Ok, this post doesn’t really have anything to do with the “outdoors”, but I found a plugin for the blog yesterday that is a “must have”. It is called “WPTouch iPhone Theme”, and it makes all WordPress blogs instantly compatible with iPhones and other smart phones. I am systematically installing it on all of my blogs, and it is working great. It pares down the site to pretty much the basics so that posts are easy to read. It looks a lot like a blog reader on your phone (such as in google reader or something similar).
You can find the plugin by going to the “Plugins” tab on your WordPress dashboard, and entering “WPTouch” into the search box. I know, as I now read a lot more info from my phone, that this will be a valuable tool! Hope it helps, and makes your small device reading a bit easier!
I know, many of you will be shocked to find this update. I have been extremely busy, but I keep hoping to show my outdoor blog the attention that it deserves eventually…
I received an email through one of my email lists today, asking for opinions on shooting moving deer. I thought that was an interesting question, and one that certainly has caused a lot of controversy in the hunting community. I thought I’d post my own response, and I hope you all will add your thoughts (even if you disagree with me).
I know that with some, this is quite the touchy subject. I watch a lot of the hunting shows on TV, and love them. But, one of the “unrealistic” points that they emphasize is the need for a deer to be standing still. I watched one a few days ago, where the hunter didn’t shoot because the deer was walking, and never stopped. Realistically, where we hunt, you’d rarely kill a deer if it had to stop to shoot. Once the shooting starts on opening day, the deer are on the move. Sure, some of them stop, but some will be on the move trying to get to that next piece of cover.
Many other game animals are shot on the move, without ever even thinking about it. We shoot rabbits, and birds on the move almost exclusively. We learn how to do it, and do it effectively. I know there is a difference in using a rifle, but the truth is that with practice, you can learn to hit deer on the move too. A person needs to know their own limitations, and know the type of shot that they can make. We as hunters certainly need to make every effort to make safe and humane kill shots. If you are going to be maiming animals because you can’t make a running shot, then don’t shoot. But, I know many people who can kill an animal on the run more often than not.
My bottom line is that I don’t think anyone can make a hard and fast rule on this. What one person is capable of doing may be impossible for another. The same type of question could be asked about long distance shooting. What is too far to shoot a deer? I watched a show a few days ago where a guy shot a bear at 925 yards. Impressive? You better believe it! Would I take that shot? Not with my current equipment/skill set. But, I have shot many deer on the run. Under the right circumstances, I have a lot of confidence in my ability to hit them, and hit them soundly. Other circumstances might cause me to pass on the shot.
That is my opinion, and I look forward to reading other responses!
So, what do you all think?
Recently, I have been getting a lot of help about rabbits off of some mailing lists that have to do with raising rabbits and homesteading. There is a ton of good information to be found in these groups. I have been following a lot of “signature” lines to blogs and websites and have found that many people who are raising rabbits are doing so as a part of “homesteading” (returning to a self-sustaining way of living.) This is intriguing to me! Most of you know that we started raising rabbits as a project for the kids, to teach responsibility and to provide good teaching opportunities for our homeschooling. But, I have to admit, there is an appeal for the type of living that many are choosing to get back to. I can imagine living off of the land, and raising all of our own food. However, i would sure miss many of the “conveniences” that we have been spoiled with. I wonder how much more productive we would be without all of those “conveniences” though? I know that I am often more distracted by them, than aided by them!
My question to you all is: would you like to live “off grid” even for a little while? Would you be able to survive? Or would you need all the modern conveniences? Do you see any advantage to the lifestyle? I’m sure most of the “disadvantages” would have to do with conveniences, but other than that can you think of any disadvantages? I’m interested to see what you all come up with!
I am still trying to decide on what to use for a prize to the person who comes up with the best name for our rabbitry. Keep thinking on a name, and I will try to get the contest put up in the next couple of days. I know that there are a lot of creative people out there who will be a big help to me in getting a good, catchy name. Looks like we might be up to butchering this weekend, or next week sometime (if we can get some dry weather!)
I’ll leave you with a picture of my youngest with one of the newer bunnies:
Isn’t that some wild and crazy hair? Good caption: Crazy Hair and Hare?
In my last post, over a month ago now, I said that I was going to try and get back in here an write more…but that just hasn’t happened. I’ve been spending most of my writing time on other projects. Its not that I have lost interest here, it is just that I have been too short on time!
I have been out for some turkey hunting the last couple of days. Season came in here in WV on Monday. Unfortunately, we also got a snap of really warm weather. The turkeys talked a bit on Monday, but Tuesday, they were absolutely silent. We covered several miles of mountain top, and never heard a single bird! Monday, we had one turkey willing to do a bit of gobbling, but we simply could not get him to climb the hill between us, so he never even came close. I am not sure that I will get the opportunity to get out any more, as I don’t have any land close to my house where I can hunt. I guess there is always next year! So far, I haven’t been able to bag a gobbler, but one of these days I suppose I will connect. I’ve only been out a handful of times, so maybe I should take it a bit more seriously and see if I can have a bit better luck.
I also have been able to get out on the trout streams a couple of times. The first day I made it out, it was incredibly cold and windy. We fished for several hours without even a strike. Later in the day, as the water warmed up a bit, I was able to finally get a few nice trout. In fact, I was able to catch 3 trout over 15 inches out of the same lie. Evidently, they were stacked up in there. I know that isn’t huge for those who get to fish in the West, but for here in WV, they are nice stream trout. The second day we were out, the weather was much nicer, with temperatures in the high 70’s. I was able to catch a few trout, as was my fishing partner for the day. It was nice to get away and spend the time on the water, even though we weren’t able to catch a lot of fish.
Things in the rabbitry are going pretty well. We have another litter added to our number. We have expanded from 5 rabbits to our current 29. Of course, that will be fluctuating a lot as we will begin to sell and butcher. We did sell one rabbit as a pet recently. Since we are growing, I am now trying to come up with a name for our rabbitry. I have started to build a website for the rabbitry, to keep everyone updated with what we have on hand, and how we are expanding, but I have no name for it! Hopefully, you all will be able to help me out with this. I am thinking about making a contest out of it, so start thinking about it but don’t tell me yet. Check back in the next couple of days, when I have come up with a good prize, I will have a post about the contest. From all suggestions we will pick the best, and the submitter will win the prize.
I have to admit, things have been hectic around here lately. Work has been very busy (which is a good thing), and so I haven’t had as much time to write on here as I would like to. I will give you a little “catch up” on what has been going on around here lately…
First, it appears that spring is finally hitting us full blast. It has been toying with us for several weeks, having a warm day here and there, and then getting blasted with another winter storm. I am hoping, at least, that the cold weather is over. I am sure we will still have a few cold snaps, and some frosts, but hopefully the real winter weather is now gone. Spring gets me thinking about two things: fishing and gardening. I am hoping to get the garden plot tilled up soon, so that it will be ready for planting. I got so busy last fall that I never got it tilled up…we still have corn stalks standing in the front yard! Hopefully in the next few days I will be able to clear it out, and get it ready for planting. I have a pile of rabbit manure and compost to pile in there for fertilizer. I guess I will be “organic” by default…cheaper than buying fertilizer if I am going to raise the rabbits anyway!
Speaking of the rabbits, I have my first litter ready to sell as pets. They are weaned, and doing very well. Any that do not sell as pets will eventually be food. I know that is a hard thing for many to understand, but rabbits are very nutritious, and it is always better (at least in my mind) to see where your meat comes from. There is no telling what is in the meat that is sold at the grocery stores! Yes, I still buy meat, but I figure the more meat I provide (either through raising it, or through hunting) the healthier my family will be!
My second litter did not do nearly as well as my first. My doe only had 3 kits, and 2 of them died within a few days. The first one died on the first day. The second one only lived about 2 or 3 days. I knew that they looked scrawny and unhealthy, so I was not surprised. The one surviving kit is getting huge. I guess since he is the only one getting the milk, he can be extremely healthy.
I currently have 2 of my does bred. I hope to have 2 more good litters in April. I already had to expand the rabbitry, adding 3 more 30 inch cages. This time I decided to buy cage wire, and build the cages from scratch. They turned out pretty well, but I am now going to order supplies from Bass Equipment so that I can get more specialized parts. I think that will make it much easier, and it will also be cheaper in the long run. Before long, I am going to have to expand to outdoor hutches, as my shed is at about its full capacity. I think I would enjoy having a large rabbitry, raising several hundred rabbits. The facilities would be very expensive to get started, but you all can make donations if you want to!
Part of the reason I have not had time to write on here as much is that I have been writing on a new blog that I started for the members of the church where I preach (and for anyone else who is interested). Basically, The Higher Rock is a blog designed to help encourage people to read their Bibles daily. Each day a new reading is posted, and I make a few comments about the previous day’s reading. I have been able to keep up with this project thus far, but it can be time consuming. This, along with a couple of other writing projects, have made it hard to squeeze in more writing here! This blog, however, is my “relaxation” blog, and I need to make some more time to write about my pastimes.
Today is my niece, Cheyenne’sbirthday. If you remember, she was born under very difficult circumstances. My sister in law was in the hospital for about 7 weeks before she was born. Cheyenne had a rough start to life, spending several days in the NICU in Pittsburgh. Today, she is doing amazingly well. Be sure to pop over to her blog and catch up with her! I can’t help but think of how powerful prayer is when looking at Cheyenne, and I can’t help but think of how gracious people are. So many people helped Cheyenne and her parents through difficult times, even when they did not know them! Many of the readers of this blog fit in that wonderful category. Here are a couple of pictures of Cheyenne now:
Well, I think that is about all for now. Hopefully, I will have more to say soon. I know there are a lot of things going on in the world around us, much of which will affect our outdoor lifestyles. Here it to hoping that we will have something left to share with our little ones!
Several months ago, I wrote about entering into a new venture with Jacob, my son. We decided that we were going to try and raise rabbits, both for fun and for putting some extra meat in the freezer. We built the racks for cages, and got all of our necessities together, and then bought 5 rabbits (2 bucks and 3 does). Our first effort at breeding a doe did not take, but our second attempt has been successful. We now have our first litter of bunnies.
This doe is actually my daughter’s. She was feeling left out, so I went back to where we bought our first 3 rabbits, and purchased two more. This rabbit is a colored rabbit, rather than one of the purebred New Zealands, or Californians. I bred her to our New Zealand buck. It is evident that these bunnies will have some good coloring, just like their mother. I am looking forward to seeing how this goes over the next few weeks. We have another doe bred, which should be kindling in March. We are trying to spread it out a bit here at the beginning, as we don’t have the facilities to house several litters at the same time to feed them out to maturity.
Here is a picture of Fluffy, and her litter of 8. You can’t really see how many are in there, but maybe you can make out the little guys…
Some of you here in the east may have experienced the terrible storms that came through a couple of days ago. Well, we have the rabbits in a “portable garage”, which is a steel frame covered with tarps. Early in the day, I looked outside during the wind storm (before the rain came) and saw that the rabbit shed had blown over! It had knocked over the two bucks, but fortunately they were not injured. The shed itself sustained some pretty significant damage, with one of the poles breaking nearly in half. We were able to get everything set back up, and I went to the hardware store to find some solution for keeping the shed fastened down. I ended up having to chain the frame of the shed to the fence, and then chain several concrete blocks to the frame to try and hold it down. The winds got so bad during the storm later in the evening that they actually lifted the shed, concrete bloks and all, up in the air. Fortunately, my makeshift anchoring system kept the shed from turning over once again, so the rabbits were kept safe through the night. Becasue the shed was still blowing around quite a bit, the tarp on one side hit the racks inside and cut a pretty good hole. I am not sure exactly how much longer this will last me. I am afraid that I am going to have to build a more permanent shed to house the poor rabbits, so that they don’t have to be so stressed during the storms.
Fluffy was actually due the same day as the storm, so we were glad that she held off until today to make sure the weather didn’t harm the babies. The wind and rain certainly could have caused much more damage, so we are glad we didn’t lose any of our animals!
I was very encouraged by the reply that I got from Mr. Fox of the Howard County Council. It showed that there are at least some of the council members who are very concerned about the rights of hunters, and they are trying to make sure that those rights are protected. After sleeping on the response, I decided to write to Mr. Fox one more time today, and share with him some of my thoughts on his amended propositions. He did send me one more email asking for my input, as well as any input I might generate through this blog. If you want to add something, and haven’t written to the council individually, feel free to post it here and I will pass it along.
Here is the text of the letter that I sent to Mr. Fox today:
After considering the email you sent, I thought I would send you a few of my thoughts. It appears that the changes that you have suggested in the email are reasonable, and that they will certainly help to ensure safety, without taking away from the rights of hunters. My main observation is this: it appears that the implementation of the bill as stated in your email would not make any real change to the laws. Basically, a hunter would not be in violation of the law unless he actually shot into a structure (which is already currently illegal). If a bullet were to be shot in the general direction of a structure, and yet strike a tree or hill before reaching it, it obviously had an “adequate backdrop”. It seems to me to be a bit useless to make laws to make something that is already safe and legal to be legal. At best, it is a bit redundant. On the other hand, it is also currently illegal to shoot into a structure, or to violate the 150 yard safety zone. So, again it would be redundant to make another law that makes such actions illegal.
It does sound as if there is some room for improvement based on the implementation of a fine. I assume this means that you would be codifying the exact punishment for violations to the law that makes it illegal to shoot into a structure or dwelling. I, for one, am all for harsh punishments for those who would be so careless as to discharge a firearm into a structure or dwelling. I would support harsh penalties for anyone found guilty of this, and believe a codified punishment would certainly act as a deterrent, and hopefully make people more conscientious of their actions—especially when they pull the trigger.
I will say that if some new law is to be passed, your amended version is by far better than the original bill. It seems to be much more “hunter friendly” than its original counterpart. It is my tendency to think that new laws are not needed where there are laws on the books that will accomplish the same end result if they are enforced.
Thank you for your interest in this issue. I hope that everything goes well in the council meeting tonight, and that all parties are able to come to an agreement concerning this issue. If it is possible, I would be interested to know how this shakes out. Thanks again for your time, and willingness to correspond with me, even though I am an “out of stater”.
I am very thankful that Mr. Fox has been willing to correspond with me on this subject, and I look forward to seeing how all of this plays out. I am hopeful that all will work out well for our hunting friends in the state of Maryland.
On a different note, I thought I would share with you the birthday present my wife gave to me today. She had the kids’ picture taken decked out in their camo:
Well, the day has come that President Bush has transferred power to the new president, Barack Obama. In many ways, I have been dreading the coming of this day, because I realize just how many of our current freedoms are in jeopardy of fading away. I wrote an article sometime ago on Obama’s positions on Gun Rights, and it has received a lot of attention. Jump over there, and you can see some of the comments that have been made. It is certainly clear that those who are “anti-gun” have been emboldened by the election of one of their own. Just the anticipation of a president that shares the anti-gun agenda has caused many state legislators to introduce legislation that would be detrimental to our freedoms as gun owning americans. Consider the legislation, now pending in several states, that would make tracking numbers required on all ammunition. The point of this is to make the manufacturing of all ammunition so expensive that most people will be unable to purchase it. It would also make it illegal to even own ammunition (after a certain date) that is not stamped (or laser engraved) with the serial/tracking number.
I know that President Bush has made a lot of mistakes, but then every president does. But, he has been (for the most part) a friend to sportsmen, outdoorsmen, and especially gun owners. I have not worried a bit about this administration making it impossible, or nearly impossible for me to own guns and the ammunition that goes with it. I do worry about what will come in the next four years. We can hope that other things will be of such importance that the new administration will not be able to legitimately take the time to try to implement this type of legislation on the national level. From this standpoint, I will definitely miss President Bush. I know that many will disagree with missing him, but it is my belief that history will reflect on him far more favorably than his contemporaries do.
Do you think the new administration will affect sportmen in a positive or negative way? Why?
As more and more people move out into the ‘burbs, more and more deer hunting habitat is lost. I think that is one of the reasons that hunting continues to decline. There is less land available for hunting, and many people have no desire to go into crowded public land (those in the west may not realize just how crowed some public hunting regions are in the east!). With the suburbs growing, the question of where hunting should be allowed, as well as what type of hunting should be allowed is spreading across the country.
I found an article this morning about this very issue in Pataskala, Ohio. Evidently, there were a couple of accidents in which homes were struck with slugs during the general fire arm season. There is no excuse for that happening, but it certainly explains why people would be concerned, and begin the process of stopping hunting any where near homes. I’m pretty sure I would be upset if my home were struck with a bullet!
I hate to see any hunters lose hunting land. I’ve been through that. There are places that we have hunted in years past that now have housing developments on them. The question is: Is it safe to hunt near houses? The answer can be yes and no. For those who are very conscientious, and pay close attention, hunting near houses can be very safe. Obviously, not everyone is as safe as they should be. That is what makes it very difficult. Those granting permission on land close to other homes should be careful to allow only those hunters who can be safe, and have proven that they can be safe. Those hunting on such land should be extremely careful. As I said before, there is no excuse for a bullet ever striking a home!
When it comes to “city limits” hunting, it seems logical to me to restrict hunting to archery. I know that there are some “cities” that are more courntry than city, and they should make decisions that are best for their setting. I know that here in WV there are several cities that have bow only seasons. They require a safety course, as well as a shooting test to make sure that you are competent enough to take an animal cleanly. I am sure that there are still those who make bad shots, but officials are trying to make these seasons as “non-hunter friendly” as possible.
All that being said, I do believe that at least archery hunting should continue in many cities. I know that the hunts here in WV that are permitted help to keep deer numbers in check, which cuts down on deer destroying lawns and shrubs, and cuts down on the number of deer hit by cars (which causes millions of dollars of damage to homeowners, car owners and insurance companies). Not only that, but there are some really nice bucks taken in these hunts as the deer are typically secluded, and unhunted. It provides an opportunity for a trophy hunt under less pressure. I am sure these hunts can be very enjoyable.
This is a tough issue because it brings hunters and anti-hunters together in close proximity. I know that is true in many other settings, but when it comes to these suburban hunts, it is particularly close. That means that hunters who participate in these types of hunts have to be diligent to be model hunters. They represent the rest of us who aren’t out there in the public sight quite so much. So, if you are a suburban hunter, make sure to hunt safely and ethically. That shoudl be true all the time, but be particularly conscious of these things when hunting in close quarters.
Boo Weekley is one of the most colorful golfers on the pro circuit. Now, I am not a big golfing fan. In fact, if Tiger Woods is not in the mix, I probably couldn’t even identify any one in a tournament. But, I caught this guy on Rome is Burning on ESPN yesterday, and was impressed. Then, today, I came across this article on Sky Sports about Weekley.
It turns out that Weekley is only a pro golfer because he doesn’t think he can make as much money in the hunting industry. I don’t know about that, but it is interesting that he is making the news by stating that he would much rather work in the hunting and fishing industry. But, I want you to notice the response by the author of the article:
Weekley has now added to his eccentric reputation by admitting he would walk away from the pro ranks if he could secure his future by hunting.
So, wanting to be a pro hunter or fisherman makes one “eccentric”. It seems the media just can’t stand it that there are folks who are not just “rednecks” (or maybe they will classify Weekley as “redneck”) who enjoy the sports of hunting and fishing. Liking hunting and fishing doesn’t make one eccentric…it makes him one of the millions of Americans who enjoy a lawful, enjoyable sport.
Weekley had a good answer, when asked if he would leave golf for hunting:
Asked if he would give up golf if he had that opportunity, he stated: “No hesitating. There is nothing like it. It’s hard to explain, unless you just hunt and fish for a living, or you do it as much as me.”
I think he got it right. There is nothing like hunting and fishing in the great outdoors. It is hard to explain, but for those of us who enjoy the sports as much as Weekley, it is not hard to understand. Wouldn’t we all like to have a job that allowed us to spend more time hunting and fishing? Wouldn’t we all like to make either our living, or some “extra cash” from the outdoors that we love so much? Don’t we all like sitting at our computers and writing about (as well as reading about) outdoor sports?
Maybe we are just all eccentric? Let the eccentrics ban together!