxy can completely cure.

Once dry, the shovel can be disassembled and the pipe threads given a shot of oil to lubricate them. A plastic sleeve cap should be fitted over the threads of the shovel handle, and a rubber cork put into the shovel head, in order to keep out dirt. Another alternative is to tape them over with the same kind of plastic tape used on a deben collar.

This shovel digs fairly well. The pipe handle gives the shovel some weight which helps make digging easier. The pipe handle is a bit thin and a bit cold in your hand, but it is a strong handle and digging with it has been no problem.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The True History of the German Hunt Terrier



The development of the German Hunt Terrier (Jagdterrier or Jagdt terrier or Jagd terrier) has to be put within a historical context that involves both a strong nationalistic sentiment and a desire to keep, create or recreate "pure German" breeds.

Between the two World Wars, game managers in Germany were focused on getting rid of "foreign" or introduced species, and bringing back now-extinct species that figured prominently in the mythology of the nation.

One of the pioneers of this peculiar quest was Lutz Heck, the curator of the Berlin Zoo, who went on to "back breed" primitive cattle and horses in order to "recreate" the extinct Auroch ( the kind of wild cattle seen in the cave paintings at Lascaux, France) and the Tarpan (a kind of primitive forest pony). Heck was also instrumental in the recreation of an extinct subspecies of zebra called the "Quagga".

Heck's interest in dogs was driven in part by his passion for hunting, and in part by a kind of strange and over-heated nationalism mixed with a desire to see what could be done with selective breeding. A social climber and decided brown-noser, Lutz Heck and his brother Heinz were men who courted power and counted among their friends both Adolph Hitler and Hermann Goring.

Even as pathological nationalism and a sick interest in genetic engineering were rising in Germany, terriers were also rising to the height of fashion in much of Europe and the United States. The Allied Terrier Show was taken over by Charles Crufts in 1886 and was the largest dog show in the world after World War I, while the first breed-specific dog publication anywhere was a magazine devoted to fox terriers. The Westminster Dog Show was begun in 1907, and the first winner was a fox terrier. A fox terrier won again in 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1915, 1916, and 1917.

A fascination with terriers, fervent nationalism, and a propensity towards genetic engineering were braided together when Lutz Heck presented four black and tan fell terriers -- similar to what we now would call a Patterdale terrier -- to Carl Eric Gruenewald and Walter Zangenbert. Gruenewald was a "cynologist" (a self-styled dog man with an interest in genetics) and Zangenbert was a dedicated hunter with an interest in fox terriers.

It did not take much prodding on Heck's part to convince Gruenewald and Zangenbert that what the world needed was a true German Hunt Terrier to compete (and of course trump) the British and American fox terriers in the field.

Gruenewald and Zangenbert added to their team Chief Forester R. Fiess and Dr. Herbert Lackner, men with land for a kennel, and the financial means to support it over a decade-long quest..

An early problem was that the black and tan terriers selected as the core breeding stock and deemed "ideal hunters" based on color alone were, in fact, not all that great at hunting. As Gruenewald later wrote:


"We were glad to own fox terriers with the hunting color, and we hoped to use these four puppies successfully in breeding to establish a hunting fox terrier breed (jagdfoxterrier-stamm). From the viewpoint of hunting these four dogs were not bad, although they left much to desire. First we tried inbreeding, pairing brothers with sisters. But the results were not good. No wonder -- after all, the parents weren't real hunting dogs. The picture changed, though, when we bred our four 'originals' with our well-trained old hunting fox terriers. The beautiful dark color continued to be dominate. Dogs with a lot of the white color and spotted dogs were selected and eliminated from further breeding."


The breeding program for the Jagdterrier was German in every sense of the word: massive in scale and vicious in its selection criteria. At one point the men had 700 dogs in their kennels, and not a single dog was allowed to be placed outside of the kennel. Dogs that did not look the part, or which were deemed to be not of the quality desired, were shot. Early dogs were both smooth and rough coat, but the breeding program moved to get rid of smooth coats and the coat of the final product can best be described as "slape coated" -- a short, hard and wiry coat that sheds water and dirt while providing warmth in winter.

After only 10 years time the dogs were breeding more-or-less true, with a patterdale-like appearance, albeit with more red on the undercarriage.

The breeding program for the Jagdterrier was a bit confused as to the actual purpose of the dog. A great emphasis was put on the dog being multitalented -- able to go after fox and kill it underground, tackle a russian boar, retrieve birds, and scent track shot game. A small problem was that doing these tasks required a dog with different physiological characteristics!

A dog able to kill a fox underground will tend to be hard-mouthed, which is exactly the opposite of what you want in a retriever. At the same time a dog large enough to carry a bird through grass or tackle a russian boar will tend to be too big in the chest to easily go to ground in a natural fox den.

Never mind. After all, the rationale for the German Hunt Terrier was not that there was an unfilled need in the terrier world -- it was that there were no German terriers to put up as being "superiour" to those offered by the rest of the world.

The German Hunting Terrier Club (Deutscher Jagdterrier-Club) was founded in 1926, and the dog was warmly embraced in part because it was a trendy new breed, and in part because it fit well with the rising nationalistic sentiment within Germany at the time. It did not hurt at all that Lutz Heck was a darling of the Nazi regime and counted Hermann Goring among his closest friends.

In 1938 a German by the name of Max Thiel, Sr. bought his first Jagdterrier. Thiel hunted with this dog for only a few years before the start of World War II. During the war Thiel lost his dogs, but after the war he settled in Bavaria and purchased two female dogs, Asta and Naja.

In 1951 Thiel came to the U.S, bringing with him Naja. He soon sent for Asta, who was bred and shipped pregnant. In 1954, Armin Schwarz Sr., imported a "champion" sire named Axel, and a few more litters were promulgated. In March 1956, nine Jadgt terrier owners met in St. Louis, Missouri, and formed the Jagdterrier Club of America, with the expressed goal of getting the dog recognized by the American Kennel Club. In fact, the club did not prosper and eventually died out.

The Jadgt terrier did not take off in the U.S. for several reasons, not the least of which was that very few people hunted fox to ground. In addition, American hunters had excellent hunting dogs of their own. U.S. pit bull crosses may be the finest pig dogs in the world, while American-bred bird dogs are far superior to any terrier. Experienced raccoon and squirrel hunters were not about to give up their Treeing Walkers or Mountain Feists for some new- fangled dog no one could even pronounce.

In recent years, with the rise of interest in terrier work in the U.S., new lines of Jagdterriers have been imported, but the market for this dog seems to already be saturated. Pig hunters still prefer their pit bull crosses, bird hunters their pointers and retrievers, squirrel hunters their feists, and raccoon hunters their hounds.

Most working terriers in the U.S. are the same breeds found working in the U.K. and even Germany -- Jack Russell terriers, patterdales, dachshunds, and a few small lakelands and borders.

A small number of very small Jadgt terriers have found working homes in the U.S., but the breed standard calls for a 13- to 16-inch tall dog that weighs 16 to 22 pounds. This means that all but the smallest females are too big to work raccoon, possum and fox in the groundhog dens in which they are typically found here in the U.S.

With small Jack Russells from known working lines relatively easy to get, and patterdale terriers now flooding the market, the Jagd terrier is likely to remain an uncommon choice in the U.S.
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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Stellar Sticks

Stick making is a real art in the U.K., and their best work is head-and-shoulders above what we produce over here.

The stick below is carved from the coronet of a staghorn and fixed to a hazel shank. A Jack Russell terrier is "in the hole".





The gorgeous stick, above, is of a rat going for a block of cheese, and was carved in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, by John Marsh, and can be seen on his web site.

If you are interestested in taking a hand at carving your own stick, Keith Pickering, "the Stick Man," has a do-it-yourself catalogue and also sells finished sticks.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Awesome Angus

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Today is Thanksgiving, so a bit of good news.

Some months back I posted a picture of Angus, a patterdale that needed to be rehomed. Here's the same dog again (on the right, of course). Angus found a nice home in North Carolina with Jan Bell who came up hunting on Sunday.

Angus is a very enthusiastic, strong and smart dog that also happens to be a bit of a looker. I think this is going to be a very clever dog -- his face is certainly communicative, and he got along well with the other dogs. This is dog that wants to hunt and is eager to do so. Jan's a lucky lady -- and Angus is a lucky dog. May they have many productive years together.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Scottish Ban: Good for Terriers, Bad for Fox



The Scotland on Sunday newspaper reports:

Fox killings double since ban
Scots hunts despatch twice as many animals with marksmen outdoing hounds

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THE ban on hunting with dogs in Scotland has resulted in a doubling of the number of foxes killed, it emerged last night.

New figures obtained by Scotland on Sunday show that large numbers of foxes are now being shot by hunters, and dozens of the animals continue to be legally killed by hounds.

Scotland biggest hunt, the Buccleuch, killed an average of 50 foxes a season prior to the ban.

Figures produced by the huntsmen themselves show that for 2003-04, it alone killed more than 100.

The revelation has focused attention on the effectiveness of the hunting ban in Scotland. It follows a tumultuous week in Westminster where MPs controversially held out for a total ban south of the Border in the face of fierce opposition from the Lords and countryside campaigners.

The Scottish ruling, enforced in 2002, banned hunts from using packs of hounds to kill foxes, with MSPs claiming that such a "barbaric" act could no longer be tolerated in a modern Scotland.

It still allows hunts to use their dogs to 'flush' the animals out into the open, so that waiting guns can shoot them. Hounds still kill those foxes which are not fast enough to out-run them.

Instead of protecting foxes the law appears to have had the effect of creating several new ways of killings foxes, which has led to record figures for the main Scottish hunts.

Weak foxes are being killed as before by hounds, while those that escape are being killed by guns. Furthermore, prior to the ban, a fox was deemed to have 'won' if it managed to get underground before being chased down by the hounds. Hunts now, however, send terriers in after the fox and then shoot it when it emerges overground.

Scotland on Sunday has figures for four of the main hunts in Scotland, which found that a total of 35 foxes last year were killed by hounds without breaking the law.

In the 2003-04 season, the Buccleuch Hunt in Dumfriesshire killed 103 foxes, or just over one for each of the 101 days it set out.

Of that number, 58 foxes were shot by guns, 19 were killed by hounds who chased them down before they could be shot and a further 26 were shot after being chased out of a bolthole.

Huntmaster Trevor Adams said: "The figures for last year are twice as many as they were prior to the Watson bill. What you are looking at is one fox killed for every day's hunting."

The Berwickshire Hunt, which set out on 57 days of the year during the same season, killed a total of 51 foxes. Of those, 37 were shot by waiting marksmen, six were trapped by hounds and a further 18 were shot after being flushed from holes. Prior to the ban, the hunt killed on average between 30 and 40 foxes a year.

Sandy Thompson, master of the Berwickshire Hunt, said: "In my view there is more suffering for the fox now because as anyone who knows who has been clay-pigeon shooting, they don't hit it every time.

"Foxes are not easily shot and they are very tough animals. Thankfully, my guns [marksmen] have learnt a great deal since the ban came into force, but it does happen that you only wound the animal and it gets away and suffers for far longer," he added.

The Fife Hunt recorded a similar figure to Berwickshire. A total of 58 foxes were killed; 45 shot, nine killed by hounds and four shot after escaping from boltholes.

Meanwhile, the Kincardineshire Hunt killed a total of 82 foxes, with all but one killed by guns. Allan Murray, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, said hunts were not breaking the law by still killing foxes with hounds, because the intention was simply to flush the animals out to guns.

"But if it so happens that the fox is old or diseased then the hounds will account for it," he said. "Some foxes only wake up to what is happening too late. A hound is bred to the job. You can't train them to do otherwise."

The ban also meant that for the first time hunts were using terriers to drive foxes out of holes, he said. "Previously, if a fox went to ground, then it had won but because of these regulations, the hunt will now send in a terrier because it is a pest control service. This is nothing to do with animal welfare. The landowner who wants us as a pest control service doesn't want us to leave the fox in there."

Ross Minnett, from the campaign group Advocates for Animals, said the ban had at least curtailed "the brutal and barbaric practice of foxes being torn apart by a pack of dogs".

The Scottish ban is now set to be copied in England following last week's vote in the House of Commons to outlaw the practice from next February.

The government had tried to delay the enforcement of the ban but it is now set to become a powderkeg issue for ministers, coming immediately in the run-up to the widely expected general election next May.

Pro-hunt campaigners have promised to fight the ban in the courts and a series of major protests across the country.

Scotland has just 10 hunts but there are 318 packs in England and Wales. Around 8,000 jobs depend on hunting.


Monday, November 22, 2004

Take Time to Tape a Collar Properly

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Collars can go on the fritz while working in the field, especially if you are working creek bottoms, wet grassy fields, or if the dog takes a swim in a pond. A well-taped collar is the best way to make sure your collar works even when in wet hole or in wet conditions.

Take the time to tape the collar correctly. Collar taping should not be treated as an after thought -- it is a basic safety step, along with checking the collar against the box before you release your dogs. >> To read more

Sunday, November 21, 2004

American vs. European Badger?



In a December 29, 200 article in the Idaho Falls Post Register, Charlene Kaserman compares the British badger with its American counterpart:

"Comparing the American badger to its British cousin (Meles meles), sometimes called a brock, is rather like comparing a high-speed blender to a swizzle stick. The Mr. Badger, of 'Wind in the Willows,' is far milder and much more gregarious than his American counterpart. The brock's face is white with black stripes on either side, and the face and body are slender, more weasel-like. The brock lives in a more or less permanent system of burrows and shares its quarters with others. The American badger is solitary, always on the move, traveling perhaps five to eight miles a night and digging a new burrow each morning to hole up in through the day. Some British householders hand-feed their resident brocks. Anyone taking a notion to hand-feed an American badger would probably be better served by putting his hand directly into a buzz saw."


Friday, November 19, 2004

UK Bans Fox Hunting -- Court Challenges Now

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From The News Letter of Northern Ireland, Nov, 19. 2004:

Fury As Hunting Ban Finally Becomes Law


A ban on fox hunting will be in place by February 2005 causing outrage among Ulster's Countryside Alliance.

Commons Speaker Michael Martin last night told MPs the Parliament Act was being used for only the fourth time since 1949 - a move sparked by peers who earlier rejected a ban on hunting with dogs.

The bill was then given Royal-Assent, bringing to an end years of wrangling.

Countryside Alliance Ireland Chief Executive, Ronan Gorman, said the Prime Minister and the Government have allowed MPs to enact prejudiced,-discriminatory and divisive-legislation to ban hunting.

"The Labour Party has refused to accept a sensible solution to this issue and has abandoned its stated position that legislation would only be based on principle and evidence.

"It is imperative that people do not see this as the end of the campaign in England and Wales. It is not. It is the beginning of stage two. The Alliance-will now launch its challenge-to the validity of the 1949 Parliament Act. Our case centres on the argument that the 1949 Act was not properly passed and the Hunting Act is therefore unlawful.

"Mr Gorman said the second legal case will contend that the Hunting Bill infringes human rights under the European Convention.

As well as fox hunting, deerhunting and hare-coursing with dogs will now be outlawed in England and Wales.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Small Possum on a Cold Morning



Here's another picture from Sunday's farm scouting. The dogs found in a small hedge and Mountain was the first in. She didn't open up and bay, but all the dogs were interested and fighting to get in behind her. We pulled and staked them, and boxed Mountain directly under a broken-down barbed wire fence.

A quick two-foot dig, and we popped right between Mountain (who had to dig his way into the hole) and a small possum (who was hiding in the short dirt pipe just past the hole). I think Mountain only reached the possum after we dug in between them.

This little 'possum was released unharmed, but not before it defecated on Mountain who was standing right below him as this picture was being taken.

Possums are not "playing" when they "play possum." The catatonia commonly observed is an involuntary physical reaction to fear -- the possum "blows a fuse" from too much excitement. In 5 to 20 minutes the possum's nervous system will reset itself, but often not before the possum defecates and jettisons anal glands that stink so bad that any attacking animal is led to believe that the animal is dead and already foul with rot.

We placed this little fellow in the fork of a tree where he no doubt recovered before we were out of sight. For more on possums, click here.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Tracking in Mud

Earlier this month I posted on the difference between raccoon and fox scat. Basically, one is pointed and has mouse hair in it (fox) and one has square ends and is almost entirely vegetative (raccoon).

What about tracks?

Raccoon and fox tracks are quite distinctive, and you should be able to quickly tell the difference between them.



Raccoon tracks. Note the similarity to a human foot and hand, with five fingers and toes. The back foot print looks like a human foot print, and the front foot print looks like a human foot print, albeit one with claws.





Fox track. Note the four toes. A fox track is flat on the bottom heal and has a ^-shaped palm. A fox track will be more ovoid than a terrier track, which is nearly round, but otherwise is similar. Cat prints never show claw marks, but dog prints always do. A fox is a type of dog, as is a coyote and a wolf.

A simple rule: fox have four toes, and raccoons have five toes. If you come across a track that looks like it must come from a martian (very strange looking!), that's a possum track.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Gone to Ground



Beth and I hit the farms again on Sunday. It's that time of year -- after groundhog and before fox -- but with rain predicted for the next weekend, we decided to do a bit of scouting despite the low chance of finding anything.

There were lots of old groundhog dens on this farm, but no one home. This place should be good hunting in the spring and summer. We strayed a bit off the farm, and the dogs went to ground within eye sight of a small house, but we got out of there before it got complex and anything had to be explained.

The fox sette, above, was found in the middle of a corn field on the the farm. It was picture-perfect, on a southern slope and in sandy soil not too far from water. The den stunk of fox, and was quite spacious inside, with a tiny bolt hole on one end -- so tight only Sailor could get out of it. I'm peering down that bolt hole, while Beth's dog Rock slides into the main entrance. Rock could go all the way in and stand up inside while passing another dog. A magnificent sette, and we will be back!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Sitting Bull's Revenge



If you want a real test for yourself and your terrier, you have to go after special quarry in a very special way.

So special, than anyone doing it this way should be riding the short yellow bus to school.

We're in that period between the first week in November and the third week in December when groundhogs are still about, but increasingly rare as they move off into their deep dens in the woods, half collapsing the entrances in order to keep out water, wind, and predators. Fox are starting to dig their dens, but they are not yet occupying them -- at least not on an Indian Summer day when the temperatures are approaching 70 degrees.

Beth and I headed out on one of her farms, checking settes and coming up blank until the dogs marked on a large field sette. They were very interested, and so I scooped out the entrance and Sailor got in about 12 inches before coming to a dirt wall. I yo-ho'd through that, but is was surprisingly solid and thick, with just a bit of space at the top.

Sailor moved forward and stopped again. I boxed and got her at only 2 feet. She was only four feet in, but I sunk a quick hole to find out what the obstruction was. I found the hole had more dirt in it, and punched through that, and again it was surprisingly thick with just a small gap at the top.

We did this again and again, with both Pip and Sailor digging on and pointing the direction, but never baying. The dirt was soft and the den pipe shallow, but the pipe was backfilled down most of its length.

Eleven holes later -- after we had essentially trenched the entire den -- we found out what the dogs were after. Sailor went in for the kill, and with a mighty effort drew the enormous beast.


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Sitting Bull knew it would come to this. He said that "When the Buffalo are gone, we will hunt mice, for we are hunters and we want our freedom."

All I know is that this kind of hunting is too tough for me. Eleven holes! Never again, right dogs?

The rest of the day was more odd hunting, but that, as they say, is another story.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

You Don't Know Squat


Fox scat to the left, raccoon scat to the right.

Winter is starting to blow in. Groundhogs holes are starting to come up blank as they move off into the woods and burrow into deeper earth-blocked settes for a long winter sleep.

Fox are starting to pair up in earnest, and natal dens are rapidly being dug, though most are still empty as it is too warm for fox to go to ground unless it is raining or there is a driving wind.

Now is a good time to review basic sign, particularly scat, as in winter animal dung is much slower to decay, and can give an observant person some indication of what is about, and where it might be headed.

Fox scat is easily identified, as it is pointed on both ends and almost always has hair in it -- mostly mice or rat, but perhaps a small rabbit, a bit of roadkill, game bird, or gut shot deer as well. It is hunting season, and unrecovered animals are important sources of food for fox in these winter months.

A road kill deer pushed into a ditch by the side of the road, or a gut-shot deer up in the weeds at the edge of a field, will not rot once cold weather sets in, and these flesh dumps will draw in feeding fox. Fox will often park themselves in nearby groundhog holes, especially if they are startled by approaching dogs, or are waiting out bad weather before returning to the carcass for a feed.

Raccoon scat is easily differentiated from fox scat. Raccoon dung always has blunt ends and is quite uniform in thickness, looking a bit like a thin, blunt-cut, cigar. Raccoon dung is much more likely to contain a great deal of vegetable matter, such as berries and bits of acorn, and only rarely has hair in it. While fox dung can be any color (black, brown, tan, white, greenish or bluish), raccoon scat is almost always quite dark due to the large amounts of vegetable matter.

Look for fox scat at the edge of fields, particularly along paths or mows where corn or soy fields border woods, as this is the "mouse and rabbit zone" where a fox can trot along very quietly listening for scurrying mice.

Fox will often deposit their scat on stones, rises, stumps, walls or tree trunks that border their patrol areas -- a form of territory marking.

Raccoon scat can be found anywhere, but it too is commonly found along the edges of fields and at the entrance to larger groundhog dens where they may have slept off the night. The closer you are to water, the more likely you are to find raccoon. Multiflora rose thickets and dense brushy spots along stream banks near corn fields are particularly likely spots.

For a guide to other common North American animal scat, click here.


Sunday, November 07, 2004

Pennsylvania Trapping Statistics



Vern Ross, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission notes that "Trappers, predator callers and houndsmen all make significant and annual contributions to the management of the Commonwealth's furbearer populations. Residents who think nuisance wildlife problems are bad now can't begin to imagine how bad they'd get if trappers and hunters weren't removing some of the surplus furbearers our state produces annually."

The following are the tallies for trapping alone in Pennsylvania (with previous year in parentheses): Muskrats, 71,500 (75,000 in 2003); opossum, 34,000 (34,500 in 2002); red fox, 31,500 (33,000 in 2002); gray fox, 16,000 (18,500 in 2002); mink, 6,500 (10,000 in 2002); coyote, 11,500 (11,500 in 2002); skunks, 9,500 (7,000 in 2002), and beaver, 6,757 beavers (4,538 in 2002).

Friday, November 05, 2004

JRTCA Nationals



JRTCA Nationals seemed a bit smaller this year, and I was struck by the number of new kennel names (complete with pop-up tents and branded T-shirts and hats) associated with people focused on the show dog and puppy-selling business.

The bit of good news is that no professional handlers were in evidence (as they are at the AKC), people still wear regular clothes in the ring, and there is still a sizeable class for bronzed dogs and working dogs (though this last class includes dogs that may have hunted just once so they can can enter a less-crowded show ring).

There were well in excess of 1,000 dogs, and some very nice looking small ones among the giants if you took the time to look

The new deben box and collar were not in evidence (a disappointment) and the number of vendors was clearly smaller. The food was excellent, the judging incredibly slow.

The principle topic of conversation was about how the judges were unqualified or biased (some things never change). Truthfully, it is a bit of a mystery to me how you get to be "qualified" to judge a beauty show. Geriatric talk show host and lounge act Merv Griffin used to judge Miss America contests, though he is reportedly gay. If that works, why not have a young man who runs a beagle pack in the UK judge terriers in the US? Same difference -- though hopefully we are looking for less chest in the terriers!).

>> Click here to see pictures of JRTCA Nationals from Victor Steel, a professional photographer that regularly shoots the event. Excellent shots. If you happened to be showing a dog at Nationals, Mr. Steel might have caught a picture of you or a friend -- check it out.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Economics and Politics of Hunting

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John Kerry goose hunting in Ohio. Kerry is an excellent and practiced marksman.

Election Day is TODAY November 2

You may have noticed that the politicians are working overtime to woo sportsmen and women of voting age. It's not hard to understand why:

  • There are more sportsmen than people who receive Social Security retirement benefits.

  • About 80% of all anglers and hunters vote.

  • Twice as many people hunt and fish as belong to labor unions.

  • If all sportsmen had voted in the 2000 presidential election, one-third of the people at the polls that year would have held a hunting or fishing license.

  • American sportsmen are among the most prominent and influential of all demographic and economic groups. Hunters are a very large and powerful economic interest group. For a mind-expanding look at the economics of hunting, see the PDF at this link >> Click Here

  • There are no vegans on Mount Rushmore -- but there is Teddy Roosevelt who hunted rats with his terriers in the basement of the White House.

  • Major on-the-rack magazine and TV shows are devoted to hunting.

  • Whoever ends up being President will be hunter and angler. Hunters and anglers also sit on the Supreme Court (and include female members of the Court!).

  • In Virginia, and in many other states, hunting, fishing and harvesting game is considered a right, and that right is written into the State Constitution.

  • The Congressional Sportsman's Foundation and Caucus is devoted to hunting and fishing, and land conservation for hunting and fishing. It is not just a large caucus -- it may be one of the most powerful caucus's on Capitol Hill. Check them out at http://www.sportsmenslink.org/caucus/index.asp